Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30th Hallstatt Austria

Today we took the train to Hallstatt, Austria.  In the bronze age there is an entire era called the Hallstatt Era which was from 750 to 450 BC.  This is because it is the sight of one of the most important, and earliest found, salt deposits in Europe.  The Celtic word for salt is Hal, so that's how the name came about.  The Romans took over later to mine salt for the empire.  In the pictures today you will find a picture of a Roman  steam bath that was excavated under what is now a sports shop.  Hallstatt is on a big lake.  The town is trapped between the lake and the mountains, and the town is built up the side of the mountain.  When you arrive by train a boat meets the train and ferries you across the lake to the town.  This was one of the best days of our trip.  Hallstatt is one of the most calm, quiet, and relaxing places we have ever been.  We bought food in a store and had a picnic next to the lake.  There is not much land in the town.  When you die you get buried for ten years, then the dig you up.  They put the dug up bones in a chapel by the Catholic Church.  All these bones and skulls are on display in the chapel.  See the picture below.  Hallstatt was just beautiful.

SOME PICTURES OF HALLSTATT









THE HOUSE IN THE BOTTOM LEFT WAS ACROSS THE LAKE FROM HALLSTATT


 NONETTE WEIGHING AND PRICING THE PRODUCE AT THE STORE.
YOU PUT IN THE NUMBER OF THE FRUIT AND THE MACHINE WEIGHS AND PRICES THEM AND PRINTS A TICKET

ME ON THE BENCH READY FOR LUNCH



THE EXCAVATED ROMAN STEAM BATH UNDER THE SPORT SHOP

SKULLS AND BONES OF THE DEPARTED (MORE THAN 10 YEARS DEPARTED)


THE CURRENT LOT OF DEPARTED ( LESS THAN 10 YEARS)


GEORGE AND LA QUITA I SAW A WHOLE HERD OF HOGS IN HALLSTATT

THIS HOUSE DATES FROM 1597.  BELOW IS A PICTURE OF THE HOUSE.


WHEN WE GOT BACK TO SALZBURG, WE WENT TO THE MARKET AND THESE CHOCOLATE AND CINNAMON PRETZELS FOLLOWED US BACK TO OUR ROOM 
THE CHOCOLATE ONE IS ABOUT A FOOT IN DIAMETER
ONE PINT OF MILK AND IT DISAPPEARED 



Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29th Bernina Express and then on to Salzburg

Yesterday we left Varenna and took the train to Tirano Switzerland.  In Tirano we caught the Bernina Express.  The Bernina Express is a scenic train that goes over the Bernina Pass in the Swiss Alps.  It took about 5 hours to go the 120 kilometers from Tirano to Chur.  In that distance we went over 196 bridges, some 200 feet high, and 55 tunnels, one of which was 3 kilometers long.  We went from 497 meters above sea level to about 3000 meters above sea level and back to 590 meters.  The view was beautiful but the pictures through the windows weren't so hot.  There were palm trees in Tirano and we got in a snow storm through the pass.  It  was a beautiful ride.

Today we took the train from Chur, Switzerland to Salzburg, Austria.  We were glad to get out of Chur.  Two Mc Donalds burgers, fries, and cokes were $29.  A quart of Agip 5w-40 motor oil was $32.  That's $150 an oil change.  Gas was $10 a gallon.  The train ride was beautiful.  We went through, among other places, Innsbruck, Austria.  We got into Salzburg today around 1:00 pm.  We went to the Augustiner Beer Garden (for Coach Bellah) and had supper and it was nice not to have pasta.  We looked around the old city and took a few pictures.

Tomorrow we are going to Hallstatt, Austria.  The history of Hallstatt goes back the 12 century B.C..  There has been a salt mine there since then.  



THE BERNINA EXPRESS TRAIN

AVIEW FROM THE BERNINA EXPRESS

NONETTE HAVING A CAPPUCCINO ON THE TRAIN FROM CHUR TO SALZBURG

AT THE AUGUSTINER BEER GARDEN WITH LOW CAL BEVERAGES

LOW CAL SUPPER AT THE BEER GARDEN

WHERE MOZART WAS BORN IN SALZBURG

THE SKYLINE OF THE OLD TOWN OF SALZBURG


BELOW ARE SOME MORE PICTURES OF VERNAZZA IN ITALY





BELOW ARE A FEW MORE PICTURES FROM LAKE COMO








THE PERILS OF ORDERING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE




LAUNDRY IN VERNAZZA


LAUNDRY IN VENICE







Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28th Vernazza, Varenna, and Milano

It has been several days since we have had any internet service at the hotel we were staying at.  Today's post will catch you up on the places we have been in the last few days.

From Tuscany we went to a little town, on the northwest coast of Italy, on the Mediterranean, called Vernazza.  Vernazza is one of 5 little towns that make up what is called the Cinque Terre, in the area of Italy called Liguria.  There are more tourists now than a few years ago but it is still a beautiful place.  



 This is the port at Vernazza.  We stayed in the reddish building on the far right above the boats.
You can see how high I was when I took this picture and I am still waiting for my butt to come down off that hill.  We went to a Easter service Saturday night and Sunday morning in the church on the left. 

This is the main street of Vernazza before the tourist got there.  We learned that Easter weekend is a big holiday time in Italy.  The Monday after Easter is a national holiday for independence, like the 4th of July.  Lots and lots of people.

The hills around Vernazza are filled with wine vineyards and lemon trees.  This the area of Italy where Pesto was invented.  They respect the land and use every inch of usable space and a lot of space we would say was not useable.

Our room in Vernazza was real little, but it had it's own private balcony.  How about this for a door.  You should have seen the bathroom.  It was so little you had to step outside to change your mind.  We had to walk up 4 flights of stairs to get to our room.  The lady that rented us the room was a sweet little lady that spoke no English.

After leaving Vernazza we took the train to a little town on Lake Como called Varenna where we spent 3 nights.   The first full day in Varenna, Nonette took a cooking class from about 10:00 to about 5:00.  In the cooking class the Chef showed her and the other students how to prepare 3 Italian dishes.  These people don't even have canned vegetables and fruit in their grocery stores.  They only cook with fresh food period.  Most of the people have gardens where they grow much of what they eat.

 Here Nonette is learning how to roll gnocci off a fork.  A gnocci is a potato dumpling.


While Nonette was taking the cooking lesson I spent the day riding the ferry from town  to town on Lake Como.  This lake is about 1200 feet deep and is surrounded by the Dolomite Mountains.  If you move just a little north of the lake the Dolomites become the Italian and Swiss Alps.  I took about 300 pictures from which I picked the following.

This is Varenna where we stayed on Lake Como.

This is Menaggio just across the lake from Varenna.  I would say it's about a mile and a half across the lake from Varenna.


The second day we took the train about an hour or so southwest to Milan.  Milan is like Italy's New York City and Hollywood rolled into one.  It is the fashion, business, and media center of Italy.

This the first Galleria Mall on planet earth.  It is Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.  It was built in 1870 with a    vaulted glass roof.  It was the first indoor shopping mall and the first place in Milan to have electric lighting

They had this cool private jet in the middle of the Galleria.


This is the Duomo in Milan.  It is the 4th largest church in all Europe.  Everything you see in this picture is white marble.  The inside of the church is about 100 yards long and 60 yards wide.  This is the most beautiful building Nonette and I have ever seen.  The inside of this building is indescribably beautiful.  For me so far on this trip it was one of the most awe inspiring sights.

This is just one small beautiful picture of the church.


While in Milan we also went to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazzie.  This is where 
Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper.  We made our reservations to see The Last Supper back in the middle of February and I was glad we did.  Lots of people come to see this painting.  You are only allowed 15 minutes in this climate controlled room.  The painting isn't on the wall of the church it is on the wall of the Monk's Dining Hall.  It was painted in 1494 and a 21 year restoration was completed in 1999.  A few hundred years ago they needed a new door in the room, so they cut it just below the painting, and cut off the feed of Jesus.  What were they thinking.  During WWII Milan was bombed and the church and the dining hall were hit.  It was a miracle but the wall that had the painting were not damaged.  We would have pictures but none were allowed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22 Tuscany

Today we visited three more Tuscan hill towns.  We visited the towns Pienza, Montepulciano, and Cortona.  Cortona was the town where they filmed the movie  Under The Tuscan Sun.  In Pienza Nonette found an outlet shoe place and you know the rest.  We had lunch in Montepulciano.  Cortona was the last place we visited.  You see a picture of a couple of guys wearing green suits.  The guys were promoting of all things an      OUTLET MALL    .  We went to the outlet mall at the end of the day and Nonette showed great restraint. Look at the pictures and enjoy.   La Quita and George, I found a hog under the Tuscan sun.

We are driving back to Florence tomorrow and taking a train to Vernazza in the Cinque Terre on the northwest coast of Italy.  I don't know about the internet there.  We report in when we can.  Check in.





BIG MAC IN ITALIAN IS BIG MAC



 MARKET DAY IN MONTEPULCIANO

 THIS GUY WAS GOING 40

 THREE GUESSES WHAT'S IN THE SACK

NONETTE HAD TO HER BUSINESS INTO TO THIS

 OUR RENTAL CAR
 NOT REALLY......THIS IS OUR FIAT RENTAL





 STEAK AND ARTICHOKES


 A HOG UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN


THE THURMAN MAY OF CORTONA