“The Hills Are Alive,” The Lake and Mountain District, Salzburg

The hills are alive, in Austria!

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Yes, we are now in the home of the Sound of Music, Salzburg, Austria!  If that’s what you guessed from the previous blog, you are right!

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It is the 50th Anniversary of the release of the Sound of Music Movie, and Salzburg is where they filmed most of the movie!

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Many of you probably know that there are sing-a-longs all over the country now, which are mostly held around Christmas time.  Here is a picture of us with me friend, Nora, at the sing-a-long at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

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My Mom got first prize for “The Baroness!”  We got second prize for “a drink with jam and bread.”  And Mama G yodeled as the “Goatherd.

Many people dress up for these sing-a-longs!”

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“A Drink With Jam and Bread”

Hundreds of thousands of tourists come here just to go on the Sound of Music tour, which was made only for the purpose of people seeing all the different places where everything was filmed.

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The Dome used for the Monastery

My parents went on this tour with me when I was a baby and decided it would be a great experience for me to remember now that I am older.

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Remember the Children Hanging from Trees?

The first stop was a the lake where Maria and the children fall into the water from the boat.

Did you know that the child that played Gretl couldn’t swim, so Julie Andrews was supposed to grab her when the boat tipped over.

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Well, Julie fell to the back of the boat and Gretl fell to the front, so Gretl was drowning until another one of the Von Trapp children grabbed her.

Another fun fact is that there were three different Von Trapp mansion sets used in the movie. One was by the lake, which was used as the back of the house, the second used as the front, which was three miles away; and, the last was a set in Hollywood for the inside of the house.

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This is the house used for the front of the house when Maria first arrives at house.

After the “backyard house”, we went to the gazebo used in the song “Sixteen going on Seventeen.”

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The thing that is funny is that they filmed if from the outside, but the inside was filmed in another Hollywood set because the real thing was too small for the dance.

We then went into the mountains which are called the Lake and Mountain District, but we couldn’t go to the mountains scene in the beginning of the movie, because it is on private property.

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The next stop, after a ride of laughter and singing to the “Sound of Music” songs, was the church where Maria got married to the Captain.

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It was quite beautiful. After the church, my Mom’s and I enjoyed an ice cream cone and took a break.

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The Store Manager

At the end of the tour we went to the Mirabella Gardens where most of the Do-Re-Mi song were filmed.

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We had fun acting out the scenes from that song.  We are going to dub it to music soon!

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After the tour, we went to another cool park for more fun time.

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Watch the 5-second Gazebo video — so after the Gazebo — Another Weeeee!!!

Well, as they say, “So Long, Farewell!”

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Buddies in Budapest!

Alert! Alert! The Harding-Davis family has arrived in Budapest, Hungary!

This is our friend Andy’s, birthplace, so we met our Swiss buddies, Andy and Ara, here for some more of our European experience.

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Remember our friends from Switzerland?

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If you didn’t know, Budapest is the capital of and the largest city in Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union.

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Now, I think that you should see your thirst to learn, unless you are already Hungary for more (get it?)

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Our first night, Andy and Ara brought us to experience a medieval restaurant called Sir Lancelot.  It was everything that you would imagine a medieval restaurant would be:

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Fire eaters, sword fighters, suits of armor, and even some drunk people singing happy birthday.

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There were some dancers standing on tables, and people slamming plates on the wall like cavemen!

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We laughed a lot at Sir Lancelot!

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Sir Lancelot serenaded me with the famous Hungarian song, “Susu a Sarkany.”  Have a listen below….you will hear people start to sing along…..

Crazy, right?

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No silverware at this restaurant!

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So, we decided to be crazy, too!

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Thank you, sir!

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Look at all the food!

One big advantage we had is that our apartment is right next to the Danube River and the Parliament Building, as well as bikes, trams, boats and the metro for transportation.

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Many thanks to Andy’s family –  you may remember they are Hungarian-Swiss.  And we got to call their Parliament Apartment home during our time in Budapest!

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My room

it was an awesome, safe, and quiet place to be!

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My parents’ room

We loved coming home to a nice comfortable apartment and to air conditioning!

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The Parliament Building is lit up in a very beautiful way, and the light attracts bugs, which means that there will be birds diving and sweeping all around.  At night it looked really cool.

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All those white dots are illuminated birds!

The restoration of the building took many years, but we got to see it completed.  It is beautiful — at night and during the day, too.

During our first few days, we decided to take another hop on and hop off bus tour, so that we could get to know the city.

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We passed by many famous sites such as the opera house, the castle, and the well-known market hall.

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Since it was so hot every day, we stopped to get ice cream.

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Andy and Ara knew of a place where we could get ice cream that is shaped like a flower.

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You can get one, two or three flavors – they just keep adding flower pedals.

I wonder how long it takes to train and make this amazing shape of an ice cream cone?

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There was a second day as part of our bus tour, so we took another route to see more of the city.

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There was also a deal that was provided as part of the bus tour where we could rent bikes on Margarit Island.

We enjoyed touring the island with Andy and Ara.  Margarit Island is beautiful. There are fountains, similar to the Bellagio; that dance to music – although they didn’t do the same things or go quite as high as the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

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All of the trees, grass, and water made the scene very pretty.

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Boy, what a great way to spend our first few days with our buddies in Budapest!

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Off we go, again!

Salt Mines in Salzburg, Austria

Yodelay hee hoo!

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Let’s gather ‘round and listen to the story about our stay in Salzburg, Austria!

IMG_8082But first the train ride from Zurich to Salzburg was about 4 hours long, and nothing short of amazing!

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Here is window view from our place, right in the center of Salzburg

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We stayed in this lovely apartment for 4 days and 3 nights

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It’s not every day you look out your window and see a castle!

Once in Salzburg, one of the first things we wanted to do was go to the the Salzbergwerks (Salt Mines), which is actually just over the Austrian border in Germany!

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It was so hot outside, that when we went into the salt mines it felt like it was 0 degrees fahrenheit underground. We got to ride on a mining train to our first destination way deep in the mountain through several tunnels and mine shafts!

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We had to wear these suits because sometimes salt drips on you

To get salt, they fill caverns up with water and let the salt disintegrate into the water, which is a process of about thirty years.  Then, when the water goes down, the salt solidifies into crystals which can be taken and made into edible salt.

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Did you know that salt is what made Salzburg so wealthy?  I have a feeling that you are enjoying my fun facts, so I have a pretty good one here.  Did you know that these salt mines are older than the United States? They are about 500 years old and the U.S. is only 249 years old.

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It’s true!  And they are still in operation!

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It was really fun to go down giant slides to get deeper underground.

One of my favorite things that we did in the salt mine was Mirror Lake, which seems like it is not there, because it is the spitting image of everything around it. It was quite beautiful when the engineer put on a light show because , as you can imagine, all the lights reflected into amazing patterns.  Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the salt mines — trade secrets and all that!

After the Salzbergwerks, we took the bus back to Salzburg.

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My Mom wanted to go to the famous Monk’s brewery that our host recommended.

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So she went to check this out and experience the Monk’s homemade brew, and beer garden.

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Different food stations for all kinds of cuisine for your enjoyment

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Indoor Beer Hall

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But everyone was outside because it was such a lovely evening!

At the same time, my Mama and I went to the top of a hill and got great views of Salzburg.

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Another fairy tale!

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Later, we had a dessert at a famous hotel called Hotel Sacher.

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SWEET!

As you can see,  I enjoyed a little “shadow dancing” as you will see….

The next day in the morning we walked down our little lane right to Mozart’s Home.

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Geburtshaus means “birth house.”

It was really interesting to learn how much composing he did in such a short lifetime.

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Furniture from the Mozart family’s home

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One of “The Magic Flute” sets.  BTW, stay tuned for more Magic Flute stuff from Vienna, too!

After Mozart —  later in the day……there is a second really big reason we came to Salzburg, which I will tell you about in my next post…..  It is the 50th Anniversary of……can you guess???  There is a big hint in this picture:

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Recognize anything? Yes, pretend you hear us singing!

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“Watch” Now for Lake Lucerne

We are going on a day trip, people!

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Let’s go to Lake Lucerne!

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Andy and Ara recommended this beautiful town.

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To get there we took the train and then a beautiful boat ride across Lake Lucerne to get the cog railway to Mt. Rigi.

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After that, you take a cog railway up to the top of Mt. Rigi – this is part of the many ski areas in Switzerland.

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We took a cog railway because the slope is so steep, the train has to have something to grab on to – so the gears of the cog, grab onto the track.

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This reminds me of my birthplace, Colorado Springs, where you can take a cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak.

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On the way up, and especially at the top,you get the most lovely, awesome, beautiful views of the Swiss Alps, Lake Lucerne, the towns below, and all of the beautiful peaks, like the Eiger, Frau, and more…

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The north face of the Eiger is known as the most notorious face in the world, and is referred to as the “Wall of Death”! Yikes!

We had just turned around when we heard the sound of bells, cowbells, to be exact.

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I bet that this is cow heaven in the Alps, with the beautiful views, fresh air and with all that grass, I would turn green.

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After the descent on the cog from Rigi, we took a steamboat back to the city.

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Yes, those white dots are boats on Lake Lucerne

The steamboat has been restored and the engine was beautiful to see.

In town of Lucerne, we went to the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe as well as the world oldest surviving truss bridge.

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It was built in 1333 and was partially burned in 1993.  A very generous person donated all the money to have it rebuilt in its original form.

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I wanted to know what made a truss bridge a truss bridge and found out it is a bridge whose load-bearing superstructure is made of a structure of connected elements forming triangular units.

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By the way, the Golden Gate bridge is another example of a truss bridge.

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After a great day in Lucerne, we travelled back to Zurich and had a peaceful night’s sleep.

Throughout the week, we continued our crazy fun with Andy and Ara!

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Who looks the weirdest?

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This is the tram we took every day from A&A’s place to head out for the day

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Another day, we also took a short trip to Uetliberg,  There is a tower at the top, with great views of Lake Zurich, and hiking/walking trails everywhere.

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My Mom is coming back to Switzerland and she said she wants to do some hiking here.

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The Swiss Alps just make you want to hike and yodel!

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, too!  Cows  +  Milk  =  Milk Chocolate!

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Swiss cows + Swiss ice cream (Movenpick) and Swiss Chocolate!

BTW – if you guessed this Swatch is the one I picked, you are correct!  🙂

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“Time” to go to Switzerland!

Tick tock…

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Oh, hello everybody!  What time is it?  It’s “time” to go to Switzerland.

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We traveled through Milan for a brief stop in this beautiful train station.

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As you might have guessed, we are now in Zürich, Switzerland.

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I met a really nice Swiss girl, Sydney, on the train to Zug and taught her how to play “Go Fish!”

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Sydney and I drew and played cards for hours!

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We are graciously being hosted by our friends, Andy and Ara.

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Right-Andy, is Swiss Hungarian; and, Left-Ara, is Swiss Armenian

My mom, Ginny, met Andy and Ara through our friend, Pam, who is the percussionist in the San Francisco-based band, “Blame Sally.”  Andy and Ara flew on an overnight flight from Lausanne, Switzerland, to San Francisco, to see Blame Sally perform their first public television special, on KVIE in Sacramento!

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Out to dinner in the “old town” of Zurich

They immediately struck up a friendship, and the rest of us are so glad to finally meet each other.

We went out to dinner together the first night, and then, walked around and enjoyed some night views of Zurich.

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The Limmat River empties into Lake Zurich

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The “Hauptbahnhof” (train station) in Zurich. Boy, am I glad my Mom can speak German!

Since we were so fast-paced in Greece and Italy, it was time to hang out – thank goodness we had Zürich and some pretty slow going and rest time.

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You guessed it – another night we had one of our favorites, a BBQ with Andy and Ara

One of the first things we did hear that might interest you, was go to a church and climb up the tower, to experience a great view of the city, and Lake Zürich.

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Climbing the Clocktower for the View

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St. Peter, Zürich, an 8.7-meter clock, built in 1534, is the biggest church clock face in the world

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Zurich is a beautiful, well-preserved city!

Another day we went to the National Museum of Switzerland.

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As you can imagine, they have a very cool display of their famous winter sports!

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You can guess what these were used for.

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Original snowmaking equipment on left, and yes an old “T-Bar”

It was hot, even in Switzerland, so we also went swimming in Lake Zürich.

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This was a great, fun local experience!

There were two diving boards that were 5 meters high, and there was a platform so high that I almost backed away.

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But I did it!

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There was also a really long slide that turned and twisted and emptied into the lake.  Waiting for my turn, I met two really nice kids from New York.  We had fun playing together.

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Since Switzerland is known for its clocks, we went to a famous Swiss watch store. — OK, not Rolex, not…, But Swatch!

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The one I chose is in the bottom row – can you guess which one?

Swatch stands for Swiss Watch. Andy works for them.

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Watches at the Museum

Ara is a lawyer, and my Mom told me he specializes in corporate immigration.  Check out this nice feature article about him!

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Andy, Ara and I love Despicable Me and the minions, so they invited me to go see the new minions movie!

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My parents went to a great restaurant called, “Drei Stuben.”

While my moms had a date night (The first in four months!), Andy and Ara and I had a great time at the movie, enjoying popcorn and fountains, and of course, the movie.

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Andy and Ara are so nice….

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Andy modeling the apron we got for them in South Africa

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I can’t wait to see them again in Budapest.

I love Switzerland!

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Tuscan Fun

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Only open for lunch, and packed all the time, so get there early!

The day after the trip to Lucca and Pisa, we went to a place in Florence, that is famous for it’s Florentine steaks!

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At the restaurant, we met and sat with a very nice man, Victor. He lives part time in his home in Florence and part time in Florida.

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We went to the famous market in the square to pick up some fresh food —-

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We are in the Tuscany region of Italy, which is very famous for food and wine.

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We also go to the train stations to book our train tickets to the next stop in advance.  Every time we go to a train station, I go to the book store and get a reading fix…..plus the bookstores are usually air conditioned!

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Everywhere we went, there are incredible Culinary Choices — My Mom and I wish we had some of this stuff for the International Cooking Class we teach at my school!

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That evening we took a bus to see amazing views of Florence from the top of a nearby hill as the sun was setting.

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Beautiful Tuscany

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It looks like a fairy tale!

Of course, we had our gelato for the day!

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The last day, we went to the Galleria Academia.

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This is the museum that has Michaelangelo’s most famous sculpture in the world, “The David”  on exhibit.

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“The David”

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This sculpture was meant to sit on the top of a building, so some body parts are larger, like the head and hands.

Two sculptors turned down the commission to make something out of this block of marble, because it was so difficult to work with, but Michelangelo took on the challenge.

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There are other pieces of Michelangelo’s on exhibit here, too.  Remember, Florence is his birthplace.

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Many of Michelangelo’s peers have their art on exhibit here, too.

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There is also a fabulous display of musical instruments, which were used for teaching and by the students at “The Academy,” which was a school for artists and musicians.

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This one is for you Pam!

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All in all, Florence was a great place to see some fantastic history and culture, and of course, to eat and drink!

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We are off in the morning on another train, to a very watery, wet place…..in Italy……can you guess where?

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Another train station break!

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The Venetian Way

Hello Everybody!     We are in Venice!

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The Famous Grand Canal is Behind Us

You know, the place with canals instead of roads and boats instead of cars?

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This is a public water taxi and taxi stop

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Our hotel was a JW Marriott which is a resort. It was really cool.

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My Moms have a lot of Marriott points that we have been using for special stays on the trip, and we love it!

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At this JW, they gave us a private villa with a hot tub in the yard.

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The whole Marriott is on its own private island.  It used to be a huge hospital facility.

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The view from my room 🙂

I Ioved it!

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It was so hot, that most of the time, we just stayed at the hotel, but of course, we did venture out.

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Each way we had to take the Marriott’s Water Taxi to the mainland of Venice!  It was really fun!

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The first day we went up a tower used by Galileo himself! It had excellent views of the city….

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and a beautiful plaza below.

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Some superstitious locals won’t walk between the columns (constructed by the same architect as the Rialto Bridge) because criminals used to be executed here until the mid 18th century

Another time we went on a gondola, which is a type of boat that Venice is famous for.

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Our gondalier was great and he even told us some history about the area.

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He took us through small quiet canals and also onto the Grand Canal where we saw the famous Rialto Bridge.

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The Rialto Bridge, which is currently under renovation

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I always dreamed of being on a gondola ride in Venice.  But actually being on one was just way better than I imagined!

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There is something very calming about the water everywhere.

Everyone should try it at least once in their lives.

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After the gondola ride we went to a restaurant recommended by our friends, the Pattersons.

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No surprise, do you see I am enjoying pasta and clams — Again!

We were so bummed out because the Pattersons were in Venice only a few days before us, but we didn’t know it!

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After dinner, we stopped by the famous square, that we saw from the tower view, Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s) and listened to live music from several different outdoor dining areas.

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I think they call them feuding musicians.  Have a listen right here!

It was fun to run from one side of the plaza to the other listening to them play.

On our way back on the Marriott yacht, we met a family from New Jersey. The next day I met their kids at the pool and we had a great time ( while my Moms packed)!

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I loved Venice, Italy…..and not just because I am a swimmer and love water!  The fun, the food and the lovely city all in one!

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Yes, this really is all of our Round-the-World Luggage!

We took the Marriott Water Shuttle to a public water taxi back to the train station to head out of Venice.  Next stop, Switzerland!

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