A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

Leaving Venice :(

26 December 2010

semi-overcast 35 °F

Driver's and Rice's at hotel Ca San Polo xmas tree

Driver's and Rice's at hotel Ca San Polo xmas tree


In all three days of photographing Venice we had not taken a photo with everyone in it. At breakfast we took about 15 minutes getting every variety of people in front of the Ca San Polo Christmas tree.
quiet sunday street in Venice

quiet sunday street in Venice


Building at St. Lucia train station

Building at St. Lucia train station


Everyone was sad to leave and dreading the LONG trip home. In the end it was much better than the trip to Venice. We walked to the train station rather than take the water taxi. This seemed to save money, hassle and allowed us to see a nice quiet Sunday morning street.
Dad looking forward to ride home

Dad looking forward to ride home


The train ride to the car was uneventful after we figured out which train to get on. Our ride to Venezia Mestre was not advertised anywhere but apparently every train goes there. The ticket was only 1 euro per person.
Ready to come home

Ready to come home


The car was found and the drive started. The Brenner Pass only gave us flurries and we did not hit any traffic jams. We made it home about 5 hours before Curt's prediction with very little aggravation.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:09 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Christmas in Venice

25 December 2010

rain 30 °F

Venetian street

Venetian street


Christmas Day in Venice was more of what I expected with most things closed. There were plenty of open restaurants if you were happy with pizza. I guess if you wanted a fancy meal maybe a reservation was a good idea.
new fashion statement in Venice

new fashion statement in Venice


We walked off breakfast on the same strip of shops. This display was funny because the models had on the plastic boots that were selling to tourists for 7 euros to keep their clothes dry!
Rialto closed up

Rialto closed up


The Rialto was even mostly quite a closed up. I kind of liked the chance to see things without a mob of tourists, even despite the rain. We made it across the Rialto before we had to get a snack and had a pizza roll in a café with some drinks.
A show on the history of Venice is playing tonight so we walked over to get tickets before coming back to our first restaurant for Christmas lunch. We abandoned the reservation I had made in fear that it would be as terrible as last night. Once again our small and friendly restaurant, Osteria Al Ponte “La Patatina”, was delicious.
Mom and Dad on rainy ride

Mom and Dad on rainy ride


Rain was still coming down but I wanted to do the tourist thing and ride in a gondola so everybody piled in a wobbly gondola for a wildly expensive 15 minute ride through the canals. It is one of those things you just have to suck it up and do.
gondola parking

gondola parking


Street view from gondola

Street view from gondola


View of Rialto from gondola

View of Rialto from gondola


Curt and I in gondola

Curt and I in gondola


gondola in venice

gondola in venice


Curt and his old bones were hurting so we went back to the room before the show while mom and dad went for some more shopping.
Venezia show

Venezia show


The Teatro de Gallo has a show on the history of venice which was surprisingly good and unlike anything I had seen before. The stage was small and the cast of 5 but they had movie type displays on the walls all around interspersed with actors telling the story of Venice. They taught us things like the legendary masks were started as a way to keep the doctors from getting the plague. The show was an hour and 20 minutes and our combo ticket included dinner at a nearby restaurant Pizzeria da Gioia. The waiter forced us to order in Italian which was easy to do since I got pizza. One last walk from the Rialto concludes the fun part of our trip to Venice. Tomorrow is walking to train station, train to parking lot then a LONG drive back to Germany!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:04 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

St. Mark's Square is Flooded!!

24 December 2010

rain 30 °F

Dad with umbrella in Venice

Dad with umbrella in Venice


Christmas Even in Venice!! Luckily many shops and restaurants were open today, contradictory to what I had read on the internet.
Venice bridge

Venice bridge


First thing was a walk to Saint Marks Sqaure and the Basilica. The square was completely flooded and the only way to cross was on temporary raised platforms.
Flooded Venice

Flooded Venice


Lanterns in St. Marks Square

Lanterns in St. Marks Square


view from St. Mark's Square

view from St. Mark's Square


St. Marks Square

St. Marks Square


While walking around the square a man approached and asked if we would like to go to the island of murano where all the glass is made. The taxi ride is free and we would get a tour of the factory.
water taxi

water taxi


It didn’t take long to say yes to free and found ourselves on a water taxi for 15 minutes before arriving at Murano.
Murano Glass Factory

Murano Glass Factory


Here an Italian met us and brought us in to their factory. He said most people don’t get to see the display area except for retail buyers.
Still making the glass horse

Still making the glass horse


Making a glass horse

Making a glass horse


During the holidays they make an exception and bring visitors. First a glass blower gave us a demonstration of how to make a horse. The glass is made of a very fine sand and can only be out of the oven for about 1 minute before you cannot manipulate it anymore. It was amazing to watch the blob of glass form a beautiful colored horse.
glass horse

glass horse


Next was a walk around the display area where no pictures were allowed. Intricate chandeliers were hanging from every spare inch of the ceiling and started at 100 euros and up. The things in there were too rich for our blood but a candle holder in the gift shop made a nice memento. Luckily another free water taxi dropped us off at Saint Marks square again.
street in Murano

street in Murano


Dog in Murano

Dog in Murano


A row of souvenir stands lined the water way and amazingly enough Curt and I found a paper mache lion head that was perfect for us.
Saint Mark’s Square was abandoned in search of food which ended up being a nice and very busy pizzeria. The food is my favorite thing it Italy and you can never go wrong with pizza or spaghetti.
Flooded St Marks Square

Flooded St Marks Square


Navigating our way back to the basilica to have a look inside proved to be a challenge but eventually we arrived. We each spent a few minutes admiring the mosaics on the ceiling but were ready to have a rest and get out of the rain.
Gondolas

Gondolas


According to all my research reservations were a good idea as lots of places closed for the day.
Vecio Fritolin Restaurant

Vecio Fritolin Restaurant


I had a reservation at Vecio Fritolin which turned out to be the worst meal we had. The place was stuffy with no music and not a smile to be seen on the servers faces. I got scampi thinking it would be shrimp but was wrong. I got little squid instead. Everyone made the best of it but the meal really actually sucked. Since most of us were still hungry we had cheese and crackers with wine in the room.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:59 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

First Day in Venice

23 December 2010

rain 35 °F

Raining day in Venice

Raining day in Venice


Free breakfast and a short walk to the car was all we had before starting the hellish drive through Italy to Venice. It rained nearly the entire time which made driving on those windy roads a bit more stressful. Not to mention we nearly arrived when our GPS, Lola, led us astray and caused the drive to be atleast 30 -45 minutes longer. Finally we found Mestre where there is a cheaper parking lot across from the train station.
Black and white Venice

Black and white Venice


The next thing was to buy a train ticket which believe it or not you got not at the train ticket window but the newspaper stand. The shuttle train whisked us off to Venice’s Saint Lucia station where the vaperetto tickets were sold. The directions to the hotel and the worker told us to get on the #2 line but it dropped us off on the wrong side of the river. To cross we had to take a tagliatelle which was really nerve wracking because no one sat down and the thing was really wobbly. Not too long after we found Ca San Polo or home for the next few nights.
xmas lights at Rialto Bridge

xmas lights at Rialto Bridge


The rooms are cute but very hot! The windows were opened and heat cut off very promptly. Immediately we set out to eat and a few steps from the hotel found an awesome restaurant with only about 10 tables. The food was delicious and everyone was excited to have made it to Venice. After a time we realized the waitresses were all watching us and realized they wanted us to leave so they could rest for the afternoon.
Venetian masks

Venetian masks


It didn’t take long to hit the streets of venice and notice the beautiful masks around every corner. The Rialto Bridge is not far from the hotel and it was still light enough for photos. Each variation and landscape photo was taken before moving on.
hazy Venice

hazy Venice


on Rialto

on Rialto


All the shopping made us ready to eat again so we did the tourist thing and chose a table by the water.
Margerita restaurant

Margerita restaurant


A margherita pizza and one beer each was not enough so we ordered a second and spent the rainy night annoying our waiter. We had just arrived but Venice was proving to be lots of fun already. Unfortunately it is a place where you can’t say “I think we go this way” because you will always be wrong. The 10 minute walk home that night took us an hour!!!
Night time in Venice

Night time in Venice

Posted by ErinDriver 10:49 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Palermo, Sicily

31 August 2010

overcast 77 °F

street in Palermo

street in Palermo


This is our first excursion that we wished we were not on. The Palermo walking tour was a big flop. We got ear pieces so we could hear the guide over the traffic but it didn’t work that well. The wind made it fuzzy and the initial walk was through a not very beautiful part of town. And guiding about 38 people across the streets is not very easy.
Mafia monument

Mafia monument


We did pass a monument to the people who have died trying to fight the mafia.
church in Palermo

church in Palermo


Our guide showed us a bunch of churches but there were so many people you couldn’t really see what he was pointing out.
sculpture in palermo church

sculpture in palermo church


The result was we never really knew what we were supposed to be looking at.
fountain of Shame

fountain of Shame


Another stop was the fountain of Shame. This was meant to be in Florence but they didn’t want it so Sicily bought it. Here we had a break for cappuccino and bathrooms.
lamp post in Palermo

lamp post in Palermo


When we started walking again it just went downhill. We zoomed past the market and had another break at the Opera House. It is the third largest in Europe behind Paris and Vienna.
market in Palermo

market in Palermo


Near here there was a market that we got some humongous grapes to snack on. Every few feet in the market was a fish vendor and they all had swordfish hanging by their nose and cut in half :(
swordfish

swordfish


By noon we were meeting again to walk back to the ship and our lunch. Unfortunately the greater population had also found out that you don’t have to eat in the crowded tercafeteria. We ended up with some French people who weren’t ready to order so our table ended up being served last.
We passed the rest of the afternoon by the pool with a daiquiri and mojito. Dinner came and went and can you believe Curt actually ordered the swordfish!!!

Posted by ErinDriver 09:24 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Mt. Vesuvius

30 August 2010

overcast 75 °F

vesuvius from the bus on the way home

vesuvius from the bus on the way home


Today we were blessed with a sleep in day but we over did it a little and missed our gym time and the dining area that is a bit more calm. Instead we had to fight what felt like the entire population of the boat for our breakfast at the buffet. We made it out alive but took some time by the pool to relax afterwards.
Vesuvius on the way there

Vesuvius on the way there


Our excursion today is Mount Vesuvius so we head out with the bus to the mountain. The drive makes it look as if it was not a very good day to do this tour. You can't even see the top of the volcano.
Curt starting the hike

Curt starting the hike


Our guide looks a bit on the heavy side to be guiding a tour up the volcano but we have no choice but to go along with it. He is very knowledgeable about Naples and Mt. Vesuvius which in fact did not destroy Pompeii. He explains how it used to be one giant volcano but when it erupted in like 79 AD it became two peaks and destroyed Pompeii.
view from start

view from start


Now the peaks are Mt. Somma (which he says is responsible for Pompeii) and Vesuvius. It is still an active volcano and monitored daily.
hole of vesuvius

hole of vesuvius


The prediction is that the next explosion will be pretty damaging because the hole is closed over causing a greated pressure build up. Approx. 1 million people live around the volcano and don’t seem too worried.
active steam of volcano

active steam of volcano


You can see steam coming from one point on the volcano demonstrating it is still active.
dog at the top

dog at the top

Just like Greece there are random dogs running around everywhere. After about 45 minutes of hiking and stopping for photos you reach the highest point and the location where you can see Pompeii. Postcards are available with a special Mt. Vesuvius Stamp. After a short rest we head back down and wait atleast 15 minutes for our guide to get to the bottom.
Curt and I on Vesuvius

Curt and I on Vesuvius


The bus takes us to a little restaurant where we get a piece of bruschetta and a shot glass amount of white or red wine.
Next stop for some reason is a place that makes cameos. They carve them our of shells. By the time we got off the bus the English speaking group had moved off somewhere and we missed it. Of course there was an area where they were selling their works.
Back on the boat we have another like five course dinner followed by a show of ice skating and a girl winding herself around a rope. ??? Don’t ask me??

Posted by ErinDriver 08:59 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Portofino, Italy

29 August 2010

sunny 80 °F

our view of Genoa port

our view of Genoa port


Our port today is Genoa, Italy but our excursion took us to Portofino for a few hours.
St. Margherita Ligure

St. Margherita Ligure


After a 45 minute bus ride we arrived in the adorable port town of St. Margherita Ligure.
Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus


This port was decorated with another monument to Christopher Columbus and an adorable coastline.
boats in St. Margherita Ligure

boats in St. Margherita Ligure


A ten minute ferry took us from here to Portofino.
first view of portofino

first view of portofino


This is a VIP island but I’m not quite sure why.
yachts

yachts


It is beautiful but small and can barely fit the yachts that are bigger than the houses. It is decorated with Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and amazing jewelry stores. Our guide told us that this region of Italy – Liguria loves to eat focaccia bread and cappuccino for a snack mid morning. We tried some formaggio focaccia but I can’t say I’m a big fan. I substituted for some strawberry gelato.
church in Portofino

church in Portofino


The Church of St. George was on a hill here in Portofino and provided amazing views and Kodak moments.
view from church

view from church


pink mongoose??

pink mongoose??


Down by the water there was a row of these pink moongoose or something. They were so odd and out of place I had to take a picture.
portofino view

portofino view


Our return trip was the same and we spent the afternoon getting burnt by the pool before dinner. The show tonight was Excalibur which was short but entertaining. One guy did a handstand on one arm while balancing on the head of his partner. The gymnastics were pretty impressive.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Lastday in Sardinia

5 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

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I think today is the laziest vacation day I have had since getting to Europe. Pretty much it amounts to eating and working on my tan. We spent all day next to the pool.
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Observations being that Italians seem obsessed with throwing and pushing each other into the pool. That seemed to be their main activity. There was even a wedding party that took place at the hotel and by the end half the party had been pushed in the pool.
Dinner was my last chance to have my berberino wine and pizza – yes we did have the same dinner 3 nights in a row!
After dinner we took a walk to the water where the moon was reflecting beautifully off the water. Sardinia turned out to be a gorgeous place and a great way to spend the 4th of July weekend. Unfortunately tomorrow we have to go back to home, gloomy, home.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:02 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Sardinia on Scooters

4 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

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Flag of Sardinia
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Day 2 in Sardinia was terrifying and thrilling all at once. Our hotel is not too close to anything so we rented scooters for the day. I pictured a nice casual ride along the coast – well we did ride along the coast! The traffic was pretty heavy and the roads were curvy and up and downhill. As my first time driving a scooter I was less than comfortable. I was amazing to drive along the coast though.
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We found a nice place to stop and rest of the rocks after a swim. Too bad we hadn’t packed our snorkel gear :)
After some more curvy roads we decided to stop for lunch at Van Goghs café.
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The outdoor seating area was perfect and the food was amazing. I got spinach pasta with shrimp and pesto sauce while Curt had ravioli. Have I said I love Italy!!!!
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I had delayed long enough though, it was time to get back on the scooters!
This time we passed the hotel and I became a scooter rider on the back of Curts. We went to see the flamingos that are famous for hanging out in the bog outside the city.
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They are pink and white but kind of elusive. Every time I got near them they gracefully walked away from us. Since they weren’t interested in letting me get a good photo we crossed the road and hung out at the beach for awhile.
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By the time we got home I was exhausted and happy to sit by the beach before another dinner of Berberino wine and pizza.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:54 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cagliari, the City on the Italian Island of Sardinia

3 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

DSC09207.jpg
I basically came up with Sardinia as a destination by going on Ryan Air and seeing where it would go that would be cheap and warm. Cagliari which is the city on the Italian Island of Sardinia that won the contest.
So today we found ourselves on the way to Karlsruhl to catch our flight. The two hour flight was without incident and next thing we knew we were on a hot, busy bus on our way to downtown Cagliari. Hotel Setar is no where near the center of the city so we had to get on another sweaty, busy bus for 20 minutes. Oh wait, that’s just what the bus driver said, it turned out to be an hour ride.
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Eventually we found the place and the magnificent pool. Here you need to have a swim cap on to go in the pool but we didn’t do much swimming anyway. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool.
None of the restaurants at the hotel opened until 8:00 so I was pretty starving by the time we made it to dinner.
The pizzeria won our hearts because we got to eat outside and the pizza and berberino wine was awesome.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:44 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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