Greetings from Italy. We just arrived here after a couple weeks of working our way south via the Alps of Austria, Switzerland and France.
After departing Berlin, we spent a few days in Prague, which is a great city. Although the sky threatened rain for us, we managed to do all our touring in relatively dry conditions.
The castle was amazing, but our favorite part was the Old Town square. First of all, there is an astronomical clock, so that wins bonus points right there…but additionally, there was a full food festival going on, so we sampled potato and sauerkraut casserole, fried potato chips, local sausage and ham, but our favorite was Trdelink: it’s a bread dough that is rolled out into a cylinder, then roasted over a coal fire, then covered in cinnamon and sugar. Think of a donut the size of a can of soda but really thin: delicious! There were also these really crazy dancer/bagpipe-type-instrument-players going nuts in the square, and they had full-on wooden shoes, which made them a joy to watch.
Moving south, we headed to Austria and spent a couple days in Vienna, which was a very nice surprise city…we hadn’t heard too much about it, but it’s amazing architecture (plus the gorgeous day we had) quickly moved it to number 2 city on my list, and number 1 on Kellee’s. For some reason I don’t recall ever learning about Austrian history in school, so it was neat to see how long their empire lasted and how much influence they had in Europe for hundreds of years – basically right up until the Prince was assassinated and World War One erupted. Despite all the awesome things we saw, the winner was a café downtown, with delicious Apple Strudel and a window into the chocolate maker’s domain, right next to our table…we were able to watch the chefs work their magic while shoving some of their hard work down our throats.
We had awesome weather and the best part was that we were able to take the Gondola to the top of the mountains and walk down – no climbing involved! Lazy, but fun. Austria also had a crazy mountain road through a pass in the Alps with amazing views – but lots of switchbacks, and a 30 Euro toll, but it was worth it for the pictures.
The area is famous for it’s Swiss chalet style houses and skiing, but also for its summer hiking. This time, we took Europe’s highest train to the town of Wengel, then a super-steep cable car to the top of a local peak, and had a nice 5 hour hike down…again, lazy, but awesome! We were a bit clouded in, but were able to steal views of the highest peaks in the region, towering at over 4000m.
I bought a t-shirt, but we were also able to re-create Thompson and Rutherford’s famous experiments on replica equipment. Oh what, you haven’t heard of them? Thompson discovered the electron, and Rutherford unlocked the secrets of the atomic nucleus, among other things. Consider yourself informed!
Finally, after a delicious baguette sandwich in Geneva (about 2 km from France), we passed through Mt. Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, and arrived in Italy. Passed through, you say? Yes – there is an 11km tunnel right through the mountain…no claustrophobia allowed!
Once in Italy we visited Milan and just arrived in Venice, to begin our next 3 or so weeks in Italy. The sun is setting earlier, and the leaves are starting to change, but we still have a bit of summer in us yet! Navigator remains drydocked in Trinidad and so far hasn’t been hit by any hurricanes…we’ll keep our fingers crossed!