TRAVELS 1 aug. 2011 - 17 aug. 2011
paris, fr voiron, fr nice, fr alba, it frienze, it roma, it napoli, it sorrento, it milano, it
Ross & Tiffanyâ€™s -summer adventure -
- a special
Study Abroad - the incredible opportunity to spend a college semester in a different country. For some, the desire, financial means, and college curriculum foster the possibility of a study abroad experience. Others have roadblocks that prevent them from jumping into a completely different world and immersing themselves in the culture of a foreign country for five months. Like I said, some people desire this, but others prefer the safety of their own home and countrythere is nothing wrong with the latter, but neither Ross nor I are ones to shy away from adventure and cultural experiences. Ross was one of those who was lucky enough to have a college program that not only allowed for travel, but strongly encouraged a semester spent in Europe. While in Switzerland, he had some of his best memories. He traveled to Prague, Venice, Como, Munich, Paris, Barcelona and all over Switzerland. He holds back from telling these stories on a dayto-day basis, but get him started and he'll light up. On the other hand, few know how much effort Tiffany put into trying to studying abroad. The desire was there, and
were willing to provide
the " means," but circumstances weren't in her favor. As much as it hurt to be defeated by time and come to the realization that it wasn't cost-effective for my purposes, there were two people who said the opportunity has not diminished. Then Tiffany met Ross - it was after Christmas break 2009. Ross had just returned from Switzerland
and skiing in the alps, and Tiffany had just decided to give up on studying abroad-she had instead developed the idea to travel solo in Europe after graduating in December. That didn't happen either. In fact, something much better developed-first a friendship, a relationship, becoming best friends and then travel buddies. Now we both had the desire to travel, we were both college graduates-without jobs-so you could say the circumstances allowed for plenty of free time but the means... we didn't have the means. Once again, my trip to Europe that would provide me so much self-growth and happiness would not come to realization if I couldn't afford it. The same two people who said, "the opportunity has not diminished", the two who have cared for me since birth, who had brought me through tears of sadness and were there for my most accomplishing moments, who were always involved and supportive in all aspects of my life, who just finished financially providing me with a phenomenal college education, once again stepped up, this time to allow me and my wonderful boyfriend to take the trip to Europe that I wasn't able to take during college. It wasn't 5 months, it was 3 weeks, but I don't think 5 months abroad alone could even come close to the perfect 3 weeks we spent traveling France and
It couldn't of happened without you two. You didn't have to finance my trip, you certainly didn't have to finance the trip for Ross either-but you did and we
cannot thank you enough. Your generosity and kindness in opening up these doors for us is indescribable. All we can say is
thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. If it weren't for you, we couldn't have experienced any of the things you see in these pictures, I hope you see the joy in our faces and the beautiful sights captured in the photographs, and I hope each of the smiles, words and
you" for being the reason we could be smiling so sincerely and see all these beautiful places. 3
2 aug. 2011 - 4 aug. 2011
2 aug. 2011 Arrived in Paris! an hour and a half late. Shocked no one was smoking in the airport. Waited almost an hour to get our free train tickets (through our Eurail Passes), it ended up being worth it! Train to Gare de Nord, then metro to Place d'Italie where our hotel was across from the police station, Hotel des Artes. So tired we took a nap. Then off to Montmartre to the Sacra Coeur-beautiful! Lots of steps but a great view of Paris. I liked everything but the "green horses." In the church they were having mass; Ross could pick out every few words and translated for me. Back to the Metro where we saw some " German-Americans." Then headed to see the Arc de Triomphe before walking down Champs-Elysees. Sat in the Tuileries where we ate our sweets. Then we walked across the river Seine to Saint Germain which was bustling full of night life and where we found Jade Cafe-steamy hot inside but had very tasty and reasonably priced, hot sandwiches. Lastly, we got crepes for dessert and stumbled upon Notre Dame before heading home. Even though we got off to a late start we had a wonderful and eventful day.
3 aug. 2011 Getting a little extra sleep today due to the rain, we awoke at 9:45. I took a cold shower and warned Ross of the temperature but even so, his shower ended up being perfectly warm-my luck! Then we took off for Musee d'Orsay. I stood in line while Ross picked up a breakfast of croissants. It was fortunate that the line moved fast because it was awfully long. The building beautiful, an old train station. We saw almost everythingunfortunately, Van Gogh was under renovation. My favorite works were the models of the opera house and the streets of Paris. Ross enjoyed explaining to me what he knows and has leaned about the art and sculptures. My favorite tidbit was " Putti"-the little, joyful angel children.
entered the Tuileries again. Headed to find a simple sandwich we instead found China town and an array of gift shops until we finally stumbled upon a cafe on Rue de Rivoli and sat next to two Scottish children, who spoke "5" languages; British, Scottish, Irish, American and Australian. After we filled up on open sandwiches & expensive Orangina, we crossed the street to the Louve, which in my mind was a larger, much larger, and more beautiful version of Burchard.
Back to the river, but this time we walked down to take a stroll by the water where it was cooler. Once we returned to the street level we found some great postcards at a very pretty price. The idea to Next we crossed the river via a develop a unique and interesting bridge covered with locks and art-piece to remember our trip then formed. Another long line at Notre Dame, and thankfully it also moved quickly. No hunchback found. The inside space was very tall & thin, creating a desire to look up to heaven. A great scale. Slight troubles at the train station regarding reservations resulting us to leave early tomorrow. Onto the Eiffel Tower. On our way we ran into an endless crowd of street sellers with key chain Eiffel Towers. They quickly "disappeared" as a police car rolled down the street. They even had a scout. Some packed up and ran across the street, other played "hide and seek" in the metro and nearby gift shop. Hilarious to watch. The Eiffel tower-630+ stairs hike to the 2nd level. Great views, no pennies dropped. Then we returned to the 1st level & enjoyed 2 cafĂŠ doubles and journaled together
while taking in the great views of Paris. With sore feet & a full bladder we walked past Invalides (gorgeous!) and St. Xavier (where we thought of Molly). Off to dinner around 9:30 in Saint Germain-Great food! Make this: seasoned pasta, sun dried tomatoes, arugula lettuce, garlic, prosciutto & cheese. Dinner was accompanied by a bottle of C么tes de Rhone-Villages and followed with a caf茅. A perfect night together in Paris.
Things that surprised me in Paris:
Saw very few smokers. We were welcome, even as Americas. They don't look French, because they wear so much American clothing! So many Asian tourists! Large percentage of people were African. Shocking how few cars are on the road. The metro system was so clean, as were the public bathrooms. The streets are so much cleaner than NYC. Water & beer are the same price.
4 aug. 2011 - 5 aug. 2011
4 aug. 2011 Started the day early with the first train ride of my life. Good thing Ross has done this a million times, I would have been so afraid of being on the wrong train, not finding my seat, worried that I somehow skipped security (there was no security-obviously this surprised me) and I'd also be lonely of course if we weren't here together. We took the TGV to Lyon part Deux where we transferred to a regional train that took us to Voiron. While we were walking to that first train, we had to cross a bridge in Paris. Initially we saw police and people gathered on the other side behind caution tape. Ross then pointed out a huge military type truck that was flipped on its sidehow could I miss that?! But we continued to piece together the size and complexity of the camera equipment at the "accident" and realized they were filming a movie. At least we hope! Voiron, my first sight of it and I already loved this dainty city built on the Alps. Ross was happy to be back to the place he stayed for a month during high school and see the Raynaud family, who he always tries to visit when nearby. The Raynaud family is wonderful, I must agree. Cathy picked us up from the train station with a boy named Tomas, he is a good family friend of the Raynauds and will live with Sophie next year. He ended up taking care of us all day, speaking wonderful English (he previously lived in Madison, WI) and showed us around Voiron... and bought us some afternoon drinks. Antoine was also able to join us, we were lucky because he hadn't been home recently since he was away at work and he happened to begin his vacation the day we arrived. In France, every firm must give a minimum 5 weeks of vacation each year! That doesn't include sick days & holidays. After seeing this cute town and learning that, I am ready to move to France!
After roaming Voiron with Tomas, and getting a guided tour through the museum at the Chartreuse distillery (all translated by our "guide" Tomas) we went for another drink where we met Matteau, another great child of the Raynaud family. Once Antoine joined we went back to the distillery & he gave us a real tour, even though he doesn't work there anymore. Fact: it's the largest liquor distillery cellar in the world. Following the tour, we got to taste several of the liquors they produce there.
brick oven-delicious! At dinner we enjoyed wine, a special white wine Antoine brought home called GEWURZTRAMINER, an Alsace Grand Cru. After dinner, we played more of the French version of bocce ball. They take this game very seriously, everyone even has their own set of balls. It was so much fun. Naturally Ross (and Matteau) beat me (and Antoine) but he didn't succeed against Guy and Frank. Guy's skills were seriously impressive and his shots were confident!
We ended the night with a "pizza party" all making our own pizzas and baking them in the
5 aug. 2011 - 7 aug. 2011
5 aug. 2011 Travel day! We got up early and we accidently left our clothes, well my new Chartreuse Experience shirt & Ross' white shorts, at the Raynaud's. We were however treated to breakfast & pizza for the road. Guy dropped us off at the train station and I had a few classic American blunders: First when he went to kiss my checks, I kept turning the wrong way and we brushed lips oops! Then I tried to thank him by saying "Graci" instead of " Merci." I must admit I was embarrassed. Our first train took us back to Lyon where we transferred to a train to take us to Marsalles, where we ate a nectarine on the steps overlooking the city. Our next train, to Nice, was packed full. We sat at the seat of a boozehound who had left a Â˝ full bottle of wine. We enjoyed our pizza lunch before a creepy old man, who turned out to not be so creepy sat next to Ross. We got quite a bit of sleep on the train rides but woke up as we got closer to look at the beautiful views of the water & Cannes. Upon arrival in Nice, we had a "ten minute walk" to the hotel. Not only was it longer than 10 minutes, but it was up a mountain! Fortunately, our hotel turned out to be nice though. Great views & a large bathroom (with a bidet) and just 1 block from the beach.
It is also close to a few grocery stores, which had a good selection of reasonably priced wines. We walked around, then had a late dinner at Barracuda. Vegetable ravioli & risotto with plenty of mussels, squid & 2 full body shrimp were included. Dessert was 2 cafĂŠ chocolat. The streets of Nice were a sight to see! One man, one crazy man, had a huge fish floating above his motorized big wheeled tricycle while shooting confetti out of a fan and yelling babble. Several bands were playing while we sat and peoplewatched. It was unbelievable how many kids & babies were out so late. We ended the night sitting on the beach and picking out our favorite rocks, before heading back to Hotel Locarno.
6 aug. 2011 On our full day in Nice we started it off by putting on our bathing suits, grabbing our towels and heading to "Florida Beach." It wasn't quite as sandy as the real Florida Beaches, however we found there are many benefits to stony beaches: not getting sandy, clearer water, building rock castles, the sound of the water recessed over the rocks, less bugs & old topless women (wait, that's just an observation, it's not a good thing). Before heading in, we went into the Mediterranean, Ross went a little deeper than I did however.
English. We continued to walk & (unsuccessfully) look for gifts until it began to rain a little, so we sat down to have a cafĂŠ double. On our way back we found the city center and high end fashion district, which included a Tiffany & Co.-I had to take a picture.
Back to our hotel for a glass of wine on our porch-which was ocean view! We got dressed real nice for a romantic dinner at Westminster, a fancy French restaurant right on the beach. Outdoor seating and waiters in tuxes (who refused to let us pour our own wine.) We For lunch we picked up juice spent 3 hours there and it was & two sandwiches-a panini of truly a lovely dinner with a tasty mozzarella & tomato and Ross chocolate layered dessert. had a roast beef with tomato, etc. on a baguette and a chocolate croissant. After eating lunch on the "United States Boardwalk," we walked along the coast to the port then to all the little shops in Old Town Nice. We found a nice little cafĂŠ to cool off and have a beer while listening to some swing music-in
Notes on Nice Crazy bird headed people singing high pitched songs on the street for money- "true talent." We watched a kid overcome his fears and jump off a rock about 5 meters high. Loud guy sneezing morning (6 am).
Expensive taxi. 22€ for 2 miles, 2 bags and 2 people to the train station. Unfriendly short-haired hotel manager everyone else was nice. People are generally thin but not fit. Next time we go, Ross said we will stay in Hotel Elysee' or nicer, maybe Hotel Negresco.
7 aug. 2011 - 9 aug. 2011
7 aug. 2011 Arrived in Alba at 1:00pm and found ourselves totally lost. No people or maps around. Ross called for directions and fortunately our hotel turned out to be really close. Our hotel was nice, another bidet, this one Ross put to use upon entering the room, as we are not allowed to flush toilet paper. Bonus: we have a hair dryer & a balcony out from our bathroom! The little town of Alba is adorable & quaint. However, it's Sunday, and all the chic stores are closed. We did find a place to stop for lunch, it was busy with life and excitement and we had to wait (with out starving stomachs) to be seated. Wine: Adriano Dolcetto D'Alba Food: Ravioli & cheese stuffed delicousness. We risked it and hoped one of us ordered something vegetarian.
Tiffany's First Impressions of Italia: - Mountainous & lots of tunnels. - Harder to communicate & short tempered people at the train station. - Their language sounds like a constant song. - Trains aren't quite as nice as the French trains. - Stinky 8 aug. 2011 Remember: "Non parle Italiano" We walked around to a few churches after lunch. The church in the city center was uniquely renovated to incorporate the beautiful old paintings with very contemporary lighting, flooring & fresh paint.
Our first free hotel breakfast! Plenty of choices but we went with the classic croissant with nuttela, fruit juice & cafĂŠ. Good thing we energized ourselves with sleep & food because our next stop was the tourism office to We went back to the hotel and reserve biciclettas (bikes) and showered-the water pressure make a reservation at a winery. exceeded my expectations, but the They couldn't believe we planned hair dryer that I was so excited to bike there, they all laughed or about fell short. I gave up, looked at us wide eyed. But we fortunately, my hair air-dries just did it! We biked an hour-mostly fine. I still have not experimented uphill, but the views & experience with the bidet. was worth it. After walking all the streets of the town, we landed at Pasta e Pasta for a delicious meal of gnocchi 4 formaggio & penne pesto with Adriano (yes, another bottle) Barbera d'Alba-great choice.
When we found Penne Luigi & Figli they had 2 " ferocious" sounding dogs-but they were really just little rascals and a peacock. Finally an old women came outside, but unfortunately we had a big language barrier. Soon enough PS: Ross always drinks most of her husband came out, and the wine (fine by me). though he didn't speak English,
To finish the night we enjoyed some gelato. Lemone & fregola for Ross and yogurt & peach for me. We enjoyed our sweet treat outside of our hotel while watching 5 young boys play tag-so we recalled our youth: what games we played and watched on TV.
we managed to communicate with him enough,to get him to call the guy who looked like Perry Secco. He wasn't expecting us until 1:00 but since we were on bikes we didn't know how long it would take to get there and we arrived early at 12:45. While waiting for the man who led the wine tasting, we tried to chat with the old man.
He guessed where we were from, bread, grapes and cheese made he first guessed that we were from "sheep and the wife of beef"German. it was a local cheese recommended by our courteous meat & cheese The man leading the tasting for fellow. Lunch took place back up us started speaking fast Italian in our nice cold room. until he picked up on the fact we didn't understand and started After, we went exploring for the speaking broken English. It was wine we had tasted-no luck but a great experience, we talked we did find 2 other bottles. At the and tasted 3 of his classic reds: stores we would look at the small the Nebbiolo d'Alba, the Barbara wine selection before they would d'Alba and the Dolcetto d'Alba. We take us down to their underground developed a bond with him and his wine cellars-each very impressive. wine, we were disappointed when we couldn't find it anywhere in After going back to the hotel to downtown Alba. The ride back began with a steep assent to the very top of the town of Como. The views at the top were beautiful. Vineyards for miles and hilltops upon hilltops. The next best part of being on top of the mountain was that the return was all downhill! The hour ride up was only a 20 minute ride back. We returned around 3:30 and we went to the grocery store to pick up water (sparkling by accident),
put away the wine and shower we headed to the Duomo area to partake in light hor d'orves of our cheese & wine before dinner at Duomo pizzeria where Ross had a prosciutto pizza and I had a zucchini pizza. We shared our first white: Langhe Arneis. Following dinner we walked back to Piazza Savona to find gelato. I had spanetello and pistachio, Ross had limone (Ross' special) & melone. Back to a bench on the piazza to people watch-and dog watch a little one carrying a chicken (rubber).
7 aug. 2011 - 9 aug. 2011
9 aug. 2011 7:15 wake up alarm. Down to get a quick croissant & juice breakfast and off to the bus to Asti. Boy it was a bus ride to remember! Our driver, dressed nicely in a full suit, chatted on the phone (onesidedly) to a friend the whole time: tight turns, reversing, entrance/ exit ramps-always on the phone. He was even on the phone when he passed a tractor pulling a hut when there was oncoming traffic in the lane he was passing in! We barely passed the trailer before an 18-wheeler came towards us! He had no regard for oncoming cars or the time the bus was supposed to depart from each stop-so we arrived to the train station early.
they didn't check worked perfectly.
When we got out of the station in Florence, we could see the Duomo in the distance-our landmark to find the hotel. We walked towards it through the heat and the crowd! It was crazy to go from a place where we kept seeing the same people (and dogs) to seeing herds of humans (tourists) in the streets.
We found our hotel and took a walk across the Arno. Looked at some great sketch books and wine journals. Sat at Pitti Palace and enjoyed the fresh breeze. Then back across the Ponte Vecchio, The train was another story-the which is filled with Gold & Silver 1st train was slow, it couldn't have jewelry-too much jewelry for our come into the station at Bologna liking. any slower! We were 12 minutes late and from inside the train we We passed and admired the watched our next train connection Duomo again and the doors of the depart right on time. So we entered baptistery-stunning! The detail is into the station and spoke to the simply unbelievable. We tried to help desk who put us on a train get into the dome, but we were that left an hour before-we just just a few minutes too late. We took the initiative to hop on the wondered on. Soon we found the next train to Florence and hope Galleria d'Accademia, it holds Michelangelo's David. The museum was about to close but we jumped in the short line with our fingers crossed. We made it inside, in just 15 minutes! We sure felt lucky. The first painting that caught our eyes was the Deposition from the Cross by Filippio Lippi-an oil tempera on panel. THEN the statue of David. The scale and detail is breathtaking-though, I always pictured David as the small guy. Also, we saw several pieces by Michelangelo and many plaster castes. The whole museum was great-it would be quite the place to teach someone about the Bible. Dinner at I'Lorenzaccio - very tasty & located outside Uffici in Piazza Della Signoria. Ross had veal and I had ricotta & spinach ravioli. With an appetizer of bruschetta and Chianti calli Sensesi wine. Also a gift of Lemoncello-yum yum. Wait, wait... 2 gifts of Lemoncello because "it's vacation!" our waiter proclaimed.
9 aug. 2011 Woke at 7:30 to get ready and in line for the Uffici Gallery before it even opened. Several others had the same plan and we ended up waiting an hour, but we got in! Our favorites: El Greco's painting of St. Francis and a girl in fuchsia (actually Saint John the Evangelist); Michaelangelo's circular painting which had great color; seeing more Filippio Lippi; the midget back & front picture (Vasari or Brozino?); Botticelli's Birth of Venus and The Primavera; a sculpture of a centaur caught by man and of course Caravaggio with his Baccus, Medusa on the shield & doubting Thomas & Christ's wound. We enjoyed seeing & recognizing the different Saints together, and again Ross taught me so many tidbits about the pieces. Oh! We also liked David & Goliath as well as Judith Slaying Holofernes both by a Caravaggisti, Artemisia Gentileschi. The mannerist paintings were enjoyably funny-i.e. Moses Defending the Daughters of Jethro. By
quite hungry and headed to the grocery store for super cheap and delicious sandwiches with fresh mozzarella tomatoes & prosciutto (for Ross). We ate in our room and took a short nap after. We woke up energized and ready to see San Lorenzo-but it was closed for prayer on Aug. 10, how convenient. We toured the grounds and headed towards the Duomo. We toured the Basillica, very open, (no pews even!) and no side chapels, but of course looking up at the dome is beautiful. Next, we walked to Santi Croce. I was hesitant to pay 5€ to see a church, but Ross made me, it was less than promising when we first walked in. Lots of renovation and dull walls. At closer look, we were able to explore much more of this church, and it was filled with interesting tombstones built into the floor, then we found the tombs of Dante, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo-they were spectacular and surrounded by some of the most interesting sculptors we've seen. Also we saw a sculpture of
the crucifixion by Donatello and Cimabue, both were very prized. We really enjoyed a painting they had in the museum by Bronzino. There was so much to see in this church, it was definitely worth the 5€. After being on our feet so long, we had to stop for a café, then we changed shoes to hike up the Cupola of the Duomo. We climbed up to the top-with a claustrophobic man and a German family with loud kids. Yet, the walk up was still intriguing and enjoyable and the view of Florence at the top was spectacular and included buildings, trees & mountains. We even found our B&B. We planned the timing of our assent to the top perfectly, because no one was coming up when we went down (it was closed by then). While heading back, we picked up some gelato to eat while sitting on Piazza Signoria (the one with all the sculptures) and people watch. The highlights were a chubby Fabio-don't ask; a six time
sneezing little boy/old chinaman; and an adorable Irish girl who wanted to model for 50 pictures, running from one pose location to another-wearing out her dad. A quick look in Palazzio Vecchio before heading back to shower and call Ross' mom. Another late dinner: 9:30 to 12:00 at Bierria central. Bruschetta, Pasta with pomodoro & ricotta, and Tuscan sausage with Viticoltori Senesi Aretani Chianti were all very good. Typical slow service of course, no problem. (Until we wanted to pay the bill!)
10 aug. 2011 Woke up, paid for the B&B, clearly stated when we would return to get our bags then headed to San Lorenzo. Again, it appeared completely closed. Florence is not a morning city. But at 9:30 the stairs and biblioteca opened. The stair entrance, designed by Michelangelo, led to the library. The detailed floor and ceilings mimicked each other in designinitially sketched by Michelangelo. He also designed the benches/ bookshelves. The library and rotunda were nice, but we wish we could have also seen the church. Back to our sitting/people watching spot to eat a croissant, then we walked around the market and bookstore-to appreciate the beauty of picture (art) books, then back to the B&B. On our way, we picked up sandwiches for later at Metafresh deli bread/meat/cheese for 3â‚Ź (turned out later to be great lunch). When we went to get our bags, no one was at Old tower to let us in. We had already turned in our keys and she assured us she would be there. Calling her didn't work, so we called Fabio (the owner) who felt bad and wanted to buy us a drink. She made it there at 11:40 not the planned 11:15 for our 12:10 train, that we had to hike across town to get to. So we grabbed our luggage and quickly pulled the bags through the bumpy streets-we somehow made it just in time.
7 aug. 2011 - 9 aug. 2011
10 aug. 2011 The train to Rome was packedfortunately we had seats reserved. After a trek through the crazy underground metro station-up and down stairs, around curves, etc. we found it and found our hotel-Azzurra. We ate our lunch in the hotel and when heading out we had a funny request from the hotel staff: "Because we are a 1 star hotel, you can use the air conditioning but we request that you turn it off when you leave."
at Piazza Colonna. Nearby, we saw some guys with big video cameras and lots of police, we wondered, were they filming a movie? More steps and another big columnPiazza di Montecitorio and the Pilazzo. From there Ross led me to the Pantheon. I didn't know what sight we were heading to and was immediately in AWE by the massive size. It is a bit rough and grungy on the outside, (layers of brick falling off, dull colors) but the inside is amazing! I can't Our first adventure through Roma believe they haven't put glass at started with a short walk to the the top opening, especially since Trevi fountain-it was packed full the inside is so beautiful. We with people and for good reason- enjoyed the art and sculptures it's an absolutely gorgeous sight to and seeing Raphael's grave. see. It'd be nice to have one like this in my future backyard flowing After a slight turn around due to a into a pool (it's nice to imagine/ crazy map, we found some Roman dream.). Walking down the much ruins, Area Sacra, it was hot, so less crowded streets we stumbled we moved on. Chiesa del Gesu upon a fantastically huge column was our next destination. The
church was filled with gold plating, but of course it was very niceuntil I was told I was showing too much leg in my shorts-so we left. Walked in the heat and sat at some church-San Andrea, so we went in. Glad we did because it was nice! The ceilings and side chapels had great color contrasts as they progressed to the centers. At this point our feet were getting tired so we headed to Campo dĂŠ Fiori for an overpriced beer. We got 2 different kinds, but they seemed to look and taste oddly similar... We're sticking with wine next time, even if it's hot outside. "Long walk" to Palazzo Farnese, where we found it was the French Embassy and we couldn't go in to see the great Raphael paintings it holds. Now we went on a legitimately long walk and crossed the Tevere at Ponte Sisto, took a right and walked along the river at Villa Farnesina. Back
across the river at Ponte Mazzini and continued until we found the church S. Giovanni dei Fiorenini. We peaked in, but didn't continue to go in because a service was going on. Next we had 2 cafĂŠs before going over Ponte Sant'Angelo (bridge), which has some great statues and a silver-painted-human pretending to be a statue of a cowboy with guns. The castle Sant'Angelo was closed so we continued on to St. Peters where we walked around St. Peter's square, which is actually more of an oval or ellipse, it's an oval. After talking in the sights we walked toward the Ottaviano metro station, and stopped to get dinner on our way. It was a nicer restaurant and we never order the full meals you're supposed to order so our meals were tasty but very small at Dal Toscano.
Once again the Metro was an adventure. Getting on and to the Spagna stop was fine, but we walked a mile before even exiting the metro (due to a closed exit) and ended up at Palazzo Borghese, which our map did not cover... We walked through dark streets and a dark park, but I didn't feel good so the beautiful overlook of the lights of Rome wasn't as enjoyable. Finally, we found the top of the Spanish steps. Again, we enjoyed watching the "funny guys" selling illegal purses, sunglasses, etc. pack up and run away from the cops. On our walk home we stopped for gelato and ran into a McDonald's to use the restroom-it was the nicest McDonald's either of us have ever seen. No wonder people get jealous of our fast food restaurants in America, little do they know in the USA, the McDonald's is not as fancy as this McDonald's, the first to exist in Italy.
12 aug. 2011 We started our day with a delightful free breakfast. It included a cappuccino and croissant (mine was plain and Ross got a fancy cream filled one). Then we started our journey to the Vatican, being sure to first stop at San Luigi de Franceisa where we found 3 great Caravaggio's about S. Matthew's life-Ross' favorite painting (The Calling of Saint Matthew). We had to pay an offering for light on the painting, but it was unquestionably worth it. We walked through Piazza Navona, and admired the nice fountain by Bernini with a palm tree statue in it, and plenty of other art and pretty buildings. We walked on across Ponte Sant'Angelo and towards the Vatican. Ross pointed out he likes the hilliness of the city. Got in line to see the Vatican Museum, which moved pretty fast and we got in with a student discount. From there on we were pushed through like a herd of cattle; but eventually, we got to stop and look at anything that fancied us. In the hall of statues we found oddly placed fig leaves clearly not put on by the original sculptor. We saw the Belvedere Torso, some beautifully painted long halls (including one of maps) and several wonderful rooms-3 were rooms by Raphael, including the fresco, The School of Athens, on our way to the Sistine Chapel. It was a madhouse in there! People talking loudly over one another, hundreds packed in, pictures taken-even with flashes! Ross and I managed to find a bench and enjoy the ceiling and wall of The Last Judgment and Creation. Next we headed to the Pinotecca part of the museum where we saw
so many pieces we really enjoyed: especially a couple paintings by Raphael called "The Transfiguration" and "The Madonna of Foligno." We saw a Da Vinci piece; a great painting of Saint Sebastian; Adam & Eve and several great animal paintings. We left the Vatican Museums and grabbed juice and lunch. Ross had melone & prosciutto and I had cannelloni. Then to St. Peters, the line was also long but it moved fast. They were serious about the dress code, and fortunately we both passed right on through. We kept our eye on a sketchy little Pakistani who jumped the fence and immediately headed on in. The hugeness was remarkable. First we saw La Pieta by Michelangelo. We loved all the great mosaics, Bernini's sculptures and the huge amounts of beautiful marble. We sat, people watched and wrote for quite a while in Saint Peter's square then headed to little gift shops. On our way back to Piazza Navona we found a gooooood restaurant to eat-12â‚Ź for bruschetta, salad, pasta and wine-that's a deal! But we also ended up getting another half liter of house wine. On our way back, we were sure to pick up a couple pictures we saw earlier that we wanted. After a brief stop at the room we sat at the Trevi Fountain and ate gelato. Back to the hotel to write, but our power keeps cutting out- " it happens," the hotel staff said.
13 aug. 2011 Woke up, another good breakfast then we walked up the hill to San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane by Borromini, a baroque church. We very much liked the drastically different style. It was curvy on the outside, with an oval plan & dome. Next one Barbarini Palaceit was covered in sculpted bumble bees and was definitely worth 5â‚Ź to visit. It was filled with great art and not packed. Good Caravaggio's in there, plus a wonderful guardian angel piece. One room had fantastic paintings and sculptorsone in particular impressed us, it was better than the Bernini! It was a veil covered girl and it really looked like you could see through a transparent veil. Off to the Metro to go to the Coliseum. It was pretty neat to step out of the metro station and be smacked in the face with
the coliseum right there, and it's HUGE! While in line, many people were trying to sell us tour groups, of course, we stuck in the line despite the fact we discovered it was 24â‚Ź and we were down to 30â‚Ź and hungry. We didn't know, but we should of went to the Roman Forum to buy our tickets because the line didn't exist and the ticket worked for both places. The coliseum was interesting to see, massive and the large exhibit inside tried to make Nero look good. I don't know too much history, so I wanted to believe it but Ross wouldn't let me-instead he gave me a history lesson. We then walked out to the center, I didn't expect the center to be built for the raising and lowing of animals & people for the reenactments of epic battles.
After the tour, we were starving but broke. We found a grocery store and spent 98 cents on bread and water, and were angered by a " Pakistani" cutting us in line. Off to find a place to exchange Ross' francs-no luck. We ended up eating a pizza and pasta and paying with a credit card. Then headed to the hot Roman Forum. It is amazing to see the city they built 2000 years ago... but at the same time the broken columns got repetitive. However, I did like Ross' history lesson about the broken noses. After a few hours we wondered out of the Forum, stopped and looked at Trajan's column & the Italian Capital hill. Back at the hotel to give our feet a break, then off to Piazza Navona. On the way we stopped by a place to exchange the francs, but the guy was closing, so he gave us a map and sent us to a different location. The map was terrible, incorrect and disorienting-we did a couple additional laps before we found it, then the same guy was at the 2nd place-yet the rates seemed different. They wanted to give us 170€ for 220 Swiss Francs-a rip off. We knew too much, they'd be stealing about 40€. The current official exchange rate was at 0.97€ to 1.00 franc. It was a no can do. So we left to find a place to eat dinner. We found the cheapest option in Piazza Navona and got a pizza each and a glass of house wine... accidently they brought out white at first, but then switched it to red. Bonus, we also got secondhand bread because our waiter overheard us joking, "don't throw that away, we'll eat it." He must have thought we were dirt poor. Plus we refused water when they told us they didn't have tap and we didn't want to pay for it. Yeah, he definitely thought we were the cheapest couple to eat in Piazza Navona.
Florence v. Rome Streets are more crowded and filled with tourists in Florence, but there are definitely crowded areas in Rome. Both are quite medieval with cobblestone streets-rough on the bags. The attractions are centralized in Florence and usually cost money. In Rome, they are more spread out and all churches are free to enter. So many things to see in Rome-villas, churches, palaces-that are amazing and most tourists don't even see a fraction of them. The restaurants that we saw and happened to eat at in Florence seemed better. In Rome, the restaurants are on the main plazas and throughways. In both you can easily get by speaking English (except to bus drivers).
7 aug. 2011 - 9 aug. 2011
14 aug. 2011 Welcome to Napoli, after a 2 hour train ride that we spent with an old couple, and a young couple that was making out. The train station was filled with people asking us for money or a taxi ride and all sorts of things we didn't want. Before we even left the train station, we nearly stepped on some fresh dog poo. Then, on our journey to find the hotel, (which from the maps wasn't entirely too far) we passed lots of people selling illegal goods, broken down cars, poop all over the sidewalks and overfilled trash bins. Then it seemed we were in a non-tourist area as we passed old, loud Italian men in lawn chairs out on the sidewalks and the very strong smelling seafood markets throwing water and ice everywhere in the streets. We found the address and the Google Map location, but no
Buono to be found. We asked a man where it was and he said 3 blocks (pointing with his thumb and pointer and middle fingers). So we started walking, the longest blocks of our lives, one block happened to be an entire penitentiary. About 15 minutes later, we made it through 2 blocks when the guy who gave us directions saw us. He pulled over and wanted to give us a ride, after some hesitation, we decided the man looked nice (not sketchy) so we got in. It was at least 200 more meters and then he dropped us right at the door. When we said goodbye he asked us if we were Americans and said 2 words "Bush criminal." We smiled, said "Graci," and left to check in. The hotel was new, nicely decorated, great A/C, fancy bar, but not in the best location (it sat beneath the interstate).
We hiked back out to explore the city and get lunch. We were excited to try the famous Napoli pizza, but we must have chosen the wrong place. It was soupy in the middle, the chef came out to yell at people, and there always seemed to be an issue between the employees. We decided to explore the city, but everything seemed to be closed. We found the Duomo, it was even closed! But the street it was on was much more attractive than any other streets we saw, so we sat down to have cafĂŠs, best cafĂŠs yet! And two nice guys worked there, they were funny too. Finally the Duomo happened to open so we looked inside. It was quite an impressive church compared to the rest of the city. It looked, by the sculptors, that
they had some popes come out of that church and that they really liked books. We found signs directing us down the main city streets, which were maybe wide enough for one car. By this point everything seemed to be very sketchy. For the second time two Americans stopped us to ask for advice/information. All we could tell them was to go to the Duomo. We thought we'd never find anything so then tried to head towards the water. My urgency to pee had us stop at a restaurant to just get water. Soon after we sat down, a plethora of Chinese people (30-40) entered. They were a crazy bunch with one man telling very loud jokes (in Chinese). Our waiter laughed with us about the Chinese people and we were on our way. We sat by the bay and watched boats and the sunset, wandered to
a nearby park/fair and kept going on. Suddenly we found a beautiful building and walked towards it. We started finding more and more nice buildings until we finally stumbled upon the best part of Naples-still full of homeless dogs. After walking around we sat for dinner. Our pizza was better, but our drinks had some blunders. After we said no gas several times (because he did not know what tap water was) we still got gas water. And our house wine was freezing cold (red wine) and had
lots of must. Plus, a fly found my wine to be a good bathtub. We left more quickly than usual to get back before it got too dark. We found our way by bus and noticed the streets were much busier at night than they were during the day. PS: Earlier in the day when we were leaving the hotel, the lady working at the front desk was outside on the phone. We passed her to exit while Ross put his wallet in his back pocket. She suddenly interrupts her phone
conversation to yell as us, with authority, " MISTER! MISTER! No! No!" She couldn't comfortably let us leave her sight knowing that Ross just put his wallet in his back pocket.
First Thoughts on Naples
Dog poop everywhere, watch your step... even in the train station. Lots of homeless, calm dogs. Cars honked all the time, if its green... or red, you better be moving. Graffiti on everything, literally it is everywhere, even church doors. Sketchy people like to hang out by the train station. Trash fills the streets. Although, the trash cans are overflowing. The main streets may not seem like main roads at all. There are some really nice & helpful townies... " Bush criminal" though. Hotel is nice, but it was not where it said it was on Google Maps. They got some really long blocks. More smokers than anywhere we've been. Almost everything is closed on Sundays, even most churches.
7 aug. 2011 - 9 aug. 2011
15 aug. 2011 After a 70 minute rickety train ride, sitting across from a man nervously biting his nails-we arrived in Sorrento. Immediately it felt so different from Naplesit was clean! We grabbed a map and decided to sit at an empty restaurant to get 2 cafĂŠs and figure out what we were going to do. Upon ordering, the kind man suddenly got very upset with us and said, "this is a restaurant, not a bar!" and kicked us out. We were understanding and left, but thought it was strange since other restaurants happily let us do this and this particular restaurant only had customers at one table.
and a Pizza alla Salame Piccante for Ross while I had Gnocchi alla Sorrentino. This was certainly one of my favorite meals, even though I burnt my fingers. After lunch we walked to the cliff's edge-great sights and interesting beaches. The sun-bathers were out full force. After people-watching a little we kept walking until we found a shady bench overlooking the cliffs, Mount Vesuvius and all the way to Naples. We sat for a while and wrote about the day.
When we left, we were on a search for the famous Limoncello. We found a couple places that mix We walked around town, looked into the product in the store and we shops until we sat down for lunch- picked some up to add to our one of our best lunches! Il Pozzo wine collection. We continued to restaurant offered free, delicious walk around stores and look for and warm bread. We ordered a gifts. Over dinner we considered half bottle of wine from Sorrento whether or not we should go to
Pompeii. We ate in the central piazza along a cliff. We decided against Pompeii, because it was getting late and seemed too expensive for us at that point in the trip/day. On our way back to the train station we stopped to buy some postcards that ended up being quite pricey for postcards (2â‚Ź each). I almost forgot about the scariest three seconds of our trip! After lunch, Ross paid and I ran to the ladies room. We walked outside between tons of little shops and naturally Ross put his hands over his pocket to protect his wallet, but realized his wallet wasn't there. I noticed he immediately tensed up and stopped short. He started patting all his pockets when he looked at me and said
"where is my wallet?" Boy, were our hearts and minds racing as he checked his backpack and... found his wallet. Phew! After that we needed a moment to calm down. We made it back to Naples on the train and purchased 4 one-way bus tickets (4â‚Ź) we found our way home by bus, which cut out a lot of walking and then took a virtual tour of Pompeii (the Christian version) before we went to bed.
16 aug. 2011 - 17 aug. 2011
16 aug. 2011 Good thing we bought tram tickets the night before, taking our luggage on the tram to the train station was a whole lot nicer than walking with them on the cobblestone sidewalks. We made it to the train station in good time. We got our breakfast... bringing us down to 20 cents and hurried to get on the train. After getting situated and ready to go, we heard an announcement in Italian followed by a whole lot of grumbling-we figured the train was delayed. It in fact was... 40 minutes delayed. Finally it began to move, starting our 5 hour train adventure: through Rome, Florence, Bologna, until we got to Milan. We were again broke and hungry so we checked into our hotel and ventured out to find an ATM & food.
We decided not to eat by our hotel or the train station (which were actually just 3 blocks apart) and bought metro and bus tickets. We exited the Metro at the Duomo which was a stunningly beautiful sight, but led by our tummies we kept on our search for food.
Heading back towards the Duomo, we walked to the Galleria-full of high fashion designers and... a McDonald's. We went inside the McDonald's to check it out and see how it compared to the one in Rome. It is definitely in a better location, but not quite as crazy nice inside. But still very fancy We settled on the cheapest nearby compared to the Mickey D's in the food option, which wasn't cheap States. at all 5â‚Ź (aka $8) water, didn't sit well with us. And our food was Off to the fanciest & most light in portion and appeared to expensive 8 level department store be microwaved as the sauce was we had ever seen. We spent most dry and splattered. At least we of our time on the lowest floor at got food in our systems. the "design super market." We were mesmerized by all the interesting We next walked to the Sforza gadgets and bought some really Castle and took a look around the cool wobbling glasses and a nice grounds. Ross taught me about Italian "Espresso for Two" set. We the square holes in the castle tried again to find something to walls and pointed out several cats. get my parents but again couldn't He was missing Figaro & Spock find the right gift-everything (Lucie & Mickey too). seemed a bit too modern.
We were ready to head to the Duomo when we realized I wasn't dressed appropriately. My dress was too "racy" since my shoulders were out for anyone to see, so we headed to H&M to find a bargain on a sleeved shirt. I picked up a light blue button up and we were off to see the inside of this bright white ornate church. Walking in we passed 5 different policeman/ military/carabinieri after getting through the guards we found the inside to be quite different than the outside-it was very dark, even with electric ceiling light in addition to the natural light shining through the amazing stained glass. It was filled with tapestries & paintings hung between columns.
We walked down Corso Vittorio Emanuell, stores were open and busy near the Duomo, but as we continued on every door had a sign reading, "Closed for summer vacation" (Feire). We walked almost 20 blocks before we stopped at the only place we saw open for dinner. However, it was 7:08 and they were "closed down" until 7:15.
there (and half the customers) were all Asian. They had a back room where they put their Asian customers and a front room for the other patrons. Though we were skeptical, the food and wine were great! We had so much more food than we could eat and it was the same price as we paid for lunch.
Also at dinner we sat near a girl eating alone. We ended up chatting So we continued on and luckily with her for a while; she was a we found another restaurant with teacher working in Switzerland, Italian style decorations. We looked also going back to the states and at the menu, were happy with happened to order the same food the decently priced Italian options as us (well me.) (especially after our expensive lunch.) We went inside to be To look for our last gelato we surprised that everyone who worked headed to the train station, only
a few restaurants were open. One place was trying to draw us in; we were skeptical but went with it. The gelato was more of an ice cream and a bit over-frozen. When our bill came (handwritten) we were a bit confused-no way our gelato and water were 23â‚Ź. So
we asked them to clarify and they said our gelato were 10â‚Ź each. I looked at him and said these are expensive... he replied, "it was good, big, fresh." Things seemed fishy-it was not good. We were not happy, but paid and left. At
least our air conditioning was fixed when we got back to the hotel.
POST After creating this book, we noticed that some of the experiences that we encountered and documented may seem a bit "rough." Yes, there were moments when we were down to only a few Euros... or even just change. There were moments when we were in trashy areas (literally!), were exhausted while riding our bikes straight uphill for an hour, or were overcharged for gelato, but these "less than perfect" moments help shape all the wonderful memories we created during these three weeks. We did "pinch pennies" during certain moments in the trip, because we were either spending our own money (while having no income) or trying to be respectful and not abuse the giving nature of Larry & Arlene. This trip wasn't anything short of fantastic. We couldn't have asked for a better graduation trip together, and we were lucky to go on this adventure together. We look forward to combining these postcards into a Europe collage and sharing our journal and photos with those we love.
We hope you enjoyed our European adventure story. ~ Ross and Tiffany