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Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Trip report. Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy in 2 weeks during Easter. Am I nuts?!?!?

Apr 19th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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This url works for me, but I am not sure if it is because of the cookies on my computer. Anyone else try it?
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:19 AM
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Yep, it works. Now I just have to dig around and see if I have a Snapfish registration somewhere.
noe847 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Yes, it works, enjoying your trip report. I love Positano, I think it's one of the most romantic places in the world, albeit you were with your daughter, we were there for our 8 year anniversary many moons ago.
owlwoman is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Thanks, now I can get the rest of my trip report done.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:33 AM
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Enjoyed the pictures. I especially liked the German castle, but I am partial to travel in Germany (have been there 4 times). I'm looking forward to hearing about Pompeii/Rome. Is your daughter Harvard bound?
noe847 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Harvard, how she wishes!! My checkbook can't even begin to pay for tuition there.

No, she will go to a college here in Washington State, not far from her father in the Seattle area. The college has a top rated sciences program that she will enter in the fall. We are all quite excited for her.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Bummer, our last day in Sorrento. I really like this place, it is more my speed, and being on the water is an added bonus for me. This was one of the areas on my daughters 'must see" itinerary, I am just sad that it did not turn out exactly how she had wanted it to. We did enjoy it here, and this will be one of the places I return to in my future travels. Would be a great place for a honeymoon.

After breakfast in our room again, we pack up and head off to the train station, we will take the Circumvenusiana train to Naples, then a ES train to Rome. This is the local "commuter" train that is heavily used by people just wanting to get to point A to point B for little money and offers no frills. We stop at many stops along the way, but it is not uncomfortable, and we are enjoying the views of all of the lemon, orange and olive trees people grow in their back yard. Someday I have to make a batch of Lemoncello. Pretty much just pure alcohol and lemon peel, can't see how one could screw that up.

We decide on the spur of the moment to hop off the train and explore Pompeii. Hey, we are gonna go right by it, why not check it out? We stow our bags in a locked room at the train station, and make our way to the entrance. I think it was less than 10 Euro for entrance, and it was not an exceptionally busy day, so crowds were minimal. My daughter LOVED this place, as did I. We walked, climbed, and explored as much as this huge place as we could in a few hours, but since the day was quite warm and we were not exactly dressed for exploration (flip flops), we decided to head back to the station. We gathered our bags (1.25 per bag storage fee), and climbed on the next train.

If you are wanting to transfer trains in Naples, get off at the second to the last stop, there is a tunnel to the main station. We purchased first class Eurostar tickets to Rome for 36 Euro each. Not bad, very comfortable trip. The trip was not long, and the scenes outside were out of a painting, villas in the middle of vineyards, or olive groves. Pretty relaxing trip, we ate lunch on the train and had a half bottle of Proseco for good measure. We pulled into Termini in Rome around 2PM. From termini, we hopped on a city bus that took us to the Trastevere main stop, right across the river. Our apartment was about 5 minutes walking distance from that main stop.

We rented an apartment that we found here

The photos do not do this place justice, it is more elegant and homey than the photos suggest. It was comfortable for our needs, but was a bit awkward with the stairs into the bedroom and the kitchen. The shower was tiny as well, but again, those are just my thoughts, someone else might like it more than I did.

The owner, Carla Conti, has 3 rentals in Rome,you can get better rates if you contact her directly

39065894350 or 393356580114
email [email protected]

The housekeeper met us at the apartment and gave us loads of information on the area. The apartment was also filled with brochures, maps, and guidebooks. She then directed us to a large Fred Meyer type store, where she suggested we stock up for our 4 days, as all of the main stores would be closed for Easter Sunday and Monday, which are both holidays in Italy. We unpacked and took off to explore Trastevere and do our shopping.

The store was on the main drag, not far from where our bus had dropped us off earlier. There was a cash machine just down from the store, we loaded up and headed into the store. Daughter sidetracked by the cute clothing in the main part of the store, so my friend and I continued in and headed into the grocery area. Nice store, but you have to pay for a shopping cart. Odd. We had quite the time figuring out which bottles of milk would be non fat, and which ones would be heavy cream. We did okay, with the assistance of a young lady who was also shopping for milk. We bought supplies for breakfast and late evening snacks, and also several bottles of Proseco. We really love this stuff. Daughter finds us in the aisles and discovers peach nectar. "Ohh, mom, can you buy some of that for me so I can have more Bellini's??" Yep, we buy it.

This is another store that charges for grocery bags. They dole them out like they were made of gold. I just can't wrap my head around the logic here, but hey, it's Europe, get over it. We pay and head back out of the grocery area, daughter sidetracked again by the shoes. Sigh, just like her mama! LOL!

Our day ends with a wonderful dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from the apartment. I will look up the name if anyone is interested. Mostly locals, I think we were the only English speakers in there that evening. Daughter tired, heads back to the apartment, my friend and I hear music as we come out of the restaurant, and are drawn to the church across the street.

It was a beautiful Latino church, and they are singing a song that is familiar to both Maureen and I, so we enter and stand in the back. We stay for the rest of the mass, and take communion with the rest of the congregation. The priests come greet everyone warmly after the service and we both just felt like we were meant to be there. What a beautiful evening. Maureen lit candles for her parents, who would have celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary that day had they still been living. It was very odd, as she lit the candles and placed them in the holders side by side, the flames flickered and leaned into each other for a few minutes, then straightened out. Maureen knows it was a sign from her parents. We left there with our souls refreshed and our minds cleared.

Came back to the apartment, daughter half asleep on the couch watching TV. We told her where we had been and she just lit us up. She was pissed because she missed the experience, and now she will never be able to see that again. How could we leave her out of it?

Back to bickering, lovely...
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Love Jordan's 5 euro jacket! Your "boys" don't look bad either. Thanks for taking the time to post your pictures. Love the one in Venice on the water. Gorgeous girls, gorgeous setting.
amwosu is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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She wore that black jacket EVERYWHERE!! Thanks for the compliments, we had a great time.

Trip is almost over, just a few more days of trip reports to write. Sad that the trip is over, even with all the bickering.

I came back with money though, so I am getting ready to plan my next trip!
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Day 2, Rome. Today we are going to take a hop on hop off tour to get the lay of the land. We walk across the river to find one of the areas where the bus stops, taking in all the beautiful sites as we go. Seems everything here is historical in some way, and it totally blows my mind that these things that are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old, are still standing.

Word of caution, pedestrians are not revered like here in the states. Cars are king and you cross the road at your own risk. Crosswalks are hard to find, you will be taking your life into your own hands several times a day.

We found a bus stop and waited for the bus. We are looking for the 110 bus, but don't see any. Figure out that, DUH, it's Easter, maybe they aren't running today. Finally we see one, but it is packed and they are not taking on anymore passengers. We debate of what to do, and as we are just about ready to catch a city bus to Termini, we see a hop on hop off bus drive up.

For 13 Euros, we get a 2 hour tour with headphones and a seat on the open upper deck of a nice tour bus. We can get off at any site and return to the bus at anytime by showing our receipt. We have a great view of so many things, my head is whipping back and forth at an extremely high rate of speed, daughter and friend have the same problem. There is so much beauty in the buildings, the monuments, the fountains. I can't cram it all into my brain fast enough.

We inch past the Vatican, there is no way we are going to even attempt to get through the crowds to get inside, we decide that seeing the area from the outside is going to be good enough for this trip. Seeing the old walls that once surrounded the city is pretty impressive to me, I need to learn more, write that down in my notes. Hard to write, snap pics, and brain cram all at once.

We decide to get off at the Colosseum, as my daughter has this on her must see list. Take advice from Rick Steves, and we purchase our tickets at the Palatine Hill site, no desire to wait in lines a mile long at the main entrance. Daughter is starved, so we eat at the little "restaurant" outside the main snack bar. Of course, it was horribly expensive, but if you wanted to sit down and be served, this was your choice. Lunch wasn't too bad, but I sure wouldn't go again.

We head inside to use the restrooms before we head into the Colosseum, and we find a huge line that seems to not be moving. Look for more bathrooms, no deal. This is down in the Metro station area. ONE bathroom. Nice. We figure out that this is a pay toilet, and that there are actually 2 of them. The line moves very slowly because the stall is "sanitized" after each person. After 20 minutes, it's my turn. OH MY GOD!! What a disgusting idea. Water sprays everywhere after the last person leaves, and you walk into a little room that is flooded with dirty water. Everything is wet, your pants will soak up all the dirty water if you are not careful. It is just gross and scummy and I would advise everyone to avoid it at all costs.

Finally we head into the Colosseum (we have tickets, no wait in the big line) and it is just fascinating, both my daughter and I could have spent the entire day here, but it is getting crowded and it is getting to be dinnertime and we are all hot and hungry. We took loads of pictures, both inside of the artifacts, and of the outside. Stunning, really didn't want to go. Another thing, avoid the vendors outside, they will peg you as American right away and bother you begging you to take a look at there stuff. Every vendor has the exact same crap. Don't waste your time.

We head back to the bus stop to wait for the bus. And Wait. and Wait... Funny, this bus is supposed to come every 20 minutes, my friend says. Uhhh, Maureen, we didn't get on that bus, we got on another bus. No way, she says, see, I have this brochure, it says the buses come every......oh my, seems this is only one bus. Not a fleet. But it was red like the other one! How was I supposed to know?!?!? Single bus, takes 2 hours or so to make the loop, we gotta wait til it comes back by here, who knows how long that will take.

Daughter not impressed, but what do you do? It is a nice day, lots of people watching to do. Bus come after about 45 minutes or so, not so bad, and leaves us at our original stop. We hoof back across the bridge and collapse in the apartment. Daughter does not want to find dinner, says she is tired and will just stay there and eat in.

Friend and I head out to find Enoteca Trastevere, a place that Maitaitom highly recommends for their desert, a chocolate, cinnamon and chili custard of sorts. We find the place with no trouble and have dinner, leaving room for desert. I checked out the desert case on my way in, but didn't see anything that looked like our desired choice, so I quizzed the gal at the counter in my poor Italian. She is describing them all, but I don't hear the word "chili". Last desert, I hear the magic word and the order is in.

While we wait, we meet at charming couple at the next table who are on holiday and will be leaving the same day we are. They are from Spain, and so very sweet. The wife speaks no English, and the husband only speaks a little, but we communicate just fine. He takes our picture, and we take theirs for them with their camera. He promises to send us a copy after getting our email addresses. Today i got the pictures, very nice momento.

Wish I had a picture of the desert, it ROCKED! words are not enough, it is a treat. Try it, I promise you will like it.

Now it is dark and there is a festival going on in the Piazza outside Santa Maria Maggiore. We dick in to see the church, it is absolutely stunning, but we don't feel as comfortable as we did last night, so we walk back out into the fray. Loads of vendors, loads of people, true street fair atmosphere. Great way to spend Easter don't you think??

Back to the apartment for a bottle of Proseco and then off to bed.
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 02:26 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hi ,threerohdes,

no use to you now, but I seem to remember there were loos on the top floor of the colosseum, up by the shop. our problem was finding our way up to the top floor - we just kept walking round and round, following endless signs that said - "to the upper floor", but never getting there. In the end we took the lift.

loving the report, by the way - that dessert sounds great for a chocoholic like me - did you ask for the recipe?

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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How I wish I had asked for the recipe, but I did not. Guess that give me one more reason to go back to Rome, doesn't it?
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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I am back from a visit with my daughter, son-in-law and grandsons. I will finish up this trip report ASAP
threerohdes is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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Today is to be our total tourist trek day. We plan on eating lots of gelato, seeing the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and Via Veneto. So, with the help of the city tram and bus system, that is exactly what we did. Besides the crowds, the day was warm, sunny, and beautiful. We walked from the bus stops at our own pace, ducking in and out of shops and restaurants as desired.

We happened upon some sort of big gathering at the offices of the Italian President, evidently he was going to make some sort of address, but we tired of waiting around and moved on. But it really looked as though it was going to be a big deal, Italian secret service men, military band etc. etc.. Day was too warm for "what ifs".

Spanish Steps...don't see the appeal. Trevi fountain...gorgeous, wish the crows were thinner. Via Veneto...nice if you like that kind of stuff. Rome in general..

Went back to restaurant from first night in city, food still excellent, just a nice place to hang out. Took another stroll through streets of Trastevere, then back to the apartment with required bottle of Proseco, and off to bed.
threerohdes is offline  
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