Author: travelingu


A replica of the statue of David just outside the Academia
Our little apartment is situated close to downtown and located under a grocery store, this cute well maintained apartment is a perfect place to set up camp on your next trip to Florence. It sleeps 4 and has a full kitchen, large bathroom and is air-conditioned. Having the grocery store just above you is perfect as we bought our food for the next few days for about half the cost of one meal out. The first thing we did was to go into the center of town and do a little shopping and exploring. The open market is huge and is a great place to pick up those few special trinkets to remind you of your stay in Italy. We also found an Internet café as neither the farmhouse nor the apartment had Internet. 
It seems that on this trip we have been doing deserts before dinner and enjoyed some delicious Gelato before heading home to make dinner.  We decided it was time for hamburgers, so we purchased form Italian sausage and hamburger and mixed it all together with herbs, olive oil and some balsamic to make a delicious Italian hamburger toped with fresh tomatoes, lettuce. 


Finding an internet hotspot while eating Gelato…. of course!

On Sunday, after a good night sleep we decided to find a church nearby to attend. It is always fun to attend church in different counties. You may not be able to understand everything, but it is a good place to be and to meet others who can help direct you to new and interesting places to visit that you may not have thought of. Before we arrived we looked for some places to provide some humanitarian service but had a hard time finding any. While at church we met a lady who told us about two places we could check out.

We finished the day by exploring more of Florence and enjoying the warm sun and beautiful day. 

While driving we found a beautiful field of sunflowers

*Originally posted 6/2011



DSCN9808Of all of the places we have stayed in Italy, Capezzana has to be our favorite – so far. We are not sure if it’s the quite out of the way location, the wonderful memories and friendships we developed over the years or simply a combination of the all, but this place holds a certain magic for our family. Set in the Tuscan hills just outside Florence among olive groves and vineyards is the main villa which is the home of the Count and Countess Bonacossi. The villa dates back to the Medici family as it was originally built for one of their daughters. On our first stay here a few years ago we rented from the daughter and son in-law of the Bonaccosi’s in their 600-year-old restored farmhouse. Since that time their daughter passed away and Marcello has moved from their home in Florence into the farmhouse, so we rented a farmhouse directly from the Villa just down the road from where we stayed previously. We were surprised how quickly everything came back to our memory. The roads, buildings and landmarks all came flooding back as we wound our way through the narrow roads of the region of Carmignano in Tuscany. 
Because we were planning on visiting Florence on Saturday and Sunday we just took this time to relax and unwind in Capezzana from the nonstop adventures and there is no better place to do this. Here we became real Italians, in no rush just living life and even taking a nap in the afternoon while the rain fell outside. We also renewed old friendships with Marcello and his family and simply recharged our batteries. 
*Originally posted 6/2011


DSC_7215_2Day 8 was a travel day. We slept in and got some much needed rest and then packed up for our flight to Milan. Flying around Europe is both easy and cheap. With discount airlines like Ryan Air and Easy Jet, the bigger airlines have been forced to compete in a very crowded European market. Our Lufthansa flight from Prague 
was only $38 and they also didn’t charge us for our checked bags and gave us lunch. Makes you really wonder about US airlines. We landed in Milan and rented our car, a supposed 5 passenger with luggage space for 4. Because our oldest daughter and her husband flew to Paris we only had 4 of us and figured a smaller car would work just fine. It did, but it was a tight fit. On our way to Venice we stopped off in Verona where the story of Romeo and Juliet was set, but the tomb of Juliet was closed, so we had to settle for a few pictures through the gate. 
We were also hungry and so our first meal in Italy was Mexican (what is wrong with that picture:)! We arrived at our hotel, the Hotel Piave in Mestre late and had the wonderful surprise of an upgrade to a Jr. Suite at no additional charge. The Hotel Piave is located near the centre of Mestre and was very close to a bus stop that would take us into Venice. We prefer to stay in Mestre because the prices are much better than in Venice. This was a quaint older hotel but very clean and well maintained. 1.20 Euro gets you into Venice by bus and from there you can explore until your hearts content. 
Day 9 was spent both in Venice and Murano. Venice is such a romantic city. Dale and I will really have to come back just the two of us. We were told that Venice is really struggling for money, which surprised me because it was packed with tourists. Apparently they are still coming but not spending as much while there so it seemed like the whole city was on sale. In fact, we write in our book, ‘Have Kids – Will Travel’ that it is best to wait and buy Murano glass items when you go the island of Murano. But this time, Venice had better prices on many of the items we wanted. 
Getting around is easy. You can wind your way through the narrow passageways, which is my favorite way or you can take the water buses. We did a little of both, but we think we did more walking than riding, or at least that is what our feet were telling us when we were done. We stayed all day and had a wonderful dinner nearby the Rialto Bridge. A good note to remember, if you buy your food ‘to go’ in Italy, it is one price. If you sit and eat at the same place it will cost more, but keep in mind that does include the tip. After a long day of walking in new sandals, it was well worth the small extra price to sit. 
Tonight we enjoy the comfort of our room and tomorrow we head to Florence. We are staying just outside of Florence in Capezzana Carmignano.This is where we stayed on our first trip to Italy. It will be good to renew old friendships and just relax among the vineyards and olive groves. 
*Originally posted 6/2011




As with all of our destinations we were quite sad to leave Vienna, mainly because there was so much more to see. This however only gives us more reason to return. We drove back to Prague stopping at the Bone Church in Kutna Hora and the Karlstejn Castle. The bone church was very interesting. It is decorated with the bones of the people who died during the Plague. There are tens of thousands of bones creating chandeliers, wall creations and more. Probably the best part was meeting a young couple that has spent 10 months traveling through Asia and Europe and just talking about travel.


Note to self… The Karlstejn Castle is closed on Mondays. This castle is just 15 minutes from the Prague airport by car. The castle is magnificently set on a hill overlooking the very small town of Karlstejn. Because the castle was closed most everything else was too, so we walked around and took beautiful pictures. The drive there and back was also beautiful as we drove through the countryside and small villages into the mountains. 




We then returned to the Marriott Courtyard where we had two free rooms waiting for us. Prague airport is very interesting. It isn’t a big airport but had great facilities and even a grocery store, which we used to buy items for breakfast. We then relaxed for the evening and got ready for our flight out the next day to Milan, Italy. 




We really have jumped around more on this trip than we usually do, trying new things as far as accommodations and such. Probably the best tip we could give you for both Czech and Austria is to get a place where you can fix your own meals. Restaurants weren’t too bad, but with six people it still adds up. Groceries were very reasonable and in the Czech, we believe they were even less than in the US. 


See you in Italy!
*Originally posted 6/2011
We began the day at the Spanish Riding School watching the most magnificent horses perform. The Lipizzaner horses are among the most beautiful in the world and when Marissa  found out we were going to be in Vienna and could watch them, she had to go. The show was magnificent. Dale grew up training horses and couldn’t believe the discipline and training that has gone into this Lipizzaner performance. There are several ticket choices from the very expensive, for the upfront and personal view, to standing tickets for 26 Euro, which is what they got. Also there were only three who went, Marissa, Tim and Dale. They would also recommend purchasing them no later than the day before and preferably online well before the show. There are only limited shows and they sell out quick. 

After the show they met up with the rest of our crew and went to the Shonbrunn Palace, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. This was the summer home to the Imperial family who ruled Europe. As mentioned in our last blog Prague had a very old Europe, medieval feel while Vienna had an imperial high class feel to it. The Imperial family built palaces throughout the region of grand elegance and this palace was no exception. It had a similar feel to the Versailles with grand rooms and incredible grounds that now houses a zoo. There is a cost to get in the

The girls at the Shonbrunn Palace

Palace but it includes an audio tour, which is amazing. The fee also includes the maze and entrance to the top of the building on the hill behind the palace. 



After the Visit to the Palace we took the metro beck into town where we had the most incredible Apple Strudel at the Café Sperl a very old authentic café. We made it just in time for the last four pieces and devoured them before the waitress could bring us our water. They didn’t serve dinner there so after our desert we slipped into a wonderful noodle café and had Thai noodles and Pa-Thai and everyone was full and very happy. 
As mentioned before, everywhere you go someone is trying to sell you a performance. Keep in mind you are in the land of Mozart and Strauss and it would almost be a crime not to see a performance while here. We negotiated what we thought was a good price for both a Mozart and Strauss concert. It was to take place in the concert hall that is part of the Hofburg Palace in the place where Mozart had his first performance with his father and sister.  The concert was very nice, but it was over sold by the salesman who was telling us about the number of people in the orchestra etc. For the price, is was a great night of culture, in the city of culture. 
Tomorrow we leave Vienna and travel back to Prague with a few stops along the way to see more of the Czech countryside. 




 *Originally posted 6/2011




Day+5When planning this trip we hadn’t planned on coming to Vienna but we were told by many that it deserved a visit, that it was their favorite city and was even more beautiful than Prague. After seeing pictures of Prague we couldn’t believe that could be possible so we had to see for ourselves.  Now having seen both, we can see why people love it so. The architecture and feel is much different however from Prague. Prague has an older more rustic kingdom type feel to it, where Vienna has a more majestic monarch or imperial feel. Instead of castles, you have palaces and Vienna also has a more metropolitan feel to it. Both are incredible and both should be on your list to visit. 
Over the years we have had about 14 or so exchange students. Our second one was Milena from Germany. We have kept in contact with them all over the years and found out that she had moved to Vienna to go to school. We had the privilege today in reuniting with her and spending the afternoon catching up on her life and having her be our tour guide for this beautiful city. It was interesting to note that she was Marissa’s age when she first came to visit our family 10 years ago. Her family was the first hospitality exchange we experienced in Europe.
IMG_3909Vienna has an incredible metro transportation system and we recommend getting the 24-hour pass, which cost 5 Euro and allows you full access. It is very clean and very easy to use. You pop up out of any station and your mouth drops at yet another Palace or Opera house or the magnificent Cathedral or church. One thing we found was that around every corner was someone to sell you tickets to a performance. Negotiation is the key here and walk away if you feel they are working the deal too hard. They will tell you that they only have a few seats left and if you wait you won’t get any by each other. We waited, got a better deal and tomorrow we will find out what kind of deal we really got. We ended up with tickets to ‘The Best of Mozart and Strauss’ in the Hofburg Palace for 20 Euro each. Marissa, Tim and Dale are also going to see the ‘Lipizzaner Stallion’ performance in the morning. Marissa loves horses and is so excited to see these magnificent horses in action. 
Most of the day was spent exploring, and just taking in the city. We are so glad we added it to our itinerary, it was well worth the small side trip. The FREE hotel at the Marriott was not a bad price either!:) 



*Originally posted 6/2011


We were so sad to say goodbye to Prague. What a beautiful city!


We rented a car and drove to Vienna today. (A three-hour drive) In years past we have always used maps to provide us with our driving instructions but this time we downloaded the Europe maps to our GPS. There is something to be said about using old-fashioned maps, but the GPS is incredible when you need to get to your hotel in the city. It also doesn’t take naps, which seems to be very important for the navigator who should be directing you from the passenger seat but really wants to close her/his eyes and catch up on a little sleep. The other nice thing about the GPS is that it provides you with attractions and historical places along your route and also gives you their distance off the main road. Although stumbling onto a treasured small village while on your way to another place is always a treat. 

We stopped off at a few different places along our route and still made it to Vienna in time for a nice Austrian dinner near the hotel. The next three nights we are staying at the Courtyard by Marriott for FREE using the tips found in our book, ‘Have Kids – Will Travel’. From here we will explore Wien (Vienna) with its Opera houses and Lipizzan horses. Remember this was the home to both Strauss and Mozart so we hope to catch some incredible music during the music festival, which is on Sunday. 


For now it is time to say our first “Gute Nacht” from Austria. 

*Originally posted 6/2011
Legend has it that a man was traveling through this region by horseback and came to the Vitava river. He needed to get to the other side of the river, keep in mind this is a huge river, and he jumped his horse across the river and in honor of his victory over the river he had a cathedral built at that spot. This is where Prague began and this is also where we walked to at the end of our day three, boy we wish we had a horse. We didn’t realize how long of a walk it was. But it was beautiful and the view of the city was incredible. We were also able to see an incredible fireworks show with the Prague Castle as the backdrop. 



Today we went to Prague Castle. A quick note and reminder, if you have children over 16 and they are students, have them bring their student ID’s. Most places will provide a 50% discount for students. We walked all over the castle side of the city and then climbed a mountain to get an incredible view of the city and the bridges crossing the river. 
IMG_3452Dale discovered that an iPod is an invaluable tool for travelers. The best app he found is called Text Free with Voice. It works similar to Magic Jack but is free. They assign you a free US telephone number and you can buy 100 minutes for $1.99 and when you are connected to a wifi you can use it like a phone and call your friends and family back home cheap! The other app we recommend is a good currency converter.  This really helps keep the budget in check when you can tell how much something really cost in our money. The other app we have used is our walking tours app we talked about in our last blog. Of course facebook and other apps that help you stay connected are quick and easy. 
Tomorrow we leave this beautiful city and drive to Vienna. We will stop along the way and see the beautiful country of Czech Republic. It is so sad to say goodbye to a city like Prague when there is so much more to see. It will just mean we will need to come back again and again!
*Originally posted 6/2011
Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge
We arose early only to fall back to sleep which was much needed. First on the agenda was Prague City Old Town. We arrived just as the astronomical clock was about to strike. To our surprise there were live trumpeters on the very top of the tower who also announced the time. We met a friend of one of our neighbors back in Utah who lives in Prague and he took us on a tour of the city. We were also lucky to find out he is an architect and was able to explain the different buildings and when they were built. 
Old town


In addition to Old Town we did a tour of the Jewish quarter. This was incredible especially the Jewish cemetery. They were only given a small piece of land and many were buried on top of each other or standing up to conserve space. We used a great app on the iPod, which we found very useful. There is a lite version and a full version, which cost a few dollars but is worth it. It gives you walking tours and the Jewish Heritage was one. It provides you with a map and information about each site you visit. We have also down loaded one for Vienna. There are 15 different self-guided walking tours for Prague and each one looks incredible. 




IMG_3443We also went to the grocery store and bought enough food to last us the rest of our time here and the drive to Vienna. The total cost of that was not much more than our lunch this afternoon for all six of us at a restaurant. As we about in our book, this is one of the best ways to cut down on the cost of food while traveling. Cook and eat like a local. It is so fun trying to figure out what different things are called and to pick up a few local foods and try them out. We picked up a very interesting fruit tonight. The verdict is still out on how well it was enjoyed, but it was different and it was something we have never tasted before. 


Tonight we were welcomed back on St Charles Bridge with a beautiful sunset. Took some incredible pictures, walked across to the other side and visited some shops. I think we wore everyone out, we haven’t heard any complaints on going to bed. 

Tomorrow is Prague Castle and exploring the other side of the river. What an incredible day! 

*Originally posted 6/2011
After what seemed like eternity, we arrived last night in Prague. We continued to have our challenges as all of our luggage arrived except for one. However, Air France had already sent word to the Prague airport that they would be sending it o the next flight and we should have it by morning. 


Right before our flight from Salt Lake we were notified by the people renting us the apartment, that the Mozart apartment we booked had water issues and they would need to move us to a different apartment down the street. Although this new apartment didn’t have the reputation of having Mozart staying there, it is a beautiful apartment and is much closer to Old Town Prague than the Mozart. The building was built in the 15th Century and has room for seven. The kids all slept in the main room where they combined beds to make a giant bed, while Dale and I had the bedroom. It has a full bath and a large kitchen, which will come in handy and will save us on our food budget. If you are planning to stay in Prague we highly recommend As we walked to the bridge last night we stopped at a Hostel just to compare prices. The cheapest, dorm style rooms with no privacy  $17/night/person compared to our $20/night/person/apartment.
Jet lagging sleep time. They pulled all the beds together into one ginormous bed!
Our cute apartment from the outside
A few blocks to the left is St. Charles Bridge where you can get the most incredible view of the Prague Castle. A few blocks to the right is Old Town Square where we will begin our exploration of the city tomorrow.  Tonight we took a short walk to the bridge and to get acquainted with the streets around the apartment. Prague is lively, streets full of people, small shops tucked away in every corner. We can’t wait to discover some hidden treasures. 
*Originally posted 6/2011