Last week in Europe

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

Gimmelwald has been absolutely amazing. One of the best experiences of this entire trip. If you ask what we have done, it won’t amount to much. Hiking, cooking, eating, playing cards. Not major things at face value, but when you are in a place as breath taking as Switzerland and are privledged to stay in a small little place like Gimmelwald, surrounded by great people, you can never go wrong. Petra and Walter, the owners of Mountain Hostel, are so much fun. Sarcastic. Blunt. Funny.

The type of backpacker who ends up here in Gimmelwald is one who loves the outdoors and, for the most part, is very social. We have stayed at other hostels, but nothing compares. Partly it’s just that you can’t really go out at night, there is nothing else out there, but partly it really is just the people. We learned Rummy 500, a game which took us a full 3 hours. The hot tub has been great. The beer on tap is amazing. Really relaxing and enjoyable.

We have taken a few short hikes, the longest today being about 5 hours but mostly flat or down with the exception of the first hour. Today was, by far, the nicest day of the trip. The weather was hot and the views clear. Yesterday also we had cloud-free weather and our hike took us up higher to see a great vista of the Alps. We are both very tired, and I am actually a bit sick today, but we are enjoying every moment. Tonight the locals came in to drink and socialize (there are only 85 residents in Gimmelwald, although the other villages are close by), and two of them entertained us with some local songs on the accordians.

Well, tomorrow we must take our departure from Gimmelwald. We’re very sad to leave. It will be a beautiful day and the village is actually having some sort of barbeque, but we’re due to leave. We will grab our last bit of local cheese and yogurt (Esther makes great yogurt from local cows), and some fresh bread, then make our way down the mountain. We will take a quick tour of Interlaken and stop at Bern on our way to Zurich. From there we take a night train up to Amsterdam, then take a local train out to Zoetermeer, where one of my relatives lives. We will spend the day and night with him, and the next day go to Waddinxveen to visit other relatives for two days, and I’m very excited about this part, as it’s the place where my Oma grew up.

So, the end of the trip is something I’ve really been looking forward to, for different reasons than just seeing Europe. Heritage is something very special. So, it will be nice to have somewhere to stay and to relax, and end our trip. On the 31st we return back to Canada, where we’ll start uploading pictures (gotta get that first 2 gigs up before the end of the month), and hit a hot shower and then bed. Ah, I am very much looking forward to my own bed, my own shower, and my cats. And peanut butter. :)

Gimmelwald

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

We have officially left Italy and are now in Switzerland in this tiny hill town called Gimmelwald. To get here from Milan we took 3 trains, a bus and a gondola. 6 hours.

Well, we instantly fell in love with Gimmelwald. It’s so quiet and serene and scenic it takes your breath away. I say this even with the fact that it was cloudy, and I’m assured when the cloud lifts I will never want to leave. We are surrounded by mountain cliffs, some shrouded very close by with snow, and with hills and hiking paths.

The weather today is cruddy, with a chance of showers. Tomorrow may be the only sunny day of our stay here, despite the fact we’re here 4 or 5 nights. Unusual for this area at this time of year, but such is luck. Good thing we’re from Vancouver and can hike in rain no problem. Our first hike will be to Murren, since we need some food.

One bonus, if we get cold or stiff, there is always the hot tub at night. :)

Venice

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

Well, now we have made our way into Venice. We spent two glorious days here. Our hotel, Villa Dora, is amazing. Not easy to find cheap places here, so we ended up in a nice hotel. However, that turned out well for us since we met two great people, Vince and Bridgette (sorry if I spelled that wrong), to spend our first day in Venice with. We wandered aimlessly and got lost – must do things in Venice. But it was a great day.

Today we went to two islands, Lido and Murano. Lido is a resort island, so we enjoyed the sun and the sand. When it grew cloudy we went to Murano to see the glass blowing and all the shops. Nice stuff, very talented artisans.

Tomorrow we are going to Verona and Milan – we were planning something else (a trip to Lake Como), but it didnt work out with the trains and hotels and whatnot, so we added a day here and a day to Switzerland and have this day to play with. Such is the case when backpacking, things you want to do sometimes do not work out, but on the plus side sometimes you stumble upon something really great.

After Milan we take a long train into Switzerland to make our way to Gimmewald. We spend a few nights there, a couple in Interlaken, then go back to Holland. Will be nice to have a change of fare, culture, and scenery.

Italy has been a thrilling ride, and we really have seen so much. Cinque Terra. Rome. Florence. Siena. Perugia. Lucca. Venice. Milan. Verona. A long list, indeed, and yet there is so much more to see. Already I want to come back to see the South of Italy and Greece, which we did not have time for. Lots of life left to explore.

Since I did not really update it, Florence was nice. It was not our favourite, as we did not have much interest in many of the places. We saw David, the Duomo, and went to the Uffizi and climbed a tower. The rest was just exploring and eating. Lots of gelato. We rode a bike around Lucca, this glorious little walled town with amazing buildings and such a character of people. We also saw Siena, which has beautiful buildings to challenge those in Florence, and a great plazza. Ate some really amazing panforte there too. OMG. After that we tried, I say tried, to get to Perugia. We lost two connections and a two hour train took us 7 hours. So horrible, but we were always left in the middle of nowhere with no choice but to wait to go where we intended, nowhere else. Fun stuff. So, we stayed in a hotel right near the train as we got there near midnight. But, we did see Perugia. Not my favorite town, but it was pretty of course. All of Europe has beauty to it.

We finished that quite fast then went to Rome. Our hostel there was fun and had a microwave, so we were able to make dinners that didnt involve sandwiches. Such a relief. We saw the Colloseum, Palestra, St. Peter’s Bascillica, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, the Catacombs, and some other museum with statues. Very amazing city, one of my favorites just for the diversity and depth of each thing to see.

And now here we are. Time to go to the room, have something nice to drink, a hot shower to get off all the sand from the beach, and to relax and watch mixed English and Italian MTV, the only thing we get on the tv that we can partially understand.

We have taken more than 2000 photos, but putting them on Flickr will have to wait till we come back. Not easy without the upload function, to be sure.

Rome

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

We are now in Rome, and it’s looking like it will be a beautiful day yet again. And hot. Today we are going to the Vatican, so I cannot even wear a skirt to keep cool. We arrived in Rome two days ago, although our first day was late in the evening. Before that we were in Florence, from whence we took day trips to Lucca, Siena and Perugia. We have certainly seen a lot in the past few days! Quite exhausting really – wouldn’t say no to sitting on the beach again.

Anyway, it’s morning here and we need to get out before it gets too hot and busy at the Vatican. Will write more later.

Cinque Terra

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

The most glorious part of our honeymoon – Cinque Terra. Can you blame us for falling in love with it?

The view here is from the cliff path that takes you between all the towns. The picture is of Manarola, the town in which we stayed. It is by far the most serene and well priced of all the places in Cinque Terra, and getting to each other town is no more than a train ride or a lovely hike away.

I will always remember the beauty of this region, especially at night. When we upload the rest of the pictures, you will see what I mean.

If we ever return to Italy, this is the place I would want to visit again. By far. Amazing.

Nice

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

This is a view of Nice from atop a high hill which once held a castle and a lovely waterfall. The beach is actually rather rocky, but along the coastline there are dotted beaches and little towns in which you can spend your day. For us, we did touristy stuff as the weather was poor during our stay.

Chateau D’if

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

Once both a stronghold and a prison, the Chateau D’if sits just a short boat ride out of Marseilles. The prison was home to the famous novel, The Count of Monte Cristo (which is a great read, btw). We didn’t get to see the tiny dungeons that made the book so famous, but rather the opulent, if you can call them, rooms that prisoners could actually purchase for their stay. They included a fireplace, window and more room to move around.

The trip to the island and the visit there were the best highlights of our brief stay in Marseille.



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