June 27, 2015 – Bamberg, Germany

This morning we have a talk by the Captain and hotel manager about life on board and technical aspects of the boat. The Captain who is Slovakian is a little difficult to understand since he doesn’t speak English too well. This is followed with a presentation about the Main-Danube Canal. I skip the canal talk so I can try to get my blog up to date. With most of the people listening to the lecture, I have better speeds on the internet. Unfortunately it turns out that the internet will not be working until Tuesday.

Around 1 PM we pull into Bamberg, a medieval town that was only lightly damaged during the war. Disembarking, we are met by our guide. We start at a statue called the gabel moo. It is actually a statue of Neptune but the people of old Bamberg, not knowing who Neptune is, renamed him “man with a pitchfork.” He figures prominently in our tour today since he is the starting and ending point.

Gabel moo

Gabel moo

Since streets did not have names in medieval times, often shops or homeowners put some sort of painted sign or sculpture on their buildings so people could find them. For instance, they might say to a friend, “meet me at the unicorn house.”

Unicorn house

Unicorn house

Interesting story about the old city which is built on the river and must be reached by bridge, it seems that the townspeople wanted more say in the government and wanted to construct a civic building for meeting. The prince-bishop said okay, but you can’t build it on any land I own. The prince-bishop owned all the land in the area. So the wily townspeople built their city hall by sinking pilings into the river and constructing the town hall in the middle of the river.

Old town hall

Old town hall

View of Bamberg's Little Venice from the bridge

View of Bamberg’s Little Venice from the bridge

The tour continues down cute streets bedecked with flowers. We stop outside a tavern which sells the special local beer, Rauchbier. The Rauchbier has been smoked! People say it tastes like liquid bacon. John and I do not partake.

Typical Bamberg street

Typical Bamberg street

Sign for the tavern selling Rauchbier

Sign for the tavern selling Rauchbier

Lastly on our tour is the Bamburg Cathedral, built in the late Romanesque fashion with some early Gothic pieces. The tour does not go inside and instead we visit the Rose Garden where the tour ends.

Bamberg Cathedral

Bamberg Cathedral

Rose from the garden

Rose from the garden

John and I visit the Cathedral after the tour is over. After two Cathedrals which burnt down between 1012 and 1185, the current cathedral was built and consecrated in 1237. Inside, the best known piece of art is the statue of the Bamberg Horseman. No one is quite sure who he is. There are also lots of statues of saints and a tomb to the sainted imperial couple, King Heinrich II and his consort Cunigunde. The tomb is carved by mastercarver Tilman Riemenschneider.

Bamberg Horseman

Bamberg Horseman

Statue of a cephalophore saint, maybe St. Denis? (a cephalophore is a being whose head has been chopped off but he walks around carrying it)

Statue of a cephalophore saint, maybe St. Denis?
(a cephalophore is a being whose head has been chopped off but he walks around carrying it)

Cunigunde walking over hot plow blades to prove she did not cheat on Heinrich II

Cunigunde walking over hot plow blades to prove she did not cheat on Heinrich II

After all this walking, John and I need a place to rest and have a snack. We choose a table in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a beer and pretzels. It is fun to watch the crowds ebb and flow. As we walk back to the Gabel Moo the sky darkens. Then there is pitchforked bolt of lightning followed quickly by thunder. Perhaps Gabel Moo is throwing lightning with his pitchfork to banish the hordes of tourists from the riverboats from his town. We stop standing under his tree and run into a doorway. It starts to rain really hard, really, really hard. Since we can’t leave until 6 PM our little group huddles in various doorways. At 6 our program manager appears and we tear for the buses. Everyone is pretty wet but in good spirits.

John, beer, and pretzels

John, beer, and pretzels

Our time in town has lasted about 5 hours and we are happy to reboard the ship to change into dry clothes and have dinner.

June 26, 2015 – Nuremberg, Germany

The day starts with an informative lecture about Bavaria. We learn about the food, dress, history, and geography of the region. It is a little dry – just the facts. There is a question and answer period afterwards and I would like someone else or myself to ask how Germans view their horrendous behavior in World War II but we are all too polite.

We get on the buses around 2 PM for the trip into the Nuremberg. Bus gets a little confused and we are on the bus for about an hour before arriving at Hitler’s Nazi Rallying Grounds. It is a large unfinished stadium that was to be larger than the Coliseum. Hitler planned on staging his party rallies and other grand affairs here. The money for such endeavors ran out after the war began so it was never finished.

Nazi Rallying Grounds

Nazi Rallying Grounds

Our bus ride includes a ride around the outside of the city wall. We see many rebuilt historic buildings. Our guide keeps reminding us that Nuremberg was 90% destroyed. My general feeling is if you didn’t want your city destroyed you probably should not have started the war and committed atrocities. We also drive by the building where the war crimes trials were held.

Historic rebuilt Granary

Historic rebuilt Granary

We get off the bus to visit the castle inside the old city. It has a lot of towers – towers with hidden entrances, square towers, square towers inside round towers, five sided-towers. But since we have been riding around in a bus for over an hour and we are all old people, the most important tower is the bathroom tower.

King's escape tower

King’s escape tower

Square tower with flag of Franconia on one side and flag of Bavaria on the other

Square tower with flag of Franconia on one side and flag of Bavaria on the other

Castle grounds (near restrooms)

Castle grounds (near restrooms)

From the castle we start our walking tour of Nuremburg. We pass the Albrecht Durer house. Rebuilt in a modern style after the war.

Modern Albrecht Durer house

Modern Albrecht Durer house

Albrecht Durer lived here plaque

Albrecht Durer lived here plaque

Now we are left on our own to wander around for about 40 minutes. We visit the rebuilt Catholic Church of Our Lady. The interior is a mix of old and new.

Catholic Church of Our Lady

Catholic Church of Our Lady

Interior of Catholic Church

Interior of Catholic Church

Nuremberg was a Catholic town but after the Protestant Reformation, they switched to Protestantism. There is a large Lutheran cathedral dedicated to St. Sebald. It is so highly decorated that we wonder if it is a Catholic Cathedral. It probably started life out in a different religion. I’ve always thought that Protestant Churches were rather devoid of saints and decoration. I guess not. The foresighted parishioners started hiding their precious stuff in caves in 1938. When they rebuilt the church they were able to redecorate with the original artwork and sculptures.

Interior of St. Sebald's Lutheran Cathedral

Interior of St. Sebald’s Lutheran Cathedral

Since there’s not enough time to stop for a beer before we need to back to the bus, we wander around the market place. The fruits and vegetables look delicious and are really not all that expensive. Asparagus is in season and we see lots of the white variety.

Vegetables and berries at the market

Vegetables and berries at the market

Later at dinner we have unusual dinner companions. We are sitting with an older couple who left Germany after the war for Canada and made their way to Florida. The man is quite elderly. He says quietly that he had been a Nazi soldier in 1945. What?! He was conscripted into the Nazi army when he was 17. He was in a group of soldiers who surrendered to American forces rather than be captured by the Russians. He spent 6 months as a POW. So here I sit between my Jewish husband and a former Nazi soldier. Really don’t know how to handle the situation. My first inclination is to leave the table but that would seem impolite. So we stay, eating our dinner but I think we shall avoid them in the future.

What’s for dinner? Since I am a little flummoxed, I forget to take pictures of our main courses.

June 25, 2015 – Regensburg, Germany

It’s a beautiful day and the Captain seems to have overcome the high water problem so we are off on another city tour. After a short ride to Regensburg through beautiful rural scenery, we find our guide and are ready for the tour. Uh oh, problems with our quiet boxes! Ted comes to the rescue holding our group sign as our guide, Melanie, straightens out the problem.

Ted keeps our group together

Ted keeps our group together

Regensburg is a medieval town and as we cross the 12th century stone bridge we see the Gothic spires of St. Peter’s Cathedral and the 900 year old Wurstkuchl. We’ll be stopping back there later for sausages and sauerkraut.

St. Peter's Cathedral in the background and the Wurstkuchl in the right foreground

St. Peter’s Cathedral in the background and the Wurstkuchl in the right foreground

Some buildings in the old part of the city have painted facades and others haveĀ  towers. After the third floor the towers are totally empty. Building a tower was just a way of showing off to your neighbors about how rich you were.

The Goliath House

The Goliath House

Pink patrician tower

Pink patrician tower

We pass the charming old city hall on our way to St. Peter’s Cathedral with its Gothic spires and carved figurines.

Old city hall

Old city hall

Cathedral of St. Peter

Cathedral of St. Peter

Facade carving of St. Lawrence

Facade carving of St. Lawrence

Inside the church it is quite dark and very Gothic. Light filters dimly through the many stained glass windows.

Stained glass windows behind the altar

Stained glass windows behind the altar

Close up of a window

Close up of a window

Up until the 1500’s Regensburg had a Jewish community which existed under the protection of Maximillian I. Three days after Maximillian died in 1519, all the Jews were expelled from Regensburg, thrown out in the middle of winter with only what they could carry. Everything trace of the Jewish population was destroyed and there only remains a memorial where the synagogue used to be. Even the Cathedral has a stone carving of a Judensau, a sow with suckling Jews underneath. It was carved on the side of the cathedral facing the Jewish quarter as an insult and a sign of the anti-Semitism in Regensburg.

Judensau

Judensau

After a stop at a local mega-mart for some chips and cheese, we head down to the Wurstlkuchl for a tasty lunch of sausages, sauerkraut, and beer. Yum!

Great lunch!

Great lunch!

John and his weissbier

John and his weissbier

Even Peggy has a beer!

Even Peggy has a beer!

John and I head back to the boat for a little r & r while Peg and Ted continue to explore. We meet for a cocktail party and dinner. Unfortunately I forget to bring my camera.

Tomorrow, Nuremburg!

June 24, 2015 – Passau, Germany

I am not feeling well this morning so John proceeds to the walking tour of Passau without me. I am hoping to feel better this afternoon and have John give me a private tour himself.

After a nap and lunch things are looking up. We head into the pretty town of Passau.

Town of Passau

Town of Passau

Passau is situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz. So of course it gets flooded frequently. In 2013 it experienced the highest flood waters in 500 years. There is still evidence of the flood in stucco and bricks that remain wet even after 2 years.

Watchtower with watermark from the 2013 flood

Watchtower with watermark from the 2013 flood

The town has a lovely Baroque cathedral, St. Stephen’s. The church was originally medieval but was mostly burned in the town fire of 1662. It was replaced with an updated interior. There are many paintings and sculptures in the side altars. John and I walk around identifying as many of the saints as we can by their attributes.

Approaching St. Stephen's

Approaching St. Stephen’s

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau

St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau

Interior of St. Stephen's

Interior of St. Stephen’s

St. Jerome with his lion, skull, and hat

St. Jerome with his lion, skull, and hat

We stroll around the town on the way back to the ship. There is a picturesque artists’ alley with colorful umbrellas hanging overhead. The city hall has an old clock and a painted facade.

Artists' alley

Artists’ alley

Old City Hall in Passau

Old City Hall in Passau

Detail of City Hall with painted facade

Detail of City Hall with painted facade

We join Peg and Ted and another couple for dinner. I have osso buco and John has halibut. Both dishes are okay. We finish the evening listening to a musical tribute to Elvis Presley. I think you have to be over 70 to appreciate it.

June 23, 2015 – Melk, Austria

Viking ship with Melk Abbey in background

Viking ship with Melk Abbey in background

Today’s adventures start with a scenic sail down the Wachau Valley in Austria on our way to Melk. John goes up top to take some pictures and listen to the commentary while I struggle with the internet. I have been trying for hours to get the text and pictures from Vienna to load. At this point I decide that it is just not worth it for me to spend my time in the cabin in front of my non-responsive computer and miss what there is to see. So I decide to just start typing text and leave most of the pictures for when I get home.

As we sail down the Wachau Valley we see the Durnstein Castle ruins. Durnstein castle held Richard I (the lion-hearted) as hostage in 1192-93 until England paid a large ransom for him. There’s also lovely scenery in this grape-growing region. The Gruner-Veltiner grapes are grown on terraced hillsides.

Castle Durnstein ruins

Castle Durnstein ruins


Ruins with the town of Durnstein below

Ruins with the town of Durnstein below


Vineyards

Vineyards

We pull into Melk around lunchtime and head out at 2 PM for our visit to the immense Melk Abbey. We have a perky female guide and she steers us through the complex. First we visit a modern museum housing some of the church’s treasures. I find the modernism, bold colors, and electronics a little jarring next to the ancient manuscripts, reliquaries, and monstronses. Among the highlights are a 15th century painting of St. Peter and a 12th century crucifix.

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey


Early crucifix

Early crucifix

After taking in the sweeping panorama of Melk from the terrace, we head into the library which houses 90,000 books. No pictures are allowed.

Town of Melk and countryside

Town of Melk and countryside

Finally we reach the gold encrusted church. These ornate churches always leave me a little cold. So much opulence when there are needy people outside the doors. Our guide, Viktoria, explains that in the Baroque period, church interiors were so lavish in an attempt to bring God’s glory to earth. Sts. Peter and Paul are shown on the altar giving each other a handshake goodbye while prophets from the Old Testament look on.

Church interior

Church interior


Closer look at high altar

Closer look at high altar

Our boat departs at 4PM and is headed to Passau, Germany. John and I sit out on our back deck and watch Melk recede behind us. We and our sister ship, Viking Njord, enter a lock and sit side by side. The two boats are so close that John reaches out and shakes the hand of a fellow on the Njord.

Sister ship Njord entering lock behind us

Sister ship Njord entering lock behind us


Last view of Melk Abbey as the lock closes

Last view of Melk Abbey as the lock closes

Later we have a disappointing dinner of hummus and baba ganoush as a starter and Chinese noodles in a spicy peanut sauce. The sauce is not spicy nor flavorful.

June 22, 2015 – Vienna

(Last post with full complement of pictures)

We arrive in Vienna early in the morning and set off on the bus/walking tour shortly after breakfast.

Best meal on the boat is breakfast

Best meal on the boat is breakfast

On the way to our walking tour portion we pass by the Imperial church, Vienna’s iconic ferris wheel, the Opera House, Parliament building, and the votive church. Finally we are dropped off at the Museum square by the statue of Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Franz Josef

Church of St. Francis of Assisi built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Franz Josef

The Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna Giant Wheel) at 212 ft. tall and built in 1897 is the oldest operating ferris wheel in the world. Built for the Golden Jubilee of Franz Josef. It now has 15 wooden gondolas which can be rented out for weddings, dinners, and parties.

The Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna Giant Wheel) at 212 ft. tall and built in 1897 is the oldest operating ferris wheel in the world. Built for the Golden Jubilee of Franz Josef. It now has 15 wooden gondolas which can be rented out for weddings, dinners, and parties.

 

Vienna State Opera House built 1861-1869

Vienna State Opera House built 1861-1869

 

Parliament Building - Greek Revival style built between 1874-1883

Parliament Building – Greek Revival style built between 1874-1883

Neo-Gothic votive church completed 1879. Built to thank God for sparing Franz Josef after an attempt on his life in 1853

Neo-Gothic votive church completed 1879. Built to thank God for sparing Franz Josef after an attempt on his life in 1853

We walk through the grounds of the enormous Winter Palace and see the porch from which Hitler announced the annexation of Austria to the cheering crowd. Our tour guide is quite frank about the Austrian complicity in anti-Semitism and Nazism.

Small piece of the Winter Palace

Small piece of the Winter Palace

 

Porch of the palace from which Hitler declared the annexation of Austria to cheering crowds

Porch of the palace from which Hitler declared the annexation of Austria to cheering crowds

Our walking tour takes us to Vienna’s great cathedral, St. Stephen’s. We are set loose at this point and John and I along with Peg and Ted take a look inside the cathedral. We want to buy tickets for a self-guided tour but are told that they are about to hold mass and we will have to leave. Rats! Mostly we have to be content with looking at the beautiful sculptures and artwork from a distance.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Peg and Ted rejoin the tour and will visit Schonbrunn Palace and gardens later today. John and I will walk back to Museum Square independently and visit the Kunsthistorisches museum.

It is very nice to be on our own. We stop for lunch at the museum cafe and have a yummy lunch of Sacherwurstel in a beautiful venue.

John in the museum cafe

John in the museum cafe

 

Sacherwurstel with two mustards, fresh horseradish and a roll

Sacherwurstel with two mustards, fresh horseradish and a roll

The museum has two picture galleries – one with southern European works and the other with northern European works. The art is mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries, not totally in my wheelhouse. But I enjoy many of the works especially those by Arcimbaldo, an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. There is also a lovely Vermeer, The Art of Painting, which is frustratingly housed in a blocked off room. Museum workers make seeing it very difficult.

Arcimbaldo painting

Arcimbaldo painting

 

Get out of the way!!!!

Get out of the way!!!!

We take a taxi back to the boat, have dinner, and exhausted from our long day, turn in.

June 21, 2015 – Bratislava, Slovakia

(Finally, am able to get pictures!)
We spend the night and morning sailing to Bratislava. Everyone watches while the boat goes through a lock. It was built to facilitate a large power plant built in the Soviet era.

In the lock

In the lock


Coming out of the lock

Coming out of the lock

Then we have a life vest drill. Everyone is looking very spiffy in their Italian designed life jackets. Also before lunch we attend a slide show presentation on Mozart.

John is Italian design life vest

John is Italian design life vest


Our boat, the Viking Ve, commissioned in 2015

Our boat, the Viking Ve, commissioned in
2015

We get to Bratislava around 2 PM and are out on the city tour about a half an hour later. We see many sights in the city and have a walking tour of the castle grounds and the old town. Slovaks are very proud of their country and independence and we hear many stories about the bad old days of the Communist regime. Bratislava is only about 2 km from Austria but anyone caught in the forest looking to try to make it over the border was shot.

Bratislava castle

Bratislava castle


"Old town" square

“Old town” square

After a drink in the lounge and talk from the program director about what is coming up tomorrow in Vienna, we have dinner. There is a Slovak folk show in the evening but John and I are very tired (it is the dreaded third day of jetlag) and we retire early.

June 20, 2015 – Budapest

I have so many pictures and the connection is so slow!

Today started off with a tour of the city by bus and on foot. Budapest is a remarkable mish-mash of 19th century buildings, parks, memorials, and Communist architecture (if you can call it that.) We board the bus and listen to our guide, Gyorgy, explain everything we are seeing. It is a lot to take in.

Peg and Ted ready for the tour of Budapest

Peg and Ted ready for the tour of Budapest


19th century spa

19th century spa

Our first stop is at Heroes Square, a statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. It was built in 1896-1900 to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the foundation of the Hungarian state in 896. It is dedicated “To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.” We wander around the immense square taking pictures of it and ourselves. Unfortunately for the Hungarians, their heroes often gave their lives in a losing effort or on the wrong side (World War I.)

Heroes Square

Heroes Square


John at Heroes Square

John at Heroes Square


Mary at Heroes Square

Mary at Heroes Square


Peg and Ted at Heroes Square

Peg and Ted at Heroes Square

Back on the bus we continue our ride through Pest, the lower city. We pass through the Jewish quarter where almost a million Jews lived at the beginning of World War II. More than three quarters of the Jewish population were killed by the Nazis. About 100,000 live in Budapest now. We see the memorials of the Weeping Willow with each frond inscribed with the name of a victim near the synagogue and the memorial, Shoes, near the Danube. Sixty Jews being protected by the Swedish Embassy were taken at gun point ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The iron shoes represent the shoes left behind on the bank.

Metal Weeping Willow inscribed with names of victims at the Jewish Memorial

Metal Weeping Willow inscribed with names of victims at the Jewish Memorial


Shoes, a memorial to 60 Jews shot January 8, 1945

Shoes, a memorial to 60 Jews shot January 8, 1945

We continue up to Buda, the hilly part of the city across the river. We visit the St. Matthias church and the Fisherman’s Bastion with views of the river and Pest.

St. Matthias Church

St. Matthias Church


On one of the spires is a raven which was the heraldic animal of King Matthias.

On one of the spires is a raven which was the heraldic animal of King Matthias.

Time for lunch!

Originally John and I were going to go on a tour of the Jewish quarter but it is not be given today because it is Saturday (Shabbos.) Then we were going to go to the St. Stephen’s Basilica but it closed at 1 PM. We decide instead to take the Opera House Tour. The Opera House is small but quite ornate and we are treated to a performance of selections from Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro.

Budapest Opera House

Budapest Opera House


Performance

Performance

We meet Peg and Ted at the lounge before dinner. They have taken the optional Equestrian Tour and are very pleased with their visit to a local horse farm.

Time for dinner!

After dinner we are treated to Budapest all lighted up as we start our departure for Bratislava. It has been a busy and wonderful day!

Leaving Budapest at dusk

Leaving Budapest at dusk


Peg and Ted at dusk

Peg and Ted at dusk


It's chilly! Mary and Peggy huddle in blankets.

It’s chilly! Mary and Peggy huddle in blankets.


Palace in Buda lighted up at night

Palace in Buda lighted up at night


The Parliament in Pest at night

The Parliament in Pest at night

June 18-19, 2015 – to Budapest, Hungary

John and I were riding down to Indian Wells when I got a call from my older sister, Peggy. Her birthday is this summer and she decided as a celebration she wanted to take the Viking riverboat cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. Would John and I come. So even though we had a lot of other stuff already planned, of course I said yes.

We spend most of Thursday and Friday traveling to Budapest. There is nothing wrong with the flights just long and uncomfortable. Both planes are delayed and we end up getting to the boat around 7 PM. Peggy meets us at reception and there are big hugs all around. We get shown to our very nice suite and head down to dinner. Food is fine. The trout is pretty tasty. We sit downtable from four other people. We are the last people to be seated for dinner since our flight got in late. While earlier in the day I was super friendly with fellow passengers, at dinner we are pretty quiet. A little tired I think.

Inside the bus for the ride to the Viking Ve. It's not a young group.

Inside the bus for the ride to the Viking Ve. It’s not a young group.


The obligatory food pictures –

After dinner we talk to the program director and the concierge about what we want to do. I think since we are usually independent travelers taking the morning city tour overview and then spending the afternoon doing our own thing will work best for us.

Right now the boat is situated on the Danube across from the palace and near the Parliamentary building. At night the bridges between Buda and Pest are lighted up and the whole scene is quite magical. We sit in the lounge for a while listening to the pianist play 70’s music and sip cognac. I think this trip is going to work out really well!

Other pictures from the day…

Our suite

Our sitting room with a wrap-around porch and two bottles of champagne!

Our sitting room with a wrap-around porch and two bottles of champagne!


Bedroom (pretty tiny)

Bedroom (pretty tiny)


Nice bathroom

Nice bathroom


Hallway from entrance toward sitting room

Hallway from entrance toward sitting room


View out the back
Bridge crossing the Danube from our porch

Bridge crossing the Danube from our porch


The lounge and the night view from the terrace
John in the lounge

John in the lounge


The palace on the Buda side

The palace on the Buda side


Another view of Buda

Another view of Buda

June 6-13, 2015 – Nathan, Sam and Jonathan visit St. George

We had a great visit. Here are some pictures –

Nathan and Sam at LAS

Nathan and Sam at LAS


Cocktail time on the back patio

Cocktail time on the back patio

Sam at Zion National Park

Sam at Zion National Park

The bus ride out to the hiking trail at Zion is too long!

The bus ride out to the hiking trail at Zion is too long!

Kids and Jon taking a break from hiking

Kids and Jon taking a break from hiking

Trail mix is an important part of hiking

Trail mix is an important part of hiking

We walked along the Virgin River

We walked along the Virgin River

Sam and Beeba

Sam and Beeba

Another day we went to Sand Hollow Aquatic Center with their awesome big slide

Another day we went to Sand Hollow Aquatic Center with their awesome big slide

Jon and Sam in the pool

Jon and Sam in the pool

Uh oh, minor infraction at the pool

Uh oh, minor infraction at the pool

Nathan hikes with Daddy at Snow Canyon State Park

Nathan hikes with Daddy at Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Jon and Nathan play with the Wii

Jon and Nathan play with the Wii

Lunch at Mad Pita

Lunch at Mad Pita

Before the show, When You Wish, at Tuacahn

Before the show, When You Wish, at Tuacahn

Nathan and Jon in the audience

Nathan and Jon in the audience

The stage is set

The stage is set

I made a carrot cake!!

I made a carrot cake!!

John readying the S.S. Pilat for deployment

John readying the S.S. Pilat for deployment

First launch was not successful and the boat had to be towed back

First launch was not successful and the boat had to be towed back

Ice cream at Rowley's Red Barn in Washington City

Ice cream at Rowley’s Red Barn in Washington City

Sam watches the duck family

Sam watches the duck family

A visit to the St. George Children's Museum

A visit to the St. George Children’s Museum

Jon needs a little rest after the visit to the Children's Museum

Jon needs a little rest after the visit to the Children’s Museum

Second launch of the boat goes much better

Second launch of the boat goes much better

Nathan and Sam control the boat

Nathan and Sam control the boat

Another visit to Tuacahn

Another visit to Tuacahn

This time we see Beauty and the Beast

This time we see Beauty and the Beast


It is always special to have Nathan and Sam come to visit. As they get older we will have to find new and interesting things to do. It keeps life exciting!!

May 25, 2015 – Memorial Day

On Memorial Day we have a BBQ. It’s all the usual fare – burgers, sausages, potato salad, etc. Nathan brings along his football and we all have a spirited game of Three Flags. Three Flags is a game that Nathan and his friends play at school. One person is the flinger and everyone else tries to catch the ball. Whoever catches three balls first is the new flinger. Jonathan is especially adept at poaching catches. I am adept at ducking and covering and also smashing fingers. Good times!

Nathan and Sam

Nathan and Sam


Nathan flings the football

Nathan flings the football


Good follow-through

Good follow-through


Zayde throws while Sam watches

Zayde throws while Sam watches


Jon and John vying for the same ball

Jon and John vying for the same ball


The whole family plays

The whole family plays


Leigh's turn to catch

Leigh’s turn to catch


Of course there is always time for a little relaxing and a glass of wine

Of course there is always time for a little relaxing and a glass of wine

May 5, 2015 -Monreale

Today is our second and last attempt at seeing the Cathedral of Monreale. Our flight to Rome is this afternoon so if the cathedral is not open, too bad for us. Since we already attempted to visit on Sunday, we know exactly what to do – how to get there, where to park, etc. Yay, the cathedral is open. We rent the excellent audio tour and do a thorough job looking at the beautiful mosaics. The Norman Cathedral was begun in 1174 by William II and is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily.

Stepping into the Monreale Cathedral

Stepping into the Monreale Cathedral


Jesus dominates the central apse

Jesus dominates the central apse

A madonna and child are beneath

A madonna and child are beneath


Along the sides are three tiers of mosaics depicting old and new testament subjects

Along the sides are three tiers of mosaics depicting old and new testament subjects

Last Supper

Last Supper


We are so glad that Sarah has a chance to see this beautiful cathedral. Now we head to the Palermo airport for the one hour flight to Rome. We check into the horrible Rome airport Hilton and await our endurance test for tomorrow – 9 hours to Philadelphia, 2 hour layover, and 6 hour flight to SFO. It’s been a fabulous trip full of new experiences and old favorites.
Are we home yet?

Are we home yet?

May 4, 2015 – Palermo

First of all, Happy Star Wars Day! Doesn’t seem like a big holiday here and I am not seeing unlimited margaritas and guacamole for Cinquo de Mayo either. Sicilians are really missing out.

Anyway, the force is with us today as we see several outstanding churches, chapels and princely buildings. But first, a walk through the produce market because who doesn’t love to see the produce of other countries?!

Beautiful produce at a Palermo market

Beautiful produce at a Palermo market


The father ofAldo, from the front desk in Trapani, father \Sarah and me one of these to try. It was delicious but we didn't know what a nespola was.  It's a loquat!  Aldo and his dad have a farm near Marsala.

The father of Aldo, from the front desk in Trapani, gave Sarah and me one of these to try. It was delicious but we didn’t know what a nespola was. It’s a loquat! Aldo and his dad have a farm near Marsala.


More vegetables!

More vegetables!

Our real first stop is at the Palermo Cathedral. The Cathedral was built in 1185 on top of Byzantine basilica reputed to be built by St. Gregory. Around 800 AD it was turned in to a mosque when the Saracens conquered the area. Since 1185 it has gone through several renovations so it is really a polyglot of styles.

Exterior view of Palermo cathedral

Exterior view of Palermo cathedral


Another view

Another view


Interior view

Interior view


An interesting aspect of the Cathedral is the heliometer of 1690. The device itself is a tiny hole in one of the minor domes which acts as pinhole camera, projecting an image of the sun onto the floor at solar noon. There is a bronze line on the floor, running precisely north to south. The ends of the line mark the positions of the summer and winter solstices and signs of the zodiac show the various other dates throughout the year. This heliometer was used to standardize time and predict when Easter should fall.
Mary's zodiac sign on the floor of the cathedral

Mary’s zodiac sign on the floor of the cathedral


John's zodiac sign on the floor of the cathedral

John’s zodiac sign on the floor of the cathedral


Next we head over to the Norman Palace. It is the oldest continually operating governmental building in Europe. Inside, along with the government offices, is the beautiful Palantine Chapel. It is decorated shimmering mosaics depicting stories from the old and new testaments. It is a miniature of the Monreale Cathedral that we will see tomorrow.
Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve


Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

St. Paul being smuggled out of Damascus in a basket

St. Paul being smuggled out of Damascus in a basket


Main apse -Jesus

Main apse -Jesus


Back wall -  Jesus with Sts. Peter and Paul

Back wall – Jesus with Sts. Peter and Paul


Noah's drunkeness

Noah’s drunkeness


Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel


Leaving the princely palace we realize it’s lunchtime. We try to pick a place that is not overrun with tourists and settle upon Trattoria Ai Normann. Unfortunately right after we are seated a large German tour groups sits down outside. Thereupon ensues the slowest lunch ever. Two hours of sitting interrupted by two bouts of ten minute eating. We finally force the issue of the check and are told that good food takes time. We had simple dishes that could have been prepared and served in half the time.

We look through two other churches after lunch. One, La Martorana, also has mosaics. It is interesting to see the different yet similar artistic styles.
Overview

Overview


St. Anne

St. Anne


Jesus taking Mary's soul to heaven

Jesus taking Mary’s soul to heaven


Jesus and the archangels

Jesus and the archangels


Tomorrow is our last day before we head home. We hope to see Monreale Cathedral and then fly to Rome for an overnight before completing the rest of our journey.

May 3, 2015 – Segesta and Palermo

I think we are starting to have vacation fatigue – the ultimate 1st world problem. This past week we’ve been hassled by bad accommodations, bad traffic, and expectations unmet. Having been buoyed by the visit to the Salt Museum yesterday though, we are eager to start some new adventures.

Our first stop is at Segesta, home to a Doric Greek temple built before 430 BC with traces of the Elymians who inhabited the western part of Sicily since about 1200 B.C. The Elymians who had emigrated from Asia Minor intermarried with the Greeks. In the 400’s the Segestans allied themselves first with the Greeks and then with the Carthaginians as the winds of war changed. Ultimately Segesta became a Roman outpost and was destroyed by the Vandals.

Greek temple at Segesta

Greek temple at Segesta

Sarah at the Greek temple

Sarah at the Greek temple


John and Sarah walk up the steep hill to the temple site. I am afraid of slipping on the downhill and stay back at a table in the shade.

Now it is off to Palermo with a stop at Monreale to see their fabulous cathedral. We have trouble negotiating the narrow streets and our GPS seems flummoxed as well. Finally we make it to the parking area around 1:45, just enough time to have a quick snack before the cathedral opens at 2:30. Except it isn’t opening today. It was only open from 8:30 to 9:30 this morning. We see many people in the same boat as we. The guide books and internet sites say that it opens from 9:30 to 11:00 on Sunday mornings and 2:30 to 5:00 in the afternoon. There is nothing to be done, though, so we find a place for lunch before heading to our hotel in Palermo.


Palermo seen from Monreale

Palermo seen from Monreale

It is very hard to find the hotel. Around and around we go dodging people, bikes and other cars. Finally Sarah says TURN RIGHT! and we are at the hotel. Phew! We decide to take a little rest and reconvene at 7 in the bar to discuss plans for tomorrow.

What do you know it’s happy hour! We settle in with some wine and an immense array of happy hour snacks and figure out our agenda for the last two days of our trip.

So many happy hour snacks!!

So many happy hour snacks!!

May 2, 2015 – Selinunte and Trapani

All aboard for the next day of sightseeing!

John by train with train station hotel in background

John by train with train station hotel in background


Today we plan to go to Selinunte, another Greek temple site. We have some difficulty driving there as part of the roadway is shut down due to a collapse and then later there is a serious traffic accident. The infrastructure in Sicily seems to be crumbling in real time. Various sections of roads are single tracked or have warnings due to road and bridge failures. So instead of taking the main highway to Selinunte we are diverted onto surface streets that are very narrow and crowded.
Trying to merge to get through the town gate at Sciacca. (pronounced Shaka)

Trying to merge to get through the town gate at Sciacca. (pronounced Shaka)


We arrive at Selinunte about 40 minutes late but it doesn’t really matter since we don’t have some schedule to keep (except in my mind.)
The audio tour here has also been discontinued and replaced by a downloadable tour for E3,99 available on Android phones only. There is no wi-fi to connect to and roaming upload speeds and prices for American phones make it prohibitive. There are a couple of placards.

Selinunte has also been sacked by the Carthaginians in the late 400’s B.C. The temples here are terrifically large and we wonder how the Carthaginians ever managed to pull them down. The most in tact temple is undergoing restoration so we cannot go inside. The other temples lay like gigantic puzzles on the ground. We can see how they have been put together with a block and peg system. It is a pretty walk among the ruins with the wild flowers totally in bloom.

Temple being renovated

Temple being renovated


Second temple

Second temple


Sarah next to a column piece

Sarah next to a column piece

Gigantic temple pieces

Gigantic temple pieces


Beautiful wild flowers

Beautiful wild flowers

Stone Legos

Stone Legos


After a brief stop at a McDonald’s we head to Trapani which is on a point of land sticking out into the Tyrrhenian Sea. After checking into our hotel we take a walk down to their cathedral, San Lorenzo. Saint Lawrence (San Lorenzo) was martyred by being burned to death on a grill. Myth has it that he quipped while burning, “Turn me over I’m done on this side.” The church is 15th century but has been largely redone. In the middle of the main apse are Hebrew letters spelling out Yahweh. (It’s handy having John around.) That’s the Hebrew word for God.
Hebrew word in apse

Hebrew word in apse


We also go to visit a salt factory/museum. Trapani is the perfect spot to harvest snowy white salt since the sea is shallow and there is abundant sunshine and wind. Other colored salts are inferior to Trapani salt because they are colored by the mud they lay in and do not have as good a mineral content. At least that is what the guide tells us. Before electricity pumping out excess water and grinding the salt was done by windmill. We get a thorough explanation and it is really interesting.
Salt evaporation pond

Salt evaporation pond

Windmills that used to drive the production of salt

Windmills that used to drive the production of salt


The salt dries over the winter with ceramic tiles over it

The salt dries over the winter with ceramic tiles over it

Sarah and John at the Salt Museum

Sarah and John at the Salt Museum


Once again we try to have an authentic dinner and manage only part of it. Our hotelier arranges dinner for us at La Mura by the old city wall. The antipasti is very good. The rest is okay. Once again we are joined by an Asian tour group who happens to be staying at our hotel.

May 1, 2015 – Agrigento

Happy May Day! It is a holiday here in Italy and people are out in droves. You would think we would remember this holiday since two years ago we spent May Day with millions of Chinese in Beijing!

We have had a terrible night at the Villa Adriana in San Leone. In addition to being very noisy our sheets are damp. It is incredible uncomfortable and impossible to sleep. We tell the eponymous Adriana that we are not staying another night. She reacts by acting like a wounded small animal and stands and stares at us during breakfast. Creepy.

Then it is off to the Valley of the Gods. Surprisingly the Valley is on a high bluff overlooking the coastal plain.

We spend a couple of hours looking at the various temples in fairly good shape given that they are 2500 years old. The area was sacked by the Carthaginians in around 400 BC. Some temples were pulled down but others were merely repurposed.

Temple of Concordia

Temple of Concordia

Fancy Valley of the Gods goats

Fancy Valley of the Gods goats


Sarah at Temple of Juno

Sarah at Temple of Juno


Obligatory John and a tall object picture

Obligatory John and a tall object picture


This place used to have an audio tour that explained what you were looking at and gave the history of the times. The audio guide is no longer available and all that is left are a few placards. This is the second time we have run up against the defunct audio guide problem. I wonder if they are in the midst of introducing some new sort of guide.

After our visit to the Valley of the Gods we go in search of lunch. Creepy Adriana has recommended the restaurant Ex Panificio as a place for authentic Sicilian food. I guess it is their interpretation of what they think tourists would like to eat because it is pretty much not authentic and caters to tour groups. A large Chinese tour group comes in shortly after we were seated. Among the bad food choices –


We decide for dinner we will get some panini and chips and wash it down with a bottle of red wine that Villa Ducale gave us.

Now we need to find our new hotel. There are not a lot of choices left due to it being May Day. I do find one that is at the train station. Actually it is in the train station adjacent to track #5. The hallways are reminiscent of train aisles and the windows overlook the action on the tracks. The trains are fairly unobtrusive except when one blows off some steam at 4:19 AM. It jolts all of us awake. But on the whole it is so much better than creepy Villa Adriana.

Train station

Train station


Train outside our window

Train outside our window

Train hotel hallway

Train hotel hallway

John in the breakfast room with train outside

John in the breakfast room with train outside

April 30, 2015 – To Agrigento via Villa Romana del Casale

One last breakfast on the porch and one last look at Mt. Etna with smoke streaming out the top and we are on our way. We get many hugs and kissy cheeks from the people at Villa Ducale. They tell us we must come back again and that Sarah should come to the Italian school there. She can live with them. What nice people!

Sarah pouring tea at our last breakfast at Villa Ducale

Sarah pouring tea at our last breakfast at Villa Ducale

We also say so long to Mt. Etna looming above us with smoke curling out of its top.

Smoking Mt. Etna

Smoking Mt. Etna


Our goal today is to see the Villa Romana del Casale, a 3rd-4th century large Roman house that was buried in a landslide and lay undiscovered for 1000 years. The villa would have been the property of a very higher-up in the government or a member of the royal family. It was kind of like the county seat of a large piece of property with numerous serfs and slaves.

The house is decorated with many mosaic floors and frescoed walls. While many of the mosaics have come through largely in tact, the wall decorations have mostly disappeared. Many of the mosaics refer to hunting scenes, games, or displays of Roman power and influence. These are very large scale mosaics covering the whole floor of the rooms.

Mosaic of a wild buffalo being subdued

Mosaic of a wild buffalo being subdued


An elephant being boarded on boat to be taken back to Rome

An elephant being boarded on boat to be taken back to Rome

Fishermen

Fishermen

A hunting scene with a feast in the center

A hunting scene with a feast in the center

The floor of the famous bikini room where girls vie for athletic prizes

The floor of the famous bikini room where girls vie for athletic prizes

Children in a chariot race

Children in a chariot race


After our visit we continue on to our next stop in Agrigento. Along the way wild fennel grows everywhere.
Wild fennel

Wild fennel


We eat at our favorite restaurant in San Leone. The dish of the day? Spaghetti con vongole.
Spaghetti con vongole

Spaghetti con vongole

April 29, 2015 – Taormina, Sicily

Good morning, Taormina!

Good morning, Taormina!


Today is an exciting day. We have contacted the hotel about setting up a cooking class for Sarah. When John and I were here six years ago, we also took a cooking class. Paolo, the manager here, has arranged for his father, Aurelio, to meet us in town and take us back to his house for the lesson.

We meet Aurelio at about 10:45 AM and the first thing we do is go to the market to see what is good and what to buy for lunch.

The local market

The local market


Aurelio chooses a cauliflower

Aurelio chooses a cauliflower


Sarah watches while Aurelio chooses and bargains

Sarah watches while Aurelio chooses and bargains


Round light purple eggplants from Sicily. "Not bitter" says Aurelio so there is no need to salt them.

Round light purple eggplants from Sicily. “Not bitter” says Aurelio so there is no need to salt them.


Everyone we pass knows Aurelio. He has lived here most of his life. At the market women tease him and the men pick out the best produce. When our shopping is done, we follow him to a bar for a quick cup of espresso. We are really getting the total experience!

At his house we meet his wife Angela and the two of them bustle around the kitchen showing Sarah how to make various dishes. Occasionally they even let her cut some things up. Our menu includes a zucchini casserole, involtini of spaghetti and eggplant, zucchini and eggplant stuffed with ground meat, and a dessert of fruit and a wine pudding/gelatine with raisins. Everything is freshly made from the flavored bread crumbs to the tomato sauce.

Big difference between the way their dishes and ours? First of all, the vegetables are so much tastier. This is because they just came out of the ground or off the plant. They only eat what’s in season. All the food is grown locally. And they use in one meal about the amount of oil that we use in a month.

Aurelio going over the menu with Sarah

Aurelio going over the menu with Sarah


Cooking together

Cooking together


Zucchini casserole

Zucchini casserole


Spaghetti and eggplant involtini

Spaghetti and eggplant involtini


Our plate also includes ground meat inside of zucchini  and eggplant strips

Our plate also includes ground meat inside of zucchini and eggplant strips


Kind of weird wine pudding with strawberries

Kind of weird wine pudding with strawberries


But neither Aurelio or Angela are overweight. Although they have cooked a lot, they take only small portions. Plus they have four flights of stairs up to their main living quarters and Taormina is full of very steep hills. While we are huffing and puffing following Aurelio around, he has no problem with the stairs and hills even though he is 76!

We all sit down to a very enjoyable lunch. By the time we leave we have been shopping, cooking, eating and chatting for about 5 hours. What an incredible experience!

Later we sit out on the deck with a glass of prosecco and a couple of small bites and talk about our day. We are way too full to contemplate dinner.
P1050603

April 27-28, 2014 – From Bari to Taormina by way of Cosenza

We have decided to take two driving days to reach Sicily. The driving here is pretty stressful and since our rental car has a manual transmission John has to do all the driving. In order to make the trip more enjoyable I have chosen something interesting to see each day.

We are making our way on the 27th to Cosenza in Calabria. Along the way there is a hilltop town which was a Saracen hold out due to its very remote and inaccessible location. I have read on the internet that there is a church there with a 14th century triptych painted by Giotto’s studio. We definitely need to see this! So up the winding roads John drives until we reach the tiny town and we don’t think we can fit the car up any of the streets. Disembarking we walk up very, very steep streets until we reach the little church. The sign on the door says that it is open between 10 AM and 12:30 PM and then again at 4 PM. Hurrah, it is 11:30 AM so it should be open.

Hill town of Rabatana

Hill town of Rabatana

But, no. I read that it is manned by an elderly nun. We find someone to ask. They say that the nun has gone to Tursi for the day and will be back for the later opening. Unfortunately, we will not be here for the 4 PM opening. Sadly we turn the car around and continue on to Consenza.

Our Lady of the Locked Church

Our Lady of the Locked Church

Once in Cosenza we do some shopping at a nearby mall and find somewhere to have dinner. Monday is usually a day when most restaurants are closed. What they think travelers do between Sunday lunch and Tuesday breakfast, I do not know. Maybe fast? Anyway the hotel knows of a place that is open and we have pizza and a bottle of wine from a grape we have never heard of. We chat with the waiter. It’s a pleasant dinner.

Yay, pizza!

Yay, pizza!


In the morning we are back on the road to Sicily. We catch the 11:20 AM ferry and cross the Strait of Messina.
Crossing the Strait of Messina

Crossing the Strait of Messina


My fun plan for today is to stop in Messina and see the cathedral and then have lunch before heading to Taormina. I am hoping that it turns out better than yesterday’s good idea. All goes smoothly getting off the ship and we find the cathedral with no problem. However, parking is a problem. John finds an inventive parking space which is obviously not a real parking space but others are parked here so, why not?
Our parking spot at the top of a flight of stairs

Our parking spot at the top of a flight of stairs


The Messina cathedral has been largely rebuilt since an earthquake at the beginning of the 20th century and allied bombing in 1943 destroyed much of it. It has some very nice reconstructed 14th century mosaics and a large astronomical clock on its bell tower.
Main apse mosaic in Messina duomo

Main apse mosaic in Messina duomo


We find some lunch and then are on our way to Villa Ducale in Taormina. This will be the third time we have stayed at Villa Ducale and we are greeted like old friends. The B & B has 17 rooms, an unbelievably beautiful view from their porch, exceptional service, and is rated #1 on Tripadvisor. There is complimentary tea at 5 PM, cocktail hour at 7 PM and then you can have dinner al fresco as well. It is a really nice place. Sarah is charmed.
The view from Villa Ducale enjoyed with a welcoming glass of prosecco

The view from Villa Ducale enjoyed with a welcoming glass of prosecco


Our room

Our room

The view from our room's balcony

The view from our room’s balcony


Tea time treats

Tea time treats


We pretty much camp out on their porch from 7 PM until we retire.

Tomorrow, Sarah has a cooking lesson with the hotel manager’s father!

April 26, 2015 – Bari

The other night Yuri, from Vincanto in Pompei, asked us where we were going next. We said, Bari. He looked at us quizzically and said, Bari? There’s not too much to do in Bari but Sarah wanted to come here because of St. Nicholas of Bari and so here we are.

Our first plan is to walk over to the art museum and give it a look. On the way there we find that there is a road race going on and a fabulous fish market. The art museum will have to wait.

The fish market is definitely a man’s affair. There are men beating octopi on the pavement to tenderize it. There are men washing octopi in big tubs of soapy water, men shelling sea urchins and hairy mussels, men shopping, smoking, drinking beer and playing cards. Sarah and I are the only women here. It’s all quite fascinating.

Washing an octopus in a soapy tub

Washing an octopus in a soapy tub


Opening sea urchins

Opening sea urchins


Tasty morsels for sale

Tasty morsels for sale


Road race finish line

Road race finish line


Finally we make it to the art museum. It is an easily manageable size. Since we usually concentrate on the early works through the 1600’s we have good parameters for not getting exhausted. Sarah and I get out our list of Saints and their attributes in art and go to work identifying who’s who in the art museum. We snap a few picture before we get the ominous warning, “NO FOTO!”
St. Nicholas holding his three bags of gold that he gave to three young women so they could have dowries instead of becoming prostitutes

St. Nicholas holding his three bags of gold that he gave to three young women so they could have dowries instead of becoming prostitutes


Back out in the sunshine for a walk in the old city to find San Sabino, the cathedral here. There are extensive excavations under the current cathedral with layers of old churches going back to Paleo-Christian times. An early layer has a mosaic floor.
Mosaic floor from Paleo-Christian church

Mosaic floor from Paleo-Christian church


Detail of an octopus

Detail of an octopus


Done with the cathedral we hurry to make our lunch reservation. We have learned over the years that on Sunday especially Italians eat their big meal with their whole families at lunchtime. Restaurants are not open for dinner. So we know to fill up now and skip dinner later. The restaurant, Gianpolo, is serving many families. There are tables of eight, twelve and more. Kids are running around all dressed up for the big Sunday event. It appears to be multi-generational with nonna and nonno, mom and dad, aunts and uncles and cousins. Our table of three is the smallest. We do a good job, though, at the lunch eating. Like the other tables we get extras for free and presents to take home.

Seriously, all we ordered was mixed antipasti, pasta, and sorbet.

In the meantime the Italian families are still going strong. An hour and a half later when we leave our hotel after a small siesta we see them just coming out of the restaurant. There’s no turning tables here!

We take a walk over to see the Church of St. Nicholas. It’s very old having been built and the 11th and 12th century. It looks like they have some excellent old paintings but they are roped off and we are disappointed that we can’t a closer look. As it turns out, St. Nicholas was actually the bishop of Myra in Turkey. In the 11th century some Italians from Bari stole his remains and built this church for them. I read that Turkey is trying to get them back. Saintly remains are good for tourism.

Madonna and Child with Saints - the saint to Mary's left is St. Nicholas

Madonna and Child with Saints – the saint to Mary’s left is St. Nicholas


Church of St. Nicholas

Church of St. Nicholas


Interior of church

Interior of church


As we walk through the early evening streets people are sitting in cafes and children are playing soccer in the piazzas. We decide to join them. We have a beverage and some snacks to tide us over until the morning.
Sarah at an outdoor cafe

Sarah at an outdoor cafe