Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Italy 2015 Recap

Since I was on a roll posting about my Alsace and Germany trip, I figured I'd go back and (finally) finish the posts I started in 2017 about my Italy trip in 2015 (I can't believe its been 5 years since that trip!).  In 2017, I blogged all the way through my time in Tuscany, but never continued with the posts from Venice. (If you'd like to skip ahead to the new material, it starts at number 11).

I had saved posts in 2017 so that the trip would all be together.  As a result, even though these posts are brand new, they are showing as though they are from 2017.  I figured I'd go ahead and do a recap of the entire trip now that all the posts are up and done!

1.  Day 1--A Roman Holiday

My trip to Italy starts in Rome with beautiful churches, roman artifacts, and Baroque surprises, including the Trevi fountain.

2.  Day 2--Ancient Rome.

A trip to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Trajan's Market, followed by churches and more Roman artifacts.

3.  Day 3--Pantheon, Palaces, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls

Not only churches (including the Pantheon) and the Galleria Doria Pamphilj palace, but the Spanish steps, protestant cemetery, piazza navona, and nightime pictures of the Vatican.

4.  Day 4--the Vatican

Next to the Vatican, a country inside a country, to see St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican museum, and nearby Castel Sant'Angelo, followed by more churches (this time with loads of mosaics), and dinner at the Piazza del Popolo.

5.  Day 5--Orvieto

One of my favorite days when we took a day trip to Orvieto in the hills of the Umbria region.  It had ramparts and hand painted pottery!

6.  Day 6--An Arrival in Florence

The start of our time in Tuscany, with a cathedral, churches, and beautiful views.

7.  Day 7--Medici Florence

Lots of art (including Michelangelo's David), a Medici Palace and Chapel with more Michelangelo, and maybe a couple more churches.

8.  Day 8--Firenza, Continued

A bit of art, a tower house, and palaces from our continuing exploration of Firenza (Florence).

9.  Day 9--Lucca & Pisa

Two day trips in one as we took a train to Lucca in the morning and in the afternoon visited the leaning tower of Pisa.  Lets just say that the tower isn't all the leans in Pisa.

10.  Day 10--Siena

Another favorite day as we visited medieval Siena with its well preserved  streets, gorgeous cathedral (my absolute favorite of all  I saw in Italy), and a medieval hospital.

11.  Day 11--Venetian Luxury

We took a train then a boat down into Venice and relaxed in the terrace of our hotel in a former palace before heading down a few buildings along the water to see the Doge's Palace and then my first glimpse of Piazza San Marco.

12.  Day 12--Venice's winding alleys, bridges, and canals

Visiting San Marco Duomo then off to wander beyond the square.

13.  Day 13--Padua

Taking our daytrip in the Veneto region of Italy (the region with Venice) to Padua, with this famous Basilica, university, and the Scrovegni Chapel, which, unfortunately, we could not take pictures inside but was still beautiful.

14.  Day 14--Venetian Lagoon

Another favorite day of the trip (and also the last) as we took an elevator to look out over Venice, took a trial boat run to La Salute Church, and then boated to the quant fishing village of Burano with its rainbow colored row homes, canals, and lace.  We ended our trip in San Marco listening to live music and eating cake--perfect end to any trip.

Looking back over this trip it is amazing how many churches we went into in so many different styles.  I really do practically never say no to a church!  My favorite of the three big cities had to be Venice, with its decaying mansions and labyrinth of narrow streets and canals.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Day 11--Black Forest to Heidelberg

So begins our last day in Germany.  We started the day with a stop at a cuckoo clock shop for Black Forest cake (and a shopping opportunity of course).

(a bit of Cherry Wine made in the Black Forest)

(Tea and Black Forest cake)

Back on the road, until a stop at a gas station for lunch again (very unexciting) on our way to Heidelberg.


 Heidelberg is a university town that's skyline is dominated by the ruins of a castle dating from the 1200s.

After arriving in Heidelberg, we walked to the center and took the funicular up to see the castle ruins.

Beautiful views down in the city.

In one of the rebuilt buildings (with wine tastings if I remember correctly) was this huge wine cask.

Back down the funicular to town.

A bit of time to wander,

including a quick duck into the church.

(I even went into this antique store and found a three piece set)

Next back on the road to Frankfurt, as our trip comes full circle.

Some takeaways:

I would definitely love to go to Bavaria again (especially Rothenburg and Munich).  I'd like to try the Christmas markets, so Nuremburg would also be on my list.

Berlin is definitely worth more time as well.

We took the German Highlights Globus tour.  It was good in so far as I wanted to see the, well, highlights, but Germany is too big and there was a lot of time wasted on the autobahn and in staus.

I definitely recommend Alsace as a stop too if you can work it in.  It was super easy to get to Strasburg from Frankfurt on the Lufthansa bus and took about 2 1/2 hours (and was direct!).   They also have a Christmas market that I've heard good things about!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Day 10--Neuschwanstein, Lake Constance, and the Black Forest

Day 10 had a bit of driving, but with a nice amount of stops.  First the visit I was most looking forward to--Neuschwanstein!

(picture taken from the bus, the castle in the hills)


Neuschwanstein in Bavaria was just as fairytale castle as I had hoped.  It is the inspiration for Cinderella's Castle in Disney World.  I loved it! 

 It is a pretty steep climb to get there (we luckily took a shuttle over the steepest part). 

(Map of the area)

Once dropped off, we detoured to Marienbrucke (Mary's Bridge), which provides the best views of the castle.  

(view of the bridge from the castle)

We backtracked to the main road to start the walk up, with gorgeous views.

(Hohenschwangau Castle--would have liked to have seen this one too)

(of course, some scaffolding)

 The castle was extremely ornate inside, and filled with imagery of knights. Built in the late 1800s, it's a pre-Raphaelite wonder,  a romanization of the middle ages in grand scale.


Next a longish drive to Lindau on lake Constance, where we had a lunch break to eat and take pictures.  The first place we went was of course down to the harbor to see the lake.

We stopped at this little place along the lake for a sausage and roll sandwich (delicious) and walked through town.

We were seriously rushing at first because of a mix up in our return time--Katherine had the return time wrong and it took me a bit to figure out why she was so stressed about what we could fit in. After realizing that we did have plenty of time left, we left the lake to wander a bit through town.

Next more driving to Birnau, also on Lake Constance 


Birnau is the location of the Wallfahrtskriche, a baroque church, built from 1746-1749. 

God the Father,
thanks be brought,
You make the lake so beautiful
in the middle of your creation.
You are the Lord of the whole world,
who created and sustains them,
Praise, praise and honor to you.
(rough translation via Google Translate)

Back on the bus for another hour and and until we were at our hotel. 

Black Forest

Our hotel is in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest).

Dinner was in the hotel tonight (which was kind-of in the middle of a forest, anyway).

  (sliced pork, spatzel, veggies, and a potato soup).  

Next for a quick walk around to see a bit of the grounds before it got too dark,

then off to sleep!  Only one day left in this trip.