Friday, August 17, 2007

Cruising the Amalfi Coast

DSC_0047, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

I gave some Italian lady a copy of my CA driver's license and a 10 euro deposit, and she gave me a boat. Amazingly she never asked if I had even driven a boat before which, of course, I haven't. Her son did give me a few brief instructions regarding the specifics of the boat, and something about the gas tanks, but sadly I don't really speak Italian. I did manage to understand that you should take the wake from large cruise ships and yachts at an angle (which actually came in useful several times).

The harbor was an insane traffic jam of multi-million dollar yachts, ferries, and us, but by 11:15am we were out and fighting for position along the coast. Amazingly there are few beaches here as it is mostly cliffs crashing into the sea, and often when a beach does appear it is hard to tell the beach from the umbrellas. By noon we had slipped into a small cove which was towered over by a castle on one side, and a large cave on the other. The water here was perfect in clarity and temperature.

We pulled out of the cove and made our way past Positano, which we didn't even try to go to as the harbor looked twice as insane s Amalfi's. Not far after Positano the coast becomes more rugged with very little human intrusion (on land at least). The number of boats lightened up, too. Jackie eventually got seasick and we had to drop anchor and make for land on a small rocky beach in the middle of nowhere (we had bought a tiny inflatable raft just for this purpose. We spent over an hour here swimming and getting some sun. When we got back to the boat to head on, we weren't able to get the anchor up. It had gotten stuck in the crevace of some rocks and was completely unmovable. We finally gave up after a rugged Italian seaman and his topless wife couldn't even get it free, leaving us little hope of doing it ourselves. So we cut the line headed out to sea to zip around the islands before heading home with some brief stops to jump from the boat and pee.

When we got back to shore the Italian lady wasn't all that surprised about the anchor, and she only charged us $30 for it, and even apologized that she had to!

A few more days of this and then we'll see you all back home!

here's a link to the photos we managed to take

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Arrival in Amalfi

DSC_0069, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

We all had to wake up early in Rome because we were getting on an eleven forty-five train for Amalfi that morning. Parker and I had a chance to go down to the internet point and start downloading a movie for us all to watch later (it didn't finish, but it's finishing right now). We got on a much calmer, nicer train ride than the one to Rome and when we arrived in Solarno we took a ferry to Amalfi.
When we got there those of us who didn't know already found out that Amalfi is the most touristy city of all time. In between the times the tour buses come in and leave, tourists roam the streets wild with cameras slung around their necks and backpacks on their backs. It was kind of funny how empty it got after the last ferry out of Amalfi left. With no tourists here, Amalfi is a ghost town.
Today we went to the beach earlyish in the morning to snag some seats, but we didn't stay for too long before lunch was needed. After some great, cheap sandwiches we took our time getting out of the hotel/apartment we stayed in and went to a much less crowded beach. Actually, Ann, Parker, and Jackson went to the beach while my dad and I went to the only wireless place available and now I am blogging this. Well, that's all I have to say for now, but there will be more info on Amalfi tomorrow, when we go out on a boat all day. Ciao.

only took a few photos so far: here


I'm loving finally being on the coast! It's hot and the Mediterranean is so clear that it makes it easy for me to ignore the throngs of tourists crammed into every nook and cranny. Others aren't so sure :o)

Tomorrow we have reserved a boat for the day to explore the Amalfi coastline and a few small islands in the area. We'll let you know what we find...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last Moments in Rome

DSC_0009, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

I was a bit rushed yesterday, but now I am able to discuss, in detail, what happened yesterday and today in Rome. First off, yesterday was a big sightseeing day. We started off walking around like lost tourists trying to find lunch after our breakfast of crummy pastries, when we stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain. This is an awesome fountain, by the way, heavy on the decorative pieces and it is just amazing to see. It was packed with tourists tossing in coins for fifty cents, one euro, and even two euro. I think the funniest part was when we saw several different people pull out expandable rods with magnets on the end, and they used these rods to take coins out of the fountain and into their own pockets. At least three people did it while we were there, which wasn't too long, but I figure you don't make a whole lot of money doing that (it must be kinda fun though, if you didn't get so many dirty looks).
We continued our journey and found the Spanish Steps. No one we know knows why they are called the Spanish Steps or what must've happened there, but there were quite a few steps. Parker and I raced up and Parker and Jackson each got caricatures once they reached the top (there are a lot of streetside shops in Rome). We managed to find some lunch, though I can't remember where. It was probably pasta and pizza, but I'm just guessing.
We got home and took a quick, half-hour chill pill and got up for the Colisseum where we saw the dungeons where the feral beasts were kept and the stadium itself which seated over seventy-thousand people! Parker insisted on a souvenir of course, so we got yet another overpriced trinket that would only sit on a shelf looking tacky (if it got to the shelf at all).
Dinner was very good, and we found it right next to an internet café (which, coincidentally enough, I am at right now). Pasta and pizza for everyone, and then we proceeded to go home and go to bed.

Oh sheesh, I've gotta do today too. Yikes. Well, where do I begin? I guess breakfast, which was fetched for us by my dad early in the morning (same ol' crummy pastries), and we had a little bit of relaxing time before we started filming. Oh, I forgot to mention that we had an idea to shoot a movie (inspired as a follow-up to Zane's film in Florence) featuring all of us that followed along our trip from here on out. Anyways, basis of the story is Parker is a mob boss who has given up his evil ways only to find himself pursuited by a mysterious figure in an all white track suit, and following them both is yet another mysterious figure who remains hidden until the end. We had a couple shots in our apartment before we took a cab to the bone crypt.
The bone crypt was a creepy, eerie, awe-inspiring place. It was essentially a cozy little crypt, but each seperate chamber held the bones of hundreds of dead monks (some of which were lucky enough to have their whole skeleton remain intact). At the last chamber was a post which read in four different languages: "What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you will once be." *Pffff,* yeah right. I'm not ending up like them, all dead an all.... For those of you who don't quite get it, ask me about my reading list and it might make a bit more sense.
Anywho, after the crypt we found an expensive lunch place that looked quite cheap and innocent on the outside, but ended up costing more than our dinner. Yeesh, well it was okay I guess, but not extraordinary. Moving on.... the Vatican! We got to St. Peter's Square, shooting some more scenes along the way, but the lines to get into anything were filled to the brim, so we shot a couple more scenes, looked at the place, and grabbed some gelato (limòne sorbetto for me).
We took a cab back and shot some more shots for the movie, then ended up going out to a nice little chinese restaurant for dinner. We got some dessert where we got dinner last night and now we are in the internet café and Ann and Jackson are at home, probably sleeping. Well, that's all for now. Next up - Amalfi. Ciao!

parker's blog...

Weve seen so many things in rome but im just gonna say my favorite things. First of all i loved the roman colloseom, I got to see were all the traps were and how it all worked. Then we walked a little bit and we found an INTERNET CAFE!!!! So that was good and by the way that is were im tiping this right now.So like I said that was good then we went to have dinner.then we went back to go to bed.Then the next day was the movie filming day because were filming somthing and we filmed a couple scenes.And we went to the vatican but the line for the sistine chapel WAS WAY TOO LONG!!!! And tomorrow we'll be going to amalfi where we will try to blog again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gelato, Fountains, Sun, and Rubble

DSC_0016 (2), originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

ok, i've spent a bit of time tonight catching up on our travels, so if you've missed it scroll down to the last couple of entries.

Now I'm going to have Phaed and Parker interject their opinions on the Rome and the last couple of days. For me, I'm loving it so far.

phaed first...

Rome has been pretty great. We checked out the Colliseum and had some fun doing that, we've had a lot of gelato (very good), and we've been walking a lot as Jackson would tell you. Anyways, Rome is fun, very touristy, and there is too much to do in two days. There are ruins everywhere, which is awesome, and souvenir shops litter the streets (as I said, very touristy). I am being rushed, however, because the internet point we are in is closing in five minutes or so, so I will discuss our past events in more detail tomorrow, when time is not an issue. Ciao!

Buona Sera Venetto!!!

1_GoingToVenice, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

At the train station in plenty of time...
Feeling good about our easy travel day...
Platform 10, assigned seats, 1.5hrs to go...
Get on the train and move up and down the train to find our seats...
Someone's in them...
And their tickets say seats 52-57 too...
But theirs say Venice!!!
and the train has since lurched into a departing clip,
going the complete opposite direction.

oh well, so much for an easy travel day.

We spent the next hour riding to Bologna in the stairwell, then caught a slow train from there to Rome for which we spent the first half in the stairwell again as it was overbooked. Finally got some seats for the last 2 hours of the ride and everyone managed to keep the whole debacle in a humorous light.

The problems of the early afternoon disappeared as we finished our gelato and strolled a few blocks toward some ruins that we saw while getting to our apartment. Ahhh, the Forum. Looking only semi-impressed with the large pile of rubble in the middle of the city, Parker quickly perked up as he looked up the street and exclaimed, "the Colosseum!"

The sight of the colosseum had an amazing impact on everyone. Huge and towering, familiar yet ancient, and drenched in stories of epic battles.

Tired and weary, but great to finally be in Rome!

(click here for some images of the day)

Las Supper with the Leadley's

1_nuevaRanch-sunset, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

Friday night we enjoyed our last supper with the Leadleys at local hilltop restaurant. We got a grand finale of a sunset after 2 days of on-and-off thunderstorms. What followed was our best meal in Italy so far, including the most delicious plate of grilled meats, a pasta with a flavor unknown by all, seafood risotto, and on and on. We thouroughly confused our waiter all night as he spoke no english (and us no italian) but he was fabulous and even treated us to a bottle of limoncella (which phaedrus even took a shot of, even though we told him just to try a sip!).

arrivederci, firenze...
buon jorno, roma!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The last days in Firenze

DSC_0038, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

We woke up early this morning (8:30's early for me...) so we could go into Firenze to do some stuff before the art museum, which was scheduled at 12. We parked, got some grub, and trekked around for a while before heading to the art museum (the early part of the day was very uneventful). The art museum was okay, but nothing too spectacular, and immediately afterwards we went and got some food, which consisted of pasta, pizza, and lots of rain getting winded underneath the awning. We split up and now Zane, Jackson, my dad and I are in an internet cafe and I am blogging. In fact, my dad has something to say...

We spent the morning today at the Uffizi art museum. Parker's favorite painting was an unfinished work by Leonardo da Vinci called "Adoration of the Magi". He really liked how he got to see the process behind painting such a giant piece of art. "Birth of Venus" (botticelli) and "The Holy Family" by Michelangelo were also among favorites. Art-burnout set in after a little over an hour.

Tomorrow morning we take a 1.5hr train ride to Rome. Hopefully we get some sunshine down there.

some more images here...

also, i took some shots during yesterday's filming of the big move production. check em out here:


Pisa, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

Parker & Sammy braved the car ride to Pisa with Greg & Katrin, while the rest of us decided to hang at our villa and make a quick jaunt into Florence.

Parker has opted to go find a wallet in the street market instead of adding his contribution to the blog, but he told me to tell you all that he really loved Pisa and that his favorite part was the "Monkey Place"... apparently they found a ropes course on the way home where they basically put a harness on you and let you loose on all kinds of zip lines and climbing madness. sounded great. here's the one pic I have from Greg's camera: here

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

san gimignano

DSC_0100, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

We had a late start today, but that's pretty common for us in Florence (most of our days don't start until eleven o' clock). We had a long car ride to San Gimignano where we had a little resting time at a gelateria. Everyone relaxed there for a couple hours before we all got up and headed to the top of one of the many towers in this town. It was very high and very windy, but a great view from the top. When we got down we headed over to the Museum of TORTURE!!! That was a very interesting, memorable, and slightly traumatizing experience. It had all kinds of torturous devices and explanations for ones that were not specific devices (e.g. water torture). A link to the website can be found here. We had a good Italian dinner consisting of pasta (obviously) and Sprites and Fantas, and then we went home for a night of Mafia, Apples to Apples, and sleep.

some photos from the day:

Monday, August 6, 2007


DSC_0114, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

just a few photos from our tour of Florence yesterday. Pizza, gelato, and a bit of wandering through the street markets.

I'm racing to catch a bus back to ourvillage before everyone leaves for Siena without me. Though my hope is that the car rental place between here and there has a Vespa and I can just scooter home through the Tuscan countryside!


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Day One in Florence

1_MafiaSammyPhaed01, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

The drive here was so hectic that it has it's own blog (posted by my dad). Once we got to Florence however, things started looking up....kinda. After unloading all of our luggage, there were arguements over who got what rooms. There were plenty of rooms for everyone, but two rooms were two twin beds, while the rest had one queen bed. Zane and I were stuck with the rooms with the twin beds, but we were also the only ones with our own rooms, so that was pretty cool. The younger ones all shared a queen, and the adults coupled up in two queen rooms. After all of that, we unpacked and everyone made their own lunch and settled down into our siesta, or rest time.
We started filming a movie that the Zane, Sammy, Parker, Jackson and I all wanted to be a part of, and since we're in Italy we decided it fit to make a Mafia movie. I'm the hitman, Sammy and Parker are Dons, Jackson is one of the Don's sons, and Zane has so far only been filming, but I assure you he gets a role. We all had fun filming our first scene.
We went out to an out of the way Italian restaurant. We got their early for Italian social standards (7:15 - 7:30), so no one was even there, but it didn't take long for this place to get jam-packed with people. Turns out this was a really popular place to eat. We had pizza and spaghetti mostly, and everyone loved the food (well, everyone but Greg. He wasn't hungry so he stayed home at the villa and read.).
We got back to the villa and tried to get everyone settled down to get some sleep; sleep was very necessary after a short night of light sleep and a long day of heavy travel.

(dad chimes in)

omg, i can't wait to show clips from this movie that these guys are making. i had no idea what they were doing. i walked up from strolling around the grounds (beautiful, btw) and I see Parker & sammy sitting accross from each other with wine glasses aloft:

sammy: "Our families have been fighting for so long"

parker: "I would like to propose a truce"

jackson (parker's son) interjects: "but father!!!"

parker: "I know what's best for us son"

parker and sammy stand up and approach each other and embrace. sammy says, retrospectively, "all those wasted years", then kisses parker on each cheek and they walk away seperately.

luckily it was their rehersal and I got to see a repeat during the actual filming of the scene. We'll let you know when a trailer is available.
In the meantime, a few photos:

k. we're in florence today at an internet cafe and running out of our time. Beautiful city.

Driving to Florence

DSC_0099, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

So we woke up at 5am to beat the traffic over the Alps. In an attemp to everyone to enjoy the drive with us (but in 3- minutes rather than 8 hours), I decided to take a photo every 10 minutes for the entire length of the drive. A great drive, especially though the Italian Alps.

View the slideshow here (but you have to play it backwards because I can't figure out how to post it in the right order!!!)... click on the left arrow in the bottom left corner:

Friday, August 3, 2007


4_galaxySign02, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

Today we went to a water park about an hours drive from Munich known as Galaxy. The rides were limited by your age and not your height, which seemed to be the largest difference for me between water parks here and water parks in the States. I was able to ride all the rides because the highest age limit was fourteen, but Parker and Sammy and Jackson were much more limited in their selection of slides. This did not, however, mean that they didn't have fun. We found one water slide that was tons of fun that everyone but Jackson could go on (he couldn't go on most of the rides, so Greg and my dad took turns watching him and going on the more suitable rides with him). Galaxy was the highlight of the day, for sure.
When we got home we had an awesome dinner which consisted of zuchinni soup, garlic bread, salad, and green pasta with shrimp. Once everyone finished, we all moved on to playing a few games of Mafia, which is a popular card game with our group. The rules are pretty long and complicated, so I'm not going to bother writing them (however, if you really are interested, feel free to email me at After a few games of Mafia, we all played Apples to Apples, which is an awesome word game that we all played until midnight, in which everyone went to bed.

photos from galaxy + ann's trip to dachau:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day Three in Germany

3_beergardenPhaed, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

We spent the morning sleeping in, hanging out at home, and eating pancakes. We managed to catch the subway to get to the Deutsch Museum by two o' clock, where we met Ann and my dad who had been out in Salsburg (salt city; lots of salt mines).
We started out in the mining sector of the museum, which was very big and a ton of fun. Lots of stairs and exhibits inside this one sector (which took up most of the time we spent, due to the fact that the museum closed two hours after we were done with a late lunch). We checked out the airplane models, went to a very interactive "Kid's Kingdom," and saw the pharmacology section, which was my favorite section by far.
There was a high level of interactivity in the pharmacology section, which made it so the kids weren't bored. There was a lot to see and do and the room itself was more interesting than just plain old white-wash walls.
We left the museum at about 5 or 5:30 and caught the tram to Hirschgarden, a very large beer garden filled with liters of beer just like the one in the picture shown. The kids had Spezi, an awesome beverage mix of Coca-Cola and Fanta, but you would already know that if you had read the previous blog.
After drinking our Spezi's, the young ones (Parker, Sammy, Jackson, Zane and I) headed over towards the park area of the beer garden, where there was a water playground. The playground had a large rock mound in its center, while having its floor made of red playground material (I am not sure what exactly it is or what its really called, so that's what I'm calling it) and two of the opposite corners have metal grid domes to climb on. Every structure (including the rock mound) had tiny metal outlets that shot water at structured intervals. The floor was wet, we were wet, but it was all very fun.
After a while we decided to play tag, but the rock was off limits because wet=slippery, and slippery rock=dangerous, so we only used the playground material on the ground. On a side note, if you don't know this already, this playground material gets really slippery when wet. I mean very slippery. So slippery you can hardly walk without slipping and falling and having every little kid watching laugh their heads off. So tag looked very slow, because no one dared to even try running. Everyone slowly but surely ran away from whoever was it, running in circles around the rock dome (or rather trudging, or limping, or meandering, but definitely not running. My apologies). Everyone left with bruises and scrapes and wet marks all over themselves, but everyone had fun.
We ventured back to the table to have some prime ribs and chicken and weinerschnitzel (mmmmmmmmm..........weinerschnitzel......), another round of Spezi's, and some candy afterwards. We finished around 8 or 8:30 and headed home on the subway.
Well, not entirely. Greg, Zane and I wanted to see Hot Fuzz in the outside theatre in the park, so we got off a few stops earlier, however we knew that there could be things that went wrong in our journey. One, since in Germany movies are not rated by letters (G, PG, R, etc), but by age and no one under that age can see that movie (Hot Fuzz was 16), they might've called us on our age and not let us in. Secondly, we might be too late because we didn't check showtimes. Thirdly and most importantly, it may be German dubbed. Well, after trekking through the park, trying to find this theatre, we found it and it turned out that the theatre was playing the German dubbed version rather than the original English version. We were prepared for disappointment however, so we waltzed on over to the video rental place and got Fast Food Nation and ice cream (Fast Food Nation wasn't all that great, don't bother).
*Phew,* that was a long blog. I hope that tomorrow isn't quite as long; my fingers are tired.


2_salzburg01, originally uploaded by travis_prowell.

Mom & Dad slipped away to Austria for the evening last night. Greg watched the boys and we jumped a train which landed us in the home of Mozart in about an hour and a half. We spent the night strolling the city and drinking wine, and the morning drinking coffee from the terrace on top of the cliff above the city (outside of their new Modern Art Museum).

A postcard city, though we only got a few photos, with a hilltop castle, dramatic cliffs, and cute narrow streets full of expensive boutiques.

some photos: