Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Europe - Travel Inbound

Click here to go to the start of the trip.

(Previous Stop: Venice and Milan)

I was just so happy to be able to check my bags in and walk around without them. The terminal at Milan was very crowded at 10 in the morning with many long haul flights leaving at the same time. The boarding line to Delhi and Chicago were right next to each other. The agents were also scanning in every passport before boarding and this delayed departure for an hour. I don't understand why they repeated this, since we just passed immigration.

To get over jet lag on the way back, I had to stay awake the whole flight and the whole next day so that at night back at home, I would fall asleep easily when it was actually waking up time in Europe. Luckily Alitalia had a great in-flight entertainment system with Audio/Video on Demand (meaning I could start/stop/pause whenever I wanted).

The great thing about flying is that no matter what the weather is like on the ground (foggy and rainy)...

...once you pass the clouds, it's always sunny up here (except at night of course).

Saying good-bye to the Alps that provided some exciting skiing and stunning scenery.

Lunch on Alitalia. It was some lasagna with salmon on veggies (again, but I'm trying to eat more fish when I can) and overall not bad.

Breakfast: that yellow bread was warm with some cheese in the middle, along with the pastry and Red Orange juice.

Ahoy there Long Island - the last bit of the Atlantic Ocean before touching down in New York.

Landing and that brings an end to this fabulous trip.

(Back to Trip Index)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Europe - Venice

(Previous Stop: St Anton, Day 5)

With a day to kill before my flight back from Milan, I stopped by Venice for a night. This is a city like Paris and Rome, which we hear about so much all through our lives and have really high expectations for when we visit and so far, those expectations have been met. So, I guess next up is Rome then.

Of course the most unique thing about Venice is the lack of cars there and the numerous water canals running through the city. Everything that's normally brought in by truck (groceries, goods, etc) is all brought in by boat. I've tried to capture a little bit of what it's like in Venice...

Map of Venice (from Lonely Planet)

View from across the St Lucia train station... a cafe on the Grand Canal.

One of the only three bridges crossing the Grand Canal

A vaporetto, the public bus system, which is used by tourist and locals. It costs 5 Euros for each trip.

A couple starting off on a gondola ride, which are generally quite expensive. They start around 50 Euros and the gondolier doesn't usually sing like in the movies.

These two older gentlemen seemed to be practicing for some sort of race.

A private taxi boat

Looking down the Grand Canal

A sewage boat

A boat hauling goods and private taxi chatting with each other down the canal

The symbol of Venice, the traditional winged lion of the apostle St. Marks, whose tomb was robbed in Alexandria, Egypt by some Venetians in the 9th century. The religious leaders then made St. Marks the patron of Venice and have used his symbol since then.

Lots of parts of Venice are deteriorating...

Since there's only three bridges that cross the Grand Canal, many operators have a little ferry system to get across where the bridges are too far away.

Passing a loaded vaporetto

The Rialto Bridge, which is the most recognized symbol of Venice. My hostel was about 5 minutes from here.

Lots of colorful buildings

A traditional mask shop in Venice, aimed mostly at tourists.

The funny thing was this sign was above a little 2 inch wide window sill. Who would even consider sitting there?

Lots of dark and dingy alleys broke off from the main walkways.

A ski resort display in a shop window

Tourist Menus. Never eat at a place that has a tourist menu. It's usually more expensive and the food's worse, but the menu's simple and it's in English. Some old ladies were pondering the menu and I pointed them away and they thanked me profusely.

Some pigs showing off "all" their features.

An old water fountain

Looking across the Grand Canal at the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore

Some Middle Eastern architectural influence

The tower in St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Square

St. Mark's Basilica

One of the main shopping streets. Venice is clearly a walking city and part of the charm of the city is just walking around and getting lost. It's said to be very safe.

A boat hauling cement

Instead of a Garbage Truck, they have Garbage Boats.

There were signs for this lost Golden Retriever, Molly all over the city.

St Mark's Square in the morning. The pigeons are everywhere.

Notice the Heineken stashed behind one of the wings

The Winged Lion of Venice

A gondola stand

A taxi boat stand

Interesting street light holder...

My hostel room was on the second floor



There isn't really much to see in Milan besides the Duomo and then it basically comes down to shopping. It's the biggest city in Italy and thus attracts a variety of people trying to make a living in the city. There were lots of street hawkers and the city itself didn't feel all that glamorous, compared to Paris.

Heading down the main shopping alley, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele towards the Duomo.

The funny thing about this scene was the dog. These Native Americans were promoting their CD of natural sounding music, which had wolf calls and other sounds typical of Native American music. And this poor dog was going biserk and howling and barking at the music...

The main Ferrari Store, which is quite close to Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello.

The Duomo di Milano, which is known for its gothic architecture and its role in the establishment of Catholic traditions of worship.

Entrance to another shopping street from the square

One of the many "Meals on Wheels" kinda food stands which had roasted walnuts, gelato and other snacks.

This guy had crazy skills. He was sculpting flowers out of vegetables (beet roots, onions, etc). Note the two little gold fish carved from carrots.

That was the end of my short visit to Northern Italy. Venice was definitely worth it and totally lived up to its hype. Milan was also what I expected... Rome and Southern Italy are next.

(Next Stop: Inbound Travel)