Germany, Switzerland, Italy: Treading Timeworn Paths

In June of 2019, my mother, father, and I drove to Sioux Falls to embark on an escapade through Europe. We awoke early for our Delta flight, stopped briefly in Minneapolis to change planes, and then found ourselves at JFK with 10 hours to spare. We played cards and passed time. Eventually, we checked in for our Singapore Airlines flight, cleared security, and located the Swiss Lounge, accessible with our ticket. Our plane boarded on time. Singapore maintains the widest business class seats in the skies, and they offer free Wi-Fi. The upper deck of Singapore’s A380 contains business class and economy, while the lower deck houses first class and more economy. After dinner, I slept four hours, skipping breakfast. Singapore Airlines flies from JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore. The JFK to Frankfurt segment is a fifth freedom route – it doesn’t touch Singaporean soil, but the airline is allowed to serve it since the plane continues on to Singapore.

Singapore flight
(Singapore Airlines: JFK – Frankfurt)

At Frankfurt International Airport, we passed through immigration and customs. The Hilton Frankfurt Airport was a short walk from the terminal. We checked in, and then rode the train into downtown Frankfurt, strolling along the Main River and Nizza Park. A walking race was ongoing, with employees from Siemens, Nintendo, and JP Morgan, et al, participating. We ate dinner at Im Herzen Afrikas, an Eritrean restaurant. I cook Ethiopian food, and this tasted similar. We ordered a combination platter, which included a spicy chicken dish, a beef dish, lentils, salad, spinach, and a potato/carrot/cabbage portion. Each dish is flavored with onions, garlic, and berbere, a combination of more than 10 spices, including salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and ginger. As in neighboring Ethiopia, the meal is served on a large, flat, spongy bread called injera, made from teff flour, native to the Horn of Africa. Diners receive additional injera, to tear apart and use to scoop up the food. No forks or spoons in sight. The dimly lit nooks and crannies with low benches encircling a table invited diners into warm, sequestered environs. Afterward, we moseyed through downtown, stopping for a mocha. We hopped the train back to the hotel, played cards, and slept early.

Frankfurt square
(Frankfurt’s historic Romerberg Square)

After checkout the next day, we walked to the airport to await my sister Ashley’s arrival. She landed at 2 pm, and met up with us an hour later. We grabbed a shuttle bus to Terminal 2, and picked up our rental car, a Skoda, engineered by VW. I sat up front fiddling with the GPS, while Dad sat behind the wheel. We drove two-and-a-half hours south, past Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, and Offenburg, before arriving in Freiburg, a university town of 227,000, and the jewel of Germany’s enchanting Black Forest. Founded in 1120 as a free market town, Freiburg translates as “free town.” We wandered through the car-free downtown, stopping at a bar-and-restaurant for dinner. I don’t dine on swine and there was little on offer for such a palate. I ordered spaghetti, which came as noodles and an oversized steak, slathered with barbeque sauce. Ashley had pork schnitzel. Mom chose the ham and potatoes. Afterward, we found an ice cream shop, and returned to the hotel.

The following morning, a streetcar delivered us to the edge of Freiburg, where we flagged a bus headed south, deeper into the Black Forest. The bus dropped us off at an aerial tram called the Schauinslandbahn. We rode the tram toward the summit of Sachauinsland Mountain, and hiked amongst majestic vistas. We dined at an outdoor restaurant near the peak, and then rode the tram back down the mountain. We hopped on the bus, along with a covey of kindergarteners, to the streetcar, which we rode downtown. We passed through MarktHalle, with food vendors from round the world. That evening, we walked to a restaurant recommended by Rick Steves. The menu failed to entice us, and we returned to the market hall. Dad bought a fish and chips meal, and a vegetarian Indian curry. I ordered a quattro formaggio pizza from an Italian guy baking in a stone oven, and we shared the meals.

Black Forest tram
(Schauinslandbahn aerial tram – Germany)

We left Freiburg at 10 am, and drove south to Staufen, climbing the hill to the 12th Century, Staufen Castle ruins. The walk up, past vineyards, offered cinematic views. The Staufen family owned the castle until the early 17th Century. It was destroyed by Swedish troops in 1632 in the Thirty Years’ War. The wind accelerated on top of the hill, and a sideways rain began. We hustled back down, hopped in the car, and retreated to the Staufen Saturday Market. We strolled through the market, past lots of inviting stands and shops. A musical ensemble entertained. Mom and Dad bought Black Forest ham and other pork products, but also cheese, at a butcher’s shop. We retrieved our other groceries from the car, purchased at the market in Freiburg, and sat on a park bench. I ate cheese and bread, olives, strawberries, and part of a decadent, raspberry-chocolate meringue. Afterward, we took the scenic route an hour south to Basel, just across the Swiss border.

Staufen Castle
(Staufen, and Staufen Castle ruins)
Staufen Castle
(Staufen Castle – Germany)

At the hotel, we checked in, and then rode a bus and a streetcar to Art Basel, showcasing the works of more than 4000 artists from around the globe. After surveying the scene, we traipsed to the river instead. We stopped at Ufer7, a convivial restaurant with an outdoor seating area overlooking the River Rhein. We ordered a charcuterie, with shaved slices of prime rib, an olive tapenade, bread, hummus, breaded shrimp, and burrata (mozzarella with cream inside). Afterward, we crossed the river to the City Center. We walked by upmarket shops, and, upon a sudden downpour, dipped into a coffee shop. We passed through the leafy campus at the University of Basel, founded in 1460, the oldest university in Switzerland. The earliest generations studied the arts, medicine, theology, or jurisprudence. We nearly took the wrong bus back to the hotel, but a friendly local said take the 8-tram. We did, and then played cards in the lobby until 10 pm.

The following morning, we drove south to Bern, in western Switzerland, exploring the city for three hours. A road race was transpiring. We watched it for a spell, and then adjourned for pizza. Ashley and I split a pizza with buffalo mozzarella, basil, cherry tomato, and drizzled with spicy olive oil. Afterward, we drove east to Lucerne, stopping at a Coop grocery store under the roadway downtown. We bought groceries, and drove to our VRBO, in Emmetten, on the south side of Lake Lucerne. We checked in, ogling the view from our backyard. We played cards and ate a picnic dinner of bread and cheese, olives and dates, avocado and melon, and a danish for dessert. The emerald mountains encircling the lake shone majestically. We watched boats and ferries crossing the aquamarine lake, and then the splendid sunset.

Lake Lucerne from VRBO
(Lake Lucerne – from Emmetten, Switzerland)

We walked up the hill to catch an aerial tram the next morning. The tram dropped us off toward the top of Stockhutte Mountain, but there were clusters of cabins and barns, and cattle, with bells, roaming. We hiked further up the mountain, through a sculpture park in the forest. It included, somewhat incongruously, monkeys, bears, pheasants, and goats, at each respective station. We retraced our steps to the tram, first stopping at a rustic café up top. The panoramas were surreal, patently characteristic of Switzerland. Dad and Ashley split a sausage, and a pastry. Quaint farms dotted the mountainside. We rode the tram down the hill, and returned to our VRBO.

Lucerne mountains
(near Emmetten, Switzerland)
Emmetten cattle
(near Emmetten, Switzerland)

Shortly thereafter, we drove to Beckenried, along the lakeshore, snapping photos, and leisurely passing through the village. We drove toward Lucerne, angling up a mountain, searching in vain for a hotel Mom and Dad stayed at 20 years before. Dad panicked as we ascended, and I took over at the wheel. The harrowing, switchback route had no guardrail, and was wide enough for one-and-a-half cars. At the top, hikers stood about chatting, and our GPS warned that the road offered limited access. After Dad confirmed with several hikers that we couldn’t reach their former hotel, he relented, and we drove down the mountain. We survived a minor issue upon meeting another rental car driver, pleading with him to retreat and pull over so we could pass. Safely down, we stopped at a hotel restaurant overlooking Lake Lucerne, ordering fried fish, and a cheese and olive plate. We returned to Beckenried to pick up hamburger patties, pastries, Coke, and water. We retired to the VRBO, played cards, and pan-fried the hamburgers.

Lake Lucerne
(Beckenried, Switzerland)
(Chapel Bridge and the River Reuss – Lucerne)

We drove into Lucerne the next morning. We located a parking garage, and walked to the rushing River Reuss, in downtown Lucerne, crossing it on the 14th Century, wooden, Chapel Bridge, inside which are 17th Century paintings depicting Lucerne’s history. Sections of the bridge were destroyed in 1993, after a boat tied to it caught fire. On the far side of the river, Mom and Ashley browsed, and then we climbed to a food hall on the top floor of a department store. We ate in the rooftop seating area, overlooking the city. Back on the street, Mom and Ashley peered into more shops. Dad and I gave them two hours. He and I walked to a lookout tower on Musseggmauer, a 14th Century rampart that once protected the city. We climbed the serpentine stairs to the top level, capturing photos.

(Lucerne, Switzerland – from Musseggmauer)

After descending, we passed along the edge of the wall, through an opening, and down the hill, into an area of shops. We spotted a bakery Dad had read about. We bought a loaf of bread, and sat down at a table outside. I ordered an iced latte, and rolled a few cigarettes. Next, we crossed Chapel Bridge to meet the girls. With them in tow, we had lunch by the river. Thereafter, we walked underneath the roadway, to the marketplace. At Coop, Mom and I picked up groceries. Dad and Ashley bought beer at a beer store. We grabbed danishes for the morning at a bakery, and chocolates at a chocolatier. Outside, a brief rainstorm resulted in a humid afternoon. We drove southeast to Emmetten in drizzling rain. That evening, we watched a storm drop heavy rain, adding hail and wind to the mix. We played cards inside, and ate olives, cheese and bread, cherries and blueberries. We played a game of Scrabble on a German board, with umlauts on a few coveted letters.

On our drive to Zurich the next day, construction around Lucerne delayed us. Even so, we arrived at the Renaissance, with assistance from Heidi, our GPS device. At the hotel, we stowed our bags. We rode the streetcar downtown, crossed the Limmat River onboard, and hopped off in Old Town, wandering the city. Dad couldn’t decide on a restaurant. The prices were exorbitant. The clientele were bankers and the fashionable crowd. We crossed the river again, walking toward Old Town. We traipsed by a restaurant with a funky smell, passing it, but then returning. The prices were right. Ashley ordered the stench, a fondue of stinky, Swiss cheese, with bread, potatoes, and, to my incredulity, pickles, to dip in it. I had chicken schnitzel with fries. Afterward, we walked to Lake Zurich, and again through Old Town. I spotted cannabis shops. We rode the tram back to the hotel, played cards, ate snacks, and then appetizers and dessert in the lounge.

Lake Zurich
(Lake Zurich – Switzerland)

The following morning, we drove to Zurich Airport to drop Ashley off for her return flight. Inside the terminal, we checked her in and said our goodbyes. At the parking garage, the elevator was out so we hoofed it upstairs. On the road, we stayed on the A4 until hitting the A2, always southeasterly. The number of tunnels was extraordinary. One two-lane tunnel, called Gotthard Pass, was 17 kilometers long, with stoplights before the entrance to slow traffic. The outdoors portion of the drive featured massive mountains, cascading waterfalls, and idyllic villages dotting lush Swiss valleys. We stopped for lunch in picturesque Lugano, overlooking Lake Lugano, on the Italian border. I chose a ravioli topped with asparagus and tomatoes. Dad had a duck breast, roasted and sliced. I grabbed a stout coffee afterwards, and we drove east to Griante, on Lake Como, in northern Italy, catching the ferry over to Bellagio. After crossing, we drove up the hill to Hotel Il Perlo Panorama and checked in. The views of Bellagio, Lake Como, and surrounding villages, were superb. Dad and I went to find drinks. We stopped at a fruit store, where I bought cartons of pineapple and grapefruit juice. We stopped at a bar, where Dad picked out a bottle of white wine from an Italian brute with no care for English. I procured cans of Coke, Fanta, and San Pellegrino, and we returned to the hotel. We played cards outside, while Mom and Dad sipped wine. Just after 8 pm, we drove to a restaurant down the hill. I ordered a tasty Nicoise salad with green beans, potatoes, olives, sardines, seared tuna, and a scant helping of lettuce. I topped it with olive oil and vinegar. Fresh bread accompanied the meal.

view from Hotel Il Perlo Panorama
(Bellagio and Lake Como – Italy)

After breakfast the next day, we caught the shuttle into downtown Bellagio, a village settled since the 7th Century BC. While Mom browsed, Dad and I stopped for a coffee next to the lake. We met up with Mom, and moseyed through Bellagio, snapping photos. The village is built from the water into the hills, and though the stairs, walkways, and slopes kept us winded, the shops and vistas continually entranced. We stopped at a few meat, cheese, and wine shops, and then for lunch at a nondescript café. I chose a spicy spaghetti with chilies. Dad ordered a pasta dish with tomatoes and tuna, while Mom leafed through a salad. Afterward, we walked along the waterfront, through an exquisite garden. We passed by the botanical gardens. At the hotel, we played cards. We ate dinner at a pizza restaurant overlooking the lake. I opted for the Sicilian wood-fired pizza, with tomatoes, mozzarella, capers, and black olives. Back at the hotel, we drank decaf espressos.

Bellagio waterfront
(Bellagio waterfront – Lake Como, Italy)
Bellagio streets
(Bellagio, Italy)

I rolled out of bed at 8:30 am. The hotel arranged breakfast inside because of rain. I snagged a coffee and a slice of sweet bread, with nuts and raisins. The rain intensified, and we prepared for departure. We got soaked while packing the car. I dashed inside the lobby to settle our bill, and endured another drenching. The rain continued unabated, and we drove southeast, along the shoreline. The visibility was dreadful. Finally, it began to hail. Cars were pulled over under each overpass. We drove slowly, under a bridge with water pouring off both sides, two cascading waterfalls tumbling onto our roof. We crept along, unable to see into the distance. As we approached Milan, we drove through a tunnel. On the far side, the rain had subsided. We hopped on a tollway headed east, with cars flying by us. We paused for caffeine and leftover pizza at a roadside park.

About 50 kilometers before Venice, we stopped for gas. Dad’s credit card couldn’t be retrieved from a malfunctioning machine. I used a pen cap and nail file to pry the card out. At Venice Airport, we returned the car. We walked to the terminal, and hailed a taxi. He deposited us at our hotel, NH Venezia Laguna Palace, on a canal in Mestre, just across the bridge from Venice proper. We played cards, and then walked to Hostaria Vite Rossa. Patrons stood outside drinking beer and cocktails, smoking cigarettes, socializing, and perhaps, waiting for a table. Inside the quaint café, the place was packed, including a sizable group of Chinese. Our waitress dropped off day-old bread for dipping in olive oil. I ordered the lasagna with Bolognese beef sauce. It melted in my mouth. They used ricotta cheese, but no noodles, with asparagus inside. Dad selected an assortment of local fish, and Mom chose the lobster linguine. Back at the hotel, I prepared for Rome. Mom and Dad would be embarking on a six-night barge cruise on the River Po, in northern Italy.

I walked with them to Mestre Train Station the next morning. Inside, we stopped for coffee and pastries. Mom and Dad accompanied me to the platform, and my train left on time. The first 15 minutes, the train seemed empty. Then, a troupe of 10-year-old boys, their coaches, and a few parents hopped onboard. The kids chatted, played video games, watched videos, and ate snacks. They were active, but well behaved. We stopped six or seven times, but only once between Firenze Santa Maria Novella (Florence) and Roma Termini (Rome). In Rome, I used Google Maps to reach Blue Inn Luxury Suites. At the building, I buzzed the desk, and the massive, wooden door creaked open. The front desk agent met me in the lobby and ushered me upstairs to the hotel’s diminutive, though stately quarters, set amongst the top two stories of a historic, seven-story building in central Rome. After checking in, I stepped outside on my balcony for a smoke. Founded no later than 753 BC, Rome now contains nearly 3 million inhabitants. It’s been known as the Eternal City for over 2000 years.

The next morning, I fixed a few latte’s in the coffee room. I walked to the Spanish Steps to meet up for the Rome Free Walking Tour. The Spanish Steps were constructed between 1723-1725, to link the French Trinita dei Monti church, above, with the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, below. Both structures were under the patronage of Bourbon kings. We shuffled past the impressive 2nd Century, Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as an archaic Egyptian obelisk, and the remarkable Pantheon – once a Roman temple, now a church, it was completed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. We ended at the Tiber River, with a view of the Vatican, and Castel Sant’Angelo, also built by Hadrian, as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Afterward, I meandered toward the hotel, stopping for a Coke and a slice of pizza. I passed by Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city, appearing in notable films, including La Dolce Vita, and then retreated to my hotel. For dinner, I walked to Pinsere, and ordered a pizza with cheese, tomato sauce, and eggplant sliced thin. Back at the hotel, I prepared for my early morning Vatican tour.

(Spanish Steps – Rome)
(Pantheon – Rome)
(Tiber River and Castel Sant’Angelo – Rome)

I awoke at 4:45 am, made two coffees, and smoked a cigarette. I smoked another on the way to Termini Station. I saw countless homeless, sleeping on cardboard boxes both inside and outside the station. I hopped on the A line toward Battistini, and jumped off at Ottaviano, pacing six blocks to our meeting point. I ordered an Americano with sugar at a corner store, sat down at a table outside, and smoked a cigarette, sipping coffee. I saw a City Wonders tour guide meeting another guide outside the store. I walked a half-block to where people were gathering. They organized us into a line, passed out headsets, and gathered us around our guide, Francesca. We crossed the street with her to the Vatican entrance, and got in line. She held a guidebook aloft, with pictures of what we would see inside the Sistine Chapel. We each received a brochure with a diagram of the ceiling.

Inside, Francesca led us through the Vatican Museums. We passed along hallways, photographing murals on the ceiling and walls, amidst her softly speaking. She ended the tour at the entrance to the Sistine Chapel. We funneled through, like cattle, into a sacred space. I gazed for an hour at Michelangelo’s intricate masterpieces. I saw the Creation of Adam, the Parting of the Red Sea. The final 20 minutes I sat on a bench, staring at the Last Supper. I did not feel especially moved, though it certainly seemed fine art. Upon exiting, I walked through the Vatican Museums, following signs toward the exit. I glanced longingly out the windows at the Vatican Gardens. I ended up downstairs, in a stodgy room with endless photos of Benedict. He cast a vengeful eye. Finally, I exited the museum onto the street, feeling relieved. I walked back to the hotel, a 45-minute stride. I slept a half hour, drank two coffees, and trekked to the Colosseum. The air was filthy with heat, blisteringly hot. I was drenched all day, pacing Rome’s streets. At the Colosseum, I captured photos, marveling at this mammoth, renowned structure, surviving some 2000 years, once seating upwards of 50,000 spectators. Construction costs for the project, which began about 72 AD, were raised after pilfering the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, following a Jewish Revolt. The Colosseum likely acquired its name from a colossal statue of Nero that once stood across the street, known as the Colossus Solis. The Flavian Amphitheatre thus later became called the Colosseum. I walked back to Pinsere for the pizza with eggplant, and returned to the hotel to ready myself for Florence.

Vatican mural
(mural on ceiling at Vatican Museums)
(The Colosseum – Rome)

I walked to Termini Station the next morning, I arrived early for my 11:45 am Italo train. Italo, the privately-owned rail company competing against a state-run company called Trenitalia, was co-founded by an owner of Ferrari. Their trains aren’t extravagant, but they are comfortable, convenient, and fast – up to 250 kilometers per hour. We passed through the charismatic Italian countryside en route to Florence, distinguished capital of Tuscany, and epicenter of the Renaissance. The ride took 1 hour, 30 minutes, to Firenze Santa Maria Novella, with just one stop, in the northern suburbs of Rome.

In Florence, I bought a frozen cappuccino, exited the train station, and started the lengthy walk to my apartment. I found Apartment Bandinelli, and rang the bell. The owner met me on the stairs, saying the room wasn’t ready. He led me inside, sat me down, brought water and fruit, and provided the Wi-fi code. I pondered it, knowing I had reserved an apartment, not a Bed & Breakfast. Finally, he asked for my passport, and said there’s no reservation under your name. I opened my confirmation. When he saw the address, he pointed down the road. I apologized, and walked a block to where a woman waited outside. She welcomed me, and we proceeded up two flights of steps to Art Apartment Bandinelli. She showed me around the apartment, and then left. I found a nearby grocery store, picking up a semi-soft cheese, a loaf of crusty bread, olives, smoked salmon, orange juice, a Kinder bar, and gummy bears. I walked back to the apartment and feasted.

I sauntered to Strozzi Palace the next morning, where our free tour would start. I bought a package of tobacco, and circled the Palace, unsure of our precise meeting point. About 10:20 am, people started arriving. There were two guides and one of them checked us in. She ushered some of us to the second guide, an affable student with tattoos. We walked to the Piazza della Signoria, a large square outside Florence’s town hall. We gazed at a replica of Michelangelo’s David. The original stood in the same spot, but was moved indoors for preservation in the late-1800’s. We crossed the square, to Benvenuto Cellini’s statue of Perseus, armed and holding the serpentine head of Medusa, standing, with winged feet, over her body. We stopped for a 20-minute break near the Panini shops that use salt in their bread. Yes, our guide said, most of Florence doesn’t use salt in their bread, a ghastly proposition, in her regard. It’s only on this street where you’ll find the salted variety. Many in our group purchased a sandwich. I perused a menu with salami, ham, and other pork products, and passed.

(Florence and the River Arno – Italy)
Michelangelo's David
(replica of Michelangelo’s David)
Perseus cutting off head of Medusa
(Perseus holding the head of Medusa)

After our break, we walked north, past the Uffizi Gallery, home to works from da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, and Raphael. Our guide pointed to Cosimo de Medici’s above-ground pathway, snaking through the city and across the River Arno. He built it during the Renaissance to escape to his summer palace. He was afraid he would be killed on the streets, so he built this route, which zigs and zags through and along buildings. Cosimo became wealthy as a banker. We stopped on the 16th Century, St. Trinity Bridge, where shops line the route. We headed south, to Cosimo’s summer palace, Palazzo Pitti. We finished the tour nearby. I ate at Gustapizza, recommended by our guide. I ordered the Sicilian, eating it in an adjacent square. I bought a Fanta at a tobacconist, and returned toward the hotel. The temperature read 103, and the humidity stifled me. Near the apartment, I stopped for a Coke. Upstairs, I cooled off. Later, I walked to the grocery store for a hard, Parmesan-like cheese, smoked salmon, a nectarine, orange juice, two San Pellegrino’s, a Kinder bar, and black licorice candies. I returned to the apartment to dine, and then slipped out for a cigarette and decaf.

(Florence and the River Arno – Italy)

I walked toward the Duomo, Florence’s iconic 15th Century Cathedral, in late morning. I followed Google Maps, but it failed me. I looked up, aware I wasn’t seeing it. I ambled four blocks south and suddenly shuffled up to it. A grand sight indeed: Santa Maria del Fiore, constructed between 1296 and 1436, in Gothic style, including Brunelleschi’s Dome, and a clocktower called Giotto’s Campanile. The crowds were remarkable. I snapped photos, and then wandered along some backroads until reaching the Florence National Central Library. I photographed it too, then crossed the river, past numerous shops, until reaching Cosimo’s Summer Palace. I returned toward the apartment, soaked with sweat. The last 15 minutes I became delirious from the heat. I felt I might stumble into the street. I found a water fountain and filled my bottle. It propelled me the rest of the journey. Upstairs, I got my shirt halfway over my head and couldn’t get it off. Claustrophobia set in. Once removed, I gorged on smoked salmon, cheese and bread, olives, and orange juice. That evening, I worked and recuperated.

Florence Cathedral
(Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence)

The next morning, I waited an hour at the train station, and then rode two hours to Venezia Santa Lucia, Venice’s central station. An elderly lady sat next to me. In Venice, I stepped outside into the sweltering sun, using Google Maps to reach our hotel. I lugged my backpack, with a bottle of wine for my parents, and my carry-on, up and down the bridges of Venice, onwards. I followed some dead ends, but ultimately reached the hotel. Mom and Dad had arrived early that morning. Their boat docked in Venice the previous night. We walked to the Rialto Bridge, spanning Venice’s Grand Canal. We ate outside, at a little café. Back at the hotel, Mom and Dad sipped wine. We walked to a restaurant that evening. Dinner, at sudest 1401, was delicious. A group of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Balkans founded the restaurant. I ordered a bulgur salad with avocados, tomatoes, radishes sliced thin, and fried cheese. For dessert, we sampled the tiramisu, and a chocolate cake, oozing with chocolate, along with decaf shots of espresso. Returning to the hotel, we met a crowded concert, and detoured around Venice’s charming streets, always leading somewhere, but seeming to lead nowhere indeed. That evening, I prepared for our departure to the States.

(Venice’s Grand Canal)

We left the hotel at 11 am, hauling our luggage to the water-taxi stand. We bought tickets and hopped onboard. The boat stopped six or seven times, picking up passengers here and there, before heading to the mainland. The path was a sort of highway, with buoys designating the route. We observed heavy boat traffic. When two boats met on the water highway, we slowed significantly. At the airport, we pulled into a covered water-taxi parking area. We marched inside to the terminal. Mom and I bought iced coffees. Eventually, we checked in and passed through an empty security line. We went upstairs to the enormous Marco Polo Lounge, a PriorityPass establishment. An hour before our flight, we walked to the gate. Onboard, the seats were tight, and I had the window. I photographed the Alps as we passed over them. In Frankfurt, we picked up Mom’s checked bag and found the Hyatt Place shuttle. After checking in at the hotel, we dined downstairs.

(Austrian Alps)

We awoke at 4 am, and caught the hotel shuttle an hour later. At Frankfurt Airport, we waited for check-in to open. The Singapore agents huddled behind the counter. They were an efficient, congenial crew. At security, Dad realized he left his iPad in the hotel room. We went to the Lufthansa lounge, and an agent called the hotel to inquire. Boarding went smooth and we found our seats – the same seats as JFK to Frankfurt – 21K for me. A Lufthansa agent came onboard and informed Dad that the hotel found his iPad and would send it to him in the States. We began the flight with orange juice. For breakfast, I selected a chicken breast with attached leg, served on a bed of polenta. I slept two hours, and then watched movies. For lunch, I dined on salmon over long-grain rice with grilled vegetables. We landed at JFK about 20 minutes early, passed through immigration and customs, and rode the train to Terminal 2. We cleared security, found our gate, and played cards. Our Delta flight to Minneapolis left 30 minutes late, but arrived on time. In Minneapolis, we ate burgers and fries. We landed in Sioux Falls at 11:30 pm, and were sleeping an hour later. A memorable expedition, to be sure – treading timeworn paths through the heart of Europe.

Sunset - Lake Lucerne
(Lake Lucerne – Switzerland)

Author: mat(the)writer

Travel is Life...

3 thoughts

  1. Matthew ! What wonderful stories ! You brought your travels to life 😘thx for sharing ♥️

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Loved reliving this wonderful trip through your writing… mouth was watering when you described the food we ate and the beautiful scenery described brought a smile to my face. Hope to do it again sometime. C Riter

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