Sunday, September 20, 2009

Alpabfahrt Mels - Let's Party till the Cows come Home!

I know. I know. The German word "fahrt" still makes me laugh. You can take the girl out of America but you can't take America out of the girl:)! Anyway, the word "fahrt" means journey or trip. So Alpabfahrt (which we were pronouncing "Applefart"..... close - I'm sure:)) is a journey of the cows coming back down from the Alps.

If you are in Switzerland during the middle to later part of September you simply MUST go to an Alpabfahrt! I think there are several, but we went to the one in Mels - I found it on http://www.myswitzerland.com/). The reason we went to that one was b/c it was the closest (only 1 1/2 hours) from Zurich. My parents had arrived from the States at 8 am so I didn't want to go too far b/c I knew they would be tired.
So the Swiss Alp herders bring the cows back down from their summer home in the Alps to their rightful owners during the Alpabfahrt. The cows have beautiful headdresses on and the herders wear traditional garb.
The first animals that came by were sheep - how cute is this!

My mom was a little concerned with the "droppings" they left in the middle of the road b/c people didn't seem to care if they stepped in it. Little did she know that this sheep poop was nothing! You'll see what I mean in a second:).

About 10 minutes later we started to hear lots of cow bell and the parade began! How cool is this!







Now that looks like a heavy necklace!

Here is a video:


video


So after the parade of cows was over (at least we thought it was over) we saw most of the crowd turn around and run towards this water fountain in the center of town - so hey since we didn't know what was going on we all followed! Boy was this a good/bad thing:) The cows continued their parade through the little town of Mels and then once they get to the water fountain they all started drinking out of it. Hundreds of cows in this one little area! Then the massive chaos began!



The first couple of cows to reach the fountain!

Serious chaos! The herders couldn't keep the cows together! Nathan almost got trampled!

True love:) And yes that is what you think it is on the ground - eeewwwwww!



Smile!

People were just walking through the cow poop - seriously disgusting!

My mom tried to tip toe over to the cows so as to not step in the poop! However, you saw the picture above - I don't think that was possible!
We didn't know why they were letting all the cows stop at the fountain causing all the chaos, but we found out later that the water fountain is where the cows get transfered from the Alp herders to their "rightful" owners.


A "rightful" owner!)

We met a nice Swiss gentleman waiting for the bus home and he gave us the history and run down of the Alpabfahrt - so here it is (of course he could have been making it up and we wouldn't know the difference:)):


During the spring the cow farmers bring some of their cows to Mels and then the Alp herders/farmers come take them up into the alps (this is not a big production with the headdresses and everything). During this time the Alp herders keep the cows to make Alp cheese and stuff (we aren't 100% sure about the business relationship here so if anyone knows please tell us - Nathan was VERY concerned about the money aspect:)). Then when it starts to get cold (mid September) the Alp herder's bring the cows back down the mountain and there are big festivals and the cows get "dressed up". The cows and herders walk for about 5 hours out of the alps to reach the town of Mels. We were told that 5 different sets of cows would parade through the town - (I think it is b/c they were from 5 different alp communities?). Then when the cows get into town they parade through and then stop at the water fountain where the cow farmers come get their cows. That explains why we saw several people with only two or three cows leaving the town center - duh! Such a cute Swiss tradition - we loved it!


While we were waiting for the bus a farmer came by us with his two cows and I asked to take a picture since we didn't get a good one in town (too much chaos!). After they left we all started laughing b/c this is what the cows in the field across from us looked like as the farmer and his cows were walking by! Too funny!



I'm pretty sure they were thinking "Wow - isn't she beautiful with that flower tiara. I wonder what her number is":)
Anyway, such a cool experience! One of the coolest things we have done in Switzerland (it doesn't take much to impress us:))! I'm so glad my parents were here for it!
Mandy
Here are the rest of the pics!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cinque Terre - The Italian Riviera

Cinque Terre "The Five Lands"is part of the Italian Riviera and is made up of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. And it is amazingly beautiful! Possibly my favorite part of the trip. Although it is hard to judge b/c here we hiked and got sun at the beach versus visiting the inside of hundreds of churches and museums:). I loved how "unmodernized" it was - no high rise hotels or construction going on! It was so cute and Italian - definitely like the pictures you see in the movies!
After reaching La Speiza from Firenze we changed to a regional train to get to Vernazza - the fourth of the five cities (starting from the south). The view was breathtaking from the very beginning of the ride. We didn't even sit down on the train - we just stood up and looked at the beautiful water, mountains, and cute Italian homes built into the country side.

When we got to Vernazza of course our Pensione was straight UP the hill! When trying to book our hotel 3 months ago the only place Nathan could find available was the Pensione Sorriso - I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing but we took it! Trip Advisor comments said it was loud but nice. I agree with these comments. They also only had 1 four person room not 2 two person rooms so we all stayed together in a very "modest" and "cozy" room. It was really hot when we arrived and I thought "OH NO" we don't have air but we did - thank goodness!
Cozy - don't you think? Yes those are cots!
Limoncello cheers to Cinque Terre! And I have my new leather jacket on - don't you love it!:)

The first thing we did was head down to the water! So although our room had no view (it was near the train station) once we got down to the marina it was unbelievable - I think I took more pictures in this town than the rest of the time we have been here (and that is saying a lot)!
Vernazza

We ate dinner at a place Rick Steves suggested:) (Thanks Rick) The Restaurant Giavanni which had a view of the water. We read that this area "invented" pesto, so of course we had to have some! And that they were also known for their anchovy dishes - ewwwwwwww! But we had to order them - right? When I think anchovies I think really smelly fish that come from a can and that I puked after trying one in the 6th grade! But Bonnie is a food pusher:) and made Bob and I try one and although Bob wasn't all that impressed - surprisingly I loved it! We had anchovies in lemon sauce and if you go you HAVE to try it! I think they were so good b/c they were so fresh! We were actually fighting over who would get the last one! And the pesto was unbelievable! Good choice!

The next morning Bonnie, Nathan, and I got up to hike (surprisingly Bob didn't join us:)). The Cinque Terre is a national park and you have to pay about $8 to hike the well known trail (don't even think about trying to get around this - they have guards at the entrance/exit of each village). We trained down to Riomaggiore the first of the five villages (coming from La Spezia) and started our hike there.

The part of the trail from Riomaggore to Manarola is called the Via dell'Amore ("Walkway of Love") and I know Bob could have done this part! It was completely paved - seriously you could push a baby carriage through this part - and it only took about 15 minutes:).


We came across this really cute bench with locks all chained to the rails behind it. I guess hikers bring the locks with them and profess their love on the Via dell'Amore and "lock in their love" with their sweety! Nathan - did you bring your lock? Oh...hmmm....I didn't think so:) Well at least I had Nathan with me - Bonnie had to sit on the bench all by herself:( (Are you feeling guilty yet Bob?:))

Bonnie - party of one:(

The Via dell'Amore

Manarola

View of Manarola on our way to Cornigilia

Then from Manarola we walked to Corniglia. To get to the town you have to climb 370 stairs! We saw several people with rolling suitcases trying to climb the stairs. All I could think was, "Thank God we didn't stay here- Bob would have slept in the train station!" But once we got to the top, I saw a little bus drop off several travelers with their luggage. I guess the people who climbed the stairs with all their stuff couldn't read Italian? Just so you guys know - "Bus " looks like this "Bus or Autobus" in Italian.:)

How many steps is that? Where's Bob?

Right.... 382 Steps!

Vineyards! Corniglia is know for their wine!

Then for the most strenuous part of the hike - Corniglia to Vernazza. It was really sad because although we had heard that there were fires in the mountains along the coast I didn't think we would see them first hand. But we hiked for about 30 minutes through a section of the forest that had burned down.


A little bit after hiking through this section we saved Janis' life! Haven't heard about that? Read my post here. :) I wonder how Janis and Digby are doing..... and how much their special flight off the trail cost!

What an exciting (who knew and why is it always us?) and beautiful hike! We all highly recommend it but we were glad to get to Vernazza to find Bob, hear about his "cruising chicks" and swim. Bob definitely had some interesting stories..... and pictures - really none of which I can put on this blog.:) Bob definitely liked his day in the Cinque Terre too! Gotta love the Europeans and their lack of modesty:)!


We made it!


View of Vernazza from Trail

I had another - "Well if everyone jumped off a bridge would you?" - experience. And it is safe to say that YES if everyone else jumped then I would too:) But only after they did! I need to make sure it is safe! Nathan said he would do it too, but you don't see a picture of him do you?:)


I can't believe I'm putting a picture of me in a bathing suit on my blog! But at least it is far away!

It was kind of scary...but I did it!

After getting all cleaned up we bought a bottle of wine, took to the boat to Monterrosso, and enjoyed the sun set over the mountain! Great end to a perfect day!


After walking a bit we left the beachfront road to find a restaurant (we needed a place that had something in addition to fish:)). We happened upon the Ristorante Maxi which was off a side road near the train tracks. Nathan would argue that this was our best meal in all of Italy! That might be a stretch for me but it was really good! Definitely the best pizza we had and their pesto was to die for! We were so full we couldn't even eat Gelato - now that is saying a lot!

The next morning we had to leave for Lugano:( I was very said and vowed to come back - scuba diving anyone? I do have to show a picture of what our morning coffee looked like at Pensione Sorriso - definitely the most beautiful breakfast of the trip!


However, once we got on the train we realized we were sick of hotel rooms and opted to just go back to Zurich for a nice relaxing night at "home". I will say the train ride from Genoa to Zurich was amazing though! Every five seconds we were ooohing and ahhhing over something else! Lake Como and Lugano (in the Italian part of Switzerland) were both breathtaking - we have to go back there too!

The train ride was a very scenic end to our journey - but does this picture scream "I'm done!" to you or what?


Addio per ora l'Italia. Ti amo!
Mandy

Friday, September 18, 2009

Firenze

Taking vacation 5 days after taking a previous vacation isn't very good for my blog:) I have been so busy trying to catch up on work that I haven't had any time for writing - geez! So sorry! So before I leave for Germany/Austria I am going to get the rest of our Italy vacation on this blog if it kills me! Here goes......

I love Florence! And not just because of the amazing shopping, either:)! I love the easy of the city (being able to walk to everything was a nice change after Rome), the people, and the quaint feeling of a small "big city". No metros or buses to figure out - we even walked to our hotel from the main train station (in less than 5 minutes!) We had a great time just roaming the streets in Firenze!

We stayed at the Hotel Atlantic Palace which was about 1 1/2 blocks from the main train station! We loved the location and the staff was very friendly and helpful! I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling to Florence! FYI - the breakfast was very nice and even included scrambled eggs and bacom- yum!:)

We arrived in Florence arround 6 pm and asked the front desk to recommend a place to eat. I was a little scared when they suggested Osteria All'antico Mercato - the place "right next store" -as I thought they might have some type of business relationship as opposed to it being really good, but much to our surprise this was the home of Luigi (see my previous post about Luigi here)! This was my favorite meal while in Italy. What can I say - I'm a sucker for good service. Even if Luigi was already hitting on other girls after he gave ME a kiss - I didn't care - I felt special and that's all that counted - (besides I'm sure he liked our table best anyway:))!

I know I already posted this pic but I just love it:)

And it wasn't just about the service - the food was really good too! If you go - you must get the pecornio cheese and proscuitto as an appetizer so goooooood! (This region is known for their pecorino!) We all loved our pasta and Bob's veal at this restaurant was one of my faves (yes we all shared at each meal!) But truthfully - I think a vacation is about the experience and I loved the experience - Luigi knew how to make everyone feel welcome in his restaurant!

That night we just walked around town to see what was going on - our hotel had suggested to visit the Piazza Della Repubblica - so we made our way in that direction. It wasn't very far till we got to the Duomo. Wow! What a beautiful church! The green and pink marble design (as well as the sheer massiveness) is breathtaking!

This picture is from the next day (obviously) but you can see the colors better than at night!

From here it got a little shady.... Bonnie and I were just in awe of all our surroundings and what we could see. There was a door open to a place (that looked like it could be of some meaning) so we walked in. Actually, the two women out front waved us in. But after getting inside it didn't look that impressive so I decided to walk to the back of the room - there was a door there and I thought maybe that was where the good sightseeing stuff was located. But as soon as I crossed the threshold this man came out of nowhere and started yelling! Bonnie was like "Mandy - you better get back here!" At the same time, I noticed that the "back room" was just a TV room and lots of EMTs were sitting around watching TV and playing cards. We had stumbled into an ambulance station! We were rushed out of there and we all started laughing! I will never look at an ambulance the same way again! I guess I should have known... the place didn't look that great from the moment we walked in but those two women did basically tell us to go in AND we had had a lot of wine with dinner - okaaaaaaaaaay!:)

Onwards! From here we went to the Piazza Della Repubblica and saw the street performers. This is where Bob found the 55 Euros (again see other post). Go Bob! This was a fun little square, but I have to see the "illegal" street vendors were a bit annoying - I mean who comes to Italy to buy a fake Louis Vuitton anyway?!!!

We kept walking past the Uffizzi and onto the Ponte Vecchio (had to walk off dessert:))! Everything looked so majestic at night!

Ponte Vecchio at Night

The next morning we woke up and headed out to see the Duomo in daylight. After checking out the inside we split up - Nathan and I climbed Giotto's Bell Tower (another 400+ stairs) to see the view and Bonnie and Bob went to the Duomo Museum. We both took pictures so we could show each other:

Our view from the Top

Bob's favorite picture from the museum - he said it expressed how he felt walking around Rome:)

From here we decided to go to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. On the way we had to cross over the Ponte Vecchio and I must say it is REALLY fabulous in the day time! I think every shop on the bridge sold jewelry! I wish I could have gotten a picture of Nathan dragging me off of it!:)

Once getting to the Palace we decided to just vist the Gardens and part of the museums (I think Nathan had had enough culture by then). Bob did climb the first couple stairs/slope to the "bottom" of the gardens, but once he looked up I knew there was no way he was going to visit the rest of the place! However, right from there we did coax Bob into the Costume Museum to see the fabulous clothes they wore back in the day (boy did they have tiny waists!). Not sure what happened (basically we got lost) but we ended up descending many levels of stairs and ended up back at the slope UP to the gardens! At this point we knew it was a lost cause so we left Bob to "cruise chicks" while the rest of us toured the gardens. I wish Bob would have joined us, because I think from the top level of the gardens had the most amazing view of the Tuscan Countryside!

View of Pitti Palace from the "top" of the Gardens

View of Tuscany - so amazing! I felt like we in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun!

Now which museum do we go see - the one without David (Uffizi) or the one with David? Hmmmmm. Let's take a vote... the one with David - of course!!! The one "with David" is the Galleria dell'Accademia. And just so you guys know - it was about 4 pm, we didn't have reservations, and the line only took 15 minutes! We had heard the line was unbearable but again probably just in the morning because everyone is trying to "beat the crowd" and then they "become the crowd". The museum was okay - but I'm pretty sure if they didn't have David no one would even know the place existed - well that might be a little harsh but obviously he's the main attraction. You weren't "allowed" to take pictures but "someone" snuck one for us!:)


Back to the hotel for a nap before dinner - I think all the walking from Rome finally caught up with us! Again we asked the hotel for a suggestion since they did such a great job the night before! This time they sent us to Trattoria Antichi Cancelli off Via Faenza - the food was very good but it was no Luigi!:)

By the next morning I think we were all church, palace, and museumed out, so we decided to just roam the street markets before our train at 4 pm. Before breakfast Nathan had already gone out and wheeled and dealed for a beautiful leather briefcase he had eyed the day before. "Special price for you" - so how could he resist - right?:) It was a lot of fun to walk around to all the street vendors - what a great relaxing day! I ended up getting a kickass leather jacket (thank you Bonnie and Bob for my Christmas/Birthday gift:))! Bonnie and Bob got some stuff for their friends and family and we all got our shopping fix out of our system.:)

The street vendors - shopping bliss!

While shopping we came across this coffee place - love it!

One thing that I had been looking for for two days was the Mercato Centrale - it looked big on our map and it was supposed to be 1 block from our hotel but I couldn't seem to locate it. I even took everyone on a wild goose chase looking for it and finally gave up. But during our leather shopping I saw someone with a bag of fruit and walked in the direction they came from. And AHHHH - there it was! Bob realized this was the building he was looking at from the window of his hotel room the whole time! And I thought I was really good with directions.... But in my defense all the street carts blocked the view of the doors - whatever -don't judge me.

Anyway, I'm so glad we found it - I think we spent the better part of an hour just exploring. The vendors carried wine, balsamic vinegar, all kinds of meat, fish, cheese, and the list goes on! We got some great pics in here! You should definitely check it out if you are in Florence!

One of my favorite pics from the Mercato - do you still see the tail and the hoof still attached to this meat for sale?

We decided to catch an earlier train to Cinque Terre and ended up rushing to the train station! Fantastic 2 days in Firenze! If I could change one thing, I would have loved to stay one extra day to take an excursion into the wine country. We just didn't have time as all the tours were at least 8 hours - but I guess that means we just have to go back:)

Next post the Italian Riviera!
Ciao,
Mandy

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rome - Veni, Vidi, Vici

*****We are already back from our trip but I'm just now able to post this - sorry! However, I did write it while we were traveling! Also, it's really long but we did a lot of stuff!


Rome the "City of Love" – I mean stairs. Man there are a lot of stairs – just ask Bob – he LOVED the stairs! They say Rome was built on 7 Hills and I think we made it to the top of each and THEN to the top of each Castle or Church on the top of each hill! (Well some of us did). As I write this, Bob told us that the only reason he made it up to the top of the stairs at Mussolini’s house (20 stairs) was because the old woman with a CANE beside him did it! I wish she would have followed us for the rest of the trip!

Anyway, we are currently on a train to Florence after 3 wonderful days in Rome! We flew in from Zurich landing around 11 pm and trained into the city. From there we cabbed to our hotel, The Best Western. It was truly - planes, trains and automobiles and the automobile was crazy! I thought we might lose our lives a couple times! As far as I can tell there are no lanes or stop signs. Good times! The Best Western was okay – they had a nice breakfast, the room was clean, and the beds were hard as a rock. It was close to a bus line that would take us to the Flamino (the train station we would become very familiar with!) It would have been nice to be somewhere where we didn’t have to do the bus thing though - it would have been better to be in walking distance of a Metro line. Anyway…..

Day 1:
The first day we started at the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – the first of many beautiful churches. Nathan and Bob were amazed.......but not at the church at the 25 Ferraris parked out front! Hello Italy! It was a sight to see and all the men were totally drooling!
Inside the Basilica
Across the street from this church was the Santuario della Scala Santa the “Palace of the Holy Steps”. It is alleged that these were the actual steps the Christ climbed when he was brought before Pontius Pilate. (We later learned on our Vatican tour that Constantine’s mother Helen brought these stairs over during one of her many pilgrimages to Jerusalem)
I don't know if you can tell but the people climbing the stairs are on their knees
The one thing I learned about Rome is that they are definitely not above thievery! If they want it – they will take it! We also learned that of the 13 Egyptian obelisks in the world – 9 of them are in Rome! No wonder there are so many pick pockets in Italy – these are their ancestors! They even stole from their own city which is why most of it is in ruins - well at least that is my take on it:)

Rome is such an interesting city with all its debauchery and struggle for power - I really wish I would have paid more attention in European History class! These people put Lindsey Lohan and Britney to shame! We learned a lot about all of the emperors during our tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

I guess we must have looked like tourists (who us?) because right when we got off the metro we were bombarded with a woman who wanted to know if we wanted a tour of the Colosseum in English. It was 25 Euro (instead of the 12 Euro entrance) but we wouldn’t have to wait in the 2 hour line. I am really glad we did it because the tour of the Colosseum was very informative and after that we walked over to the Roman Forum and got a tour of that too. Amazing how all the emperors would spend LOTS of money and years to build (ridiculously) lavish houses and for the next emperor to just tear it down. The Palatine Hill is a hill basically because it consists of ruins!
All those ant looking things are people - so glad we didn't have to stand in those lines!
Inside the Colosseum (obviously:))

Next on to Palantine Hill - that is our tour guide in the blue shirt. In this picture we are standing in the middle of what was a "living room" - I think he said it was bigger than a football field!
I can't remember which emperor it was but he built this "mini" race track inside his house and had midgets or kids ride the chariots!
Mass Chaos - kind of like our life:)
Next we walked to the Trevi Fountain – threw our coins over our left shoulders and are guaranteed to come back to Roma as soon as possible!
I'm not sure, but upon closer look - it seems as if Bob is throwing his coin as far away from the fountain as possible:) I don't think Roma is on his "places to return to" list any time soon:)
Then more walking to the Pantheon - I remember being here before and thinking how amazing the dome was – still the same feeling! How did they engineer that back then? I tried to get a picture of the dome but it was just too massive!

Next? Gelato of course – I can’t believe we held out that long! We went to Giolitti (very close to the Pantheon)– they were like the soup Nazis in there! But it was sooooooooo good – thanks Miriam!

Then MORE walking to the Piazza Navona and saw the Fountain of the Four Rivers.

DINNER – we need DINNER! Did I mention that we walked to all those places….in the heat! Then we pulled out the GPS to get us to the restaurant we had reservations at (which made us walk even further out of the way mind you) to find out that it was probably only 500 feet from where we were! Nathan – I don’t know – may be next time you could put it on the walking setting so it doesn’t take us way out of our way?

So we went to Osteria 180 – O.M.G. – this was a suggestion from a friend (thanks again Miriam) and it was AMAZING!!!! She told us to order the Antipasto (an appetizer) but to wait to order dinner until after they brought it out. I didn’t think much of it until they brought out the first plate, second, third, sixth, tenth…..fifteenth!
This wasn't even everything but we couldn't get all the plates in the picture!
Are you kidding me? All the tables around us were laughing and pointing at us – then of course they all ordered the same thing! Wow! Everything was so amazing from the fresh mozzarella to the eggplant to the veal meatballs – Buonissima! Of course there was NO WAY we could have the main course after this as they had to roll us out of the restaurant as it was! We all HIGHLY recommend this restaurant if you come to Rome! And (back to the 500 feet thing) once we came out of the restaurant we turned left instead of right and ran into the Giolitti place we had just been to and saw how close we were to the Pantheon! So if you come – plan your day to end here – there were a lot of cute places in the Piazza near the Pantheon and of course the Osteria 180!

After dinner we just hung out in the Piazza near the Pantheon and listened to someone play beautiful music on her accordion! Great end to a wonderful day! Now how do we get home?

Day 2
We started day 2 with reservations for a trip to the Vatican. Bonnie booked these trips online before leaving the States with MyVaticanTours.com – I thought our tour guide was amazing – so full of knowledge! Way more interesting than if we had just gone by ourselves! Also, we didn’t have to stand in the 3 hour line to get into the Vatican Museums at 9 am! However, as we left our tour (it lasted 3 hours) we noticed that the line for the museums was MUCH shorter (probably only an hour long) so if you don’t want to pay the extra 35 euros for the tour – go in the afternoon! Most of the tour books say to go in the morning (very early) to get your space in line and to avoid the crowds – thus leading to the long lines and the crowds! So if you only take one thing from this blog – make it this!
Nathan looks like Secret Service with the ear piece but we had to wear it to hear our guide.
The museums are massive so I can't show you ALL our pics (waaaaaay too many) but I had to show you this! Probably the largest bathtub in the world! Our tour guide kept mentioning how sexual the ancient romans were.... so I'm guessing this wasn't a bath for just 1 person.... just saying:) I also love how in this picture it looks like all the people in line are in the bath!:)
The ancient Romans were Pagans (as you probably know)... here is a statue of the Goddess of Fertility.... our tour guide told us that the ball looking things near her chest area actually represent Ox Balls b/c if a couple was having a hard time getting pregnant then they would sacrifice an Ox - chop of his nuts and but them over a statue of this Goddess as an offering.... hey I'm just here to relay what I heard.....
After the tour we went to Saint Peter’s Basilica – such an amazing site! Not only the church itself but also the Piazza in front of St. Peter’s. Breathtaking.
The inside of St. Peter's is so huge that I could never do it just with pictures - you will have to go:) But here is a picture of the main alter with the cupola (designed by Michelangelo) in the background.
Bonnie, Nathan and I took the 320 stairs to the top of the Cupola while Bob “cruised chicks”. Amazing view of the entire city – we brought back pics for Bob so he wouldn’t feel bad about not seeing it (not that he felt bad but Bonnie WANTED him to get the FULL experience).
I thought this was a pretty cool picture of St. Peter's Square
From here we took the Metro to the Spanish Stairs – Bonnie, Nathan and I climbed the stairs to the top (are you seeing the pattern here), Bob “cruised chicks”, then we took pictures from the top angle and showed them to him.
That is Nathan laying down - I think that sums up the day!
At this point we were STARVING because we had not eaten all day and it was almost 6 pm. However, the area near the Spanish Stairs is not a good place for dinner – very touristy and expensive. We first came to a restaurant and sat down but when Bonnie and I saw that we couldn’t get a bottle of wine under 30 Euros we said to hell with that so we moved on to try to find another place. The next restaurant we sat down at was in a cute Piazza and we thought we hit the jackpot but when we got our menus I saw that all the food had asterisks next to them. What were the asterisks for I asked myself? So after scrutinizing the menu I saw that in VERY small 4 point font that the asterisk meant that the dish was previously frozen. FROZEN? Oh hell no to that too! I am NOT eating frozen pizza in Italy!

Of course this is where it all went awry. Bob got pissed b/c he was hungry – and rightfully so – we had him out trekking all over the place with no food all day and when we were finally ready to eat we couldn’t find ANYTHING! Nothing! And the day before we had seen a cute delicious smelling place on every corner. So Nathan made an executive decision amongst all the chaos to get a taxi to one of Jamie’s suggestions (thanks Jamie!). On our way to find a taxi I wasn’t looking where I was going and some woman blind sided me with a PUNCH to my stomach! What the hell was that about? I really thought she was going to steal my purse so I grabbed for that instead of punching her back – but I really wish I would have punched her back!
ANYWAY, we ended up at La Villetta. More great food and wine! Bonnie and I both love the “extra thick spaghetti” – I’m not sure what it is really called but I’ve never seen it before in the States – but I wish we had it b/c it is so good!

Day 3
We headed to the Castle D’Angelo – the emperor Hadrian had built it as his final resting place but it was later used as a place for the Popes to escape to when the Vatican was being invaded.
Three of us went up the stairs and into the museum but I won’t mention any names this time!:)
From here we walked around the Villa Borghese (again -some of us:)) before heading back to the hotel to get our bags and head to Florence!
Ewwwww - kissing picture:) But I had to take it - it is the City of Love you know!
The Galleria Borghese
I was very worried about the public transportation with all our stuff but it worked out perfectly! The train ride has been beautiful and we are now HERE! More to follow later….
Ciao,
Mandy
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