As has frequently happened in the past, the media section of my free Photo Drop WordPress site is too full of photos to add new posts. I still have an Analogue Adventures series in the Photo Drop blog spot, but will delay it while I post about more recent adventures. The link will be updated in my Picture This posts. I will let you know when the next Analogue series starts. Thanks for coming along. Oh, an by the way, WordPress free sites now only come with 1 Gig media storage, rather than 3 Gigs. Wahhhh!!!
In case you can’t find it, here is today’s post on my other site.
All photos taken August 30, 2022, our last walk in Bunchberry until October 31, as it was closing during migration and ungulate rutting season.
As has frequently happened in the past, the media section of my free Photo Drop WordPress site is too full of photos to add new posts. I still have an Analogue Adventures series in the Photo Drop blog spot, but will delay it while I post about more recent adventures. The link will be updated in my Picture This posts. I will let you know when the next Analogue series starts. Thanks for coming along. Oh, an by the way, WordPress free sites now only come with 1 Gig media storage, rather than 3 Gigs. Wahhhh!!!
Our walks in Bunchberry seem to be getting earlier and earlier. Not a bad thing, as it is amazing what you see as the sun’s rise light the landscape.
Despite knowing better, we headed down one of the lesser used trails in Tucker’s Field to get to Bunchberry Meadows.
We had not walked this path for a few months, when grass and plants were smaller. At one point, it was hinted that perhaps I had taken a wrong turn, you know, zigged when I should have zagged. Nonetheless, we eventually found the good path.
In Bunchberry, the strong sideways light created some spectacular shots.
Pack your trunk.
The trail through the Tamarack grove was dark and a bit foreboding.
At one point, we took a slight jog off the path to look at one sunlit meadow
As the trail turned the corner by another meadow, the sun lit the dew covered cobwebs…
…and Tamarack needles
Patty enters the Tamarack tunnel
These cobwebs are a bit messier
The light and shadow play continued to enthrall
Fall is on the way
The Prairie Asters were still prolific
Just around the corner
A rare summer sighting. These Bohemian Waxwings were gathering, for what purpose, we do not know.
leaf colours like an out of sequence traffic light
at the junction with the Blueberry Connector
a moose track indent by the toe of my boot
at our next deviation, we stumbled upon the Bunchberry motherlode
just about out of the forest
back out in the open
me and my shadow
the thicket by the parking lot – in the parking lot, we spotted a notice telling us Bunchberry would be closed from September 6 to October 31, to safeguard bird migration and for the ungulate rutting season. This will be our last walk here for a while.
everywhere on our walk, the chattering of squirrels busy gathering their winter food stash was heard
Back in the dew zone again
one lone Prairie Blazing Star getting to the end of its life cycle
glowing Canada Thistle
the meadows are no longer spring green
dragon flies were everywhere, but all that light on my bug jacket screen made it difficult to get a bead on them
…now, where was I? Oh, yeah, bike riding through the Edmonton River Valley. In Part 1, we left our intrepid duo (always wanted to say that) at the James MacDonald Bridge roughly in the center of Edmonton.
At our rest stop, we discussed our options and decided to keep on riding West, eventually looking for a bite of lunch at any handy fast food joint. The day was ours…as long as we were home on the back deck for coffee by 1:30 PM.
The map below roughly shows our route. For some reason Google was no as up to date on Edmonton’s bike routes as it should have been. Our actual distance on this leg was closer to 22.4 km (14 miles), but we did do a bit of meandering, while looking for lunch and a place to eat it.
Now in Rossdale, we rode through Irene Parlby Park…
…past the Rossdale Power Plant and back to the Walterdale Bridge…another stunning view
Ahead, we could see the High Level Bridge (car traffic on lower decks and streetcar and train traffic on the upper, in the day). The bridge was opened in 1913. On the other side of the High Level was the Dudley B. Menzies LRT and pedestrian bridge, opened in 1992.
Between the bridges, so to speak.
Past these bridges, the wide multi use path followed alongside River Road, past Victoria Golf Course. The 2nd slide shows that the locally famous Taber, Alberta sweet corn is now on sale.
Up ahead, we spotted the Groat Bridge (named for Malcom Groat, a former Hudson’s Bay Company employee who settled in the Groat Estates area of Edmonton in the 1880s). A river rafting firm was doing a brisk business on this hot summer day.
Past the Groat Bridge, we entered MacKinnon Ravine Park, which almost became home to a freeway into downtown Edmonton, before a halt was called. After a steady uphill climb…
…we found ourselves on Summit Drive near 148 Street and 101 Avenue. A brief trip to the nearest Subway shop…
…and we set off to find a picnic spot.
This took a bit more time than we thought, as it had been a long time since we had been in this area.
At long last, we arrived at the edge of the river valley, where we enjoyed a hazy downtown Edmonton view and ate our sandwich under the shade of an evergreen tree.
We tootled around on Riverside Drive, before finding our way back out to 142 Street…
…and the bridge across the Mackenzie Ravine.
A series of service roads took us to Buena Vista Road which led back down into the river valley near the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The downhill ride was fast and traffic was busier than we expected, as everyone was looking for some R & R in the river valley.
At bottom of Buena Vista Rd and after badly negotiating the round-about, we found the bike path through Buena Vista Park. This is also an off-leash area, so we had to use caution to avoid the excited dogs. One of them even tried to race me.
We were looking for the Buena Vista/Hawrelak Park footbridge, when all of a sudden it appeared on our right. This was our way back across the river to the South bank.
After dawdling on the bridge for some river views, we rode the shortest route through Hawrelak Park…
…past the Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club (site of our very first date), past one of many abandoned Lime scooters littering Edmonton and back to Groat Road.
As we wanted to ride South back across the Walterdale Bridge to get to our car, we first crossed the river North on Groat Bridge…
…back to River Valley Road, where we turned Eastward. Bike and pedestrian traffic had picked up since our morning transit West
At the Walterdale Bridge, our end goal was in sight. One last look at the river.
Our distance travelled was 32.7 km (20 1/3 miles) and we had thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Back home, in time for coffee. And no, I am not naked and drinking coffee from a huge straw. My wife thought this photo would be cute. You can be the judge. Thanks for riding along with us.
Since our first attempt of transporting our folding E-bikes in the back of our Prius V for a river valley ride on July 29, 2022, we have been trying to get up the nerve to do it all again. Several things had to align to allow this:
modification of the load floor and loading procedure
a sufficient allotment of time from our obligations
the right weather – cooler in the morning with the promise of sunny weather all day
Today, was when all conditions seemed right:
Cardboard layer on bottom of cargo area replaced with hardboard and 2 small skates created to allow the bikes to slide in more easily
this day was a our last weekday without family obligations
the weather was going to be picture perfect, +17 C 62 1/2 F) at 9:00 AM and + 23 C (73 1/2 F) by about 12:00 Noon. The only slight hitch was whether the wildfire smoke in our area would be a problem.
The loading process at 8:00 AM
We had no set route today, except that we would start at the Kinsmen Sports Center where there was abundant parking, then ride East on the South Bank, crossing the river on the Dawson Bridge and then head back West on the North Bank. Depending on how long that all took, we might take a jaunt further West.
Below is that Eastern route and return to City Centre-ish
Unloading at Kinsmen Sports Center on Walterdale Hill Road at 9:45 AM
The good thing about the bike paths in the river valley is that you are riding through forested areas, in the shade of the trees. This is why the river valley park network is called the Ribbon of Green.
The park system encompasses over 7,300 hectares (18,000 acres) of parkland, making it the largest contiguous area of urban parkland in the country. The park system is made up of over 30 provincial and municipal parks situated around the river from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, with trails connecting most of the parks together.
our path through Nellie McClung Park
a pause to admire this beautiful reflection of the new 5th Street bridge – our timing was perfect for lighting and calm water on the river
continuing on through Nellie McClung Park
taking in the city view from the Yurinatus Lookout
Pausing between the James MacDonald Bridge and the Low Level Bridge (pictured below)
about to dip down under the Low Level Bridge
a stop at Rafter’s Landing to see the newly refurbished Edmonton Riverboat and the Edmonton Convention Center (low glass front building and sloping glass roof) and Canada Place (pink) buildings) on the North bank – Covid and the river in winter were not kind to this riverboat business venture
riding past the new Tawatinâ Bridge LRT and pedestrian bridge
our E-bikes made short work of the hard climb up to Forest Heights Park
once again, we were presented with stunning city views – the last slide shows a bit of Commonwealth Stadium (home of our CFL Edmonton Elks football club – they are not doing so well this year, as it is a rebuild year (decade?)
an almost 360 degree panorama shot
back in the saddle, we rode across Rowland Road on a pedestrian overpass and again paused for the views
riding down Rowland Road and across the Dawson bridge, built in 1912
Once off the bridge, we rode down into Riverdale to reach the path along the river – these sunflowers and this quaint home caught our eye.
Our brief stop over, we continued West and South through Riverdale and back to Tawatinâ Bridge
view of the city from the Tawatinâ Bridge
The last time we were on this bridge, it was bitterly cold. It was nice to be able to pause and enjoy the views. The bridge was busy with both cyclists and pedestrians. Glad we were not here on the weekend.
To the East, Accidental Beach (gravel bar) was showing. During the construction ofTawatinâ Bridge, this bar appeared and was used by the locals for some summer fun. Looks like it is not as accessible these days, even though the river water is low right now.
back on the North bank, we continued West into Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
A better view of the Edmonton Riverboat
Edmonton’s Low Level Bridge – the original span was built in 1900 as a rail bridge, then for street car (1908-39) and trolley bus (1939-65). The 2nd span was built in 1948 and widened in 1954. Each span now carries two lanes of vehicle traffic.
If I say I was not tempted by this cute sign, I’d be lying.
Home of the beer as well as Segway tours and bike rentals…and much needed restrooms
our break over, we rode onward under the Low Level and James MacDonald bridges, pausing to look at the art murals.
I have used this location (10.3 km/6.5 miles and roughly one hour of cycling as my split point on this bike day.
All photos taken August 23, 2022, during our weekly forest walk.
Yesterday, our area was infiltrated by wildfire smoke for the first time this summer. The AQI was an 8 and not recommended for outdoor strenuous activity. So, we complied, while we looked for the best timing for this week’s Bunchberry walk. The 23rd was supposed to be relatively smoke free, so we set out right after our coffee-less breakfast. We were hiking by 7:35 AM.
While we had 2 deer cross our path, a bunny sighting, birdsong all around, numerous red squirrels gathering their winter food cache and sounds of both pileated and down woodpeckers, I managed to capture very little wildlife with my camera. That being said, it was a pretty walk through the dew soaked grass and we kept cool for the most part.
The understory continues to take on fall colours
The morning light was amazing through the light smoke haze
We were shadows of our former selves
Dew beading up on this plant
Scanning for deer in our usual sighting spot. None to be seen since we saw two does scamper across the trail in front of us.
Sun through the birch trees
Many shades of grass
We think this is a grouse feather, likely remnant of a coyote’s lunch
Looking down from Pee Tree Hill
The grass blades in this area were almost blue
Tall grasses compete
Dewy grass blade
sun dappled path
at the grove
this meadow was vacant too
The grass is not always greener
On the boardwalk
Under the canopy
Sow Thistle flowers
Not sure what these stalks are…perhaps precursors to the puffballs
Finally back into the cool forest
some squirrel has been busy
the forest views are again opening up
one last Prairie Blazing Star
at the elbow tree
forest version of Jenga
This shot of the meadow was taken on yellow palette setting. To the eye, all the grass looked green
At the Blueberry Connector path
brightly coloured leaves
Saskatoon berries (service berries in some places)
We have never seen any wildlife in this bog area…except mosquitoes
We alternate between rural and city rides, depending on the day and time we have. This day was an in town ride and with a few zigs and zags, we managed to pedal 25 km. (15 1/2 miles) in about 90 minutes. And in the time and space, we saw some stuff.
In the middle of a hot spell, we pondered what to do to get out and about. It would be too hot and sunny in the late morning/early afternoon to walk or cycle far, but, we couldn’t just sit around all day, avoiding this spell of good weather.
We thought about loading the E-bikes into the car and driving into Edmonton for a river valley view. Then we thought how hot it would be trying to load them back into the car after our ride. Typically Edmonton temps are about 2 degrees C hotter than Beaumont.
In the end, we opted for an early morning extended bike ride on the multi use trails that abound in our little city. It proved to be the right choice and we still had time for our exercise routine and mowing the lawn before lunch. Retirement is just full of options.
Our trusty steeds are ready for adventure.
At 7:50 AM, the morning shadows were pretty long, but at 15 C (59 F) and with a slight breeze, we knew we had made the right choice.
We started off on our usual route which included trails…
…and streets. Sharing the road with gravel trucks was not our idea of the perfect balance.
We nipped into our usual Northwest pond loop…
…and paused to watch the ongoing housing development construction.
On around to the 2nd pond…
…where we spotted the City applying herbicide. Hmm, time to move along
…after pausing to watch the morning birdlife. In addition to the usual array of ducks, we spotted a Lesser Yellowlegs (4th slide).
Just across Rue Montalet, we paused again. Yup, herbicide smell here too.
At this time of day, the pond was calm and great for reflecting.
The trail here was quite secluded, with houses on the left and trees and canal on the right. Coming to our usual turn, we opted to go straight on.
The trail continued on past more houses and more storm ponds….
…until we arrive at Four Seasons Park and Don Sparrow Lake, where it seemed everyone was out walking their dogs.
We call this spruce “the Cat in the Hat Tree” for obvious reasons. Looks like the fear of drought caused an abundance of cones to form, adding to the load on the tree top.
The bright morning sun made it difficult to get a good photos of the lake.
Back on the trails surrounding the park, until, we arrived at…
…the new artificial turf sports field. The long grass by the fence was wet with dew and allowed us to clean our bike tires.
More trails and ponds across 50th Street, heading East.
Another area, another subdivision under construction. Can you imagine living in a home near this dust cloud for the next 3 years?
One last look at the pond…
…and we moved on further North and East, along the winding trails between subdivisions.
At this pond, there is a wooden lookout platform. We again paused to reflect.
We rode on a bit more to the East, before…
…turning around and retracing our route.
Back on the streets at 32nd Avenue and 50th Street.
A slightly different route back at this point…
…before getting back on track.
These ladies were still out for a swim
One last turn through the grounds of École Dansereau/Académie Saint André combined Public/Separate school…
…and we arrived home after 19.7 km ( miles) and 1 hour and 20 minutes. We arrived home Calm, cool and connected. What’s your favourite in town bike ride in your community?
Another week, another walk at Bunchberry Meadows. We continue to walk early (sans coffee) to beat the heat. I will treat what I photographed that day as art and give each piece or group a descriptive title. Let me know which one is your favourite.
BAD HAIR DAY —dried out grass tussock
BAD WEED — purple loosestrife, a very invasive plant
YOU CAN”T SEE the FOREST FOR the TREES — Tucker’s Field (full colour and yellow palette)
SEEING RED – a few leaves are turning colour (full colour and red palette setting)
BERRY INTERESTING — can’t find out the name of these berries
SHADY CHARACTER — the early morning sun created a pleasant look
WEB of INTRIGUE — sloppy spider webs to trap careless victims
ASTER-isk — Prairie Asters are distinguishable from Common Fleabane by their distinct petals and smaller centers
TAKING the LONG VIEW – – looking over the meadows for signs of wildlife
DAPPLE of my EYE – no explanation needed
GOLDEN GIRL – My beloved in sunlit bug jacket
MATTED HAIR – – grass likely flattened for a deer’s bed
MARSH-MELLOW — a pretty scene of a clump of yellow sow thistle beyond the pond
BARKING UP the WRONG TREE – a clump birch with a variety of bark looks
OH DEER – – this doe crossed the path in front of us, almost hidden by the grass. As soon as she spotted us, she snorted in alarm and “binked” off out of sight
TAKING STALK — the grasses are tall and going to seed
TRUNK ROAD — this tree had blown down since our last visit. Glad we were not under it
MAKING a GROVE DECISION –at the grove, we had 3 trails to choose from
COCK-les of the WALK — white cockle flowers
GIVING us the GREEN LIGHT — this leaf was a shining beacon in the sunshine
LICH-en a CARPET – this forest lichen is spreading out
SQUIRRELING it AWAY — everywhere we walked, we could hear the sound of pine cones hitting the forest floor as these little guys worked to prepare their winter stash. Squirrels do not hibernate, so food caches are imperative for their survival
WALKING TOWARDS the LIGHT — heavenly scene, indeed
THANKS a BUNCH — red bunchberries, but not in Bunchberry Meadows. These were in Tucker’s Field
Another post with no photos! I must have run out of film or enthusiasm. So, I will post a photo of our tour group in their honour and as a way of letting go of our Florence disappointment.
Paris to London – July 4, 1984
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we were travelling back to London in style. After our last? continental breakfast, we watched as our fellow travellers boarded the bus for Ostend.
After the bus pulled away, we climbed in a taxi to Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch our 11:30 AM flight to London.
After clearing customs and immigration at Heathrow, we took the Tube to Victoria Station.
Lunch at Victoria Station had a familiar note to our departure date. I mean, where else do you get a Big Casey Burger, a Smokey Jones, and a Donut Surprise? The only thing I recognize from this lunch was a Pepsi and an Orange Juice. Which of us drank Pepsi in those days?
We took a taxi to our B & B and after dropping our luggage at Westminster House, we took the Tube to Knightsbridge and wandered through Harrods Department Store for some last minute shopping. After a bit of shopping, we travelled to St. James Park for one last walk through on our way to Victoria Station, so we could meet the Cosmos tour group coming off the train from Folkestone at about 6:00 PM.
They all looked so exhausted and here we were, still feeling pretty good. Life is not always fair, but we were glad we took the flight. We found a restaurant at Victoria for supper and tried to make better choices than we had for lunch. Lasagne and a salad and beer for me. Spaghetti and a salad and milk for Patty.
Back to our hotel for the night.
London to Home – July 5, 1984
At last, at long last, the moment we had waited for happened. A COOKED BREAKFAST! Bacon, sausage, egg, toast, coffee and juice. No mere roll and coffee would do.
After breakfast, we grabbed our bags and headed to Victoria Station to grab the Rail/Air Link to Gatwick. We arrived in plenty of time to catch our 11:20 AM Wardair flight for home.
Our final travel meal was on board our flight and in true Wardair fashion, it was great. Shrimp Salad, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Potato Croquettes, Zucchini, Bread and wine. Dessert was Raspberry Cake Trifle with Kahlua. Life was good and we were going home.
We arrived home at 2:35 PM, exhausted, but satisfied.
Thanks for coming along on this trip from long ago.
Another morning in Paris, another superior Continental Breakfast.
Today, we were joining up with John and Dean for some real travel adventures. We hopped on the Metro to the train station for the short train ride to Versailles.
ThePalace of Versailles is a former royal residence located in Versailles, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Paris, France. The palace is owned by the French Republic and has since 1995 been managed, under the direction of the French Ministry of Culture, by the Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles. 15,000,000 people visit the Palace, Park, or Gardens of Versailles every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
Louis XIII built a simple hunting lodge on the site of the Palace of Versailles in 1623 and replaced it with a small château in 1631–34. Louis XIV expanded the château into a palace in several phases from 1661 to 1715. It was a favorite residence for both kings, and in 1682, Louis XIV moved the seat of his court and government to Versailles, making the palace the de facto capital of France. This state of affairs was continued by Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, who primarily made interior alterations to the palace, but in 1789 the royal family and capital of France returned to Paris. For the rest of the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles was largely abandoned and emptied of its contents, and the population of the surrounding city plummeted.
Napoleon Bonaparte, following his takeover of France, used Versailles as a summer residence from 1810 to 1814, but did not restore it. When the French Monarchy was restored, it remained in Paris and it was not until the 1830s that meaningful repairs were made to the palace. A museum of French history was installed within it, replacing the apartments of the southern wing.
The palace and park were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 for its importance as the center of power, art, and science in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French Ministry of Culture has placed the palace, its gardens, and some of its subsidiary structures on its list of culturally significant monuments.
Arriving at Versailles, we were told that the government workers had called a snap one-day strike, so we would not be able to get into the Palace. Our friends from America, hearing that I knew some French suggested that I tell the attendant that they were teachers to see if that had any impact on the situation.
I spoke my piece, the attendant rolled his eyes and returned a very firm “Non” and that was that. We would have to be satisfied with simply wandering the grounds. The exterior and grounds were beautiful and we would not get inside, until we returned to Paris in 2007.
Our saunter around the grounds over, we retraced our route to Paris. Our next tour stop was at Notre Dame Cathedrale.
Notre-Dame de Paris referred to simply as Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité (island in the Seine River), in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Several of its attributes set it apart from the earlier Romanesque style, particularly its pioneering use of the rib vault and flying buttress, its enormous and colourful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration. Notre Dame also stands out for its musical components, notably its three pipe organs (one of which is historic) and its immense church bells.
Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and was largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the centuries that followed. In the 1790s, during the French Revolution, Notre-Dame suffered extensive desecration; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. In the 19th century, the coronation of Napoleon I and the funerals of many of the French Republic’s presidents took place at the cathedral.
The 1831 publication of Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) inspired popular interest in the cathedral, which led to a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864, supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. During World War II, after the Allies’ 1944 victory in Europe, the liberation of Paris was celebrated in Notre-Dame with the singing of the Magnificat. Beginning in 1963, the cathedral’s façade was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime. Another cleaning and restoration project was carried out between 1991 and 2000.
The cathedral is one of the most widely recognized symbols of the city of Paris and the French nation. In 1805, it was awarded the honorary status of a minor basilica.
Approximately 12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually, making it the most visited monument in Paris. On 15 April 2019, while Notre-Dame was undergoing renovation and restoration, its roof caught fire and burned for about 15 hours. The cathedral sustained serious damage as a result.Work is under way to have it restored by Spring 2024.
After our tour of Notre Dame, we managed a lunch in the area: ham & cheese crepe, tomato and cheese crepe, salami on baguette, cheese pie and crepe Grand Marnier. We must have been hungry.
We then hopped on the Metro, travelling to Montmartre, for a tour of Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica in Paris, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. It is a popular landmark, and the second-most visited monument in Paris. Sacré-Cœur Basilica has maintained a perpetual adoration of the Holy Eucharist since 1885. The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. The basilica was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.
Our last tour for the day was a cruise down the Seine River on Les Bateaux Mouche.
Bateaux Mouches are open excursion boats that provide visitors to Paris, with a view of the city from along the river Seine. They also operate on Parisian canals such as Canal Saint-Martin which is partially subterranean.
The term is a registered trademark of the Compagnie des Bateaux Mouches, the most widely known operator of the boats in Paris, founded by Jean Bruel (1917–2003); however, the phrase, because of the success of the company, is used generically to refer to all such boats operating on the river within the city. Bateaux Mouches translates literally as “fly boats” (“fly” meaning the insect); however, the name arose because they were originally manufactured in boatyards situated in the Mouche area of Lyon.
These boats are popular tourist attractions in Paris. They started with steamers at an Exhibition in 1867. Many seat several hundred people, often with an open upper deck and an enclosed lower deck; some have sliding canopies that can close to protect the open deck in inclement weather. Most boat tours include a live or recorded commentary on the sights along the river. A typical cruise lasts about one hour. Many companies offer lunch and dinner cruises as well. Most boats are equipped with lights to illuminate landmarks in the evening. The Steamers stopped running in the slow down of the Great Depression.
Our touring day over, we were happy to head back to the party that we had helped arrange for the Cosmos 5161 dissidents. Our fun was accompanied by bread, cold cuts, cheese, cakes and drinks and we all celebrated our time together. As much as I have dissed Cosmos during these posts, we did meet some really fine people. We kept in touch with many of them for years (our friends from Thailand, New Zealand and South Africa).
We went to sleep contented with our month long adventure. Patty was starting to feel better.
1st shots in first 5 slide shows taken on May 4, 2022, 2nd shots on May 26, 2022, 3rd shots taken on June 16, 2022, 4th shots taken on July 14, 2022, 5th shots taken on August 10, 2022, 6th shots taken on September 28, 2022, 7th shots taken on October 26, 2022 and 8th shots taken on November 2, 2022. Single shots and last slide show taken on November 2, 2022 (they’re the ones in white).
My November 1, 2022 post talked about picking up the fallen leaves and getting the yard ready for the expected snow storm. Well, that same evening, the snow started and did not stop until about 7:00 PM on November 2, 2022.
I shoveled snow 4 times yesterday and again this morning. The world is now so pretty in winter white…unless you are driving, or walking on the sidewalks. The snow was wet and left an icy coating on everything it landed on. The good news is that it will melt…sometime in April 2023.
Hope your November weather is treating you better. This post will complete my interval yard (garden) posts.
Breakfast in France was a real improvement. In addition to rolls and coffee, we also got a croissant and orange juice for our petit déjeuner.
Because we did not sign on for any Cosmos $13.50 optional tours, we were on our own. Allison gave us one more chance, before the bus pulled away, but we declined. We had already picked up “un carnet” (packet of 10 Metro tickets) at the nearby Tabac (news shop licensed to sell tobacco products), so we were good to go.
Patty was feeling better, so we hopped on the Metro to a station stop near the Grand Palais.
From there, we walked down the Champs-Élysées to La Place de l’Étoile and l’Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (lit. ’Triumphal Arch of the Star’) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile — the étoile or “star” of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues. The location of the arc and the plaza is shared between three arrondissements, 16th (south and west), 17th (north), and 8th (east). The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. It was inaugurated on July 29, 1836.
We wandered around taking in the views, but chose not to go up to the top.
We hopped on the Metro back to the Louvre Museum for our tour.
The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world’s most-visited museum, and a historic landmark in Paris. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement (district or ward). At any given point in time, approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are being exhibited over an area of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet).
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the Medieval Louvre fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to urban expansion, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function, and in 1546 Francis I converted it into the primary residence of the French Kings.
As we approached the Louvre, 2 young girls walked toward us carrying a piece of cardboard. Oh no you don’t! We’ve seen this movie before. We shouted at them and turned around and retreated looking for their next victims.
We enjoyed our visit to the Louvre, but ended up being locked in for short period of time, because one of the visitors touched a painting.
After the Louvre, we were back on our own again and hopped back on the Metro to Opera stop and found the nearby offices for British Airways. Patty was not feeling well enough to withstand another full day on the bus, ferry and train to get back to London. We were going to fly between Paris and London, a flight of only 70 minutes, a lot better than the 10 hours our compatriots would face.
Tickets secured, we took the Metro back to the stop near the Eiffel Tower.
Somewhere in the area, we stopped for lunch. Pat had A composed salad, a salade composée, a salad of many ingredients that are not tossed together but, instead, conscientiously arranged, whether in a pile or side by side, on a plate or in a bowl, with attention to complimentary flavors and colors and a lemonade. Allan had roast chicken and a beer. We paused along the Seine for the views.
Then it was time for the quintessential French experience. We were going up the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower, French: tour Eiffel is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower.
Locally nicknamed “La dame de fer” (French for “Iron Lady”), it was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair and was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument with an entrance fee in the world; 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015. The Tower was made a Monument historique in 1964 and named part of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
The tower is 330 metres (1,083 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. It was the first structure in the world to surpass both the 200-metre and 300-metre mark in height. Due to the addition of a broadcasting aerial at the top of the tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Excluding transmitters, the Eiffel Tower is the second tallest free-standing structure in France after the Millau Viaduct.
We did not care about all the stats. We just wanted to see the views from the top.
After our “Tour” tour, it was back on the Metro to Hotel des Invalides.
Les Invalides, formally the Hôtel national des Invalides, also Hôtel des Invalides (literally, “House of the disabled”) is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the buildings’ original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine. The complex also includes the former hospital chapel, now national cathedral of the French military, and the adjacent former Royal Chapel known as the Dôme des Invalides, the tallest church building in Paris at a height of 107 meters. The latter has been converted into a shrine of some of France’s leading military figures, most notably the tomb of Napoleon. Construction took from 1678 to 1706.
As it was already 6:30 PM, there was no point trying to go in.
Then, back on the Metro to our hotel, where we found a Chinese restaurant in the area and had quite the spread for supper…wonton soup, corn soup, spring rolls, fried wontons, veggies, rice, beef saté accompanied by green tea and beer. Fried bananas for dessert.
Later, as we compared days with some of our travel compatriots, we hatched a plan for a farewell party on our last night together. It would be called the “Cosmos 5161 Dissidents Party”, but we all agreed that Allison and Enzo could come too.
The hotel was good enough to agree to lend us the use of one of their meeting rooms and we would gather supplies the next day.
Patty was still not feeling that well, so we went to bed early to get rested for our last day on tour.
All photos taken on July 1, 1984. Happy Canada Day.
Rolls and coffee, ’nuff said?
Luggage and passengers on the bus and we set out for the 5 1/2 hour drive to Paris, except it took Cosmos about 8 hours to get us there, through Belfort and Troyes. After, all, we could not arrive at our hotel in Paris too early, could we?
And all along the route, for all 8 hours, Allison was doing her best to drum up business for her “Cosmos $13.50 Extra” tours. After 3 hours of the hard sell, she came to us to see which tours we wanted to book and was surprised when we said “None”.
Well, how will you get around Paris, she asked? Well, Allison, I have my high school French and Paris has a marvellous subway system. She walked away shaking her head. She did find plenty of takers.
Lunch along the route consisted of salad, fruit flan and orange juice.
Still near the back of the bus, Patty was getting increasingly uncomfortable and began feeling quite ill. She was happy when we reached our hotel (Hotel Ibis on Rue Bagnolet). Hmmm, not too bad. We were near the good bits.
Patty opted to stay in the room and recuperate while I opted to go walk the streets with John and Dean. We had been warned that there were a lot of snatch and grab incidents where tourists were robbed by bandits zipping by on scooters. This never happened to us, but one of our tour group members lost a necklace in this fashion.
On the street, we dined on sidewalk food, croque monsieur, crepe Grand Marnier and Nutella crepe and oh yeah, a beer. I took some of the croque and crepe back to the room for Pat. Just a warning, never hand cold fried sidewalk food to someone with an upset stomach, even in Paris.
Later on, we went out for the included Cosmos city lights tour, a kind of drive around with a couple of stops.
Back to the hotel around 10:00 PM. Tomorrow would be another day.
1st shots in first 5 slide shows taken on May 4, 2022, 2nd shots on May 26, 2022, 3rd shots taken on June 16, 2022, 4th shots taken on July 14, 2022, 5th shots taken on August 10, 2022, 6th shots taken on September 28, 2022 and 7th shots taken on October 26, 2022. Singled shots taken on October 26, 2022.
We were away for most of October, but nature left us a little gift while we were gone. The leaves which were once stored so perfectly on the tree branches, were now adorning my lawn. Not all of them, mind you, but enough that I had to do something about it.
As I write this post on November 1, 2022, I have just come in from collecting another massive dump of leaves, as we are expecting 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) of snow over the next 24 hours.
Hopefully my leaves have in fact left this time. Hope your fall is treating you well. I will do one last update, when all is covered by winter white.
Petunias still chugging along. Still no killing frost on October 26 and indeed as of November 1.
Different country, same breakfast….rolls and coffee at Hotel Eden in Sisikon.
We loaded ourselves and our luggage onto the bus for a day of touring in Lucerne.
Lucerne is a city in central Switzerland, in the German-speaking portion of the country. Lucerne is the capital of the canton of Lucerne and part of the district of the same name. With a population of approximately 82,000 people, Lucerne is the most populous city in Central Switzerland, and a nexus of economics, transportation, culture, and media in the region. The city’s urban area consists of 19 municipalities and towns with an overall population of about 220,000 people.
Owing to its location on the shores of Lake Lucerne and its outflow, the river Reuss, within sight of the mounts Pilatus and Rigi in the Swiss Alps, Lucerne has long been a destination for tourists. One of the city’s landmarks is the Chapel Bridge (German: Kapellbrücke), a wooden bridge first erected in the 14th century.
The official language of Lucerne is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Lucerne German.
Lake Lucerne (German: Vierwaldstättersee, literally “Lake of the four forested settlements” (in English usually translated as forest cantons), is a lake in central Switzerland and the fourth largest lake in the country. The lake has a complicated shape, with several sharp bends and four arms. The deepest point of the lake is 214 m (702 ft).
There were many scenic locations in Lucerne where the lake was front and center. All manner of boats were out and about.
Today was a day for grazing as we explored. Snack #1 was a cheese pie and a nut roll. Lunch was Tomato soup, minced beef, onions and mushrooms, green beans and knodel with cappuccinos. Snack #2 was chocolate covered nuts and kirsch chocolates.
We also managed to do a bit of gift shopping in the clock and chocolate stores about the city.
The Kapellbrücke (literally, Chapel Bridge) is a covered wooden footbridge spanning the river Reuss diagonally in the city of Lucerne in central Switzerland. Named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel, the bridge is unique in containing a number of interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, although many of them were destroyed along with a larger part of the centuries-old bridge in a 1993 fire. Subsequently restored, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, as well as the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. It serves as the city’s symbol and as one of Switzerland’s main tourist attractions. The bridge is 204.7 m (672 ft) long and has 27 spans.
This was a beautiful sight from many points along the river and we were lucky enough to be able to walk across the bridge.
After lunch, we walked up to the old fortified city for the history and the views.
Once a symbol of power, the Musegg Wall and its nine towers are part of Lucerne’s historic fortifications; forming a striking crown around the Old Town, the wall can be discerned from afar.
The fortifications were begun in the 13th century and consisted of two rings of ramparts: the inner ring comprising the town wall along the Löwengraben and Hirschengraben, the Chapel Bridge and Spreuer Bridge, and the outer ring on an ascending sandstone ridge in the Old Town on the right-hand side of the River Reuss.
As the town, founded in 1178, continued to expand beyond the narrow confines of the fortifications, the Musegg Wall was built with more towers. The 800-metre-long wall, erected around 1400 following the Battle of Sempach, is considered one of the longest, best-preserved defensive walls in Switzerland. Nine stone entities, floodlit at night, remain standing on the Musegg.
Our day in Lucerne over, we hopped on the bus for the 1 hour drive to Basel on the Swiss border with France. This would make tomorrow’s journey to Paris easier. That being said, our days in the back of the hot bus, bouncing around on long journeys were taking their toll. My beloved Patty was starting to feel unwell.
In Basel, there was no time for any sightseeing. We checked into the Hotel City Basel at about 7:30 and had a late supper in the hotel.
Supper was leek soup,, salad, beef and mushrooms on rice, vanilla pudding and wine. Patty had the spaghetti carbonara.
Time to get some shut eye in preparation for the next push.
Another Italian city, another Italian breakfast of, you know…rolls and coffee.
We were leaving Italy for Switzerland today and it would be a fairly long drive. Our time to be at the back of the bus had arrived before we got to Rome, so we were gradually moving forward again, but still in the bouncy back.
It was a 4 hour drive to Lugano and our first stop. We enjoyed a lunch of prosciutto pizza, spaghetti Carbonara, beer for me and tea for Patty. After lunch, we walked down to Lake Lugano to take in the views.
It would be another 1.5 hours to the St. Gotthard road tunnel, before we really started to see the alpine scenery.
The Gotthard Road Tunnel in Switzerland runs from Göschenen in the canton of Uri at its northern portal, to Airolo in Ticino to the south, and is 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) in length below the St Gotthard Pass, a major pass of the Alps. At time of construction, in 1980, it was the longest road tunnel in the world; it is currently the fifth-longest. Although it is a motorway tunnel, part of the A2 from Basel to Chiasso, it consists of only one bidirectional tube with two lanes. With a maximum elevation of 1,175 metres (3,855 ft) at the tunnel’s highest point, the A2 motorway has the lowest maximum elevation of any direct north-south road through the Alps.
The tunnel rises from the northern portal at Göschenen (1,080 m (3,540 ft)) and the culminating point is reached after approximately 8 kilometres (5.0 mi). After two or three more kilometres, the border between the cantons of Uri and Ticino is passed; after another 7 kilometres (4.3 mi), the tunnel ends at the southern portal near to Airolo (1,146 m (3,760 ft)). The journey takes about 13 minutes by car, the maximum speed being 80 km/h (50 mph).
The Gotthard Road Tunnel is one of the three tunnels that connect the Swiss Plateau to southern Switzerland and run under the Gotthard Massif, the two other being railway tunnels, the Gotthard Tunnel (1882) and the Gotthard Base Tunnel (2016). All three tunnels bypass the Gotthard Pass, an important trade route since the 13th century. The pass road culminates about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the tunnel, at a height of 2,106 metres (6,909 ft), and is only passable in summer.
It was another hour to Sisikon, where we would be staying for the night. In true Cosmos fashion, this was half an hour away from Lake Lucerne. Sigh.
Once we had checked in and freshened up, we were off into Lake Lucerne for dinner and a Swiss cultural evening. The meal at the dinner show was vegetable soup, salad, roast beef and knodel all washed down with wine and tea. Dessert was creme caramel.
The floor show included dances, music (including alpenhorn, spoons and yodeling).
We left for Sisikon about 10:00 PM and fell into a deep sleep in the mountain air. We were glad to be in a dark quiet setting (and glad that the yodeling had stopped) 😀.
Another morning, another breakfast of…..rolls and coffee.
We were off to Florence today and had high hopes to see Michelangelo’s David. It was a 3 hour drive and by the time we got to Florence it was after Noon. We found ourselves stranded on Piazza Michelangelo with fine views of the city of Florence, because that is where Cosmos had their “arrangement” with shops and restaurants.
First, we had to line up for the tour group photos. I must admit this is a great photo, but its no Michelangelo’s David. This process took the better part of 15 minutes.
Then we got some shopping time and finally, we had lunch. Our lunch was pizza, milkshakes, and gelato. Obviously, we found no need to watch our girlish figures in the early years,
We kept asking Allison, can we please go down to Florence, but she was having none of it and there did not seem to be any taxis up there anyway. Sigh.
Finally at 2:30, we found ourselves in Piazza Della Signori in Florence, ready to start our walking tour. And no, Allison would not yet set us free.
Piazza della Signoria is a w-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio. It is the main point of the origin and history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as the numerous tourists, located near Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza del Duomo and gateway to Uffizi Gallery.
From the Piazza, it was a short walk to Il Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore).
Florence Cathedral, formally the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral of Florence, (Duomo di Firenze). It was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to a design of Arnolfo di Cambio and was structurally completed by 1436, with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink, bordered by white, and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.
The cathedral complex, in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. These three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major tourist attraction of Tuscany. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until the development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.
Our walk continued on past the Medici Palace to Chiese di San Lorenzo, which contained the Medici tombs.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo is one of the largest churches of Florence, situated at the centre of the city’s main market district, and the burial place of all the principal members of the Medici family from Cosimo il Vecchio to Cosimo III. It is one of several churches that claim to be the oldest in Florence, having been consecrated in 393, at which time it stood outside the city walls. For three hundred years it was the city’s cathedral before the official seat of the bishop was transferred to Santa Reparata.
San Lorenzo was the parish church of the Medici family. In 1419, Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the 11th-century Romanesque rebuilding. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the 15th century, was commissioned to design it, but the building, with alterations, was not completed until after his death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that contains other important architectural and artistic works: the Old Sacristy by Brunelleschi, with interior decoration and sculpture by Donatello; the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo; the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo’s designs; and the Medici Chapels by Matteo Nigetti.
Florence seemed to be the city of churches, so we continued on to Chiezza Santa Crocé to see the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.
The Basilica di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, and a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church. It is situated on the Piazza di Santa Croce, about 800 meters south-east of the Duomo. The site, when first chosen, was in marshland outside the city walls. It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, the poet Foscolo, the philosopher Gentile and the composer Rossini, thus it is known also as the Temple of the Italian Glories.
The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs. Legend says that Santa Croce was founded by St Francis himself. The construction of the current church, to replace an older building, was begun on 12 May 1294, possibly by Arnolfo di Cambio, and paid for by some of the city’s wealthiest families. It was consecrated in 1442 by Pope Eugene IV. The building’s design reflects the austere approach of the Franciscans. The floorplan is an Egyptian or Tau cross (a symbol of St Francis), 115 metres in length with a nave and two aisles separated by lines of octagonal columns.
At long last, it was our free time and we rushed over to find that the Accademia Museum’s last admission time was 4:15 and it was now 4:45. No matter how we pleaded and begged, no exceptions would be made. Thanks Cosmos.
They did recommend that we might like to try the Galleria degli Uffuzi with works by Da Vinci and Bottecelli. Sorry, no photos inside the museum were permitted at the time.
The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence. One of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
After the ruling House of Medici died out, their art collections were given to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress. The Uffizi is one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865.
We finished off our free time by walking along the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio.
The Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence. It is noted for the shops built along it; building shops on such bridges was once a common practice. Butchers, tanners, and farmers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir sellers.
The bridge connects via Por Santa Maria to via de ‘Guicciardini.
The name was given to what was the oldest Florentine bridge when the bridge to the Carraia was built, then called “Ponte Nuovo” in contrast to the pons Vetus. Beyond the historical value, the bridge over time has played a central role in the city road system, starting from when it connected the Roman Florentia with the Via Cassia Nuova commissioned by the emperor Hadrian in 123 AD.
In contemporary times, despite being closed to vehicular traffic, the bridge is crossed by a considerable pedestrian flow generated both by the notoriety of the place itself and by the fact that it connects places of high tourist interest on the two banks of the river: piazza del Duomo, piazza della Signoria on one side with the area of Palazzo Pitti and Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno.
Back on the bus at 6:30 for transport to our hotel Hotel Concorde. Like most Cosmos hotels, this one was located out of the city center.
Supper was in the hotel and we dined on minestrone soup, potatoes, carrots and veal. Fresh peaches for dessert. All washed down with good Italian wine and our tears for not seeing Michelangelo’s David.
OK! We are noticing a trend in Italy. Most hotel breakfasts consist only of coffee and rolls.
Today was all about Rome. Our 1/2 day sightseeing tour started at Vatican City, where we walked past St. Peter’s empty plaza and headed for the Sistine Chapel.
Vatican City officially the Vatican City State is an independent city-state and enclave surrounded by Rome. The Vatican City State, also known simply as the Vatican, became independent from Italy with the Lateran Treaty (1929), and it is a distinct territory under “full ownership, exclusive dominion, and sovereign authority and jurisdiction” of the Holy See, itself a sovereign entity of international law, which maintains the city state’s temporal, diplomatic, and spiritual independence. With an area of 49 hectares (121 acres) and a population of about 825, it is the smallest state in the world by both area and population.
The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, in Vatican City and the official residence of the pope. Originally known as the Cappella Magna (‘Great Chapel’), the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who had it built between 1473 and 1481. Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today, it is the site of the papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescoes that decorate the interior, most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment, both by Michelangelo.
As we approached the entrance to the Sistine Chapel, we were approached by 2 young girls, one holding what appeared to be a cardboard sign. They came up and started speaking rapidly in Italian, momentarily confusing us. One held the cardboard over my wife’s purse and the other one started pinching her arm. Pat’s loud cry alerted me to what was going on and I pulled the girl’s arm away and they ran off. Hmmm, turns out this was a ring of well trained child pickpockets, chosen for this work, as they could not be prosecuted due to their age. Phewwww.
The famous painted ceilings in the Sistine Chapel (disclaimer: many of the ceiling shots were from a postcard set we purchased).
Views through the windows of the Sistine Chapel
Castel Sant’Angelo mausoleum over Emperor Hadrian’s Tomb (slides 1-3) – founded 123 – 139, it became a papal fortress, residence and prison in turn beginning in the 14th century
Wedding Cake Building – Victor Emanuel II Building (former Papal residence) (slide 4) – built 1885-1935
Somewhere in this area, we managed a lunch of lasagne, insalata mista and beer. Pat and Ulan joined us.
And then we were off on the next leg of the tour.
The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum.
For centuries the Forum was the center of day-to-day life in Rome: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated the city’s great men. The teeming heart of ancient Rome, it has been called the most celebrated meeting place in the world, and in all history. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archaeological excavations attracting 4.5 million or more sightseers yearly.
Founded 8th century BC to AD 608
Our next big tour was at the Roman Colosseum and we were in awe of the size of this place.
The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, just east of the Roman Forum. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheatre in the world today, despite its age. Construction began under the emperor Vespasian (r. 69–79 AD) in 72 and was completed in 80 AD under his successor and heir, Titus (r. 79–81). Further modifications were made during the reign of Domitian (r. 81–96). The three emperors that were patrons of the work are known as the Flavian dynasty, and the amphitheatre was named the Flavian Amphitheatre by later classicists and archaeologists for its association with their family name (Flavius).
The Colosseum is built of travertine limestone, tuff (volcanic rock), and brick-faced concrete. It could hold an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators at various points in its history, having an average audience of some 65,000; it was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles including animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Roman mythology, and briefly mock sea battles. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although substantially ruined because of earthquakes and stone-robbers (for spolia), the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and was listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It is one of Rome’s most popular tourist attractions and also has links to the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit “Way of the Cross” procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum. The Colosseum is depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.
Them a short stop at Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue in Rome. In the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width and could accommodate over 150,000 spectators. In its fully developed form, it became the model for circuses throughout the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park.
Dropped off back near St. Peters, we walked in to see the interior.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican or simply Saint Peter’s Basilica is a church built in the Renaissance style located in Vatican City, in the city of Rome, Italy. It was initially planned by Pope Nicholas V and then Pope Julius II to replace the aging Old St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built in the fourth century by Roman emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.
Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter’s is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and the largest church in the world by interior measure. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome (these equivalent titles being held by the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome), St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as “holding a unique position in the Christian world” and as “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.”
Catholic tradition holds that the basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, chief among Jesus’s apostles and also the first Bishop of Rome (Pope). Saint Peter’s tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the basilica, also known as the Altar of the Confession. For this reason, many popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since the Early Christian period.
We wandered about downtown Rome and found ourselves at the Spanish Steps.
The Spanish Steps are a set of steps in Rome, Italy, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.
The monumental stairway of 135 steps (the slightly elevated drainage system is often mistaken for the first step) was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi, in 1723–1725, linking the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the Bourbon kings of France and the Bourbon Spanish Embassy at the top of the steps to the Holy See in the Palazzo Monaldeschi at the bottom of the steps. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
Near the Spanish Steps we stopped to toss our coins into the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is an 18th-century fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. Standing 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
The fountain has appeared in several films, including Roman Holiday (1953), the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Federico Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita (1960)Sabrina Goes to Rome (1998), and The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003).
Wow, what an exhausting sightseeing day. We would certainly be ready to just sit on a long bus ride tomorrow.
Supper consisted of 1/2 a roast chicken, pizza bianco al salame, green beans, tomatoes, with gelato and cappuccino for dessert.
Another big driving day today (over 6 hours to Rome, with a stop at Perugia). Our hotel on the outskirts of the outskirts of Venice pulled out all the stops for breakfast this morning and served us ……….rolls and coffee. Sighhhhhhhhhh.
We set off at 8:00 AM on another 7 hour drive. Our first stop was at Ravenna for a cappuccino. We loved Italian coffees.
We motored on through the Umbrian countryside, headed for Perugia.
We arrived in Perugia around 1:00 PM and stopped for a lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches with sauce?? and peas. Dessert was a double dip gelato cone. Then it was on up into the hill town of Perugia, using the series of escalators provided.
Perugia is the capital city of Umbria in central Italy, crossed by the River Tiber, and of the province of Perugia. The city is located about 164 km (102 mi) north of Rome and 148 km (92 mi) southeast of Florence. It covers a high hilltop and part of the valleys around the area. The region of Umbria is bordered by Tuscany, Lazio, and Marche.
The history of Perugia goes back to the Etruscan period; Perugia was one of the main Etruscan cities.
The city is also known as the universities town, with the University of Perugia founded in 1308 (about 34,000 students), the University for Foreigners (5,000 students), and some smaller colleges such as the Academy of Fine Arts “Pietro Vannucci” (Italian: Accademia di Belle Arti “Pietro Vannucci”) public athenaeum founded in 1573, the Perugia University Institute of Linguistic Mediation for translators and interpreters, the Music Conservatory of Perugia, founded in 1788, and other institutes.
Back on the bus at 3:30 for the last 2 hours of our trip to Rome. Marc’Aurelio Hotel, our stop for 2 nights was about 5 km out of the city center. Dinner was on our own tonight and we hit the streets to see what we could find. The locals were not interested in helping us, but we finally found a trattoria and dined on Minnestrone Soup, Spaghetti and meat sauce, vegetables and insalata mista.
Well, in addition to the hotel being on the outskirts of the outskirts, it also had the most underwhelming breakfast on our tour…a roll and coffee.
Another 30 minute bus and boat ride into Venice for the included 1/2 day sightseeing tour to Piazza San Marco, Basilica San Marco, Doges’ Palace, Piazzetta, Bridge of Sighs and Rialto Bridge. The afternoon in Venice would be either a Cosmos $13.50 optional tour or we could explore on our own. The last one sounded like more fun.
Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay lying between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers (more exactly between the Brenta and the Sile). In 2020, 258,685 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. The city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.
The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city was historically the capital of the Republic of Venice for over a millennium, from 697 to 1797. It was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as an important center of commerce—especially silk, grain, and spice, and of art from the 13th century to the end of the 17th. The city-state of Venice is considered to have been the first real international financial center, emerging in the 9th century and reaching its greatest prominence in the 14th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. After the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Republic was annexed by the Austrian Empire, until it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, following a referendum held as a result of the Third Italian War of Independence.
The first part of our tour was a cruise down the Grand Canal.
One end of the canal leads into the lagoon near the Santa Lucia railway station and the other end leads into the basin at San Marco; in between, it makes a large reverse-S shape through the central districts of Venice. It is 3.8 km (2.4 mi) long, and 30 to 90 m (98 to 295 ft) wide, with an average depth of 5 metres (16 feet).
Inside the Doges’ Palace.
The Doge’s Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice in northern Italy. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic. It was built in 1340 and extended and modified in the following centuries. It became a museum in 1923 and is one of the 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
Views from inside the Doge’s Palace
After our morning tour, we joined our Thai friends, Pat & Ulan for lunch. We found a nice restaurant and ordered, what else…Salami Pizza. We also enjoyed Ravioli Ragout, lemonade, tea, cakes and beer.
For our afternoon tour, we went together with Pat & Ulan and hired a gondolier to show us Venice from the canals.
The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat, well suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. It is typically propelled by a gondolier, who uses a rowing oar, which is not fastened to the hull, in a sculling manner and also acts as the rudder. The uniqueness of the gondola includes it being asymmetrical along the length making the single-oar propulsion more efficient.
For centuries, the gondola was a major means of transportation and the most common watercraft within Venice. In modern times, the boats still do have a role in public transport in the city, serving as traghetti (small ferries) over the Grand Canal operated by two oarsmen.
Various types of gondola boats are also used in special regattas (rowing races) held amongst gondoliers. Their primary role today, however, is to carry tourists on rides at fixed rates. There are approximately 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice and a similar number of boats, down from the thousands that travelled the canals centuries ago. However, they are now elegantly crafted, instead of the various types of shabby homemade boats of the distant past.
Our gondolier’s name was Almondo and he cut quite the dashing figure as he rowed us about the city.
Before we left the square to return to our hotel, we had a drink in a café on the square. Even though I had heard that it had a taste similar to lighter fluid, I ordered a Campari over ice. Now, I have never tried lighter fluid, but after drinking Campari, I do not intend to.
Back on the boat to the bus to return to the outskirts of the outskirts and our hotel. Dinner that night was Rigatoni, French fries??, chicken, tomatoes and wine with chocolate pudding for dessert. Onward tomorrow.
It was a nice hotel indeed, and it served a superior continental breakfast of croissants, pumpernickel bread, cheese, ham, yogurt, cherries, fruit juice and coffee. We had a long drive (7 hours – 10 1/2 hours at Enzo pace with 2 short stops) ahead of us today, so we were on the bus and on the road by 7:30 AM.
Our first stop was at the Semmering Pass, where had Chocolate Torte and hot chocolate.
It was a nice break in a scenic area, but time was getting on and we headed onwards to Bruck an der Mur (Bruck on the Mur River)…..
…to Sankt Veit an der Glen (St. Viet on the Glan River) where chef Wolfgang Puck was born in 1949 and then Klangenfort, where we stopped for lunch at a Chinese Restaurant. We had the soup of the day (Goulsh soup-who knew?), bread, Chinese tea?? and fried bananas.
We crossed into Italy near Tarvisio in the province of Trieste, just before 4:00 P.M.. The mountainsides seemed steeper, the bridges seemed older and the Italian Autostrada began. Enzo was back in his home country. Wait, did I just feel the bus speed up by 1 k/h? Now, we were moving!
We rolled into Monastier di Treviso on the outskirts of the outskirts of Venice around 6:00 PM, checked into the Park Hotel, quickly ate a supper of tortellini, beef, potatoes and peas, before getting back on the bus for the 30 minute run into Venice. Did I mention, we were in the outskirts of the outskirts? That’s Cosmos Convenience folks.
Quick transfer to a boat that took is to St. Mark’s Square in Venice. We hurriedly shuffled our way to the Grotto, where the Italian cultural performance was already in progress. As we got closer, we could see the nice tables and chairs and the performer on a brightly lit stage, just before we were directed to the left and into the Grotto Annex, with long folding tables and uncomfortable benches and nobody on stage.
Oh, we could hear the performance through the wall as the singer launched into ‘O Sole Mio, but he was not playing to the annex stage, except for once every verse, where he would stick his head around the partition and belt out a few words, before getting back to the better clientele. At least the spumante was good, there just wasn’t enough of it. Performance soon over, we did a bit of a walk about.
Back on the bus for the run to the suburb of the suburbs of Venice and into bed we tumbled. We would see much more tomorrow, we hoped.
Another day, another continental breakfast of fruit juice, rolls and coffee. Sigh.
As our hotel was on the outskirts of Vienna, we boarded the bus to head into downtown for our day of sight seeing. We started at St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (more commonly known by its German title: Stephansdom) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city’s most recognizable symbols.
The cathedral was a marvel and we were also able to climb all the way up the bell tower to enjoy the views. We spent an hour on our visit, before climbing on the bus for a short drive…
…to the Belvedere Palace complex (Belvedere Schlossgarten)
Belvedere is a historic building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the third district of the city, on the south-eastern edge of its centre. It houses the Belvedere museum. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Baroque palace complex was built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy.
The Belvedere was built during a period of extensive construction in Vienna, which at the time was both the imperial capital and home to the ruling Habsburg dynasty. This period of prosperity followed on from the commander-in-chief Prince Eugene of Savoy’s successful conclusion of a series of wars against the Ottoman Empire.
The lower palace was constructed between 1714 and 1726.
The upper palace was constructed between 1717 to 1723.
We paused for lunch and enjoyed Fritatesuppe (Austrian pancake soup), salad, Vienna schnitzel, French fries and coke. It was all delicious. Then it was off for more exploring.
Our next stop was the Vienna State Opera, where we spent about an hour.
The Vienna State Opera (German: Wiener Staatsoper) is an opera house and company based in Vienna, Austria. The 1,709-seat Renaissance Revival venue was the first major building on the Vienna Ring Road. It was built from 1861 to 1869 following plans by August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll, and designs by Josef Hlávka. The opera house was inaugurated as the “Vienna Court Opera” (Wiener Hofoper) in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It became known by its current name after the establishment of the First Austrian Republic in 1921. The Vienna State Opera is the successor of the Vienna Court Opera, the original construction site chosen and paid for by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1861.
The members of the Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from the Vienna State Opera’s orchestra. The building is also the home of the Vienna State Ballet, and it hosts the annual Vienna Opera Ball during the carnival season.
We were given a bit of free time for a coffee break and several of us elected to have kaffee mit schlag and Sacher torte at the Sacher Hotel. At $30 for two, it was a “Can You Dig it” moment, in those days.
One more tour stop, before returning to our hotel. We were headed to the Kaisergruft beneath the Capuchin Church.
The Imperial Crypt (German: Kaisergruft), also called the Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), is a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church and monastery in Vienna. It was founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632, and located on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace. Since 1633, the Imperial Crypt serves as the principal place of entombment for the members of the House of Habsburg. The bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. The visible 107 metal sarcophagi and five heart urns range in style from puritan plain to exuberant rococo. Some of the dozen resident Capuchin friars continue their customary role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt, along with their other pastoral work in Vienna.
Touring done for the day, we took the bus to our new hotel and it was indeed very nice. Too bad, we were not going to spend much time there.
Our friends John and Dean, from the Sacher Hotel experience convinced us that we should take the tram into downtown for a marvelous local supper at……………………McDonalds. Now, on the surface, this sounds a bit (well, maybe, a lot) silly. But the underlying motive at the time was that you could have a beer with your burger and fries. I was in, but Pat was not so sure.
Waiting for the train to return to our hotel, we were chatting with some locals who were asking where we were from and what we thought of Vienna. My wife opined that is was all Amazing. They thought she had said Mayerling, which is a small in Lower Austria. Isn’t communication in a foreign country fun?
Just the usual continental breakfast this AM, before getting on our bus. Did I mention how the seating arrangements were worked out on the tour bus? Each morning when we climbed onto the bus, we moved one row forward. Once we had had our turn in the front row, the next morning, we moved all the way to the back row.
I will also remind you that Enzo used the A/C sparingly to save on fuel. While we felt cool in the front row, it was hotter than the hubs of H— in the back row. Our turn in the back rows soon came and we did not like it. No, we did not like it at alllllll.
This morning, we were off to Melk, Austria, a drive of some 4 1/2 hours. We dined along the route near Linz. This time, we both had the Goulash soup and bread, as well as a salad and apple strudel. I had a beer and Patty had tea. We really learned to like Goulash soup while we were in this part of the world.
From Linz, it was a short drive to Melk, where we boarded a Danube steamer for an hour long cruise down the Blue Danube to Krems.
From Krems, it was a one hour drive to Vienna, where we would spend the next 2 nights. We arrived in Vienna and stopped for supper in the Grinzing area of Vienna. The meal included salad, chicken, ham, pork and apple strudel, with wine. On the drive to our hotel, we found out the Eldorado hotel we were booked in had no room for us, due to our late arrival, so we were allocated to the lesser Novotel for one night. Thanks Enzo!
We were up, ate our continental breakfast of rolls, coffee and juice quickly and climbed onto our tour bus to Boppard for our Rhine cruise departure at 9 AM. The cruise would take us to Sankt Goar, a trip of about 30 minutes by car. By boat, it would be a relaxing 90 minutes. This was an included tour and fortunately, the weather was stellar.
We settled in and drifted down the Rhine past towns and castles a-plenty. It was too early for a “wobbly-pop”, but we were happy for our orange drinks.
Disembarking at Sankt Goarhausen, we found Enzo and our coach waiting for us. We all loaded on the bus and were soon speeding??? on past Frankfurt, Wurzburg and onward to Nurnberg. It was a 4 hour drive, but with stops and slower driving, we made it in 6 hours. Yay, Enzo.
We ate lunch in a café along the way. I had Goulash Soup with a roll and beer. Pat had bratwurst, kartoffellpuffer, sauerkraut and strawberries and milk.
In Nurnberg, we opted to do the tour, before heading to the hotel (as a matter of fact, our tour guide did not offer any other option).