Sunday, 18 July 1999 Chamonix: Zermatt

After breakfast, we left for the train station. The train was so crowded that we could barely get on the train at Les Pellerins. At Chamonix most of the people got off the train. We changed trains at Martigny and Visp. We were riding in first class at Visp until the conductor told us that they didn't recognize or accept Eurrail passes. It was a private train to Zermatt. We moved to second class and had to meet the conductor when we got off the train to pay him, since we did not have Swiss Francs. When we met the conductor, he took us to the ticket office where we could charge the ticket. We also bought our ticker for the Glacier Express. We walked to find the hostel. Sue waited for Bob at the bottom of the hill by the stream. Bob went up the hill to find the way, but he was gone for almost a half-hour. Sue teased Bob that he must have met a Swiss girl that she wanted to see in ten years and he wanted to see in ten minutes. Actually, Bob met a young man from Korea, Chen, that was looking for the hostel and they both were lost. They found a map at the train station that showed where the hostel was, and Bob went that way. Actually, the hostel was not there, but much closer that we thought. Bob and Chen finally found the hostel and Bob went back to get Sue. When we arrived at the hostel, we had to wait about forty-five minutes before they were open for registration. It was drizzling as we walked to the youth hostel, but it started raining harder after we checked in. Bob met Chen, the young man from Korea that he walked with earlier. He works for Hyundai as a trainer. He told us all about Hyundai, which is involved in cellular phones, construction, ship building, semiconductors and the space program. He is very proud of everything that Hyundai has accomplished. He is an assistant manager of the global business team. The hostel was very clean, but does not have an area to sit and relax. After dinner at the hostel, it was still raining. We decided to walk into town in the rain, since there was nothing else to do. We slept in a room for eight. One of our roommates was a young Japanese man. Also, there was a couple from Zurich, Switzerland. They were going to go snowboarding on the Matterhorn and surfing in the Mediterranean (not both in Zermatt). We were able to get reservations at the youth hostel in St. Moritz.

Monday, 19 July 1999 Zermatt

After breakfast, we walked to the train station and the visitors' center. At the train station we got information on how to get from St. Moritz to Salzburg. While at the train station, we saw an interview on CNN with an author of a book about John Kennedy Jr. After getting our information at the visitors' center, we found a newsstand and bought a U.S. Today newspaper. In the paper, we learned that he and his wife and sister-in-law were missing in a possible place crash. We were both stunned to hear the news. We went to McDonald's to get a drink, read the paper and decide what to do for the day. We decided to ride the train from Zermatt to Gornegrat. That is a place high in the Alps that serves as a base camp and ski area. We bought the tickets and found the train. The ride was very scenic. When we arrived at Gornegrat, we bought a sandwich and drinks. While eating lunch outside on the patio a raven landed near our table. Bob started feeding the ravens. We walked up the observation area and sat about an hour looking at the Matterhorn and Mount Rosa. Mount Rosa is actually higher than the Matterhorn, but not as dramatic. The Matterhorn was still in clouds of it's own making. We rode the crowded train back to Zermatt. We went shopping and bought T-shirts and a Hummel figurine. We had the figurine shipped to Grandma Gregg so it would arrive in one piece. She has always wanted a Hummel. We found a bench where we sat and rested. Bob did the crossword puzzle and Sue wrote in the journal. While sitting there, we saw a herd of mountain goats being herded through the main street of Zermatt. They do that twice daily, morning and evening. They left a noticeable trail behind them. At the youth hostel in Chamonix and at Zermatt, they have a large chessboard painted on the patio and a ping-pong table for the guests. We have noticed that almost everyone traveling keeps a journal. The church bells in Zermatt are ringing.

Tuesday, 20 July 1999 Zermatt: St. Moritz

Today is the day that Bob has been looking forward to for a long time- the day he rides the Glacier Express. We got up early (our roommates were asleep), packed, ate breakfast, checked out, and walked to the train station. We rode to Visp from Zermatt on the return portion of the ticket from Visp to Zermatt that we purchased earlier. We stayed on the same train all the way to St. Moritz. We purchased two second class tickets for the second part of the trip. The third segment was covered by Eurail, which provided first class accommodations. We needed reservations for the second class tickets, since the train was sold out. We sat next to two Japanese girls that had stayed at the youth hostel in Zermatt. The views were as we had expected - spectacular. The trip lasted eight hours. At 1:45 P.M., we ate lunch in the dining car. We had salad, veal with Swiss pasta, and vegetables (legumes). Sue had wine and Bob had a Swiss beer. Sue ordered apple pie, but when they served her, they were out of pie. They brought her a raspberry dessert. The waiter said it was much better than the pie. We'll never know. Bob had cheese for dessert. It was a long, but beautiful ride. We arrived in St. Moritz at 5:00 and took the bus to the stop near est the hostel. We walked a short distance to the hostel. We had a double room with a sink and bunk beds.

Wednesday, 21 July 1999 St. Moritz

After breakfast, we had to pack and leave our luggage in racks in the hall because we had to change rooms. This youth hostel was the only one we have seen that asks everyone to take off their shoes and use slippers or socks to walk while inside. We think it is because they are open during skiing season and don't want mud and snow from the boots on the floor. Last night we were so tired that we decided to stay another day and relax. We called Rosemarie in Salzburg and told her we would not arrive at her pension until July 22, a day later than expected. Sue tried to call her mother to wish her happy birthday, but could only leave a voice message. Sue's mom was not at home. We walked around the lake to St. Moritz. We are staying in St. Moritz Bad. In St. Moritz, we stopped at the train station to change our train reservations for the next day. From there, we stopped at a bakery to get some pastry. Then, we went into a restaurant in the same building and ordered coffee and milk. When the drinks came, Sue had warm milk. They had heated the milk for her, thinking that's what she ordered. Sue was looking forward to some cold milk and was disappointed. We looked for souvenir T-shirts and found them in a nice shop nearby. We stopped at a market and bought bread, cheese and water. We found a bench overlooking the lake and ate lunch there. Then we walked to Bobby's Pub and checked email. Dick had asked Billy to give us his email address, so we included Dick and Peggy in our email recipients. We walked back around the lake to the hostel. Sue called her mother and talked to her. She was very pleased to hear from Sue. Bob was going to call his mother, but neither one of us could remember the phone number. That's the problem with programmable phones.

Thursday, 22 July 1999 St. Moritz: Salzburg

After we showered, we packed, ate breakfast, checked out and walked around the lake to the train station. We rode a train to Landek and then to Salzburg, Austria. When we arrived, it was raining. We found the train that we had to ride to Rosemary's pension. When we arrived at the local stop, Maria-Plain it was raining harder. We started walking up the hill. Two cars were picking up people from the train station. One was Rosemarie. When she found out who we were, she was angry with us because she said she was expecting us the day before. She added that she did not have a room for us, but she would find another place for us to stay. When we tried to explain, that we had called and changed our arrival time, she was still angry and made us walk up the hill in the rain. When we got her house, we told her we had called and spoke to a man, probably her husband, and he took the message. Apparently he did not give her our message. She sent us next door to Christine's pension. Christine was waiting for us and was very kind. She explained that Rosemarie's mother-in-law was in the hospital and very sick. We asked if Christine served dinner, but she said her pension was only a bed and breakfast. We walked down the road back to the Maria Plain train station, over a bridge across the tracks, and into Kasern Berg. We ate at a very nice restaurant and had an excellent meal. We need that after a difficult day.

Friday, 23 July 1999 Salzburg

We slept late. When we tried to get into the shower, it was in use. We decided to go to breakfast and then shower. We had to go outside to get to the breakfast room. During breakfast, we met a young couple from Canada. After breakfast, Christine had us move to a larger room. As it turned out, we think we were better off staying with Christine. We had a good time talking to her during our stay. We took the train into the city and looked for a post office at the train station. We mailed three packages of things back to Marietta. They were things that we did not have room for and did not want to carry around. We went for a walk into the city and the old town. We bought some candy, a yodeling bear (for you know who) and some Christmas tree ornaments. We had bratwurst and sauerkraut for lunch. From the old city, we walked a long way to the beer garden. Bob had a beer and Sue had a coke. At the beer garden, we picked up our mug off the shelf, took it to a circular fountain and rinsed out the mug, and then paid for the drinks at the cashier stand. Then, with the receipts and mugs, we went to the beer pouring station and gave the mug and receipt to the bartender and he poured the beer from a large keg. The Coke came in the usual bottle. There was an outside garden that sat two thousand people and indoor halls that sat three thousand people. What a place for a birthday party! Afterwards, we walked back to the tain station and rode the train back to the Maria-Plain station. From there, we walked back to the restaurant in Kasern-Berg and ate dinner with a bottle of wine.

Saturday, 24 July 1999 Salzburg

We got up earlier and showered before breakfast. We took the laundry with us, since we could not wash clothes at Christine's. We found a laundromat near the train station. The woman surprised us because she did our laundry for us for three hundred shillings. We had to come back in an hour and a half. We went to a small shopping mall and bought pastry, coffee and a Coke. After we got our laundry, we put it in a locker at the train station. We made reservations to go to Vienna on the train tomorrow. Sue mailed post cards. We rode the cable car up to see the old fortress overlooking Salzburg. We walked around it and saw a video in Austrian about Austria. We walked down the mountain and walked to find the Cyber Cafe. In the cafe, there were about ten Internet computers and they were all busy. We had to wait about fifteen minutes to get our turn. From Cyber Cafe, we walked to the beer garden and sat outside with our drinks. When we left there, we walked up the hill to find the restaurant recommended in Let's Go Europe. The skies cleared up finally, as we were walking up to the restaurant. It was at the top of the mountain overlooking Salzburg. We sat outside near the edge of the terrace and enjoyed the magnificent view. The food was delicious! When we left, we walked to the lift (elevator) that went to the city at the bottom of the hill. We had to pay to ride the lift. We walked back to the train station and got our laundry out of the locker. We rode back to Maria-Plain and walked to Christine's.

Sunday, 25 July 1999 Salzburg: Vienna

We had to get up at 5:30 this morning to get to the train station at 6:10. Since Christine does not allow showers between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., we could not shower. We washed our hair, got dressed and left without breakfast. Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 9:00. We walked to the bottom of the hill and waited for the train for about forty- five minutes. We decided that there was no train running at the time we thought. We walked back to Christine's. Her husband suggested taking a bus from the bus station near the restaurant where we ate several times. We walked back across the bridge at the train station to the bus station. Half way down the path to the bus station, we heard a a train going into Salzburg. We ran back to the train station and barely made it on time. We rode that train to Salzburg. When we arrived in Salzburg, we had to run to catch the train to Vienna. We were lucky to make the connections. We are not sure why the trains ran a different schedule than what we were given. Our compartment seated six people, but we were the only ones inside. Sue was tired and we stretched out two seats facing each other and she slept for a while. Bob enjoyed looking out the window and seeing Austria. We bought a cheese sandwich and water on the train for lunch. When we arrived at Vienna, we started walking to the center of the old town. We were still hungry, so we stopped at McDonald's and ate scrambled eggs and ham outside at the street cafe. They gave Sue a coffee by mistake, so Bob took it and bought Sue an orange juice. He was happy with two cups of coffee, a rarity in Europe. We continued walking down the boulevard to the old opera house where we tried again to get information about tours. On our first attempt at the train, we found that we were too late for the early tour and didn't have enough time for the late tour because of our return train reservations. We hoped to find another company with different times, but there were no other choices. We then walked to the Opera Coffeehouse and had coffee and cokes. The coffeehouses in Vienna in the early twentieth century were home for many dissidents and artists. We continued to walk in the Old City until we got to the Rathaus Palace. There was an outdoor film festival showing films in the evening in a large plaza. Along side of the plaza, there was an outdoor eating area with many vendors serving local dishes. We shared two Austrian meals and a dessert, but Bob (Piggy) wanted another dessert. Piggy also had two large sweet beers that he really liked. Sue had a Coke. There were a lot of birds at the eating area. When people left their plates, the birds swooped down and attacked. When Piggy went to get our drinks, he left his plate on the other side of the table. The birds landed on his chair ready to attack until Sue moved his plate nearer to her and protected it with her life. (do you know how much Sue hated the movie "The Birds" by Alfred Hitchcook?) We walked back to the train station and got on the train. When we returned to Salzburg, we walked across to the train for Maria Plains. When we got to Christine's, Bob decided that he was thirsty so we walked back down the hill, across the bridge at Maria-Plains train station and down the path to Kasern Berg, but nothing was open. We walked back to Christine's and went to bed, thirsty and all.

Monday, 26 July 1999 Salzburg

Today was supposed to be an easy day. We ate breakfast at Christine's and rode to Salzburg on the local train. We took in our laundry to have it done again. One load cost 150 shilling, about$10.00. We walked to the old part of town where we finally found Mozart's birthplace. We walked around the city looking for a gift for Dunya. We looked and looked but could not find anything. We walked back to the river and ate lunch. We looked at our guidebooks and decided where and when to stay in Italy. We walked back to the train station. Along the way, we picked up our laundry and put in the locker at the train station. At the train station, we called and made reservations for Venice, Florence and Roma. We tried Siena, but they had no vacancies. We make train reservations for Venice. We rode the bus back to the Old Town and went to check email. We had no email, but sent a message to everyone. We bought more candy (Mozart balls). Later, we went back to the lift and rode up the mountain to the restaurant, Burger Were, where we ate before. We sat at the same table overlooking the city. Sue had Weinerschitzel with potatoes and salad. Very good! Bob had dumplings with bacon and sauerkraut. He liked it, but he liked Sue's better. We walked to the train station. Sue called Como and made reservations at the youth hostel. We went to the track where we normally got the train to Maria-Plain. The sign said Linz, not local as usual. We asked the conductor on the platform if it was the train for Maria Plain. He said "Yes it was", so we boarded the train. When we entered the car, it was hot from being closed up and it felt like an oven. We opened the windows. While sitting there waiting, Sue remembered that we forgot the laundry in the locker. We both got off the train and Bob ran back to get the laundry. We both got back on the train and we were on our way. We noticed something was wrong when we passed Maria-Plain without stopping. When the train finally stopped about six stations down from our stop, we got off and asked the stationmaster when the next train to Maria-Plain would come. We told him our story and he thought it was funny. We waited about thirty to forty-five minutes for the train. The station was very clean and the stationmas ter was friendly. He made sure we got on the right train. We finally got back to Maria-Plain and Christine's pension.

Tuesday, 27 July 1999 Salzburg: Venice

At breakfast we told Christine that we were leaving for Venice. We walked to the train station with our luggage. At the Salzburg train station, we bought a paper and food and water for our train ride. We rode through the Austrian and Italian Alps. At the border near Italy, we were near Slovenia. The conductor told us it was just the other side of the mountains (not very far away). He talked a long time about his trips to the U.S. when he found out that we were Americans. The scenery has changed greatly. The houses have red roofs. The vegetation looks tropical. When we arrived in Venice, we walked to our hotel. The train station opens to the Grand Canal. The girl at the desk showed us our room before we agreed to stay. It was clean with a private bath and shower. It was a corner room with three large windows overlooking a large (for Venice) church plaza. We went walking to find San Marco Plaza. Venice is like a maze of streets and alleys. Every time we turned a corner we saw a photo opportunity. It's a maddening confusing city, with no grass, trees or open spaces. Everything is hard, streets, walls, etc. Even the water looks hard. So many people walking everywhere. There are no cars or vehicles, except boats and push carts. That's the good news. It is quieter that most cities. We walked over the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, which had shops on both sides of the bridge. When we arrived at San Marco's Plaza, we walked to the back of the square, took pictures, and sat down and looked at everything. We saw the arcade of buildings at the back and sides of the square and San Marco basilica at the front with the bell tower. At the front right was the Doge's Palace. The palace was in the process of restoration and was covered with scaffolding.

Wednesday, 28 July 1999 Venice

We slept late this morning. Bob said the bell tower across the plaza rang seven times at 7:00 A.M. and then two hundred times. Nobody sleeps late in Venice. After breakfast, we went to the train station to make reservations for Como. The lady helping us asked if we wanted to sit in the observation car. We said we would like that. We rode the public transportation commuter boat to San Marco's Plaza. It cost ten thousand lira for one round trip ticket. We sat in the enclosed part in the middle of the boat until seats became available in the open part in the back. We rode through the lagoon to the plaza. When we rode back from San Marco's Plaza, we had to wait in a fairly large crowd for about twenty minutes for the boat. We had to sit in the enclosed part in the middle. It was crowded and hot. This time, we rode through the Grand Canal, the main canal in Venice. We had pizza, beer and Coke for lunch at a sidewalk cafe. We thought we were each getting a slice of pizza, but we each got a whole pizza. After lunch, we walked to the Internet Cafe and checked email. Bob got a message from Carla and a message from someone who wanted him to train in Detroit (Oh no, not Detroit!). Sue got a birthday message from Bill. He said "Mom had not settled with the auto dealership over her injury". Julie and Jenny also sent messages. We had a Guinness and Coke and then sat in the plaza across from our hotel. We went to bed and later in the night it started to rain. The misty rain blew in the room and if felt good. Bob got up and shut the windows.

Thursday, 29 July 1999 Venice: Como

We slept late again. The fatigue of traveling seems to be taking its toll. We seem to tire earlier in the day than in the early part of the trip. We walk extensively and everything takes much longer to do than if we had a car. When we awoke, we heard the bells again. We showered and packed. When we checked out, we left the bags at the hotel desk, since the train was leaving later in the morning. We ate breakfast at a sidewalk cafe and then sat in the plaza for a while. Sue bought some Murano glass jewelry. We walked to the train station, stopping to buy sandwiches for the train trip. We rode in the observation car, which had curved glass windows extending up into the roof of the car. When we stopped at the station in Verona there were two gentlemen of particular interest at the station. Actually, there were lots of them. They were a troop of soldiers queued up in lines of about eight to ten, with about ten lines, waiting to board the train. They wore hats with feathers, like Robin Hood. They looked hot. Apparently they were waiting for another train, since they did not board our train. When we got off the train in Como, we walked to the youth hostel. Fernando checked us in and told us there were only separate men's and women's' dorms. That was consistent throughout Italy. We could not sleep in the same dorm, since they would not allow mixed dorms. We had dinner at the hostel. The first plate was penne pasta in cream sauce with canned peas. The second plate consisted of grilled pork chops, very spicy and salty, and vegetables. For dessert, watermelon wedges were served. After dinner we went for a walk to the lake and sat on a bench for a while. We got to bed around 10:30 P.M.

Friday, 30 July 1999 Como

We had the typical hostel breakfast at about 8:00 A.M. However, the coffee was great, the best of the trip! Bob bought a second cup. There are no refills in Europe. We walked to town along a path by the lake. We passed a marina, airport with pontoon planes and a sports stadium. We walked into the old city section looking for McDonald's. We found it, but they were not open until 10:30, so we bought a USA Today, sat in a plaza near the lake, and caught up on the news from home. Clinton is still president. At 10:30, we went to McDonald's for Coke, coffee and potty time. If anyone wonders why we always looked for McDonald's, it's one place that has restroom facilities, and are usually clean. From there we wandered aimlessly through the streets, looking like two American tourists, leaving nose prints on every window. Eventually we ended up at the train station and confirmed our trains and departure time for Genoa. On our return walk, we located an Internet Cafe, but they were closed. We returned to McDonald's for a salad lunch and more potty time. Eventually, after more walking, we returned to the Internet Cafe, but they were still closed, past the time they were to open. Actually, they were an upscale bar, cafe, sandwich shop with a Macintosh computer in an upstairs loft. The blond system manager said she had Internet problems. Bob said, "No problem"! After we checked email and sent our messages, we walked back to the hostel for dinner. We had more pasta, chicken in a white sauce and legumes, with melon for dessert. Bob asked Fernando why we didn't have spaghetti for dinner. He told Bob that he never serves spaghetti because Americans and English can not eat it properly. Bob told him he always cut it up in little pieces before he ate his spaghetti. We went to bed early, since we were leaving for Genoa the next morning.

Saturday, 31 July 1999 Como: Genoa

Today is Sue's birthday. Who would have thought she would be celebrating in Italy. We ate breakfast and walked along the lake to get to the train station. We rode the train to Genoa. At the train station, we made reservations for Florence. After that, we walked across the street from the train station and had pizza, beer and Coke for lunch. A typical tourist spot to avoid next time. (expensive and not very good) We looked around for the bus stop to the youth hostel and bought tickets at the tabachi (tobacco shop). While on the first bus, our driver told us where to get off to find the second bus. We found our connecting bus and made it to the youth hostel. That was no small feat, considering the narrow, serpentine streets going uphill, with the bus driver making wide turns at the bends of the street. When we arrived at the hostel, it was not open for registration, and there were a lot of people waiting to get inside. This hostel has a floor for men and a floor for women. After settling in, we met on the terrace. There was an incredible view of Genoa and the harbor from high above the city. While sitting there, a man named Georgio (George) came over and started talking to us. He asked us if we knew Candace Bergen. He really liked her! He knew a lot about her movies. Georgio was a local resident who liked to come to the youth hostel and talk to the people, especially Americans. When we went inside and came back out later, Georgio came over and started talking again. The view of the harbor was very pretty. We walked to a supermarket and bought bread, cheese, water and wine for lunch tomorrow. At dinner, Bob's roommate, Carlos, came and sat with us. Bob and Carlos had met earlier when Bob went to his dorm room and they had spoken together for a long time. Carlos was born in Chile but was raised and lived in Toronto. He did not have a very good opinion of America or Americans. He was very critical of America. As a Canadian, he had attended the university in Toronto and had learned to view America as a rich neighbor, He studied theater and drama and was active in the theater as a producer and director. Carlos was a very personable and likable person. He had been traveling since spring and was returning sometime this fall. On his travels, he visited Spain and met a professor of drama that impressed him a great deal. He wants to produce a modern play in collaboration with the professor and the university as an advisor. He was young, ambitious, dedicated with high expectations of himself. For dinner we had tortelini with pesto sauce and cheese. This is what Sue has been hearing about for two years from Bob. When he stayed here two years ago, he had this dinner and loved the pasta. Sue finally had a chance to taste it. Maybe that's why she wanted to come here. Sue thought it was good, but rather salty.

Sunday, 01 August 1999 Genoa

The night before, Sue met Patty from Massachusetts. She slept in Sue's dorm room. Her husband, Dave slept in Bob's room, but they didn't meet that night. Dave was actually asleep before Bob got to the room. Patty was impressed with the way Sue packed her backpack. She and her husband Dave were school counselors. They had visited their daughter earlier in Zurich. Patty's daughter was a reading specialist like Sue and was expecting a baby in a few weeks. Her husband was an attorney for the United Nations patents office. Patty and Dave were traveling through Europe for a few weeks and returning to Zurich soon for the birth of their granddaughter. They were hoping the timing would work out so that they could be in Zurich and then back to the U.S. in time for school. We talked to Patty and Dave at breakfast. They both were RUNNERS! Can you think what they and Bob talked about? When we left the hostel, Dave and Patty were leaving in their rental car. They offered us a ride. We found out that they were going to the same place as we were. The area was called Cinque Terre, which means five ancient cities. The cities' names are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. These ancient cities were on the coastal hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Dave and Patty were going to another youth hostel there, but we were just going to visit the area. We rode with them to the second of the ancient cities, Manarola. Parking was limited, so Dave and Peggy parked their car and gathered their luggage to take to the youth hostel. We separated there at the parking lot and walked through the town. We saw the hostel on the way. We continued on the footpath, leaving the town. The trail went up and down the side of the hills and overlooked the Mediterranean. It was very hot! A lot of swimmers were in the water. During the walk, we passed through many olive groves and vineyards. We stopped along a very steep part of the trail and ate our lunch of cheese and bread. We decided to skip the wine. There was a stray cat that Bob threw scraps of food. We drank a lot of water to keep hydrated. Earlier, along the path, Dave and Patty caught up with us. We walked together for a while and then separated. While we were eating, they found us again. Patty loved the hike, but she was afraid of heights, so she was hugging the side of the mountain. They went on as we continued to eat. We continued walking from Manarola to Corniglia to Vernazza. At Vernazza, we caught the train to go back to Genoa. At the last train stop, which was not Genoa, we had to change trains. We got off and ran to the train to Genoa, but when we tried to board, the conductor would not open the doors. There were other people trying to get on board as well. The train pulled out, leaving us hot, tired and slightly peeved. We had to wait about an hour for the next train. When we arrived at the Brignola train station in Genoa, we had to find bus number forty. This was not the same station that we arrived at from Como, so we were unfamiliar with the surroundings. When we were riding back to the hostel, the bus was full. Sue was sitting and Bob was standing and holding on. Bus tickets are purchased earlier and must be time and date stamped for them to be valid. If they are not stamped and the bus police check the ticket, it is a punishable offense, with a big fine to pay. At one stop, a woman had just got on and was stamping her ticket. Suddenly, the bus driver made a panic stop and she went flying halfway up the bus, landing on her back in the aisle. Another young girl, perhaps early twenties, was thrown to the floor of the bus, bumping her hip on a step separating the rear of the bus with the ticket stamp box from the rest of the bus. She was in serious pain. The bus driver called an ambulance and they took her away. The older woman said she was all right, but we think she should have gone to the hospital. We are sure she was very sore the next day. The cause of the accident was the fact that two other cars and the bus approached each other from different directions at the turn of a serpentine corner and no one was willing to yield. Eventually, they all stopped, avoiding a collision, but throwing us all over the bus. Eventually, we continued back to the hostel. Two young men with backpacks got on at another stop. They were about to exit before the hostel stop. Bob asked them if they were going to the youth hostel. They were Americans and were looking for the hostel. He told them he would show them the correct stop. At dinner at the hostel, we sat with Carlos again. He is quiet, but seems to like to talk to us. After dinner, we went out onto the terrace. Bob offered to share the wine we bought for lunch with Carlos and one of the young men we met on the bus. The fellow on the bus had worked in public relations for a radio station near San Francisco. He had quit his job to travel. His friend from Arizona was hoping to move to Chicago to work for the Chicago Bears as a public relations expert. His grandfather had played for the Bears. We all had an interesting conversation until the manager of the hostel came out and told everyone that they had to leave the terrace. They maintain quiet hours in most hostels. Another group on the terrace had been using a long glass tube to drink beer. Someone told us it goes straight to the stomach and one can't taste the beer. What a waste!

Monday, 02 August 1999 Genoa: Florence

After breakfast, we took the bus to the train station. We rode the train to Pisa, where we changed trains and continued to Florence. When we arrived at the station, we got a map at the tourist information center. We used the map to help us find the pension. When we arrived at the pension, the ground floor was so dirty and unattractive that it was hard to go upstairs. After we were shown our room, we checked in and unpacked. Then we went back to the train station, a short distance from our pension. While at the station, a number of men were looking for people getting off the train that needed a room. Beware! At the tourist information center, we got a brochure about bus tours for the area. We went to McDonald's for drinks and decided to pick out some bus tours. We were tired and that seemed a good way to see everything and not work so hard. We walked, but could not find the location to purchase the tickets. Eventually, we found another tourist information center in the old town area. We asked for information about where to buy the tour tickets and were to find email. They were very helpful. We went to check email and there were lots of birthday greetings for Sue, a long email from Jenny, but nothing from you know who (Robby). Next we went to the bus tour office. It was in an ancient building on the second floor. In Italy, the ground floor is floor "0" and the next floor up is floor "one". The office was on the second floor. We selected and purchased three bus tours. Bob was disappointed that the tour to Assisi was canceled because not enough people were signed up to go. He volunteered to find more people, but his offer was rejected. We walked through Florence and found an outdoor cafe and had pasta and wine for dinner. It was a very nice evening. Later, in our room, we noticed a ceiling fan. We tried to turn it on, but there was no wall switch, just a blank wall plate. Bob went down to ask how to operate the fan. The manager told Bob that they installed the fan, but they couldn't get it to work. No one knew how to wire the switch. It was really hot and noisy that night. We had to keep the windows open for the air, but the street noise from below was very loud.

Tuesday, 03 August 1999 Florence: Siena, San Gingimania

After the breakfast we have come to expect and love, we went to get the tour bus for Siena, an ancient walled city. The tour guide on the bus was very good with her explanations. We enjoyed her descriptions of life in Tuscany during the Roman Empire, and told her so. We rode to Siena, perhaps twenty miles, using local roads and the Autostrad, a super highway. While on the bus, our guide offered us the opportunity to eat in a restaurant in Siena and experience a local meal. We decided to have lunch at that place. In Siena, another guide was assigned to our group. She was a native and resident of Siena. She was taking us on a walking tour. She was very literate and passionate in her descriptions. She was obviously proud of her city. She told us that she, like most Siena people were born in the hospital across from the cathedral. The hospital had been converted into a museum several years ago. At lunch, we met a young man from Chile. His father purchases and rents boom cranes for building contractors. We were first served bread with pate, an egg spread and a piece of toast with olive oil and spices. Later, we were served soup, a pasta dish and cheese dessert. After lunch, we bought T-shirts. Bob wanted one with the seventeen contradas of Siena, but the saleswoman said that it was "prohibited" to display the logos of the contradas , especially on shirts. She did give him a postcard with the contradas after he told her how much he loved Siena and that he was Italian (not). Our guide told us about a horse race that is held in July and again in August. The race consists of ten horses and the length is three times around the town square. Before the race, seven of the seventeen contradas are automatically selected for the race. Three others are selected by the luck of the draw. The next year, the seven contradas that did not participate previously are the automatic selections, with three random selections. There is a four-day celebration before the race, when everyone must return to their original contrada, or neighborhood where they were born, and live with friends and relatives. The day of the race, there is a parade around the track with all the contradas participating. They each carry their banner representing everyone in their contrada. Just before the race begins, one horse at a time enters the track. The last horse has the advantage since the race cannot start without him/her. That horse waits until it has the advantage based on his/her competitors locations, races out and race begins. If the jockey is thrown off, the horse can still win. There are no rules. First horse in wins the race. Some spectators sit in temporary stands on the outside of the track, usually the celebrities and dignitaries. Most everyone else stands in the middle and party since they can't see the race. Our guide told us what was most important to the people was to participate, not see the race. The people of the winning contrada are "king of the hill" for one year. They must first go to the cathedral and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, who is the patron saint of Siena. Then the celebration begins. The losing contradas have to be nice to the winners until there is a new winner. After we left Siena, we rode to San Gingimani, another walled city famous for it's towers. In ancient times, each city needed to have a distinct silhouette that could be seen from a great distance. Travelers were usually not educated, could not read or write and there were few, if any maps. Each city could be described verbally and with individual personalities and shapes, people would know what city they were approaching. A tower was also important since it's height was symbolic of the individual or family that built the tower. If their status or wealth diminished, they were required to lower the height of the tower. Job security for the building industry. We walked through San Gingimani and visited the shops, looking for gifts. We found a framed picture of Siena and purchased it as a gift for someone. Later, we realized that we liked it so much, we decided to keep it for ourselves and find another gift. When we returned to Florence, we rested for a while. Then we went to a pizzeria restaurant and had pizza, beer and Coke. This was perhaps the best pizza we had on our trip. We agreed to order a Pizza Hut pizza when we got back home.

Wednesday, 04 August 1999 Florence

After breakfast, we looked for another hotel to stay in Florence tomorrow night. We found Hotel Visconti. Then we walked to the cathedral and waited in line for about fifteen minutes to climb the four hundred, sixty-three steps to the dome. We climbed and climbed and climbed. We reached the inside part of the dome. From the catwalk that went completely around the dome, we could see the inside of the nave, altar, aisles and apsoidal chapels. The frescos at the base of the dome represented Hell, with each higher level of frescos representing a higher level of divinity, with Heaven at the top. We walked halfway around the dome, and continued climbing up the spiral stairs to the cupola on the outside top of the dome. During this part of the climb, we could see the inner and outer walls of the double dome construction of the cathedral. There was a spectacular view of the city. When we got down to the ground, we decided to check email. We finally got an email from you know who. We had lunch and walked to the bus pickup location for the afternoon tour of Florence. There was a bus driver and two guides, one English-speaking and the other French- speaking. It was difficult to hear and understand the English-speaking guide. French was out of the question. First, we drove to XXXXXXX, a little town on a hill over looking Florence. Bob walked up a steep hill to take some pictures. We met at a small church and walked through the church. We drove to Santa Croce, the Church of the Holy Cross. Since Sue had a sleeveless shirt, she had to borrow a scarf to put around her shoulders. The man at the door told several women to pull the scarf down over their arms., The tombs of Michelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli and Gallileo are located at Santa Croce. Michelangelo was first buried in Rome. His family wanted his tomb to be moved to Florence. The pope denied their request, so Michelangelo's nephew went to Rome, opened the tomb and took the body back to Florence. Now, there are two tombs for Michelangelo, one in Rome, empty and one in Florence, occupied. We went to the Academy of Florence, where we saw the original David, by Michelangelo. A replica of David is in front of the town hall. There were also four statues by Michelangelo that were not completed. From the Academy, we walked to an outdoor cafe, where we had dinner. We ate pasta and drank a liter of local wine. We can't emphasize how much we looked forward to eating after walking and climbing all day. We were usually exhausted and really needed the nourishment. By the way, the Romans considered wine as a legitimate form of nourishment. More about that later. When we returned to the hotel, we sat on the patio to relax. Bob and Sue started to read the newspaper. A girl sitting nearby asked where we got the newspaper. She was from San Diego, California. After she graduated from college, she went to Paris for three months. She met a young man from Algiers and stayed in Paris for over a year. She had worked as an au pair for two families in Paris. She also worked at Planet Hollywood as a waitress. She said that she was going home soon and would try to get credentials for a teaching certificate. We talked for a long time and then went to bed.

Thursday, 05 August 1999 Florence

After breakfast, we packed and moved our things to Hotel Visconti. Then we walked around Florence. We saw the Uffrizzi, Pont Vecchio, the old town square and an open air market. Along both sides of Pont Vecchio, a bridge over the Arno River, there were expensive jewelry shops. At the market, we bought two framed pictures of Florence and Venice. We walked back to the hotel and relaxed in the gardened terrace. When it was time, we walked to the tour bus for a trip to the Chianti region. We traveled to a vineyard and winery. We took a tour of the grounds and the winery cellar. Then we sat at a table outside the chateau, where we had a wine tasting accompanied with cheese, bread and cold sliced meat. We met a young couple from Illinois. The man had graduated from law school at the University of Illinois, Bob's alma mater. His wife had worked for an accountant in Champaign. Her company had done business with Wynne Smith, an auto dealer in Danville, Illinois, Sue's hometown. Sue's mother had an accident several years ago while walking through the auto dealer's parking lot. She hurt her knees and has problems with them ever since. The girl said that her boss dropped Wynne Smith's account because he thought he was a crook. Smith wanted to drop retirement benefits for his employees. At our table, there was another couple from Houston, Texas and two women from England. Bob told one of the women that while we were in London, we noticed T-shirts that said "Mind The Gap", and that he regretted not getting one while we were there. She told Bob if he gave her his address, she would sent us some shirts. Bob told her if she would do that, he would send her shirts with the "Dirty Birds" design. We moved on and stopped at San Donato, a small walled city near Florence. We walked around the old city. We saw a woman quilting on the street outside her home. We told her that Bob's mother also quilted. When we returned to Florence, we started walking to the hotel. Here starts the famous story of our trip. Three gypsies surrounded Bob. He had the wine we bought at winery in one hand and was holding the backpack strap in the other hand. The gypsy woman, pregnant, came from the left front holding a flat cardboard box. She held it up to his face. The only purpose was to distract him. He motioned for her to go away with his hand. She persisted and circled around to the right front, still holding the cardboard. Just then, someone else bumped him from the left rear. He knew what was happening and he put down the wine box. Then he felt his front left picket and then my front right pocket. His shorts have two pockets on the left and right. One set on the left and right has Velcro strips, which is where he put his money. He knew they couldn't get in those pockets. Just then, Bob felt a hand in his right pocket without the Velcro. He grabbed the hand, squeezed hard and yelled loudly. When he saw the hand belonged to a young boy of about seven to ten years old, he let go. He had a scared look on his face. He pointed to my pocket and there were some receipts hanging halfway out of the pocket. We kept walking away and Bob checked his pockets again. We walked to have dinner at the pizzeria restaurant that we had eaten at earlier. This time we had pasta. When we returned to the hotel, we sat in the terrace garden until bedtime. Our room in the hotel was hot and noisy from the motor scooters and trucks and cars in the street below.

Friday, 06 August 1999 Florence

When we got up, we decided to go out for breakfast because we thought we had to pay six thousand lira each for the meal. After breakfast, we walked to the tourist information center and asked for the location of the nearest Laundromat. We were told the location was near the train station. We walked back to the hotel, got our dirty clothes and walked back to the Laundromat. When we finished the laundry, we returned to the hotel with our clothes. We walked to check email. We had a message from Jenny, Julie and Kara. We ate lunch at an outdoor cafe and had more pizza. Then we walked to San Minato, which was on a hill above the Arno River. It was a beautiful church, with a lower crypt and marble everywhere. When we walked back to town, we ate delicious four cheese ravioli at an outdoor cafe. We walked back to the hotel and sat in the terrace garden until bedtime. It was hot and noisy all night.

Saturday, 07 August 1999 Florence: Rome

We packed and checked out. After breakfast, we walked to the train station. We rode a Eurostar train to Rome. When we arrived at the train station, we took a bus and then walked to the hotel. Our hotel room was air-conditioned. We were on floor number four, actually the fifth floor. There was no elevator. The owner of the building is renovating the hotel. There are other residents living in apartments in the building. He told us he is four million over a four and one-half million budget. We don't know for sure, but we think that's in liras. He has a lot work left to do. The first floor was the home of Agrippa, a famous Roman general and engineer. He defeated Marc Antony in Egypt, built the Pont Du Gard, the Pantheon and other Roman cities in Provence in southern France. The other floors were built in the fifteenth century. We walked to the Pantheon several blocks away and had lunch at McDonald's in the Pantheon plaza. We walked to Il Gesu, a church of the Reformation and Santa Maria Sopro Minerva. After that, we returned to the hotel for a nap. It was the hottest part of the afternoon and we wanted to rest in the air conditioning. /p> After resting, we walked to the Trivi Fountain and threw the obligatory coins into the fountain. We had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant called 3 Amicis, or Three Friends. The managers of our hotel recommended this restaurant to us. The man said he eats there at least three times a week. We ate tortaglia with Gorgonzola cheese, salad and a liter of red house wine. The meal was great, but it was very hot. Sue had sweat running down her face the whole meal.

Sunday, 08 August 1999 Rome

After breakfast, we walked to the Vatican. Before going in to St. Peter's, Bob had to put the bottom parts of his shorts because men had to have long pants. Women could wear skirts, but not shorts. Neither men nor women could have bare shoulders. As we entered St. Peter's we could see the Pieta by Michelangelo. We think it is the most beautiful artwork every created. Only Michelangelo could make the transformation from marble to human flesh. We rode up an elevator to the spring point of the dome. Like Florence, we were able to walk around the inner dome and view the church below. Behind us, as we walked, were incredible mosaic murals. From there, we walked up a spiral staircase to the cupola. We could see the city of Rome, the Vatican City and the surrounding countryside. When we came down from the cupola to the inner dome a church service was in progress. At the ground floor, we walked down to the crypts of the popes. Included in the crypt are the remains of St. Peter. After the crypt, we walked through St. Peter's and saw many statues. We wanted to go to the Sistine Chapel, but it was closed today. We walked back to the Pantheon area and had lunch at McDonald's again. Bob told Sue that if he suggested going to this McDonald's restaurant again, she could hit him as hard as she could. It was much too crowded and had too many pigeons to be comfortable. After lunch, we walked to the Roman Forum. On the way, we stopped at Capitoline Hill. Michelangelo designed the facades of the two main buildings. Behind Capitoline Hill is the Forum. We walked down and walked through the ruins of the temples and buildings of the Forum. We kept imagining the ancient Romans walking around in their togas. A short distance from the Forum is the Coliseum. As we entered, a guide was just starting a free promotional tour. It was interesting to listen to him speak. He spoke of the different type of people who fought in the Coliseum. There were the people sentenced to death, people sentenced to serve hard time, slaves and professionals. He told of the Vestal Virgins. If they were found to have lost their virginity, they were sealed inside a room and left to die by starvation. They had to remain celibate until they were thirty years old. After leaving the Coliseum, the Attack of the Gypsies happened again. A gypsy woman waved cardboard at Bob again, just like in Florence. He immediately grabbed his pockets and turned to face them. There was a woman and three or four children with her. When Bob turned, they just laughed at him. When we were walking back to the hotel, Bob noticed an Irish Pub that served Guinness ale. We rested a while, and walked back to the pub to have dinner. As we were leaving the pub, a large group came in and their guide had them do the limbo in front of the walkway to the front door. They did that so they could take their drinks before going into the pub. We have noticed a lot of police stationed around the city. They seem to have permanent posts, and some have a police booth in which to sit. They also have phones for police communications. Sue feels safer seeing them out. Bob wonders why they need to be there.

Monday, 09 August 1999 Rome

After breakfast, we walked to the Vatican City. Usually from St. Peter's cathedral, it's a five-minute walk to the Vatican. Because of the street construction, we had to take a detour and walked what seemed like forever. When we reached the Vatican Museum, there was a long line stretching down the street and around the corner. When we finally got inside, the signs we followed signs to the Sistine Chapel. Actually, we walked everywhere except the chapel. There are many room in the museum, but we wanted to see the chapel before we got too hot and tired. Not to be! Eventually, we got to the air-conditioned Sistine Chapel. When we entered, the guards would not allow any photography of any kind. -no stills or video photography. The ceiling was more overwhelming than Bob ever expected. They looked great, having been cleaned and preserved recently. We noticed the earliest panel had human figures much smaller than the rest. We read that after that panel, Michelangelo increased the scale of the human figures so they could be seen more easily from the floor. Before leaving the Vatican Museum, we found the post office, bought stamps and mailed a post card to Joe and Daisy. We walked back to St. Peter's square. There are four rows of columns, in an ellipse, one ellipse at each side of the cathedral, which forms the plaza. We found the spot on the ground that is the center of an ellipse for the rows of columns to the right of the cathedral. At this point, only one row of columns is visible in the complete ellipse. On our walk back to the hotel, we found Piazza Navona, which had once been the site of a Roman racetrack where chariot races were held. The piazza still has the same shape of the oval, with fountains and a church on one side. We stopped at a outdoor cafe where we ate ravioli for lunch. While we were in the piazza, we found a soccer jersey for Nick Poteat. It has the name of a famous soccer player, Ronaldo, on the back. We found Netgate, an Internet site for email access. For ten thousand liras, we bought an hour of Internet time, with a free twenty minutes. We used forty-five minutes of our time. We then went back to the hotel to rest. Again, it was the hottest part of the day and we needed the rest. After resting, we walked around the city. On the walk, we found the Spanish Steps. Then we walked to the Church of Four Fountains., by Boromini. The chapel was closed. It had been closed two years ago and Bob had not seen it then either. He really wanted to see it this time! When we left there, we walked past some buildings that had lots of guards and police all around. We discovered it was built to be the summer residence for the pope. We don't know if it is still used for that or if he was inside. The building is actually a huge facade, with most of the land inside the walls used for gardens and open space. We ended up at the Pantheon. We noticed the name Agrippa chiseled in the Pantheon facade, the same man who lived in the first floor of our hotel. There goes the neighborhood. Sue bought ice cream and we sat down at on outdoor cafe where Bob bought a beer. We found that as long as you buy something, you can sit for as long as you want. If you don't buy something, get ready to leave. In the Pantheon piazza, there is a large fountain in the middle. Our cafe was just opposite the fountain. We sat for a long time watching the people. Across from us, we saw a young couple with backpacks eating bread and salami. Next to them, were three dirty, scraggily looking men with dirty, scraggily dogs. Actually, the dogs looked better than the men. They seemed to hang out a lot in this area. Another day, we saw them near the Pantheon and it looked like they slept there. What was interesting is that they had cell phones. After a while, a young man walked over t o our area, hit a tuning fork on a chair and started singing. He passed his hat, move on, and sang some more songs to another group of people.

Tuesday, 10 August 1999 Rome

After breakfast, we walked to the Church of the Four Fountains for one more try to see inside. It was still closed. Bob looked in a door that was ajar, and saw that it was completely covered with scaffolding. Bob would love to have the scaffolding contract for Rome this year. When Bob woke up this morning, he realized that we had made a mistake in our email to Jenny about our return date. We emailed Jenny to correct our mistake. The rest of the day, we walked around Rome looking for last minute gifts. We found a McDonald's for lunch that was much different than any we had seen before. Actually, Bob had stopped here two years ago, but nothing was open then. For ten thousand liras we purchased three salads, one fruit cup and a soft drink. No beer at that counter! We both enjoyed the salads and fruit for a change. When we tried to get money from the ATM machine to pay the rest of the hotel bill, the message said "NO Funds Available". Talk about timing! We ran out of money on the last day of our trip. We tried to be creative and think of a way to get some money. Sue could not remember the correct PIN number for the credit union account. We got some money from the family account, but we didn't leave much in that account before we left on out trip. Bob cashed his last traveler's check of two hundred French Francs, about thirty dollars. Still not enough, and the hotel wouldn't take credit cards. We thought about joining the guys and the ir dogs at the Pantheon. Actually, what happened is that we didn't owe as much as we thought to the hotel, since we had been prepaying for the days we had already spent there. With the all scrounging we did, there was enough to pay the bill. It was exciting though! We returned to the 3 Amicis for our last pasta dinner in Rome. This time, we sat under a ceiling fan and were much more comfortable. After the meal, they serve a very cold liquor in a very small chilled mug. We don't know what it was, but we really liked whatever it was.

Wednesday, 11 August 1999 Rome: Atlanta

After showering and packing, we left the hotel before breakfast. The hotel manager called a taxi to pick us up at the hotel. When we got downstairs, the taxi was waiting for us. We rode to Travestare Train Station, which was closer to the airport. The taxi cost nineteen thousand liras. At the train station, we bought our train tickets to the airport. We were still counting our money. When we got to the platform that we were to board the train, the sign had a different name for the airport, than what we expected. Bob wanted to make sure that we were going to the correct station. Sue overheard someone nearby speaking English. She asked if this train went to da Vinci Airport. The answer was yes. We were relieved. We didn't have enough for other train tickets and taxi fares. We rode the train to the airport and checked in. Then we looked for a place to eat breakfast, get a newspaper and shop at the duty-free shops. We left on time and completed the ten-hour flight to Atlanta with no problems. Jenny picked us up at Hartsfield Airport. We returned home, relaxed and met Robby and Julie at Houston's restaurant for dinner together. We gave them the gifts we had. The others are still en route from Europe. END OF TRIP