Blog

Amsterdam to Portland

Posted on December 6, 2010 by Holly Hayes
We spent our last two nights in Europe by the airport in Amsterdam in the unique citizenM hotel, which I've stayed in before and like quite a lot. I asked for rooms on an upper floor with views of the planes and Sarah and I both really enjoyed it. It was a cozy sanctuary from the winter weather outside. View from the hotel window. It was completely soundproofed and amazingly silent despite the closeness of the planes...

Trier to Utrecht

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Holly Hayes
It's always sad to leave Germany but it has also been nice being back in the Netherlands, where I no longer have to hurt my brain trying to speak German! Everyone here speaks excellent English, so it's a little like being back home already. We had a long and snowy ride from Trier to Utrecht, about four and a half hours total, with a change in Cologne...

Christmas Market and Snowy Sightseeing in Trier

Posted on December 1, 2010 by Holly Hayes
We had a nice time in Trier. It has lots of ancient Roman stuff, an old cathedral, great museums, a good Christmas market, and it snowed throughout the day. Unfortunately, the snow did not fall in big, slow flakes, but tiny icy flakes that seemed to drive straight into our faces no matter which direction we were walking. But it was beautiful! Here are some photographic highlights...

Erfurt to Mainz to Trier

Posted on November 28, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Saturday Morning in Erfurt The sun finally came out the morning we left Erfurt, which has been a frustratingly consistent pattern in other cities as well! But we were able to squeeze in a quick trip to the cathedral and Christmas market before leaving at about 11:30am. Potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream = breakfast of champions! The train ride to Mainz was beautiful - we had views of snowy winter landscapes almost the entire way...

Salzburg and Regensburg

Posted on November 24, 2010 by Holly Hayes
We are now north of the Alps, where the weather is cold and dreary, but it is still very nice to be back in German-speaking lands. Not to mention the lands of the Christmas markets! Salzburg We had a long train ride from Verona to Salzburg, about six hours total, but it didn't seem bad at all because we were on such nice trains and had good books to read...

Beautiful (and Delicious) Verona

Posted on November 23, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Ponte Pietra, Verona We arrived in Verona from Venice last Friday (I am writing this from Regensburg, where I may finally get caught up!). It was a long and tiring day but resulted in a lot of good photos - and ended with a *seriously* delicious Italian dinner. The day began in Venice, where we enjoyed the Acqua Alta in the sunshine, re-visited the Basilica di San Marco inside and out, went up in the campanile for some aerial photos, retrieved our bags from the hotel, and caught the water bus to the train station...

Highlights of Venice

Posted on November 22, 2010 by Holly Hayes
(Magnificent photo by Sarah) Venice was great fun. It is such a unique and magical city, with streets made of water and complete lack of cars. We had a particularly wonderful arrival, which set the tone for our three-night stay very nicely. First, the train approaches Venice on a causeway, so we could see water on both sides, level with the train - it looked like we were gliding right over it...

A Boat Ride to the Venetian Islands

Posted on November 22, 2010 by Holly Hayes
We spent most of our second day in Venice taking a boat ride in the Venetian lagoon. It was a small ferry boat and the ride took about 40 minutes each way. It stopped at the islands of Murano (famous for its glass) and Burano (famous for its lace and colorful houses), and from Burano we took another boat to the island of Torcello, whose wonderful old cathedral was our main reason for the trip...

Venice Coming Soon

Posted on November 21, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Well, I'm sorry to say our internet access in Verona was slow and unreliable, so I wasn't able to upload Venice photos from there. Boo. And now we are in a great hotel in Salzburg and the internet seems good, but something has gone wrong with my Flickr Uploadr and I can't get all my photos to upload. Argh! Also, it's late already. So, I'm afraid I'm going to have to postpone again until tomorrow...

Highlights of Florence

Posted on November 19, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Foggy view of Florence from San Miniato al Monte We had a very pleasant two-night stay in Florence (Sunday and Monday). As I think I've mentioned previously, it was a really nice change from Rome - quiet and peaceful. And our hotel was especially peaceful, as it is located about a 15-minute walk along the river from the main sights. Our hotel room was traditional in style but large and comfortable, and the included breakfasts were pretty good...

Rome Day 4

Posted on November 18, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Our last full day in Rome (Sat Nov 13) had a much lighter agenda, but we still got a whole *lot* of exercise. The main goal of the day was to visit the Colosseum before it closed and squeeze in a couple more churches. We more or less made a beeline for the Colosseum in the morning, but made a stop at a church I really love for its mosaics, called Santa Prassede...

Rome Day 3

Posted on November 17, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Day 3 (Fri Nov 12) Friday was another very full day in Rome. Our first stop was San Luigi dei Francesi, the main church of the French community in Rome, dedicated to Saint Louis. We visited because it has three beautiful and famous paintings by Caravaggio (1571-1610). Baroque interior of San Luigi dei Francesi The three Caravaggios are in a small side chapel, which is dedicated to Saint Matthew...

Rome Day 2

Posted on November 16, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Greetings from beautiful Venice, where it has rained most of the evening but it is spectacular anyway. We are here for three nights, and look forward to a full day of exploring tomorrow. But first, there is more Rome to share. Thursday morning our walking route took us past two nice surprises - a supermarket ("DESPAR"), which we'd been hunting for, and a Muji, the store I love so much (and mentioned in the London post)...

Rome Day 1

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Holly Hayes
After lots of rain the night before, the sun shone brightly Wednesday morning so we headed for St. Peter's Basilica, which faces east unlike most other churches. It turned out to be a very lucky decision! Vatican City and St. Peter's Basilica from across the Tiber River St. Peter's Basilica (and another obelisk swiped from Egypt) Saints on the facade...

First Night in Rome

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Holly Hayes
So finally, the first of the Rome reports! First, the hotel. It's called Les Fleurs Luxury House (a half-French, half-English name in Italy...) and was very nice. It has a good location and its modern decor was a welcome change from the older, more traditional hotels we've had in Italy so far. The hotel is very small, with only five rooms, and you have to climb a steep set of stairs to get to the front desk, but it had a cozy, personal feel to it...

Orvieto

Posted on November 14, 2010 by Holly Hayes
I'm back! I'm very sorry about the long blog absence. The internet situation in Rome was horrible. Such a shame, too, because our hotel was otherwise really nice. The wifi never worked at all, and even when we used a cable (which we had to share), it only worked intermittently. Then it went off completely for two days. But now we are in Florence and the wifi is working well so far! Fingers crossed it will prove to be reliable...

Brief Note from London

Posted on November 10, 2010 by Holly Hayes
I'm sorry about the lack of posts lately, but we're now in London for three nights and the itinerary looks to be slow enough to allow for more computer time. And my laptop now has a brand-new hard drive and is working well - a big thanks to David for that! So I'll try to finally post some photos tomorrow or the next day. Briefly, though, we had a really great time in Oxford...

One Night in Pisa

Posted on November 8, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Our short time in Pisa was really fun and I'm a little sorry I didn't schedule two nights there. Our hotel was just OK (good decor and friendly people, but sheets that felt scratchy and weirdly damp) but had a great location less than 10 minutes' walk from the "Field of Miracles" with its magnificent monuments. For an overview of those, I'll go ahead and plagiarize my own blog post from our visit in May 2008: Laid out on the pancake-flat Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is one of the most beautiful and interesting cathedrals in Italy, a lovely round baptistery to match, a separate belltower (the Leaning Tower), and the Camposanto, a rectangular marble courtyard once covered in frescoes and used for noble burials...

Beautiful Bologna

Posted on November 7, 2010 by Holly Hayes
Our full day in Bologna yesterday was long, busy, and very fun. We both slept well (Sarah has recovered almost instantly from jet lag - very impressive!), had a good breakfast in our hotel (quite substantial for Italy), then started off strong with a climb up a tall tower. The Due Torri (Two Towers) were built around 1110 AD by local noble families, both for defense and as status symbols...

Bologna, with Sarah!

Posted on November 5, 2010 by Holly Hayes
I arrived in Bologna around 12:30 today and have been really impressed with the city so far. It's a much bigger city compared to Parma, but not in a bad way - the main sights are still walkable and there's lots of good shopping you wouldn't get in a smaller town. And I had read that Bologna is known for its arcades and porticoes, but I was blown away by how many there are and how beautiful there are...