Dec 13, 2011
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After the late mornings and even later nights of Barcelona, we were ready to head back to Paris for our final leg of the journey. Going back to meet up with my family once again before we left, we checked back into the Hotel Mayet for our short stay.

Paris was noteably warmer than we had left it, and we were able to walk around in light sweaters instead of heavy layers of jackets. The fog and rain had also moved on, replaced by perfect skies, very tall with streaked clouds.

Since the Louvre was closed on our first try of the trip, we decided to give it another go. The line wasn’t bad at all, and we spend a few hours wandering through the huge halls of the Louvre, nearly every vertical suface adorned with priceless artwork.

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Dec 07, 2011
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From Rome, it was a quick hour and a half flight over to Barcelona, and a 45 minute bus ride into town. Barcelona was strikingly different after being in the craziness of Rome. The city was much more modern and refined, with smoothly paved streets with central biking lanes. Everyone as a whole looked much more fit and the city seemed to be well taken care of. 

Public transportation was great once again, so we were able to get to everything relatively easily. Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia, which is pretty much indescribable. Rising out of the ground like a kid’s mud castle at the beach, it takes on organic forms and almost looks like it is alive. Inside, the support pillars look like trees branching off into space to hold the ceiling up, and the stained glass bathes everything in warm orange, red and lime green light. 

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Nov 30, 2011
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After finally getting used to the small size of Florence, it was then time to move on to Rome! It was a short hour and a half train ride into Roma Termini, right in the heart of the city. Rome’s heart beats much faster than Florence’s, and there always seemed to be a flurry of activity no matter what time you were out walking the streets. We settled in at the Mosaic Hostel which was only a few blocks from Termini, and began to plan our trip. 

Rome itself is so much to take in. The city is so rich in history and artifacts that it is nearly impossible to try and see them all in a short period of time. If we’d had the entire two and a half weeks to Rome itself, it might have been possible. It is overwhelming at first to walk up to these monuments that are older than you can even imagine. It is hard to wrap your mind around it at first! The Pantheon and Colosseum, both nearly 2,000 years old apiece with their well worn marble, smoothed from millions of footsteps over the years. The sheer size of them is amazing as well, a huge feat in engineering, given the tools that the ancient Romans had to work with. Pretty humbling stuff. 

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Part 2 of the series – on to Florence! After a few great days in Paris, we caught a night train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Firenze Santa Maria Novela. The train was loud and the air conditioning was less than stellar, so it made for an interesting trip!

Florence is a much smaller city that one would imagine. Most of the city is within a comfortable walking distance, and amazing monuments like Il Duomo are packed right into the city amongst shops and restaurants. We had a great time walking around and seeing amazing pieces of history like the Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River and the statue of David. 

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What a great trip it was! I have finally been able to sit down for a moment and go through some of the photos from my recent European adventure! Rather than place them all into one humongous blog posting, I’ve decided to break them up into segments as they were traveled. First stop was a driect flight from Houston Intercontinental to Paris Charles De Gaulle. 

I chose to use a photobook setup to condense the photos into viewable portions. I might make the individual photos available as well so that they can all be viewed full size. Stay tuned and I will probably provide a link to them. 

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