July 19, 2016

Milan on the flop

The final leg of our trip took us back to Milan.

Driving in any city where you don't know exactly where you are going can produce anxiety. But with Doreen navigating, and the Google Lady telling us where to go we were able to get to the hotel and drop off our bags, and the drive to the rental car drop off location without any problem at all.

And Milan is not exactly a "grid" city!

The drop off location was very close to the main train station in Milan. We have been there before, and I just love the brutal, fascist architecture. (what does that say about me?)

 Bold train stations are great. Soaring spaces, and plenty of room.

You can no longer get to the trains without a ticket, but you can use your imagination to think about what it looks like.

Or, I could dig back in my archives and find these images:

those are all from 2000

Now, we are no longer traveling rough.

This is the view from our hotel:

 Much more upscale from where we have stayed in the past.

 It is very close to this monument to Leonardo da Vinci.

The bike share program in Milan has kid's bikes, too!

wandering around the city, we found this plaque. It was on a building that used to be a hospital, the very hospital where Hemingway recovered from his wounds as an ambulance driver, and subsequently came up with the novel "A Farewell to Arms"

We've been in Milan before, but we've never seen The Last Supper.

This time, we had tickets.

It is in this church:

and it looks like this:

 You only get 15 minutes with the painting (dry fresco). YOu had to go through two different air locks to get to the thing

This is inside the church associated with the painting.

Since this was the last day of our trip, we walked down to the Piazza del Duomo, and found a great place to have a spritz, looking at the square
 and the Duomo itself
 What a view!
 Then we came home.

Luckily, Lulu remembered who we were.

July 18, 2016

Mira, Venice, and Palladian Mansions

Leaving San Cassiano was sort of sad. We enjoyed the town, had some good meals, enjoyed the hiking and the people.

But time marches on, and so did we.

On the way to Mira (our base in The Veneto) we drove up to Mt Grappa, the scene of intense fighting in WWI.

The road to the summit was perilous. 

There must have been 50 switchbacks, and in some cases our little Fiat Panda barely fit on the (two way) road. We were lucky we didn't face a bus coming down.

It was scary.

THEN, when we got to the top, the clouds moved it. I didn't take any photos at all. Apparently you can see all the way to the Adriatic from there. But we couldn't even see into the Veneto. 

We did, however, see this guy cutting hay by the side of the road.

We saw this is San Cassiano as well.

Mira was a place to park ourselves while we ventured about the region.

For example, to Venice!

While it is nicknamed La Serenissima it is very crowded in the main squares.

We sought out the by-ways.

But we did stop for a Spritz on St Mark's Square.

I had to try on Doreen's cool blue glasses when she stepped away.

And we always like the mosaic of St Mark's body being smuggled past the Turks in a basket full of pork.

a very cool place

Doreen then had the good idea to take a cruise down the Grand Canal!

It was very hot, but a fun (and beautiful) ride

I love Venice. If I were a rich man, I would buy one of these palazzos.

Maybe near The Rialto Bridge

What a place

The Bridge of Sighs

St Maria Salute.

The Doge's Palace

We left venice and returned to Mira.

The next day, we rode bikes to see the Villa Foscari, one of the first villas designed by Palladio.


Nice grounds

Quite a place

Here is Doreen, pretending she lives there.

Then we rode our bikes back.

Here is a strange thing that Google did to us before we left.

A nice, quiet day.

July 17, 2016

The Dolomites

After Verona we drove about three hours up to a small town called San Cassiano, in the middle of the Dolomite Mountains. (Dolomite is pronounced "doe low ME tee" by the way). We stayed in a hotel called the Rosa Alpina, which has been open since the 19th century, when this area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I am sure you all remember the Battle of Monte Grappa and the Battle of the Adige River. Bad stuff. Thousands of soldiers killed, some froze to death.

Here is the route:

The first part of the drive was very simple, but towards the end you really had some switchbacks and blind curves. What a drive!

But when we got to the Rosa Alpina, this was the view:

Another view of the town:

We arrived there on my birthday, and ate at a wonderful restaurant associated with the hotel called St Hubertus.

We had a great meal. (Doreen is very good to me!)

And they even made me a birthday cake:

The next day we decided to take our hiking poles and make our way up the Alta Badia mountains.

We had an option to take a gondola up the mountain and walk down, but we decided to walk both ways.

Which was nice, because we got to see cows.

There is the gondola we could have taken. Not for us!!!

But we knew it was going to be a long walk up.

I had read the Google Map detail, and it looked like there was a  600' elevation increase.

Well, since we were in Italy, the units were actually meters!

So that was closer to 2,000'!

That is where we were going.

It was beautiful.
 The Hills are alive!

 High on a Hill was a Lonely Goatherd!

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo!

One little girl in a pale pink hat heard
Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo
She yodeled back to the lonely goatherd
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo

This was a pretty easy walk, all in all. No scrambling or bouldering.

 And we had good signs.

I loved my stick.

The views just kept getting better.

and better.

And then when we got to the top, we were able to eat wurstel and sauerkraut!

 Here is a track of the hike up:

The hike down was easier.

The next day we drove up to another hiking area called the Cinque Torri (Five Towers). They still have trenches from WWI, and they had a chair lift to get to the top.

This time, we made potential energy our friend. We ski-lifted up, as terrifying as that was:

and then walked down.

These are the five towers.

and  here are the trenches:

It was a beautiful day

They had wild Forget-Me-Nots in the meadows

 And climbers galore! These guys
 are on top of that peak.

Finally, on our last day in the Dolomites (really, the Dolomiti) we took a gondola up to the famous Jimmy Huitt!

 Gondolas are not as scary as chair lifts, but they are not fun, either.

The chef from St Hubertus had created a special deconstructed Carbonara pasta

Too delicious for words.

It is hard to see here, but the meadows were full of flowers.

and you had a great view down the valleys.

Waterfalls big

 and small

We are not doing a lying down selfie here. We are at Jimmy's Huitt.

 with this view.

This was a wonderful four night leg of the trip. The weather was beautiful, the food was great, and we really enjoyed the hiking.

In general, we prefer to vacation in cities. But his opens up all sort of new opportunities for us.

The Appalachian Trail?

The Pacific Coast Trail?

The Ice Age Trail?

Who knows?

But being outside was fun. We felt healthy and the people we met were great.