Houston & Wichita to London/Paris

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Our trip with Randy and Kathy is scheduled to begin from Houston for the San Antonio Lanie’s and Wichita for the Oklahoma Lanie’s.  The flight from Houston was on the 3rd of April and arrived in London on the 4th and the Wichita flight was one day later.

The San Antonio Lanie’s will stay in London on the evening of the 4th and will be joined by Brooke Lanie Moreno that evening and then with the Okie Lanie’s the next day.  We will board a train to London late afternoon on the 5th going under the English Channel to Paris!  Our schedule is to spend 3 nights in Paris, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and return to London on the 17th (Brooke will fly back to London from Vienna on the 13th).  We will then join Brooke and go to NewMarket where she lives and then venture to visit Cambridge before returning to London on the 21st for three nights.  We return to the U.S. on the 24th.

Subject to the availability of a decent internet connection we will update our travels as we can.

 

 

Cologne – August 1, 2015

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Today’s journey started in Koblenz at 6:45 AM and we arrived in Cologne slightly before noon. Cologne is a major cultural center with one of the oldest Universities in Germany. The population of Cologne is just over 1 million and was originally settled by the Romans in 50 BC. The highlight of the afternoon in Cologne was their Cathedral, which was the tallest building in Europe until the Eiffel tower in Paris was constructed.
Randy & Kathy took a tour to sample Cologne culinary delights and the rest of the group took a Cologne City Walk and all of us ended up at the Cathederal. After the visit to the cathedral most of the group met up at a local eatery to have a plate of Reibekuchen (potato fritters), Kolsch (a Cologne beer) and other German beverages and food. The last stop was at a Cologne store to shop for fragrances that are known for their production in Cologne.
The boat then left for the last leg of the trip to Amsterdam at 6:30 in the evening. The evening events were a FAREWELL COCKTAI in the lounge with introductions to the crew of the boat and the CAPTAIN’S FAREWELL GALA DINNER. Our group attended the dinner dressed in casual attire and it was interesting to see the other travelers dressed in mostly casual attire with only a few dressed in more formal wear.

Siena And Small Towns On The Way

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Our original plans were to go to Florence for the day, but the tour driver did not know how to get to our Villa. So, the 4 hour walking tour of Florence was rescheduled for Wednesday and we drove to Siena today. We got to Siena at about noon and did not leave until 4:00+PM. On the way to Siena we traveled through the heart of the Chianti Classico wine country and enjoyed the countryside views.

 

 

When we arrived in Siena we parked at the parking area for the local Futball (Soccer) stadium and then walked to see the Duomo. Vicki and I both commented on the Soccer facility in light of the years we spent at Soccer fields with our girls.

 

We bought the All-inclusive pass to get us into all of the major areas. We started with the Duomo, which is the Catholic Church that was started in 1220 and completed in 1370. The church as simply amazing considering considering when it was built. And it was a reminder of the power and wealth of the Church during that era. After the Doumo we moved to the city center to see the large plaza.

 

While in Siena we had a light lunch at a small restaurant that was recommended by Rick Steves! It was as advertised. Following lunch Vicki and Ann had to shop on the way back to the car.

After Siena we drove back to the Villa through Chianti and stopped at Greve in Chianti to have dinner. Greve has a very quaint City Center and lots of vino. Greve is known as the heart of Chianti country and the home of the best Chianti wine in the world. Based upon our sampling we can attest to that claim!

After a week in Italy we have not had a day that was not highlighted by excellent Vino and Italian food. Fortunately, we have also been doing a lot of walking to offset the impact of food and wine.

Tomorrow are plans are to go to Pisa and then to Florence on Wednesday. We are taking between 150-250 photos each day, so look for them on my SmugMug photo site after we return.

 

Morning in San Casciano and The Villa at last!

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The morning started with church bells at 7:00 followed by breakfast at the Marie Hotel in San Casciano. After breakfast we took some time to take photos of the town (see below) and then began our trip to find the Villa.

Our map indicated that the ‘villa was less than 4 miles for where we spent the night, but we soon became concerned that we were not on the right route. So, we saw a woman getting into a car at what looked like a house and a business establishment. We stopped to ask directions and found that she and her husband owned the Villa and that we had arrived at the Reception building. After a short wine tasting followed by the purchase of some wine from their winery we followed her to the Villa. We considered ourselves lucky that we found her as we could never have found the Villa on our own.

The rest of the day was spent getting adjusted to the area, learning the roads and a lite lunch back in San Casciano (see the great dish above at the local restaurant).

Tomorrow will be spent going to Florence for a 4 hour walking tour or a drive to Sienna for the day.

 

Italy trip – Pompei, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Florence, San Casciano

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We arrived in Rome on time at 9:25 AM on the 30th and were picked up by our driver shortly thereafter. The first day in Rome was catchup day as we transitioned to the 7 hour time difference. So, we ventured out to see Rome in the area of our hotel (the Empire Palace). We visited the Spanish Steps and scoped out the good shopping for when we return the week of the 12th.

 

Got up early on the 1st to catch the train to Naples at 10:10. Arrived at Naples at approximately 11:25 and were picked up by Tony of Aldo’s Limo service. Tony took us to Pompei for a two hour visit. Words cannot describe what we saw at Pompei, so we took over 200 photos that I will put on SmugMug as soon as I get home to San Antonio and a good internet connection. It is hard to believe how advanced the people were some 2,000+ years ago. The following are a few photos from Pompei:

 

 

 

We checked into our Hotel in Sorrento, “Hotel Sorrento” on the 2nd and were very pleased with the hotel. It was a little hotel with a great view of the Bay and located within walking distance of the main shopping and restaurant district in Sorrento (Very important with Vicki and Ann). The photo below is from our hotel room balcony:

 

Tony of Aldo’s picked us up at 9:00 AM for the trip to the Amalfi Coast, which took a full 9 hours to complete. The coast was as advertised and we went as far as Ravello (“town of music”) and through Positano and Amalfi on the way. At Ravello we met up with Aldo, the owner of the Limo service and the brother of Tony. The following are a few photo’s of the Coast and you will find more on my SmugMug website after we return to San Antonio:

On Thursday, 5 October, we checked out of our hotel and took the Ferry to the island of Capri for a two day stay at the Relais Maresca hotel where we had a Sea View Room. On the first day we took the tram up to the town Center of Capri. We capped the day with dinner at an excellent restaurant, Il Geronmia. The dinner would have be great, with a great view, except for the Asian woman next to us who chained smoked even while she ate her dinner! The second day was primarily spent in AnaCapri, another small town on the island. We all agreed that this town was much more friendly then the town center area and Vicki and Ann found the shopping great. We took the chairlift to the top of the island and capped off our day trip with a purchase of shoes by Vicki from a local Capri shoemaker (see the photo below). Vicki’s friends will not be surprised that she bought some Italian shoes! The following is a photo with di Antonio Viva who made her shoes while we waited:

On Saturday, Oct 5, we left the beautiful island of Capri for Florence. The day started out very uneventful with a 45 minute ferry ride to Naples to catch the train to Florence. The rain started during the ferry ride and the little black cloud began to follow! ll was well until we got to the train station in Naples when Bill realized that he had left his backpack on the ferry. He caught the same Cab back to the ferry terminal and was informed that his bag was found, but it was on the ferry returning to Capri. So, Bill missed his train and had to purchase a ticked on a train arriving at 5:51, instead of 2:15 in Florence. We suspect that Bill planned this out so that Larry would be the only authorized driver of the Hertz rental car for our week in Tuscany!!! Or, as Ann had both of their bags, she had a different speculation. As you can see, Ann missed Bill on the train trip:

So, the sequence to our adventure today ended up with Bill getting to Florence at 6:00 PM amd we were in the rental car by 7:00 PM. We began the trip to find our Villa in the dark and quickly found that we were lost! Combination of a poor navigator (that was Larry) and foggy conditions. We stopped at a little local cafe to seek directions and quickly gained a friend who was willing to try to lead us to the Villa (He was a local). After 1/2 hour of following him we both concluded that it was not going to happen. We thanked him and tried to pay him for his trouble, which he refused, and struck out to find a hotel. We found a small hotel in the little town of San Casciano by the name of “Mary’s Hotel” and secured two rooms for $67 Euros/night! The hotel closed at 9:00 and the desk clerk had to call her sister so that I could talk to her as the desk clerk did not know english! The town was very quaint and we ended up at a local restaurant on a Saturday night with the locals! What a great experience. Will add some photos on the next blog.

 

Italy Trip – Sept 29 – Oct. 17

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Starting the trip to Italy experiencing a delay in the flight from SA to Chicago. Hope the start of the trip is not a sign of things to come. We get into Chicago at 2:00 and leave at 5:15 for Rome, arriving tomorrow morning at 9:25 AM. Made it to Chicago on time and have a 3.5 hour layover at the Admirals Club.

We will meet up with Bill and Ann Wisecarver tomorrow morning at the Rome Airport. Our schedule will then take us to Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Florence/Tuscany and then back to Rome for the final 4 days of the trip. We return on the 17th.

Kerry is staying at the house with Shelby and the Boomer dog, so that house should be good while we are gone. The following are photos with our travel gear. Next report will be from Rome tomorrow.

 

 

Cabos – 9/22/2012

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Started the day with breakfast at THE BISTRO, which has become our regular morning activity. Ellen and Vicki had arranged for a Spa treatment at 11:00 in the morning. The Spa treatment was an 80 minute Swedish massage. While Vicki and Ellen were getting their massage David and Larry worked out at the adjoining workout facility.

The day ended with another trip to PB Rose for dinner at Fellini's gourmet restaurant. Then back to the hotel for an early bedtime to prepare for the fishing venture.