A Travellerspoint blog

Lucca day 1

Monday April 11th flixbus, Megabus, and the train all failed me they either didn't go from Milano to Lucca today, or we're asking more money than I was willing to spend so I used BlahBlahCar.com. It's available throughout Europe, and is in America but isn't as well known there. A gentleman was going from Milano to Viareggio. Viareggio is on the coast a quick like 20 minute train ride from Lucca so it was perfect for me.

When I got to Lucca it was around noon, and Kay a friend of my host mom, who I was staying with while there wouldn't be home from work till 7ish. This means that me and my rolling overnight bag had all afternoon to explore. I walked from the train station to the old part of Lucca which took literally like 5 minutes, and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring. I stopped for lunch, wondered around the entire city within the walls at least, and wandering around on top of the walls part of the time as well. Pretty sure I saw pretty much everything that was worth it to see within the walls in those 7 hours. A place any visitor needs to see is the Anfiteatro Romano, which is famous because it's basically a oval shaped Piazza. There are four tunnels leading from the street to the center of the Piazza and they go through the first floor of the buildings because the buildings themselves make a complete oval. This is a nice place to stop late afternoon for a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of local wine, always drink local wine when you are in Italy.

Eventually she got home from work I found the house she showed me around and then she introduced me to her youngest son. Her older son came home with her husband later we all had dinner and then we all called it a night. Kay speaks no English but her husband does and their boys speak a little. The older boy speaks an OK amount, the youngest one can tell me I speak little English and then count to 10 but he leaves out number 8. I was with them for 4 days, well let's say two and half and not count the days I arrived, and departed. The entire time her son kept repeating his numbers to me and no matter how much I tried to correct him the number 8 never made it into the count it was adorable.

Posted by Bonnie7825 05:05 Archived in Italy Tagged italy traveling au_pair Comments (0)

Switzerland

Sunday April 10th today I have a trip up to Switzerland it's the Swiss Alps Bernina Express rail tour from Milan. I booked it on viator.com before I got there, however if you go to the tourist information center you can book it there as well.

We all got on the bus out in front of the tourist information Centre and went up to some small restaurant on the side of the highway that we stop that I know are going to happen and we got a chance to stretch get breakfast with cute little restaurant even have a play area for kids. Then we continued on to a village about 10 minutes from Tirano, there we saw an older church that has a hand carved wooden organ. It was interesting to see but I wouldn't go all the way to that village just to see it.

We then continued on to Tirano, which is located at the foothills of the Swiss Alps, and is where we were going to get on the train that would take us up to St. Mortiz. Some people bought lunch with the tour, some of us didn't. A group of about five of us got gelato, then wondered around the little village together before some of them went to lunch, while a Gentleman, and I went to lunch together. After everyone was done eating and wandering around we met outside of the train stopped and we got on the train.

When we first got on the train the villages we passed clearly we're in springtime; green grass, families sitting in the backyards, flowers blooming, & the rivers were flowing. The farther up we went the more it became winter. We passed multiple lakes on the way that were frozen over, with snow all around. The only ones I can remember the names of are Black Lake, & the white Lake. Both were frozen.

Our tour guide kept telling us nobody get off even for photos at the stops because the train does not stay in the station long enough and he doesn't want anyone to be left behind. Well at one stop I said the snow is close enough you can almost touch it from the train. Our guide went over to the door, pushed the button to open it and told me if I want snow I better be fast. I ran for the door jumped off the train, and grab the snow. Anna leaned out the window and asked me to give her a handful so I gave her the snow I was holding and went over to the Hillside and grab another handful before jumping back on the train. Right after the door shut behind me we left the station. Best stop yet. We all passed the snow around it to each other, they laughed while I jumped off to grab it but still played with it once it was there. As it started melting we just tossed it out the window. My hands froze but it was totally worth it.

When we finally reached st. Mortiz you get off the train walking couple yards to see what channel walk through the parking garage and then take an escalator what feels like four floors up the hillside to get to the Village. If you were smart you take the escalator if you are stupid you go up the stairs. Well I decided I'll climb the stairs. The fact that I could not see the top of the stairs should have told me that the stairs were a crazy idea. The stairs are shorter than your average stair, and steeper too. However I did make it to the top, my leg muscles and lungs were dying but I made it. When you come out at the top it's a two-block walk to the square of the middle of the village, on this walk our guide was telling us what we could find in each direction the chocolate shop, cafés, Etc.

Priorities people I went to the chocolate shop first. Swiss chocolate is supposed to be one of the best in the world so you can't go to Switzerland without buying at least a few pieces. Switzerland is expensive though so I bought a few truffles and called it good. Then I started walking around. I noticed a lot of places that we're not cafes were closed even some of the shops. I finally found a little souvenir shop that was open and bought a magnet, because I buy myself one everywhere I go, and a t-shirt for a friend back home. Then since I only had about 15 minutes left I decided to just slowly wander my way back down to the escalator to go down to the train station. Yes this time I said forget the stairs, and took the escalator even though going down stairs is easier than going up them.

Well we had taken the train up our bus driver was taking the long way to meet us there. We then took the bus back down, our driver took a store cut to save us an hour and a half of drive time. The shortcut look like Lombard Street in San Francisco going down the side of the mountain instead of the hill and the curves we're not pretty since there were buses on this. We got to see a bus slightly bigger than us take the curve a little too tight and took about 4 minutes to correct and manage to make it around that curve. Our bus driver was awesome and did it in one try. About an hour outside of Milano we stopped at a small Café so that we could all stretch. A few of us bought slices of pizza, and called that dinner because we had to leave Milano early the next morning. The bus dropped us off in Milano back in front of the tourist information center where it picked us up at. I walked the 12-14 blocks to my hotel and called it a night.

Posted by Bonnie7825 04:25 Archived in Italy Tagged italy switzerland traveling au_pair bernina_train saint_moritz Comments (0)

Exploring Milano

When I left the hotel I walked towards the city center to the bus stop that the man at my hotel had pointed out, then I decided you know what the city center is close enough forget the bus I'll walk. I got to the city centre no problem and walked around a bit before I hopped on the hop-on-hop-off bus's blue line. I I rode it almost all the way around seeing the famous Milano Cathedral along the way. I am not a true person so I did not get off at the Cathedral I just took pictures from the bus stop. When it reached the Galleria / Leonardo DaVinci Museum stop I did get off. The Leonardo DaVinci Museum was the main thing I wanted to see in Milano, I'm very glad I saw it. I spent 2 hours at that museum. You can use virtual interaction screen to build and play with some of his creations and a few of them they actually have materials that you can try to build, like his self-supporting bridge.

When I left the Leonardo DaVinci Museum I walked over to the Galleria which is a very large shopping area. However if you look at the walls, the ceiling, and the floor in the middle of it there are very beautiful tile images, and glass work which is the reason I went. Since I didn't plan on shopping I didn't spend too much time there, but it was still worth walking through to look at.

I got back on the blue line, and rode it the rest of the way around, and back to the city centre. Then stayed on for 2 more stops and got off at Napoleon's Arco Della Pace. I walked around it, took a few photos, saw a couple taking their wedding photos under the arch, and then made my way to the park that separates the arch from the castle. I wondered all over the park because it is a nice park. I found the mermaid bridge, which used to be somewhere else, before it was moved there. Eventually I left the park by entering the castle. You can walk around the castle grounds for free but if you actually want to go inside you have to pay for a tour, it was 5 years maybe 12 Hero, totally worth it. The castle is now a museum with statues paintings Furniture close lots of things from everyday life and was interesting to walk around and look at.

By this time it's about 5 little after 5 in the evening when the bus stops running at 6 I think, so I walked the couple of blocks to the center bus stop, and caught the red line this time. I don't have time to actually go in anywhere else but since the bus gives you a running commentary that you can listen to on the way I rode the red line all the way around until it got to Gardini Pubblici, which is a public park a few blocks from my hotel. The only stops the red line had left before it hit the route that I already had been on was to go through a nightlife area which I really do not care about. From that stop I just walked to my hotel, had dinner at the hotel bar and called it a night.

Posted by Bonnie7825 03:55 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Getting to Milano

Part 1 of my whirlwind week traveling Northern Italy!

Part of the time that I was away from this blog I was busy speeding around as much of Northern Italy, seeing as much as I possibly could! I asked my family for one week off so that I could see more of Italy then just Torino. They said of course being proud Italians I need to see more Italy. I was given the week of April 11th through the 15th off to go see whatever I wanted. Well I spent at least two weeks before that planning what to see, where to go, and how to see as much as possible while trying to not blow through ALL of my savings. Traveling is cheaper here then it is in America but it still cost money and I'm not making much, but thankfully did think to save some money before I left home so as to have a little money specifically for traveling while here.
Anyways I managed to see a LOT in those nine days! Because I saw so much and did so much I am going to break it all down by day.

Saturday April 9th I left the house at the ungodly hour of 5:20 am so I could catch the 5:30 am bus out of Rivalta. Thankfully getting out of Rivalta is the easy part. There is literally only one bus that comes here to take to Torino. Bus #43 is your only choice. Once I got to the parking lot where normally I would hop onto the #4 tram and zip on into Torino proper. This time I needed to find the Flixbus location and for that I had to take bus #91 for half an hour and then walk about six blocks. It was fairly easy. (Flixbus.com also has an app for Iphone & Androids. If traveling in Europe I highly recommend them. The buses are clean, some have wifi, the ones I was on had outlets to charge your phone, yes you can eat on them, and they are bright green so easy to find.) I was catching the 7am bus to Milano! While on the bus they said use their wifi and app to book your next trip and save big. I had my travels all booked except how to go from Lucca back to Torino so I got onto the wifi and looked to see how much it would cost. Most trips for 2-7hours where ranging €7-€15, I had in fact paid €7.50 for that bus ticket from Torino to Milano. There was one bus at 1:30pm leaving Lucca for Torino and it would only cost me €1. I pulled out my debit card and booked the ticket right away because there was NO way I was finding a deal better then that! I was hoping for €7.50 because Megabus, the train, and every other route I'd looked at was €12 or more. I was very happy.
The bus finally arrived in Milano and to my surprise because I have no clue where bus stops are it drops me off at the far outside edge of Milano. Thankfully it's right in front of the last Metro station for the red line. I bought a ticket for the Metro didn't have to worry about which way to take it since this was the end of the line and went into the city proper. I used my Google Maps app which has been a huge life saver while over here to figure out when to get off the metro and how to find my hotel. Once I got off the Metro I had a thirteen minute walk and voila I was at my hotel. The Hotel Cavour is a very nice hotel, if I ever get the chance to stay there again I shall. It had a good location, next to the hop off hop on bus which if you want to see museums and the typical tourist/visitor locations I always find to be useful. Even though it was only 10am I went inside and asked at the desk clerk if I can leave my bag there while I go out to see the city, and then check in later since I know check in is not until 3pm I just do not wish to haul it all around the city with me. The gentleman behind the counter was very nice and helpful and offered to see if a room of the type I'd booked was ready and if so would I like to check in now? Um Yes please that would be wonderful. Sure enough a room was ready and he got me all checked in, gave me the key to room #421, and asked if I wanted a map of the city. I took the map and asked if he happened to know if the hop on hop off bus came anywhere near the hotel and to my luck it stops on that street just a few blocks down! After thanking him for his help I went upstairs with my bag. I left my bag in my room and immediately went back out into the city to start exploring since this was my only day in Milano to actually see Milano.

I continued typing this post for almost three more hours filling in all the things I did. Thanks to a computer glitch the drafts for it all some how did not save and when I hit preview it all disappeared. So for tonight this is what you get. I know it's not much but tomorrow I will redo everything that was lost and get it posted in separate posts for each day I guess in case the site glitches again. Thank you to everyone who read this because I just saw the numbers and I am honestly blown away I really only expected two or three people at most to read this.

Posted by Bonnie7825 11:53 Archived in Italy Tagged italy traveling au_pair travel_europe_cheap Comments (0)

Busy living

I apologize I kind of totally forgot about this blog and therefore am ashamed to see how much time has passed since my last entry. Since I work week days and have weekends off I spent the first about month or so I was here busily rushing to all the museum and interesting places on the tourist map. Then I got so buys just living, finding that one cafe I like best, spending time with the friends I've made and my host family going to little places in the area that I stopped going to the museums. I don't mind that I stopped. I haven't seen all the places that when I first I arrived I thought "oh I really should go to ___." Instead of I've seen other places that most visitors don't get to see and I like that. Now I leave in 11 days to return to America and I'm thinking okay of those places I wanted to see and haven't are any of them interesting enough I want to try and see them during my last few days or is it okay to not see them considering how many other places I've seen. By doing so there's really only a few places I want to try and see. It's not overly important though because if a friend wants to do another picnic in the park forget those places I'm going to the park!
I have ten days left and on the eleventh day I go to the airport. I can't believe I'm down to just a few days. On one hand I feel like I just got here and it can't possibly be time to leave. On the other hand I feel like I've been here forever and going back will be like going somewhere foreign and I will have to adjust to the ways of life there. Honestly if I could stay here I would. My host family has been wonderful. Saying good bye is going to be one of the hardest good byes I've ever had to do. The village we live in in nice and small but still an easy bus & tram ride away from a large city. From the city I can take a plane, train, or bus anywhere I could think to go. I have myself come and gone from the city by train, bus, and plane while here. I have multiple offers to return again and depending on what life at home gives me I may, who knows.

Posted by Bonnie7825 04:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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