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Out of Italy

The last days in Italy

sunny 85 °F
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July 24, 2014
On a train somewhere between Milan, Italy and Brig, Switzerland
Italian Recap:
Eight days, five cities, 100 miles walked (or at least it feels like it). It was definitely a country worth visiting, from the canals in Venice to the top of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

Since my last update I spent one night in Venice in a pretty nice hostel only a few minutes walk from St. Marks Square, but a half hour walk from the train station. This is important because with my complete lack of a sense of direction or even a map, I was sure that would mean trouble. I had a list of directions but streets/alleys/canals aren't always clearly marked (or aren't marked at all). Somehow though, I made it to my hostel with almost no trouble at all. I spent the rest of the day wandering the city, visiting St. Marks Square and Rialto Bridge. I also walked along the ocean (I think?) and enjoyed some much cooler and refreshing weather. That night, I had some pizza with a Japanese guy from the hostel named Shu. He had just finished law school near Tokyo and was taking some time off before starting his new job in the fall. Also that night, I watched (and photographed) a lightning storm pass the city from the boardwalk. It was pretty awesome.
The next day, overconfident from the previous day's natigational success, I tried to walk back to the train station a different way. I didn't do quite as well and my 30 minute walk turned into about an hour walk. Thankfully, I made it and was on my way to meet John, Karen and Sean in Bologna.
I arrived in Bologna in the mid afternoon and decided that day would be a rest day. That night I met John, Karen and Sean for dinner. We went to a secluded restaurant in a courtyard off the main street that I would not have tried if I was not with them.

The next day I joined John and Sean when they went to Visit two pizza factories for John's business outside of Bologna. We went on a tour of both and it was really interesting to see how the pizzas were made (it felt like one of those episodes of How It's Made). The image that stands out in my head was the wood fire oven in one of the places. When they opened the oven door, the flames were so large they were actually coming out of the oven. They said it was 450 C (haven't converted that to F yet, but that's really hot either way). At both places, we tasted pizza that they had been working in for John. All of the varieties were new to me, and even though they were all really good, I'm still sticking with pepperoni as my favorite. We went to another small restaurant down an alley that night and the food was just as good.

Up next: I'm on my way to Interlaken, Switzerland for the next three nights. I figure it might be good to take a break from the big cities. There are a few things I plan on seeing, including the highest train station in Europe (the view is supposed to be amazing) and an underground waterfall.

Posted by cschelz 08:44 Archived in Italy Tagged bologna italy Comments (0)

When in Rome...drink a lot of water


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July 21, 2014
First day of rain since I've been here which has made the temperature drop about 100 degrees.
I'm sitting on the floor of the packed Florence train station, leaning against an out of order ticket machine, waiting for the 12:30 train to Venice (in about an hour). Apparently this route is pretty popular, because the previous two trains were completely sold out.
I was only in Florence for a night after spending two nights in Rome.
As usual, I walked a lot in Rome. Right after I arrived, I went to the Colosseum, Palatine (sp?) Hill and the Roman Forum. The whole area is amazing, considering it was built thousands of years ago. I had some good pizza a few blocks away, and finished a full bottle of San pelligrino (walking several hours in 90 degree heat).
The next day, I rode the subway to Vatican City. Unfortunately, I didn't heed the advice of the staff at the hotel and arrived just after 10 instead of between 8:30 and 9 (I was pretty exhausted from the day before). The line was at least 2 blocks long and I heard people saying it would take 3 hours. Unsure if I'd ever be back in Rome, I paid 46 euros for a tour of the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. Most importantly, I could skip all the lines (there would have been a second line to get to the Basilica). The cost was well worth it.
My main impression of St. Peter's Basilica and Square was just of the sheer size of the space. It's difficult to describe in words or in photos. I paid an extra 5 euros for what I thought was access to a walkway a few hundred feet up inside the basilica, but also included taking a narrow, leaning staircase to the observation point on top of the dome. From there, I had a 360* view of Vatican City and surrounding Rome. Definitely with 5 euros. The Sistine Chapel was also amazing, seemingly ever inch covered by artwork, including the famous ceiling by Michaelangelo.
In Florence, I climbed to the top of bell tower to get a birds eye view of Florence (I've climbed a lot of stairs in the last few days, easily 1000+ between this bell tower and the Vatican). Once again, it was well worth it. I also visited the duomo and the Uffizi museum. I saw, and photographed, the best sunset I've seen on this trip near the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge).
So now I'm off to Venice for a night, then down Bologna to see John and Karen, and then out of Italy.

Posted by cschelz 05:03 Comments (1)

First Stop: Milan

The journey begins...

sunny 85 °F
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I'm currently sitting on the train from Milan to Rome - a 360 mile trip in just under 3 hours. Even better, it was only 10 euros (with my pass) for a comfortable seat and a small table in 2nd class.

Milan was an interesting city to start my journey. I had originally planned to start in London so that I wouldn't have to deal with the language barrier right in the beginning. Fortunately, many of the people I met spoke English (or at least could understand it). It probably helped that, most of the time, I stayed in tourist areas.

I arrived on Wednesday July 16th, at about 8 am. I spent an hour or so looking traveling to and searching for my hostel, but eventually I arrived around 11 am (with only a little help from Google). I spent the early afternoon walking around before I hit the wall known as jet lag. I retreated to my bed to sleep away the remainder of the afternoon. After I awoke, I took the subway down to one of Milan's few canals to eat dinner (a recommendation from one of the hostel staff). I had a very good margherita pizza.

The next day (yesterday), I went to Dumo di Milan and Castello Sforzesco. The duomo was impressive, and the walk along the upper terraces provided an excellent view of the surrounding parts of the city.

Posted by cschelz 04:15 Archived in Italy Tagged church train castle milan Comments (1)

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