Monday, August 10, 2009

Chris's motorcycle



Stay tuned for Alice's new official blog...once she thinks of a name for it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

WHAT WE LEARNED ON OUR SUMMER VACATION.

Blogs are contagious.
Despite having invented indoor plumbing, Italians have not yet mastered it (i.e., the showers alternated between hot and cold mercilessly).
All roads may lead to Rome but it is better to have to take one less train to the station.
There is such a thing as too much (or at least, too expensive) gelato.
The reasons that some stereotypes exist is because they are generally true (you usually can spot/hear an American from a mile away).
The Air Force bx has everything.
Always pack one more book to read than you think you will need. Maybe 2.
The journey is what is important, not the destination.
Kindness, sarcasm and obnoxiousness are equally translatable.
It is okay to act like a tourist when you are a tourist.
Some things are as great as the hype (Sistine Chapel, gelato).
Have a backup watch.
If you write it, they will read it.
Ipods have alarm clocks.
Italians love the 80's.
Check a map prior to any “leisurely” walk.
Don't wait for the next market – it might be closed.
In Italy, it is always the right time for a gelato
Even in towns with not much to do, it is still possible to wind up walking over 10 kilometers.
It's better to try to talk the language. People will like you better.
It helps to like the person you are traveling with when everyone else speaks another language.
The world is tiny. We went all the way to Assisi to see a New York jazz band.
Sometimes arguments happen when you're hungry.
It's worth it to try things, even if at home we would think they were cheesy.
Italian mosquito bites leave marks. Ugly purple ones.
It is nice to have something that connects you to home, even if it's a silly blog.
Ocean-themed bathrooms are fairly universal. Even in land-locked countries.
Google street-view is awesome.
Don't judge a town by the area by its train station.
Sometimes getting down is scarier than going up.
It's okay to be scared of heights as long as you don't let it limit you.
It is okay to get bored after 500 of the same painting.
It's okay to laugh at nudity sometimes – and to put it on postcards. As long as it's art.
A trouser press is not the same as an iron.
Any time before this trip spent learning language, art, history, or literature was time well spent.
Chris can navigate anywhere thanks to his map skills learned from video games.
Dirty is highly subjective.
Americans spend a lot less time outside (walking/biking/reading/eating) than Europeans.
We're fairly spoiled.
Europeans allow dogs in stores and in restaurants.
The Bologna train station needs clearer signs.
We need to learn more languages.
Everything is about 500 meters after Alice gives up.
Europeans like Ikea as much as we do – if not more.
People meet your expectations. We should expect a lot more than we do.
When mom says to bring an umbrella, bring an umbrella.
There are two types of castles – ruins and well-maintained ones. The maintained one is a Schloss.
It's always nicer going to a concert when you know the music.
Just because someone is walking a dog, it does not mean that s/he is showing it off.
Just because you can eat nothing but sweets and candy all day does not mean you should.
When planning something that is weather-permitting, have an alternative...or a sense of adventure.
You can always buy new clothes, but you can't always get real Swiss chocolate. (Thanks Katie).
The train ride to Interlaken makes the entire trip to Interlaken worthwhile.
Swiss coke tastes like diet. And most Europeans drink coke zero. If any soda.
Water looks really turquoise when there are large lime deposits.
Europeans have discovered the fountain of youth – you don't ever need to act old.
Just because it's called Swiss Miss, it doesn't mean you will see it in Switzerland.
Swiss trains rock around a lot when they get closer to the station.
Swiss movie theaters are funny.
Gene Kelly is right – everyone in Paris is American.
Paris tap water is drinkable.
There is a real Ratatoille restaurant – we just can't afford to eat there.
If you have ever yearned to hear an accordion, go anywhere in Paris.
There is nothing in the Lourve past 1848. We like art past 1848.
We like the Latin Quarter better than the Champs Ellyses.
There are some cities that Chris likes. Paris is one of them.
Sunburn hurts.
There's no place like home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France?

A Royale with Cheese. Do you know why they call it a Royale with Cheese?
Because of the metric system.


We are currently at the McDonald's in Charles de Gaulle Airport in France waiting to be able to check our baggage for our plane. Despite a scary email we received from Expedia last night saying something about us canceling one of our flights, we spoke to someone today and they said we are confirmed and registered for both of our flights, and we have our boarding passes for both flights as well. We just need to wait until 2:30pm our time before we can check our bags. Luckily, McDonald's not only has tasty chicken nuggets but also free interwebs. So at least we can waste some time here.

Last night, Alice decided we needed a montage. Just to show a lot of things happening at once. Remind people what's going on (what's going on). Even Rocky had a montage.



You always have to fade out in a montage. If you fade out in a montage it makes it seem like more time has passed in a montage.

That's right. Pulp Fiction and Team America in one post. Owned.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In honor of our next to last day...

The top 10 reasons why we have to go home. See if you can figure out which are real and which are fake. They are in no particular order.

1. Europe likes Lady GaGa way too much, and if Chris hears Pokerface one more time, his head is going to explode.
2. Chris has already eaten snails. There is nothing left for him to do.
3. The EU has voted. They have had enough of us.
4. Alice and Chris discovered they only had enough conversation in them to last 2.5 weeks and it is already week 5.
5. The hotel staff has been giving Chris and Alice one less towel daily and by tomorrow it will only be a hand towel. And no one has said the towels are clean.
6. Sara will not be able to recuperate properly without them.
7. If Alice and Chris stay any longer, they will have to start dancing with Papy for money.
8. There is nothing left to see.
9. Portia called and protested that nobody is feeding or petting her. It's worse than how they treat Oliver.
and the last reason...
10. Chris and Alice have more souvenirs than clean clothes and will not be allowed past customs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rock Lobster

Last night Chris and I went to the Kandinsky exhibit at the Centre Pompidou. It was great to finally see modern art instead of all the *yawn* Renaissance art in Italy. Even the building itself was cool. There were a ton of people hanging out around the building, even an elderly Asian man with a guitar singing 10,000 Maniacs "What's Going On?" We unfortunately didn't think to take a video of him (or of the fire juggler who kept dropping his torches).
Afterwards, we walked along the Seine and saw:
Parisian break dancing.



Today, we headed out to the St. Michel fountain, the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore (where I did a little nerdy happy dance), and finally to the Notre Dame cathedral. To bake in the sun. For hours.

First, after 2 hours, came the:
Best. Floats. Ever. (Note how excited I -Alice- got at the sight of giant Haribo)



Then, 1 hour in the sun later.



Most times, we would've been annoyed to have sunburn from standing for that long...but then we saw this.


In case you can't tell, his shirt says "Papy Dance".

And finally, we headed to Caffe Cambronne. A restaurant by our hotel. With the best waiter ever. In addition to teasing our inability to complete our dinner (and by our, we of course mean Alice), he also gave me a guided tour of the desserts.

Here is Chris eating dinner.

Happy Birthday Dad

If you look closely, you will see that I am wearing the same shirt in both birthday videos. That was unintentional.

Or was it...

No, it really was unintentional.



Sorry it's a day late, we are losing track of the date this late in the trip (we have a post it with all of the important dates on them, we are just losing track of when, and where, we are.)

Tour de France videos (and perhaps a special surprise video) later.

Chris

Sportfreude Stiller

This song is played about every 5 minutes on German MTV...one of the few stations that occasionally plays shows in English.


It's growing on us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paris holds the key to your heart – You'll be “tres jolie” and so smart.

Yesterday we boarded at Basel SBB and headed north to Paris. About four hours of train riding, and about thirty minutes of navigating the metro, we arrived.
Last night we headed out the the Eiffel Tower.



Which is very tall.
Very tall.
But when you stand below it, it's easy to think “Hey. I could climb that.”
And then you forget what people told you – that if you're scared of heights, take the elevator. Do not take the stairs...



We took the stairs.
Allow a rephrase.
Chris took the stairs. I slowly walked up the stairs wondering why in the world they would design something like this and put holes in the floor and steps. Holes from which you could see where you were. And how high you were.
And did I mention that it was windy?
We made it to the first floor (which is high up). It was pretty.

And by pretty, I mean pretty high up.
We tried to go up to the next level, but it was so windy that the tower actually started to sway in the gusts. There were tourists falling off left and right and there were police officers everywhere trying to get people to form orderly lines for the exit.
There were squall warnings.
The Wicked Witch soared past on a bicycle.

Oh wait. That was part of one of the movies that they show clips from on the first floor.
Clips of people jumping off the tower. Of things falling from the tower. Of the horrible dangers of the tower.
I made it halfway to the second level and gave up.
I know... pathetic.
We did, however, get some French Onion soup...
...

Currently, we are cleaning up after our biking tour. It was an awesome 13.5km. We got to see a lot of stuff we would not have seen otherwise and had an awesome lunch in a great little patisserie. We absolutely recommend it to anyone who comes to Paris.
We met at Notre Dame:




Chris almost fell:


Riding through the Louvre:


Bonus points for those who know where the title comes from.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What is that mysterious ticking noise?

It would be an extreme understatement to say that Chris and I like the movies. We could wax poetic and explain that the movies brought us together blah blah blah... but sometimes I think it's just that we like movies. And popcorn. And soda. And milk duds.
The Swiss don't have milk duds though. Nor plain m&ms. Nor Junior Mints.
Not even sour patch kids.
Not even Swedish fish...which, considering how much closer they are than us to Sweden...you would think...
But the Swiss have a movie experience that is all their own.
Well, I guess I might be lying. We have not been to the movies in any other country than America. But I digress.
Tonight, Chris and I finally got to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (or...Harry Potter und der Halbblutprinz to the locals in Barfusserplatz). I promise my opinion later.
You would think that such movie-insiders like Chris and I would be the ideal theater patrons. Cinema buffs so to speak.
We always go early.
If a movie is recent, we buy tickets early and go earlier.
We are picky about seats. And we try to avoid movie times that feature either the very young or very old.
We even sometimes clean up after ourselves. Chris swears we don't have, to having “paid our dues.”

All of our training abandoned us on this foreign soil.
We were like wee toddlers trying our first bicycle.
Like kindergarteners, trying to scribble inside the lines.
Like idiots.

The Swiss do not go to the movies early. They don't have to. Knowing 2 very important things that Chris and I did not know:
The first. Movie theaters have assigned seats.
The second. The film starts 15 minutes after the time on the ticket.

Thats right. Assigned seats. We were seats 16 and 17. Section b. And what is section b?
Balcony.
As in, we were on the second floor of the theater.
Had we asked, we could've had box seats for the film.
I think in the box seats, an usher has to fan you and feed you grapes. Already peeled. Especially when I consider how much movies tickets were just for the balcony.

There we were, bewildered. More lost than Sayid and Jack. In our assigned seats. In a brightly lit theater. Minutes after the movie was supposed to start. Wondering at the blank screen in front of us. Hoping we were in the right theater for English.
But we still had popcorn and soda.
Then, I noticed very few people had these things. They sold them in the lobby? Had I somehow committed a theater faux pas? Perhaps all the locals simply stopped at the bar....inside the theater...or purchased sparkling wine...from the theater...and did not partake in such snackery.
Oh no.
They did.
They got it at intermission.
That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen. Intermission. Right before Christmas at the Weasleys. About an hour into the two hour movie.



Now... my opinion regarding the film. THIS IS MY SPOILER ALERT.
Overall, I liked it. No one should be surprised by that. I generally like all things Harry. I thought it was funny. I thought the director did a great job revising a novel that is primarily buildup for the following novel. I thought Snape dripped with Snapey-ness and adored the prim and proper depiction of McGonagall. I was impressed with Draco. I loved Fred and George. Lavender made me laugh out loud. She was exactly as I had pictured her to be. Slughorn was perfectly cast.
And, as to be expected, I thought the main four were great.
It was only the variation in the ending that confused me. All the other changes made perfect sense. They added to the overall tension of the plot. But, the ending....after the lake scene (bravo, Dumbledore and Harry. That scene was exactly as I hoped it would be.)...
what happened?
Why did Greyback not attack?
Why did everyone run past Harry as if he was unimportant? Why could they see him in the first place?
It is hard for me to say if I loved the film or just really really liked it because of this.
Overall, I give it an A-

And in case any of you have not seen this yet...

Basel-Tov

I could not help the title.
Other than the fountain for Neptune in Piazza Maggiore - this has been one of our favorites:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

If there is one thing that I am really looking forward to when I get home, it is outlets and electricity that works with the electronics we own. Now, this isn't because of the laptop, or the fact that I have to wiggle the cord for the camera charger for 5 minutes before it will work converter we have, or even that I can't charge the Gameboy. It's because I can't charge my razor. Normally, I shave my head and trim my beard once a week. Because I haven't been able to charge my razor, I have only been able to shave my head a couple times, so my hair (or lack thereof) has been OK. It will be a little dumb looking by the time I get back. But my beard is a different story. I don't think I have been able to trim it at all.

I feel like Grizzly Adams'...pet bear.

I actually saw Chuck Norris on the street the other day, and he got one look at my beard and backed up, put his hands in the air, and said “Hey man, I don't want any trouble”.

On 11 separate occasions, I have woken up to Orlando Bloom rifling through my beard in search of a key for Davey Jones locker.

Tribble.

The ghost of Billy Mays came to me one night and thanked me for keeping his legacy alive via facial hair. Too soon?

I was approached by ZZ Top for a position in their band. I told them I didn't play an instrument, and they said it wasn't important. I just needed to stand there and look beard-y.

Do I keep going? Yes, I think I do...

Rip van Winkle asked me in amazement how many years I had been asleep for.

Have you seen the picture of Saddam Hussein after they found him?

Papa Smurf. Minus the hat. Plus a shirt.

I was asked to play Hagrid's stunt double in the final Harry Potter film. I told them that I didn't know how to act and I was probably a little short, and they said it wasn't important. I just needed to stand there and look beard-y.

Fortunately it has come in handy though, and I have been able to find a new occupation in Europe. Alice took a video of this with the Flip. I'm the guy at the end hitting the triangle.

Interrupted in Interlaken

We were supposed to go on a hike today, but unfortunately, it was raining pretty hard through the night, and when we woke up, everything was wet. The sky was still gray, so we decided to go back to sleep. When we finally got up and got out, it was cloudy and rainy still so we opted on walking around town for a few hours instead of hiking. It was still nice, we were still surrounded by mountains (the view in any direction is pretty amazing), and got to take a stroll along the river. I would have to say that I don't know if any mountains I have seen up to this point will ever look the same.

Today we get to pack up (again), because tomorrow we head to Basel for the day, and the following day we head to Paris. 2 more train rides and then we start our journey home. I think at this point we are both pretty spent, and will be very glad to see the USA.

Swiss Fondue was a fon-don't.

oday we packed up our bags (again) in Luzerne and boarded our train for Interlaken. The trainride was probably one of the prettiest journeys we have taken in our lives. It went through the Alps and around Alpine lakes. All the travelers had their windows open and many were leaning out of them.



Once here, we went through Interlaken and wound up getting that most Swiss of meals – Fondue. Our big problem, though, was that the restaurant encouraged its eaters to partake in the meal on the patio, in view of the Alps. Apparently, the smell of raw meats and hot oil attracts bugs. Who knew? We spent the majority of our meal shooing bugs away from our food and as a result, we can only really describe the meal as okay.

Fortunately, the Swiss chocolate is not at all disappointing. Quite the opposite. I will be throwing away all of my clothing and souvenirs in Basel and filling my luggage entirely with candy. Bars and bars of chocolates and bags and bags of gummy bears.

Those of you who know me know that this is a very real possibility. And that I am a notoriously awful sharer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bring on the Blue Balls!

On Sunday, Jenny and her mom Monika brought Chris and I into Mannheim both for another castle and to reach our train. The outside of the castle had been used the night before for a hip-hop concert, so it was really weird for us to think about Method Man and Redman in a castle that looked like Versailles. I wonder if they took the same English tour that we did? Somehow, I suspect not.
It was sad to leave the Paffens because they really were incredible hosts, but Luzerne has been awesome. But since most of you have gone on the Uncle Frank tour, we will not bore you with details.
But we will show you small kids feeding swans:


Suffice it to say that we toured the festival both nights (Sunday and Monday) and went through the Old Town (which seemed a lot more like new shops than old buildings) during the day. I have also fallen in love with Swiss bakers. I am a big bread and pastry fan and they have shops every five feet here.
The Blue Balls festival basically takes place all over the lake.
There are small musical acts like this:


And these:




And bigger ones on mainstages. They are surrounded by food tents and shops. The food tents are a little interesting because they basically represent all the countries in the area. Instead of really picking what you want, you more or less decided “I would like to eat at Tibet” and go and get food. I ate at Mexico (I am such a wimp) and at whatever country it was that makes fried apple dough things. I am not sure what country that was, but as soon as I find out I am going to become a dual citizen. Chris ate at Mexico but has determined that our tex-mex is far better and is now eagerly looking forward to taco-bell.
I also discovered that my ignorance and inability to really hear people over the different bands made me an incredible barterer. I was looking at a necklace and the man said Venti. I wasn't expecting Italian, so I asked him to repeat. He thought I was bartering, so followed by offering 18. I thought he said 8, and almost had him convinced to sell it to me for under half-price, but then another customer came along. This could've been the only time our ignorance has been a benefit.

Also, some dates we have missed...
Happy belated anniversary to Peter and Melissa!
Happy Birthday to Sarah H!
And, Sara U, we are sorry to hear you are not feeling well and hope that your surgery goes well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

If its not Baroque, don't fix it

Today, after a delicious goulash for lunch (in Germany, the big dinner type meal is eaten at lunch) we headed to Bruschal's Baroque palace. It was pretty interesting. We thought about buying a baroque palace ourselves but cannot imagine the cost to air condition it.
In this palace, there was a museum of automatic musical instruments.
For example:


However, this was by far Chris's favorite...


Sorry if that gives you nightmares...

Following all this fun (Chris has decided that he learned to play a musical instrument while in Germany -- all he has to do is crank it or push a button), we got to eat Black Forest cake in the Black Forest region of Germany!

It was another perfect day with Jenny and her parents. Thanks again.

Gummy bears - bouncing here and there and everywhere

Guten tag from Germany! Unfortunately, that is about all the German that Chris and I know. This has meant that when we shifted trains from Italy to Switzerland and Germany, we often grazie'd when we should have danke'd and si'ed when we should have ja'd. This also meant that when we went to school with Jenny, we were wonderfully impressed with her English class (who were reading and discussing post-colonial literature) but were horrible unimpressive in her German class.
Germany has been excellent. Jenny brought us to a local market where we were enthusiastically propositioned by a man who sold organic bread. He would pitch to Jenny and then wait, nodding, while she had to translate the wonders of his loaves to us. These loaves of bread apparently are like a miracle from heaven itself and could have had Chris and I speaking in tongues (which, considered, would have been very useful) had we eaten more. At least, that is what we are pretty certain the man explained.
After this, we went back to school with Jenny and then went onto to Heidelberg. Heidelberg was beautiful and delicious. They actually had a store that was entirely focused on gummy bears. And when we say focused on gummy bears, that means that all they sold was gummy bears. In the entire store. You would think that with such a small line of products it would be hard to have an entire store devoted to it. Try making a store that only sells pencils and see how you do. The gummy bear store seemed to do well though. Perhaps people worked up an appetite from walking up to the Heidelberg castle. To get to the castle you have to walk up 314 stairs, and then to get back down you have to walk down, can you guess? Yep, aforementioned 314 stairs. 600+ stairs gives your stomach the rumblies. That only gummy bears can satisfy.
I lied before about the gummy bear store. They sell more than just gummy bears. They also sell tiny gummy bears. Gummy fruit. Gummy Mice. Gummy bottles. And even gummy sausages. Though they weren't the sausages that you would think are unique to Germany. Use your imagination.
The castle did have a giant barrel too. It fit almost 200,000 liters. That sounds much more impressive than using USA terms. Pfft 53,000 gallons.
The other tasty thing that Germany has (aside from gummy items) was rolls made out of the same dough that they make pretzels out of. Yum.
Another interesting thing they had in Heidelberg was a store that sold all of these authentic German items. Lots of Christmas items. In Germany, they really love Christmas. And trust me, this store wasn't touristy at all. 100% authentic. You can ask Jenny when she comes to America; she will confirm all I have said about this store.

The Heidelberg Castle:


Walking into the castle (very shaky -- Action is not our forte)


And the gummy bear store...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's O-S-C-A-R...my Bologna has a second name...

Chris and I have already began to discuss things that we miss from home (it has been over 2 weeks since we pet our puppy) and things that we will not miss from here. As beautiful as many of our locations have been, I have to admit that we will not miss all the cigarettes. I never realized how spoiled we were in America, with our smokers confining themselves to stoops outside of restaurants and to clusters usually on the outsides of crowds. Rarely will we witness smokers inside restaurants or simply sitting themselves next to non-smokers. It's like there is a code. They know that we value our lungs. They have heard of the dangers of second-hand smoke. They know that other people will judge them if they smoke around babies.
Here, it is a smoker's free-for-all. We just came back from the Piazza Maggiore, where we went to the sotto le stelle del cinema (more on that in a minute) and after settling in, we were quickly ensconced in a thick cloud of smoke. We actually had to stop, drop, and roll and then crawl out of our seats. It was just gross.
Now, onto the movie.
Tonight's movie was I Gioielli di Madame De...
It's some french film from 1953.
Here is our interpretation. We left a little early (we kept coughing).
Girl has earrings. She is a countessa. She sells earrings to a pawn shop. The guy there did not want to buy them at first, but she fainted and he felt badly. She, however, was snooty and could not handle the money. Then, she goes to an opera and convinces a general that she has lost her earrings. We think the general is married (there was a scene with him in one room and a woman in the other. We think he told her that he and the countess were just friends). General buys countess earrings from pawn shop to make up for her lost ones. Countess goes to Monte Carlo and gambles. With the earrings. Which go on sale in a new pawn shop and are picked up by a new guy. Who happens to follow the countess and fall in love with her. Or at least they dance a lot.
Not like American in Paris dancing. More like they twirl around a lot. I got a little dizzy. It was a twirling montage. Even that was better than the final ballet in American in Paris. I love Gene Kelly, but that movie lasted half of my life and almost turned me off of my new goal of becoming a tap-dancer. Or at least owning tap shoes. With Chris and Sara. So we could tap during classic movie club.
It almost ruined that dream.
Almost.
I mean, I had to convince Chris that Paris would be nothing like that movie; otherwise, we were not going. No how. No way. If he sees one big-toothed girl or one quirky American painter begin to dance, I think he will head the Notre Dame and starting ringing the bell for sanctuary. All Quasimodo style.
But, this movie was not about that. And it didn't have Gene Kelly.
Actually, the french movie was about as french as An American in Paris. Which as we all know has like 1 Parisian and like a billion Americans.
This film was dubbed in Italian.
We still don't really know if the earring girl was married, evil or what. We just know that in the movie it mentioned Bastille Day and today is July 14 so it was appropriate.
Viva le France.

We will be posting from Switzerland tomorrow and hope to have all of our Germany videos and blogs up then. What we can tell you is that the top three reasons to visit Germany are Jenny, Monika and Norbert. They are incredible!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My bologna has a first name...

We made it to Bologna and decided it was time for a break. After exploring the city for a few hours...



...and seeing Dante's two towers...not to be confused with Tolkien's. There are no orcs or hobbit here:


...we decided to quit sightseeing for a few hours and watch tv in the hotel. We also added LOTS of older blogs including Assisi, Florence, and Chris's favorite movie so far.

Tonight, we are heading out for dinner and a movie in the Piazza. Tomorrow, we don't think we will have internet, but we will be touristing it up in Bologna, and on Thursday, we will be traveling to Milan to Basel and finally to Mannheim. Three countries in one day!

I can't believe we are almost done in Italy. Then it's Germany, Switzerland, Paris, and home!

Monday, July 13, 2009

This Needs No Explanation

Videos from Florence

The Duomo:


The view from the Duomo:


The view from the Piazzale Michelangelo:
It was really hot. You can hear the cicadas.


Lots more new posts below. We only just really got internet.

Videos from Assisi

Self explanatory:


This is a random castle we found.


Some guy talking in Italian for Sara


The Jazz concert:


Cute kid dancing.


The Emero della Carceri


And the view from the train. The yellow is a sunflower field.

A haiku for you upon seeing David.

David. I feel bad.
Michelangelo should have
given you some pants.

-Alice

A Frenzy in Firenze

Crikey. Today we beheld the elusive tourista americanus in its native habitat. First spotted outside the duomo, the tourista americanus was spotted wearing its trademark baseball caps, “I love NY” tshirts, and sour expressions. We were fortunate enough to hear its call: “whud dya meen those people wont letyouin? theya let otha people in shho-oort shorts in theyair.”
The Florentines appeared ecstatic, however, as it is tourist season. We think this means that they can shoot them.

We are going to let the videos of the duomo speak for themselves. That is, once we have real internet and can post the videos. We are kinda "borrowing" internet.
As for our visit to the Uffizi, we suspect that it would've been better to do this museum before Rome rather than after. We have now seen more baby Jesus's and crucifixion scenes than we ever thought possible.
Ciao.

Nun Capresce

Today we woke up thoroughly refreshed. And by thoroughly refreshed I mean horrifically tired. Yesterday was our long hike, so we thought we would crash quick. Apparently that was not the case. It took me until about 3am to fall asleep, and then was woke up at 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45, 8:30, and then finally 9 when I was supposed to get up. Fun. Part of the reason we had a hard time falling asleep was the stress of making sure we were up on time to catch our train (if we missed it we would have had to wait 2 hours to catch the next one, and that would have been boring), but part of the other reason was the Italian guy serenading outside of our window. Now don't get the wrong idea. This was no Peter Gabriel coming from the boombox over your head thing. We were 6 floors up. I don't think anyone would have been able to hit our window with a pebble. This serenading was more like loud drunken singing, and the sound carried all the way up to our windows which were open because our air conditioning didn't work.

When we packed up and headed to the bus stop, we were minding our own business, when a little Italian Nun came up to Alice and started talking to her. It was interesting to watch. I didn't understand much of what went down. For all I know Alice joined a convent, or sold me into bondage. It was interesting to watch though – to be on the receiving end of the conversation where someone talks at you in another language as if you were slightly deaf, and slightly mentally handicapped. Alice definitely held her own though. The conversation went on for quite a while. I stood there and pretended as if I were deeply interested in the surrounding architecture.

The train ride to Florence was pretty uneventful. When we got here we managed to find out way to the hotel. It was a little gross and smelly along the way. My first impression of the city was not good. It reminded me of NY, which I don't really like all that much. Nothing really stood out, and we walked past quite a few shady characters to get to the hotel. It was a big change from Assisi, and I don't know if either of us were ready for it. Our hotel in Florence was a big step up – working air conditioning. We will leave it at that. We even had free internet for an hour or two as well. I think we may have been jacking someone's open connection, but it was free for a bit. We have since lost the internet, which is why this post took so long to be posted. After we checked into our hotel we took a walk to some of the sights. Again had to walk through some shady areas to get to where we needed to be, but we were more successful with the end result this time. The city definitely changed in our eyes...it was more interesting, there were more tourists, and there were things to actually see.
We got to the duomo in really good time (tripadvisor really helped us, and was honest about the less than touristy area of our hotel, but it is really close to everything. Florence is tiny). While wondering, we happened upon the market (mainly leather, glass jewelry, and tshirts). Even more interesting was when we got to see Florentine's finest sneak up on and shut down street peddlers. This made Chris and I feel much safer. If the cop have time to worry about counterfeit handbags, the town must be good.
A side note: we were perhaps better just not eating. Dinner tasted like spaghetti'os.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The San Francesco Treat

Today we walked. A lot.

We'll post again tomorrow when we get to Florence.

...

Ok I guess we should say more than that. We slept in today as best as we could. Since we did a lot of exploring of town last night, there wasn't as much on the To Do list today. Now I say as we slept in 'as best as we could' because at about 7am one or more of the churches/basilicas started ringing their bells. Loud. And for a long time. We thought we must have slept in late and when we checked what time it was, it was not late at all. The sound was made louder by the fact that the windows for our room were kept open (slightly, Alice has a fear of waking up with a pigeon on her forehead...or face...or arm...or leg...or the edge of the bed...or the floor...or table...or even windowsill) because the air conditioning that is so coveted in Italian hotels does not work in our room. It will go on for about 2-3 minutes, and then shut itself off. If you hit the button it will turn on again for another 2-3 minutes, and then go off again. Though it's not really all that big of a deal since with the windows open it is fairly cool in the room (we are on 6th floor). As long as the pigeons know their limits we are good.

The church bells at any other time would be quaint and atmospheric. At 7am they are obnoxious. And loud. We managed to catch a little more sleep (which we needed for the day we were to have) and after getting up and getting ready we headed over to Saint Francis's Basilica. It was interesting to walk around in there, the walls were frescoes (I know, big shocker there), and the lower basilica, in the basement, was the tomb of Saint Francis. Now, I'm a natural skeptic, so I don't know if that was really him in there, or just some guy they found on the street. Or maybe its a body double. Celebrities have them, why can't saints? I don't know if it's all that important though. Tradition has it that he's in there, so that's kinda what counts. It was still a fascinating experience. We don't not see a movie just because an actor doesn't do his own stunts...well Jackie Chan does his own stunts but he's kinda crazy. He does all those flips and jumps and general kung-fu shenanigans.

After the basilica we got some lunch, and after that was where the real fun began. In our guide book there was a section under Assisi for “Off the Beaten Path”. Now let me make some thing clear. Assisi itself is off the beaten path. We probably saw more tourists sitting on the Spanish Steps our first day in Rome than we have in the whole of Assisi. There are definitely tourists here, but it is nothing like other places in Italy. Think about it as if Rome is NYC, and Assisi is a place in Sussex County that tourists would go to visit. I know, I know, tourists don't go to Sussex County (the people and nature living together scares them off), but use your imagination here. Pretend there was a cool place to visit in Sussex County. Tourists would go there, but it would still be out of the way, so there wouldn't be as many. Now, picture someone telling you that there was this cool place that was off the beaten path in Sussex. Now in Sussex, that might lead you to another dimension, but here we were taken to Eremo delle Carceri (a monastery).

Don't get me wrong, the place itself was very cool – when we actually got there. Our tour book mentioned a 'leisurely walk' but that it was 4km out of the city. Now we put 2 and 2 together, and assumed that the 4km was the leisurely walk part that would take us to the monastery. We were wrong. Apparently, you are supposed to get a ride to the monastery, and then there a leisurely walk around the grounds. The 4km, which according to maps here is actually 4.5km, was entirely uphill around a windy narrow road. We could see the looks on the faces of the people driving past us (“Are they OK?” “Did their car break down?” “Are they hitchiking?” “If we pick them up will they murder us?” “What on Earth are they doing walking up this road...it is hot out, they are sweating like pigs (except for that girl, she looks more like she is glistening), and they are walking up this winding steep road, they must be crazy!” - only their faces were Italian, so head on over to google's translator, pop those phrases into the English to Italian translation, and that's what faces we were getting). The views were pretty breathtaking, but the walking uphill was doing its fair share on our breaths, so we didn't stop much. Only once or twice to go “Oooo”, or “Is that the castle we walked all that way to yesterday, way down there, so far away...its so small. I'm so tired. Maybe this wasn't a good idea”. We did eventually make it to the top, probably at about the point where we were ready to give up. The monastery was nice, and we had a nice leisurely walk through it...just not to it. If you ever come to Assisi, take a cab up. They apparently leave from the middle of town and take you up there. The worst part of it all was, on the way back, we had to walk uphill again. And it was snowing. And we only had newspaper for shoes.

We are heading to dinner, where apparently there is free internet (our hotel fees for internet are so scary we will not even type them). This means no pictures/videos this time. Hopefully Florence internet will be cheaper as we head there tomorrow.
G'night!

What ever happened to predictability? The milkman? The paperboy? Evening TV?

We have made it to Assisi, and, as if to prove God's joy at us for making this pilgrimage, the food prices are so reasonable here, we might actually up our budget to two meals a day.
To be honest and fair, Assisi would be worth coming to even if we had to remain on our meager 1 meal a day. Chris swears that he is getting used to it anyway. Says his stomach is shrinking. Meanwhile, I think mine has been getting to the point where Italians are pointing and laughing at my borgborigamy.
(which in Italian is called d').
I think I am still a little surprised that we made it here. Yesterday, at some point in the Vatican, Chris must've made some inappropriate comment (probably something about fruit) and got smited by way of our trusty watch. It just stopped working. It's only about 2 weeks old (having remembered that we needed one a few days prior to the trip whilst in Target with Megan). It wasn't the nicest of watches, but believe me when I said that we mourned the loss. None of these hotel rooms have alarm clocks and, for those of you who know me, I get worried about oversleeping sometimes. Andrew, Becky, and Chris know this fact very well and could probably entertain any of you hours with stories.
But I digress.
The train from Rome was really easy to find and was much nicer than either of us had expected based on our previous encounter with Italy's regional trains (really? we got begged for drinks of our empty sodas? That's just awkward). The ride here was filled with tunnels and sunflowers. In that order. Once here, we basically followed the other American tourists into the walled medieval city.
It is so cool.
The closest thing to it that I can think of is those old pictures of the hills of San Francisco. Or the opening credits of Full House. Except, narrow the streets to be only one way and remove the Tanner family happily picnicking. Then, instead of brightly colored gingerbread houses, place white stone medieval buildings and more flower pots and garden-y things than you can imagine. And have everyone speaking Italian.
So not quite like Full House.
We have walked around a little, and I may have even found some souvenirs. Tonight (it's 8pm here. I can tell because the bells just rang), we are heading to a nearby piazza for a free concert. It is probably something we would think was lame at home, but here it will be fun.
Okay. Clarification. You can't lie in Assisi. I would probably think it would be fun at home, but Chris would think it was boring and I would go along with him.
....
The concert wound up being the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra from New York. I apologize. The grammy award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. They mentioned the grammy a few times. At the concert, being haragued by nuns were the members of the US Olympic boxing team, who were in town to train with the Italian team. I know when I think boxing, I think Assisi and jazz.
The concert took place in a piazza by a building that is now a church, was once a monastery, and before that a temple for the goddess Minerva. (Basically picture a roman temple with columns and add a crucifix).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Don't Like Pope in my Juice

We are currently sitting in our hotel room getting reading to pack our things up as we head to Assisi tomorrow from Rome and we are enjoying the Michael Jackson memorial service. And by enjoying it, I mean yelling at the TV wondering what is going on, and what we missed. We really don't have much of a choice really though – our hotel gets 13 channels, 2 of them in English, and the memorial service is on 5 different channels. So we get to analyze this mess, organize our clothes, and get our blog updated before we go to Assisi.

Everyone who is talking, keeps mentioning how great of a human being he was. There was even one person who said she sold all of the things in their home to get to the memorial service. Yikes. Though I think it was all worth it to hear one of the news corespondents say how many people MJ had touched. Nice. Now if Cory Feldman and his MJ impression will be a part of this memorial service, this might not be so bad after all. Cory Feldman. Now I want to watch Lost Boys.

Ok, enough of that. While yesterday was Ancient Rome, today was Catholic Rome. It was pretty amazing, and exhausting. We spent the morning, first on line, and then eventually inside, St. Peter's Basilica. I'm not quite sure if I was prepared for how big it was. We were probably in there for almost an hour and a half, wandering around, looking at the sculptures (Michaelangelo's Pieta was one) and frescoes, saying some prayers in one of the chapels, and generally being amazed.

As most of you know, I was pretty paranoid about coming on this trip. By nature, I am a pretty paranoid person (thanks Mom). Of all of the things I was afraid of happening, never did I think that the biggest hassle we would get would be from (breaking news...according to Al Sharpton, Obama would not have been able to be elected if it weren't for Michael Jackson) the rogue tour guides that Alice had mentioned yesterday. In order to get from our metro stop to St. Peter's Square, we had to pass about 10 different people offering us tours in English with promises of not having to wait in lines. The rogue bands of keep left signs or gangs of elderly people* have nothing on the tour guides. Tip for if you ever go to Rome: Ignore the tour guides on the street. Just pretend like you don't hear them and they will eventually give up and try for someone else. Anything they can tell you will either be in a tour book you have with you, or an audio guide you can rent at the site for cheaper than the guides will charge you. And the fact that the guides go all hush hush when the police come past makes things even more shady. As for the keep left signs coming at you? Good luck. Your best bet is to hope they don't come for you.

Please tell me someone got that reference.*

In addition to St. Peter's Basilica, we also went to the Vatican Museums. It probably took us about 4 hours to go through the entire museum. We got to see countless statues, paintings, mosaics, frescoes, and archaeological pieces. Some things stood out more than others. One was the Sistine Chapel. It was as good as you would think it would be, so there really isn't much I can say about it. Another piece of art that stood out (literally) was a statue of a man holding some fruit. Now, that might not seem that amazing, but what did make it unique was said man's, well, excitement, from this fruit. You could tell that at some point (long after the statue was created originally), some additional fruit was placed over a certain area of this man in attempt to cover up his happiness. This really isn't the important part. What is important is why this man got so excited. Perhaps, he really likes fruit. Or, perhaps, there was too much fruit to carry with 2 hands, and he needed some help...balancing. Maybe his, situation, had nothing even to do with the fruit, and it was just a happy coincidence.

Tomorrow we will make our way the last time towards Rome's termini station and onwards to Assisi. Our expectations for this next hotel are kinda low, so we are not expecting internet, but we will continue to write daily and post as often as possible.

Speaking of hotels, we are giving our Rome hotel (Villa Morgagni) two thumbs up. The room was nice. There was air conditioning. It was in a convenient location to the metro. Breakfast was good (they had these cookies...like vanilla wafers and graham crackers combined).

We never were able to pick up a new power converter but remembered that Uncle Frank had lent us his. It is just enough to charge up the essentials (yay). So thanks! We still don't have anything to connect the camera to the computer to get the pictures off, so you will have to deal with videos for now, and we will show you pictures when we get back.

Arrivederci!



and that's us waving in the gold...

*Note: there are two new posts below this one. Comment away! (I'm serious...we enjoy your comments).

Everything we needed to know about Ancient Rome, we learned from Gladiator

Days in Rome: 2
Sites seen (adding to yesterday's list): Colosseum, Arc di Constantine, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, Capital Hill (and the exterior or the Santa Maria 'Aracoeli), the Pantheon, Piazza Navona (again), and one of the nicest McDonald's that we have ever seen/eaten in.

Today we threw on our toga's, polished our armor, and headed to that glorious tourist mecca – the Colosseum. Once out of the metro (which, is surprisingly easy), we were accosted, not by gypsies, nor men in gladiator costumes, or even Chris's dreaded Roman con-artists, but by semi-attractive English-speaking college students. The horror, the horror.
Apparently, the thing to do for those students is to find any clearly foreign peoples and to explain that there is nothing whatsoever explained in our mother tongue inside the museum/monument. They then offer their generous services, exclusively to you, and at a totally “fair” price.
Well, armed with not only our own tourbook, but also Chris's austere knowledge of general antiquities, we opted to ignore these offers. We were (fortunately) right. The general area had a plethora of bilingual signs from which we could occasionally hear these oh-so-knowledgeable guides paraphrasing or directly quoting to their apparently illiterate assemblies. My personal favorites were the guides who had tourbooks (possibly purchased at any of the giftshops along the way) with them that they read from. I am not blaming the guides for this. I am blaming the lazy tourists. The guides are genius.
Chris and I have found our new careers and will be duping.....I mean, assisting... tourists for the remainder of the summer.

Okay...that was a lie. We miss Portia.

Speaking of guides, I think Chris and I have finally perfected the art of accidental-tour-grouping. Throughout our day, we would occasionally happen to hear a legitimate tourguide offering some interesting anecdotes to his/her formal tourgroup. While we may have slowed our walking paces, stretched our legs a little, or just generally lallygagged, I do not believe that we stole this information, exactly... I think we simply absorbed their wit and wisdom. Like cheap sponges.





The Pantheon

I feel like Audrey Hepburn to Chris's Gregory Peck...

Except, he's not some news guy trying to get a story and I'm not a princess. But other than that...
Currently, Chris and I are tucked in at the Villa Morgagni in Rome watching some TV5Monde (which is apparently Italy's channel for French, Belgian, and Swiss people). We are watching some sort of talent show, and so far we have seen a man play 5 recorders at once (3 in the mouth and 1 in each nostril), a group of 4 jugglers, and a guy who was balancing on his head, on a bottle, about 5 feet in the air. Apparently, when in Rome, one doesn't even have to leave one's room to find something at once interesting and disturbing.
Yesterday was a very rainy fourth of July for those of us at the Aviano Air Force base, where – wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles – we found the power cord for the Mac. It had exploded one of our first days here in an Italian power surge. It was as though the Italian outlet needed to establish its dominance over our weak and puny American converter. Once this had occurred, Chris entered many of the stages of grief....however, never reaching acceptance. That it was dead and gone, he understood. That he could exist without it was unthinkable.
Once on base, Chris fell to the floor upon seeing that the bx was also a certified Apple reseller, weeping sweet tears of joy. The Air Force men stared a little until they realized that without his precious cord, he could not play his beloved Plants vs. Zombies game. After that, they were fairly understanding in this chink in Chris's masculinity. That, and his mighty and much envied beard left them all in awe – despite his crying. I think he was ready to kiss the cashier when she told him that that cord could be his for only 79 American dollars (slightly more than the gelatos the day before). This may have been the highlight of Chris's European adventure.
The rain prevented us from having fireworks, but the bbq at Mike's shop was great. Someone made this dip that combined marshmallow fluff and cream cheese that you dipped strawberries in. This may have been my highlight.
The only problem with our day was laundry. We needed it. The dryer at Mike's shop (which is what he called the EOD building) lacked the power we had expected from the United States military. It had promised us to get the job done with efficiency and thoroughness, yet....after a far longer time than promised, the clothing was still damp. Weird...and somehow, metaphorical?
Today, Mike (Grazie mille!) drove us to the outer Venice train station and Chris and I began our real adventure... we could no longer rely on either Mike's good graces or his Italian. The 4 hour ride from Venice to Rome was calm (Chris did not have to pretend to have an infectious disease once) and, at times, beautiful. Apparently the whole fields of sunflowers thing is not a myth.
Once in Rome, we managed to go to the Spanish Steps, the Piazza Navona, the Tiber River, and the Trevi fountain. Chris managed to neither get conned or pickpocketed (penny for a song, g'vner) all day, despite his initial worries about the city.

The Piazza Navona and its Church



And the Trevi Fountain (Chris loves these guys)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How to get gypped in Venice.

Go to the bathroom. Literally. When we were walking around Venice yesterday, Mike had told us that to use the public restrooms, you have to pay a Euro. That seemed easy enough, and we were glad that he told us. The time eventually came for some of us to use the bathroom (except for me (Chris) with my steel bladder)...the situation was precipitated by Mike's giant jug-o-wine as shown in the videos below. You can tell how much I enjoyed my glass and a half of it, can't you? But just think, if I didn't drink that, perhaps the bathroom situation might have been a little more dire. I digress. We walked around in a few circles and eventually found the closest bathroom in a shady hallway. At the entrance to the bathroom stood a woman, with a little cup, and demanded payment before you could enter. She stood in your way, and grabbed your arm if you tried to ignore her/walk past. Because of her persistence, it was assumed that she was who you had to pay to use the facilities. Little did Alice and Mike know was that there was a turnstile at the real entrance to the bathroom (which according to them was very clean) that made you pay 1.5 Euros in order to get in. There is only one logical conclusion. Mike and Alice were duped. Had. Taken for a ride. Conned. Bamboozled. Cheated. Flimflammed. Shafted. Swindled. Ripped off. Hornswoggled. Or quite literally, gypped. You see, the woman who forced the 1 Euro payment was a pregnant gypsy. It cost 5 Euro for them to use the bathroom.

Though, that is nothing compared to the most expensive ice cream we have ever eaten in our lives. You see, we had been walking for a while, probably a few miles at this point, and it was hot and we were tired, and Mike wanted to sit. We had already seen a lot, as we were currently in San Marco's Square. We saw the basilica complete with golden mosaics and monuments. I think what actually may have happened, is the gelato we ate was made with pieces of gold from the mosaics. That is the only way I can justify the price. We all got what was essentially a sundae with (aside from the gold) either hot fudge or caramel and whipped cream, only mine had nuts. (I set that one up for you on a tee. Swing away.) We also got a jug of water with it too. I think the purpose of the water was to make the pieces of gold go down easier, since most people are not used to eating precious metals. This cost us about 15 Euros each, with tip it amounted to about 53 Euros. Translate that to real money (i.e. the dollar) and what do you get? About 74 dollars. But, me and Alice now have enough gold in our stomachs to make some nice bling. We have already signed a contract with Kay Jewelers. The only issue is if we still have it floating around when we pass through the metal detectors on the flight home. Ouch.

Tonight we go to another BBQ on base, and watch fireworks. Tomorrow we head for Rome via Venice via Sacile. Hopefully this time on the train there won't be people begging us for money, or a sip of our soda. That was a bit awkward last time. This time I have a plan, though. "Cough hack cough cough swine flu cough hack" *hand motion shooing away*. That'll learn 'em.

There might be some issues with our next posts however (which is why we have been posting so much now). The 3rd day here or so, our trusty Brookstone adapter/converter blew, taking with it my power adapter for the Mac. We have been able to keep it charged using Mike's power adapter so far, but he leaves for Afghanistan soon and needs to take it with him. We ordered a new one and shipped it as fast as we could, but it never showed up. Our only hope is 2 certified Apple resellers that are in Rome around where we will be staying. One is closed on Sunday, the other didn't have times listed that I could find, but it is, according to google maps, a 47 second walking distance from our hotel. We will hope for the best. Most/all of our hotels have computer access though, but if gelatos in Venice cost 25 dollars each, I don't want to come back to the US as an amputee.

Can you picture that?

Despite our transformerless camera, Chris figured out how to get some of our pictures online.
Here is Sacile:
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Our hike up the Alps (notice Chris's newest European tradition - male capris. Thank goodness he has such nice legs)
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More from Venice as soon as Chris wakes up!

Friday, July 3, 2009

How do you make a Venetian blind?

By poking his eyes out, silly.
We are way too exhausted to offer a proper post on our trip to Venice so will let the videos speak for themselves for now. It is almost 3am here so we are pretty beat. We will explain everything tomorrow. We are aware that we have been lazy the past 2 days, and just posted videos and didn't really say anything.
Arrivederci!






This video is for Sara. You can't get these at Crossroads. Gellatos. For 15 Euros. Each. I think part of my soul died today when I settled the bill. We blame Mike for this one.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

So I'm packing my bags for the misty mountains

Some videos of today's hike...

The Beginning


The Middle


And, The End!


After hiking, we went to a restaurant called BeFed (http://www.befed.it/), at which, Chris swears this is true, we were put in the Americans only section. He, however, faced this obvious persecution by happily ripping into his chicken and wondering if it was appropriate to tip in Italy. He certainly showed them.
Tomorrow we head to Venice, where if my mom's predictions are true, Chris and I will take a gondola around while Mike serenades us with his Japanese-born karaoke skills.
Later gators!

The road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began





Today the skies cleared, we woke up before mid-day, and finally got to go on our hike in the Alps (well, technically the Dolomites -- Italy's Alps). Along the hike, Alice and Mike argued whether or not girls glistened, as Alice's mother has said, or if girls sweat and got smelly. Apparently, the later is true.
Our hike was gloriously circuitous. By this we mean that we went in a circle. We started going up, realized we went down for a while, and then returned pleasantly and oh so sweatedly to up again.
We will type more later as Chris is trying out the Italian custom of afternoon nap.
Ciao!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You said it's your birthday



And because my mom wanted to see more of Mike's yard...

Monday, June 29, 2009

paging Don Johnson

confession: I over-research trips. I like to have a mental map of the area and a good idea where I could either find amusement or at least a good meal. One of the many details I learned about Italy prior to our arrival was that Italians are fashion forward.

If this is true, then here are the two big trends about to make their way stateside:
1. the Italian landlady look. A housedress. And a perm. And oversized eyeglasses. Even practical when mowing the lawn.
2. Miami Vice. First noticed in the aeroporto and reiterated at the pirateship bar (I mean the restaurant where we got pizza and soda). That's right - pull out your pastels, pop your collars, and turn up the Tears for Fears.

Who knew?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Not even worth the blog it's posted on...

We were supposed to hike the Alps today. They are like 6 minutes away. It was so overcast and rainy we would not be able to see 2 feet in front of us.
Score: Weather - 1, Alice and Chris - 0

This is a video from Mike's porch so you can see how close the mountains are. It looks more or less like a wall of dark gray, but there they were...all day...taunting us with the nearness...wanting us to hike them, yet remaining so unavailable to us.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I can't believe that I'm sharin a kebab with the most beautiful girl I have ever seen with a kebab.

I know. You have to see it to believe it. A beautiful town like Sacile, Italy and an evening at a pirateship bar! Enjoy the pics!








oh wait. No pics. :(
In our attempt at minimalist packing, we (*cough cough* Chris) have forgotten our USB cord that connects are camera to our computer. See part of the problem is that we just got a fancy new video camera, as evidenced by all of the fantastic and Oscar-worthy videos you have been privileged with below. This camera has a USB doohickey built into the side. No need to remember cords, because you push in a button, and a USB arm pops out. Much like a Transformer. Only instead of a gun, or a sword, or a real arm, its a USB plug. Our other camera does not have such a device on it. And no matter how many buttons we pushed, knobs we turned, or promises of the Allspark we whispered gently into its ears (because, as we know, cameras do have ears), we could not get it to transform into a camera with a built in USB arm.

The lack of pictures will soon be remedied and you too can enjoy the sights of Sacile (pronounced 'sah chEElay' -- http://www.comune.sacile.pn.it/).

While there, we enjoyed doner kebab. Not to be confused with Donner kebabs, or Dahmer kebabs...I'm sure those things are very different (at least I would hope). You see, a doner kebab is a traditional Italian...err I mean Turkish (because when I think of Italy I think of all the great Turkish food that can be had here...?) food that is kind of like a gyro with shaved meat. It was pretty delicious and followed by, surprisingly, gelatos. Very soon after said gelatos, Chris placed a sort of gelato embargo on the next few days of our trip. For some (boys, perhaps, who are made of things other than sugar, spice, and those other silly ingredients), 3 gelatos in 3 days is too many (to which Alice replies that I have to eat snails in Paris, followed by a trip to Korea for some puppy dog tails, since that is what little boys are made of).

Tonight for dinner we went to pirateship bar. It may not have been an actual pirateship, it could have been any kind of ship really, but isn't it more fun to think it was a pirate ship? Not only could have we been enjoying a nice dinner, but there was also the chance of finding buried treasure.
Now, when we say pirateship bar, you might be picturing a boat. Well you are kind of right. It's more like half a boat. Inside a building. With a seaside mural on the walls. And instead of pirates there are Italians. Lots of Italians. See, the more we think about it, this is sounding less and less like a pirateship bar after all.
Let me rephrase what I just wrote. "Tonight we went out for dinner. In a restauraunt. And we got pizza and soda."
Much better.

Ciao

5 points to whoever gets the reference in the title of the post. Points will be redeemable at a later date for nothing at all.

Better late than never

Jeanine,

4400- Season 3, Episode 1

you're welcome.

xoxo
Chris.

Friday, June 26, 2009

We both found what we were looking for

2 evenings in Italy and 2 gelatos. So far this vacation is great.

Tara, we hope you are feeling better.



Oh yeah, and happy birthday Paul...not that Tara's swine flu is overshadowing your birthday :-)

Summer Basho

Mike came home from Germany today and, since one of the guys on his base was leaving, we went to a bbq with his EOD people. And there were sumo suits.
Below is Chris and Mike sumo-ing...warning, if there are small children in the room, turn the volume down.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alice is falling asleep.

It is a strange thing indeed that the portion of our journey that has felt the longest at this point was the ride to JFK from Jefferson. a 64 mile ride took well over 3 hours (and we got rear-ended on the way) and we were fairly nervous about missing our plane, but John and Megan got us there safely and since our entire plane crew was stuck in traffic, there was really nothing to worry about. A 7+hour ride to Heathrow and 2 hour ride to Venice (plus 1 car ride, thanks to Ben Lee) and we are safe at Mike's house playing with his dog and doing everything possible to stay up until 9 pm.

This is a video Chris took during our flight


And this is a video of Max and Mike's house.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to tell my dog I won't see her for 7 weeks...

Okay, utterly pathetic, I know, but I swear Portia gets better behaved any time Chris and I prepare to go anywhere. She gets more cuddly. She listens better. Heck, I think she even smells better (though admittedly, I believe that has more to do with her oatmeal shampoo than my future departure). And slowly, despite knowing that most of the time, she prefers my dad/mom to just about anyone in the world, I feel guilty about leaving her.
But not guilty enough...
We leave for Venice this Wednesday. We have not even done laundry (so forget about us having packing drills like some people I know -- *cough cough* Sara). I know very little Italian (poco parle italiano), but we're excited. Especially about Switzerland thanks for Uncle Frank.
-Alice

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Czeching Out

Okay. We were supposed to go to Prague. I was especially excited about visiting the Franz Kafka museum. But, lo and behold, the train ride from the Czech Republic to Switzerland (which was in fact our next stop) is something like 15 hours. 15 hours on a train...is 15 hours too many when we only have so much time to see the world. We are already doing a great many hours on the trains, which is exciting, but 15 hours... We would have to leave Prague (which is a notoriously scary city) at 4am to get to the train. Instead, we are going to take Uncle Frank's advice and will be hiking the Alps in Interlaken.
We think...

Since we won't be going to the Franz Kafka museum, please enjoy some selections from the Franz Kafka Rock Opera.