Sunday, August 12, 2012

Graduation Trip to the Meditteranean!

8 years, marriage, and 2 kids later, I finally graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Business from Utah State. My parents, in an effort to encourage their kids to graduate from college, offered a trip anywhere in the world if we graduated. I gotta admit that little incentive gave me a boost when things got hard! Haha!  Anyway, after much deliberation, I decided on a Mediterranean cruise, with a few extra days spent in Rome.  We were gone for about 12 days and the girls stayed with Lance's parents on the weekends we were gone, and my Aunt Kate during the week.  It was hard to leave them, but it was really nice to get a little break!

First stop was Rome! We got there and had a day and half there before the cruise started. We got there at about 10am (after a LONG day and night of travel!) and couldn't check into our hotel yet so, despite our lack of sleep, we set out to see the sights!
 Inside the Colosseum
 Taking a break while walking through the Roman Forum
 Cooling off with our first gelatto of the trip

After a few hours, we were able to go back to our hotel and take a much-needed nap before setting out again to see more sights.

 Me and my mom sitting on the Spanish Steps.  I'm in the blue shirt at the bottom of the picture and this old peddler man was giving us "free" flowers! Haha!
 Trevi Fountain
Throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain to ensure our return to Rome 
 The Pantheon - the picture does not do it justice! This thing is huge and really magnificent!
Demonstrating how big the Pantheon pillars are
 More gelatto from the famous Giolitti's
 Our little hotel room with a cute little window overlooking a dark alley! Haha
 My mom and I waving from our hotel windows

The next day, after catching the metro to the train station, hopping the train to the port, walking (with our luggage) half a mile to the shuttle, and then taking the shuttle to the ship, we were definitely ready to get our cruise started!  We had a nice relaxing evening with lots of good food. The next morning, we were off and running again in Sicily.  We rented a car and my dad drove us to a little town up in the hills called Taormina.

 Beautiful view of the coast from Taormina
 It was a quaint little town with lots of old churches and ruins
 Lance and my dad eating legendary Sicilian canoli

After strolling through Taormina, we headed down to a little beach called Isola Bella. It was a really rocky beach, but it had a little sandbar that we crossed to this cool island and climed around on all the big rocks.
 We are those three dots climbing on the big rocks
Beautiful views of the Sicilian coast line

The next stop was Turkey. We booked a tour to see the ancient city of Ephesus and man was it amazing!  It is crazy the kind of things those people were able to build! And the workmanship is so detailed! Again, pictures just cannot do it justice, but here are some for you anyway!
One of the more famous ruins in Ephesus
The amphitheater. That thing was huge!
View of the port. You can see our cruise ship in the background

After the tour, we asked around and hopped a local bus to this great beach.  The weather was great and the water was nice. 
Getting some sun in Turkey
Lance and my dad doing some body surfing

Ok, we're halfway through! Next stop, Athens! This was, by far, the most fun port because we got to take a Segway tour!  I wasn't completely sold on the idea before we came and thought it was a little nerdy, but after a few minutes on those things, we were all having a blast!  It was also nice not to have to walk everywhere for a change.  We cruised up hills, through gardens, dodged pedestrians, and crossed busy streets.  We all made it through without injury, despite all the horror stories we heard when we told people we were going to do a Segway tour. After the segways, we went up to the Acropolis and walked around there for a bit before we had to high-tail it back to the ship.
Mars Hill, with the Acropolis in the background
Me and Lance on our segways. Oh how sweet!
The whole gang
Posing in front of the Parthenon
Lance and my dad, listening to Rick Steve's audio tours everywhere we went
We were experts at riding the metro after this trip!

The last stop on the cruise was Crete.  I had always dreamed of going horseback riding on some exotic beach with the wind blowing through my hair, and when I found out they had horseback riding on Crete, I jumped at the chance.  Let's just say things didn't go exactly according to plan! ;) The ride was several hours long and our backsides were definitely not used to riding! Plus, my horse was stubborn and was always wanting to stop and eat. Anyway, we probably won't be riding horses again anytime soon.  The views were beautiful though, and riding on the beach was fun.
All set to ride. Helmets were also not part of my dream! ;)
Me, Lance, dad and mom(on the midget horse)
After the ride, we needed to relax a little, so we headed to the same beach to catch some rays

The next day was a day at sea, and also happened to be my birthday.  We hung around the ship, playing mini golf, going roller blading, reading and relaxing on deck, and of course, lots and lots of eating! When the cruise was over, we still had two days left to explore more of Rome so we went to the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basillica, and Castel Sant'angelo.  Then we stayed out until it got dark and got to see Rome all lit up.  It was beautiful!
Vatican Museum
Inside St. Peter's
St. Peter's Square
Castel Sant'Angelo
Lance bought me a rose (how romantic ;) at the Colosseum

Wow, what a trip!  It was so much fun to see all these places and experience so many new cultures.  Thanks Mom and Dad for the trip and for being such great traveling companions!  We could have never done it without you!


  1. WOW Kel! What an amazing trip. I bet when your girls are driving you crazy (not that they'd ever do that) you escape back to your cruise in your head! Ha!

  2. that looks so fun! don't you just love italy?! hopefully we'll make it back someday-we should go together! and then you can show us around greece! it's a plan!

  3. the only thing you are missing is a white dress :) congrats on graduating!!

  4. That trip looks amazing! I am super jealous! Someday... We need to get together soon!

  5. I am so jealous of your trip! It sounds like it was AWESOME!!! And congrats on the degree!!

  6. Beautiful!!!
    What an wonderful trip!!!
    After spending a summer in Europe, I am hooked! I can't wait to go with Richard and the girls!
    PS We did have gelato EVERY DAY we were in Italy! Nothing like it on earth!