Category Archives: Travel Blogs

Blogs regarding bucket trips

Italian Adventure Summary

I never travel anywhere without learning something new. In our travels, I saw reinforced, God’s hand in our lives and choices. So many incidents could have been disasters, so many opportunities could have been missed. We met a wonderful couple. We saw disappointments turn into joy. We saw we could do more than we thought we could at our age. We are so glad that wherever we go, God is with us. Not something we have to remember to bring along, but living in us through the Holy Spirit.  We are SO thankful for our children who are walking in the Lord. We pray for them daily.

Flying over the Alps on our way home.

I will be back to visit the kids in August when our newest grandbaby is born. Family time is awesome.

Our next Old People’s Adventure will be Western USA. Stay tuned!

Vicenza to Venice 5/16-17/2017 – Last Tour

We rested on Monday and packed for our return to USA. Our last tour planned was to Venice. Venice is not a super kid-friendly place, so Judah went to school for the day.

We walked to the train on Tuesday and took the local to Venice. When we got off the train, this is what we saw.

Venice has a lot of water. Lots of surrounding islands too.  We took a water bus to the Island of Murano, where glass is made and blown into all sorts of items, beads, sculptures, decorative glass ware etc.

Getting around in Venice.

Water bus

Packed in like sardines is the way of life.

Traveled to Murano.

Our beautiful, patient daughter-in-love Paige (with Baby Cooper in tow).

Wearing my souvenir from Venice.

We made it to St. Mark’s Square.

Romantic views – but it’s time to go home.

And then once again back to Vicenza.

 

 

5/12-5/14 – Germany – Garmisch and Mad King Ludwig

Jesse and Paige had a nice plan to accompany us to a place they had not been either. The weather threatened to be cold and rainy as we set out Friday morning for Garmisch with the plan to see Neuschwanstein castle in Fussen.  The drive through the Alps was astounding! Such beauty and majesty with castles sprinkled all along the way.

We took a tour which included stops at a wood-carvers shop.

We stopped at a country Church where a famous statue of Jesus is located.

Here is the church.They say the Jesus statue cries tears.

At last we arrived at the castle. Only four rooms are finished inside. No pictures allowed.

Beautiful view from the long climb up to the castle.

\

Judah enjoyed freedom of wandering in the square in Garmisch

Flowers to smell and running water to play in.

More Alps outside our windows.

We ate some German food.

Judah found some play activities.

Castles all along the way.

Our adventure was over Sunday and with the start of rain in the Alps, we headed back to Vicenza. It was a lovely time with our son and family. They are such amazing people!

 

Rome – Day Three – To the Vatican and Beyond

We had a perfect plan for our last day in Rome. We’d get up kind of early, take our backpacks to the train station and stow them for the day, take a subway to the Vatican, do our tour, eat lunch, grab the subway back and hop on the train for Vicenza. Perfecto.  Not.

Our tour was scheduled at 9:30. That went well. First we toured the Vatican Museums. Not the whole museum, just a few rooms. It would take days, maybe even weeks to view the museum in its entirety.

Part of a painting by Rafael.

Door near the Sistine ChapelCeiling of the Sistine Chapel – illegal photo

The Pieta by Michelangelo – Mary’s face appears as a young girl, about the age she was when she gave birth to Jesus. The body sizes are out of proportion too. This is symbolic (according to our guide Stephanie) as it depicts Mary holding baby Jesus but envisioning him as the suffering Savior. Paintings and sculptures had multiple meanings. Often characters in the art were given faces of actual people the artist knew. Rafael often did this and even painted himself into some of the large frescoes.

Pope John Paul is entombed here. And all the other popes beneath in the crypts below St. Peter’s.

St Peter’s Basilica is a HUGE place. People wait 5 years to be married here!

Not a very good picture but the body of Saint Peter is supposedly in here.

Saint Peter’s Square. This is where the Pope addresses the people sometimes.

The Swiss guard.

After nearly 4 hours, we said goodbye to the Vatican, made our way to a McDonald’s (I know!) to have a hamburger, and then back to the subway. UNFORTUNATELY, the subway workers had gone on strike that afternoon and the subway was closed! EEEK! Only 40 minutes until our train would leave without  us! We ran back to the Vatican cab stand. A kind Italian woman who spoke English helped us hail a cab and explain we were in a hurry to get to the train. He got us there and with a lot of running, we claimed our backpacks and made it to the train JUST as it was starting to pull out of the station. WHEW! Too much fun for old folks! Back to Vincenza and the end of our independent adventures!

Rome – Day Two – the Coliseum

We got up early morning to meet our guides for the Coliseum. We had Francesco, who was a wonderful guide, giving lots of history of Rome and the buildings. We took the VIP tour which included the underground of the Coliseum as well as the upper sections, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. We heard about Nero and Domitian and Constantine and Augustus. We saw a reconstruction of the cages used to raise the wild animals used in the games played in the Coliseum.

Slaves used a crank and ropes and pulleys to lift the animals up to the floor of the Coliseum which was covered with sand over wooden boards. The sand was to absorb all the blood and body fluids from the animals “hunted” for show. Gladiators fought here too, of course. The people decided the fate of the gladiators and the emperor could overrule.

Steps leading up to the galleries where the plebians sat. Admission to the Coliseum was free, but you had to have a ticket to get in. It could hold 70,000 people!

Here we are up on the third level.

We made friends with a couple doing an “empty nester” vacation tour. They are also Christians. We decided to continue or adventures for the rest of the day.  But first, more pictures of the Coliseum.

Here you can see the outlines of the cages and rooms under the floor of the arena.

After the Coliseum, we walked to the Palatine Hill and looking down could see the Roman Forum, the remnants of the temples of the Vestal Virgins..Now those Vestal Virgins were something else. If they broke their vow of chastity, they were buried alive because it was illegal to kill them!

After our tour of the Coliseum, we and our new friends, Mike and Julie, grabbed some lunch and then headed out to explore Rome on foot.  Our first stop was at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

A beautiful church, of course. We took a private tour of the living quarters above. Saw vestments of the Pope’s, copies of 1st Peter hand written in Greek, etc. Truly amazing and a lovely guide.

From the Basilica, we made our way to the Trevi fountain, a must-see while in Rome. It was hot, crowded and a long way to walk, but the old folks kept trudging and we made it! The boys wanted nothing to do with throwing a coin in, but the girls did, absolutely!

Yeah, it was tricky getting those shots in! I think my coin made it in too! Again, more beautiful churches on every corner.

After a short break and a change out of hot, sweaty clothes, we headed for dinner with our friends.

So we headed out to the Ristorante Tema for dinner. I gave it good reviews.  We got to the restaurant at a little after 8:00 pm.  We left at 11:30.  This is why Italians don’t eat much breakfast people. The house wine was delicious and here’s what Ron and I ate.

Note: Not pizza. Not lasagna. The tiramisu was to die for. We bid our friends adieu. Hope we meet again someday. But at least there’s Facebook!

Rome – 5/7-5/9/17 – Jane and Ronnie go it alone – Day One

Thank goodness for modern smart phones, SIM cards and google maps and translators! Jesse dropped us two old folks off at the TrenItalia station in Vicenza on Tuesday morning with our backpacks and tickets in hand.  Our solo adventure was about to happen! It was a 3-hour ride on a bullet train going 155 mph and faster! The countryside flew by, no good pictures, alas. We were dumped out in downtown Rome with a street address for our Airbnb.  The train was a little late (hey this is Italy, not Germany lol!) and we were starving.

Rome train station

Fortunately, the Coliseum tour we had planned for the afternoon had a glitch and we were able to change to Wednesday morning. Amazing how God knew that all along, didn’t let me change my train ticket, etc. There was a divine appointment coming!

Our first adventure was eating close to the train station. We were starving. We forgot Jesse’s warning: “Never eat close to the station”. We did. We were sorry. Don’t eat kebabs in Rome.

Our next adventure was finding our AirBNB.  We found it, I’m not sure what primo piano means but I know now it does not mean a first floor flat. Three at least flights of steps up.  Here’s the views on the way.

Our door

And out of our window. Notice the end of the street.

These were the ruins at the end of our street!

Since there were no breakfast items in our AirBNB, first order of business was exploring and finding a market to buy breakfast items. We explored our street, checked out the location of the Coliseum (our tour for the next morning) and bought some groceries. Italians only have cappuccino and brioche or cornetti for breakfast. We found out why later on in our stay in Rome.

These are some views of the Coliseum on our walk. Some might be paintable.  We shall see.

 

Yep, that’s us.  And we’re really here!

So he gets a rash from this plant!

We found our way to a restaurant – Diadema Cafe

We played it safe that night. Pizza and lasagna. I had lasagna 4 different restaurants. Different every time. The best was what Paige made at home, though. She’s a great cook!  We got back to our flat, trudged up those stairs and fell into bed.  What we didn’t know is that there was a bar underneath. Italians party till 1 or 2. We did not party. Our morning wake up was 6:30 because we had an appointment at the Coliseum at 9:00 the next morning.

Florence 5/6-5/7

It was raining off and on when we got to Florence.  First we walked across this beautiful bridge with shops and houses perched on its rail.

 

The rain scared off some of the visitors and left an opening for us. Jesse asked – what was the main thing I wanted to see in Florence. Of course – David by Michelangelo. After settling in our very nice Airbnb, off we went to check out the city and find The Academia where David was housed. We waited about an hour to get in, but it was worth the wait. There was a musical instrument museum, amazing stuff.Yes, this is a Stradivarius!and a harpsichord.We wandered through rooms and rooms of beautiful paintings centuries old and Michelangelo’s sculptures. He was an architect and sculptor first and foremost.Until you see David close up, you cannot really fathom what a huge statue this is. It has been moved to this museum for preservation but stood outside for many years.  For a perspective, here’s another view.So glad I got to see this in life. Thank you God for the rain, because if it had been a nice day, don’t know if we could have hung in there for the long lines that we saw waiting the next day when it was sunny! Everywhere we looked, the paintings and sculptures seemed to have a religious theme. So different from much of modern art!

So many nursing Madonnas!

We learned from our guide in the Vatican that Medieval artists depicted the Christ child with an adult face. This signified the reality that Christ came as a baby but with His sacrifice for our sins in mind the whole time. We noticed folks here don’t apologize for Christianity, and most don’t cover up the injustices that have happened in the past.

 

Another amazing painting from the 1200’s. Yep, it’s another nursing Madonna! I promise I won’t post all the pictures I took!

There were embroidered tapestries and banners also. Think of all the hours of stitching that women did to create this!

In between our visits we ate and let Judah chase the pigeons too.Judah shares his beloved monkey with mama. And dinner with daddy.

.

Crazy beautiful everywhere!

And yep, this is two old people still walking in Florence!

We found a little Leonardo da Vinci museum in our wanderings.

I will never think of the Mona Lisa in the same way! 

Judah loved the pigeons. Not sure how the pigeons felt about Judah!

Statues everywhere

.

One of the beautiful churches we found – under renovation because the front wall fell in during Mass!

Treasures in the side room of the church.No we did not climb the cupola. Too many steps, too long a wait!

J

Dante

It was a fun adventure but it really started raining so back home to Vicenza!

Vicenza Adventures

We loved Vicenza! It’s a good-sized Italian city, but not too big.  Some tourism, but not too much. We saw some great things and not too crowded. Jesse and Paige took us to dinner out on Friday evening after we’d overcome a little jet-lag. Beautiful things everywhere.

A night on the town for two old folks!

Just the neighborhood church.

My baby and his beauty!

Us oldies on a rooftop drinking the Vicenza special drink.

Nothing like Italian gelato on the square, listening to street musicians.

People walk around like they’re not living in a museum! I have the best kids! Great hosts, friends and family. They are great parents too. The senseless beauty of antique works of art uncovered during renovations of buildings that are hundreds of years ago is overwhelming. Every church was a work of art.

We spent time here before and in between visits to Florence, Rome, Garmisch and Venice. Loved it and want to come back.

One of the greatest things Italy has to offer is gelato. I am especially fond of mango gelato.  Vicenza had the best!I can’t find this in America. Guess I’ll have to go back.

Arriving Vicenza 5/3/17

After a slight misadventure in the Atlanta airport (went to the wrong terminal and had to back-track, passport got stuck in the security scanner), we made it on our plane for the ride to New Jersey. Found our connecting flight and then off to the next connecting flight – to Munich. We had a four hour layover.We have arrived in Munich. After wandering a bit, we caved and found a McDonald’s for breakfast. Yea, I know. Chickens. But we are really afraid of getting lost and we’ve had to ask multiple times to get this far. Praying we get in the right plane for Venice. I must say, we haven’t met a single unkind person along the way through our airport adventures. God has been good. And we see here are a lot of nice people in the world. With coffee and eggs in our bellies, we are ready to move on.
We arrived in Venice on Wednesday morning but here is the reason we came! Hi Judah!

Off to the Airport

May 2  Well, here we are. Off to the airport. Fantastic time visiting my sister and hubby in Atlanta. How wonderful it is to spend time with others who are believers. No awkwardness of conversation. We are loaded up like camels for the journey but it is all good!

First Time on Marta!