S: Trip to Italy -2010
FC: Italy April 20, 2010 to May 1, 2010
1: Volcanoes. It began with a volcano; it ended with a volcano. Blog Entry Monday April 19, 2010 - Stuck! Right now I should be on a cruise in the Aegean Sea. But I'm not. You see, the cruise left Venice on Saturday and we (me, Robert, Christian, and Robert's brother - Aaron) were stuck in Paris. I shall explain... There is a volcano in Iceland, whose name no one can pronounce (Eyjafjallajokull). This particular volcano began erupting last week spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere which was then blown over most of Europe. This meant pretty much all of European airspace was a huge no-fly zone, grounding airplanes and closing nearly all airports on the Continent and British Isles. Here is where our problems began. We had a flight on Friday afternoon (April 16). We figured this would give us a full day of wiggle room to get down to our cruise if our flight was delayed, or if for some reason we needed to take a train to make it to the cruise in time. But our flight was not delayed, it was canceled...along with every other flight in Paris. Apparently, the other thousands of passengers who had their flights canceled had the same ideas we did: get a train. Not so fast! To compound this problem the French rail workers (SNCF) were on strike. I think this mostly meant that trains traveling just within France were directly affected, but in any case it made it even more difficult to get a train. In summary, the other stranded airline passengers got to the trains first, so all the trains were full until well into the next week. That meant no one could get trains to London, the Netherlands, Brussels, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, southern France, etc. So, we looked into our other option: renting a car. Well, again, with thousands of airline passengers stranded and all the trains full, the cars were sold out pretty fast. Grrrr. Okay, maybe a bus. Called the bus line - next available bus was Wednesday. What was our last option: take a taxi. Well, with Robert laughing hysterically at the prospect, Aaron called a few taxi companies. The quote: $2000 to take us to Venice. Okay, so that was not really a realistic option. Our trip was going to include this cruise and then about a week in Italy. This is Robert's Spring Break and we had been saving our travels until now since he has had so much school work. We are still trying to get to Italy so that it isn't a total loss of a vacation. We get no refund on the cruise, and now have to pay for hotels and food on top of that. But we really want a vacation while we're here. Our flight is rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon, so we'll see if planes are flying by then. Plus we have a back up plan to get a rental car (now that some are being returned). Until then we will just hang out in Paris. I know, that doesn't sound too bad. But it is certainly not the same. We cleaned out the fridge before our flight, so we're eating frozen dinners from the grocery store - instead of cruise buffet food or Greek spanikopitas and gyros or authentic Italian food (sigh). Christian is going nuts because we're taking up all of his (small) play space in the apartment with our luggage - which he tries to unpack for us. And we're trying to see things that we haven't seen yet, like Sainte Chappelle and the Pantheon. They are much lower on the list than Italy or Greece, but I guess it's our best option.
2: Well, our rescheduled flight was also canceled. So we rented a car and drove from Paris down through Marseilles and Nice, over to Monaco, and then to Pisa, Florence, and finally, Venice where we resumed what we had planned for the rest of our trip.
3: Along the beach in Nice, France. The beach along the French Riviera was much more rocky than we expected. The waves crashing on the rocks scared Christian, who normally loves water. He did enjoy playing with the rocks, though.
4: April 20, 2010 Nice, France
5: April 21, 2010 Pisa, Italy We stopped in Pisa, of course. Here you can even see the cable they use to keep the Tower from falling over!
7: Florence April 22, 2010 Ponte Vecchio bridge, Medici Chapels. The Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell' Accademia (where the David is located) were free because it was Italian Culture Week!
8: Climbing the Duomo
10: April 23-25, 2010 Venice, Italy
11: The Grand Canal at Night Bottom left: Rialto Bridge
13: From Bottom Left: In front of Basilica di San Marco with the Doge's Palace to the right, inside Basilica San Marco - Pala d'Oro gold altar screen, another view of Basilica di San Marco
14: April 24, 2010 Piazza San Marco
15: Diana met us in Venice!
16: These pictures were as close as we got to riding in a gondola. They were super expensive - around 90 Euro for 30 minutes (that was like $130-140)!
17: Rome, April 26 Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon | Arch of Constantine
18: Christian much preferred to walk around and play with the rocks over sight-seeing.
19: The Snyder Siblings | By the huge Basilica of Constantine.
20: Pantheon Christian was not happy we would not let him run around.
22: In Rome, April 27, 2010 Basilica di San Paolo (St. Paul's Basilica)
23: "EXALTATA EST AD CAELESTIA REGNA" Exaltation is in the Celestial Kingdom. | "...BAPTISMVM IN MORTEM." Something about baptism for the dead. Hmmm. Interesting.
24: Vatican City April 27, 2010 Vatican Museums | The goddess Diana...and her statue.
25: Pictures of the Sistine Chapel are not allowed, so this is in part of the museum just prior to the Chapel.
26: Inside St. Peter's Cathedral.
27: One of the Swiss Guard. Too bad it was raining and his rain gear covered his uniform. You could only see his colorful socks. Outside of St. Peter's
28: April 28, 2010 Trevi Fountain
29: Spanish Steps April 28, 2010 Christian splashed so much at the Trevi fountain we had to take his wet pants off and dry them on the hot sidewalk.
30: April 30, 2010 Pompeii We were lucky to get any pictures of Pompeii since the camera battery was almost dead. | Baths by the Forum
31: Our trip began and ended with a volcano. The Icelandic volcano began our adventure and here we are in front of Mt. Vesuvius the last day of our adventure before we flew back to Paris.