Posts Tagged ‘Vienna’

Dante’s Inferno – Diving into the Valley of Fire

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Feeling refreshed and ready after our luxury 3.5 hours of sleep we packed up our car to take on day 2! We said farewell to our fish friends and admired the pastel mountains surrounding us. Pahrump (pa-pa-pum), Nevada is the epitome of small desert town, but the contrast of flat, sparse ground and mountains are breathtaking. We couldn’t help but wonder if the locals take it for granted or if they actually fully appreciate the beauty each day.

7 Magic Mountains

We absolutely flew across the country to look at painted rocks. 0 regrets.

Our first official (daylight) stop was the “7 Magic Mountains”, an art installation south of Las Vegas. We went ready to brave the heat on a hike out into the desert… but it was really right off the highway. Not mad about it to be honest. We were greeted by some nice, sandy, wind tornadoes in the distance as we grew closer to the parking lot.

Not going to lie, we were fully prepared for it to be a gimmicky tourist trap that just somehow photographed well. Not the case! It was actually way more impressive than we expected. We sat there for a while pondering the important questions of:

  • how did they stack and make them stay (we have ideas, but still… tell me your secrets)?
  • do they repaint? Or is the paint just supposed to fade and that is part of the “deeper meaning” or artist expression [all those artsy things]

As for the photo ops – obviously there are a good amount of people there, but, if you are patient, there are good photo opportunities capable of avoiding random people in the background. You just need to move fast to take advantage of them! Mom always said patience was a virtue.

After appreciating the stacks, we climbed back in the car to head toward the “Valley of Fire.” While en route we drove through Vegas now during the daylight hours. Not as fun, but did quite enjoy the WIDE variety of billboards… most of which you would make you think “only in Vegas.”

Valley of Fire

The death grip we had on this sign…

UNDERRATED. I stan VAF. Entrance was meh, but awesome inside the park. When researching, it was always mentioned as an “if you have time” or as an alternative to the Wave. We ended up there for the latter of the two because we missed the lottery for the Wave hike, but we were SO happy we did. It isn’t quite as popular, getting there a little later helped too, so you aren’t battling crowds. It was actually really nice, empty, and low key while we were there.

First, and most importantly, let’s talk maps. After the previous night Valley of Fire’s blew us away. It was excellent. Easy to read, easy to navigate, marked sights… *Chef’s kiss*. AND THE ROAD SIGNS?! More than a girl’s heart can take.

I happily spent the first hour staring off into the park and acting as the official park greeter/ photographer while poor McAllister had to hop onto a zoom meeting.

The park was filled with a multitude of landscapes.

As you enter the park (from the Vegas side) you instantly see the juxtaposition between the grey mountains and red rock formations. The scenic route takes you up close and personal by the red rocks. You are able to pull to the side and scramble around the little caves and caverns. It definitely gave me strawberry pot vibes.

*As you will see, boot goes on and off depending on how spicy I’m feeling*

The red rocks also include a mini arch (eye of Sauron) and Atlatl Rock which was the star of the show for us. It displays petroglyphs [I kept saying hieroglyphs] that were drawn OVER 4000 YEARS AGO. We had to hike upstairs [spice level 0, boot it is] just to see them, we couldn’t stop talking about how impressive that they were able to climb up there and how interesting it is seeing where they deemed important enough to mark their life stories.

This guy apparently had a knack for the future. As you can CLEARLY see, he predicted not only MC and I visiting with the two lizard people, but Star Wars with the Tuscan Raider proudly brandishing his gaffi stick atop the mountain. No banthas though, just goats.

Also, at VAF, there are fancy petrified logs! Unfortunately for us, we had no idea what they were supposed to look like so it took us a few tries before finding the noticeably labeled and fenced off logs. We were just practicing with the 20 rock photos before… definitely not confused and trying to justify them looking like logs.

Not logs ➡ petrified log

The Valley changes yet again from red, to white, to a multi-colored pastel wave pattern. We were bummed that a lot of the hikes (including the Fire Wave hike we specifically came for) were closed for the summer because of extreme temperatures, even if it was only between 85-90 while we were there. No problem for us though! We still felt like we really got the full experience.

The pastel canyons were dreamlike. The yellows, reds, orange, purples, blues, whites, etc. were just swirling around you. A short hike (up a steeper sand slope) left you with a stunning view of the formations. Too overwhelming to properly articulate. We sat there for the longest time watching the golden glow illuminate the waves as the sun began to set and making up shapes in the surrounding rocks.

Do you see the sleeping giant manatee?

Exiting the park we enjoyed continuing to find faces and other objects in the rock formations while searching for the elusive goats (to no avail.)

At the Utah exit we made our final stop to see “Elephant Rock.” The quote signs are very important there because once again we struggled finding this because we just couldn’t see it. We found three other better, rock elephants that, to us, were much more obvious.

The night fell and we admired the stars as we made our way to our Tiny Cabin near Zion.

Tiny cabin was absolutely precious and comfortable. We bathed ONCE AGAIN and returned to our cabin to make PB&Js for dinner, only to find that there were no paper towels or knives. ROUGHING IT. Good thing we have fingers for knives to spread our peanut butter, brain cells at work. Concerning that this was such a struggle seeing that we have our straight up dirt dome stay coming up.

Thoughts/ additional notes of the day:

  • I find people are less intimidated by you and more likely to accept your offer for picture help when booted. I guess in their mind you will probably be easier to catch… LITTLE DO THEY KNOW. Jokes, they are absolutely right.
  • I understand rock layers and colors because of sediments and minerals during different ages. HOWEVER, still amazed by the distinct clean lines between the colors. Not clear how they are SO clean vertical up a mountain. Like someone just took two play-doh colors and just smooshed them together.
  • Deeper into the Pastel Canyon were remnants of an old movie set from “The Professionals” a western movie filmed in 1966 (Thought of you daddio!)
  • Valley of Fire was listening to me, every time I put a wish for directions or explanation out into the universe it would answer with a conveniently located sign post.

Rain in Spain

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Well, we were just a little tired today. We also dominated our breakfast (Uhhh yummy toast with Nutella anyone?!)

We took the metro over to Font Màgica de montjuïc (magic fountain) even though it wasn’t doing the show today. (We managed to miss all of the markets and the fountain because of Sunday/holidays)

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It is a really cool area of Barcelona and is actually right by where dad and I stayed when we were here! (Miss you!)

our old hotel

our old hotel

We then attempted to travel over to Castell de montjuïc but got semi lost in a park where much to my excitement (and then dismay when it was closed) we stumbled upon another cat cafe. I just love me some cats. Don’t worry though… I saw a few roaming around. (Kate was happy it was closed… Weirdo)

font de gato

font de gato

Unfortunately it started to rain and we couldn’t quite find the castle (seems like it would be easy right?!) and instead we turned around and went to another cafe for tea and crepes.

We hung out with the people in out hostel for a bit before Kate, Collin and I went out for dinner and gelato. We let him know it was a big deal to be invited to food with us… We take eating very serious (trip = Kate and kaytlen eat Europe 2014?)

Warm showers, packing and a little minor surgery (I have a blister -_-) later we are off to bed for our last night in Europe :(. I’m sad to leave but happy to get home to my animals. (oh and my family too I guess ;) )

Dear mother, I really want BBQ chicken for dinner!! With an orange soda and a s’more. Little things I tell ya…

See you soon America.
-KK


St. Joan’s in Barcelona

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Hola!

So today we ventured over to the beaches and laid out for a while. It was great… so relaxing and just what we needed after all of the hectic travel days. No top? No problem. I may or may not have taken part of this motto that seems to be popular along the beaches here. (At least long enough to get that shot ;) )

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A light snack and sangria hit the spot before heading back over to the hostel where we quickly prepared for the busy night a head of us. It was St. Joan’s Day here so tonight we went to the beaches to celebrate with our hostel and to watch the fireworks (more like watch out for fireworks… they are legal here and children were setting them off. It was a war zone.) We got home with the sunrise but that is the point of it. There were tons of DJs on the beach and crowds everywhere. Being natives like we are we avoided the tourist areas and hung out with all of the locals. Not a big deal but it kind of is.

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Oh and before you ask.. I really don’t know what the holiday is for, so google it? So what did I learn on this evening you ask? Children are even scarier that you think and never trust the Canadians in regards to your drinks…. there may not be anything left when you get it back.

Good night! (Morning?)

-KK


BarTHAlona

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Woke up to check out to check back into another room. Out hostel has a very nice staff but is the kind we definitely brought our sleep sacks for…

We started the day by walking through the Las Rambas looking at different street venders as well as the costumed street characters. If you give them a little money they come to life for you!

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La Sagrada Família is a really cool structured cathedral. Too bad it’s mostly under scaffolding.. I think it had more this time than the last when I was here with my dad!

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We grabbed some fruit and sat in the park out front until going on a long trek beside the beach. Can’t wait for tomorrow! Afterwards we grabbed a late lunch, walked around the city (more like got lost around the city) and hiked up towards park Güell.

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If y’all don’t know what it is it’s an awesome mosaic park created in 1900. Last time when dad and I were here it was free… I liked it better when it was free.

Afterwards we may or may not have gotten a little lost, grabbed dinner and dessert (finally got a crepe!) now just watching the American vs Portugal football. Finally tied it!! Come on USA!

So I think I could do hostels again… Kate is never traveling again unless its first class (or she has to)

Home soon.
-kk

P.S. Postcards didn’t really work out everyone… I am sorry! they were either really expensive or I didn’t exactly have time. Also,I am terrible about finding the post.


Hola from Barcelona!

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Thankfully waking up wasn’t too bad today. We got up bright and early at 5:40 to give ourselves enough time to pack and get to the station. We had to walk it because the buses weren’t running yet. Any other given situation this would have been perfectly fine; however, cookie has a lame wheel and has been quite the struggle bus. She was a trooper though and made it with only a couple tantrums. At least this is our last real travel day…
[[ I don’t want to leave :( I couldn’t et over how blue the water is and the constant view of the alps surrounding you. The town itself is super relaxed and laid back with tons of adventure sports to do! Just another reason to return again]]

So we were doing fine hoping train to train until our third one just randomly decided to stop in Grenoble… And not leave. The train strike finally caught up with us and ours refused to go any farther. For those who are wondering, Grenoble is not the most bilingual French town… Thankfully we were able to get what we wanted across and find another route to Barcelona that actually gets us earlier than before!

Now train travel only expands from 7:00-20:45 which for all you Americans means 7am to 8:45pm.

Being lucky as were are, our reservations sat next to the creepiest and smelliest two guys on the 4 hour train. Winning…

Finally made it to Barcelona! We had to go up this super steep hill to get to our hostel though… cookie wasn’t feeling it and neither were we. We definitely are feeling that hike today. The weather is so nice here… like we are so not use to it. Finally could wear a dress and be completely comfortable! We were so happy because we even got a late dinner out/ gelato and ate it out in one of the squares watching all of the locals hangout while we practiced our own spanish. (I am a wee bit rusty but holding up there)

Can’t wait for the warmth tomorrow!

-KK


One more day in Switzerland!

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Unfortunately we had to cut Nice out of the travel plans. We were suppose to be going there today but we were both so tired of traveling and couldn’t justify going for just one day. Plus we had to figure out our final transportation to Barcelona so that would have took up half of that one day anyways.

We were a little stressed out this morning booking hostel rooms and train schedules but at least we got it done.

The rest of the day was spent walking around town taking in the views and relaxing.

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Not the busiest of days but we need all the rest we can get because we have a FULL day of travel tomorrow… 7am-11pm. -_-

Currently watching France CRUSH Switzerland right now in football.. so sad.

Miss you all!
-KK


Hiking (dying) on those Swiss Alps!

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Breakfast was pretty yummy. As long as you got the toast and not the funky oatmeal/ cereal stuff. We even got some Swiss cheese to put on our toast! We met some guys at breakfast, Grant and Nate. Who invited us to join them on their hike…

I hiked the Swiss alps everyone!

We did the Harder Kulm pass which was terrible. Beautiful, fun, but difficult. It was actually a harder level than we originally thought and we took lots of short tree stumps (code word for breaks). I forgot my inhaler in the rush because we were planing on leaving later. Lungs loved it. (Sorry mom) There was a tram that went up the mountain as well and we stood there for a minute thinking about jumping on top of it but we stuck with it and dragged on. We were pretty close to beating up some random old people who we passed (that totally took the tram up and “hiked” down. Like not event the real path, on the bike passes) to take their walking sticks. Walking sticks are a hot commodity here.

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When we eventually got there {after some close mental breaks…} it was totally worth it. You could see the crystal blue lake and the famous JungFrau in the distance. It is so beautiful it looks fake like someone just slapped a poster on a wall and was like here you go tourists!

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Even better than the view? Grant and I split french fries at the top. They were on point. Going back down was interesting… while we were enjoying our french fries a random hurricane like rain hit us so we took shelter at the restaurant. It lasted just long enough to throughly soak everything and make the paths wet. Don’t worry everyone… I only bit it twice going back down. Once was quite graceful, falling into a field of flowers. Next one? Not so much.. hey rocks. The rest was fun though, we sang backstreet boys and other classics and even came up with a pretty legit band name… The Tree Stump Band.

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We grabbed a quick snack and rested on hammocks and lounge chairs out at the other part of our hostel which is a tent village. We went downtown to explore before heading back and watching the footballs games and dancing. (Just want to give a quick shout out to my sister… thanks to dancing with you for years I can not be lead and I always try to take the male lead.)

Hope you are all doing well!
-KK


Switzerland!

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

It was sad saying bye to Mara and Alex but we are off to somewhere new again! Switzerland! I’m so excited, I have never visited here before.

The train is nice, we even have a place for cookie! I keep re-reading my note my mom wrote me before leaving. Keeps reminding me to soak up every minute I can and appreciate all the little things.

This train ride is by far the prettiest yet. We pass by different landscapes and little towns and off In the distance you can begin to see faint lines of the alps.

You have to watch out for travel days.. They can be a bit stressful and we both need to get food as soon as possible afterward. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure cookie is on her last limb. Literally. One of her wheels stopped working and now she is dragging/ developing a hole. -_- makes travel days just that much better.

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Interlocken is absolutely beautiful. Like don’t believe it’s real kind of thing. It’s a small town with bright blue water and surrounded by the alps. One downside of Switzerland though… It’s expensive.

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We watched the football match between chili and Spain tonight as well (randomly a ton of chili supporters?) and pretty mad Spain choked and is out of the cup. We were banking on them playing while we were there!

So excited for hiking tomorrow :)
-kk


J’aime Paris.

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

This morning we were woken up and given breakfast in bed by Alex (Tea and eggs! He is great) we got up and took the metro over to the Gare du Nord to try and grab some tickets for the train which is extremely difficult with the strike going on..

On the way to the station, the metro was a strange and different experience. Paris as beautiful as it is, constantly reminds you it has a darker (not dangerous) undertone. The metro was silent and there was only a beggar singing a haunting song that goes “boncourage madame” or good luck Madame. It was creepy and high pitch and literally sounded like one of those songs that sad movies play before a terrible accident or death. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion and we rushed off when we got to our stop.

After waiting in a short line for ever (like time wise it was long but the que itself was short?) we finally had some success with the Eurails and booked reservations to and from Interlocken. Yay! Also Olivia met up with us here to spend the day together :)

Paris in less than 36 hours is quite a challenge but we are doing out best. We started out with grabbing some macaroons at Jean-Paul Hévin because when in Paris oui? We walked and sat in the Luxembourg gardens where we enjoyed our delicious treats in the sunshine.

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We continued through to the Jewish quarter where we stopped at the famous falafel stand. We walked through the city, seeing lovely buildings and Notre dam. I grabbed icecream in memory of my friends who I traveled with last time at our favorite gelato shop next to it.

Just wanted to put in here that I am now currently sitting in the Shakespeare and co writing this.. It’s a super famous bookstore beside Notre dam where writers can come stay/ write for free up to a year. It’s so relaxing… Being surrounded by books siting on old chairs while someone plays the piano. It’s magical really.

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A quick photoshoot in front of Notre Dam and goodbye to Olivia we were off to THE COOLEST PLACE EVER. A cat cafe, Le cafè des chats. J’aime les chats.

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I was so happy. I drank my orange juice (they ran out of black tea) with a little kitten on my lap.

Le Café des Chats

Le Café des Chats

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We went back to the apartment to make some dinner and later on went over to the Sacre Coeur de Montmartre to have more snacks, look at the view over the city and enjoy each other’s company. Few things are better than these moments with the ones you love.

Bonsoir Paris, until next time.

-kk

Paris thoughts:

KL: What a whirl wind! While we only had about one and a half days in Paris, we made sure to make the most of it. I loved the ambiance of the art and architecture of the city. It is hard to beat watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight with good friends. Off to Switzerland now, but leaving with fond memories.

KK: Paris is always a good idea. It was nice just walking around the city. Paris is a great location because there is something there for any travelers budget, it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Sad to leave so quickly but I know I will be back. Time to head to those Swiss landscapes.


Bonjour Paris!

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Sorry for posting so late! Just been busy (sleeping) at least I am all caught up now…

Today we reluctantly got out if bed, switched the laundry to dryer and ate a very quickly (so sad because the food was great)

8 hours of travel later (train and bus) we made it to Paris and were greeted by Mara and Alex who guided us back to their flat. They were so sweet and made us dinner before heading out to see the arc dr triomphe. It is so beautiful lit up at night.

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This is my third tone traveling to Paris but seeing the Eiffel tower never gets old. We grabbed some desserts, bottles of wine and had an evening picnic in the park in front of it looking at the lights and watching it sparkle.

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I couldn’t imagine the scene being any better than it already was sitting here with two of my best friends and the always handsome Alex.

Kate, Mara and I

Kate, Mara and I

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We topped off the night with watching the USA/Ghana match (which we won. Nbd.) and are heading to bed before a busy Parisian day tomorrow!

Bonsoir!
-kk