Category Archives: Europe 2013


On our first afternoon in Paris, after a liesurely lunch at a cafe, finding our apartment and a quick nap, we set off for Montmarte. We walked the long way around to the metro in order to see Notre Dame, which is on our list to visit for tomorrow, and then we were off.
We stepped off the metro to a great view of the famous Moulin Rouge. I honestly don’t know why it’s so famous, but my heart gave a flutter to be able to see such an iconic sight with my own two eyes. Our first order of real business in Montmarte was to find a snack, and in Paris, we could think of no better snack then some crepes! Delish! And the cheese and nutella fillings (not together, separate crepes) gave us the boost to climb the gigantic hill (aka mountain of the martyrs or in French ‘Montmarte’). At the top, not only a huge church, Sacre Couer, but an awesome view of the whole city. By this time it was about 8pm, so the lights over Paris were gorgeous.
We had a quick dinner at a great little bar (photos of all of this to come a bit later) and then off back down the hill to the metro to go home. On the way, we saw a crowd of people up ahead all taking photos of something. Now we found out earlier today that it is Paris fashion week and many celebrities are in town, so my first thought was it has to be some young movie star or fashionista. But no, it was even better. We got a little closer and caught a glimpse of an older balding man getting into a car.
“Is that Jimm…..” is all John got out before I said “Thats Jimmy Buffett! Quick, quick get the camera!!”
Of course we were a bit late and all have to show is a shaky photo of the back if his head through the car window! Turns out he had just done a few days of shows here in paris and had stopped to sign some autographs on the way out of the concert venue.
We once again headed for the metro, but this time we were in a crowd twenty parrotheads deep. Pirates here, grass skirts there, oh we can’t move because a gigantic blow up shark is blocking our way etc…etc…all the way to the metro.
Overall a very enjoyable evening.


P.s. Mom, I think I just found the way to get you back to Europe. I am sure Dad would agree to come back sooner then planned if it meant seeing Jimmy live, right?

Leaving Venice

Venice is beautiful and relaxing, as I remember it. But as I explore and tal=
k to locals I feel a profound sadness. This city is transforming into nothin=
g more than an ancient theme park. Without tourism, what economy would they h=
ave? Especially since fishing restrictions are tightening with all the overf=
The next time we visit Italy, I will be happy to skip t=
he sinking city of Venice. Ciao!

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Venice Apartment

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Our apartment in Venice is adorable, but has three floors. One bedroom and bathroom on second floor, one bedroom on third. So to use the bathroom in the night, I had to descend a steep flight of stairs. No matter – the location could hardly be more residential. In the evening we hear neighbors talking to each other, the sounds of dinner being prepared, and the soft flapping of pigeon wings as they perch on the roof outside our window.

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Farmhouse Dinner with Italian Relatives

It’s one in the morning, and I’m squatting over the bidet in our hotel room futilely trying to wash poo off my shoes. But I’m still naming this (Tuesday) the best day of our trip so far. The poo in question belonged to an eight-month-old pig whose sleep I disturbed at midnight after finishing a six course meal at a farmhouse restaurant near Schio.

The pig was compensated with a heap of table scraps from our dinner, which hardly seems fair, since I probably ate one of his cousins in the fifth course. Unlike the pig, who willingly accepted a late night snack, the goats fled into the woods, much to Laura’s disappointment. (Laura loves goats!)

How in the world did we end up in this situation? More on that later…

Farmhouse Restaurant: Agriturismo al Castello

Very Happy Pigs at Night

Trains (Or How We Almost Didn’t Ride On The Train)

The first part of this post is for John and I’s nephew, so bare with me. Also, fyi, this post was put on the blot a few days after it was written.

Colt, we wanted to show you th type of train Auntie Lou, Uncle John, Grandma and Grandpa rode on yesterday. It was a high speed train that goes really fast, over 200 km/h !! It was very different from Thomas and his friends (or here they would refer to him as Tomaso!).


Now for the good part…

Yesterday we got up after sleeping in a bit to make our 10:15am trains to Parma. The first one, a high speed train to Bologna, was uneventful, although by the toke we bought our tickets there we not 4 seats together so we ended up in different cars. However, the train (like most in Italy we are told), got to Bologna a little late. Now, I knew from looking at approximate times online before we left for our trip that we should have only about 25 minutes to change trains, however our second train was a regional train. The tickets for those trains don’t assign seats or even say the time it leaves on them, so until I found a departure board I wouldn’t know what time and place our next train was.

So the fun began with getting off the train in Bologna. The trains at the station only stop for about 2 minutes to let people off and on, and us not knowing what station is next until we get there then grabbing our bags and getting of need about 3 minutes. Needless to say it was a little stressful to make sure we were all off before the train pulled away again. Then I immediately set off to find the departure board for the time of our next train. We couldn’t find it on the first board, so I continued farther. On the way John dissapeared into the restroom while I went far ahead to find the next board. I again didn’t see any trains for Parma. I found an employee to ask and she said the train we needed was labeled for Piacenza, and we needed to hurry to platform 1. I glanced back at the hoard to see that the train leaved at 12:28, and by my watch it was 12:24!! Luckily, John made it out of the bathroom just as I realized this and told everyone to run for the platform.

Now Bologna isn’t a big city but it’s not exactly little either, so platform one was up a set of stairs, across a terminal, up an escalator, down a hall, then we had to stop to read signs for which way to the right platform, then down some stairs and a hallway to the end (of course it was the platform farthest away!) then up a couple stairs and onto the train. We ran on about 12:29, only for me to see that we were on a very first crowded first class train and we needed second class. Now, if I hadn’t been rushed and out of breath, I would have realized that we would have been able to eventually push through to crowd and go up a few cars on the train. However, in the moment it just seemed easier to get off again and move to another.

“We’re on the wrong car!” I yelled turning around and running off the train and along the platform for another car. Now, I also need to say that John and I can run pretty easily with our bags when needed. We each have a big backpacks and smaller bag that fits on our shoulder. My parents however, they have rolley suitcases and shoulder bags plus another little bag each, so when it comes to running they can’t really keep up or go as quick as they’d like.

I saw a second class car, pointed it out, John ran ahead and got on. I ran and hopped on, just as a loud alarm went off and the doors of the car began to close. “Come on, come on” I yelled jumping in front of the doors as Dad threw the rolley bags onto the train and they hopped on. Whew! We had made it. We started towards our seats and the train pulled away from the station, we were off to Parma for more adventures.