Tuesday: Arrival at La Montalla It was a long drive (over 500 km/300 miles) to La Montalla, our agriturismo in Tuscany. Since most of it was on the autostrada, we got to experience sticker shock at Italian tolls–over 30 Euros due when we got off. We arrived around 3 pm, only to encounter a note that seemed to say (it was in Italian) that someone would be back at 3:30. So we decided to check out Contignano, the town nearby.
Sunday: Ötzi My original plan for the drive to Italy was to make it into an all day scenic drive. But when we woke up to another foggy, drizzly day, it seemed better to just take the shortest route, and hope the weather was better on the other side of the Alps. Anne wanted to get caches in three countries on a single day. (It’s hard to do that where we live.) So we headed back to Füssen (in Germany), where she did a couple at the Lech River falls.
Thursday: Off to the Alps Thursday morning we packed up, bid farewell to Frau Lee and and headed off for our next stop, Reutte, Austria. It was a pretty long ride and rather than heading straight there we took a slight detour to Lindau on the shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) a large alpine lake at the junction of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The weather turned out better than we expected–partly cloudy and in the 60’s.
Monday: Arrive from Rothenburg The drive from Rothenburg, mostly on the autobahn, wasn’t very interesting. Some nice vistas of bright yellow fields of rape seed (the source of canola oil), but many trucks to contend with on the highway and rain for the second half of the trip. When we got to Bacharach, it was much cooler–in the low 50’s. We checked in at Hotel Kranenturm, our base for the next few days and headed out to explore the town, or at least find dinner.
Sunday: Munich to Rothenburg After another good breakfast we bid “Auf Wiedersehen” to Munich and Hotel Uhland. This hotel was the highlight of our trip so far, with a great breakfast, friendly and helpful staff and convenient services. (They did a load of laundry for us for 12 Euro. We spent 8 Euro to do it ourselves at a laundromat in Florence.) I used the Michelin Navigation app to select a scenic route to Augsburg, where we picked up the Romantische Straße (Romantic Road), a scenic route that wends its way from Würzburg down to Füssen in the Alps.
Day 1: Thursday Our train arrived at Munich Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) at just after 6 am. We decided to see if we could find coffee and breakfast somewhere before walking to our hotel. Our first observation was that Munich is not an early rising town. We headed out of the station and found that the nearby cafes didn’t open until 7 and Burger King not until 8. So we headed back into the station and found the shopping section we’d missed the first time and there our breakfast and coffee.
Day 1: Tuesday We got to Venice on the train at about 1:30, figured out the Vaporetto (Venice mass transit equivalent of a city bus) and got to our hotel, Pensione Guerrato a little while later. After unpacking we headed out for a short vaporetta cruise (we bought the 48 hour transit pass) before heading to Rialto Bridge to meet our guide, Alessandro Schezzini for back-to-back walking tours. The first, the “offbeat” Venice tour took us on a walk through the back streets and alleys, accompanied by opinionated commentary from Alessandro.
We’ve been here almost a week and the weather has been terrific. The only rain was a sprinkle as we arrived in Florence on Saturday. Yesterday (Sunday) was cool, with highs in the 50’s. The Florentines were bundled up, but we were comfortable in jackets. Today was glorious–bright sunshine and highs in the mid 70’s. Day 3: Monday So it’s official, we didn’t allow enough time for Florence, or I didn’t plan it effectively, or both.
It’s the end of our second day in Florence. Time flies when your having fun! We’re back in our room relatively early for once–it’s only 9:15. Last night at this time we hadn’t started dinner yet! And we’re listening to the Red Sox broadcast, streaming on the Internet, since they’re playing a day game today. Florence is less overwhelming than Rome. It’s much smaller and very walkable–everything is close together and the narrow streets keep speeds under control.
Rome Day 3 We’re in Florence and here I am just starting on Rome days 3 and 4. I’ll try to get better at this. I think leaving Rome will help. Rome is so huge and bustling, that you’re tempted to always do one more thing, because there’s always one more great thing to do and you can’t possibly do them all–especially in four days. Well, life is trade-offs, and we had to make one on Thursday.
So, we’re three days into our visit and I haven’t posted anything. I plead exhaustion. Our trip was pretty uneventful, other than an hour delay on the runway at Heathrow to resolve computer problems before take-off on our leg to Rome. Day 1 We got to our hotel at around 3 pm. That was about 18 hours after we left Boylston, with perhaps two or three hours of sleep on the plane.
Internet access while travelling is pretty important to us–probably more important than mobile phone service. All of the hotels we are staying in advertise Wifi availability, but we’d really like to have internet access on our phones, for things like navigation, as well as posting to Facebook! Both Anne and I have unlocked GSM phones that support European frequencies. Our service at home is through T-Mobile, which offers “free unlimited” international roaming.
Tentative Schedule Saturday May 9 Arrive late in the day after driving from Tuscany, with a stop in Lucca along the way. We’re staying at Il Saraceno in Volastra, which has free parking. Sunday May 10 Experience the Cinque Terre. Monday May 11 Leave in the morning, drive to Nice, get car washed and drop it off. Fly home, departing at 3:25 pm. Places to go and things to do Hike the famous trails.
Sunday May 3 Arrive after driving from Reutte. We’re staying at Tirlerhof in Castelrotto (map). Monday May 4 Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. Scenic drive, perhaps the Abbreviated Dolomite Loop Drive in the Rick Steves Italy book, or one of these. Recommended road: Grande Strada delle Dolomiti – SS 48. Tuesday May 5 Long drive to Contignano, Tuscany.
Tentative Schedule Thursday April 30 Drive from Bacharach to Reutte, about 5 hours on the Autobahn. Arrive at Hotel das Beck (map). Friday May 1 Ludwig’s castles, Füssen, drive the Deutsche Alpenstrasse towards Berchtesgaten. Saturday May 2 Tram up the Zugspitze. Some hiking based on recommendation from family friend Mee’sha. Sunday May 3 Drive to Bolzano, Italy. The shortest route is over Brenner Pass. We may want to consider using Reschen Pass further west.
Tentative Schedule Sunday April 26 Leave Munich and drive the Romantic Road (map) to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Staying off the Autobahn, the trip is about 4 hours of driving. We should plan to arrive in time to check in to the hotel, get dinner and then take the Might Watchman’s Tour at 8 pm. Alternatively, we could eat afterwards. We’re staying at Hotel-Gasthof Goldener Greifen (map). They have parking available and free loaner bikes for guests!
Tentative Schedule Thursday April 23 Arrive early morning. We’re staying at the Hotel Uhland. It’s a 1.2 km walk, or we could take the 58 bus. Friday April 24 Pickup Day at BMW Welt! We’re booked for a factory tour at 11:45 and the actual pickup is at 3:30. We can use BMW’s complimentary shuttle service from the hotel to die Welt. Saturday April 25 Places to go and things
Tentative Schedule Tuesday April 21 Arrive at 1:35 pm. We’re staying at the Hotel Pensione Guerrato. To get there we’ll take the vaporetto (ferry) route 1 from the train station to Rialto Mercato. From there it’s a one minute walk to the hotel. We may want to pay €25 for a 36 hour vaporetto pass, since individual rides are €7. Evening: Alessandro Schezzini tour(s) Wednesday April 22 Depart for Munich at 8:57 pm.
Tentative Schedule Saturday April 18 Arrive 11:22 am. We’re staying at the Dei Mori B&B, about a 20 minute walk from the train station. Sunday April 19 Museums. Monday April 20 Most museums closed. Duomo, walking tour. Tuesday April 21 Depart for Venice 11:30 am. Places to go and things to do Museums: Accademia, Uffizi Gallery, Bargello Rick Steves Renaissance Walk (book page 493, podcast)
Tentative Schedule Tuesday April 14 We arrive at about noon. We will take the Leonardo Express from the airport to the Rome Termini station. I originally thought that we would want to buy SIM cards at either the airport or the station. It appears that all the cell providers have shops at Termini. But I was able to purchase cards and activate them in advance, so this shouldn’t be necessary. More on SIM cards and internet.
This post describes our planned itinerary. I will update it over time as plans change or are refined. Outline Four weeks, starting in Rome, departing from Nice. Day # Date Weekday Description Day 0 April 13 Monday Leave Boston Day 1 April 14 Tuesday Arrive in Rome at Noon Day 2 April 15 Wednesday Rome Day 3 April 16 Thursday Day 4 April 17 Friday Day 5 April 18 Saturday Train to Florence in am Day 6 April 19 Sunday Florence Day 7 April 20 Monday Day 8 April 21 Tuesday Train to Venice in am Day 9 April 22 Wednesday Venice, overnight train to Munich at 9 pm Day 10 April 23 Thursday Arrive Munich 7 am Day 11 April 24 Friday Munich, Pickup Day, Factory tour at 11:45, pickup at 3:30 Day 12 April 25 Saturday Munich Day 13 April 26 Sunday Drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber Day 14 April 27 Monday Rothenburg.
After quite a bit of research and discussion, we have at least the outline of a plan for the trip. Originally, my thought was to pick up the car in Munich, drive south through Austria to Venice, then on to Rome and Florence, making stops in the countryside (Umbria and Tuscany) along the way. Then head back up through Switzerland to Germany and finish our sightseeing there before dropping the car back in Munich and flying home.
I’ve been working at Constant Contact since March of 2005. One cool benefit we have is a paid one month sabbatical (in addition to regular vacation) after ten years of service. Around the holidays last December it occurred to me that mine was coming up and I ought to start thinking about how to spend it. Anne and I have done only a little overseas travel. We went to Vienna, Budapest and Prague in 2000, had a long weekend in London right before I started at Constant Contact in 2005 and went to Paris for a week in 2013.