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This is my blog post from my trip to Annecy France, Geneva Switzerland, Rome, and Malta. Sorry its so long. Should give you some ideas and info.
Over the Thanksgiving break (Nov. 16-26), I had the chance to travel all over Europe to 4 different countries. And what an awesome trip it was. Between the beautiful views of Annecy to the interesting experiences in Rome, and finally a culture shock in Malta, it was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. Thanks to Joey and Luke, and my always entertaining roommate Aaron for making it such a memorable trip. So here we go!
Friday morning we had to get up real early to catch a train to Annecy. A couple of us had gone out the night before to the local college, Oniris, for their weekly party, and I was definitely regretting booking such an early trip the next morning. After 5 hours on the train, the last hour through the foothills of the alps, we arrived. Annecy is a small city on the east coast of France just a few miles from the Swiss boarder. The town is in a valley surrounded by mountains and right next to a beautiful lake. This place was literally my ideal town to call home, except I don’t know that much French and the skiing is a little too far. But its sooooo cool! We met up with the lady we were renting our apartment from and got settled. We went out and got some groceries and then called it a night.
The next morning we got up early and set out for our hike. We had all packed lots of warm clothes expecting to be hiking through feet of snow. Little did we know that Annecy was in a warm spell and we’d be in t-shirts and shorts by the time we reached the summit haha. What a view! When we finally reached the top we were greeted by an awesome 360° view of the mountains, lake and city. Here’s a panoramic I did of the mountains. The snow-capped mountains on the left are the Alps, the peak in the middle is La Tournette, and the lower right is Lake Annecy. This picture is 10 captures combined and took me almost an hour to make because the initial file was 1.4 gb and crashed my computer haha. Click it for full resolution.
The hike ended up totaling about 10 miles; 4 miles to and from our apartment to the trail head and then 6 miles up and down the mountain. Fun day! We went back to the apartment and made some dinner, put on a movie and went to bed. Sunday morning we got up and were all stoked to go biking around the lake and check out the town. But we forgot a small
detail; nothing is open in France on Sundays… so we ended up walking around old-town Annecy and going to the local market. That night we had Raclette with fresh cheese, assorted meats and potatoes that we picked up at the market. If you haven’t had this, I feel bad for you. It’s soooooo delicious. Raclette is a cheese, and you melt it and pour it over potatoes and fresh-cooked meet. So freaking good. I don’t care how bad it might be for you. It’s worth it.
Over the course of the weekend, a certain member of our group decided to eat 13 eggs within about 36 hours. Needless to say it wrecked his stomach and our sense of smell. I just needed to put this in here because it was a major part of the trip. No names will be mentioned, but his initials are Joey Shoup. Lesson learned, don’t buy 2 dozen eggs just because they’re cheap…
Monday was a travel day. We took a train from Annecy to some small town in the middle of nowhere and hopped on a bus to Geneva, Switzerland. This country is expensive as hell! I mean who can afford a frickin Big Mac for $12??? We looked it up and it turns out Geneva is like the fourth most expensive city in the world. Perfect for a group of poor college kids… We ended up getting $1 baguettes and a $1.50 bottle of jam as our dinner. We checked into our hostel and then went out to explore the town for a bit. We rented bikes for a couple hours and rode around the lake. We learned another lesson that day: don’t put Aaron on a bike in a high-traffic area. We found a playground for Aaron to frolic around on, and then went back to our hostel. Woke up the next morning and went to the airport to catch our flight to Rome, Italy!
Ok so went in the Colosseum for a bit which was pretty neat. Most of the stone work is still there but the wooden battleground and bleachers have obviously rotted away. After that we moved on to the Roman forums which kinda disappointing as most of it was in pieces. We then made our way over to the Circus Maximus, where all the chariot racing took place and where Ben Hur was filmed. Fun fact for ya, this track was the biggest entertainment center in the world.
Unfortunately Nascar ruined that for them… The rest of the day was spent visiting the Pantheon, Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, an awesome gelaterie, and a quaint little restaurant that served the second best lasagna I’ve ever had. Second to my Nana’s lasagna of course!
Rome is a city that I am glad I got to see, but I have no need to return. It is very dirty and touristy, even in the off season. The streets are cramped and I always felt closed in, more than any other city I’ve been to. As you should know by now I like mountains and the ocean, so I had a less than splendid time in Italy. Oh well, it was fun for a day and I’m happy to check it off the list.
The next morning (Thursday), Aaron and I said goodbye to Joey and Luke and left for the airport. The guys were going to northern Italy to meet up with another part of the group. I felt bad for them since we were going to the beautiful island country of Malta!
[IMG]malta-map.com/maltese_islands/europe/666463/europe_malta_map_location.gif[/IMG]Malta was a shock to me. In case you don’t know, The Maltese Islands are a small country in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Its actually south of Africa’s northern tip. We left the airport and hopped on the shuttle bus to the north end of the island. The bus traveled through a couple several cities that looked so foreign to me. The country is less than 17 miles at it’s widest point, with most of it taken up by farmland, and yet there’s almost half a million people living there. This is the closest I have been to being in a third world country. All the buildings are the same drab yellow, with flat walls and protruding plumbing. It is far from a developed country, and yet it is one of the first places that man roamed the earth! I know I complained about the Dutch language, but Maltese might as well be an alien language. Apparently its a combination of Italian and Arabic. Its just ridiculous. Here’s a sample I pulled off Google.
Ok so Thursday (Turkey Day) evening was spent getting settled in our apartment and grocery shopping. Our Thanksgiving feast consisted of Ramen Noodles, frozen chicken cordon bleu hot pockets, and cider. Friday was awesome! We spent the whole day in Paradise Bay, which is a secluded little beach at the base of some cliffs. It was just the two of us, some old guy from Wales who we later talked to, and some old lady who decided to spend the day sunning and bathing in the nude. YUUUUUCK. But the water was absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen clearer water; you could see forever! That made it a little bit easier to avoid all the little jelly fish swimming around. We spent the morning exploring the bay, jumping off little cliffs, and trying to teach Aaron how to backflip. After that we pretty much just relaxed beach and did some snorkeling. It was a good day.
Saturday morning we took the bus up to the north point to catch the bus to Gozo. Gozo is the second biggest island with a much smaller population. It’s home to several tourist attractions, but since the buses were so slow, we only made it to two. First we went to the Temples. Its the oldest man-made free-
standing structure in the world. Pretty nifty. Aaron is into that sorta stuff so I happily tagged along. We actually met a girl on the bus from Canada who was spending the semester there. Small world. We got back to the central bus station and had to wait half an hour for the next bus so we thought we’d go explore. We found a little corner pastry shop and decided to try a couple local snacks. There’s these things called pastizzi; they’re hand-sized flaky pastries with cheese or pea filling, and they’re only 25 cents a piece! We were in heaven. They were fantastic.
After our tasty treat we went to the Azure Window. Something about the geology of the Maltese Islands allows for some unique erosion to happen. Lots of caves, arches, and terrain that makes you think you’re on Mars. After a 10 minute ride and an extra mile and a half walk, thanks to our trusty tour guide, we made it to the arch. It was beautiful! I think the top of the arch is like 70 feet from the water. Cliff jumping was awesome….. . Aaron and I went up on top and hung out for a bit, took a couple pictures, and then hopped on the bus back to the ferry. Later that night we went to a city in southern Malta for dinner and got some delicious penne alla carbonara and fried-dough calzones. Yum.
Sunday was our last day. We got up earlier and took a little ferry to Comino, a small island in between Gozo and Malta. Comino is home to the Blue Lagoon, which is where we spent our day snorkeling in the crystal clear water. It was so cool. Only problem was all the jelly fish. They were about the size of your hand and hard to spot, but as Aaron found out, they sting bad. We walked around the 1 square-mile island in the afternoon and found some perfect 40-50 foot cliffs to jump off. A bunch of older tourists enjoyed watching us jump and backflip for a couple hours. We spent a couple hours gettin our bronze on, and then headed back to the docks. The day wasn’t over so we walked back to Paradise Bay for a final swim and watch the sun set before heading back to Nantes the next morning. We swam for an hour or two and then climbed back up the cliffs to see the sun go down. Hhhhoooooollllllyyy snokes what an awesome sunset it was. It was hands-down the best I have seen in my life. So stoked I had my camera with me to capture it. Only had space for 25 pictures left on my card so I had to make them good! What do ya think? I’m pretty stoked on how it turned out. No I didn’t edit it much, just made the colors look as real as they did that night. It was amazing. Aaron and I just stood there and watched the sun sink into the sea. What an awesome end to an amazing trip!