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Wanders of the World

Getting Ready to Move On

FRANCE | Saturday, 10 November 2007 | Views [3470]

Patti: As it is now well in to November, it has become a little more difficult to travel in Europe. Most campgrounds are closed, the days are short on sunlight hours, and the weather had definitely turned colder. We are presently in Mulhouse, France only about 300 km south of Frankfurt. Here's what we have done since Amy's last update. We spent two days touring Florence on foot. It was about an hour's walk each way to the historic area from our campground but since we have been off our bikes, we have certainly found ourselves to be quite lazy so the walking was good. Our first day of touring was Monday and a number of museums were closed. It was a warm day so it was good do just take in the outdoor sights, smells, and sounds of the city. There was definitely alot of english being spoken around us. The things we did see that day included the the Piazza and Loggia della Signoria which is basically a plaza and a sort of huge veranda attached to a building facing the plaza that displays a number of sculptures outdoors; the Duomo (cathedral) and Baptistery, both beautiful structures from the outside being faced completely in white, orange and green marble; and we walked along the Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge built in 1345 and is flanked by shops on either side. We were fortunate that where we were camping was actually at a hostel so even though it was cold at night to be camping, we spent our evenings in the lounge area of the hostel so all we really did in the campground was sleep and it was warm enough for that. The second day spent in Florence included two main agenda items. The first was the Medici Chapels. The Medici were a powerful family in the area and this chapel has many family members buried in it. There is a room called the "Chapel of Princes" and it was the most impressive room I have seen in all of our travels in Europe, even though it was under going some restoration work had was partially blocked from view by scafolding. The room is octagonal and the walls are completel covered with semi-precious stone. The eight walls converge into a domed ceiling and each of the eight panels had a different biblical stories painted on it. In that building as well, was a chapel designed by Michelangelo. It is apparently the only place where he was in charge of the architectual design of the surrounding structure as well as well as the sculptures contained within it. All the sculptures were not complete which actually gave some insight into the work required to create the sculptures. It was pretty much a Michelangelo day as our next stop was the Gallery of the Academy where David is on display. He really is a spectacular peice of work, even to non-art conessieurs like Amy and me. Amy proclaimed herself to now be a Michelangelo fan (I'll be waiting for a miniature replica of David to appear in our front yard when we return home for good!).

Our evening was spent sharing stories with a couple from Washington state who have been touring Europe on and off over the past 2 years by motorbike. They go home every few months to re-energize (sounds like a fine idea).

Well laid plans...from there our idea was to spend a couple of days at a mountain resort in Switzerland. I had this vivid image in my head of having spent a beautiful sunny, day in which the ground was covering in clean bright snow a returning to a crackling fire that was in a log cabin in the woods. I don't know where this image came from, but there it was. Our drive into Switzerland was fine. We entered a 17 km tunnel at one end with overcast skies and came out the other end to snow and rain. The snow was not accumulating on the road but it was visibly on the mountains. This is where we would have turned off to get to my "mountain paradise" and the pass we needed to take was closed. So, the vision will only remain in my head. This is probably a good thing as I'm quite sure it wouldn't have turned out quite the same as I imagined. So, we were now without a plan and no place to stay. We stopped at about 5 hotels in different towns in Switzerland and all were full. Who would have thought it would be so busy mid-week. The one place that did have a room was kind of crepy and expensive so we spent another night in the vehicle in a parking lot (gotta love those free nights!). We thought our parking lot was pretty secluded on the outskirts of a small town but in the morning a large gathering of men in funny hats began. Most were wearing those horn container (for gun powder?) flung over their shoulders and a few guns were visible. Not sure what they were going to be hunting, but we didn't stick around to find out.

We were on the road for less than an hour and found the accomodations where we currently are by 10 am. There is a hotel chain called Formula 1 which is cheap and well-located. So here we are. We have been using the last couple of days packing our bikes into bags and getting organized for the next leg of our trip. It is still 4 days or so until we board the plan but we are both anxious to return to warmer weather. We have a couple most travel stop options that include Strausbourg and maybe some actual sightseeing in Frankfurt which we didn't do when we arrived there.

Hopefully another update will follow prior to our departure from Europe.

Tags: Relaxation

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