Archive for November, 2009

When in Rome

trendsetting

When in Rome Mark gears up by wearing his rain hat, jacket, pants and gaiters. He is trendsetting; looking cool and remaining dry.

Firenze

The rain found us

Florence was a destination that we decided to visit in large part because it was so close to where we were staying with Shirley and Carlo. When it’s only an hour away by train, how can you pass up a city like Florence? We had made reservations at Plus Hostel Florence, and when we checked in, we knew we’d made a good choice. The hostel was more like a hotel, and had a large rooftop terrace, a sauna, a steam room and a pool! We immediately settled in for a siesta and a mini-spa before venturing out into the city.

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Treated in Tuscany

The view

I am fortunate enough to have family scattered across parts of the globe, many whom I have yet to meet. Our travels provide the perfect opportunity to get acquainted. This is why we found ourselves in a postcard-perfect country home in the Casentino Valley of Tuscany. We were visiting my second cousin Shirley, originally from the Isle of Man, and her husband Carlo. I’m extra fortunate to have family in such breathtakingly beautiful places and to be so well taken care of upon visiting.

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Quotes

“Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.”

Something I remind myself of when I get tired of wearing the same clothes every single day.

Five beautiful villages

Manarola at sunset

Our first stop in Italy was on the northwest coast — we spent two nights in Manarola, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. Once again the weather was fantastic, and on the day we hiked the trail connecting the five villages it was sunny and hot. The hiking was very different from the trails we had just been on in the Swiss Alps. Instead of having to pack our bags with lunch and extra clothing, we grabbed the camera and a water bottle and set out knowing that there would be villages full of pizza and focaccia breads and gelato along the way.

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Hiking in the Swiss Alps

After Barcelona, we spent three nights in the mountains of Switzerland. We were staying at Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald, perched part way up the side of a valley in the Swiss Alps. To get there we went by train, then by bus, and finally by cable car. The cable car took us from the flat of the valley up and over a sheer cliff face to the tiny village perched above. The spectacular-ness of the location is actually really hard to convey in words. I hope the pictures do it justice. The valley that we were in was really interesting. All around, the mountains shot up steeply, rising quickly to snow- and glacier-capped peaks. But the valley floor, almost in direct contradiction to this, was nearly perfectly flat. It was as if someone had started filling the valley in with sand, and then suddenly stopped part way up, leaving a nice level ground to inhabit with villages and roads.

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Milestones:
100 days of travel

Another milestone: today is our 100th day on the road. Some interesting numbers so far:

– 18,530 kilometers traveled, over land and sea
– 362 hours spent in transit
– Countries visited: 10
– Distance breakdown: 47% train, 36% ship, 11% car, 5.5% bus, 0.5% other
– Time breakdown: 45% ship, 31% train, 10% car, 7% foot, 5.5% bus, 1.5% other

Still goin’ strong! Right now we are in the Tuscan countryside, staying with Meghan’s cousin Shirley and her husband Carlo in a beautiful house in the hills. Not a bad way to celebrate.

Check out the breadcrumb for the latest routes.

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