Saturday, May 29, 2010

Italy: Vacation Tales From Europe

Rome, Venice, and Switzerland, two long train rides, gorgeous scenery, amazing food, antiquities, moving moments in churches, museums, and so much more. A wealth of sights and sounds during our three and one-half weeks in April. Was it wonderful? Good and bad...yes, both.

First, Rome is work. Rome is hill climbing and walking for miles, hours, with nowhere to sit and rest. Rome seems to want to keep us on our feet. The occasional small park with three benches and people fighting to sit on them was a welcome relief. Bridges with hundreds of tiny steps to climb and no other way to get to the other side along with waiting for buses and taxis, incessant noise and fumes from millions of motorcycles, made Rome a chore, not a pleasure. The prices for everything were so high plus the unfavorable comparison of Euro to US Dollar made the costs astronomical. At one shop, two scoops of ice cream were the equivalent of sixteen US dollars. We walked out. Everything requires a taxi ride and the money just flew out of our wallets with every excursion outside our hotel, which, was also expensive!

We couldn't see the Sistine Chapel. It would be a six day wait to buy a ticket to get in. Never mind. We saw many other comparable sights and gorgeous antiquities. The Vatican was amazing. So big. So many buildings. St. Peter's Square was ruined by hawking vendors who chased us at times selling cheap toys and junk. Rome should try to keep the sites cleaner too. Public restrooms cost money to use and are filthy. You have to be taught how to use them and what to pay and where to insert the coins or buy the tickets. Don't wait till the last minute to find a restroom.

On to Venice: Noisy, crowded, pushing and shoving, vendors and booths. We quickly learned to leave the Grand Canal area and go inward, into the city where people live and hang their washing out. We ate at neighborhood restaurants. Delicious foods. Little cafes with house wines. We also saw the tourist shops, Gucci et. al. but passed by in favor of quaint antique shops. I bought some china to bring home. I can't say I would recommend Venice to you. It really was not worth the enormous prices.

The two train rides North through Italy and on through Switzerland to Zurich where we stayed in a lovely hotel for five days was glorious. All in all, it was a terrific trip. Next time, we will not endure the Euro and it being about 60 cents compared to the dollar. We'll go where we use francs or better, American dollars. And we've also decided we're going to keep our money and ourselves at home next year in the good old USA.

Oh please don't think Europe isn't wonderful or I'm ungrateful. I love every European journey. This is our fourth. Now, we're ready to see other parts of our wonderful earth. Perhaps a journey to Australia or Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands. Perhaps the California Wine Country. There are so many wonderful places to see. We're going to try to see and do as much as we can.

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