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    Be Sure to Tune in!

    I have a lot of great posts in the works, so make sure to grab our RSS feed and add it to your favorite feed reader.  I have a back log of great projects that I’ll be writing about so that maybe you will be inspired to do some projects of your own.

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    A New Era in RedSkyCreative

    Red Sky Creative Site Design

    There is a new RedSkyCreative coming in more ways than one. I think we have something great going here and it’s time to show it!  A new site is in process and will be coming online soon. We will be making better use of social medias to make us much more visible. And we’ll be spending much more time with this blog which will be dedicated to anything and everything we do creatively. I have used other blog engines in the past and will be discontinuing them in favor of this wordpress site. Any appropriate material from the old blogs will be added into this blog as we get started. I hope you are excited!

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    Florence, Rome, and Cinque Terre

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    In Florence, we started our first morning there by hitting up the market place for breakfast and lunch.  The market place was very amusing, with all the different venders wanting you to try there products and Italians talking really fast and loud even after you tell them you only speak a little Italian.  We bought fruits, bread, pesto, cheeses, and two kinds of meats, for a very reasonable price.  The shopping there was also fun.  You could bargain with any of them and Amy ended up with a really nice leather jacket and I bought several bold ties.  Also in Florence, I was taking a picture of a guy who I thought had great Italian style and he chased me down and made me delete the pictures.  I think he must have been famous and thought I was a paparazzi.  Any way, little does he know, I still have a couple of pictures of him :-)   Our place to stay in Florence was a nice surprise.  The place appeared to be an old apartment that was converted into a hotel.  It had a little kitchen and a nice little outside garden.  It was run by a nice old lady who did not speak English and her son who was studying Electrical Engineering and loved to fly fish.  He spoke great English and he was always very happy and helpful.  After walking around Florence for a while, I was starting to get a little nervous about driving from Florence to Rome.  Speed limits and road markings seemed to only be suggestions and there were soo many motorized bikes zipping in and around traffic or squeezing in any where they could.  We are still crossing our fingers on the whole car rental thing since the guy who checked out the vehicle to us was a very dishonest person and tried to slip a whole bunch of stuff by us.  But so far my bank account does not show the bogus charges.

    So we hopped in our little Fiat and headed for the Tuscan hill country.  Driving was quite different.  All the signs where different and most of them we couldn’t read.  There were no stop lights, only round-abouts with cars zipping in and out.  And out on the highway, the speed demons were fast and not kind to anyone following the speed limit signs.  The speed limit was normally about 90KM per hour and cars would frequently blow past at 150, or 160!  By the end of the drive I had masted the Italian way of driving, but was ready to be on the trains and buses again.  Tuscany was very beautiful.  We stopped in several little towns for a gelato or postcard and of course to take pictures.  The towns were each very different and interesting.  The first one had several very tall towers, the second had a large castle in the middle and was very high on a hill, and the third was on a rock plateau or mesa that was just amazing.  In the second town we had a small meal inside the castle walls.  Daniel and Rachel ordered a Olive oil tasting and Amy and I ordered a Honey tasting to go with our meal.  It was nice to try some of the locally grown and harvested foods.  I think the waiters were a little confused by the fact that none of us would have any wine, but hey, I’m used to being the odd one by now.  Dad and Mom (although, I’m sure Dad will be more excited), I brought you the left overs from the honey tasting, so you can try some honey from Tuscany.

    We dropped off the car in Rome and headed for the center of town to find a Hotel.  No Hotel that we called had two nights, so we had to stay at two different places.  Both were a little more than we wanted to spend, but they were very nice and relaxing.  We went to see the Colosseo, Arco di Costantino, and walked around all the Roman ruins.  At the Colosseo Rachel stopped us from doing what we later thought must be a tourist scam, although we are still not completely convinced either way, it looked very fishy.  There was a group of guys who were claiming that if you paid them an extra 11 Euro, they would get you to the front of the line and provide a guided tour.  What was really odd is that the exact same guys were at the Vatican museum the next day and came to talk to us, but as soon as they recognized us they stopped mid sentence and walked the other way.  Hmmm.  The second day was Sunday, so we trekked our way to Via Sannio near San Giovanni to a small church of Christ for Sunday service.  Unfortunately for us the sermon was in Italian, so we struggled to understand what was being said.  The good thing was all the songs that were sung were familiar, so we just thought the English words in our head.  It was nice to see that people in other countries are trying to follow what the Bible teaches instead of following traditions and ideas created by men.  After services, Amy and I walked to the Basilica and did a little shopping and exploring along the way. I bought some really cool clothes at a store called OBJ (I love Italian clothes, I just wish I had more money to blow).  We went into the Pantheon, walked through some really non touristy neighborhoods, across the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, and through the courtyard of the Basilica.  Along the way I found a little cozy resturant that had a hand written menu, and seemed to be out of the normal touristy areas.  We decided to give it a try that night and were very happy we did.  I had Risotto with salmon and it was amazing.  We also saw the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele, Fontana di Trevi, and the Trinita del Monti(which is where I had some awesome banana and coconut gelato).  The last day we toured the  Vatican Museum which was neat to see, but also somewhat sickening to imagine how much money was wasted on such an ornate building while all day we had seen poor and crippled people sitting outside the walls with nothing.  How could anyone feel good about that?

    Next stop was Cinque Terre.  These five coast cities are amazing.  They are built right into the cliff sides and the farmers have terraced the steep hillsides in places that don’t seem possible.  Our original plan was to go to Zurich Switzerland before flying out of Frankfurt, but Amy and I decided to stay in Cinque Terre for the remainder of the trip.  We stayed in Vernazza which is our favorite city by far.  It has the most character and is a little less touristy than some of the others.  We bought a hiking pass and hiked to each of the five towns.  The hikes to Corniglia and to Monterosso were very difficult and steep, but they provide the best views of the cities.

    I used up all the space on our laptop, my ipod, my memory cards, so you will have to wait until we get home to see pictures of Cinque Terre.  I think I took a total of about 22GB of pictures.  Yipes!  I’m going to have to buy some new file storage when I get home!!  Ohhh yeh, and my camera bit the dust on the second day in Cinque Terre, but luckily Rachel was very kind and left me her 20D since they were leaving before us.  Thank you Rachel !!!!!!!!!

    We finally landed on US soil. We have been traveling for almost 2 days strait. Yesterday was the train to Florence and then the overnight train to Munich. Today was a train to Frankfurt and then the long flight to Chicago. Now we are waiting for the flight to Houston and then the long drive home. We are quite exhausted!! See you all soon!

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    Paris and Vinice

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    Musee d’Orsay was originally a train station with very high ceilings and massive ornate clocks.  Now it houses some amazing artist such as Monet, Van Gogh, and many more.  The Louvre was originally the palace of the king of France and was re purposed as a museum some time after the revolution.  Over a million pieces of art are now housed there, so it takes forever to see everything.  The architecture of the building is just as fascinating as the actual artwork.

    Our last day in Paris was my favorite.  Our first stop was the Fat Tire bike tour.  The tour guide was from ATM and was very entertaining as well as informative.  We saw Napoleons tomb, the armory, the military academy (that was a site of a Nazi stand off and eventual surrender), and of course the Eiffel Tower.  We did make a pit stop in the gardens to have a lunch of Crepes and coffee.  I had some iced coffee which was a nice change from the espressos that I had been getting.  The bike tour was so relaxing and the weather turned out to be perfect.  If you go to Paris, do the bike tour!!!  After the bike tour we took a stroll to the Notre Dame.  We then found a fantastic little restaurant in the Latin Quarter that had the best Espresso I have ever had.  Even Italy has not matched that coffee yet.

    Next was a night train back to Munich so we could ride the train through the Alps on the way to Venice.  The Alps were very beautiful and scattered with little communities and the occasional castle.

    We arrived in Venice that evening and grabbed a bus boat for our hotel, which turn out to be a wonderful surprise.  It was a loft and had very comfortable beds and a really nice bathroom.  The ride to the hotel was very relaxing with the evening breeze across the water.  Despite what we were told it did not smell bad at all.  That night we headed to San Marco square were we had a great Italian meal and then we had a romantic time in the square listening to the dueling orchestras.  We all enjoyed the lights and sounds in the cool night air.  Our next day in Venice was filled with wondering the streets and shopping.  We were excited that the prices in Italy were way cheaper than anywhere else we had been.  I bought a really beautiful tie that has blue and yellow on it

    We are now in Florence and our next stop is Tuscany by car on our way to Rome.  I tell more about Florence later…

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    Paris

    Today we spent in Paris, France.  First we set out to find Jenny Becker a McCarty friend from way back.  She works at the US embassy here in Paris in a really nice neighborhood.  The stroll through the neighborhood was beautiful, lots of old architecture and roof gardens, and a whole lot of really tall trees.  Jenny graciously made us a great breakfast during which she proclaimed that everything tastes better in France, and I’m beginning to believe her!  She had toast, eggs, fruit, juice, and coffee, and it was all quite terrific.  Unfortunately, the bike tour that we were supposed to take fell through, which was the thing that Amy and I both had looked forward to the most.  We thought that we could make it to the tour area in 30 minutes and it took us a whole hour.  Needless to say, they were long gone.  We are still trying to get it rescheduled to Monday, which I really hope happens.  So instead, we wondered off the beaten path in search of some affordable, authentic Crepes.  We found a nice little street vendor next to a cafe that sold us some great crepes for about 3 Euro.  Amy and I got a Jambon de fromage (Ham and Cheese) and a Citron (lemon and sugar).  They were very tasty and filling.  We decided to relax and also enjoy a French coffee while we were there, so we ordered a Cappuccino.  It was much better than the one we had in Munich by far.  Later that evening Jenny took us to a really nice sit down dinner at Le Souffle, where I had Spinach Souffle, Salmon Souffle, and Raspberry Souffle and I got a chance to try some real Caviar.  None of us felt like being brave and ordering Escargot, although we did think about it.  We ordered a Coffee de creme on the recommendation from Jenny and it was fantastic.  Finally, we toured around Place de la Concorde and Place Vendome, before parting ways for the night.  Amy and I headed to our Hostle for the night, which we are disappointed in.  It has a private room and bath, but it doesn’t live up to the advertisement and it costs way too much for the quality of the room, but I guess this is Paris…

    Sunday in Paris quickly became museum day after we steped out of our Hotel and were greeted by cold and rain.  We found a church in Paris that had an English service at 6pm, so our plan was to hit Musee d’Oorsay and the Louve and then head to service.  We ended up not being able to figure out the directions to the church and were forced to have our own service, but it turned out great since Daniel gave a great lesson.

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    Europe Trip Part One

    Today in Munch was great!!  The weather was nice and the sun was out (unlike yesterday).  We went to a really nice park and had some Wiener schnitzel.  We also spent some time at two major shopping centers and had a nice cup of coffee and relaxed.  The coffee was not that great, I’m looking forward to some better coffee in France or Italy.

    We landed safely in Frankfurt, Germany after a long flight.  Amy and I ended up getting separated on the flight because a girl booked seats for herself and her baby 3 rows apart and decided on the plane to sit together.  Of Course I wasn’t going to put up a fight and separate a baby and her mother, so we just let it go.  I was slightly annoyed at the little kid next to me that kept trying to put his feet on me and sleep on my shoulder, but at least he was asleep for most of the flight.

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    The Frankfurt airport was pretty neat.   It had a mixture of grungy industrialism and modernism.  We had our Euro Rail Passes validated, grabbed a sandwich and boarded the train for Salzburg, Austria (home of the Sound of Music) which turned out to not be such a great idea for various reasons (mostly weather related), but we did get a glimpse of a really cozy town. It was a 4 hour train ride to Munich and then a 2.5 hour train ride from there to Salzburg.  On the way, we saw a lot of green rolling hills and were impressed with how green everything was.  I guess I didn’t expect Germany to have quite so much open land.  As the train pulled into the town we could tell by the architecture and the huge castle up on the cliff that we could really enjoy looking around, but it had been raining since we got off the plane and the temperature was in the high 40s low 50s, so the weather took some of the fun out of our evening there.  Amy had a small umbrella but we all got pretty wet as we walked around the town.  Since it was getting late in the evening and we were planning on staying the night back in Munich, all we wanted from Salzburg was an authentic meal.  Most of the shopping places had already closed for the evening, so there wasn’t much else we could do indoors out of the rain.  We were considering trying to make it to the restaurant up on top of the cliff, but gave up on the idea as we started to get hungry and tired of getting soaked in the rain.  We finally found a really nice restaurant but it was packed and there seem to be a long waiting list.  Tired, cold and frustrated, we headed back to the train station.  luckily we found a little fast food place that had a good selection of authentic food.  I got the Spezial Bosen and it was fantastic.  Finally we hopped on the train back to Munich.  We managed to get a private room in one of the train cars and we turned off the lights and all crashed.  We arrived in Munich about 10pm and Rachel kindly grabbed a pay phone and began calling around to find a place to stay (thank you Rachel!).  We found a Shariton nearby that was somewhat reasonable and grabbed a cab.  We probably would have been much better off just skipping Salzburg and spending a little more time trying to find a cheaper place to stay, but I think we had a good time anyway.

    Munch was great!!  The weather was nice and the sun was out (unlike the day before).  We went to a really nice park and had some Wiener schnitzel.  Yipes the Germans drink a lot of beer!!  I think we were the only ones that didn’t have a “biggy gulp beer mug.”  We also spent some time at two major shopping centers and had a nice cup of coffee and relaxed.   The shopping area was extremely crowded, so we didn’t feel like fighting crowds to shop.  The coffee was not that great, but the atmosphere was nice.  We sat under some umbrellas out in the square and people watched for a while.  We quickly noticed the abundance of mullets which we thought was quite amusing!!  I was incredibly impressed by the bike lanes everywhere!  It is a very bike friendly city.  I sure wish Austin would get lanes like that.  I would ride my bike to work for sure.  It was also nice to see a total lack of large gas guzzling vehicles.  No trucks or hummers or vans or suburbans, just small efficient, non obtrusive vehicles.  Europe is ahead of the curve for sure.  During our day in Munich, we came across a really cool subway station that was composed of orange tile.  Of course the photographers (Rachel and I) just had to stop!!  So we had a nice little photo-shoot for maybe even 30 minutes.  We got some of my favorite photos during this shoot.  We then hit up a little internet cafe for 20 minutes, which is where that last post came from.  I tried to post this blog that I had started with no luck.  Next stop was the night train for Paris, but we had to grab a couple of scoops of gelato for the ride.  I got green apple flavor and it was AMAZING!  The night train was nice except that the bunks were too short for me and I had to either sleep diagonally or bend me knees.  but, I was soo tired, I was still able to sleep fairly well.

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