Page 2 of Downes Family Travel Blog Posts


Africa » Egypt » Upper Egypt » Luxor August 8th 2008

Dear Family and Friends: As you may have noticed, a few portions of our last blog entry came through as gobblely gook. This was the fault of the computer we were using in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, and a sample of the many techological problems we have encountered! Thankfully, not much was missing, although the funniest part of the visit to our guide's home was lost...all photos are there. In the beginning of the original message, we recommended that, if short on time, you simply read about the bathrooms and the visit to our guide's home (further down in the text). With regard to the visit to our guide's home...the text got bad just when we were describing the back yard of farm animals. It was an incredible number of animals in a very small ... read more

Africa » Tanzania » North » Moshi August 8th 2008

Dear Family and Friends: Before we launch into Tanzania, we thought we would touch on two small subjects that may be of interest to at least one of you! First, laundry and luggage. As you will recall, we brought only carry-on luggage, which has meant that we wear the same clothes over and over and over again, as they get grungier and grungier. The wash water is always very brown. We started the trip with everyone's bag having some of everyone's clothes, in the event that one bag was lost or stolen. That lasted about 24 hours! It was such a pain to search for some item of clothing in someone else's bag...we also could not purchase much more than a few tiny items (earrings for Lauren and candy bars, for their wrappers, for Sam), which ... read more
Sam with Friends
Craft Time with Lauren
Playing with the little ones

Africa » Egypt » Lower Egypt » Giza July 27th 2008

Subtitles: Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, But we Visited it in a Day! Kate Denied Entry to the Vatican! Dear Friends and Family: NOTE: We cannot believe it has been 11 days since we posted an entry! This is our longest one yet, so if you are pressed for time, be sure to read at least the sections labeled "BATHROOMS," and "AN INCREDIBLE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE."  No time this time, but we will write about transportation next entry (aka"it is amazing we are alive!). ROME IN 20 HOURS! Backing up one day, we spent 20 hours in Rome, after our cruise ended in Venice. We stayed at a great hote... read more
Roman Forum
Pantheon
Sphinx and Giza Pyramid

Africa » Egypt July 16th 2008

Dear Family & Friends, Salam! We are safely aboard our Nile Cruise boat just below the high Aswan Dam, which we toured this morning following an EARLY morning flight (we had to get up at 2:45am in Cairo to get to the airport to fly to Aswan). The pyramids yesterday in Cairo were as amazing as everyone says and we can't wait to show you some of our photos from this part of our trip. We even have a photo of Sam and Ken playing baseball in front of the great Cheops pyramid (thanks Sam and Brad A for the idea). Finding Internet access (that works) has been exceedingly difficult so I am using this medium to communicate with our family in particular to let you all know that we are safe and well. We are ... read more

Europe » Croatia July 15th 2008

SUBTITLES: "The Coolest 13th Birthday Ever" and "Who Knew Dobrovnik,Croatia, was so Cool?" Dear Family and Friends: Two lingering thoughts about Venice....1) the sight of the vendors/delivery people rolling their carts up and then down the stairs of each pedestrian bridge....2) the calendars featuring 12 "hot" gondeliers and 12 "hot" priests! We must confess that the cruise which followed Venice was a welcome change for us, in terms of knowing where each night's lodging and food was coming from....still had major language barriers, since Costa is an Italian cruise line and at least 50% of the announcements were only in Italian (we could only hope that none were telling us to grab life jackets and meet at Muster Station A!). But the 21 hours of unlimited food and twicea-day housekeeping service made up for it! 3,600 ... read more
Overview of Izmir, Turkey
Sam's 13th Birthday in Izmir
Walled City of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Europe » Italy » Veneto » Venice July 12th 2008

Dear Family & Friends: Although we are several countries behind in our travel blog, we will continue our best efforts to give you a small flavor of our magical moments. Venice was no exception! We departed Riva del Garda (on the northern shore of Lake Garda) on July 3rd, following three wonderful days of hiking, swimming, and enjoying the beauty of N. Italy. We walked north of our hotel about ten blocks to the local bus station (we are quite the motley looking crew with our daypacks and rolling suitcases moving through the old cobblestone streets) where we took the local commuter bus to the town of Roverto. From here, we were able to transfer to the train which would take us to Verona and then on to Venice. It was a long day, made more ... read more
Rialto Bridge
Gondola
Doge's Palace

Europe » Italy July 2nd 2008

Dear Family & Friends: Switzerland was so amazing, and the weather so wonderful, that it was a sad and tearful departure when we had to say goodbye to both the country and to Ken's mother, Marilyn, on June 29. Marilyn went on to visit friends in Germany while we took a series of trains south from Interlaken to Milan, Italy, and then east to Descenzano, which is on the southernmost tip of lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. We arrived on a Sunday, which meant that everyone in town had the day off and was out enjoying the restaurants, gelato shops, boating, and swimming. There was definitely a party atmosphere in this lakeside town and it was a great introduction for our family to Italy. This was the one town, out of our entire trip, ... read more
Narrow Street near Hotel Alessi
Cliff Trail near Riva with Sam
Bastillion near Riva

Europe » Switzerland June 29th 2008

Dear Family & Friends: One more! From Wengen, we took the train down the valley a bit and then up another valley (in all, we stayed in three different locations, each at the base of the Jungfrau, but each offering a very different view) to Grindelwald. Unlike the other two towns, this one allows cars. Our first surprise was discovering that our beautiful hotel was the farthest one out of town! We had to take a long cab ride and then rely on the public bus for the next few days, but the view was beautiful, as it was perched on the side of one of the hills overlooking the town and glorious mountains. We also had a room that sleeps 10, so the kids loved having a bunk bed that slept 3 on each level! ... read more
Hiking to Bachalpsee Lake
Picnic at Bachalpsee Lake
Eiger and Gindelwald Valley

Europe » Switzerland June 27th 2008

Dear Family & Friends, We are so behind in our blog entries, but having such a great time everywhere we go....this quick entry is about the day we (and Marilyn) took the cograil train up through the mountain at the base of the Monch and Jungfrau above Wengen, Switzerland, to arrive at "the top of Europe," as it is billed - the Jungfraujoch, elevation 11,333 feet. It is about an hour train ride, much of it through a tunnel as high up as they could get and then you take an elevator the rest of the way, emerging on a vast world of snow and ice. The weather was spectacular, as was the view. We walked outside, first where the kids and Ken did a zip line over the glacier and then we all walked up ... read more
Glaciers near Jungfrau
Kate & Lauren at Monchsjochhutte
Panorama near Monch

Europe » Switzerland June 24th 2008

We are resending this blog because the previous posting did not include the photos which went along with them. We hope to add more soon. Sorry for any confusion..... Dear Family and Friends: We have been blessed with an abundance of bright, hot, and sunny days in Switzerland which have enabled us to ride the cable cars and to get high into the mountains for hiking around Mürren and Wengen. Two days ago, we spent the entire morning hiking the Northface Trail near Mürren (elevation: 5,361 feet), which circles high above the village, traversing meadows upon meadows of wild flowers, small forests, and dozens of pastures with grazing cows (all wearing their signature Swiss cow bells). One of our most stunning moments was walking through a meadow, surrounded by ringing cowbells, and taking in the breath-taking ... read more
Amazing Murren Trail
Cow with Bell
Jungfrau from Murren




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