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Archive for the ‘Travel Information’ Category

Today was clouds and rain and cold all day. But we wanted to get out and explore so we did. First things first – food!! When we arrived late yesterday most things were closed – seems Thursday is the day a lot of places don’t open in the afternoon. But we did spy T cafe so headed there this morning first thing. It is a cozy place with great pastries – pastries are big here, lots of pasticerrias.

T Caffe

Bello

While walking in the morning we spied another place that looked good – Lino’s Coffee. Way better coffee this afternoon, so we will try it tomorrow for breakfast. They have a world map with locations coffees comes from and great graphics showing the different kind of coffee drinks you can get.

Lino’s Coffee, Via della Cooperazone 7/A

The graphics

Verdi, who is from here is quoted, “Coffee is balm for the heart and soul.”

Close up

Parma is known for its ham, parmigiano, and several pastas including tortelli, a big ravioli. Kristi had the tortelli stuffed with artichokes for lunch. I had pasta with culatello, one of the many varieties of ham. It was fabulous – like carbonara but with the slices of ham. This was at Trattoria del Tribunale.

Trattoria del Tribunale, Vicolo Politi 5

There are plenty of shops selling ham and parmigiano.

Salumeri Verdi – Via Garibaldi 69/A

Did I say it was raining? 

They love their bikes here, and the rain doesn’t stop them.

The cathedral is an impressive building along with its pink eight sided baptistry. When I get inside a church like this I am reminded of how light and airy the duomo in Orvieto is.

We went into an old pharmacy dating to about 1000 a.d. The following picture is from the poison room, where glass beakers of all shapes and sizes hung on the wall created some bizarre shadows.

My foot gives some perspective as to the size of this mortar and pestle

This is a city full of color and brick. Such fun.

And it is a city of impossibly tiny shops. This one on Via Garibaldi, has wonderful pastries and breads.

We’re hoping for some sun tomorrow!

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This is just a monumentally beautiful landscape with some pretty decent man made things thrown in!

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It has been mostly cloudy, giving us moody days. The sun has poked through on occasion, however, spotlighting things.

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From Kotor looking up the mountain behind

The defensive walls and forts above Kotor reflected in the water last night.
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Risan has some beautiful 2nd century Roman mosaics. Tiny, little, subtlety different colored stones. Gorgeous. And just incredible what the Romans accomplished in such far flung places of the world.
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We can see Perast from our apartment, but this view is from the water on a boat taking us to Madonna of the Rocks which occupies all of a small island in the bay.

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Madonna of the Rocks

Below views from the island.

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We flew from Rome to Podgorica, Montenegro where we got a car. The fight in was something with these rustic, rustic mountains as we flew in to Podgorica.

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We traveled into downtown Podgorica. It had the hallmark look of Soviet era architecture – rough, cold concrete. Had lunch where the waiter proudly served his specialty – smoked salmon with big hunks of feta and an oil/lemon sauce.

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From there it was through the mountains into Bosnia – Herzegovina. The Montenegro side was tough looking with lots of roofless, empty buildings making us wonder if they were a result of the war. When we got to Bosnia the landscape was transformed – beautiful, well maintained.

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Countryside church in Bosnia-Herzegovina

We came out of a gorge into the town of Trebinje. It is a place I’d like to explore sometime, but we didn’t have time. On to Dubrovnik. This was the first view of the Adriatic.

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And of Dubrovnik

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Quite the setting, and charming travel companions!!

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Our wonderful hosts took us to their free parking and we had a nice long walk back through the city – a little exercise after a day of seated travel.

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Couldn’t have timed this boat’s passage any better.

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This is a beautiful city. It is often described as Vienna without the tourists or high prices. The Ljubljanica River runs through it in a great big oxbow. Nestled around the bow is the old city. It is picturesque and charming

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This is the Tromostovje, the triple bridge. It was initially a road bridge, and then, in the 1930s, two pedestrian bridges were added on either side. This is one of the pedestrian bridges. The old town is now car free, so it is extremely pleasant to walk.

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There are an incredible number of places to eat, have a coffee or drink. These places line the river and the streets, and nearly all have outdoor seating. When cold, as it was yesterday, some provide blankets so you can comfortably sit outside. It is also a very international city with all sort of ethnic restaurants.

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We’ve been having coffee each morning at a nice little Illy cafe. It is frequented by university students. Popular with them are these big bowls of cereal filled with yogurt, and a pastry.

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We met a couple of med students, in the first of a six year program to become doctors. Here, as in Italy, waiters carry around mobile pay devices on which you can pay with a credit card. These students use their mobile phones to pay, placing the phone on the device to pay. They tell us that the government pays a portion of their meals using these devices. Breakfast was about $4, lunch $6 for very generous sized meals. Contrast that, plus free education, with the massive debt of American students. Health care, retirement – there is much to be said for the semi-socialist systems in Europe.

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We definitely feel the Austro-Germanic influence in the food.

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They have a wonderful farmers market – bags of hand picked baby lettuce!

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The setting here is stunning, sitting in the shadow of the Julian Alps.

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One of the things that is eye opening here is how well everyone speaks English. Except for an accent, you would think they are American – all the vernacular, slang and colloquialisms from home.

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The people here tell us that because Slovenia is so small they have to learn other languages. It makes sense, but the facile way they use English is amazing. Frankly, it is much easier to get around here than in Italy because so many speak English. More to come

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Nature in Gubbio

We ended up outside in nature most of the day yesterday. Gubbio has a lovely park above the city with lots of art in it, and a lift that takes you up to the top of the mountain behind the city.

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They were cleaning up the river that runs through town. It is a clean town.

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Fall in the air.

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This Baroque beauty sits right on the river.

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The park behind the city winds its way up to the city wall.

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Inside in this defensive tower was an art installation of ceramic bells – below. Very cool.

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This is the view down the lift from the top of the mountain.

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And these heels road up in the little basket from which you had to jump off! The things we do to look beautiful!!

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We walked down – a long steep walk but beautiful.

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Food

We had a wonderful dinner last night. The restaurant had great atmosphere, a fire on which they cooked and which added warmth on a cool evening, and was completely local – we were the only foreigners there. That is rare, particularly as the web and travel guides direct everyone to the same places. So we truly enjoyed the evening and are returning tonight, which we never do to enjoy it one more time!

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Then there is coffee. When we visited Abruzo a few years back we felt their coffee just was not as good as it was in Umbria – more milky. We experienced the same in Marche. Illy, our favorite, was better but still more milky.

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I liked this cup in Ascoli, which has ‘Kiki’ on it, The name our nieces on one side call Kristi.

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But this Illy coffee in Gubbio won my jeart, was just the way I like it!

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This is one amazing building. It dominates any view of Gubbio from a distance, and it is hard to capture the scale in photos. It is 60 meters tall, or about 200 feet, making it comparable to a 20 story building today. It dates to about 1321.

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Inside the main room below.

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Inside the room above the main room, below. It is smaller but still has an incredibly tall ceiling, and is surrounded by smaller rooms used by the ruling members, or consoli.

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The building had running water and working toilets, an unheard of amenity at the time. It was designed and construction overseen by a man from Orvieto. In the building are the bronze tablets below, writing of the Umbrian people from 300 – 100 B.C. They, like the Etruscans, who were their contemporaries, took their alphabet from the Greeks.

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More on the rest of Gubbio to come.

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