07 November 2012


Venice was like a whole different world.  The water was such a brilliant greenish-blue that it looked as though it had been dyed.  What we thought was a little island was actually a series of islands and canals dissecting a very large area.

The first night we wandered around for a few hours before settling on a local place for dinner.  Pasta and wine in case you wondered...  When we were walking around we noticed a large number of (dirty) tables stacked up here and there all along the walks.  When we came out from dinner we were surprised to find that the water had come up over the edge of the canal onto the sidewalk.  All of those tables (planks) were now lined up so that people could walk above the water on them.  The water is actually higher in the morning with up to a meter of water coming up over the canal and into the buildings.  We had to wait to get onto the island each morning because it was too under water. 

As with all of our stops there were too many cathedrals, ruins, and statues to mention.  We did a hop on hop off waterbus tour which was perfect for our rainy day visit to the city.  Ironically, Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the Northeast at the same time.  I think we got more rain in Venice that in New Hampshire this weekend.  Not the same for Abbie's home- NYC

Here is another of Italy's charming leaning towers (in the background).  I also got a lovely hat as I underdressed today :-/

We toured the Doge's apartments, the nearby cathedral, museum, the bridge of sighs and the prisons.

That night I used my Vonage app to call Art to check on the storm.  He said all was fine and it was being overblown in the media.  Lovely, until fifteen minutes later Abbie got a text saying her flight was cancelled.  She then called her bf to find that her Mom had been evacuated from her town in CT.  After no luck on the phone we headed to the airport early to try to find another option for Abbie.  She was able to re-route through Boston which worked out well because the long awaited memorial for Mom was later in the week and her family was up there anyway...
I went home as planned through Frankfurt.  There was a little schnee (snow) and it was chilly so I didn't see much but I had a fabulous dinner with goose, dumplings, and the best fried camembert cheese ever!  Oh, and Oktoberfest beer!  (no wine!!)

I felt very spoiled to get business class with my frequent flier miles.  They upgraded me because it was the only one available

Firezne and Bologna, Italy

After a busy couple of days we decided to just wander around Florence for some sight seeing and shopping. 

We started by taking the bus down to the central square and started the day with a chocolate croissant and cafe Americano, which is essentially a (European) cafe in a big cup, with extra hot water, and cold milk on the side...

 We saw the Duomo, Pointe Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and David, a great fort at the top of a steep hill on the other side of the Arno River, more great fountains, and of course restaurants- pasta, pizza, and wine!

After three nights in Florence we took the train to Bologna where a friend of Abbie's is going to school.  It was raining but that didn't matter as Bologna is ripe with porticoes. 

We had the most amazing meal at a quaint local eatery.  They just kept bringing delicious dish after fabulous treat!  Their house wine was pretty good as well!  Abbie enjoyed catching up with her friend as well.

It turns out that it wasn't necessary to go to Pisa to see a leaning tower.  Italy has plenty to choose from.  In Bologna there were two towers in the center of town, each leaning it's own way.  There was another that we will see later in our trip as well.

Tuscany, Italy

After a short train ride we arrived in Florence.  The owner of the hostel picked us up at the train station.  They spent time showing us a map and gave us a list of good places to eat.  We had a fabulous local meal of, what else?, pasta and wine.  We hit the sack early because we had a big day ahead of us exploring Tuscany wine country.

The one thing I thought was a must do when in Italy is go on a wine tour.  My niece didn't want to do a big tour bus tour so I scoured around and found a great gal on TripAdvisor.  Dolce Chianti Tours.  A one party tour for about the same as the big bus tours :-)

We went to three wineries and stopped in a beautiful little town called Greve for lunch.  For a change of pace I had chicken, Abbie had pasta, and we both had wine, of course! 

We learned a great deal about identifying the smells in wines and qualities to look for.  My favorite qualities were the black currant, eucalyptus, and leather.  For some strange (sad) reason I did not like the chocolate aroma...  We also had fun with the roosters found around as it is the logo for Chianti wines.

03 November 2012

Rome, Italy


While sitting with my family at Lindsay's fabulous bridal shower in mid-October I heard my niece Abbie say that she was going to Italy- alone- because she couldn't find anyone to go with her.  I said she didn't ask the right person ;-) 

I called Art a little later and we talked about it and assuming I could work out frequent flyer tix and keep my budget in check it was a go!  I was in between any big projects, my birthday was coming up, and Art was at the store almost every day now anyway.  So I scoured the internet and called United to check my ff options.
 I could get into Rome within two hours of Abbie and out just after her on the same days.  I was able to book and join a once in a lifetime (maybe) event with my niece.  She had already set up hostels along the way so our hotels were going to be affordable.  I knew she had also set up public transport between cities so I knew I had to pack light. 

I packed and repacked each day between the day I booked and the day we left! lol!  I also started a walking routine so I could build up a little stamina to try to keep up with my 20-something niece!

The flight over went smoothly with the plan to connect just outside of customs in Rome.  Upon arrival I stepped outside the customs to the main airport to wait while Abbie was waiting just off the customs line inside customs.  So, it took us about an hour to connect.  Not a big deal though. 

We found our first hostel with relatively little issue, then changed and took off toward the city.  We walked around all afternoon and evening.  We saw the Pantheon first with it's great domed ceiling that was open at the top and the drains built into the wonderful marble floor.  We came across a great excavation site in the middle of the city that was full of cats.  We would quickly learn that cats held a special place in the heart of Rome. 

We found and walked up the Spanish steps to a wonderful park and cathedral above the city with fabulous views as far as the eye could see.  We then wandered down and came upon the Trevi Fountain and Caesar's Forum.  There were countless ruins, churches and fabulous buildings in between...  We stopped for dinner at 8:00 and had our first delicious Pasta and Wine meal.  Abbie was fresh off of two red eyes and no sleep so we headed back home to crash.

The next morning we got up early to walk across the Tiber River and into town to take the dungeon tour at the Colosseum.  We got a little turned around and ended up walking the long way around Palantine Hill, which was gorgeous so it didn't really matter.  We got out tix for a later tour so headed off to the Forum first.

After the dungeon tour we were starving so we stopped for a "quick lunch" before we wanted to see the Sistene Chapel and Vatican City.  Long story short, good wine, good meal, good company does not equal short lunch.  We did manage to walk "around" Vatican City but honestly the walls are so high that was all you could see! lol!  Better luck next time.

Off to Florence!