Europe 2013 Trip Report Depository

This post is just a collection of all the parts of my Europe 2013 Trip Report.  If you’ve already read it, thank you; and if you’re new then welcome.



Part 1 – Beginnings

Part 2 – I’ll have a full English

Part 3 – The Bells of St. Paul’s

Part 4 – Finally some rain in London

Part 5 – A Magical End to Our Time in London


Part 6 – Wow, That’s Pretty Big

Part 7 – The View From the Hill

Part 8 – They Take Their Shopping Serious Here

Part 9 – Moms and I On Our Own

Part 10 – Where I Geek Out About French Cars

Part 11 – The Mustard Store

Disneyland Paris Resort

Part 12 – What Did I Get Myself Into

Part 13 – A 5 Minute Wait!?!

Part 14 – Disneyland Paris Gets Unique

Part 15 – A Disney Dream


Part 16 – I’ve Never Been So Scared


Part 17 – Bellissima Venezia

Part 18 – A Peaceful Walk Through the Streets of Venice


Part 19 – I Guess Tossing A Coin In the Trevi Fountain Works

Part 20 – Beneath The Vatican

Part 21 – Food So Nice We Had To Eat There Twice

Part 22 – Pain, An Accident, & Arrivederci


Europe 2013 Trip Report: Part 17 – Bellissima Venezia

You can get caught up with the previous part here.

The hotel had a breakfast buffet available and we all eventually made our way down to get some nourishment.  I walked around the hotel area a little to take some photos before we left.  There was this church down the street and I wish I would’ve gone inside.  I can’t find any information on it now, so I don’t even know what it was called.

Europe 2013 - 344 - DSC00233 – the church down the street

We would be leaving to Venice out of a different train station than the one we were next to, so we had the hotel call a cab for all of us.  Travelling by train in Italy is really easy-going.  Trenitalia, who seems to run all the trains in Italy, runs trains from the major cities every hour.  You don’t have to worry about booking seats in advance or showing up at a certain time.  You just show up and at most you’ll have an hour wait.  This was us, we just missed a train and had to wait.  We found an area to sit and most of us stayed there while some did some shopping to kill time.
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The train ride was uneventful and I don’t remember much of it really.  I think I slept for most of it or played games.  After about 4 hours we were in Venice.  Coming out of the train station and that first glimpse you get of the city is breath-taking.  We got tickets for the vaporetto, which is a water bus.  It has lots of stops along the Grand Canal and some of the outlying islands of the Venetian Lagoon; plus it would be dropping us off not too far from our hotel.
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Grand Canal
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Europe 2013 - 355 - DSC00318-2 – Saint Mark’s Square
Santa Maria della Salute – Santa Maria Della Salute

We made it to our hotel and only had to cross a couple bridges to get there.  We were staying at the Liassidi Palace Hotel.  The room was a good size and they included a complimentary bottle of Bellini for us.  Nina and fam had booked the upgraded suite on the top floor.  Their room had a separate living room and windows that overlooked a canal.
Untitled – our room
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Europe 2013 - 359 - DSC00270 – complimentary Bellini and chips
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Europe 2013 - 361 - DSC00278 – our floor had this sitting area in the middle of the rooms
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Europe 2013 - 363 - DSC00282 – the upgraded suite
Europe 2013 - 364 - DSC00283 – view from the suite
Europe 2013 - 365 - DSC00288 – the boat dock

We walked around a little bit before getting dinner.  I didn’t get the name of the restaurant, but it had some outdoor seating and we were the only ones there.  This was a great meal.  Moms and Uncle D each got roasted chicken and still talk about how good it was when they see each other.
Europe 2013 - 366 - DSC00294 – a drinking fountain
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mask in Venice
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Europe 2013 - 372 - DSC00322 – Jules got anchovies on her pizza
Europe 2013 - 373 - DSC00327 – gnocchi (mine)
Europe 2013 - 374 - DSC00328 – Nina tried spaghetti alla carbonara
Europe 2013 - 375 - DSC00329 – Cuz got something with clams
Europe 2013 - 376 - DSC00330 – roasted chicken

Everyone was having a good time relaxing with good food and good drink.  I was anxious to take some photos so I went walking about while they waited for the check.
Europe 2013 - 377 - DSC00337 – Bridge of Sighs
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After dinner we did some shopping in various stores as we made our way to Saint Mark’s Square.  At this time, the basilica was closed, but Hard Rock was open and there were shot glasses to buy.  We slowly made our way back to the hotel with some more shopping, a bird pooped on Nina, and gelato was eaten.  It was a good night.
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Europe 2013 - 382 - DSC00359 – Saint Mark’s belltower
Europe 2013 - 383 - DSC00360 – Saint Mark’s Basilica
Europe 2013 - 384 - DSC00361 – Saint Mark’s Square
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Once back at the hotel, we all went up to Nina & Fams suite with our bottles of Bellini.  We sat and talked and just enjoyed being on this trip and getting to experience everything we got to experience so far.  Definitely in the running for best moment of the trip.
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Unfortunately, tomorrow we’d be leaving Venice 😦 and making our way to Rome.

Our time in Venice continues here

Europe 2013 Trip Report: Part 16 – I’ve Never Been So Scared

Go back to the previous part here

Our day started super early since the driver would be coming to pick us up at 5 am.  We had already paid the driver for both journeys yesterday, so there was some trepidation about whether or not he’d be back.  He showed up right on time though, so it was all good.  European train travel is nothing like American plane travel.  You don’t know what platform the train’s going to be at until about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time.  So getting there much earlier than that doesn’t help you much.  We basically sat at the train station for an hour and a half.  We got breakfast at a Paul bakery in the station.  Those croissants were so good.  I miss them now.

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We had a 7-hour train ride ahead of us.  I always take the window seats on planes, so Moms took the window for this leg of the journey.  It was pretty uneventful, only a couple areas had interesting scenery.
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Europe 2013 - 307 - DSC00029 – train food (I think this was lasagna)
Europe 2013 - 308 - DSC00030 – I’m not sure what this was, but Cuz and Nina got this
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Many hours later we arrived in Milan.  Our hotel, AC Hotel Milano, was super close to the station.  I found out just how close it was later on.  We grabbed some taxis since we were unaware.  Nina and fams driver didn’t want to take them since it was so close, but eventually relented.  We got checked in, paid for wifi, and checked out our rooms.  They were really nice.  Lots of space and the style fit the city.
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We added Milan as a rest stop basically.  The most famous thing to see there is Da Vinci’s Last Supper.  This requires buying tickets online in advance and there are multiple sellers.  When we looked during our planning, the sellers were all sold out for the time after our train would be arriving.  So we wouldn’t get a chance to see that.  We went to the Duomo of Milan instead, which is not a consolation prize.  It’s breath-taking.
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It started to sprinkle, I swear the rain was following us by this point, as we drove to the Duomo.  You can take an elevator to the roof and it’s supposed to have great views of the region.  The pictures I had seen showed people in the middle of the roof so I figured I’d be okay with that.  I’ve never been more scared in my life.  The elevator is in the back.  So when  you exit there is fencing all the way up.  You walk towards the front and when you get there, the fencing goes away.  It’s just a waist-high rail.  There’s wire mesh below, but you can lean over the edge.  You can step up and walk along a path that’s not next to the rail, which I immediately did.  As you work towards the front, you pass some archways and when people would be coming the opposite direction of me I had two choices.  Step down near the rail, or go up to the slanted roof.  I opted to instead hug the side of the archway as they passed me.  When you finally get to the front, there are stairs you take to get to the top where it’s flat.  Those stairs are right up against the front of the building and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  My fear of heights coupled with my shoes lack of grip on the wet surface up there were too much.  I didn’t care what the family did I had to get off that building.  Moms said she’d come with me, but I wasn’t trying to wait for her if she took too long.  I’ve never had one, but I think I was starting to have a panic attack up there.  It’s a shame that that’s my memory of my visit.  I don’t really remember taking photos up there, but looking at them now it’s beautiful up there.
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Duomo of Milan

After giving serious consideration to kissing the ground, the rest of the family joined us a few minutes later.  We proceeded to enter the Duomo at this point.  Admission is free, but they offer a photo pass for 2 euro.  They give you a wristband and those are the only people allowed to take pictures inside.  I have no problem with this method.  Too many places don’t allow you to take photos inside, and I understand the flashes can cause issues over time, but I feel this is a good way to let people know the rules and let those who want to take pictures the opportunity.
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Once I had got my fill of pictures, we went in search of food.  I had heard of a place that was popular with locals and tourists alike.  Luini, they serve something called panzerotti which are like small calzones but with a softer dough.  It’s just down the street from the Duomo, but it’s a little hole in the wall.  They don’t have tables, and everybody was tired and wanted to sit and eat, so only Cuz and I got something here.  It was so delicious.  Just dough, mozzarella, and sauce; but done to perfection.  After the terror of the Duomo, this was the thing that I would’ve come back to Milan for.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of them.
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In our search for Luini, we had seen a place nearby called Mama Burger that appealed to us.  These were some delicious burgers that really felt like home.  After dinner we made our way back to the Duomo to catch a taxi.  Cuz and I stopped in a chocolate shop and bought some amazing chocolate bars.
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Europe 2013 - 339 - DSC00186 – looks so American doesn’t it
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Once back in the room, I went out to find a convenience store nearby to get some drinks for us.  Directly next to the hotel was a metro stop and the people at the front desk told me to go through that and come out the other side and I’d be near something.  Coming out the other side of the tunnel led me to the train station where we arrived.  I guess that’s why the taxi drivers were so reluctant to take us, we really were incredibly close.  I ended up finding a place to get some water and pop to take back to the room.

The fun continues here.

Random Photo for 05/10/2014


Today’s photo is from Milan and it’s a wall of chocolate.  Walking around after dinner and we came across this little café with these chocolates.  I originally thought they were a hot cocoa mix.  I bought a mint chocolate and another flavor I can’t remember now, but they were delicious.  Just down the street from the Duomo if you’re ever in Milan.  Sony NEX-5N, SEL16mm, 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 1250