Sunday, June 16, 2013

Land Tour Highlights-Part Two!

Photos in no particular order! Blogger gets a little testy when you post this many photos and then try and move them around!
Sorrento, Italy, a beautiful city that resides by the sea in southern Italy...from here we toured the Amalfi Coast, earlier in our trip and also The Isle of Capri...
Mt. Vesuvius in the background. The volcano, buried Pompeii in 79AD, with ash for centuries.. in a unqiue way helped to preserve the city...Most incredible and well preserved ruins that we visited... Mt. Vesuvius is said to erupt every 50 years. It last erupted in 1944, overdue...
Padua, home of St. Anthony Basilica...saint of lost and found...facade of the church under restoration, we were blessed here as well. Relics of St. Anthony reside in the Basilica, including the un-decayed tongue of the Saint...
Photo taken from the Rialto Bridge...made famous by Shakespeare in,  The Merchant of Venice...
Venice window box...romantic photo at any turn...
Gondola ride, Venice...The Grand Canal capital of Italy... no designer flannel here...
Where there is a statue, there is a pigeon or two, or three, or...

Assisi! View from the monastery...

Duomo di Milano...Milan Italy
Chicken Dance, Venice Style, back door of our hotel...I was afraid to sneeze and possibly fall in...
June 3rd, my birthday Venice Italy...Incredible memories...the church bells began to ring and I was filled with emotion, beyond explanation...
The Isle of Capri! Simply gorgeous!
Roman Forum at taken from Michelaengelo Square...breathtaking...
Rome at twilight....Colosseum in the background...
I stepped from the pages and recollections of my art history text books, into the reality of Rome...OMG! OMG! OMG! taken from Michelangelo Square...

Home one week already! We arrived safely in Boston at 6:15PM, last Sunday evening! The flight was uneventful, always a good way to fly. Our children were there to greet us and we so thrilled to see them. Up for twenty six hours straight, however! Slept for 72 hours on and off for the next three days. A sinus infection did not help matters. First stop, Burger King! Nothing like good old American grease to welcome us home! 

Almost back to normal and already knee deep in extended family drama, right up to my eyeballs! Got to love it...Thinking of calling NBC, offering them a new storyline for my soap! We both come from large families, so there is never a shortage and always plenty to go around!

I posted some highlights of our land tour visiting Rome, Florence, Pisa, Switzerland and Lake Maggiore. You can view the post here. The above photos are highlights from Milan, Venice, Padua, Assisi, Sorrento, Isle of Capri, Pompeii and finally back to Rome where we spent our final two days. 

We left Lake Maggiore on Sunday June 2. Stopping in Milan, the fashion capital of Italy. Visiting the fashion mall, then onto the Duomo di Milan. From Milan we drove to Venice. June 3rd, my birthday, we enjoyed a gondola ride, and then a great optional excursion dinner. Visiting St. Marks Square, Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, also on June 3rd. We did not take an optional excursion and decided to get lost in Venice and that we did. “To get lost in Venice is to see the beauty of Venice,” our guide said. 

From Venice we drove on to Padua, June 4th, where we visited The Basilica of St. Anthony and the church square. We were blessed by a Friar in the Basilica. This was a short stop on our way to Assisi. 

Arriving in Assisi later on in the same day, we were amazed at the beauty of this magical place. The peace and tranquility, deafening. I simply could not hike up to the castle for more spectacular, countryside views. The few that did, assured everyone that it was amazing. Enjoying a great four course meal after visiting the Basilica, we slept in a monastery, peacefully. A very good wifi connection here. I posted a few photos and a short explanation. You can view the post here. Just to darn tired to do anymore. No pictures were allowed in the Basilica, but I can assure you that is was gorgeous. The art work mesmerizing. 

Leaving Assisi on June 6th, we then drove to Sorrento.  We passed on a couple of optional excursions such as the Amalfi Coast, as we had seen the coast on the cruise ship. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and walked about the city. Simply gorgeous! Hustling and bustling, a very popular tourist destination. Our hotel room gorgeous and roomy. It had been a very tight squeeze in Venice. 

Friday June 7th, we enjoyed a tour of the Isle of Capri. I was able to conjure up enough energy to get a post out, you can view the post here. Capri is simply spectacular. We later enjoyed an optional dinner excursion at a gorgeous restaurant. The dinner so so, I regret to say. Calamari just needs ketchup, an insult to the Italians. Not sure they know what it is. 

Saturday June 8th we drove to The Ancient City of Pompeii. The city was incredible and a highlight for hubby. Our guide Pasquale, a very knowledgeable older chap. He explained for a couple of hours, the history and legend of Pompeii. It was quite warm and we enjoyed gelato later. We then drove to Rome, arriving around 3:30PM. We enjoyed a great departure dinner at a local restaurant, saying our goodbyes and exchanging emails with our newly acquired bus family. Later that same evening we drove around the city of Rome to view it at night. 
A totally different view, very beautiful and regal. 
A good nights sleep, breakfast and then on to the airport, taking away many wonderful and lasting memories of our trip.

Interesting facts about Italy: 
The leaning tower is still leaning. More street vendors here then anywhere else we visited. A Rolex watch for 25,00 euro. Such a deal!
They don’t know what spaghetti and meatballs are. 
Must be all men here, no toilet seats in any public bath rooms or maybe just a shortage of plastic. Sometimes you even get toilet paper! 
WC, does not mean that Winston Churchill has visited here! Dah! (WC means water closet or restroom.)
They pump water in a public basin with their feet, using a foot pedal.. A five year old clued me in! 
Every bathroom is different, always a guessing game. Locked myself in a couple of times, also found myself in the men’s room. 
Their eggs have orange yolks. They have quail eggs for a pizza topping. 
If you put an A on the end of any word and flail your arms you are speaking Italian. 
We tooka the busa to Romea!
They put wine in their cheerios. Kidding! 
Olive oil instead of butter on every table. 
They ask if you want gas in your water! 
Rome is laid out in a circular pattern, yet all roads lead there. Our cab driver from the train station, needed a GPS to find our hotel.
Internet works great if you pay for it. Pasquale the technician, is always on his way to repair it, if it is free in a hotel. Miraculously seems to pick up speed at 3:00AM. 
Loved it all!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Isle of Capri!

The Isle of Capri...
Yellow dinghy...
The Blue Grotto...
The Harbor...
View from the top...
Kiss under the arch...
Friday, June 7, 2013. Chop, chop, Cinderella!  Breakfast served at 6:45AM, boat leaves for the Island of Capri at 8:05AM. Bus ride to pier about twenty minutes. If anyone thinks that a bus tour is relaxing, think again. You see a great deal and places you probably would have never seen, however, a strict schedule must be followed. For this privilege you pay a price. As soon as I have this bus seat surgically removed from my backside, I’m sure I will be fine. Our tour is rated four out of five, as moderate difficulty. Moderate for who? There are seniors on this journey and many are having a difficult time. We fall into two categories: the whiners and the complainers and the complainers and the whiners. I fit nicely into both categories and justifiably so. It is a doubled edge sword. So grateful for the opportunity, yet wished we had more time in each place and more time to REST
The worst part is the constant packing and unpacking, being disorganized. Somedays we are on the bus as much as eight hours. Rest room stops and lunch always. On occasion a stop in a small village or church in between major stops. We have enjoyed the beauty of Italy, a magical country, however, our next vacation will probably be on a river cruise. Everyone is raving about them. Dealing with about one hundred fifty passengers, as opposed to our Holland America cruise, which carried about twenty four hundred passengers. Although we really enjoyed the comforts of the ship and would cruise a large ship again. 
OK, enough about that! Lets get to the other edge of the sword. Today we visited the Isle of Capri. There are simply not enough adjectives in my vocabulary to describe what we experienced. We took a thirty minute Jetfoil to the Isle, once there we took the Funicular to the main square, a top of the Isle. A three minute ride to the top as opposed to a one hour and forty five minute walk/climb to the top, according to our guide. Yikes! Thank goodness for the Funicular. They are a small series of cable cars that go up the cliff side of the mountain, run by electric. Kind of like going to an amusement park when you were a kid. You grab onto a metal bar, close your eyes and scream all the way up. Oh, and down too! So much fun! 
The square was amazing, bustling with tourists, cafes and a beautiful church. Luigi, our guide took us for a walk downhill to some of the most beautiful views of the Mediterranean, I have yet seen. 
Luigi, arranged a boat tour of the Island and we visited several grottos, including The Blue Grotto, which the Isle is famous for. We did not enter the Blue Grotto, as there was a long wait. We did however enter the Coral Grotto and several others. Some folks on deck were able to touch the walls of the Grottos. We also passed under the arch of the Faraglioni. It is said that if a couple kisses, passing under the arch they will remain together forever. 
Capri, is an extremely wealthy island and relies heavily on tourism. Luigi said, they use to catch fish now they catch tourists. It has attracted artists and writers for centuries.
Also, we learned that capri pants were invented and designed in Capri. We use to call them petal pushers, when I was young. 
Well folks another memorable day, tomorrow our last full day we visit, the Ancient City of Pompeii, dinner and then an evening tour of Rome. 

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Assisi, Italy!

St. Francis Basilica... yes that is a rainbow!!!!
St. Francis Basilica, Assisi, Italy
We have been blessed by the Pope and have now been dubbed the "blessed bus" by our tour director. When the forecast says rain we just know the sun will shine and it has! Blessed after all!
A great deal has happened in the last few days. My birthday was spent in Venice and we on a gondola, the experience of a lifetime. Church bells began to ring during our magical escapade and I, beside myself with joy! The music, gondoliers snipping at each other, laughter of my new family of friends, filled the air. Moments in time I will cherish forever! I asked hubby how he was going to top the next birthday??? I believe I heard a grunt!
Tonight we are in Assisi, Italy, here we are visiting the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. High a top a mountain and the views are incredible. A local guide narrated the history of St. Francis. Walking into the Basilica, melodious chants rang throughout the church. It was a special moment and my senses drank it all in! He was an incredible human being and we are so glad to know more about his legacy. St. Francis, is entombed in the Basilica.
Staying here in the medieval village tonight, we are sleeping in a monastery! A castle like structure, the interior in nun like decor. Not very fancy as you can only imagine. However, this place evokes a special feeling of peace and tranquility. Earlier in the day we had visited the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy. Walking by a Friar, we were also blessed, among others!
Any more blessings and I might just be walking on water! Waiting for the stigmata to appear any time soon!
We have met the nicest people from all walks of life. Together we are experiencing small miracles all along the way, coupled with the genius of man! 

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Land Tour Highlights!

Rome Italy, we were honored by a Papal Blessing! Thousands of people were in attendance, could only see the Pope on large screen TV!
Botanical Gardens, Lake Maggiore
Swiss Alps...taken through a bus window...
Swiss Alps, yes that is snow...
Tuscany, every bit as beautiful as I have ever imagined and more...
Florence, Italy...birthplace of the Renaissance...
Florence, Italy
The Chicken Dance...Pisa Style...
The Colosseum...
St. Peter's...we were blessed by the Pope, he extended the blessing to all of our families as well...a very moving day...
Lake Maggiore... 
These photos are in no particular order. Just a small update on our incredible journey. The second leg of our trip very active with not so good internet service and very little free time. 
I could write volumes about our journey, however, I will let the photos tell impart some of our amazing experiences. 
Due back in the United States, June 9 2013. On to Milan and then back to Venice tomorrow. Hope the weather holds out, as we have a gondola ride scheduled. A gondola ride, can you believe it! Very excited!
Love and miss you all!

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