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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Ciao Ciao Venice

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Thursday morning I awoke to the sound of zippers in our four person room at Venice’s excellent B&B Arabesque as Jimmy and Laura made themselves ready for an early morning departure. The time had arrived for our parties to say goodbye to Venice and each other.

Specifically, Laura and Jimmy are catching a flight to Nice, France followed by trains to Bordeaux before we meet again in Paris. Nick and I are headed to Barcelona for Act II of this adventure.

With just 2.5 hours before our flight departed, Nick and I decided to take a harrowing yet scenic 45-minute ride on a water taxi through the Grand Canal. This was followed by a speedy bus to the Marco Polo airport, and we arrived with much more time than we expected so we were each able to get not one but two delicious prosciutto and buffalo milk mozzarella paninis with sun dried tomatoes at the airport deli. The food here is so good, and I have a feeling that trend will thankfully continue in Barcelona.

A Day in Venice

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Wednesday was our day in Venice, so it was a little disheartening when we woke up to the sound of rain and Nick telling us that we could expect wet weather through 6pm. We made the most of it at any rate, though, and donned our rain gear and umbrellas and headed out for a walking tour of Piazza San Marco, the main public (and hugely touristy) square in Venice.

Following a walk through of the Great Church of St. Mark, we headed to a small shop near the Rialto district where the owner of our B&B said we could purchase the bath towels she provided for us. I jumped on this opportunity because 1) these are the best towels I’ve ever used and 2) I arrived with half empty backpacks to bring stuff exactly like this home. We found “TSL” after asking no more than five people and I made my towel purchase.

By this time we were a bit wet from the rain so we headed back to the B&B to regroup, get dried off, and ask the owner for a lunch recommendation. This lead us to the pizzeria Corte dell’ Orso at the end of a dark and deserted ally – a very good local choice! To make things even better, the rain had stopped for the day a few hours earlier than Nick’s estimate.

The British Air magazine on the flights over recommended we visit a small art gallery called Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni where we were definitely off the beaten path. With our fill of many depictions of a pointy-eared dragon getting slain, we headed back to the Santa Maria Formosa square where we met a gondolier named Roberto who seemed friendly and spoke excellent English – we had found our captain!

No tour of Venice would be complete without a gondola ride. The industry is regulated by the 425 gondoliers (red and blue banded hats don’t signify anything more than flair) and rides before 6pm cost €80 for a 40 minute tour of the area near where you pick up the boat. We wanted a tour of the small canal ways, and that was delivered in spades. Excellent! The only thing that could’ve made it better was if we had hired a singer/accordion combo that we later saw a couple cruising through the canals with.

Next up was a “Vivaldi el’ Opera” concert, which was actually quite good. Jimmy even caught a glimpse of a tear in the eye of the tenor singer as he looked into the light – the woman soprano didn’t seem quite as into it.

Nick and I wrapped up the day at a small bar down the street from our B&B enjoying the Californian Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap. A good end to a great and very picturesque day in Venice.

Buon Giorno from Venice!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Good morning from Venice! 19 hours after leaving Los Angeles, Nick and I arrived to Venice where we met Jimmy and Laura for the beginning of the 2012 Eurotrip. This is the first time here for all of us, and we agree that this the most unique city on the planet that some have said resembles life on the theatrical stage.

Upon meeting Jimmy at the B&B, he took us to the plaza Campo Santa Maria Formosa where we met Laura. We then wandered a few blocks and ended up at Al Mascaron for a filling and very tasty dinner.

The evening found us enjoying prosecco and limoncello on the patio of our B&B – it’s good to be traveling with good friends and seeing new places once again.

The Great Untold Adventures of Yesteryear

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Observant readers will remember a brief mention of Eurotrip III back towards the end of 2007, with no word since. (Sorry, things were busy.) Over the next few months I plan to remedy that and tell the tales about the trips that have taken place since then and that I haven’t had a chance to write about yet.

Included in this recap of past trips are Eurotrip III (Germany and Spain), a trip to Turkey (Istanbul and Ankara), a ski holiday in France, a road trip through the American West, and Eurotrip IV (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy). Stay tuned!

Milan Train Station

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

No matter how we looked at it, getting from the Cinque Terre to Gimmelwald, Switzerland was not going to be easy. I knew this from the instant I saw possible train schedules on the Swiss Rail website. The best trip would take nine hours and would involve six tight connections between five trains, a bus, and a cable car. Missing any one of these connections would leave us stranded in a train station late at night with no place to sleep and would set our trip behind by at least a day. We could not miss a connection.

As a testament to the difficulty of our plan, the friendly ticket lady in the Florence train station laughed at the schedule I handed her and called over her colleagues to look at it. Yes, even a seasoned railway employee thought we were nuts. We must’ve earned her respect, though, since she was more than eager to help us work out the details of the mandatory train reservations.

Swiss trains are notorious for their timeliness, literally departing and arriving within seconds of their scheduled times. Therefore, we were somewhat concerned when we pulled into the Milan train station with only ten minutes to get to some unknown platform and on the train to Switzerland. Needless to say, the instant the train stopped we had no choice but to run!

Dodging in and out of the crowd with full packs, we made our way to the front of the surprisingly long train on platform 18. We soon learned that our Swiss train was on platform 3, which was the complete opposite side of the station. Another run ensued, and we boarded just minutes before the conductor blew his whistle. We were off to Switzerland.

A date with destiny: my ticket to Switzerland.

T-minus 11 minutes and still on the train rolling into Milan.

We made it, with two minutes to spare!