This is the entrance to the main cathedral in Florence.
Pat's new house in Montenbrarro--just fabulous. The only downside is the length of time they are taking in building it: it will be at least three years in completing! The same house would be done in 6-8 months in the US. The quality is very good, as they take their time...
We spent the afternoon at the local pool, swimming, eating, and going down the water-slide. Here, four cousins play in the wading pool... I'm not sure if the boys (Robbie, Jonathan, and Ethan) are saving Ellie or trying to drown her!
One evening we were treated to dinner at Big Emma's, a German restaurant nearby. As you can see by the 'small' hamberger Seth ordered, there is a reason they call it 'big' Emma's! Their 'small' dish of ice cream for desert was shared by Terri and I, and we only got through half of it...
A. Canova's "Psyche and Cupid'
Many paintings like these can only be appreciated in person, as the paintings literally cover the entire wall-- 20' high or more!
the Eiffle Tower
As we left Germany for home...
The main purpose for the trip was family. Terri's brother Pat lives in Italy, specifically the Bologna area, and had recently built a house (unfortuneatly the house had not been completed, but we will talk about that later); and to see our son Michael who is a marine stationed in Germany.
We first went to Frankfurt Germany to see Michael, Pri, Robbie and Gabe. He works at the Ramstein Air Force Base, at the Hospital section, as he is responsible for the wounded men coming there from Iraq and Afganistan (he helps to coordinate their coming and going). He lives a few miles away in a little town called Ostwestfalen-Lippe, which means Owl in German (all of the signs have a little owl on them. It is some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen! Rolling hills of forest and farmland, quite and tranquill, just amazing!
We next flew to Italy on Ryan Air, a small local airline that has its own airport. It was a fun experience. They were regualr planes, but very cheap fares, as they actually own their own airport. They make up some of the cheap cost by advertising on the plane, selling stuff (wine, beer, liquer, lotto tickets, food, etc.), and always seem to be full. It was a wild trip, as we were a little late getting there and were the very last people on the plane. But it was a short trip of only about an hour, up and over the alps to Bologna.
Once in Bologna, most of the extended family stayed in one hotel, so it was easy to see and talk to everyone. From that base of operation, we traveled to: Ravena (to see the mosaics), to Florence (for the art), to Venice (for the canals and masks), to Montenbrarro (where Pat's house is), and of course, walked around Balogna.
We traveled to the different areas by train and/or bus. Both stations were within a couple of blocks of our hotel, so it was very convenient to get around.
Sunday, the day after arriving in Bologna, we went to the Mormon church in the area. After church, they permitted our family the use of the building for an 'extended family' meeting. We met together, and ate pizza that had been delivered to the church for us! What a great time.
Monday: Ravena via train. Ravena is known for its tile mosaics-- the churchs there have beautiful murals on the floors and walls made from mosaic tile.
Tuesday: Florence via train. Florence is known for its art: the statues, like David, are there, and they have a very large museum with great works of art. The town square has a great cathedral, and there were a lot of people there (both because it is tourist season and because they had some special occasion going on, with lots of pagentry). We first went to visit the statue of David, but the line was so long, we decided to go to the main square where other statues are located (and a copy of David is also, but doesn't do it justice), and went through the museum (this also took a couple of hours in line just to get in, and then over an hour to go through).
Weds: Venice via train. Venice was wonderful. We took the train, then walked through to the opposite side of the city--stopping to buy stuff and to eat--and then took a water-taxi back to the train station. It was just like all the pictures--small narrow streets, and canals everywhere. It would be very easy to get lost!
Thursday: Montenbrarro where Pat's new home is. It is a very small town located north of Bologan. We took the 'grafitti train' half-way, and then a bus. The house was just to the north of the town. They had a swimming pool/resort in town (a draw for the hot summer), so after a tour of the house (in progress), we spent the rest of the day by the pool.
Friday: A free day, so we toured Bologna.
Saturday: We returned to Germany via Ryan air, very tired. That evening we ate at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the town and farms. We ate outside and took-in the wonderful veiw as we ate typical German food.
Sunday: Went to one of the Mormon churchs in Frankfurt. Since the air base has so many Americans, they had a congregation for engish speaking members. Then we spent the rest of the day relaxing.
Monday: Off to Paris! Or so we thought...there just happened to be a truck strike in France that day, with semi-trucks blocking all the access routes into and out of France! After being stuck in traffic for quite a while, we got off the freeway and traveled some back roads to the nearest point of interest--which happened to be Metz, France. They have a large cathedral known for its stained glass windows. Then we passed by an American WWII cemetary and decided to visit: St Avold. The land was given to America for use as a cemetary after the area was liberated during the war. It is the largest World War II American cemetary in Europe.
Tuesday: A tour of Ramstein Air Force Base, and Hospital, to see where our son worked and served his country. We met his 'boss' and the other wonderful men he serves with at the hospital section of the base. There was a group of wounded men who came in that morning, and we were able to see these men at work: it is an inspiring sight. They take wonderful care of the wounded men coming into this hospital from war zones. The hospital is clean, has a healing atmosphere-- with large pictures of the surrounding landscapes on the walls everywhere, and men and women who care. It was one of the highlights of our trip! Whatever one may think about the war, the men and women that are serving deserve our greatest respect and honor. We were humbled and honored to be permitted to see them in action as they cared for these wounded soldiers.
Weds: Paris, again! This time we actually made it to Paris. We drove, and parked at the Marriot Hotel where our son Isaac and his wife Jackie were staying. Then we took the subway to the Louvre. We spent most of the day wandering the halls of this monster museum. Part of the time as a group, and part of the time we broke up to see different things (my daughter Liz and I took off to see the large format paintings and the Dutch paintings while others went to other areas of interest. Then we met back at the Pyramid. Finally, we drove around the streets of Paris for a while, seeing the church of Notre Dame, the Arch de Triumph, and of course, the Eiffle Tower.
Thurs: the grueling return home to Tinian. We were happy to see our family, but we are happy to be back on Tinian also!