GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, ITALY 2003

Europeans Rejoice: The Maitais Return from Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy – September 2003

83150030Scenery Steals The Show

In 2003, Tracy and I visited Germany (Mosel area), France (Alsace), Switzerland (Montreux & Grindelwald) and Italy (Lugano, Firenze, Pisa, Cinque Terre and Milano).  This trip featured gorgeous natural scenery with a few museums thrown in for good measure.  Enjoy our travels!


Chapter One – The Magnificent Mosel, Germany

Chapter One: The Magnificent Mosel, Germany   Europe, the old frontier. These are the voyages of the blue Volkswagen Golf. Its 17-day mission: To explore four great countries. To seek out new memories and old civilizations. To boldly go where millions of vacationers have gone before. OK, so a Volkswagen Golf isn’t the Starship Enterprise, I’m no Captain Kirk and my wife acts nothing like Mr. Spock (except when she attempts to give me the Vulcan death grip or Spock’s patented “looks”). But just like the intrepid Enterprise crew, Tracy and I were off on a new adventure in Europe, and although we could have used Scotty’s technical knowledge to give our rental car warp speed, Data to help us … Read more…

Chapter Two – Route des Vins & Alsace, France

Chapter Two:  Routes des Vins & Alsace, France Day Three – The Saarbrücken Nebula, On The Routes Des Vins, The Stepford Waitress, Rob and Laura Petrie In Ribeauville, Getting A Deal And The Snotty French Lady We really loved the Haus Lipmann. They had a friendly staff (and very friendly owner, and its’ location on The Mosel is terrific). It was peaceful and relaxing (well, as much as we can ever just relax) to watch the boats pass by our window. There was also a nearby campground, and it would be a fun place to rent bikes and ride on the many paths in the area. Tracy and I set off in our ugly blue car (although, strangely, it was … Read more…

Chapter Three – Montreux & Gruyéres, Switzerland

Chapter Three: Montreux & Gruyéres, Switzerland Day Five – Masson Maison, Missed It By That Much, Chillin’ At Chillon, Red Light-Green Light, All Quiet On The Love Making Front Good-bye France – Hello Switzerland. via Michelin doesn’t let us down this time, and it is an easy and pretty three-hour drive through the luscious countryside to Montreux and the Hotel Masson. Our host was a charming, graceful and helpful woman who gave us the bad news that it was supposed to rain the next day. Oh well, it was sunny at the moment, so we unloaded our stuff in our room (with a great Lac Leman view) and drove over to Vevey just a few miles away. Of course, we … Read more…

Chapter Four – Grindelwald, Switzerland

Chapter Four:  Grindelwald, Switzerland Day Seven – Eiger Sanctioned, Don’t Jump, Too Much Salt, That Cow’s Neck Must Hurt And Eating A Vegetable I Haven’t Tried in 40 Years I will call this part of the journey “How to Go Bankrupt and Overcome Your Fear Of Heights In Just Three Days.”
 
 We had a short drive from Montreux to Grindelwald (well, a couple of hours is short for most Californians).  It was a foggy and damp morning as we arrived at the Hotel Gletschergarten (which from now on will be mentioned as Hotel G).  It is an incredibly beautiful drive into Grindelwald.  The raging streams, the rolling hills and the majestic mountains around every bend in the road afford … Read more…

Chapter Five – Lugano, Italy

Chapter Five: Lugano, Italy Day Ten – Saarbrücken Revisted, Stella!, Lunch By The Lake, Swiss Spokes Men And Pour Me One Last Limoncello “Auf Wiedersehen,” “Au Revoir” and “Arrivederci” (so many languages, so little time) to Grindelwald and Switzerland.  Italia, here we come. Within 45 minutes we were winding our way through the Alps on our drive to Lugano and our destination of San Mamete in Italy.  The frightened look of bus drivers and motorcyclists were many as our ugly blue car careened around corners at dizzying speeds. Another via Michelin faux pas caused a slight delay as we headed into Lugano.  The map stated to take the “Lugano Centre” exit for Lugano to help us navigate to San Mamete … Read more…

Chapter Six – Firenze & Pisa, Italy

Chapter Six: Montecatini Terme, Firenze & Pisa – Italy Day Twelve – Colle Flowers, If Those Gardens Are Beautiful My Nose Will Grow Longer, A Miracoli We Found It, Bird Droppings, Dinner In A Medieval Town And For Whom The Bells Toll This was our longest drive (thanks to an autobahn miscue by yours truly).  We left Lugano at 8:30 and were on our way to a bed and breakfast I had read about in National Geographic Traveler.  The B&B, Antica casa le Rondini, is located in the tiny medieval town of Colle di Buggiano, located in the hills above Montecatini Terme.
 
We had no idea where the place was (except an address) and we could not drive into the … Read more…

Chapter Seven – Cinque Terre/Milano, Italy

Chapter Seven – Cinque Terre & Milano, Italy Day Fourteen – Let It Bee, Lens Crafters, All Roads Lead To Levanto (Really, They Do), A Refreshing (Villa) Margherita, Viva Vernazza, Hey Is That A Worm In My Cheese, A Longer Than Anticipated Train Trip And Where’s The Beef? It was our last morning in Colle di Buggiano.  The beautiful weather meant we had breakfast again in the garden of our B&B.  Unfortunately, a couple of bees were enjoying our table and more specifically, me. The last time I was stung by a bee, my arm swelled up bigger than a softball, so I did not like these buzzing kamikazes hanging out with me on this morning.  In a futile attempt … Read more…