If you ever get the privillage to make it to Tuscany, Italy then these are the four rides you must do. I don't care if its by car, moped or bike they are four route that will make falling in love with Italy out of your control.
Pictures from the rides:
Nov 12th ride with Barb (32 miles)
Nov 13th: La Panca (44 miles)
Nov 18th with Barb and Bill (41 miles)
Nov 20th: Final ride with Barb and Bill (62 miles)
Our school, CEA's, last excursion of the semester was an overnight trip to Venice, Italy. A magical city built on water. The reasoning behind the madness of building this city on water was originally for protection. Being surrounded by water made it hard to invade and attack (which was very common in Italy). This town also served as a common trade port for the surrounding countries which explains its rich style, beautiful art and incredible architecture.
Day One: We got to Venice late afternoon but it took about 2 hours to actually get everyone onto the island(because we had to take a water bus) and drop off our luggage at the hotel. The first site seeing we did was in the famous piazza, San Marco. This is where the San Marco Basilica and Bell Tower are. Two must sees when traveling to Venice. The church was my absolute favorite church I have ever been to and the top of the bell tower gives you a panoramic view of Venice.
San Marco Square
San Marco Basilica
The Bell Tower
That night 10 of us girls went to a very nice seafood dinner on the canal.
Day Two: We had another early morning starting with breakfast at the hotel then off to see another church and an old school frat house. After the two tours Leslie and I wondered around Venice then took the ferry to Lido (popular for its beaches in the summer months).
Welcome. I have set some new goals for this month and am excited to start achieving them. I will be swimming more, running en route to a half marathon, and learning as much Italian as I can. Something else I am looking forward to is to start going back to church. I have found a service on Sundays and a bible study group that meets Wednesday nights and I am excited to start going again.
Places I will go:
Rome, Italy Interlaken, Switzerland
On a side note. A good friend of mine showed me this video, The Shake Down and I absolutely LOVED the sermon/ message and can only hope it might move you in the same way.
There is simply too much to tell in one blog post so I will just be brief let the pictures (which could not capture how amazing most of the sites were) do the talking and go over the highlights.
Prague October 21-23 The first day we went on a walking tour through out the city and listened to a guide go over the history of how Prague came to be. Some of the cool sites we saw were:
Old Town Square The Clock Tower The Jewish Quarter That night we went on a pub crawl, but it was very crowded so Eva and I bailed and ended up at an Irish pub. The next day I went on a walking tour of the Prague Castle (a must! for anyone visiting) The John Lennon Wall St. Charles Bridge BerlinOctober 23-25 We got to Berlin in the afternoon so we had the afternoon and night to go out and explore on our own. Eva and i wondered around the city for a bit, got stopped by an engineer who wanted to survey us on an electric car. We got driven around and questioned while being video taped, it was the strangest but fun encounter with a local. We ate a traditional German meal of beer and meat then called it a night.
The next day was our walking tour of Berlin. This was my favorite walking tour of the trip. The history of Berlin is amazing and very interesting.
We started at the divide:
Brandenburg Gate that split the city into East and West Berlin The monument for the Jews who lost their lives during the Hallocast Where Hilters bunker was (now a car parking lot) and where he actually committed suicide Whats left of the Berlin Wall Checkpoint Charlie as well a the museum at this checkpoint that told many fasinating stories of escapes(from East(communist) to West (democratic) Berlin) and what it was like for the people living in a city that was divided until just recently in 1989.
Basically I learned more about World War II in that three hour walking tour, plus the 2.5 hours spent in the museum then all of high school.
AmsterdamOctober 25-27 The first day we went on a walking tour and learned about the history. Amsterdam is a city in Holland, that was build over a dam. The entire city is interrupted by little canals running through it, and because the city is built over swampy lands its caused some of the houses to tilt. Also I noticed that the houses are all tall but thin, and this is because of one of their many weird laws that taxes more on how wide of a space your home took up.
That night we went on a walking tour of the Red Light District, yes where prostitution is legal. I learned it is actually pretty safe there (no pimps) and that the girls are listed as independent workers under the government. strange but interesting.
The next day my friends and I spent some time in a coffee shop then went to the Anne Frank museum.
ParisOctober 27-29 One giant beautiful city.
We got to Paris mid day so Eva and I quickly change into evening attire to go meet up with our friends Leslie, Markie and Charlotte to hangout with them at Leslies hotel room. She had a beautiful hotel room at the Marriot on the Champs Elysee(big famous pristine shopping street for the Paris elite). The next day was the walking tour. Starting at:
Notre Dame de Paris walking along to Seine Louvre Tuileries Gardens Arc de Triomphe
Following the walking tour a few girls and I went along Champs Eylsee then to the Latin quarter to enjoy a fondue dinner. Our night ended at of course the Eiffel Tower. We went to the top, soaked in the beautiful lit up city then enjoyed a bottle of wine watching the tower sparkle with other friends on the lawn out front.
The next day Eva and I met up with Charlotte and Markie again to visit Versaille. Too bad i forgot my passport (which would've allowed me to go in to palace for free) so instead we toured the gardens for an hour and a half. The Gardens After getting back to the city Eva and I wanted to spend our last few hours with a bottle of wine on the lawn people watching in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a perfect ending to an amazing trip.
After spending the past couple weekends traveling I was looking forward to having a low key weekend to catch up on everything. I had a nice weekend of riding, running, cleaning, shopping and exploring Florence.
Friday: Great ride with Barbera and Andrea. It as 40 miles riding south, through beautiful color changing vineyards and hilly views.
Saturday: The ride was longer (60 miles) and it was with the group, and the conditions that morning were far from ideal. 4 hours of cold, winds averaging 20 mph. And we chose to go west, unknown territory for me, and flat. Yes flat road does exist in Tuscany. Well the only thing is the guys decided to pick up the pace a bit, making it a long and painful ride for my legs. But I didn't get dropped and it was a feeling of accomplishment when I finished.
Sunday: My friend Brian and i decied to go check out Boboli gardens and grab a bite to eat the Gusta Pizza (Florence's best known pizza spot). It was a great afternoon of perfect weather, great views, awesome workout and yummy pizza.
Monday: I FINALLY GOT TO SWIM! I did my research, found the bus I needed to take (#10) bought a bus ticket, get off at the right stop. Found the pool, bought a 10 time pass (I had to) and got a great first swim in of drills, kicking and pulling. It was much more simple then I thought it was going to be so that was a huge relief and I can't wait to go again.
Friday Oct 7th: CEA took us to San Gimignano, which is a beautiful town in the Chianti region. We explored the city and visited the main church there that had a beautiful fresco of the life of Christ inside.
After the tour of the town we went to a vineyard for a wine tasting and lunch. Everything we ate and drank was DELICIOUS!
Saturday/Sunday October 8th- 9th: Cinque Terre ... AGAIN
My friend from home, Brian, wanted to see Cinque Terre, and Kallyn and I wanted to go back there while it was still nice out because we loved it there. So a small group of us, Kallyn and i, Brian and two of his girlfriends of culinary school went.
first mistake of the day happened when we didn't get off at the right stop in Pisa. We accidently took the train to the Pisa airport, instead of getting off at the Pisa train stop to catch our connecting trip to La Speza. So when we get back to Pisa train station we went to the ticket help desk and asked how we were going to get there. We ended up upgrading our current tickets to get on the next available train, which conviently was the fast train.
when we got there we hiked from the first train stop Riomaggio to Vanezza. This was the part of the hike Kallyn and I missed on our first visit so we were thrilled we got to see it.
after the hike we went got yummy pesto pizza in Vanezza ( a MUST if visiting Cinque Terre) then took the train to the last terre to lay out at the beach and get Miami Vice drinks.
As the sun started to go down we decided to go back to Vanezza to get seafood. The resturants were close till 7 so to kill time we got a bottle of wine to drink on the rock and watch the waves crash into the shore.
everything was great and absolutely ideal UNTIL a HUGE wave hits us and we got SOAKED! and inconveinently it was getting cold out so we were all freezing. We were told there was a laundry mat to dry our clothes so we tried that which was a fail, and only made our clothes hot and more wet.
Brians two girlfriends had enough and went to the train station to get back to Florence, while Kallyn, Brian and I decided to stay and enjoy a seafood meal like originally planned. When we went back to the train station we noticed that we MISSED the last train out, and had to wait 2.5 hours for the next one, in wet clothing. we met strangers who knew English who offered to help us figure out how to get back to Florence once getting back to La Speza (the mainland stop before Cinque Terre).
BUT of course we missed that last train back to Florence so had to spend the night in a cheap hostel close to the train station in La Speza.
We learned a lot that weekend about trains and traveling in Italy, and in the end laughed about it all.