In July 2009, I took my then 16 and 20 year old kids to Italy. At the time, I didn’t have a personal blog site. I was using Travelerspoint to post my blogs. I’ve copied those original blogs over here. I’ll apologize in advance for the photos…obviously, I had a ‘thing’ for collages at that time.
So, I have decided to take the kids to Italy for a family vacation. We are planning 5 weeks and the airline tickets are purchased! It’s exciting and a little daunting. The expenses are going to be massive (paying for all three). I am currently working my ass off here in Elko, NV in order to pay for the trip. I hope in the end it is worth it.
Such a large expanse of space to cover in what feels like a very short time. We are landing in Rome (via Dublin) and the current plan is to go to Naples then work our way north to Venice. From Venice, Trinity and I will probably head NW and Corey will most likely head back to Rome where we will meet back for the flight home. Whew…..it’s already been a lot of work and research to plan just this far. I hope to keep things simple and open and not to plan too much in advance in order to allow for day to day changes.
I wish Corey and Trinity would take a more active part in the planning but it’s difficult with us all so far apart from each other. It will be great to all be together again, even if for a short time.
That’s it for now…..
I have been getting questions from everyone about my itinerary, so here goes!
- June 17-20: Drive Elko to Home
- June 20-22: See Family and last minute packing needs
- June 23:
- Corey arrive Chicago via plane (need to get ticket-today).Me and Trinity taking Amtrak (still need to book)!! We got a free night at the Hard Rock Hotel (courtesy of my long stay at the hotel here in Elko). It’s a great looking place! 4 Star!!
- June 24: Leave Chicago 6:50pm
- June 25:
- Arrive Dublin at 8:30am (Dublin time) We are planning to spend the day exploring what we can of Dublin. I am hoping to hit a true Irish Pub for a pint and dinner. Spending the night at Avalon House Hostel.
- June 26:
- Leave Dublin 7:10am
- Arrive Rome 11:00am
- June 26-July 2: ROME ~ Rented apartment
- July 3-6:
- Rome to NaplesLodging at Bella Capri HostelDay trip to Pompeii and Mt VesuviusCelebrate Trinity’s 16th Birthday!!
- July 6-18
- July 19-26
- Corey headed back to Rome for remainder of trip
- Trinity and I to visit:
- Turin, Genoa, Cinque Terre, La Spezia
- July 26-28
- Back to Rome to prep for trip home
- July 29 – 30
- Leave Rome 8:55pm (local time) Arrive Dublin 11:55pm (local time) Overnight in Dublin
- Leave Dublin 2:20pm (local time)Arrive Chicago 4:40pm (local time)
- July 30-31
- Recuperate at Hard Rock Hotel, Chicago (two more free nights!!)
- Aug 1st
- Corey fly back to LouisvilleTrinity and I take Amtrak back home.
- Aug 2-?: Hope like hell I can find a job!!![i]
Just as a side note: This plan is only an outline. I am open to any/all suggestions. I am sad that we are not going to southern Italy, but I just don’t know how to fit it in the time frame that we have allotted. I made a silly mistake (trying to save a few $$ on the flight) by flying into Rome instead of Milan and we are forced to do some backtracking now.
Resources and Links
A lot of research and planning for the Italy trip. This is just a list of the sources I found. It’s mostly for my own reference but could be potential good info if your planning a trip.
- Lodging: http://www.avalon-house.ie/
- Lodging: http://www.avalon-house.ie/
- Lodging: http://www.vrbo.com/164603
Metro Map: http://www.rome.info/metro/
Last minute Theater: http://www.spettacoloromano.it
- Lodging: http://www.vrbo.com/164603
- Lodging: http://www.bellacapri.it/
- Cinque Terre http://www.cinqueterre.com/eng/information/card/
23 Days….2 hours….32….31….30 minutes
…as the countdown approaches, the stress increases!
Actually, I will be leaving Elko, NV in a mere 11 days (or 5 more shifts, if you want to look at it that way). I am planning to travel across country via caravan with my travel RN friend Teresa. We will split up in Missouri as she heads home to visit her family and I head on to Louisville to meet up with Corey. I am so excited about having the kids together again (it’s been almost a year!). Also looking forward to a little time with just Corey and me to catch up on what’s been going on in his life….Never thought I would miss him as much as I do! OK, I did know….
Corey got his passport without too much difficulty and I am still waiting for Trinity’s to come through. I have been having issues with the passport office in San Francisco. It seems as though I ‘forgot’ to mail some imperative piece of documentation and I have been fighting through automated answering machines, messages undelivered and too many minutes on hold in attempt to find some answers. I am crossing my fingers in hopes that her passport will come through on time for our departure….feel free to send a prayer up if you believe in that sort of thing! I’m sitting on pins and needles hoping that we will have her passport in hand in time….
If the passport issues aren’t enough, I am also fighting with the Nevada board of Nursing regarding my permanent license. My temp license expires on June 2nd and I still have 5 more shifts scheduled to work on this contract. It seems that the NV BON decided to sit on my fingerprints for about two months before forwarding them to the FBI for my background check!! I’m just having no luck at all when it comes to government agencies right now!! I did get to have a nice little chat with the FBI the other day and that’s not something that just anyone can say they have done. It would appear that my fingerprints checked out with them, so you wont have to send my mail to the federal pen anytime soon. Now if I could just get someone to light a fire under NV Board of Nursing……
I really wouldn’t mind missing out on my last 5 shifts in ‘hell’ but I had budgeted my last two paychecks for the trip and it’s going to cut me short if I dont end up working….we might be eating Raman noodles if that happens. Do they have Raman Noodles in Italy?? Someone might want to fill me in!!
So….only two hours on the phone today and I am still no closer than I was on Friday……
or Mom’s chance to embarrass the kids!!
I’m a little late on this but before we head out to the great country of Italy, I thought I would introduce ‘TheTreftFamily’ to those that may not know us…
Me: My name is Candy and I work as a travel RN in the US. I am 39 y/o and mother of the below-mentioned near-adult/adult children. A wanderer at heart and finally have the means to explore my wanderlust (hoping to share a bit of it with my kids).
Corey: Oldest of two children. Eclectic, writer, comedian, dreamer, non-conformist, and handsome 21 year old man. Always able to make you laugh. Best, most devoted friend anyone could have.
Trinity: Baby of the family. Sweet, kind-hearted, loving, confident, adventurer, achiever, would give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it. Pure blond at moments and lover of life. Beautiful inside and out 15 y/o young lady. (Will be celebrating her 16th birthday in ITALY!!)
So….we are ready to head out on a family adventure with very little experience under our belts. We are certain to have times of awe, aggravation, enjoyment, frustration, thankfulness, and a plethora of other emotions along the way. In the end, I hope that it brings us closer as a family and gives me the opportunity to witness first hand what beautiful and intelligent young adults my children have become.
Wish us luck and good travels. And please drop a note along the way…it will be interesting to see who is following us on this blog…..
Chicago: Point of Departure
It’s called the “windy city” but it’s been hot as hell and no wind in sight. I always thought that it was so called due to the winds coming off of Lake Michigan. I was wandering in Borders yesterday to get some reprieve from the heat and found a “Best of…” book by Lonely Planet. Browsing through the book while sipping on a coffee in the much appreciated air-conditioning, I found that the nickname for Chicago isn’t what I thought. According to the Lonely Planet the windy-city was so named due to the long-winded politicians of Chicago. So, no wind for me today….
We are lounging at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago, awaiting our departure to Rome (via Dublin). It is becoming more and more difficult for me to sit and wait. I am ready to begin the trip and explore the Roman Empire (and hopefully learn some of the history along the way).
The kids have already put me in my place as a travel companion and not Mom. It’s difficult to remember that they are growing into adulthood quicker than I would like to think. I have been over-ruled a couple of times and our trip has barely started. I am trying but it’s hard to not be Mom…. I am sure that there will be many instances where I ‘forget’ and treat them as children instead of the adults they are becomiing…
I don’t think that we have forgotten anything essential. We managed to charge everything overnight so all the electronics are charged, packed and ready to go. If there is anything that we forgot that we cant live without….it will have to be obtained along the way.
A Day in Dublin
25.06.2009 – 26.06.2009
Being asked for directions…twice. Once in Chicago and once in Dublin. Love the feeling of being approachable, or the feeling of not being a tourist or maybe both.
Learning to walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Feeling like a drunk on Saturday night, weaving in and out of the foot traffic and tripping over things. I think I nearly got hit 3-4 times and tripped over stuff (probably my own feet) at least twice.
“Bin your gum” Not Euro 150 First, I love the phrase! Second…that’s a lot of Euro for tossing your gum on the ground! They take littering seriously here.
Wondering when kids this young started traveling. I swear that some the kids in the hostel tonight look like they are about 12 y/o.
Trinity College: Trinity now wants to attend and we don’t know what it offers. But they do have a cool ‘Trinity’ sweatshirt! Thinking maybe a Christmas gift….shhh, don’t tell her!!
The shock of co-ed bathrooms. On finally checking into our room and readying for a nap, Corey returned from the bathroom facilities with a little embarrassment showing. I was unaware of the co-ed bathroom on booking so wasn’t able to warn him. I think he might get used to it
Saw my first castle. Dublin Castle. Only one very small section even looks like a castle anymore. There has been what appears to be multiple additions over the years and only the entrance gate and one small section even look like a castle.
Officially obtained my first blister….and it HURTS! Need to learn to use public transport a little more and walk a little less.
We left Chicago via Aer Lingus in route to Dublin. The flight itself was quite uneventful. Unfortunately for the three of us it was also restless. On arriving in Dublin, we had all been awake for the better portion of a full 24 hours.
If you ever stay at the Avalon house, be aware that when they say check in is at 1400, they really do mean it. I assumed that it would be much like any hotel that I have stayed in and if a room was available we could check in early. I was wrong. We arrived Dublin around 10am all ready for a short sleep before exploring and were forced to explore on no sleep. I think at this point, we were all a little agitated. No one was allowed early entry and there was about 12 people waiting to check in at 1400….finally nap time!
My sight-seeing in Dublin was short and incomplete. I have to say that I do like the feel of the city. It’s very youth-full and looks like lots going on. I will have to plan for a couple of days on a return trip. Not feeling much like wandering tonight. With little sleep and blisters on my feet, it’s just going to have to wait for a better day. Will head to temple bar area a little later when the rest of my travel group wakes up and feels like getting a bite and a beer. Hope that a drink or two will help me sleep tonight.
Have a three hour flight into Rome tomorrow….then we can relax for a little while as we will be staying there for 7 nights. Plenty of time to explore Rome at a casual pace.
Update: Got out for a little dinner and Trinity’s First Beer!!!
Roma…So Moved, I Cried (Rome)
26.06.2009 – 27.06.2009
After we arrived in Rome we settled into our apartment (which is wonderful!). We all slept for a while and showered. Except for Trinity….by the time she got to the shower the water was cold as ice. We forgot to leave the hot water switch on…..sorry Trin!!
We headed out of the apartment around 8pm for some dinner. We walked around in awe of the sights around us. At one point, about 1/2 hour into our exploring, I simply busted out in tears! Yes….streaming down my face making a fool of myself. It is simply breathtaking here. I am very lucky to have this opportunity and even luckier to be able to share it with the two most important people in my life. I will stop there or I’ll be crying again!!
Everywhere you look there is something to see. From quaint Restoriante, historic ruins, sculptures, fountains…..it’s endless. Each with their own distinct charm. I cant even begin to describe what we saw or how each made me feel.
We had forgotten about food as we were mesmerized by the sights around us. Finally, we stopped and grabed an apple to tide us over for dinner. Finally giving up on finding something, we ventured back to the apartment around 0100. Trinity and I found a place to have a Roman pizza and 1/2 liter of wine before heading to bed.
Night-time is something to see in Rome.
Life is very good….
Days 2 and 3 Getting lost and staying out until sunrise.
27.06.2009 – 28.06.2009
We are starting to feel a little more comfortable getting around now. Still using our feet instead of the (probably) more reliable and less tiresome transit system. I’m not certain why but it’s just nicer seeing things while walking instead of from a window.
We are all having a difficult time adjusting to the time change. Corey and I are night workers anyway and Trinity is just stuck doing whatever the rest of us do (poor thing). So the last two days we have pretty much slept for most of the day then wandered around at night. It’s got it’s good points and also the drawbacks. The major drawback is that most of the restaurants are closing when we are just getting hungry, as well as the stores. We have need to stop at the grocery and get a few things like laundry soap and razors (legs are a little hairy at this point), but it’s all closed when we are awake. We have eaten pizza around 0100 for the past two nights due to that being the only thing open….well, that and gelato. Did I mention the gelato yet? OMG! Delicious!! I think I could live on gelato….
Corey got lost wandering around last night on his own. He ended up on some highway, he thinks he might have been headed to Europe!! Fortunately, he made it back unscathed around sunrise. Night time is the best for photos of some of the major landmarks. Trinity and I have the Trevi fountain almost to ourselves this morning around 0430. Just us, a group of 4 European drunk kids and about 6 vagrants sleeping on the steps.
This evening, we went to the Pantheon. Got a few pics but it was closed so we will have to make it back during the daytime in order to see the inside. Everything here is soooo massive. It makes me feel very small and insignificant. My pics do NOT do any of it any justice. It is so beautiful and peaceful here.
Going to try to get up during the day tomorrow or uhh today….and get back on a normal schedule (it’s 0230 now).
Non salire o scendere durante la chiusura
Literaly translated means “not to go up or to come down during the closing”
29.06.2009 – 29.06.2009
If you have ever wondered why signs like this are posted….it’s because people like me do stupid things! Trinity and I were checking out the different stops on the Subway…randomly stopping and checking out the local areas. BTW, the south side of the orange line is a little seedy looking, if you wanted to know.
We were at one of the last stops on the orange line and heading back home. As we were coming down the steps the train was stopped…”hurry”, I said to Trinity….as i walked quickly to the subway. You see the pic? Yep, that was me! Half in and half out of the subway door, with Trinity behind me unable to get on and (I assume) looking at me as if I was a complete idiot! I could have avoided being in such a predicament in two ways: 1>hop on and leave Trinity to catch up at the next station or 2> Not try to hurry onto the train. However, I did neither and ended up STUCK! I guess that I just assumed that the doors would automatically sense that there was a person there and re-open like they do in an elevator…but they DO NOT. Dont try this on your own…take my word for it! The subway doors WILL close no matter if you are in them or not!
I came out of the situation totally unscathed (except for my pride). Trinity and I took the next train (where the people on board were totally unaware of my previous blunder).
So, the next time that you find yourself on the Rome subway, remember to HEED ALL WARNING SIGNS!! (I know that I will).
Trinity and I had a great day playing around and visiting some of the major tourist sites.
Macabre and Religious Sights
01.07.2009 – 01.07.2009 84 °F
I spent an enjoyable morning out on my own. Was only going for a short walk around while the weather was cool and ended up getting lost (sort-of) several times while wandering around searching out interesting alleyways and such. I came across this church. It was so peaceful and I sat here at the fountain watching the people come and go while I enjoyed my Italian breakfast.
I visited the Spanish Steps (again) and had the place mostly to myself with the guy that cleans the steps each morning doing his daily duties.
Continuing to meander, I found myself at the Pantheon. It was very peaceful here at this time of day so I sat for a while and watched the morning activities, and engaged in conversation with a young gentleman who was out for a morning walk with his Doberman and Min-pins. It was quite a cute site to see and made me miss my Aco back at home with Mom.
When I arrived back to the apartment, the weather was turning hot. The kids and I headed out for some more sight-seeing.
chiesa di santa maria della concesione
We wandered out to see this macabre sight. It was quite interesting. According to my Lonely Planet book, there are bones from approximately 4,000 Capuchin monks used here to decorate the walls. It was a little disturbing to see and I have to wonder, what would make someone want to decorate with bones? It made me wonder if the particular monk that designed this was some sort of wanna-be serial killer or something.
We then headed to the Vatican where the mob of people quickly made us realize that it was Wednesday and the Pope would be apearing today. We hustled in with the crowd and waited to see the Pope. It was interesting and I can now say that I have seen the Pope but the Swiss Guards were the most interesting for me. I love their uniforms!
From here we made our way to the Pantheon. Although we had already seen it several times, this was the first time that we had made it during the daytime when it was open. It was spectacular! I don’t really know what I was expecting but the entire interior was polished marble. It was huge and looked like it was built yesterday. It gleamed with the sunlight streaming in through the hole in the dome.
After enjoying an overpriced lunch at the Pantheon, Trinity and I headed back to the apartment in the now sweltering heat! Along the way, we had to take a picture of…..
A good day in Rome.
Leaving for Napoli
Who’s idea was it to leave so late in the day?
03.07.2009 – 03.07.2009
We booked our train tickets several days ago and decided to leave around 2pm. We were not thinking about the fact that it’s about 90 degrees F at that time of day. So, it’s nearly 8am and we are packed and ready to go….but have several hours to wait. Not sure what we are going to do while waiting for our train?
Will update more later…..
or better know as Naples.
04.07.2009 – 04.07.2009
First impressions were bad. Dirty, noisy and run-down. These were the first thoughts that I had on arriving in Naples. I thought that maybe I was being a bid hard on the city so decided to give it a fair chance.
After spending the morning at Pompeii (more on that later) and taking a short breather from the heat, I decided to give Naples a chance. Neither of the kids wanted to join me for a jaunt around town exploring (looking back, I wish I had saved my feet), so I headed out on my own and had an amazing sunset.
All I can say is that sometimes, first impressions are right! I hated Naples! Yes, I said it…HATED IT. I’m sorry if you live there or if you love the city for some reason….I promise not to hold it against you personally…I just didn’t like it at all.
I wandered around getting totally lost (seems a theme for the Italy trip in general). I was nervous the entire time. I imagined getting pulled into one of the creepy, dirty alley/roads and being held at knife-point and my life threatened to give up all my money. I imagined being bashed over the head and left for dead for someone to find me the next morning…yep! It really was that bad!
After finally determining that I had given the city my best try (this consisted of walking around for about two hours), I gave up and found the nearest Taxi to take me back to my hostel. Now that is another story…..
I would label my taxi ride as ‘the worst possible, hair-raising, white knuckles gripping, eyes wide” experience of my life. It was better (or worse) than the most gravity defying roller coaster that I have ever ridden! Driving through an alley/road that was obviously made many years ago for a horse drawn buggy (if that would even fit), at aprox 50kph. There was barley enough room for the car to even get through….then on top of that, the driver swerved around people (almost skinning them with the mirror), past parked cars (I still dont know how he did this), past old folks walking with canes, little children playing ball and around fruit stands….all without one minor incident (except me nearly pissing myself).. I think I finally breathed when the driver finally pulled up to my place and stopped. Whew….even Vietnam wasn’t that bad with all the moto-bikes and such!
Now….back to the boring stuff.
Pompeii was actually quite interesting. It was quite well preserved in some places and it was much larger than I had imagined. It was full of photo opportunity and also stray dogs. Yep, stray dogs…they were everywhere. Other than looking a little emaciated, they looked pretty harmless. They just lounged around and walked like they owned the place.
Overall, I would say that Pompeii could be a miss if you were traveling on a tight schedule and if you go I would certainly recommend that you day-trip from somewhere other than Naples!
05.07.2009 – 05.07.2009
I see why everyone loves this place! Maybe my reactions are a little skewed after being in Naples, but this place is wonderful! Beautiful sights, broad piazza’s, great food, friendly people…..yes, I like it here!
We arrived yesterday after a 5 1/2 hour train ride around 5pm. After showering, we headed out to explore a little with no real plans. Found the Dumo, it’s beautiful! I will post pictures a little later, but it’s been enjoyable so far.
I never did take Trinity out for a birthday drink, but will do so tonight…..
“I think I could live here”
06.07.2009 – 08.07.2009
I can’t really say that we did a lot or saw a lot of the more famous things in Florence. I skipped seeing the “David” and avoided all places with lines or entry fees (which pretty much excludes everything that you read about). However, I loved Florence. Just walking around the streets, seeing the architecture and the multitude of piazza’s and statues all over town was very enjoyable. I still find that the Italian women are rude and unpleasant. The men however are outgoing and quick to offer up a quick wink and ‘bon journo’ (and probably other remarks that I am unable to understand with my limited Italian).
The food has been hit or miss. Some places, it’s amazing and others leave a lot to be desired. I fear that the Italian’s laugh at us “American’s” with our quick meals and haste to finish and ‘check please’.
I think we all enjoyed our time in Florence. I find it interesting that the places that I enjoy the most are more likely to have a lot less pictures…
My favorite time in Florence was Michaelangelo Piazza at sunset. It was a beautiful vantage point to see the entire city. The piazza sits on the edge of the city on a hill with breath-taking views in all directions. Trinity thinks it would be a great spot for a marriage proposal. and states that she would expect nothing less… I fear it will take a man well off in order to please her!
We have been staying in a mix of hostels and small hotels where we have all three been sharing a room. Trinity and I will experience a shared dorm tonight as well as Corey. It will be interesting to see how it feels to sleep with strangers. I’m certain that Corey will be happy to finally share a room with men rather than us girls for once.
That’s really all for now….no funny or interesting stories to share today. Will try to update again soon.
Always a Mom
09.07.2009 – 09.07.2009 85 °F
We are parting from Corey today. Trinity and I are headed to Bologna and then Ravenna and Corey’s destination is Venice where we will meet up again in three days time. The kids have been teasing me that i will worry for the next three days about Corey. I might….
Travel from city to city has been mostly comfortable. The train cars are air-conditioned and quite comfortable if a little more crowded than those in the US. It’s a lot more comfortable than was experienced in Vietnam….
I wrote the above while on the train on the way to Bologna. About an hour into our train trip, I got a call from Corey. Seems he was on the wrong train and got ‘booted’ off!! He was working it out and was going to catch a connection to Venice in Bologna about an hour after we arrived. Haven’t heard anything further from him so I am guessing that all is going ok (even with the side-trip) haha
Trinity and I have arrived in Bologna and checked into our hotel. The hotel is much nicer than I expected. We are resting for a little bit to pass the heat of the day and will venture out a little later. We were able to find our way to the hotel without any trouble and from what we saw on the way here….I’m going to like this place! Think I might end up disappointed that we only booked one night.
Hostel and Hotel Reviews
Boring stuff to do while on the train….
23.06.2009 – 31.07.2009
Just a quick review of the hotels/hostels we have stayed at. I will update as the trip goes along….
(Ratings based on 1-5 scale)
Hard Rock Hotel, Chicago IL USA
Helpful Staff: 5
Room Quality: 3 (would not pay $300+ rate for this room)
Avalon House Hostel, Dublin Ireland
Helpful Staff: 3
Room Quality: 3
Nazionale Flat (private apartment rental), Rome Italy
Helpful Staff: 5
Room Quality: 5
Bella Capri Hotel/Hostel, Naples Italy
Helpful Staff: 5
Room Quality: 4
** Total score decreased due to over-charging me from the rate that I had booked the room at initially. Partly my fault for not having print-out proving the reservation rate.
Ciao Hostel, Florence Italy
Helpful Staff: 4
Room Quality: 4
University Hotel, Bologna Italy
Helpful Staff: 5
Room Quality: 5
Al Giaciglio Hotel, Ravenna Italy
Helpful Staff: 5+++
Room Quality: 2.5
Overall: 4 (due to helpful staff)
Marte Baisen, Venice Italy
Helpful Staff: 2
Room Quality: 1
Overall: 3 (price gives +1)
Hotel Fortuna, Frankfurt/Hahn Airport, Germany
Helpful Staff: 5
Room Quality: 5
Overall: 5 (Great stay, but a little pricey for just one night. Walter, who I think owns the place, is WONDERFUL)
Everest Hotel, Frankfurt-Main, Germany
Helpful Staff: 4
Room Quality: 4
Too many words already said….
12.07.2009 – 13.07.2009
Many people have written about Venice. You can google search and I’m sure that you’ll find thousands of descriptions of this lovely ‘water-world’ of a city. I have been in Venice for just 24 hours now and I can say that it is everything you have read and more.
I totally love it here.
It reminds me of the feelings that I have sitting at Mom’s next to the water with the sound of the waves hitting the sea-wall, and the soft hum of the boats as they pass through. The sounds that I imagine must have been all around me as I was growing up in my younger years living at the lake.
I have always loved being near the water. It calms and relaxes me and makes me feel at ‘home’ more than anything. I felt the same way in Hoi An Vietnam.
Venice is also a photographers dream…. I don’t think that you could take a bad picture in Venice if you wanted to. The charm of the canals, the moss lined foundations, slight fishy smells mixed with Italian bakeries and pasta’s, paint chipping of of the buildings exposing bare bricks with small splashes of color from a lonley planter placed in a random window, shutters closed or open with rusted hinges and exposed wood, colors of muted coral, mustard yellow, dingy gray or sunset orange, all with red spanish tiled roofs. Each in themselves would be drab and uninteresting. When you combine them with a splash of sunlight at just the right angle, the glimmer of the canal alongside and the vibrant colored boats….it’s like a dream.
As I am writing this, I am sitting at the caffe’ right next to our hotel sipping on a glass of wine, facing the water and watching the world pass by. It’s about 4:30 in the afternoon and the scene is one that I want to take with me and hold onto forever….
Bologna and Beyond
09.07.2009 – 11.07.2009
Note: I realized when looking back through my blog that somehow I missed writing about Bologna. We really didn’t do a lot there but I liked the city and thought I should at least put a short blurb about it and some pictures.
Our hotel in Bologna was nice. It was near the University and there were several restaurants and cafe’s close-by. Our first day in Bologna was spend as usual just wandering around. The one thing that struck me as unique to Bologna is that a large portion of the city has covered walkway’s. These were a nice break from the sun and on our second day…the RAIN. There were some small piazza’s and the usual statues. The one below was one of my favorites.
As we were walking around on our second day, the sky’s opened up and a torential downpour ensued. Of course, we were not under one of the many walkways and ended up soaked before we found refuge at a small cafe to wait out the rain. As I was sipping my coffee at a patio table under the walkway covering….Trinity and I realized that we were a mere block and half from our hotel and we had literally walked/ran in the rain within 500 feet of the front door!! While I finished my coffee, I caught some photos of the rain and the surroundings.
I’ll try to be nice. It really does seem like a nice town. Quiet. Calming. Quaint. These would be some words that I would use to describe the town of Ravenna Italy. The problem was that I had my mind set on bikes. Yes, bikes. I had decided that a day off my feet and riding a bike would be good. We had been walking everywhere since our arrival in Rome nearly two weeks ago and I was tired! Bikes didn’t happen….
On our arrival we were able to find the hotel without any difficulty. It was located conveniently between the rail station and the ‘Old Town’ center. I had read everywhere that tourists could have free use of bikes in Ravenna and it was just the right size town to traverse on two wheels. I had even contemplated taking the 9km ride out to the beach….
Trinity and I headed out to the tourist office to get our bikes after we had freshened up from the train commute from Bologna. It was a pretty simple walk, only about 15 min and we found it easily. Stopping for a juicy apricot at the local market on the way. When we requested bikes at the tourist office, the lady immediately asked Trinity how old she was. Well….it would seem that ‘free’ bikes in Ravenna have an age requirement of 18. ‘No problem’. I thought. We will just go to the bike rental place tomorrow and rent Trinity one and I will get a free one, right? Wrong…..
The next day, Trinity and I thought that we would go to the other tourist office. Which is listed as the “main” tourist office in Lonely Planet. We would just tell them that Trin is 18, get free bikes and be on our way…. I should have known that bad karma would follow when I had intentions of lying! The ‘main’ tourist office is not really the main office (the main one is the one in ‘old town’ which we had been to the previous day), and they don’t have bikes at this office. My plans are not completely bashed yet. I figured that I would just bite the bullet and pay for both of us to rent bikes for the day. Off we go to the rental office at the train station.
When we arrive, it’s closed. I cant read anything that is posted on the windows, it’s all in Italian. At this point, I am aggravated and fed up. All I really wanted to do was take a nice enjoyable bike ride. Is that too much to ask? I didn’t think so….so back to the hotel we go.
At the hotel, we inquire at the reception desk if there is anyone else that will rent bikes. We explained what had happened and the lady at reception was kind and helpful and was able to make a couple of phone calls to attempt to find us bikes to rent. She failed….but certainly not due to not attempting to help us. I think she was just as discouraged as we were.
ETA: We were able to view some of the sites in Ravenna sans bikes. It really is a pretty city and worth a visit.
Caos and Car Rentals
16.07.2009 – 19.07.2009
We left Italy and headed for Germany. Flight via Ryanair went smoothly. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a Germany stamp in my passport…yep, I really am THAT lame….
We arrived into Frankfurt/Hahn late at night and crashed at the hotel and quickly fell asleep. The morning met us just a bit early and we were slow to get moving out of the hotel.
I didn’t have a specific appointment time for the interview in Germany, so I called. I was told to get there when-ever and have her phoned from the security gate. Trinity and I headed off to the airport to pick up a car.
I have to say that I wasn’t good about planning for this part of the trip. I have no maps, no tourist information (I’m sure that we passed a bunch of interesting stuff), and no pre-booked rental car. This turned out to be quite the hassle. We got to the airport and Budget was with a customer, Hertz was out of cars, the other place (cant think of the name, some german/european car rental) was out of cars. I’m starting to get nervous at this point…
Avis came through for us….kindof! They had cars available but I needed an outgoing flight in order to be able to book a rental….F*#K, I’m already running later than I wanted and really need to get moving…
Trinity and I ran upstairs to the internet cafe and had a shit of a time trying to get ryanair.com to log on. Paid five times as much as I had seen the outgoing flight for two days prior….ran back down to the rental desk and again attempted to book a rental…
I needed a car rental for about 6 hours total…do you think I could get it through their heads! NO! They couldn’t understand why I was going to be in Germany for three days and only wanted a car for one….SHiT!! Between nearly breaking down in tears (for fear that I wasn’t going to make the interview) and wanting to reach across the counter to strangle the lady working….we finally got it through her head that I ONLY needed the car to go to an interview that I was now going to be LATE for!!
Finally, we have KEYS!! Yeah! Ok, for those that know me, you know how much I hate those stupid talking GPS systems, right? Well, I asked for a MAP, yep, a paper and ink map…..nope….sorry, ‘but the car has navigation’. OK great….
We load up in the car and start the engine and neither of us can figure out how to turn on the damned GPS! Yep, looked all over…even in the glove compartment!! So….back to the rental counter. They sent a really nice guy out to help us with the GPS and we were soon on our way. Another problem is that we didn’t have the exact address and the guy helping us put the wrong directions in. After driving for about 30 mins, we finally stopped on the side of the highway and re-programed the GPS and figured out that we were about 18km in the wrong direction!!
We did finally make it to the interview and the DON that conducted the interview was great….. The hospital is in great shape for being as old as it is and it’s got all the latest equipment and looks quite well organized.
After the interview, we headed back and dropped off the rental car. Grabbed a bus to Frankfurt-main and have spent two very lazy (and rainy) days lounging around in the hotel room. I fear that I have nothing interesting to tell about our time here in Frankfurt-main…..
Here are some of the unique buildings and a show of architecture in Frankfurt
….and the bridge where we tipped the musician
….and Trinity and I playing around along the River.
We are off to Bergamo/Milan tomorrow (although only a short pit-stop in route to Turino)
I have to apologize to all of my readers….
After Germany, we were exhausted! We spent a couple of days in Bergamo (wish we had planned better and could have spent more time here). We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast with a quaint courtyard. The funicular was a fun experience for me but Trinity is afraid of heights and didn’t think it was all that cool.
From Bergamo, we headed to Turin for a couple of day with plans to ride down the coast back to Rome to meet Corey. Due to budget and exhaustion, we choose to head back to Rome and relax for the last 6 days of the trip. Turin was also a quaint town. On our second night there, I was lounging in the hotel room and heard an Italian lady singing. It sounded as if it was right outside the building. I had to see if I could find it. There is nothing better than a clear night enjoying an outdoor concert. So, I wandered around outside for about an hour trying to figure out where the music was coming from to no avail. It seemed as if it was possibly on someone’s roof-top but I couldn’t pin it down….
On our last day while we were wasting time waiting for our train to leave, we were wandering around town and ran across an acrobatic/dance group. We sat on the ground in the center of the piazza and watched them perform (orange shirts in picture). It was a great way to end our time in Turin.
We spent the last week catching up with Corey and lounging around, doing a lot of nothing. Made it home with just some minor snags in the outgoing flight from our overnight layover in Dublin.
We are all home now. Corey is back to work, Trinity is back in school with a new part time job at Pizza Hut and I am already thinking about the next trip and how I am going to fund it….
All in all, it was a wonderful time spent with the two people that mean the most to me in my life. I hope that the experience left some good impressions on Trinity and Corey, I know that it did me.
Life is good….