Wednesday, August 19, 2009

European Vacation 2009 - slideshows are posted


After sifting through 1,557 pictures, deleting some, cropping out crazy people, and naming the good pictures, I FINALLY finished posting all (most of) the slideshows. The links are listed below or you can also find them under Slideshows on the right.

Note: Each slideshow has about 30-40 pictures. Depending upon your computer speed and internet connection, it may take some time to upload the whole show.

Nuremberg, Germany (Days 1-3)

Venice, Italy (Days 3-7)

Bologna, Italy (Days 7-8)

Florence, Italy (Days 8-11)

Tuscany, Italy (Days 11-16)

Pisa, Italy (Day 16)

Cinque Terre, Italy (Days 16-19)

Lugano, Switzerland and Lake Como, Italy (Days 19-22)

Strasbourg, France (Day 22)

Frankfurt, Germany (Days 22-24)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quick turnaround time

The US Embassy in Copenhagen ROCKS!

Empty pages in my passport book were pretty scarce and it was taking border control agents long and longer to flip through to find an open space for the entry/exit stamp. And, as they flipped, they would look...ooooooh, a Danish visa....what's this a China visa.

So, it was time to figure out how to add pages to my book.

I sent my passport in on Monday, August 3. I had my passport back, in my hands, on Friday, August 7. Seriously. Five, count them, five days including travel time.

Let the trip-booking begin!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Upcoming Travel

I know, I can't sit still very long. Now that our 24 day European adventure is over, it was time to book a few more trips. Upcoming travel...

  • Kiel, Germany
  • Egeskov Slot on Funen Island in Denmark
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Madrid, Spain
  • London, England

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

European Vacation 2009 - In a word...or two

Favorite City - Cinque Terre, Italy
Favorite Hotel - La Torretta in Cinque Terre
Favorite Museum - St. Pauls (Frankfurt)
Least favorite city - they were all good
Favorite meal - Oliveto cooking class
Best memory - sunset over Manarola
Favorite gelato flavor - pistacchio
Favorite cathedral - St. Pauls (Frankfurt)
Favorite purchase - Cuboros for Lincoln

Favorite City - Strasbourg, France
Favorite Hotel - La Torretta in Cinque Terre
Favorite Museum - History museum (Nuremberg)
Least favorite city - Lugano, Switzerland
Favorite meal - Verrazzano wine tasting & lunch
Best memory - boating on Lake Como
Favorite gelato flavor - dark chocolate or yoghurt
Favorite cathedral - Duomo (Florence)
Favorite purchase - Aged balsamic vinegar for me!

The best laugh.....
Driving from Menaggio, Italy to Lugano, Switzerland on the tiny 1.5 lane roads and coming upon the start of a 5km back up. The cause....a station wagon from the Netherlands trying to pull a catamaran with mere inches to spare. We pulled into a sideroad so we could get around him. Not sure what the poor bugger was thinking. Then, as we got around him.....Beeeep. Beeeeeep. Beeeeeeep. And the horns were blaring!

European Vacation 2009 - By the Numbers

Here's a summary of our 24 day the numbers.

3,934 - number of kilometers driven (about 2,245 miles)

264 - number of liters of diesel for big baby blue

17 - number of kilometers (about 10 miles) driven in a single tunnel (in Switzerland)

4 - number of countries visited (Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France)

23 - number of cities visited

3,420 - number of stairs/steps climbed (approx per person)

14 - flavors of gelato 'sampled'

22 - number of Farkle games Holly won (out of 28)

1557 - number of pictures taken

16 - number of AA batteries my Canon camera 'ate' in 24 days

Monday, August 3, 2009

European Vacation 2009 - Frankfurt, Germany (Days 22-24)

It seems that each time we go to a German city, there is some sort of party or festival. During our stay in Frankfurt, they were having Main festival. Loosely, brats, get the picture.

Our last stop on the 24 day tour did not disappoint. I booked a room at the Hilton on the executive floor. I wasn't sure how the previous 22 days were going to fare and I was sure to get a nice bed, pillows, bathtub and a little night cap at the Hilton. It was about a 10-15 minute walk to get to the river and museum area, so the location was perfect. Ahhh, good choice!

  • We shopped on Ziel street
  • Went to several cathedrals and then a cathedral that isn't a functioning cathedral (St. Paul's)
  • Enjoyed beverages, snacks, and the entertainment at Main fest
  • Checked out the architecture museum and the modern art museum
  • Shopped a little more...and luckily Chuck had some Euros burning a hole is his pocket :)

Here are a few pictures until I get the slideshow finished.

And now, it is back to life, back to reality. Our 24 day adventure is officially over...and now I can begin planning the next big adventure!
Stay tuned for the slideshows and the recap.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

European Vacation 2009 - A half day in Strasbourg, France (Day 22)

On the morning of Day 22, we were up early and on the road. We had a 4 hour drive ahead of us to get to Strasbourg, France and then another 2.5 hour drive to get to Frankfurt, Germany.

Between Lugano, Switzerland and Frankfurt, Germany there are a lot of great places to stop (Zurich, Lucern, Interlaken, Zermatt, Black Forest, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, etc). After reading about the cities, I decided that Strasbourg was the city to spend a half day. If I do say so myself....great choice!
My favorite things...
  • Walking through Petite France
  • Looking at the beautiful homes with exposed timbers and lots of flowers
  • Walking over the bridges in Petite France
  • Eating Coq au riesling at Au Pont Saint Martin
  • Shopping at the cute little stores...wait until you see what I bought!

Tracking George Clooney

Ok, so I didn't exactly go on a tracking expedition in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the ever elusive George Clooney. Come on, people, you should know me by now.

In planning for our 3 week holiday, I asked Chuck what he would like to do. Usually, his answer was, 'it doesn't matter,' or 'whatever you pick is fine.' After some prodding, 'how about a hot air balloon, wine tastings, cooking class, gondola rides, museums...' Nothing.

'How about boating on Lake Como?' There we go; I got a reaction.

We rented a 40hp boat from Rent a Boat in Dongo, Italy for 8 hours (205Euro plus gasoline). Neither one of us has a boating license, so we were limited to renting only a 40hp boat, which was just fine for touling around the lake. I packed us a picnic basket and we were off to explore.
Recommendation: Rent a boat was wonderful. The staff were extremely helpful and the guys at the dock are so nice and friendly. One guy chatted with us a bit and upon our return he said...welcome back Chicago. Skip the Como Lake Boat in Domaso and use Rent a Boat. You won't regret it!

No, I didn't see George Clooney; however I did see his home in Laglio and took a few pictures. Poor guy, he was obviously expected shortly as there was a van with a satellite dish and lots of guys with cameras perched on a big seawall on the north side of his home.
So, without further's his home on Lake Como.