Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July.

This was not exactly a fun holiday for me, considering that it's the first one Brayden and I have been apart. Plus I was still all emotional, still am really, about him leaving. It hasn't even been a week yet, and supposedly the first three weeks are the worst.

But it's alright. (:

On the 3rd, my family, Brady and I went to the Real Salt Lake game. I really don't care about soccer, but it was fun to go and get my mind off things. They tied whoever it was they were playing. Haha.

The cool part was the firework show after the game. We got to go down on the field to watch them, and they were some of the best fireworks I've ever seen. It was way fun!!

I love Brady(: She can still make me laugh on my worst days(:
On the actual 4th of July, we just slept in. Didn't go to any parades even. Haha, the 4th of July is not my family's forte.. Then Kenz and I went to the Layton carnival for a while, but it wasn't that interesting. So we went to Chilis to get some lunch, and then I headed to work. It was such a pointless shift, less than two hours, but whatever. After work, Kenzie and I went to the Plain City fireworks, which were fun. It was hard to be there though, I just wasn't ready. Couldn't get my last year's 4th of July out of my head. I miss him.
Happy 4th of July everybody(: I'm grateful to live in a free country, and for all of the rights I have. I'm grateful for all the sacrifices that were made to provide these rights.
God bless the USA.

The Goodbye.

This was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Say goodbye to my other half for two whole years. It literally broke my heart.

We had the most perfect week before he left. I'm not even sure why it was perfect, because we didn't do anything all that spectacular. Starting with his perfect birthday onwards, everything was just amazing. (: We spent every second together that we could. Even matched at church!(: We made balloon animals, watched a lot of movies, got some food, played games, and were just together. I already miss all the times where we'd sit around doing nothing, because it was everything to me.

Writing this post is even hard because I'm still so fragile. I see couples walking around and I just want to cry. I miss it so badly already. He's my very best friend in the world, and I just watched him walk away. There was nothing I could do about it, and nothing I wanted to do about it. I know that's where he needs to be and there's nowhere I'd rather have him be. It was just hard.

My Europe trip caused me to miss his farewell which was the worst. I never wanted that to happen, and I'll probably regret forever that it did. But I made it back in time to see him afterwards and spend another perfect day together.
Helped him pack on Monday, and that was hard. We both cried a lot all day.
He gave me one final present, a keychain and a pillowcase that say "I heart my missionary." Hahaha he's so funny, he says this is a gift to both of us. It's cute for me and insurance for him. His plan is that if I ever go on a date, I'll come home to that pillowcase and feel so guilty I'll never do it again. And if I drive on that date, the boy will see the keychain and back off.
Made me laugh(:
He also wrote me a song, which was absolutely beautiful. He says it starts happy like our perfect relationship has been, then goes minor for a while, like this separation we have to deal with, then it gets happy again at the end. I love it. He called it "Our Unfinished Story." Wow, he's adorable. It meant a lot to him, he couldn't listen to it without tears. So neither can I.
He was set apart that night, and the last ten minutes before that were the hardest.
We knew no more touching, texting, anything really.... It was miserable.
Don't we look happy?(;
We went down to his setting apart after that. It was wonderful, and his dad gave him a Father's blessing afterwards. So glad I got to be a part of this.
I went to get my iPod, and found this snapchat on the screen. Not even sure when he found the time to do that, but it made my night. (:  I love this boy!
His bishop was waiting outside for me after we said our goodbyes for the night. He gave me some good advice and was very kind and understanding.
Then it was up at 5 AM the next day to leave for the airport at 5:45.
Once we got there, it was a pretty quick goodbye. I was a hot mess, let's be honest. So thankful for his family, particularly his grandmothers for holding me while I cried. They were so sweet and I felt like I was their own granddaughter. I'm blessed to have been able to spend so much time with his amazing family, I adore all of them.
I have the best friends and family. So many calls, texts, treats and etc, just to make sure I was doing ok. I'm lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people.
He sent an email Tuesday night letting me know he'd made it safely to the MTC. It was so good to hear from him. I know all his letters and emails are going to keep me going. I also bought a digital voice recorder we can send back and forth.
I love you Elder Stone. I miss you. But I know you're going to do great things. I'm so proud of you and all that you're doing. Good luck!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Europe - Days Eight and Nine

Woke up and got ready on time once again!(: We went down to breakfast which was pretty good surprisingly!(: We had granola cereal with chocolate pieces and I really liked it. It was very filling. I also had a huge roll with butter. I love the bread in Europe a lot.  

We headed out for the day starting out with a bus sight seeing tour down in Munich. The weather was terrible today. It's hard to have fun when you're freezing and stuck in the rain. It's a cute city though, just involved a lot of umbrella use. (: We saw a lot of Nazi history sites and other major attractions like more of Ludwig's castles. He has so many it's unbelievable.  


Our tour guide was such a cute, fun little lady. I liked her a lot. And she talked so fast it was like she never took breaths!(: We loved her(: 

Stopped for a few pictures along the way. She showed us this one river where everyone surfs. Yep. Thats right. People SURF in the middle of Germany! theres one place in the river where there is a massive wave created as the river flows and people hang out and surf there. It was freaking crazy! I guess its way super dangerous and two people have even died when they crashed and hit their heads on the concrete, its very shallow water, and drowned. But it doesn't stop people from doing it because they love it! It was a unique sight. (: Then they dropped us off at Marienplatz. That's the city center in Munich. We ate some lunch, some type of sandwich again, then bought Germany's famous pretzels. They were delicious and I felt like I ate so much food I was going to explode.  


We went to see the Glockenspiel towers, basically a giant cuckoo clock that has spinning characters every hour. It was pretty cool to see and the bells sounded beautiful!(:  


There was a group of men dressed up like olden time knights that we got to see and once came up to talk to us. The pictures are great, he was definitely the coolest guy ever. Loved meeting him(: He was so friendly and funny!  


Then we went walking around the square, stopped at a grocery store and went souvenir shopping. I got my last keychain for this country and then we got our postcards as always.  

Kena and I found the cutest little jewelry shop with way cheap jewelry. I got darling earrings and a pretty charm bracelet. It was exciting.  

Finally we finished and went back to the bus to take us to Dachau. I was glad to be back on the bus after being in the cold and rain for so long.  

It is cool to be in Germany though because so much of my family is from here. I know my dad would love it! 

Dachau was the first established concentration camp in Germany during Hitlers reich. I didn't really know what to expect when I went in, but wow. As soon as we walked through the gates you could feel it. It was so somber. You could almost see all the people suffering. We toured the museum and went to a short documentary about the Nazis and the Dachau camp. It was kind of emotional to see all of it. The rain and clouds matched the mood of the area perfectly. It's really hard to describe but it was very cool to see. I'm glad I went there but it was sad. None of those things should have happened, and it was heart breaking. No one was feeling good about it. Just hard to see. But an informative experience.  

After Dachau we got back in the bus to go back to Munich. We tried all sorts of German candy. One was called a Nimm and was super fizzy. It burned my tongue and taste buds! But it was way good. We had Moams too and I loved those. German candy is super unique and super fantastic.  

We fell asleep for a little bit and then arrived in Munich. Kena and I opted to take a bike tour during our free time. We got to ride the cutest little bikes. They were like beach cruisers!(: It was way fun and relaxing. We toured the city and got to see the bronze road (a World War Two memorial where non-Hitler supporters walked in rebellion), visited another beautiful church in the city, and rubbed the traditional lion heads for good luck. We also cycled through the beautiful English gardens. It was awesome. Totally a typical German day. I felt like I was having the real deal experience and I wasn't just a tourist anymore! We also saw the opera house and this big street festival with local bands. It was cool.  

The only downside was the rain. It was only sprinkling at first but by the end it was pouring. I was so grateful I'd decided to go change my sandals to hiking shoes this morning!! But after the tour was over I was soaked and freezing. I couldn't use my umbrella or anything be used we were on bikes and I didn't have anything water proof. So that was interesting. But still such a fun experience. (: 

Then we went to dinner. We were nervous since last nights was so bad, but today's was a lot better. (: We had a vinaigrette salad, and then pork and noodles for the entree. They seem to eat a ton of pork here!! That's like all they've served us besides the mystery meats. For dessert we had some sort of pudding which I still didn't like but it's all good. (: I got another Spezi so I was extremely happy. I'm going to miss that back in America!! 

Quote of the day: Melanie was telling us about how hot her face was and so I went to feel it. My hands were still ice cold from the bike ride, I hadn't even come close to warming up yet. I touched her face and she grabbed my hand and said: "Ashlie! Your hands are delicious!!" Hahahahaha we laughed so hard. (: 

Garrett was nice enough to buy us some bags of candy from the grocery store while we were on our bike tour. So we'll have some to bring home. (: 

After another long day, we headed back to the hotel. All we had to look forward to was more packing and sleep before a long travel day. 

I'm so sad this trip of a lifetime is already over. It's the weirdest feeling because I feel like I've been here for weeks, but I also can't believe it's over and how fast it went. Total oxymoron but I'm serious. I feel both.  

I hate when things you've been looking forward to for so long suddenly have already happened!! 

But again, don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.  

Definitely a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. I loved and enjoyed every second. I took every opportunity and I have no regrets. So grateful for this chance and I can only hope that this is only the beginning of a lifetime of traveling. It's literally all I want. I'm leaving my heart in Europe!

Side note- We were supposed to be downstairs and packed for the flight home at 4:15 this morning. We had our alarms set for 3. Guess what? Not one of us woke up. We had been up til 2 and one of the girls was just going to pull an all nighter and wake us up but we all fell sound asleep. Henson burst into the room at 4:13 freaking out and telling us to get up and we literally had two minutes. Talk about an alarming wake up, I thought there was a fire, it scared me!! We scattered like flies and flew around the room grabbing all our stuff and throwing it in our bags. I feel super unorganized and I probably left something important. But oh well. We got dressed and ran downstairs. I was super sad we didn't get pictures with Dimitrios, he was the coolest! But we didn't have time. The hotel gave us this nasty packed breakfast of a sandwich, a kit kat bar, an apple and water. While we were waiting to check in we were supposed to eat it since it had to be gone before security. I took a drink of the water and it was not normal. It was some weird mineral water and it was disgusting!!! So I took a bite of the kit kat to get rid of the taste. The kit kat was not a normal American one either, it was terrible. Henson even said it tasted like a Pringle. So I threw that away and took a bite of the apple to get rid of that flavor! Eventually I just threw away the whole meal. A lady watched me do it and shortly after we watched her to take out the barely used water bottle and food and shove them all in her bag. So I guess I did a service by hating the food. It was way funny.  

We got to fly Air France home, a total bucket list item for me. I've always seen these planes and wanted to ride them. And they'd didn't disappoint. They were a lot bigger and more roomy, we were served fresh croissants and hot chocolate instead of the typical stupid peanuts and water, and it was the perfect temperature. Wish we could have took Air France all the way home instead of just to Paris!!

Europe - Day Seven

We woke up early again. I think we are starting to get the hang of things finally. We got all packed and headed downstairs. After a short breakfast we got on the bus to make our way to Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is one of the smallest and the second richest country in the world. There isn't whole lot to see there and it's a lot like Switzerland. It was cool to be there, especially since not a whole lot of people have been. We got the chance to get our passports stamped, being tourist crazy like we are. We had to pay for them, but it was worth it. (:

Proof I've been to Liechtenstein. (:  

We got the chance to be in four countries in one day. We were in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany. Who else can say they've been in four countries in one day? Cool. 

After Liechtenstein, we got back on the bus for a long ride through Austria into Germany. I tried to stay awake for a while, but after an hour I was fast asleep. Luckily, because I don't sleep much here so I really needed the rest!(:

We made it to Germany and stopped for lunch at a pretty cafe. Finally got some American food after so much gross food. We had chicken nuggets, fries, and macaroni and cheese. Haha. We did however try a cool German drink called Spezi. It was coke mixed with orange flavors. Kinda reminded me of a dirty diet coke that I adore from home. It was nice though because I've been craving Wendy's. Also, Kena and I just want ice. Like. So. Bad. They don't use ice in Europe hardly ever. Are you kidding? We survive off of ice. So that's been a rough loss for us. 

After our pretty lunch, we headed up to Neuschwanstein Castle. It's the castle that Cinderella's castle at Disneyland is modeled after. Ummmm. Oh my gosh. What could be more perfect for me? I'm a straight up princess loving girl. I'm the princess of princesses. I was so excited. To get there though we had to walk up a one mile super steep path. For the most part,  I have sucked at picking shoes. I wear hiking shoes for simple strolls around town and then for this ridiculous hike up a steep mountain, I happened to be wearing sandals. No one warned me. But it actually wasn't too bad. I'm seriously going to have hot legs after this trip from all the muscles.  

We got up there and it was totally worth the walk. The most gorgeous castle I've ever laid eyes on. So pretty. I can see why they'd model Cinderella's castle after it. Ahhhh!(: I was in heaven. It is set all alone in this enchanted looking forest straight out of a fairytale. We hiked up a little farther to this amazing bridge between mountains with a perfect view of the castle. The bridge was kind of sketchy since the wood was old and shifted when you stepped on it, but I didn't care. The view was perfect. I want to be a princess and live there. The king who built it only lived there 172 days before he was murdered. Evidently he was mentally ill and spent like half the treasury on this castle so everyone was mad. But his murder is a mystery. Him and his psychiatrist were both killed. Weird.  

He had 14 wood carvers working for 4 1/2 years just on the wood in his bedroom. Crazy detailed.  

The castle is unfinished on the interior, but we got to tour the completed rooms! It was beautiful. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside to prevent the paintings from deteriorating. We were sad cause I wanted to show everyone how beautiful it was.  

I'm pretty for sure this will have been my favorite part of Germany when this trip is over. I loved every second. Felt like a princess(: I got a pretty keychain, postcards, and this darling crown necklace. I was so excited. This was definitely my kind of thing. (: 

After we got to explore the area a little and then we got back on the bus for a two hour ride to Munich for dinner.  

Oh man. The dinners keep getting worse and worse.... Tonight's went seriously downhill. They started with an appetizer of some sort of soup. And yuck. Looked like dog food soaked in water. We hated it. And they forgot about Kena so she didn't even get any. But that's ok because it was terrible. Next they brought out the main dish. Still confused about whether the side was potatoes or pasta. But it was alright. Then we had meat. They knew what it was finally, pork. Not terrible but we only had a few bites and called it good. Then for dessert we had like a custard with creamed rice and sprinkles. It was terrible again. The texture was unbearable. So that was my dinner. German food is even worse than Swiss.


Made me feel happy that I got the chicken nuggets for lunch. Good plan. So.  

Funny server though, he was absolutely crazy!(: Melanie, Kena, Mckenna and I were sitting by Garrett and the server came up and asked him which one of us was his girlfriend. Garret said we all were and the server congratulated him and told him good job. He also said that he has two girlfriends and that's already too much work so Garrett should probably choose two. (: Hahaha. He asked Henson to move to Egypt with him too. Just a crazy outgoing guy!  

After dinner we had another 1 hour ride back to our next hotel.   

And this hotel was a joke. Haha. We walked into our room, Kena, Danza, Cassidy and I, and it was pitch black. We wandered around in the dark looking for a light switch and none of them worked. Eventually we discovered that you have to put your room key card in the wall to get the lights to come on. 

Next I went to take a shower. The bath water was running but I couldn't make it come out of the shower head. We had to go ask the front desk how to use the shower because we thought it was broken. It was complicated but it works. 

Then we went to open the window, and behind it was another window. Weird.  

Plus you have to pay for wifi which nobody was happy about. 

But it's a nice hotel like always and we were definitely ready to go to bed. (:

Europe - Day Six

Switzerland. Oh my gorgeous. It's like something out of a fairytale. Beautiful nature with lakes, rivers and so much green! I can't handle it. Storybook living. It's happening.  

Got up on time, early even, for the first time. Oh yes please be proud. 

Ate breakfast which was alright. Cereal, the most disgusting cheese I've ever been exposed to - not kidding it even smelled like death - and some fruit. Good start to the day right?(; 

Then we were off on a walking tour of Lucerne. We had to take an hour long bus ride from our hotel in Einsiedeln. It was beautiful to see all of Switzerland. Seriously such a beautiful place.  

When we got to Lucerne we took a walking tour of first, their main landmark, the lion carving in the mountain. It's a sculpture of a dying lion carved into a mountain which represents all the soldiers who died trying to protect the king of France during the revolution, and saved his life. It was way cool. There are lions all over this city in honor of it.  


Then we saw a beautiful church building. From the outside it didn't look that cool, but inside it was stunning.  I even got to touch the baptismal water. We sat in there for awhile looking at all of the beautiful carvings and listening to the organ play. 


Then we went to see a bridge which is another main landmark. It's a long bridge covered with flowers near a water tower. It was badly damaged from fire during the revolution so it lost many of the original structures and paintings hung from the ceiling there.  But the bridge has been fully restored and some of the paintings still exist there. (: The water tower nearby has been used for everything from being an actual water tower, to a prison and even a torture chamber. It was a beautiful view though and made for lots of cute pictures(: Which is important to us of course(: 

Then it was free time. Kena and I went to get some dollar bills traded for change and look for a watch for her. We got some change but never found a watch and had to grab lunch real quick. It was again pretty gross. I ended up feeding like half of it to the birds. Yucky(:  

It was getting close to the time to meet our group so we headed off to the meeting spot. Well. 15 minutes past the designated time and no one was there. We started to freak out because we knew they'd be way mad. We realized there was another shop similar to the one we were at and asked directions. Luckily the guy spoke English. He directed us to the wrong one then chased us to show us the right one. When we got there Henson was beyond mad and freaked out at us. I'm sick of getting yelled at for miscommunications. We just had the meeting spot wrong. So that was kind of a nightmare but things chilled out again after a while.  

We rode our bus up to the base of Mount Pilatus. We got to take some aerial carts up the mountain, pretty similar to the sky ride. It was an amazing view and kept us out of the rain!(: When we got to the top, there was snow everywhere and it was snowing. All the groups were excited that they finally got to see snow except us Utah kids. Like ughhhhhhh that's what we wanted to get away from!!! Especially in June. Haha. 
We didn't have the proper shoes or clothing for snow but we hiked it anyways. We were at the top of the Swiss Alps and me and Kena don't waste opportunities. (;  


We froze our butts off. We were so high we were literally walking in the clouds. They had lots of trails and steps. Even had caves for us to explore. It wasn't that great of a view because of the storm and clouds, we couldn't see anything. But the mountains were pretty! And knowing us, we of course stopped for tons of pictures, so by the time we got to go back inside, we were ice cold and close to the point of hypothermia. Especially my fingers were frozen because of the camera. Miserable conditions, but we made the best of it and still had a great time(: 

Then we rode down the mountain on a cog work train. The wheels work on the track like cogs in a clock! It's the steepest cog work train ride in the world. They use this method because it makes controlling the speed of the train a lot easier. 
Once we got to the bottom we got to explore for a bit. Kena and I found a super cute pier and took lots of pictures. This was the most beautiful area we saw. Sitting on a pier by a clear blue lake surrounded by mountains. Wow. Breathtaking.  


I even fed a swan!! I was way nervous about it because they hiss and honk at you, they aren't do very nice. The first piece I got scared and dropped the piece of bread! But the second time, he ate it right out of my hand. (: It was cool. (: Even got a video of me doing it. (: 

We took a boat ride to the other side of the mountain to get back to Lucerne. It was a steam boat with paddles on the sides, originally from 1902. The area was beautiful and it was nice to escape the cold for a little while.  

We got back to Lucerne and had some more free time. We decided to go shopping and picked up our souvenirs. Everything in Switzerland is way pricy and so we didn't get a whole lot. Not like France. But I got a spoon for free from the store, a darling keychain and postcards! And some Swiss chocolate of course. The mocha kind is amazing. And things for family.  

Then we went into a way over priced clothing store. Shoes were like 300 Francs. A little thin bracelet was 40. Not our place to roll, we're broke. Out we went. So then we window shopped, even found a 30,000 francs watch. Holy expensive. Didn't even look that cool!!! I was called the Ferrari Big Bag though so maybe that's why.  

Then we went to look at a more realistic teenage clothing store. It was so cute. Reminded me of Forever 21. Wish I'd had more time, I would have bought something!! It was interesting because we found a red and white t-shirt that looked like a football jersey kind of. The weird thing was is that it said Utah on it. Utah. A shirt that said Utah in Switzerland. Why.  Hahaha we were so confused!!! Why would that be in a small clothing shop in Lucerne, Switzerland!?! Hilarious. We also finally bought some Swiss chocolate. It's pretty good, but I'm not the biggest chocolate lover so maybe that's why I don't appreciate it like everyone else obsessed with it.  

Then it was back on the bus to return to the hotel for dinner.  

Dinner was once again.... Well... Interesting. The bread was good as always, and this time the soup actually was too. It was carrot soup or something like that. Sounds gross but everybody actually liked it a lot! Then we had a stuffed tomato, shniztel (spelling is beyond questionable) and a cream topped rice. The tomato was weird, the rice was pretty good, and I still didn't trust the meat because they still weren't sure what it was. I did pick the mushrooms off the top though. For dessert they brought out another small glass of what looked like frozen whipped cream topped with raspberry sauce. I was super excited but took one bite and wanted to die. It tasted like bitter lemon mixed with sour milk and pecans. Nasty. Everyone at our table had a different opinion of what the flavor actually was. We heard everything from mocha to orange zest to vanilla to pepper to soap. It was terrible. No one ate it. Swiss food just doesn't measure up guys. We don't get a long. Yuck yuck yuck.  

Then we headed upstairs to repack again for Germany tomorrow. So much packing and unpacking to do when you visit four countries. Haha. 

Overall a pretty good day and a wonderful stay in Switzerland. I love how beautiful and peaceful it is. I hope to come back someday soon. (: