North America, Europe · 14 Days · 42 Moments · September 2017

Bucket list: Germany, Italy, Poland


14 October 2017

The final pics—Brandenburg gate at night. The kids stayed in. Tom and I went out for a last dinner, Tom had pork knuckle which might be the largest piece of pork I’ve seen on a single serving plate. Farewell Germany 🇩🇪
Toms last drive on the Autobon. 235km/hr.

13 October 2017

Last weinerschnitzel and my first German beer. Had a glimpse of the Heidelberg castle at sunset. Ready to come home. Everyone is getting tired.
Stopped in Triberg for a coo-coo-clock. Saw the largest waterfall in Germany. Stayed in a quiet little Hotel and had a breakfast that the youngins balked at. Now it’s on to Heidelberg.

12 October 2017

Last day in Italy and the last supper— We spent the last day in Bellagio enjoying beautiful weather and the gorgeous views of Lake Como. We finished up Italy with pizza, of course. Tom enjoyed his with anchovies. 🤢 We lucked out right at the very end, expecting to make the 2 hour drive back through Como, but instead caught the auto ferry which saved us almost 2 hours as we head out to Triberg.
Our ride for the day was this amazing boat, as Tom and I trolled up the lakeside admiring 50m euro villas, owned by Milan bankers, the Rockefeller family from NY, among other Rich and wealthy Italians. I picked out one, just Incase Tom needs Christmas ideas.
We found the coziest little air b n b in Lezzano which is a small community off Lake Como. It had gorgeous views of the lake. Breakfast was a hot, Audrey gorged herself on Kiwi.

11 October 2017

The Duomo in Milan was my favorite. It is enormous and the ability to go up to the top and look over at the large spires made it even more amazing. It was created at the time to hold the entire population of Milan, which btw is about 40,000 people. Sitting outside the Duomo sipping cappuccino made for a relaxing evening.
The Last Supper— Leonardo da Vinci’s original painting in Santa Maria delle Grazie was spectacular. It has faded because he didn’t use the recommended platform or paint for the time, and therefore has had two attempts to restore the original colors. Stepping back from the painting (which is located on a wall that measures 26x14 ft) it appears 3D. To view the painting you have to have tickets which sell out months in advance. Tom was able to score some tickets with a tour so we were able to see it up close. It took 4 years for him to complete this masterpiece. Several of the faces are what he imagined for the people he was depicting. However, some of them are people that he would see in the town center of Milan. 😂

10 October 2017

Last sunset in Riomaggiore and dinner. I had Trofie al Pesto which was amazing. Tom had gnocchi with rockfish, Audrey had the amazing flank steak and Owen had chicken wings. It was a nice finish to a great stay in the Italian Riveria.
We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza. If only we had read about it first, we might have realized we should have hiked the other way. There were 750 stairs. It’s definitely one of the hardest hikes we have done, but not without reward. It was beautiful.
Views from the ferry of Portovenere, Vernazza, and Monterosso!
Daytime views of Riomaggiore. Couldn’t have picked a better place to stay.

9 October 2017

Owen was disgusted by the calamari tentacles 🦑
The Cinque Terre...wow. These tiny little communities built into the side of cliffs that overlook the ocean. We arrived. Upon checkin, the hostess showed us to our small parking space that after several tries we determined the car would not fit. Tom finally convinced her to give us a parallel spot and it also was pretty snug requiring him to crawl out the other side. 😂 The town is quaint. We had food right out of the apartment, calamari for us and the kids had chicken nuggets. We were able to make it down to the ocean for the sunset. Amazing.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was a quick little stop on our way to the Cinque Terre. We had lunch at the Duomo ristorante, you guessed it, the usual for the kids. The tower is 15 stories high, or 155 steps if you trek to the top. What a beautiful day, gorgeous weather!
Last stop at the Cinciano winery where they also make olive oil. The manager, Stefano, was very nice. We were not able to eat breakfast there as we had hoped because it’s only for the residents of the hotel. We were able to capture a few photos though, and a couple bottles of Chianti.
Last night we were greeted by this gnarly spider, and other than the creepy pictures on the wall and the fact that the heat doesn’t work, the little farm house where we stayed between Siena and Florence was cute. The views of the grape vineyards and the countryside is superb!

8 October 2017

Florence! First, and most importantly, Audrey found TWO Brandy Melvilles. So she spent a couple hours shopping. We walked around the Duomo but didn’t get to go inside bc the dome was sold out and the lines were extremely long with touring Asian groups. So, we decided to spend our time sitting outside and admiring the beautiful cathedral with a cup of Cappuccino instead. We did make it down to the museum to see Michelangelo’s famous 15th century statue of David. It was amazing to see all the detail, veins in his arms and hands and even the muscles in his back and shoulders. Wow. We finished up with a fantastic dinner —the kids shared a meat platter and Tom had his first T-bone steak. I had the lasagna. Back to the farm for one last night before we head out tomorrow to Pisa.

7 October 2017

On to Sienna for lunch and a view of the stripy cathedral. It definitely has the most personality of all the cathedrals we’ve seen so far. Lunch was great, Owen had his usual margarita pizza, Audrey had her usual spaghetti and red sauce, and we ventured out for some Italian lasagna and seafood pasta. Yum!

6 October 2017

Finishing up in Venice with a caprese salad, an octopus salad, a glass of Chianti (for me) and one last stroll through the small passageways. I’m gonna miss you Venice!
The gondola ride! ❤️ I was looking so forward to this!!
Living it up in Venice. The food is amazing. Pizza, pasta, and gelato!
Venice has been a very momentous part of the trip. We got in late to the hotel. Finding a room had been challenging because all of the air bnb sites were booked up on the island. By the time we got checked in to the Hilton, it was already 9 pm. But Stephanie and I really wanted to get over to town so we took a water taxi over. The kids crashed out. Stephanie didn't know I was carrying her engagement ring in my pocket. We got to San Marcos Square and I was thinking about my moment when a man approached us to sell us roses. I saw my opportunity, took the roses, gave him my phone, got on one knee and proposed. I think she was a bit shocked. But obviously she said yes. Beautiful moment. We've been walking the streets of Venice the past few days, took a gondola ride, walked the Rialto Bridge, and have eaten yummy risotto, pizza, caprese salad and octopus salad. Delicious.

5 October 2017

Left bright (actually rainy) and early for Italy this morning. Headed across the beautiful country of Austria. The leaves were amazing as was the countryside. Stopped off in Salzburg for lunch at a place recommended by our good buddy TripAdvisor, who once again did not let us down. The kids begged for McDonald’s and we did not back down. They finally agreed to share fried chicken which was excellent even by their standards. Tom and I both had weinerschnitzel and shared a berry strudel. We waited a bit too long to get our air b n b room for Venice and luckily finally found a hotel. We have now crossed into Italy and hope to be in Venice before dark. Our car has been flashing an error to add adblue. We had no idea what this was. After Tom successfully interpreted the German car manual, he determined we need this in order to make the car work. So I added some photos of him as a professional mechanic. 😂

4 October 2017

Last night in Prague. Owen is still asleep in the room so Audrey and Tom and I went out for street food and traditional Czech dessert. The black one was made from charcoal. They didn’t like it, but I did. It tastes a bit like gritty cream cheese.
Prague castle and the Charles Bridge. And a super tasty Czech treat called Trdlos, a sort of conic pretzel donut filled with whipped cream or ice cream. Super yummy!
Enjoying the fall weather, turning leaves, and the sites around Prague. The time change has been a bit difficult in some of us (Owen) who was falling asleep at the Charles Bridge.
Had a fantastic lunch at a quaint lunch place. Tom had half lobster and linguini and I had a soft shell crab burger. This place was a great find in the heart of Prague. The kids went to a little pizzeria around the corner. No seafood for them!
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague
Arrived in Prague after driving 5 hours, tired and hungry. It was a bit after 11pm, so we were lucky to find a restaurant still serving food. Tom and I had a traditional Czech meal, roasted duck which was yummy. The kids shared pizza. Needless to say, they are not adventurous eaters.

3 October 2017

More Auschwitz photos including one of the fake hospital, bunk beds, what’s left of the crematorium in Auschwitz II, The gas chamber and crematorium in Auschwitz I, the execution wall, electric fence, the “Work will set you free” welcome gate, and the memorial. We saw many areas including the standing cell where prisoners were made to stand up in a small area after working all day, without being able to sit or lay down. We saw the cell of starvation where a now famous monk gave his life so that another scared prisoner could live. What was most moving was the room with 4 tons of human hair that was removed from the dead bodies before they were cremated. It was used to make rugs and blankets.
Today we went to Auschwitz and contemplated the murder of 1,100,000 people. What's strange is how peaceful it seems now. Imagining the chaos, the hordes of starving victims, the smell of burning bodies and the daily executions seems incomprehensible.
Spent the morning wandering around Krakow. We ate McDonald's breakfast to appease the teenagers. Stephanie and I have now vowed no more McDonald's for the trip.

2 October 2017

Nighttime in Krakow
Delicious lunch at a quick little stop off on the way to Kraków. Thanks, TripAdvisor. Best meal so far!
When you have to pee, or God forbid, drop a deuce, you’d better have 50 cents!
Beautiful sunrise in Berlin. Found a small place for broten (bread rolls) and kaze (cheese). Then went by the Reichstag to say hi to Chancellor Merkel. Stephanie and I both took the twisty slide at the Berlin Mall to get down to the ground floor. The kids were too cool for that shit. Then off to Poland! That last photo is a cute Polish restaurant we are stopping at on our way to Krakow.

1 October 2017

First day in Europe. Exhausted but did a quick whirlwind of Berlin highlights. Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust Memorial, remnants of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie. In bed by 8 pm. Awake by 2:30 am. Ahhhhh.....the beauty of jet lag!
Had our first German meal...coarse fried sausages and mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Tom and I liked it. Owen, not so much. Took a little stroll around Berlin and found what’s left of the wall. Ended up in a fancy chocolate shop with huge chocolate replicas of the Brandenburg Gate and the titanic.

30 September 2017

Enjoying some French fries and some last minute WiFi before we board for Berlin. What would we do without cell phones?
Spent the night in Santa Monica and now we are off!