Monday, June 27, 2011

It's called a lance...hello!

That statement was stuck in my head the whole time we were visiting Tallinn, Estonia because it reminded me of "A Knight's Tale" so much! The city is seriously a medieval town that still stands. I felt like I was walking through a movie set. It is a VERY picturesque city.

We started out with a tour of the country side where we saw a summer palace of Catherine the Great....

and the beautiful grounds...

I think it would be sweet to see a concert here by the sea.
Seriously old buildings!

This is Old Town from the upper town view. Upper is where the super rich/royalty lived and lower town was where the merchants/townspeople lived.
What a beautiful city! I really liked walking through streets that are so much older than the country of the US. It's remarkable!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

A few awesome things about cruises...
1-The food- we'll talk about the food eating machine man later...
2- Not having to carry around luggage anymore because your hotel comes with you...
and 3- You go to sleep and wake up in a new country!
Our first stop on the cruise was Germany!
We were in a town that was three hours out of Berlin, so we signed up for a tour with Michael's grandparents. The bus ride allowed for a much welcomed, long nap.
I must admit, Berlin is a city with some major history, but also a lot of scars. It was kind of grim to see a city still restoring from WWII, Nazis and Soviets. It's just amazing how much this city has seen. Our tour was on a bus for most of the trip so most pictures were taken from the bus window. Sadly, I did not capture the nude sun bathers in the park. Sorry. Maybe next time...

Recognize this building from "Valkerie?"

Hitler's bunker where he killed himself is under there...
Check point Charlie...
Where the wall used to be...
A part of the wall
WWII Memorial
Brandenburg Gate
Germany's Parliment Building

Good times...there's a few more pictures where that came from. But i'm doing my best to condense the amazingness!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

May I Introduce...

Mr. & Mrs. Castro

My sister has tied the knot and in a very royal way! On Friday, she married her prince. Everything went so well! Thursday night was the family dinner. It was so great to get to know Victor and his family a lot better. They are amazing people. Victor has an incredible testimony of this Gospel and I know he is going to take care of my sister.

Annie looked beautiful the whole day and I think everything went exactly as she had planned. They were married by my grandpa in the Bountiful Temple. That evening they had a tea party reception at the Lion House. They served crepes- which my husband enjoyed into the double digits! I'll have to post more pictures when we get them, but everything was darling.

My favorite part was the sword send off from all of Victor's military friends. It was so cool! Then the new family got into the horse drawn carriage and rode off into the sunset. (Doesn't Victor know my sister so well?)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Those Great Danes are Hueggely

Our next stop in our vacation extraordinaire was...Denmark. One of my personal favorites of the trip. We met up with Michael's grandparents who kindly got us a beautiful room at the Marriott. It had a beautiful view of the river.

I loved going to these European cities that were on the water. Copenhagen is beautiful. I loved the old brick buildings and the picturesque cobblestoned streets. (Even if they did break my luggage.) I also loved that there were bicycle lanes and so, so, so many people riding bikes everywhere. Among those bikes, were free ones that you could rent and ride around the city. LOVE!

We rode the train out to a summer castle of the Danish Royalty. It's now a museum, but it was so pretty. A girl could get used to calling this home...

and having this for a view from her room...

I enjoyed walking around the grounds and was so glad it wasn't as cold as Iceland. Therefore, I wanted a jumping picture. Michael refused to play along.

After the castle, we went back into Copenhagen for my most favorite activity of the trip! We met up with Michael's mission companion, David Kofod and his adorable wife, Camilla.

They took us and Michael's parents on a boat tour around the city. It was so fun to see all the sites in such a relaxing way.

One of the many narrow bridges we went under.

After the tour, the Kofods took Michael and I to the Danish LDS Temple.

It is so beautiful!

You would think by this point in the evening the Kofods would be sick of us, but no. They took us to their home and fed us quite the feast! Everything was so delicious! We chatted the evening away and enjoyed wedding pictures and mission stories. It was an extremely delightful evening. We can't wait until we can get those awesome Danes to visit us in the states.

The next morning, our adventures continued as we hauled our luggage to the ship yard and loaded "The Norwegian Sun."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Iceland- "It's quite fashionable"

Well, our crazy jaunt to Europe started with a bang. Literally. We were at the airport in NYC waiting to board when we found out about the volcano that erupted in Iceland. We were so worried it would be like last year where the volcano shut down everything in Europe for weeks. But we were able to fly into Iceland just fine. Right after we got there, the airport was closed! Good thing we planned on being there a few days before flying to Copenhagen.

Iceland is hands down, one of the most picturesque countries we've ever been to. Although the climate is a little different from Phoenix, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. To me, it's a fabulously cooler version of New Zealand. The people are incredibly friendly and speak English and the landscapes are breath taking.

We had rented a car so we were able to drive around the country a bit- all the while praying that we would be able to fly out on time. The first day, we went to a black sanded beach.

You can tell it was a bit hazy from the volcano ash.

Most of the country is either volcanos or glaciers, so
everywhere you go is incredibly beautiful, mossy, lava fields with heaps of spectacular waterfalls from glacier run off. So pretty!

The second day, we went to the "Golden Circle." It's a trio of locations that were so cool.

1st the . This is right on the fault line where Iceland is literally being pulled apart by 2 cm every year!

2nd the Geysers. These definitely were in competition with Old Faithful. To my memory, they went off more frequently than Old Faithful, were higher, and you could get closer to it because there aren't as many people. Pretty cool.

3rd the Waterfalls. It was simply unbelievable how much water and power these falls had. Wouldn't it be so incredible to be one of the first people to find these?

The whole second day was SO windy and cold. It felt like your face was being scraped off. We were SO cold, but we kept telling ourselves that we had prayed for this wind and if that's what got us to Denmark on time, then that's what we would have to put up with.

Fortunately, Iceland is so geothermic, they have hot pots EVERYWHERE. (They really don't have to heat the water in their homes.) We talked to an Icelander who said that there are hot pots right on the beach that spill over into the ocean and so it was "quite fashionable" to swim in the ocean. We settled on swimming in the Blue Lagoon. I have never seen water so beautiful. We all know photo shop and cool photography tricks are not my specialty so that's exactly what the natural water looked like.

If I was good at photo shop, I might have changed my face or skin tone, but now you see how sweet the Blue Lagoon was. They have it super set up like a spa with a hotel and an actual spa on sight. It really was so relaxing and very nice to be warmed up after such a windy day.

That night we stayed at an AWESOME guesthouse by the airport. The owner is a genius and an artist so he designed it phenomenally. We slept in the treehouse room. My 4 yr old self was on cloud nine and my 25 yr old self loved it too!

The next day we went to the airport with some apprehension about whether we would be able to fly out. (Secretly, we were ok if we didn't fly out because we wanted to go back to the treehouse guesthouse.) Fortunately, the only flight that was on time, was ours. There were heaps of flights that were delayed/cancelled, but there were no hitches for us. It was a miracle! The Church is true, prayers are answered and Iceland is awesome and very fashionable!