A few photos from the Trip to Spain/France/Italy:
My biggest take away: My Mini cooper is too big of a car for parts of France and Italy. Seriously if it’s not a Vespa or a small classic mini (or of course a small Fiat) it won’t make it in the streets.
Naples has LOTS of graffiti. Word is they like it like this. Monaco has none. They must cut your hands off if you even think of it.
I survived the bike trip in Rome (this is important as my Sister fell down twice and I didn’t). Never assume that people that sit at their desks most of the day make good bike riders. We survived. Cobblestones and all. That’s my accomplishment.
I could live in Sorrento. I probably couldn’t afford to live in Sorrento. One morning in the hotel in Sorrento we woke up to light rain/thunder and the sound of crowing chickens. Very cool to wake up to the sounds of nature to a Californian who only gets about 10 inches of rain a year in total.
You didn’t need to know Italian. Pointing to an item you want to buy with euros in hand works as the international language of “I want to buy that”
Florence was wall to wall people. I wasn’t impressed with Florence due to the number of people touring that day. Tons. More impressed with Pisa in fact.
The Vatican was wall to wall people (they sell WAY too many tickets) For every church we went into, the thought of how much money it took to
build it originally went through my mind. I say this as I was raised as a Lutheran. Which if you remember the history is a slight deviation from the Catholic church. The number of stories of corruption and power struggles and politics. Times haven’t changed much have they?
We were warned about pickpocket-ers in Barcelona but they were seen inside the Vatican city, and in the Muni train in Rome. Fortunately no one lost anything to a pickpocket-er, but you did want to keep your purse or bag close to your body and keep an eye on it.
Love Bernini’s stuff –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_and_Daphne_(Bernini) seeing the marble in person at the Borghese Gallery was really cool. The photos do not do them justice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_Proserpina_(Bernini)
Now starting to see if I can recreate some of the recipes we ate in Italy by growing some of the foods – http://growitalian.com/ in particular the Zucchini blossoms so I can do a Saffron and Zucchini pasta recipe. I’m now following food blogs looking for more inspiration of food and cooking.
And finally, as a geek, the Xcomglobal mifi’s worked great to allow us to use our iphones for mapping/walking around the cities. We saved on the price tag of the data plan on our phones and still were able to get map directions to wherever we needed to walk. While I was on board the cruise ship in fact, because we went from port to port, we could actually hang off of the mifi’s for about an hour BEFORE the ship docked. It was interesting how they sent the units. I specified that I would be going to Spain, France and Italy and they sent three mifi units, each having a cellular chip for each separate country. Each unit was preset up for each ISP so all you had to do was to turn on the unit and connect your computer or phone. All of us in the group agreed that this extra geek traveling item really was helpful for keeping us able to navigate our way around the city to various locations when the tourist maps didn’t quite cut it.