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Posts Tagged ‘europe 2010’

There are going to be a lot of pictures and not many words this time. At least the first half…

On our last day (apart from the flight home) we drove from Geneva over the Alps to Turin. We knew the only way to go was through the Mont Blanc tunnel and we were very excited about it! Imagine driving 7.25 miles through solid rock. Awesome, right? Well, it went by pretty quickly. I tried not to pay attention.

On the French side of the tunnel we wanted to stop and take some scenic pictures, so we pulled off at the first turning. Small town called Courmayeur. Well, they had a gondola ride thingy where you could go up the mountain. So we bought tickets, just to see how scared I would get riding up in the tiny, dangling box. We had no idea it went all the way to the top.

Let me say that again. It went all the way to the top. 11,371 feet up.

This is where I stop talking.

Mont Blanc itself:

Do you see the glacier?

The smallish, triangular peak in the middle distance is the Matterhorn.

I could go on and on, but I won’t bore you. It really is something you need to see in person. We stayed up there for four hours. It was amazing and awesome and an absolute must see. Go there. Seriously. Or, just go HERE and look at the rest of our pictures.

After we travelled back down the mountain (by the way, I don’t like heights and I did NOT like this journey!!) we drove onwards to Italy and Turin, where we were staying the night.

Now, I am going to try to make this brief as well. I LOVED Turin. It was my favourite stop on our tour, I liked it better than Venice and even better than those mountain views above you. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the picture.

We were there for only a few hours but we got a lot done. We had an excellent map and actually found everything we were looking for quickly. It was already dark when we got there, but my camera takes great pictures in the dark, which is lucky!

We saw museums, palaces, churches, all by the light of the moon. All of our pictures can be found HERE. My favourite part of the city was the original Roman city wall and gate.

If you know me at all you know I am a sucker for Roman history, monuments and the like. This was like accidentally walking into a dream. Honestly, I pranced around for a good half hour touching bricks and going, “Look how old this is! How long it has been here!!”. S gave up on me and wandered off on his own after a while.

I must have walked in and out the gate five or six times pretending I was a chariot. Why a chariot, you ask? Because you could see the chariot wheel marks in the stones on the ground. Maybe not chariot wheels, but wheels of some kind, anyway. See?

If you go to Italy, go to Turin. OK, go to Venice and Rome and Pisa if you must, but I would skip all that and just go to Turin. Every building in the old town was more beautiful than the next. It just seems like every single person who has ever lived in Turin and had any money or influence used it to make the city a better, more beautiful place. Honestly, it was fantastic. I would go back again in a heartbeat. I would spend weeks there. I would live there, probably, if I spoke any Italian…

Although if I did live there then I’d probably weigh about 20 stone because we had dinner that night in a Ristorante on the Via Plana and it was, hands down and by far, the best pizza I have ever eaten. The place was called Rubirosa and this is a picture of it in case you are ever in the area:

As usual, the rest of our Turin photos can be found HERE.

Well, it may have taken a long time for me to get here, but that is the end of our trip to Europe. I know I have said this before, but I would go back again. I would go back again tomorrow if I could. We had a great time. We saw everything we wanted to see and more. We drove a long way. We ate a lot of Italian food.

My favourites? Venice, Mont Blanc and Turin. Where wouldn’t I go again? Milan or Zurich.

So, there you have it folks. Italy, Switzerland and France. Hope you liked it!
xo
A

Day 6 – Lausanne & Geneva
Day 5 – The Alps, Rothrist & Zurich
Day 4 – St Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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When we asked the woman at the hotel in Rothrist how far away Zurich was she looked at us funny and said we shouldn’t bother with Zurich at all, but that we should head to Lausanne. Turns out she was right! What a lovely place!

Apparently Lausanne is the Olympic Capital of the World. I would say that this fact surprised me, but considering I had never even heard of Lausanne until the day before we got there, really anything you could have said about it would have surprised me.

Again, it was a beautiful day! Lovely blue sky and lovely white, fluffy clouds! We really lucked out on this trip, I’ll tell you! We were a bit nervous about driving in the city so we parked near the outskirts and, because of this, spent about an hour of our afternoon wandering around, hopelessly lost. This is why it pays to 1) Have a MAP of the city you are visiting, and 2) Have a map with street names. This may seem quite obvious to some of you, but we like to play it by ear.

Anyway… Lausanne was beautiful. We spent most of our time just walking around, taking it all in. The only part of the city we were really set on seeing was the cathedral – apparently the most well reconstructed cathedral in Switzerland! – so we focused on getting there. Once we did, it was very worth it.

Once there we were afforded an amazing view of the city right down to the water of the lake. The city is built on quite a steep hill and the cathedral is very high up, so the views are unbeatable. It was a Monday so, unfortunately, the cathedral was not open for visitors. Apparently all museums in Switzerland are closed on a Monday. Who knew?

If you would like to see the rest of the pictures from our Lausanne album, you can find them HERE.

From Lausanne we drove to Geneva which was where we spent the evening. Actually we stayed in France, just over the border from Geneva. And, actually, there are two towns quite near each other in France with the same name and we drove to the wrong one. 35 miles out of the way. This never would have happened if we had relied on real, paper maps instead of satellite navigation, but that’s technology for you!

Geneva was wonderful. I really wish we’d have known we were going to like it so much because we could have spent more time there. As it was, we arrived around 6pm and parked somewhere that closed at 8.30pm. Which, admittedly, we did not know until we were walking out of the car park! So we didn’t even stay there for dinner. We basically just walked around for two hours and then went back to the car.

We walked along the waterfront a little, while the sun was setting. Gorgeous:

Have I mentioned before how clear and clean the water was? Because it blew my mind.

While walking we came across a pedestrian area which was paved with square cobblestones. Some of them were illuminated and printed with greetings in various languages. I can’t really describe it properly, but it was so original, and SO awesome!


Illuminated paving stones:

Doesn’t it look cool??

I know we didn’t really spend much time there, but I do have to say, if you are going to Switzerland then I would go to Geneva and I would enjoy it! I really do hope we get to go back some day because I would like to see the city in the daylight. As it was, we had to content ourselves with the dusk.

Still, it gave me a great chance to take this picture:

If you would like to see the rest of our Geneva pictures, you can find them HERE.

xo
A

Day 5 – The Alps, Rothrist & Zurich
Day 4 – St. Moritz
Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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I’m going to get this out of the way right now: We did a LOT of driving on this holiday.  A LOT.  Around 2,500 kilometers, actually (that’s 1,500 miles, btw) and a great bulk of that driving was done on days 4 & 5. 

On the fourth day we drove from our hotel in Selvino to the ski resort of St. Moritz nestled deep in the base of the Alps.  The drive took a long time, but unfortunately wasn’t that interesting.  I blame this on the weather – it was misty and grey the whole day which didn’t give us the spectacular view of the mountains we were hoping for. 

Don’t get me wrong, the views were pretty amazing, just limited due to the heavy clouds.  We ended up taking a cable car ride up the side of a mountain (mostly for skiers), which was wonderful.  When you got to the top you could tell you were pretty high up simply because it was COLD.   Cold and windy.

There are a lot of meandering lakes in the region which, because of their altitude, were frozen solid.  There were people cross-country skiing on these vast expanses of ice.  It was cool to see these huge, flat areas surrounded by towering mountain peaks and dotted with the tiny forms of skiers. 

 For example:

They also had a lot of snow. A very, very lot of snow:

One very fun part of the day we actually got to experience twice, once on the way up towards St. Mortiz and once on the way back down. Of course I mean the road:

I don’t think I’d go back to St. Moritz because I don’t ski and, really, that’s all there is to do there except to pretend you’re posh. There was plenty of posh!!!

The weather stayed pretty awful for the whole day and when we got back to Selvino it was raining hard. We had dinner in the Irish themed pub across the street from our hotel, mainly because it was open. They extent of the Irish theme seemed to be that they sold Guinness, but none of the menu was themed and I didn’t even see fish & chips on there, which was refreshing. We both had pasta and it was very delicious.

After dinner we ended up in a wee cafe across the street where we had a cappuccino and a plateful of tiny pastries which were perfectly delicious. The cafe was family run and very relaxed. Apart from the owners and one other table we were the only ones there and the owners actually had their dinner while we were there (pizza). The proprietress was a very nice and helpful woman. I only wish we’d gone there before our last evening in Selvino because I would have liked to have given them more of our custom.

So, that was day 4. A very busy day filled with bad weather and lots of driving, but it was still a great day. If you would like to see the rest of the pictures from Day 4, you can do so HERE.

xo
A

Day 3 – Milan & Nembro
Day 2 – Venice
Day 1 – Airplane & Selvino

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On the second day we went to Venice. I’ve wanted to go to Venice since I can remember and I am very glad to say that it did not disappoint. It was another lovely sunny day, but not too warm which was perfect.

It was quite a drive from Selvino to Venice Marco Polo airport, three hours each way, actually, but it was worth it. We parked our car at the airport car parks and then took the Alilaguna boat from the airport to Venice. We ended up getting the more expensive ticket but that was a longer, more scenic route, so we didn’t mind.

The boat ride took over an hour and it was wonderful. I am not a big fan of boats in general, but the views from the canals were amazing and very much worth it. We got off at Piazza San Marco, which seemed like as good a place as any to start the day. It was mobbed with tourists… Absolutely crawling with them.

Still, in the end, once you got past the teeming masses, it was beautiful.

St. Mark’s Campanile & St. Mark’s Basillica:

I really wish I had done my homework and figured out exactly where in Venice I wanted to see, because apart from St. Mark’s I had no idea what there even was to see in the city. In fact, it wasn’t until we’d actually gotten there that I remembered I wanted to see The Rialto Bridge:

And then I also remembered about The Grand Canal. How do you forget about The Grand Canal? Well, I did.

View of the Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge:

Mostly we spent the day wandering lazily down the wee streets and crossing over small canals on gorgeous bridges.  Everywhere we turned there was something beautiful to look at, something different and unique around every corner.  It was truly amazing.

For example:

And this beautiful stained glass lamp which I just thought was fantastic:

Really, once you got away from the crowded Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge there weren’t many crowds and mostly Italians. The streets and cafés  were quiet. We had a wonderful cappuccino on the Campo Dei Frari and sat on the edge of a dry fountain outside an 11th Century church to have our lunch.

We got lost, of course, trying to find the boat stop to get back to the mainland. We’d been given a map by Alilaguna which had no street names written on it. Who makes a map with no street names on it? We finally found our way, though, and with a half hour to spare. We sat at the edge of the water trying to avoid the 20 or 30 North Africans walking the pavement in a big group carrying, and trying to sell, fake designer bags and sunglasses – looking like nothing more than P. Diddy’s Entourage.

Predictably the boat ride back to land was less exciting, but it traced the same exact route and it was all stuff we’d seen before, including the wooden pier in the middle of the water that had a sign nailed to it saying “Free Wi-Fi”. Awesome.

Would I go back? Yes, I would love to spend more time there, especially now that I’ve discovered this website and found something worth going to see. It was an amazing day and I am very glad we went. Venice gets a huge thumbs-up.

If you would like to see the rest of our photos from Venice you can find them HERE.

xo
A

Day 1, Airplane & Selvino

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I thought, rather than try to cram all of the fun we had last week into one long, long post, that I would split them up and do one post per day. This way I can be detailed enough but also you don’t have a novel to read.

So, here we go – Europe Trip, Day 1

Basically all we got to do on the first day was take a flight, pick up our hire car and drive to the hotel. But, if you can believe it, this was all very exciting!

The flight was calm and quick, only two hours. There was some turbulence on the landing but I was too busy with my normal OMG I Hate Flying panic to notice.

We did get to fly over the alps, though, and S took some great pictures:

We bought a Sat-Nav before we left and we had it with us, and even though we had set the correct address for the hotel and we were following the directions to the word, we got LOST. A lot. We drove in the same small circle down the same side streets and alleys three or four times, and never went the same direction to get there.

Our hotel for the first four nights was in a town called Selvino which was 21 miles away and up the side of a mountain. There was a twisty road on the way with 19 hairpin turns. I thought it was terrifying. S did not. He loved it. Even driving on the wrong side of the road and having to shift with the wrong hand he still flew up that road. Honestly he must have been going about 3 miles per hour, but my seat in the car was closer to the edge of the road and therefore, TERRIFYING. The only thing I had to cheer me up was the fact that this was the one and only road to the hotel and we had to drive it twice a day for the next three days. Awesome.

We stayed at the Hotel Del Corso which was a budget hotel and we got exactly what we paid for. I am not sure whether the high season in Selvino is winter or summer, but either way the hotel (and the town) was dead. Seriously, the second night at the hotel we were the only guests.

This is our hotel:

This is the view from the hotel:

We had pizza for dinner. It was tasty, tasty, tasty. Yeah, OK it was from the take-away down the street which was run by an Egyptian, but it was cheap and delicious and exactly what we needed for the end of first day in Italy.

This is our pizza:

So, there was our first day in Italy. We had a flight, we got our car, we got lost, we drove up and very twisty road and then we found our hotel. We ate pizza. Our bed was comfortable, the water was hot and, all in all, it was a great day.

Tomorrow: Venice.

If you want to see the rest of the album, you can check it out at this link: HERE.

xo
A

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