July - August 2017
  • Day0

    Dropping Mira off with my parents

    July 22, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Drove up to Marinette with Mira to hand her off to my parents while I'm travelling. Will miss her tons. Bet she'll be huge when I get back.

    When I was a kid, I made a game out of finding vans with the rear ladders on them. Getting harder each year, but I saw one on the drive up!

    Been trying to wrap up work this weekend... Think I'll make it. Need to start packing -- flying out tonight!!! Will land in Rome on Monday at 4pm local time.
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  • Day1

    Flight to Rome

    July 23, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    All packed up, and ready to fly. Got to ORD with plenty of time to spare. Never been able to sleep on a plane. Laura drugged me up, so here's hoping I zonk out on the way over. A quick stop in Copenhagen, and then off to Rome!Read more

  • Day2

    Night in Rome

    July 24, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Made it to Rome. Got absolutely zero sleep on the plane to Copenhagen, and Laura and Caty were pretty tired during the three hour layover. Got into Rome on time, and once we checked in to the room we rented, we both feel awake to head out to dinner. Rome was alive, and we sat down at a cute little restaurant where we could enjoy the great weather.

    The food was great, and the wine fantastic. Plan is to sleep in, get breakfast, and walk around to see a few of the landmarks before catching the train to Florence in the afternoon.
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  • Day3

    Walking around Rome

    July 25, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Woke up feeling 100x better after some much needed rest. We had breakfast at a little cafe, then set a brisk pace to see some of the relatively close landmarks to us. The Pantheon was impressive, and we also saw the Spanish steps, trevi fountain, campo de' fiori, and the Vatican.

    Had lunch and another small restaurant, and then booked it to the train station to take the 250km/hr train to Florence. Made it with 10 minutes to spare, and enjoyed listening to some interesting conversations the other passengers were having...
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  • Day4

    Florence

    July 26, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Florence is beautiful. The place we're staying in is a building erected in the 12th century, and has a lot of character. While the hostess explained how to run the A/C and operate the locks (in Italian), I read the poorly translated sign and failed to make any sense of it, other than getting a sense of alarm. Laura and I had a good laugh after reading the Italian version, basically saying don't use the a/c and water heater at the same time or it would blow the fuse.

    We went out for dinner and drinks at one of the places Laura's friend Monia recommended, where Laura got along famously with the wait staff. I, on the otherhand, had my glass of wine taken from me (it was meant for another table). We had the bistecca alla fiorentina (T bone the size of my head) and a truffle pasta that was phenomenal. After dinner, we had a quick apéritif and some grappa at a nearby bar.

    Next morning, hit Florence and saw the major landmarks. The piazzale Michaelangelo offered the best view of the city.
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  • Day4

    Florence pt 2

    July 26, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Went to the market in the early afternoon, and had my first beer of the trip -- Chris seemed to be getting antsy that I wasn't recording anything in my beer tracker. We had lunch there at the End, but we could have made a meal sampling all the vendor's items (everything topped with truffles).

    Laura found a great wine tasting for us to do, and we had a blast learning about their vineyard and organic philosophy. Couldn't resist buying a few bottles to bring back (let's see how long they make it...)

    We moderated our food intake, because we had reservations at a Michelin star restaurant. The food was fantastic, but that's been true pretty much everything we've eaten.
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  • Day5

    Journey to Cinque Terre

    July 27, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Left Florence this morning via train, which ended up running a little late, causing us to miss our connection in Pisa. Wasn't too long a wait, and we ended up making it to Riomaggiore relatively early in the day.

    After hauling our luggage up the stairs to our room (not an easy task, but manageable), we walked around the town. Laura had been looking forward to fried calamari since we landed in Rome, so we made sure to check that one of the list right away.

    We needed to burn that off, and we were both dying for a swim, so we suited up and headed down to the water. It's only rocky beaches in Riomaggiore, so entering and exiting the water is tricky, but once you're in it's fantastic. We swam for a good half hour, and then climbed up some rocks to rest, bask in the sun, and watch the waves break on the rocks. As we got back in the water, my foot started to cramp, I sustained a (minor) cut on my hand, and promptly got stung by a jellyfish, so it was time to get out.

    We headed back to the room, and enjoyed a bottle of wine on the patio before dinner. We hiked up to the top of town to eat dinner at a place with a beautiful view and watched the sun set. Being that we're on the coast, seafood was a must. As we headed back, we stumbled upon a classical music performance, which felt like the perfect end to the night.
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  • Day6

    Hiking trails in Cinque Terre

    July 28, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Slept in until 9:30 this morning, which was wonderful. Once we dragged ourselves out of bed, we walked down to town and had an espresso and cornettos, and bought some focaccia/meat/cheese to pack for lunch.

    Some of the trails are still closed from natural disasters, so we took the train over to Cornelia (it was late, no real surprise) and began the trail over to Vernazza. The coastal trail we hiked was one of the more difficultly rated ones, and while it wasn't too difficult for us, it definitely gave us a good workout. The views were spectacular, and we had to make sure we stopped to admire the view, as the risk of admiring it while walking carried the risk of a twisted ankle.

    Going down was probably harder than going up, but once we made it to Vernazza, we had a fantastically delicious and refreshing lemon granita. We found a roped off cave (which we ignored) that lead to a beautiful beach.
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  • Day6

    Dinner in Riomaggiore

    July 28, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Ate dinner at a little restaurant right by the water. The food was fresh, clean, and yummy. A couple men played live music on a nearby balcony, and we enjoyed people-watching as we dined.

    After dinner we walked down to sit on the rocks and do some star gazing. After watching some kids jump in and swim, I felt the need to do the same, and stripped down and dove in for a midnight swim. The water is great!Read more

  • Day7

    Last night in Riomaggiore

    July 29, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Could definitely spend another week in Cinque Terre. Tomorrow we travel to Nice, but I thought about switching our train schedule so we could get another hike in in the morning.

    We putzed around a bit in the morning (after more cafe and cornettos), and ended up at the beach as the ferry was closed due to rough seas. Swam a bit, tanned, and rescued a little girl from the riptide, sustaining some minor injuries in the process. Italy has inflicted its fair share of minor injuries on both of us. Each time we went to the beach, we were highly amused watching people attempt to get in and out of the water on the rocky beach, including a fairly comical failure by a girl in a Badgers hat.

    We took the train over to Monterosso and rented a double kayak, and miraculously avoided sunburn during the sun's peak overv the sea. After burning off the wine from last night via heavy paddling, we made it over to Manarola to have a feast of seafood. I like to think I rocked the bib with style, but you be the judge.

    From there, headed back to Riomaggiore, and had a good laugh at some of the other people's waiting for the train panicking that they wouldn't get up in time for the train that blew through the station going 110km/hr. Laura is still in tears thinking about it.
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