S: Italy May 3 - 21, 2011
FC: Italy May 2011
1: And We're Off.......
2: FRIENDS | Bryon, Scot, Bill and Christine | Bill | Bryon | Scot | Christine
3: This is the tale of our trip to Italy. We started the trip with 4 and ended the trip with 4; no one was left behind, on purpose, or otherwise. The travelers were Bryon Cline, Scot Weeks and Bill & Christine Bennett. The trip started relatively uneventful aside from a private strip search for Bill by TSA.....seems as though you do need to take off your belt through security, even if there is no metal buckle. Bill has managed to recovered from the trauma OK. A few statistics from the trip include: 4 flights, 2 boat rides, 6+ train rides, 4-6 bus rides, multiple subway rides, 8 city's and accommodations over 18 days. We drank countless bottles of wine and ate our fill of cheese, cold cuts, bread, pizza and Gelato. | Bill pouting in the corner after his strip search. | Scot, way too excited to get on the plane!! | BCline and Christine acting normal
4: Venice | Boats and Water
5: We arrived in Venice on the morning of May 4th, hopped on the Vaporetto which is the local ferry from the airport to the island of Venice. We had directions (which is a loose term) to our apartment but got hopelessly lost trying to find it. All of the channels and bridges start to look the same and there is no rhyme or reason to the address scheme. After we got ourselves situated we found a restaraunt in the closest piazza and had our first spritz, a little food and watched the locals go by.
6: The architecture in Venice is amazing, we spent the second day touring and wandering. We visited St. Mark's square where we toured St. Mark's Basilica and The Doge's Palace. We meandered along narrow passageways and streets eventually ending up at a local hangout for lunch. There was a whole group of macho Gondoliers here on their lunch break.
7: From our lunch break we wandered towards the Rialto Bridge through the local fruit market, which was used in a scene form the movie The Tourist and made a pit stop at one of the favorite gelato stands GROM. Since the train station was close we stopped by to print our our tickets for the next days trip. We hopped on the Vaporetto for a trip down the Grand Canal and made our way back to the apartment. Today is May 6th and it is time to make our way towards Torino. We got ourselves going and made our way on foot towrds the trian staton. Who knew the protest we got caught up in alog the way would be a sign of things to come on our day for train travel.
8: Fruit stand near our apartment | The walk to the train station | Coffee Stop | Protesters on the way to the train station | More Protesters | Safely at the train station
9: Turin The Giro d'Italia Begins and the Alpini too!!
10: We made it safely to the train station in Venice and boarded our train for our first class ride to Torino. We had to stop and change trains in Milan along the way. Everything was on track, we arrived in Milan, had a short layover and boarded the next train to Torino. We were waiting for our departure when we were all ask to leave the train. None of us new our Italian very well but we figured out the reader board read "Strike until 6:00pm. | So we grab a bottle of wine and go take a short walk around Milan, ending up at a park next to the train station. Strikes in Italy do not last very long. The next thing we know, trains were starting to depart. We hopped on the first train that was headed to Torino because we didn't want to take any chances. This train was a crowded, crummy commuter train. We spent the next 2 hours in misery!!
11: Yay....we made it to Torino, now all we have to do is find our hotel. So far our hotel finding track record is not very good and that continues here to. It was a lot furthur from the train staton than it looked on the map, but with the help of some Non-English speaking Alpini's and a shop keeper we finally found it. | Alpini's were the big draw in Torino this weekend. If you can imagine a combination of Peter Pan, The Sound of Music and a motorcycle gang in cute felt caps, then you have the Alpini's. They were in Torino by the thousands to help celebrate Italy's 150 years of unificaton. The Giro is only a very small part of that!! As we were walking to our hotel, a caravan of Giro team Busses went right by us as the teams all arrrive for the Team Time Trial tomorrow.
12: May 7, 2011, Today we divide and conquer. Bryon and Scot head north to the TTT start and Bill & I head south into down town Torino to get 2 perspectives on the race.. While Bryon and Scot immersed themselves in the start festivities. Bill and Christine got a taste of the Alpini Convention and the Teams as they flew by on the course. Bryon and Scot get an up close and personal view of the teams getting ready, weighing and measuring bikes to qualify for the start of the race. They could just about walk right up to the riders as they were getting ready. Bill and Christine master the use of Italian public transportation and spend the day joining in the Alpini festivities and watching the Giro teams fly by at top speed through town as they struggle to keep it all together until the finish of the race. They start with 9 riders on the team and must finish with 7 for their race to be valid at the finish. Not all teams made it. After our days activities we met up to compare notes and grab some dinner. We all made our way downtown to find a restaurant to rest our weary feet and grab some grub but with all of the Alpini we couldn't find an empty table anywhere, Back to the hotel we go.
14: May 8, 2011 This is a travel day between Torino and Rapallo. We get a slow start to the day with a late breakfast at the Hotel. We are a week into the trip and it is time to do some laundry. Fortunately, there is a lavanderia just down the street from our hotel it was only a minor challenge to figure out how to run the machines that have Italian instructions. We do a couple loads and we are on our way. We hop on the bus and head towards the train station to catch our train to Rapallo. No hiccups here, other than the electronic ticket machines being down. Scot hopped into line quick to get our tickets, we pick-up some of our normal travel fair, 3 bottles of wine and some food for the trip. Bill was even able to find a salad.!! We sit back and enjoy the trip.
15: Rapallo Stage 3 Finish May 9th Giro d'Italia 2011
16: Our Hotel Lido Italia Rapallo with view of the castle.
17: Rapallo is a small resort town on the Italian Riviera. This is the destination of choice for European vacationers, we did not run into many English speakers during our stay here. This is our Hotel literally on the finish stretch of this stage of the Giro about 400 yards from the finish line. Our rooms had decks that just about hung over the waters edge with a view of the castle. We got situated in our rooms and went for a stroll along the promenade and through the quaint town. We stop at a small cafe for a spritz and appetizers before dinner.