Rothenburg ob de Tauber - a delightful medieval town in Germany
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Well, we are winding down now here in Rome, but I am having my son post some pictures of the Amalfi Coast area so some of you can see for yourself how beautiful that area is.
Don't get me wrong, Rome is cool, full of history, architectural monuments, and incredible ruins, but the sheer beauty of the coast line south of Rome is incomparable. Cinque Terre was pretty amazing, but I think this coastline even beats that.
We went to sleep each night with our terrace doors open wide with the sea air, and probably geckos, sweeping in. The moon shimmered on the water...ah, so romantic. Though the roads getting us there could have killed us all. The wind around sheer cliffs, with barely enough room for a car, much less two! On top of all that, big tour buses make the trek as well. We saw so many near misses; enough to last me a while.
Take a peek at the pictures he loads up and let me know what you think.
Sorry for the long delay in posting, the internet connections have been slow the last few spots we've been. We are just finishing up the Amalfi coast after a week in Toscano (Tuscany). We were staying in Lucingnano, a small medieval town outside of Siena that was our base for our travels around Tuscany. Another set of friends joined us at the last minute, so there were eight of us there together. Luigi, the owner of our castle within Lucignano, was a doll and welcomed us warmly and gave us a partial tour of the 35 room home he inherited from his father and his grandfather before him.
In Tuscany, we visited Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto, and Civita. Civita was our favorite. It is a little tiny town that can only be accessed by foot (or horse or donkey or probably motor scooter for locals). Only about a dozen or so folks actually live there, but the town is so picturesque and rustic, we fell in love with it. Assisi probably takes the prize for the cutest town, and Volterra for views that stretch to the Mediterranean.
We dropped some of our group off at Piombino on the coast and then drove south past Naples to the Amalfi coast. We accidentally got off in Naples which was an hour detour through the scariest traffic any of us have ever experienced. Bob, who was driving, is now part of a special club of the INTS (Internationale Napoli Traffico Surviali). We all agreed he should get a special T-shirt. There was a lot of screaming in the car that night.
We then had to navigate the twisting roads of the coast to get to Priano, which is just outside of Positano, at night. Our nerves made us wonder if we should have bagged the Amalfi coast. However, the views from our rooms had us changing our minds in minutes. Our room had a big terrace looking out over the night sky with the moon shining in and the fragrance of flowers, olives, and other herbs coming in along with the sea air. We slept with our terrace doors open all night, and awoke to a sunrise (surprisingly we are on a hook that faces east) that was beyond spectacular. It was paradise.
One day we drove to Paestum where there is nearly an entire city of Greek ruins that are over 2500 yrs old. They are some of the best preserved Greek ruins available. Words escaped us all in trying to described what we saw. Pictures will help, but not do it justice. The next day we spent on the beach soaking up the sun in Positano. The third full day we popped over to Capri, took a boat ride around the island, and then went to the other side of the island and rode a chair lift up to the top (about 1800 feet above the shore) and had a view of the whole island as well as the mainland! It was pretty incredible.
The weather has been warm and sunny here (though we had a few gray days in Tuscany). Now we are off to Rome tomorrow for the last week of our trip. It will be good to be home, but we know we have to come back!
The last two days we have spent in Cinque Terre (means 5 lands). These are 5 little towns on the Western most edge of Italy in the Italian Riviera that are now preserved by UNESCO (don't ask me what this stands for, but it sounds important) as a national preserve/park.
We've walked the trails between the five little towns some and taken a boat between all of them as well. What fabulous views. We have also sat in lounge chairs on the beach (you have to pay to use the beach) and soaked up the sun and swam in the beautifully warm water. We feel very refreshed. The last two days have been around 80 or more degrees out we figure. The climate is quite tropical here, there are cactus, geckos, and palm trees here.
Today, we took the boat to the furthermost town of Riomaggiore and forgot to get off (we have a little trouble translating the Italian messages that come across the loud speaker) and ended up being carted off to another town way farther south called Porte Venere. Turns out Porte Venere is quite cool actually. It has a very old fort structure with a castle and churches that miraculously hug the rugged rocks along the water. They date back to the 4th century. We were able to catch another boat and head back where we belonged, and you'll be happy to know that we did not get lost. We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up even more sun (if that's even possible) on the beach again, for another 7 Euro for the lounge chair.
Tomorrow we leave bright and early, 9:00 a.m., for Florence. We hope to stop by the Carrera marble quarry on our way.
It doesn't get any better than this!!!
P.S., I'm actually turning brown - very unusual situation for me; though I am being careful about my face, and using lots of sunscreen, but it doesn't seen to make any difference, sigh... :)
I forgot to mention something in my last post - there is no pepper on the tables either; ever.
Tonight is our last of two nights in Verona. Last night in the wee hours, there was the most amazing thunderstorm. The lightning was flashing nearly non-stop and the thunder rolled on incessantly for probably a half hour or more. There is nothing like that in Seattle. The rain was so hard I thought we would float away. By morning it was a light drizzle that didn't even warrant an umbrella. By lunch it was sunny and warm again. I think it might rain again tonight though; the clouds have been gathering through the dinner hour.
Verona has an intact arena that began around 3 to 30 A.D. Operas and concerts are held there now even. I mean, right now there is a concert going on. The people-watching has been a hoot. The people promenade up and down the piazza, and the old gentlemen are wearing their suits and congregate and talk about really important stuff (judging by the hand waving).
Tomorrow we are off to Cinque Terre!
I've been thinking; there are certain things are not right here. There are no washcloths, no blankets (just a comforter in Germany), really flat pillows, and no water served unless you pay for it. Oh, and the computer keyboards too.
I figured out (actually I probably figured it out before and just forgot) every time James and I go on a really exciting vacation, that James gets pretty weird when he is excited. On our way to Fussen on the "Romantic Road" bus he suggested some really insane things. Like, let's get the bus driver to go really fast, stick his head out the window, and see if his toupee does "the rooster." Or, do you think we can join "the castle club?" Apparently he believes this club is an off shoot of the famous "Mile High Club" he's been begging me to try for some time. I tell him he can't afford the dues. But I do like his idea of watching Hans toupee flipping. I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it myself.
So far all of our plans have gone well. We've caught the right buses, the right trains (except one cuz we had our watch set an hour off due to the time change), the reservations have all been in order too.
We had a blast in Venice. Every other hour James said "Oh, this is romantic!" Dinner was romantic, the vaparetto (water bus) was romantic, the alley ways were romantic, lunch was romantic...you get the idea. He loved Venice, just as I did 3 years ago. He is already saying "when we come back, we have to do..."
We are off to Verona where they have some very old duomos and an arena that is in better shape than the coliseum in Rome. We hope to kinda chill a bit since we have been going at a pretty fast pace this whole time.
We love you all!
here are pictures that Kat asked me to put up for all of you to see.
Bacharach in Germany
castle in southern Germany, called Neuschwannstein
looks very picturesque.
Well, the kids aren't rich yet (from our life insurance policies); we're still alive here, safe and sound. I am having trouble typing this though cuz the keyboard is not the same as at home. The y is where the z should be, and the @ symbol is hard to find, as is the semi colon, and slash which I still can't find. The return is also several keyz away from where it should be.
Well, we took a couple of funnz pictures of 3 action figures we named Ben, Mandy, and Ricky, and they have been having a blast too. We caught Ricky just in time. He was about to swing like Tarzan from the train luggage rack onto an unsuspecting commuter. Luckily James talked him down. Mandy has turned into a shop-a-holic.
We caught her today in amongst the miniature Christmas items. Right now, Rick and Ben are both trying their hand at German war games here in the internet cafe. I knew I would never hear the end of it if I didn't let them come. We'll post some pictures when we get a chance. I haven't been able to download any yet.
Todaz we walked the wall of Rothenburg. The only walled medieval city left, we hear. It's like stepping back in time. I've already taken almost 150 pictures!!! They're all so good. Everzthing is so beautiful.
It's been about 75 degrees or warmer each day. We love everyone and miss you. One really good thing is that we have averaged over 5 miles of walking each day, according to our pedometer. We're eating lots of really great food too!!! Ice cream, Schneeballers (big dough balls glazed with chocolate and nuts and, well....stuff). I don't think the Atkins diet would do very well here at all. Breakfast consists of bread, cheese, cereal, coffee, tea, and oh yeah, more bread.
Talk to za later (Oh that pesky kezboard!)
Kat and James
Well, tomorrow is the day we leave for our 5 week trip. To say we're excited is an understatement. Although, I've been planning for so long that I've found myself in somewhat of a stupor. I think it'll really hit me when I'm finally over the Atlantic.
My plan is to take a ton of pictures and lots of video footage. I'm going to love coming home and creating the video story of our trip.
Tonight, our tactic is to go to bed early, and then wake up early in the morning. We want to try to start our time change tonight. Hopefully we'll be able to sleep on the flight over (flight leaves at 6:50 p.m.) and arrive somewhat rested and able to stay awake until bedtime on Saturday.
So long. Farewell. We'll miss you all.
Trip of a Lifetime
Well, we only have 16 days to go as of today. My son's posting reminds me of how much we'll miss our family and friends while we're gone. Little Ali, now nearing 15 months old, will probably seem to have grown tons by the time we come back. Come to think of it, we'll probably have grown by the time we come back, with all that pasta and pizza, though we're planning on doing a LOT of walking.
This will be the first time James and I will have spent 24x7 in each other's company too. I'm not sure if I should be scared or excited. After 25 years of marriage, we have never had that luxury. In fact, of late, James has had to spend so many hours finishing up his last project house, that I rarely see him! It has gotten me really looking forward to the break. I get 5 weeks of his attention, and he, mine.
Now we're down to 16 days, and the panic is beginning to set in. I have a lot of things to do to finish preparations. I have to finish the arrangements for a house sitter (for only 1 week), make sure the bills will be paid while we're gone, notify banks, lose 20 pounds, check the will, hug my son, lose 20 pounds, hug the family, make lists, cross things off lists, lose 20 pounds, make another list (cuz I lost the first one), buy camera batteries, make a list for James, lose 20...You get the idea.
Well, since I have the ability to post on this particular blog, I will.
I find it a rather splendid idea of taking a bit of a celebration in Europe together. I don't feel like it is a vacation- I don't think something that lasts quite as long as five and a half weeks could be. I think that the entire trip is much more than a vacation, and more of a mid-life-glad-to-still-be-with-you-ps-thx-for-not-divorcing-me kind of thing.
It is truly uncommon for such a long relationship these days, seeing as most of my friends do not have two parents that are blood related to them. Takes guts and real love, the messy kind, to get through the kinds of things you go through in 25 years.
So I tip my glass to you, my parents, because you have done what I hope for all my life- to love and be loved in return, while shining in God's eyes (No divorces).
Yes I will miss you. What kind of silly question is that? Heh, parents these days...
Amazingly enough, we've managed to talk some friends into meeting us in Italy for a portion of our trip. Bob and Patricia DeWitt are hooking up with us for the Tuscany/Umbria week and then on down to the Amalfi Coast and ending up in Rome for a day or two.
Through them, we were able to find out that another couple, Jerry and Sara Gamache, were also going to be traveling in Italy at the same time celebrating their 25 years of wedded bliss (same as we are). They'll join us for the week in Tuscany and then continue on with their itinerary.
The six of us have set up a monthly Italian dinner evening where we discuss our plans, try out our favorite Italian dishes, and generally work ourselves into a dither about our upcoming travels. We exchange our tidbits of info we've managed to gleen from travel blogs, Rick Steves' books or classes, maps, articles, and other such travel treasures. After our last one, I told James that we needed to keep meeting as a group even after our trip is completed. Maybe we can all plot next years trip (hint, hint)!
Anyway, only 30 days to go. What a great trip, with good friends, and fabulous food!
I had to re-do this blog because I couldn't get the old one to post correctly. I managed to copy out the old posts (most of them) and copy them here, including Bob's "Y Am I Going to Italy" which is a hoot.
I hope others of you will post as well.
Stay tuned. James and I leave in one month. We'll be posting on this blog occasionally throughout the trip. We plan on getting a cell phone when we're there, and we'll be sure to post the phone number so those of you who need to get a hold of us urgently can do so.
Only 30 days to go as of today! Yahoo!
This is a good question that I will make up an answer to on the spot though it will not be the real answer because I don't know the real answer. That will be determined far in the future as I look back from my perch on a high mountain-top, called Mt.Perspective. The not-real reason is that the Ochs asked us to go and since we had time to go and a slight inclination for adventure, plus someone very near and dear to me decided to lay enough money on us to pay for the whole trip, we said, "okay!" It seems like a good thing to do because there are no decent pizzarias here in Seattle and the gelato is inferior as well, not to mention a real paucity of medieval architecture and sun-wrinkled peasants wandering around.
It is our hope to get an audience with the Pope as I have a few questions for him I have been saving up for a long time, such as how long does it take him to iron that hat? Also, if he wears white, and we know good guys wear white, why do all his friends wear black? Anyway, if he is too busy we thought we would do something equally important like rent a motorcycle and slalom at 100 m.p.h. through the flocks of sheep, pigs, chickens, hay wagons, wild boars, and the above-mentioned wrinkled peasants that cover the hilly, winding Italian roads around every blind corner. My wife may not do this as she has some important shopping to do in the quaint Tuscan villages where you can get a great deal on imported Chinese items. Also she has a sharp eye for over-looked objects d'art that the locals may have missed like Da Vinci manuscripts stuck in the back of a pasta cookbook or a Michalangelo that is being used by an ignorant peasant as a butter churn. This alone would make the trip worthwhile.
So these are a few of the reasons we are going to Italy, not to mention it will be exciting to be where history has been made. Because by the time we are there the Prime Minister of Italy may have been replaced - three or four times!
I found some good things regarding the weather during our stay in Italy. www.weather.com has an excellent site showing the high, low, and averages.
When we're in the Florence/Tuscany area, the average high temperature is 79 degrees and the average low is 57. Another site said the minimum average temperature of 57 was taken at sunrise (www.italyflash.com), and showed the average maximum at 82. This site took the averages from 1992 to 1996. I believe the other site spread the average over 30 years. Either way, we'll probably see warm weather.