Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

An Architecture Student’s Dream (No Wonder Amber Liked it so Much!)

Posted by Christy in Posts on 08 5th, 2010

Wow. If you are at all into architecture, be sure to visit Vienna. From historic palaces and churches to modern skyscrapers and monuments, this city has everything to offer. And not only are the building architectures interesting, they are extremely well kept. I have never seen cleaner, more pristine buildings in my life.

Here are a few pictures of the palaces, churches, and monuments we saw:

The real story behind Vienna was not the city itself, but the wonderful people we stayed with. Yes, we are back to CouchSurfing, and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

We stayed with a young couple named Selma (originally from Bosnia, but a German at heart) and Johannes (from Bavaria). They had only CouchSurfed once before, and we were the first people they had ever hosted. They have just moved to Vienna last year and were excited to tour the city with us. It was so refreshing to have friends to walk around the city with, and it was a bonus that they knew where to explore and what parts of the city to avoid.

They even invited their friend Thomas, who was the one person they had CouchSurfed with, to show us around the city center and share a little bit of the city’s history (Thomas has lived in Vienna for quite some time). He, of course, was very nice, and we very much enjoyed his wealth of knowledge of the different monuments and historic buildings of the city. Here are a few pictures of the tour with Thomas, Johannes, and Selma:

At the end of our stay, Johannes asked us if there was anything they could do to improve as CouchSurfing hosts. We told them if anything, they were a little too nice! We made them a meal our second night of Tex Mex tacos, avocado salad and a crumble, but we still feel we did not do enough for them in comparison to what they did for us. We truly hope they visit us when we get back to the States.

Thanks for everything, Johannes and Selma!

A little piece of America in Germany

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 28th, 2010

Our first destination in Germany was Stuttgart to visit a high school friend and his wife. Tim is in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany.

It was our first time being on a military base. We were full of questions about Army and base life. As we were pulling into security Tim and Kally likened base living to a little America away from America. As we spent more time on the base we began to appreciate what they meant. Twice, Kally took us to the general store on base to shop around for supplies and food. She was nice enough not to laugh as we wandered around, happily surrounded by familiar brands. We had to pay for our pancake mix with United States dollars. Everyone spoke with American accents. Even the colors reminded us of being in a Wal-Mart. Is it sad to say we have come to feel Wal-Mart feels very American?

Christy loved Tim and Kally’s dog Ki. She has been missing our dog Homer, so it was really nice for her to have a dog around again.

Christy with Ki

Tim is a medic, so he was able to placate Christy’s ever increasing fear of parasites and sicknesses. We got a lot of useful advice on staying healthy and minimizing sickness. Once again, the number one rule is avoiding water.

With Chrisy’s dog and medication needs satisfied, we had some time left over for sightseeing. German art was a little different than other things we had seen.

Old German leaders

Our favorite sight in Stuttgart was an old Paternoster elevator that cannot be made anymore because the design is too dangerous. The elevator has no door and the cars just continuously move up and down. We were all really glad we listened to the random stranger on the street who told us about this elevator.

Our time in Stuttgart quickly came to an end and we had to say goodbye to Tim, Kally, and Ki. It was hard to leave the comforts of America away from America and old friends, but we were recharged and excited to get to Munich.

Aaron, Christy, Kally, Tim, and Ki

Vatican City

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 14th, 2010

For our second day of sightseeing in Rome we went to Vatican City.

Christy in front of Vatican City

We went to the museum first to see the Sistine Chapel. Following the signs to the Sistine Chapel led us through over an hour worth of rooms filled with priceless statues and paintings. There were ancient Roman statues from the ruins, paintings by Michalangelo, Raphael, and even a Van Gogh.

Aaron in Vatican City museum Statue in Vatican Museum Disputation of the Holy Sacrament by Raphael

Christy in the Vatican museum Aaron and a Van Gogh

Eventually we made our way into the Sistine chapel where we were impressed with the amazing artwork. The detail is so much more impressive than pictures we had seen. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed so we have no pictures to share.

After the museum we went to St. Peter’s Basilica. We were immediately surprised by the size of St. Peter’s square. We had seen it on the news many times, but were shocked to see the scale. We could not imagine seeing the square filled, like for holiday masses.

Aaron in St. Peter's Square

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica is even more impressive. The church is massive. It is hard to capture all of the size and detail in photos.

Christy in St. Peter's Basilica

The place was so big we could barely see the mass that was going on in the front. We could hear it immediately when we walked in, but it was still far beyond the velvet rope.

Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

Previously, we had been impressed with the old churches we had seen, especially Salisbury Cathedral. Walking out of St. Peter’s Basilica we felt that no church we would see on this trip could compare. We could also see why the church needed to take (or “repurpose” as described in the Vatican audio guide) marble and decoration from the ancient Roman buildings.

On our way back to our apartment, we stopped by two must see tourist sites in Rome. First were the Spanish steps.

Aaron, Christy and Aaron's mom in front of the Spanish Steps

Finally, we threw some coins over our shoulders into the Trevi fountain to ensure our return to Rome. We were later disappointed when we realized we would return to Rome in just 2 weeks to catch our next flights.

Christy at Trevi Fountain

Sightseeing in London

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

There is so much to see in London. After one day of sightseeing, I doubt we will be able to see everything in the 5 days we will be here.

Our sightseeing day started off with Big Ben and the Parliament building.

Christy in from of Big Ben and Parliament

Then we went to Westminster Abbey.

Aaron in front of Westminster Abbey

We saw Buckingham Palace, but did not wait around for the changing of the guard.

Christy and the guard at Buckingham Palace

Can you tell we are in England?

Aaron in London

Hyde park was the perfect place to nap. We needed the rest after all of the walking and jet lag.

Christy napping in Hyde Park

Christy loved the Peter Pan statue in Kensington gardens. This is where J. M. Barrie met the kids who became the inspiration for the lost boys.

Chirsty with the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens

We will probably see a lot of art on this trip, but it is hard to imagine finding a statue that expresses love and passion better than this hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens.

Hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens

Finally, we tried to catch the train to Hogwarts to Harry Potter. Because we are not witches or wizards we could not find platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station.

Christy looking for the train to Hogwarts

We still have so much to see in London. We will be going sight seeing again today.