13410799_10155505451237837_806529732_oLeaving Copenhagen and onward to Northern Italy.

We had such a wonderful stay in Denmark! We highly recommend traveling to Copenhagen in the summer because it is beautiful, the people are so friendly and the communication is easy because most speak English and enjoy practicing it with tourists. The highlights of our stay included taking a double decker bus around the city, taking a picture with the famous mermaid, eating a few lunches/dinners by the water (most places had blankets and heaters for when it was cold), renting bikes and exploring the city, visiting Nyhaven (colorful buildings along the water), paddle boat rentals, Hamlet Castle and taking the ferry to Sweden (20 minute ride). We loved that he city caters to all ages with its parks, trails, boats, malls, etc. There were so many wonderful playgrounds for the little ones that were nice enough for all of us to enjoy.13446037_10155505450392837_1135770445_o

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We have always felt that Americans (maybe this is just our family) are pretty loud people. This was magnified in Denmark when we soon learned that they are very quiet people. The kids were able to restrain themselves while we were in Liv and Morten’s apartment and be quiet because there were people above us and below us. The two year olds took advantage of this situation and made us give them whatever they wanted because they knew we couldn’t have any “meltdowns” in the flat.

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As soon as we landed in Italy, we told Charlotte and Finley, “Guess what little ones, the sheriffs are back in town! We are now in a different place where we know Italians can be loud (just like our family). If you demand something and are told no, you can have your meltdown and be put in time out or get a little swat on your behind.”

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13410429_10155505450447837_276057657_oWe flew from Copenhagen to Milan yesterday and arrived in beautiful Italy. We flew a low cost carrier, Ryan Air to save money. It ended up being $100 a ticket which included a bag for each person. There were several things we noticed that kept the cost of the ticket down: They are located in the farthest part of the airport (even the ticket counter). You have to walk out onto the tarmac to board the plane. EVERYTHING (except the toilet) is an extra cost. We would defiantly fly them again to save money.13389225_10208858705801652_507949630_o

We picked up our two mini vans at the airport. Christa was in a panic when the lady told us that both mini vans were manual. We booked automatic vans and Christa was upset because both Brad and Dave do not know how to drive a manual. Imagine our delight when we picked up the vans and they were in fact automatic! Corrin’s van is a nine passenger Mercedes and Christa’s is a seven passenger Ford. We paid extra to have wi-fi in the vans (for the teenagers) but will ask for our money back when we return them because it does not work in the Mountains.

13441508_10208858705281639_319881208_oChrista and Brad received two toll tickets because they could’t figure out the toll system. Brad figured that you pulled up to the toll booths (like in Texas) and paid a toll. They pulled up to a toll and were issued a paper ticket with nothing written on it. Christa mentioned (Brad must have not been listening) that it is probably to give to the next toll tower. Christa fell asleep and was woken by Brad being upset that the toll booth wouldn’t accept his money. The barrier finally opened up and a second toll ticket spewed out of the machine. Brad was suppose to insert the ticket that they received at the previous booth and THEN insert their payment.

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We stopped at a gas station and all ate sandwiches for lunch. The sandwiches were some of the best we have ever eaten (and they were cheap!). Copenhagen is definitely more expensive then Italy but we knew this when planning our trip. We then went to a local grocery store in Italy and stocked up on basics. We are AMAZED at how CHEAP wine is over here. We bought a few bottles of wine that were around three dollars each and they were fantastic!!!!!

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Google has been WONDERFUL. Google translate will instantly help you with language barriers. This morning we couldn’t figure out the washing and drying so we googled the make and model. We were able to download the user manual and realized that we had to turn the water supply on!

This is our second home exchange (the remainder of our trip will include one hotel stay in Venice and the rest at VRBOS). We are amazed at the generosity of our second exchange family. They contacted us a few summers ago asking for an exchange (our house for their vacation mountain flat). We said yes and started to plan the trip. The mom got a new job and so they ended up not being able to come to Texas. They insisted that we still come and use their flat. We ended up not being able to go either. Fast forward to this trip. We contacted the family to see if they would be interested in coming to Texas this summer. They said they would make it to Texas at some point but to please come and stay in their flat. We offered to pay money and they refused it! The mom traveled to the flat a few hours from her house to set up treats for us when we arrived (wine, sweets, juices, and cookies). The family also refuses to let us pay for the cleaning lady. We are excited about meeting them for lunch on Friday!

Some of the lessons learned thus far:
Doing home exchanges has enabled us to travel to places we normally would not have even thought about traveling to.
Staying in people’s homes (home exchange and vrbo) is more comfortable when traveling with your family. You save money by not having to eat out every meal.
We have experienced the kindness of strangers over and over.
The Euro is much easier to convert compared to Dutch and Swedish currency.

We are down one week into our European adventure and have two more weeks remaining. Overall this trip has exceeded our expectations!!! We are so grateful!!!

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