Friday, October 5, 2007


Cinque Terre


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Qui a Bologna

I'm here in Bologna. I'll update my blog more once I get settled.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ciao Roma. Musei Vaticani, San Pietro, Il Coluseo, Piazza Navona, La Fontana Trevi, etc.

I woke up at 5 AM because our Korean roommate had to get off in Bologna and needed her suitcase from up top. After she got off I climbed down and looked around the train station in Bologna and the surrounding areas as the train continued on to Rome. I fell back asleep and woke up to one of the train employees handing back rail passes and passports. I watched from out of the window for the rest of the trip into the station. Everything was gold and brown, much like the areas around San Diego. The train guy came back around with breakfast and we eventually got into the station and made our way to the hostel. The place we stayed in was pretty nice and relatively close to the station. We went to check in but we were too early (it was around 9:30 AM) so we checked our baggage and grabbed a map of Rome. I waited for about 40 minutes for the girls to get ready and then we headed off to the main station again to catch the metro to the Vatican Museums.

When we arrived we found the line to be a little long. It wrapped from the museum entrance around a few corners all the way to the front of St. Peter’s square. We kept following the line looking for the end so we could hop in and after about 20 minutes of walking we found it. We got in back and stood around waiting for our turn to get in. The line looked a lot worse than it actually was. We ended up waiting for about an hour and fifteen minutes before getting to the front door. Once inside we checked the backpack and began exploring the museum. We took the long walk through all the exhibits and saw a lot of really fancy paintings and tapestries and all sorts of relics and artifacts from all around the world. The walk ended in the Sistine Chapel which was even better than I had imagined and was absolutely enormous. The thought of some guy lying on top of scaffolding and painting the ceiling is mind boggling when you see how enormous and how intricate the room is. After our tour of the museums we went back to St. Peter’s square and took photos of the church and the fountains and obelisk. We didn’t go inside the church because I had a bunch of pocketknives which weren’t allowed in and we weren’t really dressed appropriately and the line was huge. Another time I guess. After we finished up in the square we got some pizza and headed back to the hostel to shower and change clothes. It felt really gross to not shower in the morning after sleeping in the hot stuffy sleeper car and then go out into the heat and humidity of Rome and sightsee. We went back and freshened up and I consulted Rick Steves’ Best of Europe to plan a fun evening for us. We decided first to head out to the Coliseum and explore the ruins there.

The coliseum was awesome. The basic structure is still standing which I thought was amazing considering how old it is and how much other stuff has been destroyed throughout the ages from wars and disasters and other stuff like that. Parts of the coliseum were being restored so we could see how it looked back in the Roman times which should look pretty cool once it’s done. We looked around the ruins and took our photos and jumped on a taxi to Piazza Navona for some gelato and neat fountains. We spent some time in the square watching people hawking stuff and I got some tasty ice cream and we kept walking towards the Pantheon. We got some pizza by the Pantheon and took photos of the building and looked around the area before continuing our walk towards the Trevi Fountain. When we got to the Trevi we found it mobbed by thousands of tourists and lots of street vendors pushing their wares. We threw some coins in and got out before the mobs crushed us and headed out towards another gelato shop. After getting even more gelato we kept walking towards the Spanish steps where our walk would end. We spent some time at the steps and went to take the Metro back only to find the metro had closed so we ran around underground for awhile before popping back up and taking a taxi back to the hostel. We went to sleep after a long day of sightseeing and woke up continuously throughout the night because it was cold and we didn’t have enough blankets.

Being Lazy

Today we all slept in. It was our last day in Zurich and we had planned to go to the Zoo but that didn’t happen. We all got ready for the day and had planned to go with Carlo to the Zurich station and catch the bus to the Zoo but we all got lazy and didn’t get ready in time. We said goodbye and thanks to Carlo as he headed back to Bern to guard the embassies there with the Swiss Army and raided Peter’s kitchen for food. We sat down and watched Ice Age 2 while we ate lunch. After that Vanessa started to get cabin fever and wanted to leave but I didn’t feel like going anywhere so I sat back down on the couch and popped in Lord of War to watch. After 10 minutes the girls came back because they couldn’t find the train station and Debra sat down to watch the movie with me while Vanessa grew increasingly restless. She ended up going crazy and going for a walk to get out of the house while Debra and I continued to watch the movie. After Lord of War finished I put in Inside Man and started to watch that. Vanessa came back to see us exactly where she left us an hour or two ago watching movies and Peter prepared risotto for us. We ate dinner and had some ice cream and finished the movie before we had to run to the train station and catch the S-Bahn to Zurich HBF and catch our sleeper train to Rome. We got there an hour early and waited around for the train. When we finally got onboard we realized that we shouldn’t have booked a 6 person couchette because there’s just not enough room. Debra and Vanessa have giant suitcases and there isn’t enough room for them much less other people. We somehow all managed to squeeze into the small room with luggage everywhere and I climbed onto my bunk at the top and lay down. I ended up having to get up and stand in the hallway because it was way too hot in the room with the overhead light on and 8 inches away from my face. Vanessa had the same problem because she was at the top too so we ended up going to the back of the train and sitting in front of an AC vent and playing cards. After awhile we both got tired and went back to sleep in the room that had thankfully cooled down a little but since the AC had been running and the door had been closed. We went to sleep knowing we would wake up in Rome the next morning.

Luzern, Waterfalls, and Parks

Today we meant to get up early but nobody heard their alarms so we got a pretty late start on a long day of traveling. Carlo borrowed Peter’s car and planned to drive us to Luzern and Interlaken but we had gotten away too late to fit all of it in so we decided to head out and see how far we could get. We made some sandwiches with traditional Swiss cheese and meat and some fresh bread from the bakery before we left and grabbed a bottle of Coke and Fanta. We all piled into the car and headed out.

We drove down to Lake Zurich and took the car ferry to get across the lake. Once we cleared the lake we started driving through the hills and valleys towards Luzern. The drive took awhile since Luzern is a good distance away from Zurich but we were listening to American pop music from 10 years ago on the radio and enjoying the scenery. When we finally got to Luzern we parked and ran to the bathroom because girls have small bladders and then went to check out the town. We saw parts of the old town, we saw the old wooden bridge and the church, the lake, and the lion monument dedicated to the Swiss soldiers. It was all pretty touristy but it was nice regardless and we ate our sandwiches and gummi bears and chocolate bars by the lake. After sauntering around Luzern we got back in the car and decided to drive to the Trummelbach falls. The drive there from Luzern was also very scenic; driving up through the mountains and coming back down again into the valley. We saw lots of waterfalls that didn’t look like waterfalls but rather a river in freefall over the edge of a cliff. The water would fall off in a concentrated stream and as it fell it would scatter everywhere. We drove past a few that looked fun to explore and we kept heading towards Trummelbach.

When we reached Trummelbach we realized we were five minutes too late and it had already closed. Bummer. Next time I come to central Switzerland I’ll have to come back and check that out. We walked around the area checking out the snow capped mountains and enjoying the fresh, cold mountain air and got back in the car to drive back towards the other waterfalls that we had seen earlier. We stopped in a small town named Lauterbrunnen and hiked up to the big waterfall there. There is a path that leads you up the mountain side to right beside the waterfall so you could look out at the scenery and see the waterfall. It was a really nice view and everything was very green. A different kind of green than in NorCal or other places I’ve been in the US. The green here seemed more vibrant. After we took our photos we hiked back down and looked around in a cemetery because it looked really nice with rose gardens and old fashioned headstones. We saw a park behind the cemetery and went to play around inside on the swings and seesaw. After spending time in the park we began the long drive back to Zurich where Peter was making pasta for us. After eating dinner we watched Batman Begins and I made phone calls on Skype and poked around on the internet before going to bed.