On our way to Venice, we made a rather quick stop in Innsbruck, Austria, host of two Winter Olympic Games in a country known for ski jumping. I only have one picture of Austria, and all I can say about it is…it was the best schnitzel I’ve ever had, and I’ll forever be in debt to a kind gentleman over there.IMG_3049Well, let’s focus on the schnitzel. The veal schnitzel (wiener schnitzel – not at ALL what you’d picture here) was more than delicious. It’s a very popular dish in Austria. Seriously, look it up. You don’t want to be picturing some fast food American hot dog when you read about this. It was the first I’ve had, came with a side of delectable roasted potatoes, and I ended up having to eat it all as finger food on the bus. While I may have looked ridiculous, I didn’t even care because 1) it was way too good to care, and 2) I owed it to that sweet Austrian man not to complain.

Moving on, we made our way through much highway traffic into Italy.

Y’all, I LOVE Italy!!

Take a look here at the vineyards right off the highway:

IMG_3054Also, I know this may be Americanized, but I couldn’t help the song “That’s Amore” from playing in my head practically the whole time we were there. I’ve posted it here for your enjoyment.

Our hostel was probably my favorite of the trip in terms of location. All we had to do was walk down the street to get to this: IMG_3065Hello Mediterranean!

And directly across the street from us was a lovely pizzeria owned by a family who was oh so nice! We couldn’t help but ordering our own pizzas. No sharing here.

10672277_10153467281733156_6638882413325962703_nYuuuummmm! Oh, and did I mention they also had a gelato stand? We had everything we needed within arm’s length! The second night we took pizza and bottles of wine down to the beach, played music, shared stories, and dipped our toes in the ocean. Just might be my favorite night of the trip!

Oh Italy, you were lovely.P1020184This was the boat we rode to get into the city.

Behold, Venice:P1020141 P1020145 P1020147 Saint Mark’s Basilica – beautiful church. Now there was a rule for going inside where ladies had to keep their shoulders and knees covered. I wore a dress that day and ended up throwing on leggings with little time to lose…in the middle of the public square..  Not something I’d like to repeat, but at least I was admitted into the church, haha.

P1020149 P1020151 P1020153 P1020157 P1020164 Riding an actual gondola in VENICE!! Our gondolier refused to sing but requested, “You sing for me”. We had no Mariah Carey aboard that boat, so there was no singing. After a while, however, he resorted to beautiful whistling in the quiet bends of the canals, the acoustics carrying the sound and echoing off the walls. It was splendid.

P1020165 My beautiful new friend, Becca, looking fabulous up front. The gondolier also had fun rocking the boat a bit, and poor Becca slid helplessly from side to side on that bench! I’m sure our giggling encouraged him though.

P1020166 The rest of our group! Loving his smirk.


P1020143The following pictures were taken from the top of this bell tower, St Mark’s Campanile.

P1020169 P1020171 P1020172 P1020176 P1020179

Ok, now we need to talk about the food. I’ve already mentioned the amazing pizza. I’m telling you, I don’t even know if I can order pizza anytime soon in the states…it just wouldn’t measure up! What else do Italians eat? Why, pasta of course! And these were our two meals the entire time we were there. No complaining, at all.

But now for the best part: gelato.

P1020180 Yum! I’m embarrassed to say just how many times I got gelato the two days we were in Italy, but all the flavors were mmmm, delizioso! I will admit that I made the mistake of going back to the same gelato stand twice…and the guy totally laughed at me.

P1020181 Also, this is a picture of the best cappuccino I have ever had. It didn’t hurt that it was made by the most attractive guy I saw in Italy either. I waltzed into that place having a little too much fun with my Italian, “Buongiorno! Cappuccino,” just loving the way that rolled off my tongue. In Italy you drink your coffee standing at the bar if you want to spend less money for your caffeine fix. I was totally fine with the view though.

I might as well say a word on the Italian men. Again, I was only in the country for a short amount of time and I’m not sure how accurate my impressions are, but it was very flattering to be greeted, “Ciao bella,” especially as you heard that wonder in their voice at remarking hello beauty. Or even “sorry, bella” as one of them might have stepped in our way. Always that word, bella. Not a bad thing to be called.

I even had a moment just after purchasing a lovely oil painting of a Venetian canal from a street vendor where he stopped me to ask my name. We introduced ourselves, shook hands, and he looked straight into my eyes and told me with a certain charm, “You are very beautiful.” And that was pretty much it, he just wanted me to know. What a way to make a girl’s day!

On our way out of Italy we stopped in Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet.

P1020190 P1020194 Juliet’s balcony.

P1020196 With some difficulty, I found a spot to write my name on Juliet’s wall. Fun fact: my grandparents have also written their names on this very same wall.

IMG_3075 I’ll give you $100 if you can find it in this picture. Well, maybe not $100, but at least you can know that you have mad locating skills.

P1020203 So maybe I didn’t make it to Rome, but behind me is the third largest arena in the world. Pretty magnificent in itself.

IMG_3069 IMG_3071 Meet Becca and Allie. Our second night in Munich I asked them to go to dinner with us, and from that moment on our group of four became six. We bonded so well, having found the other Texans in the group, and seriously, so glad I met these girls! It was also the perfect time to become friends, because when we got to Italy we could only fit three to a room. That would have been so awkward for the four of us from Dallas, but I ended up rooming with these ladies and I love them! I’m just so sad that Houston is so far away…

Next stop: Engelberg, Switzerland



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