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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Viaggo Italiano Giorno Cinque -Uno

As I write about day 5 on day 6 I am hungover. Those details will come later but apparently I wrote the following last night before going to bed.

holy crap what an awesome time with family. Going to leave what I type. It is 1:20 am and my cousins and their wives made me drink to much. Holy frickin crap. It is amazing here.

So after our long day of driving from Venice we all slept in. We didn't get up until around 9:30.

Uncle Bob and Auntie Steph had already gone to the grocery store. We had orange juice and pastries and hung by the pool.

The plan for the day was to go see Siena on the way to Poggibonsi to meet up with the Scancarello's who are relatives.

On the way we decided play a game where I would play a saying in Italian ffrom an Ap on my iPhone and we would guess what it was in English. We were having to much fun and had to quiet down so we could find the center of Siena. We had a little trouble figuring out how to get into "el centro". The center of the city. You need to follow the signs with the bullseye on them. But they are small and hard to spot at least for us. Andrea is official navigator and her call sign is officially "bullseye".

Renee ---I thought of you driving us to a VIM. We were all yelling something different. My Uncle has done a terrific job driving us around. There is no way I could drive a stick shift and try to navigate. And forget about the roundabouts. Plus the van is large and the roads very very narrow. Not to mention people seem to stay within the lines and motos ( motorcycles) or Vespas are weavingq in and out. There seems to be no rules for Motos except they do seem to all wear helmets.

I got out the iPad to see what advice Rick Steves had and it helped us find parking. BTW Rick Steves is now Rick James Andrea referred to the guide book guy Rick James and we didn't know what she was talking about. We found free parking and walked to the center after we bought a map of Siena.

Just posted 3 blogs and it took a long time on the wifi we found. Going to break up the blogs into parts from here on out.

So where was I?

We started exploring Siena. We didn't have time to visit the Duomo because we had to be in Poggibonsi by 4pm.

We started to hear loud beating drums and then they came around the corner. I had a video that I will share when I get home so you can hear it. The way it echoed through the streets was very cool.

They were handing out the flyers. Will need to translate on Google later.

El Centro.

Time to leave for Poggibonsi.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 30, 2011

Viaggo Italiano Giorno Quattro

Not a lot going on today. It is the drive to Cortona through Florence. Everyone but me is at Academia seeing David. I am staying with our stuff in the car. Yes I am crazy but many years ago my ex-wife and I left stuff in the car towards the end of a vacation to Oregon and thieves broke the window and stole our luggage and camera etc. Still bothers me so I am sitting in the van blogging.

Here are some pictures from the Rialto 1082 B&B.

We left Venice around 9:30 am. After checking out we had to haul the luggage over the Rialto Bridge again. It was easier this time as it was less crowded. When we got to the water taxi spot Uncle Bob realized he still had a room key so he headed back. We had about 20 minutes to wait for the next water taxi to the airport.

The ride from the airport to Venice was very slow. Not so on the return trip. We were hauling through the water and it was choppy. A bit like a roller coaster ride. We decided this would have been worse then the plane ride for my mom.

When we got to the airport Uncle Bob and I headed to the car rental area while the others waited in a cafe. It was about a 5 min walk and when we got to the desk they asked for Bob's passport which of course my Aunt had. I called and texted Chris but no one answered so Uncle Bob headed back.

While I waited I asked how big the van was and if us and the luggage would all fit. We brought straps for a luggage rack but the van did not have one. I chatted with two ladies from Detroit who were waiting near me while their husbands checked to see if them and the luggage would fit in a station wagon.

Uncle Bob returned with his passport and we were off. A 9 person van is the biggest they have so we would have to make it work. We found the van and it is doable.

We had to figure out how to get back to the water taxi dock which was quite easy. We found a parking spot nearby and after about 3 minutes of trying to get in reverse we were parked. Turns out you need to left a lever to get it in reverse.

Here are a few pictures from the trip to Florence.

This is the first accident I saw today. The driver of the gas tanker was pissed I took the picture. BTW he was smoking a cigarette standing next to the gas tanker.

We arrived in Florence about 3:30 and had tickets to see David at 4pm. We got stuck in a traffic jam. People were getting out of the cars because we were not moving. I think we were only stuck there about 5 to 10 minutes. We quickly found a spot and I stayed with the van.

I took a nice nap and blogged. Accident number 2. Happened just behind me. Dude on a Vespa versus bus.

So this is where the day goes bad. Well not bad but we hit a few bumps in our otherwise smooth trip so far.

We had a difficult time leaving Florence. There was the autostrada out of the city and a slower "carriage way". We mistakenly got on the slower rode and it took us a long time to figure out how to get back to the autostrada.

The first problem was we really didn't eat anything after breakfast and it was 6 pm. So some of us were close to a possible meltdown.

Adam had to go to the bathroom and we stopped at a gas station but the bathroom was closed. We told him we would be there in 45 minutes so he said he could wait. 1 hour later when we weren't close we stopped and found a bathroom. After a few minutes we heard pounding and yelling. Adam was locked in the bathroom.

We thought it was hilarious. Adam not so much. While Adam avoided all the spiders we each set out to find something to get him out. I figured out how to get the screws exposed to the latch and Bob had a screwdriver in his bag and luckily it was on top in the van.

While Uncle Bob unscrewed the screws Andrea found something that could maybe pry the door open. We were thinking we could use something from the spare tire in the van but it looked like we had to remove everything to get to it.

Removing screws didn't work so we used the bar.

After Adam was free we set off again. We continued on and then realized we missed the turnoff. The missed turnoff was before the bathroom so if we would have turned Adam would not have got locked in.

Once we were back on the autostrada it was a quick trip to Cortona. The directions from the highway are not road names but landmarks. It was fun. I will post pictures later when I take them of the road to the Villa.

Villa Stefania is amazing. We have both houses. Chris, Andrea, and I are in the lower smaller part. These are pictures I took today, day 5, of the pool and lower house.

After we settled in we loaded into the van to find a restaurant for dinner. We drove into Cortona. Cortona is celebrating the festival of Santa Margherita so the town was very busy. Many of the restaurants were closing. It was about 10pm. We found one that would take us. Uncle Bob and I ordered vegetable soup with our meal but they came back to tell us they were out. I had pasta with bacon. The rule seems to be that the last meal is always the best one I have had. And this was true today.

Pictures from Cortona.

We ate here. There was a bridal shower next to us. They were having a great time. We wished we could understand them. There were a couple of men next the group and they ended up buying champagne for the ladies. I wish I had taken a picture of one of them that was wearing a sweater over shoulders/ tied around neck. He was a big dude and the sweater looked like a ladies small. There was no way he could fit into it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Viaggo Italiano Giorno Tre

We all slept well. We all woke up around 3 or 4 am and thought we would be awake the rest of the night but after an hour we all slept until about 8am. Some later. Breakfast is served from 8:30 until 10.

Breakfast at B&B.

After breakfast we set out for the Frari church.

This is the first place on the trip that I will be taking pictures even though there are no photograph signs. In retrospect should have taken picture of no picture sign. Next place I will do that.

I had downloaded Rick Steves audio tour so I listened to it while I toured the church.

We left the church and headed back to St. Marks Square.

On the way back my Uncle stopped to talk to two ladies. Turns out they lost their husbands. We started walking again and my uncle disappears again. He found the husbands so we went back to tell the ladies. They were from Virginia and San Franciso.

Gelato break.

Time for sweets.

Dad was getting tired so we decided to go for a ride on a taxi to see the Grand Canal. But we screwed up. Well I screwed up. We bought one way tickets but got on the taxi going the wrong so we ended up in Lido. Andrea and I decided to " make lemonade from lemons" and go to Burano.
After paying $6.50 euro person for a one-way ticket and going owe stop we purchased tickets that got us unlimited rides for 12 hours that cost $16 euro.

Auntie Steph didn't want to go so we split up. Steph, Bob, Adam and Kandice went back to go to see St. Mark's Basilica and we went on to Burano. Burano is an island where the houses are painted bright colors so the fisherman knew what house to return to after fishing.


We had to wait about a half hour so we walked around Lido a bit. It was a 20 minute boat ride to the first stop and then we had to get off to get on another boat to Burano. On the boat we met a couple from Huntsville Alabama. He was retired Army and had worked at SPAWAR like my uncle. Small world. We told him if my uncle was on the boat he would talk his ear off.

As we were getting off the boat in front of us were Adam, Kandice, Bob and Steph. They were behind us on the boat. They were hiding because they were embarrassed that they changed their minds. Adam took a picture of us in front of them that I will post when I can get it off his camera.

Bob and Mick talked while we waited a half hour for the next boat. Reunited we were then off to Burano.

We saw this tower leaning from the boat. It is really leaning but it was difficult to capture this in a picture.

More pictures from Burano.

Dad made some comments about this statue that are not appropriate to post. Ask me and I will tell you story but unless you know my Dad it will get lost in translation.

I was taking a picture of the shack and Mick and Cheryl happened to be passing by and wondered why. Mom-- Dad is buying this for you to move to. He figured it is all he can afford.

Time to head back. We talked to a ticket agent to figure put the best way back. Go back the way we came or continue onto Murano and then Venice. On the boat everyone was kind of quiet except for us. Everyone had to know we were crazy americans. The discussion turned to how loud we actually were and that Ada may be louder then me. Me and Adam together is a bad thing.

Murano is an island known for glass making and everything closes at 6pm but me and my Dad decided to stop for a half hour and catch the next boat.

Nothing real exciting here. Many glass shops and I purchased my first shot glass for the trip. The streets were lined with glass shops.

Dad and I got back on the boat for a quick stop back to Venice. I texted Chris to see if they walked the entire way back or took a water taxi again. They were walking and about to get on a water taxi. After a short walk I saw them ahead of us an yelled to Auntie Steph. After a few minutes she finally heard me. Turns out they had to back track because Uncle Bob left his wallet at a grocery store.

After returning to the B&B we rested and/or showered before dinner. As we were deciding what direction to head for dinner Chris was getting upset because we couldn't understand where he wanted to go.

The decision was made each night one of us would pick the dinner spot tonight would be Chris's turn. He chose:

Food was good. Had the best salad. The lettuce was so fresh. Dinner was pasta with meat sauce. Also very good. Beer with dinner tonight instead of wine. We also really enjoyed the bread sticks.

After dinner we walked back to find Harry's Bar. Supposedly Hemingway hung out there.

Chris, Andrea, Adam and Kandice decided to go on a Gondola ride. $100 Euro for 40 mins. I gave Chris my camera to take pictures. Because the girls sat by each other and the boys sat by each other the gondolier thought they were gay.