Welcome to Italy.

     This phrase became the bane of our existence while in Italy. While riding from Switzerland to Venice, Italy via TrainItalia, the announcements followed this typical pattern:

3 minutes (of the Italian language) worth of telling where we were, what we were doing, what stops we were arriving at… and any other important information.

2 minutes of similar dialogue in French.

1 (German) minute of a shortened version of the French explanations.

In Engligh: “Welcome to Italy.”

     Due to this, we were highly unsure of were to get off the train, and we further confused by the hour long stop we made in the middle of nowhere. That hour plus the fact that the train was late to begin with left us unable to catch the connection train to Venice. We went to the service desk and quickly learned that the Italian customer service ethic is similar to their timeliness ethic: nonexistent. Eventually we made it into Venice, to our hostel (which was, surprisingly, amazing)… and found out our train had been delayed due to a minor incident–the derailment of another in front of us. 

    Italy was not bad, though it was nothing what I had expected. The calm, coolness, and the laid back stereotypes only applied in reference to time, it seemed. I learned a lot about the culture and a lot about the art of being stared at. 

 

The hour long train stop by a small village in the Italian countryside.

The hour long train stop by a small village in the Italian countryside.

 

 

I think these "street signs" were only for effect. Truth: We spent 75 per cent of our time attempting to find our way around the city. It's no wonder people call it a magical city of mazes that change every nightfall.

I think these "street signs" were only for effect. Truth: We spent 75 per cent of our time attempting to find our way around the city. It's no wonder people call it a magical city of mazes that change every nightfall. (Also note the adorable, fat posing dog in the window.)

 

Mariah and I in Venice

 

Staring down one of the Venetian roadways.

Staring down one of the Venetian roadways.

 

A beautiful detail of the world famous Palazzo del San Marco.

A beautiful detail of the world famous Palazzo del San Marco.

 

You cannot escape Venice without trying on at least one creepy mask.

You cannot escape Venice without trying on at least one creepy mask.

 

A dusky view of the magical city built on water.

A dusky view of the magical city built on water.

 

Early Italian architecture. My favorite art history era.

Early Italian architecture. My favorite art history era.

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3 July 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.

More Cow Bell!

         And here we arrived. In beautiful Geneva, Switzerland. The locals we so friendly and our couchsurfing host, Jullianne, was incredible. She fed us and kept us occupied as we explored the city. This was my first experience with couchsurfing, and I couldn’t have had a better host. On the first morning, we ate at the bakery where Julianne worked (delicious apricot cheese danish and some fresh fresh squeezed orange juice… yum!), and then headed into explore the city. Luckily, we were staying in the countryside, so we had a nice little walk to the bus stop on which we met these lovely ladies…

 

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

Cows. Bells. Switzerland.

 

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

The wine vineyards just behind Julianne's apartment in the countryside. We never got to try any, but rumor has it that it's wonderful.

         On the last night, we got to take a walk with Julianne and Athos (her little Yorkie dog named after one of the three musketeers) and saw a beautiful lightning storm rolling over the Swiss Alps.  The clock below was one of several dozen we saw in the city. Some were sun-dials, some were brick, stone, yellow, black, artsy, expensive…

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. The gathered there in clustered hundreds, camera and case in hand.

The world famous flower garden clock in Geneva's city center. It took us three passes before we finally found it. Turns out, all we had to do was look for the Chinese people. They gathered there in clustered hundreds, stealthily wielding cameras and making peace signs.

 


Chateau de Chillon

This is the Chateau de Chillon just outside of Montreux. Historians say that the beginnings of the castle date back 1,000 years, but it's prime was in the 1300s. Lord Byron made this famous in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon."

 

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

Me and Mariah on the bridge that leads to nowhere... but is connected to Chateau de Chillon. It doesn't look perilous, but the water was cold, the bridge was narrow, and we all know that I am less than graceful.

 

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

A vista of the quaint little city of Montreux, Switzerland.

 

 

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

This gem of a tree lined the streets of Geneva. This isn't photoshop... it really looked like this.

 

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

A hidden square in the city walls. We only found it because someone opened a door and we were rubbernecking.

 

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

A mob of Laotians outside of the United Nations protesting government hostility.

 

 

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. The span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

These are the flags of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Borough in which Geneva is situated. They span across the Mont Blanc bridge.

 

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

A beautiful view of the Swiss Alps as we rode the train through the mountains, across switzerland, and into Italy.

         Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the idyllic, peaceful  country of Switzerland, the witty, playful sarcasm of Julianne, and began our venture into the land where time has no meaning: Italy. Let the adventures begin.

26 June 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Europe, Hiking/Backpacking, travel. Leave a comment.