When in Europe it is so easy to travel from one country to another on their wonderful rail system (note to Mr. Obama!). The rails are well maintained and so are most trains. The only warning I would give and you will find out quickly enough is that when the schedule says the train departs the station at 7:43 a.m., well guess what, it really does leave at 7:43 a.m. It is amazing how they keep the trains on schedule, but that is what makes it work so nicely. Riding the rails is a great way to meet the locals and other fellow travelers from home. It always amazes me how you can be so far from home and run into someone you know.
So today we continue our journey in Italy by visiting Florence
Assisi, yes the place where St. Francis is from, is laid out really neat on a hill, so there are lots of streets and walkways and stairs like this However, I wouldn't advise visiting Assisi on a Sunday. It was very cold when we were there and on Sunday's nothing is open, we walked around all day with nowhere to go to get warm except the church. We even had to beg a resturant owner to open his restaurant so we could eat. Now this is a great place to stop if you are traveling through Tuscany but it can easily be done in a half to one day max.
Venice is small but has a lot to see
Every year St. Marc's floods and they put up scaffolding and for visitors to walk on. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, we were one of the last people to get to climb up in it prior to it being shut down to be restored as it was leaning at an unacceptable angle. You think it would be hard climbing up a long stairway that wraps around in a circle that is upright, try climbing one while it is at a sharp angle. You begin to feel like you are in a fun house at the fair!
Moving on to Salzburg Austria
Sound of Music fans will recoginize the above photo of the Von Trapps mansion. Once in a while on vacation you just have to do something a little cheesy like go on a Sound of Music Tour. Actually it was kind of fun. We boarded a big Gray line bus and tooled around. They took is into the mountains where Maria sang "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music" all the while swinging her empty guitar case as she skipped down the hill. (that guitar case seemed a bit light to actually have a guitar in it the way she was throwing it around)
A market in Germany - oh, look a mysterious person in the photo. No it is not me, but I wonder who it could be?
Switzerland as you know is "neutral". However, I find it interesting that while it is "neutral" they have one part that is German and one part that is French.
In German Switzerland the older gents would play these giant size chess sets in the park.
One of my favorite places in Switzerland was a little mountain town called Grindelwald. We had to take two trains up the mountain to get there, the second one being an old fashioned cog train.
I was going to go skiing here, but I would have needed to rent not only equipment but clothes as well. In speaking with a Chalet worker fI found out that when they need snow while we in the states use snow making machines. In Switzerland, they have helicoptors haul snow up to the top of the mountain to drop it.
What would a trip to Europe be without a visit to Paris. We took the TGV train the "Fast" train through the mountains from Geneva to Paris. Loved Geneva, but was only there for dinner and a nights sleep before traveling to Paris. Lake Geneva is beautiful, but sorry no pics.
A beautiful river cruise on the Siene in Paris, (pretend it is sunny!)
While I visited the Musee Dorsey Museaum I was able to get this nice shot of the Louve. If you go to Paris for your cheesy tour you can now go on the Da Vinci Code tour. I took this picture minutes before the Eiffel Tower went dark for the night.
Two more quick stops and we'll be done for tonight.
Brugges Brussels - If you have seen the recent movie In Brugges, you may recognize this shot, taken from the top of the tower. If you haven't seen the movie, skip it, JMHO!
Brugges is a great place to get someone you love some lace, if they have any craft skills to do something with it, that is.
Amsterdam and the canals. If you go here visit the Anne Frank house, that is worth it and no cheesiness at all. Also, watch your step, this city loves its dogs but when I was there they didn't love the act of picking up the poo!