Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Floating Labyrinth of Venice

Chapter 5 - Venezia, Italia
Venice is a maze! We put our map away confident in the fact that all roads lead to San Marco. Yes they do but it will take some time to find. You seem to burst out from the labyrinth of cobble stoned lane ways to the beautiful grand canal. The sensory overload is too much!

When I saw the above image in front of me I had to capture it. For me this picture embodies Venice. I had but a second to take this before the gondoliers started trying to drum up business. The lamp post, water, gondolas and gondoliers is pure Venice for me.

Basilica Di San Marco instills faith and religion in you just by looking at it. The gold mosaics are blinding, the art, the religion, the history. It is here, it is everywhere, it is overwhelming. I pray (how can you not?).
I could not get enough of Venice, it is a unique and amazing place. As we walked around St Mark's square and the music from a nearby band were playing, I grabbed Ad and started dancing. That is what this country does to you...It makes you dance (alot of that dancing was on the inside) and as cliche as it is, it really does make your heart sing. Even now when I look at images or hear stories from Italy, my heart skips a beat and I am back...why on earth did it take me so long to get here?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wherefore art thou Verona?

Chapter 4 - Verona, Italia

View of the main entrance to Verona from the Arena.

"There is no wall without Verona walls

but purgatory, torture, hell itself

Hence banished is banish'd from the world

and worlds exile is death" - Shakespeare

A Juliet moment in the Arena

We enter the history steeped country of Italy, I can hardly contain my excitement. A country I have longed to see, Verona does not disappoint. Home to Romeo and Juliet, how can you not fall in love with this city.

I could not wait to hit the streets of Verona when we arrived. As you enter the gates of Verona you are literally taken to another world. The beautiful pink marble of the Arena takes centre stage as you pass a number of trattoria's to explore the cobble stoned streets and beyond.

The churches, the bridges, the architecture it is all so breathtaking. I loved the terracotta skyline of Verona, beauty even in rooftops!

Another recommendation from my father-in-law was the grand Giusti gardens. As you enter through the high stone walls it is like walking into the secret garden. In the heart of a busy town lies this lush oasis. We only shared this with a few other couples and I am sure this must be one of Verona's best kept secrets!

The Veronise are a smart crowd. I loved sitting at one of the small trattoria's sipping a glass of Prosecco and watching the passing parade. It would seem that everyone here is beautifully groomed (you can spot the tourists and the locals for this reason). bicycles are still a main choice of transport here, and the city really lends itself to it. I do become slightly panicked at Adam's suggestion of hiring some bikes to tour the city. This is Italy and I have not yet worked out the pedestrian vs bikes vs vespas vs cars! I think foot is the safest choice for us (OK me) for now!
Italia my heart is forever at your service...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Alpine Wonderland of Innsbruck

Chapter 3 - Innsbruck
Innsbruck is postcard perfect!

The snowcapped mountains, the crystal clear, turquoise blue river Inn that snakes through the city, the pretty pastel houses that line the river and of course the golden roof in the town centre. Everywhere you look is breathtakingly beautiful

We only had a few days here but I loved it. We went to a Tirrolean show that was alot of fun (another must do from my Father-in-law). We walked through the town, took the lift 2334 meters up the Hafelekarspitze mountain, and really just took in the view and enjoyed a lunch time wine or two. Simply stunning!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Hills are Alive in Salzburg

Chapter 2 - Salzburg

It was a very cold Salzburg that we rolled into, around 5 degrees. But wow what a city. The beautiful shops (the best shoe shop I have ever been in and there have been a few) the markets, the fortress, Hellbrun Palace, Mirabell gardens it is all just so much. The changing colours of Autumn add to the beauty and majesty of this city.

The gorgeous women with scarves of all colours (yes I have to have one!), the boots (those too) and jackets ahhh just so beautiful. The dress code here seems to be smart, no casual about it. My kind of city!

I was not prepared to fall in love with Austria but I am completely taken by this beautiful country and I have not yet been to my dream country of Italy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Vienesse Waltz in Vienna

Vienna Street Scapes

The Danube River

Chapter 1
Austria - Vienna

My first European trip was in October 2008. We land in the beautiful country of Austria, with Vienna being our first port of call. It took my breath away!

My Father-in-law had insisted that we 'take an extra week' and go to Austria. We were originally just going to Italy. Austria was not a country that came to mind as a must to see, but after seeing it, she truly is a must. This is the first chapter in the storybook land of Austria.

The Danube River was our first stop (ah... didn't quite read the map right). We thought we were heading to old, historic Vienna....No we were actually heading to the UNO city in Vienna. Glad we did the 5km or so by-pass to the Danube though. It's all an adventure!

The street scapes are amazing. I couldn't take my eyes off the skyline. Every building is decorated and topped with amazing sculptures. The detail, the history and the age of these buildings is hard to comprehend.

Schonbrunn Palace is an imposing, grandoise structure. The story of strong, influential women in this palace is amazing to hear for the 1700's. Maria Theresa with her 16 children became known as Europe's mother-in-law. The marriages of her children were carefully orchestrated to ensure her power base grew. She only allowed one of her children to marry for love.

A Vienesse Waltz is a good discription as we went around and around and around this city time and time again. I had the best coffee I have ever had at Schonbrunn Palace, the bratwurst hotdogs are to die for and the apple strudel are plentiful. Thank heaven for the walking.