Monday, October 05, 2009

More Stuff and Souvenirs

I'm not doing this in travel order, just in the order I pull the Ziploc bags off the pile. Just trying to give a flavor for what stuff I picked up on the trail.


  • I appear to have picked up a train schedule and hiking map from the Jungfraubahnen region. Beautiful country.
  • Kept my cog railway ticket to Wengen, Switzerland. Neat town, halfway or one third of the way up slope. Also the best internet service I had in Europe.
  • Kept my bus ticket through the Lauterbrunnen Valley. What am I going to do all this junk?
  • The company that made the Lauterbrunnen Valley brochure has a decent web site.
  • I was very impressed by the quality of food at most of the highway rest stops in Europe. No, really! The company that has the franchise for running many of those stops is called Autogrill. The restaurants are often cafeteria-style, with the food fresh and appealing.
  • Here's an attraction I didn't see, but I grabbed their brochure: Mystery Park in Interlaken, Switzerland.
  • By the way, Switzerland's internet address, ".ch," comes from the term "Confederation Helvetica." This is essentially what the Romans called Switzerland back in the day. The Helvetii were one of the tribes of Gaul that Julius Caesar dealt with. Europe has a long memory.


  • My room key card holder for my lodgings in Monterosso al Mare (Red Mountain on the Sea), the Hotel Punta Mesco. Nice room, larger compared to some I stayed in, and it even had a patio. Would've been even better if the TV had worked and the circuit breaker box hadn't hummed/buzzed all night. But really, a great place to stay, about a block away from the Mediterranean.
  • An ad sheet from Cantina du Sciacchetra in Monterosso, where a couple of my fellow tourees, Eve and Lolita, got free wine tastings. Sciacchetra is a local strong wine akin to sherry, brownish, nearly transparent, and very, very smooth. Stupid me, I never shopped at the Cantina. But then I was a little wiped out after the hike through the Cinque Terre e due.
  • Kept one of my train tickets. Why not?
  • Kept the receipt for the laundry place down the block from the hotel. Must've spent the equivalent of $22 to get my clothes cleaned while there--worth every darned penny.
  • Picked up a business card from a saloon that wasn't open: Osteria del Baia. Nice people, though.
  • A map provided by Mary, our fearless guide, to the hill town we visited in Tuscany, Massa Marittima. Nice town, very quiet. We saw a wedding in progress that day. Fun!
  • Walking path map for the Cinque Terre, sponsored by my hotel and the Ristorante Belvedere, where we did a group dinner.
  • Brochure for Massa Marittima.
  • Postcard from the Basilica San Marco in Venice. Startling place. It's a place of Roman Catholic worship, but is decorated in the Byzantine fashion, with a lot of wide-eyed, flat cartoon figures on the walls and ceilings. The most impressive thing about Basilica San Marco, aside from the fact that all the pictures are mosaics, is that the walls are decorated with gold. Seriously. Wow.
  • Postcard of the Doge's Palace in Venice. Also an impressive place. It is really more of an executive mansion combined with a board room, legislative chamber, and courthouse. It is very much a civil building, and its functions are easily recognizeable to us today--but the Venetians did it first.
  • Brochure for the Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia.
  • Tickets for the Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia and the Musei Vaticani.
  • Bus and metro tickets for Rome.
  • Ticket for, and postcard from, Fori Imperio (the Imperial Forum), also known as Trajan's Forum.
  • Business card for the hotel in Rome, the Hotel Nardizzi Americana. Nice place on the fourth floor of a building across the street from the Ministry of Defense, so it's in a really safe neighborhood. Open-air waiting and dining area.
  • Two maps of Rome. Apparently I kept two. One I scribbled on to track where I'd been.
  • Postcard and stamp from the Sistine Chapel. Some of these postcards I bought for myself, not to send, because pictures were not allowed in some places, especially the Sistine Chapel. They also don't allow talking, by the way. How'd you like the job of telling people to shut up in four languages all day?
  • Ticket for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
  • Brochure for the Giardino di Bobli.
  • Brochure featuring a specific exhibit at the Uffizi, "Splendour and Reason: Art in Eighteenth Century Florence."
  • Business card for the George Byron Cafe, which was a decent restaurant/saloon within walking distance of my hotel (two blocks) and with British beers on tap.
  • "Calling card" for accessing the internet at my hotel in Florence. Paid something like five euros for an hour's computer time, and used about 55 minutes of it.
  • Map of Florence.
  • Direction card from the Rialto Bridge to my hotel to the Piazza San Marco.
  • Direction card from my hotel to the Omnibus Bar (and restaurant). Decent place, though seafood comes very much from the sea. When you order gnocchi with lobster, you don't get bits of lobster meat, you get half a frickin' lobster, antenna to tail. Order a grilled sea bass, and you get the same thing--the fish, the whole fish, and nothing but the fish. Good food, with just a little effort thrown in.
  • Ticket for the Firenze Musei's Galleria dell'Accademia, where the famed statue of David may be found. David is still there, and he's still nekkid. He's taller than I thought he'd be. For reasons inexplicable to me, the Accademia decided to intermix Renaissance art with an exhibit by Robert Mapplethorpe, who is not one of my favorites by a long shot. A separate exhibit? Sure. More power to 'em. But to put Mapplethorpe in the same room with Michelangelo insults Michelangelo and unnecessarily elevates Mapplethorpe, in my opinion.
  • A Harp beer coaster from the Dublin Pub (an Irish pub in Florence--who knew?) and a coaster for Hemp Ale, which I got from Hank, one of my fellow tourees. "I can't give 'em away," he said. I begged to differ, and took one.
  • A brochure for the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro, which features musical performances throughout Venice. One thing I really liked about Venice was the restaurant on the Piazza San Marco that featured a band shell and concert music well into the evening, weather permitting. I would've liked to see a live opera in Italy...again, something to save for next time.
  • A brochure for opera in Venice.
  • A "Hotel Accademia Guest News" flyer from my hotel.
  • A brochure for a boat excursion around Venice.
  • An Opera House brochure.
  • A brochure for the Venice Jazz Club.
  • A picture of myself and some of my fellow tourees on a gondola in Venice. Not one of my better pictures, but everyone is smiling nicely.

That's about it for today. Scrapbook tips that won't make a guy groan are appreciated.

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