Monday, August 8, 2011


We were so sad to leave the Netherlands behind but were excited to start our adventure in Germany.  The only bad part was the seven hour busride.  We stopped at a castle in Heidelberg on our way to Munich, which broke up the ride so it wasn't so much at one time.  I had been there before but Scott hadn't so it was fun to tell him the stories about the last time I had been there.

One of the biggest attractions at the castle is the Wine Cellars.  The King at the time decided that if his castle was ever attacked, it would be impossible to import wine, which would obviously be a a travesty of huge porportions so he built these huge while barrells to hold all the wine, just in case!  There is one that is about five times this tall and three times as wide but we couldn't get a very good picture of it!


A view of Heidelberg

This is Scott with a Doner!  When I had gone before, I had a Doner every day.  They were such a good price for how much food you got and I couldn't wait to have Scott try one.  The meat roasts on an open spit all day and then they put it inside an artisan roll with cabage/ lettuce (depending on where you go) and then a dressing that is similar to thousand island.  Scott loved it and the best part was we were full after!


We also stopped in the city of Rottenburg to enjoy the medieval architecture.  During WWII, this city was severely damaged and was restored to its full medieval self after the war as a physical preservation of that time period.  Walking through the city is like stepping back in time.  There is a big wall that surrounds the city.  We got to explore that too!  It was so fun to be here and we were so glad we got to make this quick stop.


We finally made it to Munich.  I am standing outside of the old town hall.  The Ratskeller is now a restaraunt but at one time, there was an attempt at Hitler's life where the restarant now resides.  I thought it was so cool so I took a picture!


Munich is famous for the Oktoberfest.  Every year, thousands of people from all over the world visit Munich to participate in the drinking games and German drinking songs.  I am sure you have pictures of the women carrying eight pints of beer at a time?  Well, thats Oktoberfest!  And the most famous brewery in Munich is called the Hoffbrauhaus.  They serve huge pints of beer and traditional German food.  They also have a live band which plays German style folk music and the musicians are even dressed in lederhosen!  All of these elements combine to create a really authentic experience.  We decided to eat dinner here and we were so glad we did.  Our waiter couldn't believe we could come all the way to Germany and not order beer!  He tried to talk us into ordering a pint but eventually gave up.  We ordered some bratwurst, a pretzel, and a baked potatoe.  It was such a good meal and I think it was due in part to the fun atmosphere.

We stayed the night in Munich and the next day, more driving! (boo).  But we made little stops along the way which broke up the long ride.  We stoped at the Neuschwanstein castle (hope I spelled that right).  This is the castle that the Cinderella castle is modeled after.  This place was so picturesque, even our dinky, broken camera took shots that looked like post cards.  This little town is set right at the base of the Bavarian Alps and is breathtakingly beautiful.  Just a little history lesson, the King of the castle almost bankrupt the country trying to build the castle.  With the exception of a few rooms, the castle remains unfinished becuase the King was found dead in a near by lake not long after building of the castle commenced.  He had drowned in about five feet of water.  His doctor was also found dead at the scene, aparantly drowned as well.  No one knows how they both died or what happened in the end.  But the castle remains, and continues to be a famous tourist stop in this area.


You either hike to the top, take a horse drawn carriage or a shuttle.  Since both of the later cost money, we hiked.  You can go to this beautiful look out bridge that is behind the castle (where this picture is taken from) and it provides a perfect spot for a picture! 


You can't go to Bavaria and not eat some black forest cake (schwarzwalderkirchetorte, say that fives times fast)!  This is a traditional cake of the area so before we boarded the bus, we shared a slice.  Its a dark chocolate cake with cherry filling.  When I was in high school, I had made this same cake for a German language fair at SUU.  I must say, mine was an easy bake oven version compared to the real deal!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Holland and Amsterdam

We made it to Holland on Saturday afternoon, ate at the train station, and then spent the night in our hotel.  The next morning we woke up bright and early because we wanted to go to church but knew it would take a while to get there.  So we woke up at six thirty and were on the shuttle at seven forty five.  We got to the train station and rode the train into Amsterdam, only to find out that the train station in Haarlem was under construction (the train station by the church). So, everyone who wanted to go to that station was being transported by bus.  So we got back on the train, rode it to the connecting station and then boarded buses out to the train station.  This took a total of about two and a half hours.  Church started at ten and we were already late!  We were going to try and take a city bus but it was way too confusing.  We never would have found it.  So, in desperation, we got in a taxi and had him take us to the Church. We were so relieved when we finally made it there!  It felt like coming home even though we were in a strange country.  The people were so nice and welcoming.  One of the members even sat behind us in sunday school and translated the meeting for us.  We were able to stay for most of sacrament meeting but had to leave half way through because we had to make it back in time to check out of our hotel.  Trying to find the church and having it take so long to get there made me realize how lucky I really have it.  Scotty and I walk three blocks to get to our church.  We can see the temple from our house.  We are so blessed to live so closely to our Church.  I truly respect members who live far away from their meeting house or who have to travel far just in order to worship.  We met up with our tour group later that night and then grabbed some dinner.

Here were are outside our little church house in Holland!

Later sunday night we decided to take a little stroll around Amsterdam and enjoy the scenery.  Amsterdam is beautiful.  As long as you stay out of certain areas, its quite enjoyable.  Out of all the places we visited, the people here were the nicest.  We loved all the canals and windmills.  It was absolutely picturesque.  We found out some interesting facts about Holland.  About a car a week falls into the canals in Amsterdam.  There are more people than there are bikes.  There are even house boats in the Canals where people live as a permanent residence. 

There are some of the house boats in the back ground.  

Highlight of the whole trip.  The Anne Frank house.  There is something about WWII and the time period that has historians, writers, and others obsessed with.  I grew up listening to the heroic stories of my grandpa and have always had a close affinity and love with this time period.  Going to visit the Anne Frank house, even in its somberness, was like a dream for me.  It seemed unreal to walk through the house where Anne spent the majority of her adolescence.  No pictures were aloud inside so this is the best picture we could get, just by the front doors!  As a side note, I don't know why I am wearing my scarf that way.... perhaps my ears were freezing!?

Stroopwafles.  Any one ever see the best two years?  Well, they eat these in that movie.  That is how Scott knew even to go looking for them.  One time during a stroll, it started to rain so we ran inside this department store and low and behold stroopwafles.  They are made of a thin cinnamon waffle cone with carmel in the middle.  You can get the hot or cold.  My personal favorite was the cold because the carmel was chewy.  We ate at least  a package a day and brought about twenty packages home as gifts for our family and friends.

My favorite artist is Van Gogh. So naturally we had to go to the museum just dedicated to him.  It was great.

We found this random big wooden shoe!  How funny!  So I made Scott get in it to take a picture. Hilarious!

We decided to go on a river boat cruise.  Best thing ever.  For a little over an hour, we toured all the canals of Amsterdam.

These houses are called the dancing houses of Amsterdam. Its kind of hard to see, but they are not completely level.  Because all the houses are built on shifting soil, when houses settle, they tend to settle really uneven.  Just another interesting fact, it costs about 750,000 Euro to buy a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen apartment in down town amsterdam.  Thats about a million U.S. dollars.

We also got to go to a cheese factory!

And a wooden shoe factory!  It was really cool to see how wooden shoes were made.  We would have bought some if they weren't more than a pair of Jimmy Choo's.  They have wooden shoes for gardening, for weddings, amongst other shoes for special occasions.

Amsterdam and Holland were great.  The only thing we were sad about was all the rain.  We had booked a bike ride through the Dutch country side and it was cancelled. Oh well, we will just have to come back to do it again!


So continuing on our little adventure, our next stop was Pisa.  How can you go to Italy and not go to Pisa?  You can't!  We thought the same thing.  So, we left Rome early in the morning and headed to the train station to go to Pisa.  Lesson number one: do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to drag personal luggage through the cobble stone streets of Rome. Or any luggage for that matter.  Scott and I decided not to take a taxi from the shuttle drop of to the entrance to the metro.  We didn't think it would be a big deal plus we are all about saving money.  So, off we go dragging our bulging luggage through the winding roman streets.  A few blocks down the road (European blocks are much longer than blocks in the United States, we found out) Scott's wheel broke and shattered.... luckily there was a wheel inside a wheel (glad we had good luggage) and it still rolled along fine but the cobble stone sure did a number on our luggage.  After that, we rode the metro to the train station, and tried to find a train.  We decided not to purchase tickets in advance in hopes of getting a better price and boy were we right!  We saved about two and a half times the amount of money we would have spent just purchasing them on line.  So we boarded the train.  It was my first time on a train.  Same for Scott.  It looked just like the Hogwarts express.  We even had our own compartment. I loved it.  The best part of the train ride was watching the rolling hills of Tuscany gently drift by our windows.  It was thrilling to see the rolling hills, cypress trees, and lonely villas as we winded through the Italian country side.  

Made it to Pisa.  Got off the train.  Found a map.  Found the street our hotel was on and started walking. For some, this may have not been well planned, but for us it was an adventure.  I didn't really think about planning every step of the way, but luckily for us, it worked out!  We liked getting lost and then finding our way!  We found our hotel and made some great friends that night at a little cafe.  The next morning bright and early, it was off to find the leaning tower.

And it really leans.  Like, really far!  These pictures don't do it justice.  You come around the corner and see it and you wonder how it is even still standing!

Honestly, how could I resist?

A little bit before this moment, our camera dropped and broke.  It hit the cobble stone wrong.  Sad... we couldn't see any of our pictures and had to guess when we were aiming the rest of the trip but on the whole they turned out ok so no complaints!

After our short stint in Pisa, we boarded the train and we were off to Florence.  Florence was one of our favorite places.  When we go back, we are going to Florence.  The whole town is still so medieval.  We loved every second of it.  We went on a walking tour of Florence and our tour guide told us if we rubbed the "little piggy's" nose, we would receive life long good luck and return to Florence one day.  Sign me up!  Both Scott and I rubbed his little snout.

This is Scott in front the Medici palace.  Well, one of them anyways.  The Medici were powerful rulers and great contributors to the arts during the reign.  Behind Scott is a replica of where the David once stood.  It is interesting to note that David is looking towards Rome.  Our tour guide told us that this is because the Medici's wanted to send a message to Rome saying, "we may be little but we can challenge, and defeat Rome the giant."  Interesting symbolism.  We went and saw the real David but you can't take pictures.  In fact a lady who was with our group started crying and saying to her husband, "I've waited my whole life for this!"  She was literally crying.  Her poor husband.

Scenic view of Florence.

Florence at night.  After we had spent the day going through museums and walking through the city we decided to walk to the Piazza de Michelangelo, I think is what it was called and it over looked the whole city.  Once we got up there, we found some steps and listened to some street performers play the guitar and sing.  It was amazing to hear them sing in Italian while overlooking the city skyline.  We tried to get good pictures, but, alas, our camera was broken.  Oh well, next time I guess!

These were everywhere!  A modern Artist who is currently all the rage throughout Europe. Scott loved it and took several pictures each time we saw one.

The Duomo in Milan

Modern art in Milan.  Milan was our least favorite place.  We couldn't get in to see the Last Supper and so we just spent most of the day walking around.  It reminded me of New York.  Not bad if you like that kind of the thing.  After a day in Milan, we headed off to the airport and flew to Amsterdam to meet up with our tour group!  

Italy was fantastic.  The food was great.  The gelato was to die for.  I ate a gelato at least twice a day.  We loved the culture and the history.


Monday, August 1, 2011

European Road Trip: Roma

So, back before Scott and I decided to tie the knot, I was planning a trip to Europe.  I had wanted to go ever since my first trip there when I was fifteen and figured, why not?  However, Scott told me that if I waited, we could go after we got married.  So, we struck a deal and I delayed the trip so we could get married, and I am so glad I did.  It was so much fun to share this adventure.  We were pretty much gone for the month of May.  I finished classes, we moved back to St. George and a week later, we were on our plane to Rome.  In fact we didn't even move into our apartment because the previous tenants hadn't moved out.  So we left on our trip with all of our stuff still on a trailer!  Ha thanks to Scott's family for moving it in while we were gone.

So we started planning our trip last October.  We signed up for a tour but it only spent three days in Italy, which was a lot less than I had wanted. So, we decided to go nine days early and spend that time in Italy before we joined with the tour group.   I always tell people, "This was not a vacation, this was an adventure!"  We were going a 100% all the time so we could fit everything in.   We went a lot of places so there will be many blog posts. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the stories as you share in our European Road Trip.

Day 1: Landed in Roma.  Excited yet exhausted. We had left our house in St. George at eight a.m. so we could make our flight from Vegas at eleven.  Flew to Detroit. Flew to Paris. Flew to Rome. Lay over time = 8 hours.  Flying time =14-15 hours.  It was long but so worth it.  We landed about 4pm in Rome and decided to just unpack, shower and then go into the city in the morning.  We decided to eat at the hotel and, well, lets just say this dinner began the first of many meals where we felt totally ripped off.  Scott ordered some ravioli and I ordered some vegetable soup.  I wish I had a picture of Scott's face when he saw his plate of food.  If you know anything about the Hoopes' boys, you know food is no joking matter. The plate literally had about twelve raviolis on it. They were not that big either.  Scott looked at the plate and then looked at me as if he was saying, "If this is how it is the whole time, I am either going to die or I'm going home."  I have never seen him look more sincerely concerned in his life. Ha priceless.

The next morning we had two walking tours.  We started at the Colosseum but couldn't go in at first because the workers were on strike (we found our striking is a very European thing to do and happens frequently).  So we started with the Palentine Hill and then ended up in the Colosseum at the end.  I won't retell all of the absolutely astounding history we learned that day but I will tell you walking through those places gives you such a unique feeling.  At least it did for me because I had wanted to visit these places my whole life.

We stopped at the Colosseum to take some pictures.  Notice that part of the outer wall of the Colosseum is missing.  There was an earthquake and all of the outer part fell off and then was taken by various Pope's to build religious buildings, as was much of the Roman Forum.

Oh the gladiators outside the Colosseum.  This story is truly a tribute to my naivety.  So, I see these guys dressed up like gladiators and I think to myself, "Cool, this is just like Disney Land, you can go take your pictures with these gladiators!"  I begged and begged Scott to come and take a picture with these gladiators.  I figured, hey, we are in ROME!  Lets do it.  So after begging and pleading and begging, I finally got my pictures with the gladiators.

So, we get our pictures with the gladiators and the one taking the picture hands me my camera and says in his Italian accent, "That will be ten Euro" SHUT UP!!!!! Ten Euro for three stinking pictures.  I was NOT about to pay this guy ten Euro's for these dumb pictures.  The worst part was the look on Scott's face which said, I told you so!  So what did I do?  I lied. Thats right. Flat. Out. Lied.  I told them I only had enough change to ride the subway and my credit card.  He kept pressuring me so I turned out my pockets.  Luckily I had hidden my money somewhere else on me.  I told him I would delete the pictures but then he just walked away, disgusted that I wouldn't pay him!  So there you go.  I was Naive but I conned a con man!

p.s. Take a note of the gentleman in picture one just behind Scott. In picture two, he is leaving and picture three he is gone. He knew what these guys were up to.  The gladiators were probably going to charge him too!

Palentine Hill

The inside of the Colosseum.  The floor and seats have completely decayed but interestingly enough, it makes for an even greater spectacle!

The Vatican.
It was breath taking to be here.  The Vatican museums are amazing. The artwork they possess are awe-inspiring. The history behind every piece is so rich.  We were glad we took a guided tour of the Vatican and were able to see all the highlights.  There is no way we could have done the Vatican without the tour.  We saw many works of art that I remember studying in Mr. Wegkamp's class at Dixie High.  It was so neat to see all of it in real life.  We saw where the Pope waves to everyone on sunday morning.  We saw were the smoke comes out when a new Pope is chosen.  St. Peter's is beyond description.  It was amazing to go and experience first hand where so much of our World's History was shaped.

We had our first Roman pizza at this little restaurant.  It was so good we had two!

Sunday, we hunted for the church.  We took the A line all the way to the end.  We got off and knew we were no longer in the tourist part of Rome, mostly because we could't find ourselves on our map!  We were slightly scared and first, and in the end, we don't really know how we found the church, but we did.  We found the church and waited for two hours for people to show up and no one did.  Turns out it was stake conference! Of course!  So we spent the day walking around and seeing all the sights that were free.  We started off with a lunch at the oldest restaurant in the Piazza Navona.  Scott had Spaghetti Bolognese and I had Spaghetti noodles with Garlic, olive oil and red peppers. I can't remember the name but I had it almost every day after that (along with Gellato) and it was delicious!

Trevi Fountain.  Yes we threw the coin in. Yes we made a wish. 

It was the most beautiful day that Sunday and we were so glad we were able to walk around and experience all the amazing sights in Rome.  Its so crazy because you are just walking through the streets and you run into a picture from your history book.  No joke, we stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain! Came around a corner and there is the Pantheon.  Everything was so close and in walking distance.  We walked our hearts our in Rome and loved every second.


Well, I guess this is my semi-anual blog post.  I really should be better.  I commit to myself every time I blog that I will blog again in a week.... and then six months goes by!  It seems time has just flown since we were married!  Its already been over a year. We have had some really fun times and I thought I would catch you up on all those before I started into our most recent and long awaited adventure.  So here is to the last six months...

I had Lasik eye surgery.  This is how I looked every night for two weeks.  I had to tape shields onto my face in case I accidently bumped my face in the night.  Number one, I look rediculous.  Number two, poor Scott. Not only did he have to say goodnight to that face every night but he had to tape the shields in place while I held them!  Besides marrying Scott, Lasik was the best decision I ever made. After I had the surgery , Scott would ask if I liked it and honestly, I would forget I even had it.  It was so easy to forget that I couldn't see before because now I can see so well.  Goodbye to bent glass frames from laying on a pillow trying to watch a movie.  Adios red eyes from contact lenses.  Good riddance!

(The above is my obsession for the month of February.  I don't know how many I consumed and frankly, I would be frightened to find out.)

Valentines Day:  What can I say?  We both went all out.  It was our first Valentines Day as a married couple.  Scott's family does a big scavenger hunt every year with heart shaped clues hidden all around the house.  Since we were married, we were on our own and so we both, unbeknownst to the other, planned a scavenger hunt to carry on the tradition.  Mine was, lets just say, less grand than the one Scott planned.  Scott had made heart shaped clues with bar codes on the back that I would scan with my phone to get the next clue (you may be wondering how that is even possible and... I can't tell you how he did.  But he did.  And he thought it was hilarious.)  My hunt took me from BYU campus to my aunts house, and other various places around Provo.  Unfortunately for Scott, mine was only around our apartment.  No matter the size of the hunt, we both had a good time and created some great memories. 

Scotty with his first clue!

In march, we made a quick trip to Cali to get out of the cold and enjoy some time with the fam.  We had a great time and enjoyed all the eating out and shopping.  

Of course a family vacation is never complete without a little bump in the road.  Or, in our case, a big bump that shredded our tire.  After a very stressful hour of trying to get it fixed, a California road way assistance (something or other) came to the rescue.  He popped the old tire right off and put the spare on, and away we went.  Stressful at the time, but a great memory now.

To end our little vacation, we went to Wicked with Travis and Lindsey. It was so fun to get to spend the evening with them.  This was also the first time that Scott had ever been and he was so excited.  This was our Christmas present from Scott's parents and it was just perfect!

After our vacation, it was back to reality.  I finished up all my classes and the afternoon after my last final, we were headed back to St. George.  Our time in Provo was so much fun and even though we were sad to be away from our family, we definitely enjoyed our time in Utah County.  Some things we will miss include:

1) All the new places to eat.  We love trying new food.  There was so much variety up there.  Some food was great.  Other food was... less than great but one thing you could count on was that it always was an adventure!

2) Macaroni Grill.  When we didn't try a new place, this is where we went. In fact, my goal was to get sick of it before we moved home so I wouldn't miss it.  It didn't work.

3) BYU sporting events.  We lived so close to campus and were able to attend so many games.  We had season tickets to BYU football and I know Scotty loved being so close and attending those.

4) The shopping.  Ok, I love the how many stores there are in Provo because compared to St. George there is a lot!  I miss Banana Republic and the awesome deals I always seem to find.  Scott is probably happy we are out of there for this reason but, well, I'm not!

Provo, until we meet again.