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Things I Will Miss: European Travel

Tuesday, 29. September 2009 21:41

I will definitely miss that we can’t just hop in the car to go to Corsica or Lyon or Barcelona for the weekend.

This weekend we’ll be taking the ferry to Corsica. It’s one of the places that we wanted to visit before we left, so off we go.

Bon weekend!

**OK, I meant to post this last Friday before we got on the ferry but didn’t in the rush to get out of the house. We had a lovely time and I’ll post pictures of our trip tomorrow.**

Category:France, Travel, Travel: Europe, Travel: France | Comments Off | Autor: Erica


Tuesday, 4. August 2009 20:37

Don’t go to Turin on a Monday. Everything is closed. Even most of the shops that open on Monday don’t do so until 3:30pm.

I just wanted to warn you.

Otherwise, we had a very nice, quick trip to Turin, Italy last week. We drove up on Sunday and then back on Monday evening.

Highlights of the trip included gelato at Grom and a trip to Turin’s impressive Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum). We also visited the Cattedrale de San Giovanni Battista where the Shroud of Turin is housed. It’s not on display, but they’ve got photographs of it and there is a chapel dedicated to it where the shroud is kept.

Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista

Turin is a Baroque city with lots of large buildings and lots of ornate decoration, it is also where the Slow Food movement started and is known for its chocolate and coffee. You can even pick up a ChocoPass from the tourist office (for a fee) which allows you tastings at 22 different chocolate shops!

Detail of Palazzo Reale Gate

We had a very nice time and I would love to go back.

Category:Travel, Travel: Europe | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Sophia’s View: Rome

Saturday, 18. July 2009 22:54

Once again I handed Sophia my camera a few times while we were visiting Rome. This is what she saw.

Mom at the Colosseum



Palatine Hill

Category:Sophia, Travel, Travel: Europe | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica


Saturday, 18. July 2009 22:32

The last time that I visited Rome, I remember throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain and wondering when I would come here again. The legend is that if you throw a coin into the fountain you will return to the city. At the time I couldn’t imagine when that would possibly be, but now I know.

Since the coin-throwing had worked so well for me the last time, it was our first stop on our trip to Rome last week.
Erica at the Trevi Fountain

Joe took this photo on his way to St. Peter’s Basilica.

While he was touring St. Peter’s and the Vatican, I captured Sophia dancing in front of the Colosseum.
Sophia at the Colosseum

And a few other photos: The Pieta by Michelangelo in St. Peter’s.
St. Peter's

The Pantheon.

Julien and I at Palatine Hill.
Erica and Julien at Palatine Hill

Category:General, Travel, Travel: Europe | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Finale Ligure and Finalborgo

Monday, 11. May 2009 13:18

I love the month of May in France because it has so many holidays! Joe had another three-day weekend this past weekend so on Friday we went on a very brief Italian adventure.

We got up on Friday morning and I asked Joe, “Do you want to go East or West today? East is Finale Ligure (Italy), West is Aix-en-Provence.”

Joe picked Finale, wrote a few emails for work (because it’s not a holiday in India), and we were off.

It was a gorgeous day in France, but somewhere past Nice we went through a tunnel and ended up in fog and cold.

At about that moment I realized that I had left my sweater on the entry table. I had planned to bring it, just in case, oh well, at least I had sweaters for the kids. I had wrapped a scarf around my neck so I just moved it onto my shoulders and hoped that it would suffice.

We missed the turn into Finalborgo (which is near Finale Ligure) and then the next turn came up too quickly and we missed that, too (which is why Joe normally drives and I navigate. He told me to turn as I was passing it.). So we kept driving figuring that we would find a route back sometime soon. The hiking GPS that Joe was using wasn’t a big help and we ended up taking the scenic route back to the autoroute, found out that there was no way onto the autoroute from where we were at and then turned around and backtracked about 10 km. We were also incredibly hungry at this point and couldn’t find any restaurants that were open.

I had told Sophia that we were going on an adventure, but it wasn’t turning into quite the adventure that I had anticipated.

We eventually found a little bar in Finale for lunch. It was past the normal lunch time, but that worked out for us because we didn’t have to worry about the kids disturbing anyone. The woman cooked for the kids first and when she brought out our meal, she said “Mangiare” (or something like that), brought out a soccer ball and played soccer in the bar with Julien so that we could eat.

Ummm, I don’t eat out a lot, but I don’t really see that happening in France. I have, on occasion, had people take Sophia so that I could eat, but never soccer.

In the Bar

We then drove back to Finalborgo and walked through the town. I love the trompe l’oeil painting on the buildings in Italy, and so many in this town had it.

Trompe L'Oeil

While walking through town, we noticed a sign for a walk to the Castel Gavone and decided to take it. The sign had said that the walk was 800 meters, but didn’t mention that it was 800 meters of climbing. Oh well, we got our exercise for the day!

Castle at Finalboro

And were rewarded with this lovely view of the valley that we had driven through earlier.
Valley from the Castle

After our descent, we stopped at a pasticceria for Italian pastries. Yum!
Munching Pastries

Category:General, Travel, Travel: Europe | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica

Back to Jaywalking

Tuesday, 4. March 2008 21:41

I found this article on the BBC website today. Apparently jaywalking isn’t a crime in England, either. Who knew?

And I’ll be writing up our latest Provence vacation as soon as Joe gets back from Munich with the pictures.

Category:France, Travel: Europe | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

Don’t Hate Me Because I Live in Europe

Friday, 18. January 2008 16:50

Joe has more vacation time than we know what to do with. Even after the holidays, he’s got something like 24 days left of vacation.

When Joe and I were working in the US, we both had somewhere between three and four weeks of vacation a year. Of course, we had worked our way up from the standard two weeks a year. That two weeks a year gives you about a week at the holidays and then only five more days throughout the year to try and wind down from work. Not nearly enough time!

But the European “tradition” of taking most of the month of August off, is still really new to us. For the past two summers, Joe has stayed in the office during the month of August and then taken time off in September. His thought was that someone should be in the office to keep working. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out that way. Nothing much gets done in the final weeks of August, but everyone is refreshed and ready to go in September. What does that mean for Joe? Conference calls and a ton of emails while he’s on “vacation.”

So this year I’m trying to be a bit smarter about it. I’ve pulled out my copy of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and am trying to plan all of our holidays for the rest of the year, preferably when other people take them as well.

We’ve got an interesting criteria for where we want to go in Europe. Basically it boils down to places that we’d like to see, but that we maybe wouldn’t make a trip for if we were back in California. Budapest? Poland? Croatia? Scandinavia? So many choices, especially since we’ve already got a two week trip to the US planned for April.

Any suggestions?

Category:France, Travel: Europe | Comments (6) | Autor: Erica


Thursday, 30. August 2007 14:17

Meg in the Roman Forum, originally uploaded by emorris1.

Well, despite the pickpocket game, we had a really good time in Rome. Aunt Meg and I did have slightly different agendas for the trip — mine being to eat well and hers being to see as much as Rome as possible — but we managed to accomplish both!

It was amazingly hot, but the weather cooperated with our plans for the most part. We chose to do the outdoor stuff on Friday morning and managed to pick the one day that was overcast and almost raining. It was actually perfect weather for exploring the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. The sun came out in force for the days that we had planned on exploring the museums, so it all worked out well. Here’s what we did:

Friday: Walked around the Roman Forum. Took a really bad tour of the Coliseum (but it got us past the lines so it turned out OK). Seriously, the guy spent more time talking about the tigers ripping the flesh of the gladiators and blood spurting out than any of the architectural details of the structure — it was too funny. We also visited the Capitoline museums, and the outside of the Pantheon.

Saturday: The Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We had been a little worried that we wouldn’t get in because we had more than one person tell us that we needed to be there by 8am in order to even have a possibility of seeing the Sistine Chapel. We didn’t show up until closer to 10:30, I think. The line actually moved really quickly, and we were inside looking at amazing art by 11am. I find the Vatican Museum a bit overwhelming, their collection has so many important pieces that I just can’t take it all in. I also found their signage lacking. We’d follow a sign to see the Egyptian exhibit and then find a dead end with a sign to the Sistine Chapel. It took a while to figure out that if we followed the signs to the chapel, we’d eventually find everything else that we wanted to see. At one point, Aunt Meg did turn to me and ask if the Sistine Chapel was somewhere in the same city because we had been walking for hours and there was still no sign of it! We did eventually find it — and yes it is spectacular. After a brief siesta in the afternoon we also made our way to the Spanish Step, Trevi Fountain and Campo di Fiori.

Sunday – St. Peter’s Basilica. Aunt Meg is Catholic so we decided to see if we could attend Mass at St. Peter’s. We got lucky and were able to finagle our way into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament for Mass shortly after we arrived. Joe was surprised to hear that I, in fact, was not struck by lightning on attending Mass in St. Peter’s, but I did feel a little guilty because they only let a certain amount of people in and I felt that there maybe was a real, practicing Catholic stuck outside while I took their place. I didn’t need to worry about it too much because there was another Mass after the one that we attended. After Mass, we toured St. Peter’s a bit. I offered that I would wait while Aunt Meg climbed to the top of the dome, but she didn’t take me up on that. From there we were back to the hotel to pick up our bags and off to the airport.

We had a great time, and it was wonderful to not have to worry about where Sophia was trying to run off to, or if we had been sitting for too long at a meal. Joe and Sophia also seemed to survive the weekend pretty well!

Category:Travel, Travel: Europe | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

The Game is Afoot

Monday, 27. August 2007 15:32

You are a tourist in Rome with cash. They want to steal your cash. The object of the game is to enjoy a weekend in Rome and still leave with all of your possessions.

Many tour books on Rome will talk about the pickpockets and how to avoid them. Here is what we encountered in just the first 24 hours:

- While leaving the airport looking for the taxi line we were approached twice by men offering taxi services. Both looked official-enough, but we figured we’d be better off with the official taxi line.

- The next morning at the Coliseum I watched 2 men crouch down behind Aunt Meg and look off at something. I didn’t see anything in the direction that they were looking so as soon as they got up and moved closer, I grabbed Aunt Meg and we walked away. I have no idea what they were doing, but I didn’t really want to stick around to find out.

- As we walked from the Capitoline Hill to the Pantheon we encountered a woman with a map. As soon as she rolled it out over her forearms I knew that something was up (Joe and I had encountered a similar routine before in Florence). She started talking to us. We just said “No” and walked away. She was following us and kept moving closer so I looked back to tell Aunt Meg to watch her purse when I saw the woman’s hand on it. I grabbed her hand, threw it at her while yelling, “No!” and we all quickly walked away, Aunt Meg and I in one direction, she in the other.

Seriously, that was in the first 24 hours. Fortunately, we didn’t have any trouble after that, so I guess we won the game, but man, it would have been nice to not have to have been on guard the whole time. Oh well, I guess that’s Rome.

I realize that Aunt Meg and I probably make easier targets (me at 6-and-a-half months pregnant, she with a broken toe), but like I said, Joe and I have also had run-ins with pick-pockets (where they also didn’t get anything from us). Maybe its just looking like a tourist, I don’t know.

We did actually have a very nice weekend in Rome. I’ll write more about it when I download my pictures in the next couple of days.

Category:Travel: Europe | Comments Off | Autor: Erica

On My Way!

Thursday, 23. August 2007 15:33

Aunt Meg is in town again and we are off for a weekend in Rome. Joe has kindly offered to stay home with Sophia, so it’s just the two of us.

It’s actually going to be the first time that I’ve been away from her for even a night. I can’t believe it! The kid is almost 2-and-a-half, and I haven’t left her yet. So am I feeling any anxiety, worries???


I can’t wait! The thought of a weekend of meals without a 2-year-old is just amazing. Aunt Meg may actually want to see some sights, though……

Oh, and it’s supposed to be 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) in Rome. And I’ve been thinking that the summer has been hot here! Whew!

Category:Travel: Europe | Comments (1) | Autor: Erica