Thursday, 6 February 2020

Vicolo Mattia Galasso, 13 (Trento, Italy)

Wednesday the 5th was a sunny day, though I could hear a strong wind blowing as I woke up. The wind kept up until I left the flat shortly after 1:00. Since there was rain most of yesterday I hadn’t walked around the old part of the city where I’m staying.

Thankfully I checked the temperature before I left the flat. It was in the mid-forties and the wind was still blowing. I put on a heavier sweater and away I went. I headed first to the nearby cable car that runs to a point high above the city but found out it was closed because of the high winds. From there I walked up and down the streets and took pictures of the well-maintained city.

I passed many nice shops, churches and restaurants on my walk. The streets seemed that they still follow the same routes that were laid out hundreds of years ago. There were a number of small alleys and walk-through buildings and could easily imagine how it must have been before cars came about. Most of the streets were reserved for pedestrians and cars were limited to a few through streets.

After a couple of hours of walking I was getting cold and walked back to the flat, but made a quick stop at the store to pick up a few more items. I now have enough now for my stay. Looks like I’ll enjoy chicken for the next three nights. I bought a package of two full chicken breasts and the cost was a little over 6 Euros, so my dinners will be very economical.

Today, Thursday the 6th, I walked to the cable cars and they were now open since the wind had died down and it was a bit warmer. Since I was going up in the hills I wore a heavier coat. I also stopped by the train station to buy my ticket to Innsbruck, but there wasn’t anyone selling tickets that could speak English. The guy who helped me because frustrated because I didn’t want to leave at 9:30 in the morning, so I decided to try to purchase the ticket online.

There were a number of people waiting to take the cable car this afternoon but I got on the next one going up the hill. It was only 5 Euros for the ride up and back. What a great view going up the hill and could feel my ears pop a couple of times before we reached the top.

At the top there was a viewing platform where we could look out over the valley where the city was and neighboring towns as well. Beyond the city we had great views of the snow capped mountains. I took quite a few pictures and a video while I was up there. I had considered taking the train to another city located nearby but changed my mind.

Tonight I got ready to leave for Innsbruck and used up most of the food I bought on Monday. I never did find out where to take the garbage so I put what I had into a couple of bags and dropped the garbage into a trash receptacle just down the street. Tomorrow I’ll take out the remaining trash on my way to the station.

It has been interesting watching TV programs while here in Italy. I’ve been using my VPN connection to access programs only available in the U.S. and sometimes using a hotspot connection from my phone. I’m able to view everything I want to see on Netflix and also CBS All Access. Now I have three streaming services to watch TV programs, not including YouTube, which is mostly a free service.

I’m going to miss the bed here in this flat. Probably one of the most comfortable Airbnb beds that I’ve slept in. Big fluffy pillows were also a plus and I’ve been sleeping very well.

Tomorrow I plan to be out of the flat by 11:30 to catch the train to Innsbruck that leaves the station at 11:59. I had read about a train accident just south of Verona, not too far from Trento, where a high-speed train left the tracks and two crew members lost their lives. I hadn’t received any texts from friends or family so maybe the news of the accident hadn’t traveled outside of Italy.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Vicolo Mattia Galasso, 13 (Trento, Italy)

This morning I woke up to rain hitting the skylight above my bed. After having so many nice days I guess I wasn’t expecting rain. Perhaps I should have checked the forecast. But I had hash browns and fried eggs to make for breakfast, so all was well. The bed here if very comfortable, but the curtains in the bedroom do not block the morning light – so I put a blanket over the window opening. Problem solved.

It kept raining much of the morning then cleared up later. By then I wasn’t looking forward to going out to explore. I’ve been keeping watch on early election results from Iowa, but there seems to be a problem with the software they were trying to use. Of course my project management brain knows that someone didn’t do enough testing before deployment of the application. But what a time for this to happen.

I’ve decided, after doing more research, that the prime spots for Dolomite viewing require a car then a hike. I guess the view that I have from here will suffice. Also found out that the Dolomites are considered to be part of the Alps.

Nice to be able to cook again. Just a simple meal of chicken, broccoli, and boiled potatoes for me. I don’t mind. Easy to make and it fills me up.

Watched two more episodes of Merlin last night and finished up on a Twilight Zone episode that cut out on me while viewing it the night before. The small TV in the flat is sitting on a far wall and getting to the HDMI input port will be difficult so watching on my laptop will have to do.

Tomorrow I will plan to walk around the city and try to go up on the nearby cable car to get a better view of the city and the surrounding hills. Not sure what I’ll do on my last day here. Maybe take the train to another place nearby to get a different view.

Monday, 3 February 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton (Brescia, Italy)

No breakfast in my room today. It was back to eating downstairs early this morning. I wanted to get down early because I didn’t want to eat scrambled eggs that had been sitting in the warming pan for over an hour. Being one of the few people in the hotel (because it opened only a couple of weeks ago), I doubt if many were eating breakfast this morning. And I was right. Even though I showed up at 7:30, I was the first person to scoop out a portion of scrambled eggs. They were still good though. (I’m writing this blog post in very good health.)

Getting up early gave me time for a nap before getting ready to leave for Trento. I was delayed at the front desk on the way out because I’m no longer using the credit card that used to book my stay. Probably due to language differences and the staff being new they couldn’t figure out how to charge my new card. I made sure they had my new card info and left for the train station. I wasn’t going to be late for this train.

All went well going to Trento, including my transfer to another train in Verona. I found the Airbnb flat easily but put in the wrong number into the lockbox to fetch the key to the flat. But I got it figured out and was able to get in. (I used the wrong number to open the lockbox.) Seems that it is now rare for an Airbnb host to welcome their guests.

I noticed a few items missing such as a toaster (not required), a kettle to heat up water, an oven, and the washing machine but found out later that it was located in the building’s basement. So much for the flat having a fully equipped kitchen as it claimed in their listing. Perhaps my standards have increased over the last 3+ years and also having stayed in places that truly had fully equipped kitchens. I’ll make do and it will be fine.

After getting a few items put away I took a nap. The bed is very comfortable! After my nap I continued to put things away and then left to go grocery shopping. The flat had a few essential items but I’ll need supplies for staying four nights.

The store was less than 50 meters away, which was very convenient, and had everything I needed. I broke down and bought another grater to make hash browns in the morning. My substitute for not having a toaster. When I left the store I had two full bags of groceries. Though thankful I didn’t have far to walk because as I was entering the building one of the bags fell apart and groceries went everywhere. The tenant in the flat near the front door heard me and asked if he could help. I asked if he had an extra bag and he brought me one. I was very grateful.

I had received as a gift from the hotel, at the my stay in Turin, a small jar of tomato sauce. Not just plain tomato sauce – the good stuff. I packed it away and tonight was the night that I’ll use it. I bought fresh spinach tortellini and the sauce will go with this pasta. And it did! I’ll make a full dinner tomorrow night using the chicken that I bought. The two full bags of groceries were about $50, which I thought was a great price.

I found that by using my Irish phone as a WiFi hotspot to my laptop that I could now watch the remaining episodes of Merlin. Though I discovered that I can now watch past episodes of the Twilight Zone, but I decided to watch Merlin instead.

Found out late last night that my credit cards and a Medicare form that I needed to sign were on their way to Cyprus and should arrive on the 10th. I’ll arrive on the 12th and hope they will we waiting for me when I arrive. I’ll also receive my permanent passport in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Not sure what I’ll do tomorrow. I’m still looking for a tour that would take me up to the Dolomites so will probably work on that, as well as doing a load of wash. The weather isn’t expected to be too good in the morning but the next two days are going to be sunny. One more Airbnb stay in Innsbruck, then an overnight Hilton stay in Munich and then I’ll be on Cyprus for at least two weeks.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton (Brescia, Italy)

First of all, I don’t purposely get the date or location wrong on the daily blog just to see if anyone notices. I’ve made this error a few times and, thankfully, someone corrects me. Though it is nice to hear from people who read my blog. Feel free to write if you have a question or comment.

Getting back to today . . . My breakfast was delivered on time and I’m enjoying having breakfast in my room, though I’m not going to make this a habit. I’m only doing it because it was offered. My orange juice was missing though, but I’ll overlook the omission.

I left the hotel for the train station to visit Verona today. At the train station, in addition to purchasing the ticket for today’s train, I purchased my ticket for tomorrow’s Trento journey. The total for both tickets were around 50 Euro.

It took about 40 minutes or so to get to Verona. The weather was very nice so I walked to the old town (Citta Antica), which was a 20 minute walk from the station. As I got closer to that part of the city the number of people greatly increased. It was Sunday and most people were out with friends and family walking around the large square next to the ancient arena that was built by Romans in the first century. The arena is still used for events.

My walking goal was to visit Juliet’s house (of Romeo and Juliet). Of course the characters were fictional and it is said that this 14th century house, with its balcony, inspired Shakespeare to write the play. To get to the balcony from the large town square (not sure if this open area has a name) I walked up a very busy street. This street seemed to be the place to be seen and high-end shops lined the street for a good 500 meters.

Juliet’s balcony was easy to find after that. I could see that people could go up and stand on the balcony while someone took their picture. (I wasn’t interested.) I took a couple of pictures and left.

I started to walk back to the train station via another route that took me to the Adige River that runs through Verona. The Adige is the second longest river in Italy and flows from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

Walking back to the station I took, as much as possible, the back streets rather than where the crowds were. Again, almost all of the buildings in this district were well-maintained and was fun to look up and down the side streets. I came upon an archaeological dig and it appears it was from Roman times and it was fenced off and nice to look at. I tried to look for a sign that told about the site but didn’t see one.

When I arrived at the train station I saw that I had walked nearly 12,000 steps. I bought a sandwich at the station to eat on the train since I hadn’t eaten since 7:30 this morning.

By the time I returned to Brescia it was dark but I made it back to the hotel just fine. I was so very tired and took a good solid nap before thinking about having anything to eat. Eventually I made a couple of small sandwiches using the leftover prosciutto and cheese. I tried finding something to watch but couldn’t find anything interesting that I’d want to watch as a series.

Tomorrow I leave to Trento where I’ll stay four nights. It is near the Dolomites which is why I’m staying there. I’m still trying to find a tour or driver that will take me around the Dolomites. I’m leaving in the early afternoon so I’ll have time to rest before hopping on the train.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton (Brescia, Italy)

Yesterday I received a phone call from the hotel’s front desk to let me know that I will have my breakfast delivered to my room today and on Sunday. They didn’t say why and I didn’t ask. I was to fill out the breakfast menu card in my room and put it on the outside of my door by 3:00 a.m., which I did. Breakfast was delivered to me at 7:30 this morning. Nice. Then I took my morning nap.

When I woke up I saw that it was overcast outside and delayed leaving the hotel until early afternoon. Not much fun to walk around on a cold and overcast day. It was about 2:00 when I left and decided to find a McDonald’s. This excursion would give me a reason to explore another part of Brescia.

I took the Metro to the train station and used Google to locate the nearest McDonald’s, which was a 15 minute walk away, so off I went. Google said to walk down this one street then up another. I was in a remote part of the city and there were a few businesses here, and for the most part it was deserted. I kept asking myself, why would there be a McDonald’s located out here. I kept walking until I came upon a fairly large mall.

I found the McDonald’s in the mall and placed my order via an automated kiosk, requesting a takeaway order that I took outside to eat. It was pleasant enough to eat outside. Cool and no rain. I used Google to find another way back to the train station and followed that route back. I found myself back at the train station within 5 minutes. Not sure why Google sent me on a route that was way out of the way when I could have taken a more direct route. I guess Google wanted me to see a part of the city that I wouldn’t normally see.

On the way back to the hotel from the Metro station I stopped by a store to pick up more of their pre-sliced prosciutto and cheese packages and rolls to have a sandwich or two in my room later. I bought mayonnaise yesterday. This would be my dinner for tonight. I tried to take a nap when I returned back to my room, but couldn’t sleep so I got up and wrote my travel blog for yesterday.

Received a message from my friend in Portland who is collecting my mail to say that my Bank of America card arrived in the mail. Great! Now I can have my debit and credit cards sent to me along with a form I need to fill out for Medicare. They will be sent to Cyprus and hopefully show up before I get there. They will be sent to my Airbnb host who lives with his parents in the flat above mine. His father has a dental practice in the building where the flats are located and his mother works in the office there, so I trust my package will be in good hands should it arrive before I do.

I watched a little TV before I was tired and went to bed. Tomorrow I’ll visit Verona and it looks like the weather will be better than today. Since Verona is halfway between here and Trento, my next stop, I can easily visit Verona again if there is more to see. I’ll look forward to my breakfast to arrive again at 7:30 a.m.

Friday, 31 January 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton (Brescia, Italy)

Slept very well last night but managed to go down for breakfast this morning by 8:00. The breakfast selection was about the same as what I found in Turin but it filled me up and I was happy.

I decided since it was a nice day today that I’d stay in Brescia and walk around the old part of the city. Brescia isn’t as big as Turin but is about the same age.

After breakfast and a nap I left to take the Metro down to the train station and from there will walk to the old town. This will give me a chance to see to see a part of the city and also the historical buildings.

I first walked around the Piazza della Vittoria then the nearby Piazza ella Loggia. Like Turin they have kept up the older buildings very well. I marvel at the artisanship that was employed to create the facades of these buildings.

From the Piazzas I walked up to the Brescia Castle. I didn’t realize how much of a climb it was. So many steps, but I took my time and rested every so often and admired the views on the way up. At least the weather is cool and not hot.

When I reached the castle I walked up to the large park just below the castle. From the park you get a view of the city so I took a couple of videos from two different spots because I couldn’t get it all in from just the one. At least there was one working restroom at the castle. Not many public restrooms can be found in Italian cities from what I’ve discovered. The one restroom at the visitor center was out of order but the other one was working. Only cost .10 Euro.

I wasn’t interested in going through the castle. I knew it was going to take an hour to get back to the hotel and by that time it would be nearly 5:00. I even took a quicker way down to the nearest Metro station, though it was slow going because the pathways were paved with medium-sized rock that was uneven and difficult, at least for me, to walk on. But I made it to the Metro station eventually.

After a nap a decided to try to walk to a nearby (sort of) Burger King. There aren’t many restaurants in the area. Google said it was .7 miles away and was surprised that after walking around this afternoon I still have good energy to make it to Burger King. Well, I never made it there because I started getting lost. There is a huge hospital between me and the Burger King and I couldn’t get around it so I turned around and went back to the hotel.

Earlier I picked up some food items from a nearby store so I didn’t go to bed hungry. A person at the hotel’s front desk gave me better instructions to get to Burger King. I could eat in the hotel restaurant but there isn’t much on the menu that I’m interested in eating. I had risotto the first night I was here, but not interested in having it again.

I watched the last episode of The Expanse and now have to wait until the next season to start, which will be in about a year. I’ll go back and finish watching Flash then find something else to watch on Netflix or Amazon. I can only watch a couple of hours a night then I’m ready for sleep.

Tomorrow clouds are expected and I’ll use the time to take care of more planning and prepare for visiting Verona on Sunday. I’ll probably walk around some tomorrow as well. Today I got in over 15,000 steps!

Thursday, 30 January 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton (Turin, Italy)

Plenty of time to get ready this morning since my train to Brescia doesn’t leave until 12:50. I even had time for a good nap after breakfast. When I checked out I discovered that my calls to the U.S., using the hotel phone, were free of charge. I didn’t ask why and just thanked them for not charging me. Before I went down to check out I made sure to give the hotel a great view on TripAdvisor.

I had a good chat with the taxi driver who drove me to the train station. I mentioned that I stay in Edinburgh each year and he said it was one of his favorite places to visit. He liked the whiskey there, the people and said it was very beautiful. I agreed with him on everything but the whiskey.

I found myself being very conscience about making sure I was on the right train and not sure why. I kept double checking the train and the time. Also making sure my money and passport were in a safe place. Perhaps I’m overcompensating for my loss last week. I didn’t dwell on it too much since I was distracted most of the way to Milan by a child who wouldn’t stop talking or singing. And he, his mother and grandmother were 10 rows away. Thankfully we were on a high-speed train, traveling at nearly 300 kph, so we reached Milan in a little over an hour.

When the train arrived at Milan Central I again was careful to get on the correct connecting train to Brescia. Though, I’ve not had good luck with transportation at Milan Central. I found the layout of the station confusing and difficult to find the proper train, especially getting to Milan’s Malpensa Airport. But I easily found the train to Brescia and we were on our way.

When I got off the train I must have taken a wrong turn because I found myself in Brescia station’s nearby Metro station. Once I found the train station building I then found the taxi rank outside. It was a 20 minute ride to the hotel by taxi and will try to use the Metro when I leave. I just wanted to check in to the hotel and get settled in.

The hotel is very basic, and though it is also a Hilton DoubleTree property, it wasn’t as nice as the DoubleTree in Turin. But the reception staff was very nice and I was soon in my room. I was told my room would face the main street, with assurances that the room is sound proof, but found myself facing the back of the hotel which was better.

For dinner, I went down to the restaurant’s dining room and found I was the only one there. I was going to ask that the meal be taken to my room but thought that I’d at least give the one person working there someone to wait on. It wasn’t until later that I found out that this hotel had only been open a couple of weeks and I was one of the few guests in the hotel.

I watched more of The Expanse when I returned to my room and also the next episode of Star Trek’s Picard but had to watch on my laptop again. Would be nice to watch on the big screen TV in my room, but the screen is secured to the wall and no way for me to plug in my HDMI cord.

Earlier I checked the stats on my blog site and saw that I now have 75,738 reads and 67,358 visitors, which seems about right. I have about 50 visitors a day, so 50 visitors a day x 365 days in a year x 3.5 years of writing the blog = 63,875. 1.4 million have viewed the pictures I’ve posted on Google.

Tomorrow, since it will be a nice day according to the forecast, I’ll walk around the city and visit a few of the historical sites. Looking forward to getting back to walking longer distances again.