Tuesday, April 28, 2015

i AMsterdam

Hello internet world! I have to admit we are just really spoiled with all the traveling we've done lately. So very blessed and enjoying every minute of it while we're here in Europe. This particular trip we went to AMSTERDAM! Not only did we do Amsterdam, but we did it with our favorites - Josh and Jenna.

We left on Friday and came back on Sunday evening so it was a quick trip. We had a ton to pack into the 3 days, but we did pretty well! Shout out to Jenna for basically planning the entire trip. And check out her blog for a more detailed account. I don't have the patience to be as detailed so I'll just give my favorite moments and leave you with my typical photo dump. Also, selfie stick- for the win. I doubted it before this trip, but I am now a believer.

1) The Keukenhof Gardens and then riding tandem bikes through the surrounding tulip fields. The most epic bucket list item I think I've ever experienced...

2) The Anne Frank House. A must do if you go to Amsterdam. So much to think about and process in a place like that. I won't even try to put it into words, but I will drop my favorite new found Anne Frank quote.

"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."
-Anne Frank

3) Canals, canals everywhere. And coming from someone living in Birmingham that's saying a lot.

4) Canal cruise. I heard it from numerous sources, "The best view of the city is from the water." IT IS SO TRUE. I literally fell in love with the city during our cruise.

5) Places are only a good as the people you see them with. Love these peeps.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Greece & Turkey

After 10 planes, 13 days, and a whole bunch of new memories we are home from our adventure in Greece and Turkey! First off, a HUGE shout out to Mama and Papa Russell for planning and funding the whole trip and graciously allowing us to crash their 32nd anniversary. Yay marriage! We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and couldn’t be more grateful. It would be impossible to put it all into a blog post, but here's a little glimpse of the journey. 

It all started off with my parents flying to England and meeting up with us here. Although they were exhausted and completely jet lagged, they let us show them around Birmingham and took us out to eat. Troopers.

The next day we flew to the first of our five destinations, Athens. When we first arrived I must admit I was a little underwhelmed, if that’s even a word? Lots of graffiti and old run-down buildings. When we pulled up to our Airbnb apartment which just happened to be down a dark back alley it was not looking promising… Minus the hot water not working the first day (our error more than anything else) it was all wonderful from then on out! The apartment was beautiful on the inside and the view was epic! We toured the city, the Acropolis, and a few museums. 
View from our balcony of the Acropolis

Temple of Zeus


A quick 45 minute plane ride and we were in Santorini. And what a DREAM it was. We knew the weather would be partly cloudy at best, but we were happy to trade the hundreds of thousands of summer tourists for the more mild weather. We stayed in one of the white cave houses in the famous village of Oia. So beautiful. Also, side note: best greek salads of my life.

Our cave house

Lunch on one of the many black sand beaches

View from our front porch

Red Beach

The hot springs at the volcano & one of the MANY churches
Boat cruise to the hot springs/volcano

Next on the list- Selcuk/Ephesus, Turkey. This place was mind boggling. Thousands of years of history in one place. It was hard to comprehend, but so amazing to witness. It was cool to walk on the same grounds that the apostles are believed to have walked on. The people were very friendly and the food was delightful- the turkey pizza is a must.


Ancient toilets. They all just hung out and chatted while they did their business! So funny!

It was WINDY to say the least

The likely last residence of the Virgin Mary

Original baptismal font at the basilica of St. John

Turkish carpets everywhere

Turkish delight!

Before we knew it we were off to Cappadocia, Turkey. Cappadocia is known for the majestic landscape with valleys of fairy chimneys.  Here we stayed in a traditional cave house in Goreme. We were supposed to go on a hot air balloon ride to watch the sunrise, but our balloon had issues so we just got to watch the others ride off into the open air. Such a tease. We ending up loving the area though. It reminded me a bit of southern Utah with all of the red rock and gorgeous canyons.

I didn't know I was claustrophobic until descending seven stories underground in a cave

Everyone else's


Ice Cream Valley

Cave houses

Last stop! By this time, we had already passed through the Istanbul airport twice in order to get to Ephesus and Cappadocia. It was nice to finally get out in the city! We discovered Istanbul is massive with 14.16 million people! Our apartment here was SWANKY (our favorite word of the trip). We had an epic view of the harbor and the historic part of town. Mama and Papa were not feeling great towards this part of the trip but again, they were troopers and stuck it out. We were in awe of Hagia Sofia and the way the mosque/church/museum blended together thousands of years of history and housed multiple religions. We also did the grand bazaar, the spice market, the palace, and explored various parts of the city.
Inside Hagia Sofia


The Blue Mosque


The Basilica Cistern

View from our balcony

The Spice Bazar
Palace Guards

Stained glass in the Palace
Metro Stops
Last random trip notes:
1) Austin can pass as a native in whatever country we are in. People legitimately thought he was Greek in Greece and Turkish in Turkey. 
2) The Cornilles' are the reigning scum champions. Muahahahaha!
3) There were wild cats and dogs EVERYWHERE. So crazy.
4) Although it may look like we didn't change clothes the entire trip from the pictures, we did. It was just jacket weather the majority of the time.