Friday, June 18, 1999, Paris

Bob met Sue at Charles DeGaulle Airport. Since Sue was tired, we went to the Tulleries and relaxed. We bought two baguettes, Camembert cheese and water for dinner, which we ate at a park near the hostel. We sent an email to Jenny and Robby to let them know that Sue arrived safely.

Saturday, 19 June 1999 Paris: Tours

We slept late this morning and ate breakfast at the hostel. We sent an email to G.G. and Ree to let them know we were O.K. We asked Jenny or Robby to find Tiffany's address and send it to us. We rode Metro to the Gare Montepanarsse train station and made reservations for the train to Tours. When we got on the train, we met a family from Vietnam (now L. A.). They shared their lunch with us. We had a baguette, cheese, salami and orange juice. The Communists had put the woman's father into jail for ten years. Her mother sent her out of Vietnam when the Communists took over. When we arrived in Tours, we took the bus given on the directions, but it was the wrong bus. We finally made it to the youth hostel and checked in. We rode the bus back to town and decided to get a week's bus pass. The man who sold us the tickets was friendly and helpful. He told us we needed photographs and walked us to office of the bus company. The lady was unfriendly and impatient. She told us where to go, but we did not understand (French, you know) . Someone else, a woman we met walking on the street, showed us where to have pictures taken. It was at an indoor shopping mall, with picture booths. Bob had one taken, but it was too large. (French instructions). We walked to the Old Town and had dinner. Sue saw a woman in really tight pants and said she wanted to see HER in ten years. Bob told Sue that he wanted to see her in ten MINUTES. She didn't think it was funny. (Bob did) At the outdoor cafe, the waitress spoke some English and tried to explain what was on the menu. There was one entree that she couldn't explain. "It isn't meat, but it's not vegetables", she said. Bob ordered it - Bob likes surprises. Guess what it was! It was goose livers in brown gravy and rice. Fois Gras is considered a delicacy in Europe. The menu item translated to "Dish of the Market", we found out later. So much for surprises! After dinner we walked back to the bus stop. While waiting for the bus, we saw a boy who remembered seeing us in the train station in Paris. We also met some girls in high school from Urbana, Illinois who were staying at the youth hostel. We rode back with them. They giggled a lot.

Sunday, June 20, 1999 Tours: Bordeaux

We slept late again. After showering, we had breakfast and started on our day at Versailles. We decided it would be better to go to Versailles on another day when we had more time to visit. Instead, we decided to go to Bordeaux on the train. Bob looked out the window and Sue slept. When we arrived at Bordeaux, we walked a block around the train station. We ate lunch at the train station and waited two hours to ride back to Tours. Bob looked out the window and Sue slept some more. We had to sit in the smoking car (cough, cough) most of the way back. We had pizza and calzon for dinner. When we rode the bus back to the youth hostel, we did not think that the bus was going to the right place, but we make in back without a problem.

Monday, June 21, Tours

Monday: Go on a bus tour of Chenonceau.
Tuesday: Go to Versailles
Wednesday: Go on a bus tour
Thursday: Go to Chartres
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: All day bus tour
Sunday: All day bus tour

We made bus tour reservations and train seating reservations. Then we went to the tourist center and checked email at a computer store, twenty minutes for 10 francs. Sue had a call from Barbara Ward from Dekalb County Schools. We bought a French telephone calling card, but had to wait until after the bus tour to call because of the six-hour time difference. The bus tour started at 1:15 p.m. We went to Chenonceau first. Earlier we met Gretchen from Chicago and she was on our bus. On the bus, we met a brother and sister from North Dakota. She was twenty-eight and a French teacher. He was twenty-five. We sat next to them on the bus. After Chenonceau, we drove past another chateaux and finally reached Chambord. When we returned to Tours, we ate at McDonald's next to the train station. Bob had a beer with my meal. Before the bus tour, we took our extra passport photos to the wicked witch of Tours, who was much friendlier to us than on Friday. We are proud owners of a one-week bus pass and honorary citizens of Tours. After dinner, We called Barbara Ward. She wanted to give me the names of schools Sue could call for interviews. Sue told her that it was not possible for me to interview before August 12, 1999.

Tuesday, 22 June 1999 Tours: Versailles

Bob woke early. For breakfast, we had the usual menu: small glass of orange juice, cereal with milk, sliced baguette with butter and jelly and a hot drink. We rode the bus to town and walked to the train station (gare). We made reservations for our trip to Paris and Versailles. When we got to the train station at Versailles, we asked how to get to the chateau. The attendant gave us directions for a fifteen-minute walk. When we arrived at Versailles, we went to the information booth where a girl suggested we go to a park near the chateau to eat our lunch. We could not bring food into the area. We ate baguette, cheese and water. When we returned to Versailles, we had to wait in line for an hour. We finally got in, checked our backpacks and toured the chateau. We walked back to the train station and rode to Paris and then back to Tours. We went to check email when we arrived in Tours. We sent an email to Cecile asking her to schedule Rehoboth for an August 19 meeting for the reading association leadership. We had dinner in Old Town. Sue ate mussel shells. We rode the bus back to the youth hostel. Sue finished reading the book, "The Reader" today. Bob played with his European translator.

Wednesday, 23 June 1999 Tours: Amboise

We went on the bus tour to Amboise. It was such a pretty village that we decided to return tomorrow. We stopped at Vouvray to see the wine cellars and bought a very small bottle of wine. The female guide explained how the white wine was made. 1) Grape juice is fermented in wood barrels for six months. The barrels are old and do not add any flavor to the wine. 2) The fermented juice for still wine is bottled and corked. The racks for still wine are large cubes that are set so that the corked end is down. The cubes are then turned frequently. We think they are aged that way for two years. 3) Sparkling wine has additional yeast and sugar added and is capped. The sparkling wine has separate stationary racks, with the capped end down. They are hand rotated (each bottle) twice a day for two months. There is a sticker on the bottles to show when it was last rotated. Because extra yeast and sugar was added, there is sediment from the fermentation process that needs to be removed. The still wine's yeast and sugar is fermented to alcohol with no residual sediment. To remove the sediment in the sparkling wine, about one inch of the bottle neck is frozen, which makes an "ice cube". When the cap is removed, the pressure inside the bottle explodes and removes the ice and sediment. Then "old" wine is added, with different amounts When we returned from the bus tour, we decided to take a horse and buggy tour of Tours. Since it was her Dad's birthday, Sue decided to call her Mom. Her mom was very pleased to hear from her. She said that she was planning to go to Rob and Julie's wedding. We bought a sandwich and ate it in the park (shared it). Later, we had dinner at McDonald's, sat in the park for a while and returned to the youth hostel.

Thursday, 24 June 1999 Tours: Amboise

We returned to Amboise today. We walked through the village and stopped at a pastry shop. Sue had an eclair and Bob had a croissant and coffee (great coffee!). We talked to an older couple from Britain at the pastry shop. We looked for Clos de Luce, the house where Leonardo de Vinci lived for the last four years of his life. The tour was quite impressive. It showed some of his inventions, which were constructed by IBM. Bob bought two corkscrews and Sue bought two small tapestries of Chenonceau and Amboise that she will have framed. We both had omelets for lunch at an outdoor cafe opposite the chateau. We bought chocolate candy and marzipan and ate it while sitting by the Loire River (Cher?) We walked to the train station and rode back to Tours. We returned to the youth hostel and Sue napped for half an hour. After resting, we returned to Tours and ate at McDonald's. They have a different type of potato that in the states, and we really enjoy them. After eating, we returned to the youth hostel for the night and made reservations for the youth hostel in Nimes.

Friday, 25 June 1999 Tours: Angers

Today, we went to Angers on the train. We saw a walled fortress and chateau. This place is famous for its 100-meter tapestry of the Apocalypse. When we were taking pictures, the camera made beeping noises. We replaced the battery and it worked O.K. Bob said the same thing happened on his trip two years ago on his trip to Europe. (he didn't replace the battery because he wasn't sure that was the problem and he didn't want to lose the photographs inside the camera) It was easy to find the chateau and the train station. We rode the train back to Tours. We tried to get a new bus pass and found out that our pass was still good. It had "25" stamped on the pass. We thought June 25 was the last day to use the pass. We learned that "25" meant the 25th week of the year. The wicked witch of Tours helped us. We went back to the hostel to change rooms and learned that they moved our things to the new room, even though we weren't packed. In the evening, there was a group of students who wore berets with many pins on their caps. We asked a girl with the group about the berets. She was from Tours and organized the meeting of pharmaceutical students. She told us they exchanged the pins, which were symbolic of their area or country. This reunion consisted of parties, seminars and professional meetings. They are held in different countries at different times of the year.

Saturday, 26 June 1999 Tours: Angers, Blois, Chambord, Chiverny

Today we went to Blois, Chambord and Chiverny on our bus tour. At Blois, the guide left us on our own, but did not give us any tickets. Several times we were asked for tickets, which we did not have. Finally, they let us go into part of the castle that was restricted without tickets. We walked around the village, went into a cathedral, and went back to the bus. While waiting for the bus, it started to rain lightly. Blois had a single spiral staircase similar to the one at Chambord. The guide told us the chateau was famous because of two murders that happened there. One room had hidden compartments thought to have held queen's poison or treasures (Catherine de Medici). At Chambord, we did not go into the chateau. Instead we ate lunch. We had seen it earlier in the week. At Chiverny, the guide took us on a guided tour of the chateau. This chateau was more modern, since it was built more recently, and it was privately owned. It was in excellent condition. The chateau had a bedroom built just for the King of France, but he never visited here. No one has slept there. We ate dinner at McDonald's again. (great potatoes). When we tried to check email, the store was closed (8:00 P.M.). When we returned to the youth hostel, the pharmacists had another dinner, only this time it was catered in the parking lot. They were singing and had a real food fight.

Sunday, 27 June 1999 Tours: Angers, Langeais, Usse, Chinon, Azay

We arrived at the bus station in Tours just in time for our bus tour. We visited Langeais, Usse, Chinon, Azay Le Rideau and the gardens of Villandry. By now, we have seen so many chateaus that it is hard to keep them straight in our memory. Bob liked the chateau at Langeais and Usse the most. At Villandry, there were three types of gardens: vegetable, flowers and formal with hedges. In the back, there was an Italian water garden. Our guide and driver were different today. Geremaine and Sonya took us on the tour Saturday. The woman today spoke better English. She gave Sue and Bob a French history lesson - starting with Foulques Nerra, the Black Falcon, the Dukes of Anjou, including the Hundred Year War. She also asked us if we knew why there could never be potatoes in a XVI century garden. No one on the bus knew. The reason is that in the XV century, people did not trust potatoes to be safe. They thought the potatoes were poisonous. Finally, the roi (king) had a field planted. The royal guard had to protect the field. The population would have destroyed them. The king wore a potato flower in his lapel and the queen wore them in her hair to reassure the people. Therefore, she said, no authentic reproduction of a XVI century garden could contain potatoes. Does anyone care?

Monday, 28 June 1999 Tours: Nimes

We traveled all day on the train today. Our train from the Tours train station left ten minutes late. We thought that we might miss our connecting train at Lyon. When we arrived at Lyon, our connecting train to Nimes was waiting on the next track. It was already crowded when we boarded. We sat down across from a father and his five (?) year old son. The boy kept kicking Bob during the trip, which irritated him. When we arrived in Nimes, we found the bus stop. A woman helped us find our bus stop. When we got off the bus, we saw a sign that said the youth hostel was five hundred meters UP the hill. We walked a short distance and saw another sign that said five hundred meters. All was O.K. when the next sign said three hundred meters. Eventually, when we checked in, we sat outside at a table and had some cold drinks. We met Hugh from Cork, Ireland. Later, Ken a pharmacist from Vancouver (who missed the party in Tours) joined us. We all moved to another table to eat dinner. After eating, Bridgett a female actor (her words) and her husband Greg, an artist from Richmond, Virginia joined us. They had eaten in town and had returned to the youth hostel. Greg sketched us while we talked. He later showed us the sketch. Bob was in the sketch, but only my arms were visible. Later, he will paint the scene on canvas from the sketch. Before Greg left on his trip, he sold post card scenes that he would paint on his trip to his patrons. Bridgett wrote notes on the back, and then mailed them to the patrons. He sai d that the post cards were paying for their food on the trip. Bridgett is from Ireland and they were going to stop there on their trip. Their sons were in Switzerland and Bridgett and Greg were going to meet up with them later. Their names are Kerrigan and Austin. Greg was also going to Switzerland to meet a childhood friend. She is the daughter of his former art teacher.

Tuesday, 29 June 1999 Nimes

In English, Nimes sounds just like it is spelled. In northern France, it is pronounced without the "s". In Nimes and Provonce, it is pronounced "Nima, with a long E and an "augh" at the end. At breakfast, we met Greg and Bridgett again. We rode the bus into town with them to the train station. At the station, we went to the Office of Tourism. There, we looked for information and bought some stamps. Then we started walking. We stopped at the Coliseum. We sat, we saw, we talked. Then, we went to find the Cosmic Cafe to check email. The time was 1:30 P.M. and they didn't open until 2:00. We walked in and the person at the desk blew us off because we spoke English. Another fellow working at the counter did speak English and told us they weren't open, but it was O.K. to come in. He looked like the boss. When we went to a PC, they couldn't make an Internet connection. We told them we had not had lunch, so we would go to eat and come back at 2:00. We lied! We didn't think they would be on line that day. He was reloading software. We ate and found another place to check email. We were on line for an hour and he charged us 55F but We unintentionally only gave him 50F. We thought we gave him 60F. He too k the 50F, but that's half of what we pay at home for a month! We went back to the youth hostel and ordered dinner from Andy, the presiding manager. The owner and manager was on vacation. At dinner, we met Mr. Brian Prissy from England, about mid twenties. He had just taken his test to become a lawyer and was on a week holiday. If he passed, he could study for another year and take another test. After we ate dinner, we went to bed. Before we went to bed, we tentatively planned the rest of our trip and Sue decided that we would go to Great Britain.

Wednesday, 30 June 1999 Nimes: Pont Du Gard

Today we met Jennifer, an artist from Florida and many other places. She has two children, a boy and a girl. She has been divorced for twenty-eight years. Her son is getting married this weekend in Paris. The manager of the youth hostel, Andy, Jennifer and Sue and Bob rode in Jennifer's car to Nimes. She needed to do laundry, we needed to go to the train station and Andy needed to go into town. He gave directions, showed Jennifer where and how to park, where the laundry was located, and took us to the market for lunch items. We bought Merlot wine (which Andy picked out), Swiss cheese, two croissants and cookies for our lunch at the Pont du Gard. We caught a bus at 11:00 to Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built by Agrippa in the last century B.C. The cost was 117F for two round trip tickets. When we got off the bus, there was an elderly woman that got off behind me. Bob reached out his hand to help her and she pulled away and gave him a dirty look, like "Don't you touch me!" We walked about three kilometers from the bus stop, walked to the Pont du Gard, and had lunch. We ate on the aqueduct over looking the Gordon River. There were swimmers and canoes on both sides of the river. It was a great sight and spectacular view. We missed the earlier bus and had to wait for a later bus. We bought a Coke and sat at an outdoor cafe while we rested. Sue wrote post cards while Bob read. When we returned to Nimes, we ate dinner at the youth hostel. Brian was still there. We met Miriam, a young girl from Sweden who looked like Nicole Kiddman. She was traveling alone and trying to decide what to do with her life. She slept in a tent and was on a tight budget. Miriam had just spent a week at an Abby near Lyon. After that, she was going to work in a kitchen in the Alps near Mont Blanc in France. She was going to work and take classes in French, but hadn't made up her mind if she wanted to stay. She hitchhiked a lot. In France, she had a bad experience, but didn't want to talk about the details. One night, she traveled with a Danish couple. Since they could not find a place to stay, they stayed up all night drinking coffee and talking. We also ate dinner with a French archaeologist. He was digging at a Roman ruins in town. It was difficult to communicate with him, since he only spoke a little English. He bought a bottle of wine for dinner and shared it with all of us. A group of Dutch bikers were still at the youth hostel and were ready to party. They played the music very loudly. A real partying youth hostel. We had a great time there. It was one of our favorite youth hostels.

Thursday, 01 July 1999 Nimes: Arles

We made reservations for our trip to Arles after breakfast with Brian and Miriam. We were able to make youth hostel reservations for Arles and Carcasonne, but not London or Stradford-Upon-Avon. We packed and went to the train station. The train was ten minutes late. When we arrived in Arles, we walked through town and saw some old Roman ruins. We stopped at the visitors' center and were told the youth hostel would not open until 5:00 P.M. It was 96 degrees F. We drank a lot of Cokes at McDonald's trying to cool down. At 5:00 we checked into the youth hostel and were put into dorm rooms of eight people. This youth hostel is extremely clean, but not as friendly as Nimes. They were very strict about the living arrangements and not too flexible. We went for a walk through town. At the ancient Roman amphitheater, a group of singers were rehearsing for a production of Carmen. We walked to the train station to make reservations and get train schedules, but they were not working. We walked back along the Rhone River and stopped for dinner at an outdoor cafe where Bob had pasta with cream sauce and an egg. Sue had an omelet and French-Fries. Because it was so hot today, we decided to ride an air- conditioned TGV train and sit in comfortable first class seats to Nice and see the French Riveria tomorrow. We were in for a big supprise.

Friday, 02 July 1999 Arles: Nice

While eating breakfast at the youth hostel, we were surprised to see Miriam walk into the dining room. She had ridden a bike to a national park next to the Mediterranean Sea in southern France. She told us that she jumped into the water with all her clothes on as soon as she arrived. She slept out under the stars and the next day (yesterday) she rode her bike to Arles. She was headed back to Nimes today to return the bike and get the rest of her belongings. Then she was going to the French Alps to start her new job. Bob asked Miriam if he could give her a three-cheek kiss. Sue told Miriam that Bob had been doing research on the "kisses on cheeks" by kissing all the girls he could. In Tours, everyone did a four-cheek kiss, but in Arles they did a three-cheeker. We exchanged kisses and email addresses before we left. Mariam - if you ever read this, please email us! We cannot find where we put your email address. We hurried to the train station, but stopped to get chocolate croissants. When we tried to make reservations, they said it was full. Since we were using EruoRail passes, which were first class, we thought they meant first class was sold out. They meant the whole train! Every seat was taken! Young people were sitting between cars on the floor. We walked from one end of the train to the other looking for two seats. We decided to order drinks in the bar car. Eventually we were able to get two stools on which to sit. After three hours, the stools became uncomfortable. We had to hunch over to see out the windows. We expected them to ask us to leave if we did not have drinks, so Bob ordered two beers and Sue had a Pepsi and water. We drank our way to Nice. In Nice, across from the train station, we bought sandwiches and water. We sat on a bench on a street running in front of the train station. While sitting and eating, a dirty young man with a scraggly beard took a water bottle to the curb and filled it with water running down the gutter. Then he took a long drink from the bottle. He had a bottle of wine in the other hand. On the way back to Marseilles, the train was practically empty. We got to sit in air-conditioned, first class seats at last. The other TGV train to Marseilles, similar to the one we took to Nice, was full. The train we were on was a local train, and not as popular or fast. But it was comfortable and cool.

Saturday, 03 July 1999 Arles: Carcasonne

We slept late and relaxed a bit this morning. We met Brian again this morning. We talked with him a while before breakfast and after breakfast. We also met a young couple from Australia traveling in a leased automobile. On our way to the train station, we bought table cloths. We purchased one for Robby and Julie, Sis and GG, and ourselves. We caught the train to Nimes and then another train to Carcasonne. At first, we sat in a smoking car, but moved to a non smoking car with the help of the conductor. While in the non smoking car, Bob met an elderly Frenchman and asked him how to pronounce the name of the pocketknife "Laguiole." It is made in a small town in southern France. The man told Bob, but Bob could not come close to saying the name correctly in French. The Frenchman was amused and a little frustrated. The best Bob could say was "Lay-yo". We don't think it is pronounceable with English sounds. When we arrived in Carcasonne, we went to the bus stop. While trying to figure out the schedule, a French lady tried to help us, but we could not understand her. Then two girls from Seattle who were staying at the youth hostel offered to help us. Anna and Allie were not sure of the way, since they arrived the day before when it was dark and went a different way. Anna and Allie had been friends since kindergarten. Anna had been studying English Lit in England. Allie could speak some French. We tried to find the right bus stop, but ended up walking all the way to the youth hostel. That always seemed the best way to get to a youth hostel on our trip. The hostel is in the middle of the Old City. The Old City is actually a double walled fortress begun by the Romans. When we checked in, we met our roommates Carmen and Andre, a Spanish couple. We met one of the two girls' roommates, Chantal. Chantal was born and raised in Belgium, but has lived in France for over twenty years. Her husband is French and she moved to France when she married. Her husband works in the oil industry and has been stationed in Ecuador for over a ye ar. He is coming home in a few weeks. Chantal's fifteen-year-old son was visiting friends in Sete, not far from here. She had always wanted to see Carcasonne, so she rode the train with her son, and stayed here in the youth hostel. Chantal is fluent in English and enjoys speaking to others in English. She aspires to become an English teacher to French students. We also met two brothers and a sister. The oldest brother heard us discussing teaching with Chantal. He came over to our table to join in the discussion. He teaches in a private residential school in Virginia. The subjects he taught were history and physical education. His classes consisted of six students. Discipline or incomplete work was not a problem in his school. The students that did not cooperate had to have their homework signed by their houseparent. The boy's sister was a student who studied social work and religion. She was hoping her Dad would pay for her to study in Europe for a year. We walked with her to take pictures of Carcasonne at night from outside the castle. The teacher from Virginia and the two girls are planning to go to Pamplona to see the running of the bulls.

Sunday, 04 July 1999 Carcasonne

After breakfast, we washed our clothes by hand and hung them in the room. We could not use the washer until noon and could not use the dryer at all. Then we walked around the outside of the old city of Carcasonne. After that, we walked around the other way between the inner and outer walls. There was a nice breeze. We ate lunch in the courtyard of the youth hostel. Bob had a sandwich and Sue had quiche. We ate with Chantal. After lunch, we walked through the village and looked in the shops. We bought a black Basque Beret for Jenny. We arrived back at the hostel about 4:30 P.M. Sue was tired so she took a short nap. Bob went to an organ concert in the ancient church in the village at 5:00. Sue met him there after the concert began. We came back to the hostel and had dinner with Chantal, Anna, and Allie. Since we shared our wine with Chantal the day before, she offered to buy us drinks. Chantal wanted Bob to try her favorite homeland beer, Belgian Mort Subite "Kriek". He didn't know it was sparkling and when he uncorked the bottle, it exploded and foamed like champagne. The cork went flying and everyone in the courtyard laughed. Before going to bed, we walked around the old city with Chantal. This is an incredible experience, a place that captures our imagination and takes us back to another time.

Monday, 05 July 1999 Carcasonne

After breakfast, we walked across the bridge to the town. We found a place to check email. Then we sat outside McDonald's and decided, for sure, to go to London next, after Carcasonne. We made reservations at the train station. Since we had Eurrail passes, we made first class reservations from Carcasonne to Lille and purchased Eurostar (Chunnel) tickets to London. Because of the Eurail passes, we were able to travel first class and received a fifty per cent discount on the tickets. We looked at several bookstores to get information about London, but could not find any we wanted. We had lunch at an outdoor cafe in a plaza. After lunch, we walked back to the old city and relaxed. We tried to get reservations at the youth hostel in London, but it was not possible. We rested again. While waiting for dinner, Chantal returned to the youth hostel. She had left to take a bus to another city, but she missed the bus. We were going to eat at a restaurant in the old city, but changed our mind when Chantal returned. A storm came through before dinner, so instead of eating outside on the patio, we ate inside the youth hostel bar with Chantal. Chantal invited us to visit her at her home near Nantes, France, but before the thirteenth of July. Her husband was coming home from a year in Ecuador on the fourteenth of July. We had already made reservations for London, so we couldn't accept her offer. Our roommates were two young men from England, one from London and one from Oxford. They had a book, "London A to Z", and they helped us try to decide where to stay while we were in London.

Tuesday, 06 July 1999 Carcasonne: Lille

After breakfast with Chantal, we said goodbye and walked to the train station. On the way, we stopped at the grocery store and got cheese, bread, water and cookies. At the train station, we met two girls from the hostel that were from Quebec. We rode to Montpelier and changed trains. Then we ate our lunch that we bought in Carcasonne. Our train arrived late in Lille and we missed our train to London. We decided to change our reservations on the Eurostar to the next morning. It took about an hour waiting in line to change them. We still didn't have accommodations in London. We walked to the youth hostel in Lille. They had room for us, and we were able to stay there without reservations. Outside, they had two huge busses from Oxford, England. While waiting to register, a group of teen-age students came in and went upstairs. Just then we heard a loud banging noise in the street. It scared everyone. One of the students had thrown a firecracker out of the window. The manager of the hostel was very angry. She told the teacher that she would not allow this kind of behavior. If anything happened again, she would tell them to get back on the busses and leave. The teacher agreed with her. He told the students to go outside and that their behavior would not be tolerated. He and another teacher decided to collect all fireworks and search the students' rooms. We went upstairs to our room. After we unpacked, Bob went to the bathroom. While Sue was sitting on a cushioned bench outside our room in a foyer waiting for Bob, a student came up to the room Sue was sitting in and looked under a cushion on the bench she was sitting. He pulled out a firecracker and left. After he left, Sue (being the teacher that she is) decided to see if there were any more firecrackers under the cushion. She found a fourth of a bottle of vodka. Sue gave the rest to the boy's teacher. About 9:30 P.M. we went to look for a restaurant in the neighborhood. We found a Lebanese restaurant around the corner operated by a young Lebanese couple. When we returned to the hostel, it was very quiet.

Wednesday, 07 July 1999 Lille: London

After eating breakfast at the hostel, we walked to the train station to wait for the Eurostar. We met an older woman living in Belgium and visiting her son in England. A young mother and her son also waited for the train. The woman was English, but lived in France with her husband and son. She was returning after a long time to visit her family. She and Bob looked at a map of London hanging on the wall. While we were waiting, a policeman with a dog approached us and the dog sniffed our luggage and Bob (the luggage for drugs and Bob because of curiosity). The Eurostar was very comfortable. Each car in first class had a hostess. The hostess came to us after the train started and explained that they did not have a breakfast prepared for us, since we changed our reservations at the last minute. They offered drinks and beverages to us when they served the meal. Later, another hostess came by and offered us a normal breakfast. She explained that others had refused breakfast so there was enough for us (they looked at Bob and didn't want to eat. Maybe they felt sorry for him). We had a choice of a hot or cold meal. A hot meal consisted of broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, yogurt, croissants, butter and a drink. A cold breakfast included three types of cheese, yogurt, butter, and a drink. We both had the hot meal. After they retrieved our trays, another hostess came by with hot towels for us. (She gave two to Bob). When we arrived at Waterloo Train Station, we had to go through customs. Our English roommates in Carcasonne recommended that we buy the book that they used, "London from A to Z". We found the book in a store called W. H. Smith at the train station. Then we had to find an ATM to get some English money. Then we bought the book. We browsed the Visitors' Information Center and found information about the youth hostels in London. We called the St. Pancras Youth Hostel for rooms. They had two single rooms available. We told them we would take them and we would be there as soon as possible. Next, we had to figure out the Underground (tube). There was a Tube station at Waterloo Train Station and while looking at a map of the Underground, an employee of the Tube noticed us and explained what to do, how to purchase tickets and what station we needed to go to for the youth hostel. We bought an all day pass. While riding the Tube, a recorded voice would announce the next stop. The announcement always started with the words "Mind the gap". We figured out that the gap was the vertical distance from the floor of the train to the floor of the platform. There was about an eight inch step down from the train to the platform. So, mind the gap. When we arrived at the hostel and got to our room, Sue was very surprised to see a toilet (with a toilet seat), lavatory and shower in the room that she told Bob that she must have died and gone to heaven. (she really said that) Our rooms were not in the main building. We had to exit the lobby, walk around the block to a separate entrance. When Bob came downstairs, he met a man that seemed to work there. Bob told him that he had never seen a youth hostel as nice as this one. The man replied that it was not a hostel, but a university dorm. The university leases out part of the building to a company that operates the hostel. The rooms we were staying in were actually students' rooms that were unoccupied during the summer. The university makes them available to the hostel when school is not in session. We checked email at the youth hostel. Then we went to a nearby park close to the Tube station and ate our cheese and bread lunch. After we unpacked in our rooms and rested we went to an Irish pub on the corner. Bob had a pint and a half of Guinness and Sue had a coke. During that time, we decided to have dinner there. Bob had Irish Stew and Sue had a chicken and leek pot pie. After dinner, we decided to go the Leicester Square to get two half-price tickets to a play or musical. We purchased tickets for Andrew Lloyd Weber's latest musical, "Whistle Down the Wind". We heard some of the songs in a PBS special on ALW and enjoyed them a lot. We walked to the theater and figured out how to get back to the hostel after the play. It would be late and we didn't know our way around. When we arrived at the theater, we were told that we had to go outside, walk around the corner, and reenter the theater, and walk up a flight of stairs to get to our seats. They were up pretty high and did not have much legroom. The play was good and the music was great!

Thursday, 08 July 1999 London

After a British breakfast of fried eggs (2), sausage, bacon, hash brown potatoes, croissant, (we skipped the baked beans and stewed tomatoes) we checked email and purchased tickets for the Big Bus Tour from the youth hostel. We also made reservations for the youth hostel at Stradford-Upon-Avon. When we walked, we noticed the words, "Look Left" and "Look Right" painted on the street at intersections. They probably saved our lives more than one time. We started on the Big Bus Tour at 10:00 A.M. The ticket could be used for twenty-four hours. We rode on the top of an open-air bus. We were able to exit and reenter any of the Big Bus tour busses. At noon, we ate lunch by the Tower of London. As part of the tour, we rode a boat on the Thammes River from the Tower of London to Westminster Pier, near the Abbey. We continued on the bus tour for the rest of the afternoon. From there, we returned to the youth hostel and had dinner at the hostel. We checked email at the hostel and went to bed.

Friday, 09 July 1999 London

After eating another British breakfast at the youth hostel, we continued the Big Bus Tour. We had until 10:00 until the ticket expired. We rode to Westminster Abbey and took a tour of the church for five pounds each. We got back on the Big Bus and rode to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. There was a group of British schoolchildren of ages six and seven in front of us. We were facing the street and plaza, not the palace. It was very, very crowded. When people started pushing us, we left. We saw about half of the ceremony. The Guard came to the plaza and marched inside the gates of the palace. We walked away from the Palace through a park and could see better there than from where we were, since it was somewhat higher. We continued walking through the park to Trafalgar Square. Then we walked to Leicester Square again. On the way, we called Rob and Julie, since we had not heard from Sue's son. When Bob spoke to Rob, he gave him some good phone numbers listed on the pictures in the phone booth. When we arrived at the square, we found another place to purchase half-price tickets. We agreed to see Les Miserables, but there were not half-price tickets available. We walked to the Palace Theater and bought two tickets for that night's performance at 7:30 P.M. We had lunch at another pub. At the pub, each person orders their drink and meal and sit down at a table. Bob ordered a Guinness with his meal. The female bartender, who was very entertaining, brought the food and drinks. In the foam of the Guinness, she had made an impression of a four-leaf shamrock. She was very talented! She moved the glass while pouring the ale so the design of a shamrock was formed. After lunch, we walked back to Trafalgar Square and went to the National Gallery of Art, which was free of charge. We saw the Impressionist paintings of Degas, Renoir, Monet, Pisarro, Cezanne and Van Gogh, as well as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. We were very tired after seeing the paintings, so we walked to a park to rest. Bob lay on the ground and went to sleep. Sue rented a lawn chair for one pound for four hours. After resting, we walked to the theater district and had pizza for dinner. Then we walked to the Palace Theater and saw Les Miserables. The theater was very hot and our seats were not together. We sat one row apart, but one seat away from each other. When the play was over, we took the Underground back to the youth hostel.

Saturday, 10 July 1999 London: Stratford-Upon-Avon

After our typical British breakfast, we did laundry again and packed. We took the Underground from St. Pancras to Paddington station. We stood in line for about twenty minutes to get our tickets to Stratford. As we were going to board the train, Bob saw a booth selling Paddington Bear souvenirs. Sue bought a Paddington Bear to take home. We rode a fairly crowded train to Stratford. When we arrived, we walked into town and found the bus stop. We rode the bus to the youth hostel and checked in. We had a family room with three beds, sink, toilet (with seat) and a shower. Another version of heaven! Our walk into Stratford was about three kilometers. We continued walking into a park which led to the Royal Shakespeare Theater. We wanted to see a play that night, but they were sold out. However, they did have a cancellation for two seats, which we could buy for about $60.00 apiece. We decided to get them, since it was a once in a lifetime experience to see Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Theater. We went to another pub for dinner. We went to the cash register, ordered and paid for our dinner, went to the bar for drinks and sat down. They served the food when it was prepared. The waitress told us they had a fire recently in the upstairs part of the building. No one was hurt and the damage was not extensive. After dinner, we went to the park and sat on a bench. From the bench, we could see a crowd standing around a performer. At the theater, Bob was able to get headphones so he could hear the play instead of napping. The theater was warm, but we had good seats. They were centered and just behind us was the projection booth. We both enjoyed the play. It was set in a pre World War I era, with clothing of the British Empire and Italian Army uniforms. When the play was over, we rode the bus back to the youth hostel. At the bus stop, we met a couple staying at the same youth hostel.

Sunday, 11 July 1999 Stratford-Upon-Avon

At breakfast, we met the couple from the bus stop. Melanie and Doug from Calgary were on a six-month tour of Europe before starting a family. They rented an apartment in Paris for a month. They had attended Wimbledon for the tennis tournament and were planning to attend the British Open golf tournament in Scotland. Doug was a partner in a software development company. He brought a laptop with them so they could get and send email and connect with their bank. Melanie worked for Nortel and quit her job so she could go on their trip. We shared a taxi with them to town. In town, we bought two books, one about Ireland and one about Switzerland. We were trying to decide whether to go to Ireland. We postponed our decision to take a walking tour of the birthplace of Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway's cottage. After visiting Shakespeare's birthplace in town, we walked along a one and a half-kilometer path from his house to Anne Hathaway's cottage. Will must have made the same walk. The path was paved and it backed up to the yards of the homes on either side of the path. Most houses had brick walls or high hedges along the path. At Anne Hathaway's cottage, the attendants showed us the courting bench that William and Anne probably used. Bob asked the guide about the bench, since Anne was three months pregnant when they married. The guide answered "They did take walks, you know". Bob said, "They must have been long walks". We walked back to town along the path. We caught the bus back to the hostel where we had dinner. After dinner, we met a couple from New Zealand. They were also on a six-month tour. As part of their trip, they were going to the United States and visit New York, Detroit and Los Angeles. Later that morning, we decided not to go to Ireland. Bob decided he would rather return another time when we could have more time.

Monday, 12 July 1999 Stratford-Upon-Avon: Lille

After breakfast with the New Zealand couple, we packed, checked out and donated the Lets' Go Ireland book to the youth hostel. It was too heavy to carry, and it was replaceable. We caught the bus to the train station. We rode the train to Marleybone station, took the Tube to Waterloo Station, where we bought our tickets to Lille. While eating lunch at Waterloo, we met Peggy, who lived across the street from Wimbledon and who played golf at her club there. Her cousin from Florida had just visited her and had commented on how well the French people dressed. We made the same observation. Peggy had two grandchildren whom she enjoyed spoiling. Bob asked her about her experiences during World War II. She told us that her parents sent her to the country, but had her return home because they missed her. Her younger brother had died at the age of two. One night, her mother and she had gone to the bomb shelter in their yard. They heard the German planes flying overhead and then they heard a whistle. They knew that meant a bomb was heading straight toward them and their house. Her father was still in the house. When they came out of the shelter, all they could see was smoke from the explosion. Finally, they saw her father coming out of the part of the house that was still standing. The rest of the house was destroyed. They also saw her pet ca t was injured. The cat ran away and they never saw it again. Her parents sent her back to her grandmother in the country. Schools were set up as residences for the people who lost their homes. Her father, who was an elected official, was able to pull some strings and rented a flat. Then they had Peggy return to London with them. We rode the Eurostar train to Lille and made train reservations for Strausbourg, France as soon as we arrived. Then we returned to the youth hostel and checked in for the evening. We walked to find a place to eat. We ate at a tavern/sidewalk cafe where we had salmon, lentils and wine.

Tuesday, 13 July 1999 Lille: Strausbourg

We slept late this morning, and missed the breakfast at the youth hostel. We walked to McDonald's and ate breakfast. Before we left, we tried to make reservations at the youth hostel in Strausbourg, Chamonix, Zermatt and St. Moritz. We were only able to get a booking in Strausbourg and Zermatt. We checked out and walked to Lille Flanders train station, where we got on the train to Paris Nord. When we arrived at Paris Nord train station, we had to go to Paris Est train station. Paris has five train stations. We thought we could walk, but didn't know where to go. When we asked some people, they told us to take the Metro. When we went to Metro, the lines to buy tickets were very long. Bob wanted to jump over the gate, but Sue didn't think we could do that with our luggage. Then Bob remembered another location to buy the tickets, so we went to that place. It was where we helped another couple from Las Vegas get their tickets when we were in Paris earlier. After we bought the tickets, we ran to the train. We made it just in time. On the train to Strausbourg, we sat beside two women. One had orange hair. When we arrived in Strausbourg, we went to the Visitors' Center below the train station. There we met Emily, who was also going to the youth hostel. We decided to go together. After we checked in at the youth hostel, we checked email. We used our charge card on the email PC. Bob had to push the keys on the keyboard very hard to type properly. We went for a walk to find a place to eat, but we couldn't find anyplace near the hostel. We returned to the hostel and bought dinner there.

Wednesday, 14 July 1999 Strausbourg:

Today is Bastille Day in France, a national holiday. After eating our typical youth hostel breakfast, we tried to make reservations for the hostel in a city near St. Moritz. We were told there were no vacancies. Then we tried for a room at Chamonix, the site of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. We were able to get a room for July 15 and 17, but not the 16 of July. Youth Hostel International will only reserve twenty per cent of the beds in any hostel. In addition, there are no reservations for a couple in a family room. The computer system only counts individual beds. We usually ask for a family room when we arrive at the hostel. The rest of the beds are held for walk up business. We rode the bus to the train station to make train reservations to Chamonix. There was not a direct train to Chamonix. We have to change trains three and four times. While making reservations, a man came in with two dogs on a leash. He was not holding the leash and one of the dogs spilled a cup of coffee on the floor. The man went to get a mop to clean up the mess. When he came back with the mop, the stationmaster was there and not happy. They exchanged angry words and then shoved each other. We walked to the cathedral next. The top of the cathedral was reached by climbing three hundred and forty steps, and gave a great view of Strausbourg. When we came down, we went inside the cathedral and saw a large sculpture of the crucifixion. Then we walked to Petite France. There we saw a boat go through the locks of the river. Petite France was very picturesque, with many old buildings and streets. We rode the bus back to the hostel. While Sue rested, Bob talked with a Danish boy staying in the hostel. He was fifteen years old and traveling alone. He lived in the middle island of Denmark. He said the furthest one could be from the ocean on his island was forty-five kilometers. Later we sat and talked with Emily from Sonoma California. She had worked in a French wine restaurant at home. She was traveling alone, but was going to meet her aunt in Paris tomorrow. Her aunt did not want to stay in a hostel, but in a Bed and Breakfast. When we ate dinner at the hostel, we met two boys from England. One boy was a vegetarian because his mother, a doctor, was afraid of mad cow disease. He wanted to exchange addresses with us and invited us to visit him in England. We think he wanted a place to stay in America. After dinner, we went to the bar at the hostel and bought Emily a drink. Two men were playing electronic darts. When we went to bed and were falling asleep, we could hear the fireworks in town.

Thursday, 15 July 1999 Strausbourg: Chamonix

We awoke at 6:00 A.M. and showered, dressed and packed. We were ready by 6:50, so we left before breakfast. We rode the bus, but got off when we saw a sign reading "Gare", but we didn't notice it said "Parking". We had a longer walk in a drizzling rain. When we arrived at the train station, we bought croissants, and water. We were planning to take a train at 8:20. We were early, so we took the train at 7:50. We rode five different trains from Strausbourg to Chamonix. The last train was called the "Mont Blanc Express". When we got off the train in Chamonix, we tried to figure out where the youth hostel was. We couldn't find it, so we asked a girl working at the train station. She told us the hostel was not in Chamonix, but in Les Pellerins, which was two stops away on the train route. We had to wait an hour for the next train, so we decided to eat lunch at a restaurant across the street from the train station. We wanted a sandwich, but the waitress said all she could bring us was quiche. We had quiche! Sue went to a store and bought water, wine and a beer for Bob. We rode the train to Les Pellerins. When we got off, a sign pointed the way to the youth hostel., so we started walking UPHILL. When we got to the hostel, Sue was hot and tired, so Bob went and checked us in. After we got to the room, we decided to do laundry. While the clothes washed, we checked email and drank wine at a table outside the hostel. When the clothes were drying, we ate dinner at the hostel. At dinner, we met a family from Strausbourg, France. Philippe and Caroline have two sons, William, eight and Baptiste, ten. William did not speak English and Caroline had some (but not many) difficulties with the vocabulary. She spoke French, Spanish and German fluently. After dinner, Philippe invited us to go with him to Chamonix to see a wall climbing competition and fireworks. Caroline said she did not want to go because she did not enjoy the noise of the fireworks. We agreed to go. We rushed to get the laundry folded and get ready to go. Philippe drove us to town in their car. We learned a lot about w all climbing competitions. The fireworks were great. We were very, very tired since we had to stand a long time and did not get home until after midnight.

Friday, 16 July 1999 Chamonix

We slept late this morning, since we got home late. We decided to ride the cable car up the observation tower to view Mont Blanc. At breakfast, we met Philippe and Caroline, William and Baptiste. They were going swimming at the pool nearby. We walked to Chamonix and went to a pharmacy to buy sunglasses and sunscreen. We found a place to get on the cable car and waited in line to buy a ticket and board the cable car. Bob was so excited to finally see Mont Blanc. It was cloudy the day before, but today the view was great. Sometimes, in the Alps, the peaks of the mountains create clouds from the blowing snow. We had to ride two cable cars to get to Aiguille du Midi. The two cable cars made right angles and that's why we had to switch cars. We were able to stand by the window both times. Sue said she felt claustrophobic while in the cars. When we arrived at the end of the second segment, there was a large observation deck, restaurant, fast food court and a bridge to a much longer cable car ride. That cable went completely over the glacier and ended in Italy. The tunnel below and through the mountain to Italy was the tunnel that had the explosion and killed and hurt many people. It is still being repaired. Also, Chamonix had an avalanche last winter that killed many people. At the top, there also was a souvenir shop that had incredibly cheap Mont Blanc fountain pens. The salesgirl told Bob she would throw herself over the cliff if he didn't buy one. He was a real hero and saved her life. (Don't ask Sue about this, she doesn't know Bob is a hero). We also bought post cards and a souvenir knife for Jim with "Mont Blanc" written on the handle. We ate lunch and shared a cheese and tomatoes sandwich and a piece of apple pie. Then we went to the terrace and took photos. It was very sunny and mild (with ice on the floor of the terrace). We both noticed the thin air at the high altitude. We returned to the bottom of the cable car terminal and walked around the town. Very nice, touristy, but high class! Sue bought a pair of slacks to replace the pair we threw out. They had shrunk, but the lining did not, and stuck out past the bottom of the pant's legs. Actually, we threw them out when we did the laundry last night and went back this morning to get them back. Sue hated the idea of getting rid of them. Now we can get rid of them for good. We walked back to the train station. We stopped at the same grocery store as yesterday and bought coke, wine and a beer. We went to a park across the street and drank the drinks. We continued to the train station where we got information on getting to Zermatt, Switzerland and the Glacier Express. We waited for the Mont Blanc Express and rode to Les Pellerins and walked back UP the hill to the hostel. There, we tried to check email, but it wasn't working right. We sat outside at a table, drank wine, wrote post cards and wrote in our journal. Later we had wine with Philippe, Caroline, and the boys.

Saturday, 17 July 1999 Chamonix

After we ate breakfast, we checked email, tried to reserve a room at the youth hostel in St. Moritz (this time we sent a fax) and tried to call the pension in Salzburg. We changed rooms at the hostel. We now have a view of Mont Blanc out of our window, but no shower in the room. We walked to the train station in Les Pellerins and took the train to Chamonix. We shopped at the Casino (grocery) and bought cheese, bread and water. We walked to the other train station in Chamonix and bought tickets for the train and cable car to Mer de la Glace. This train goes up the mountain on a rack and pinion drive. It was a pretty ride up the mountain. A group of teens were singing on the train. When we arrived, we ate lunch of cheese, bread and water. Then we rode the cable car down to the glacier. This glacier is the largest glacier in France. We walked inside the glacier. We could see the layers of ice. We got back on the train and rode back to Chamonix. We called the persion in Salzburg again and reserved a place for four nights. Then we called Jenny, but had to leave a message on her machine. We mailed post cards and walked to the train station, where we waited for the train. While we waited, two policemen came on the platform with a young boy and girl. They talked with a group of people and left with another young boy. There was a large group of people waiting for the train. It was so crowded when everyone got on that one group of young people decided to get off and wait for the next train. It was still crowded. We had a difficult time climbing over luggage to get off. While waiting for dinner, we did another load of laundry. We had dinner and wine with Caroline and Philippe. After dinner we sat outside and talked with Caroline and Philippe until 11:00.

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