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On September 3, 2001, Heidi and I stepped on an SAS long-haul jet headed for Copenhagen. 10 hours later we landed, endured a couple of hours of layover and off we were on a short flight to Milan’s Malpensa airport. Here’s our jet in Copenhagen, Denmark at 1 pm Europe time.
Milan, Italy. September 4, 2001.
We hopped on the metro and walked up some stairs onto the incredible Piazza del Duomo. It was a sight to see, even with super tired eyes. Smartly, we had rented a room within two blocks of where this photo was taken- so we ate dinner and threw ourselves in bed.
The next morning we slowly drug ourselves out of bed and went looking for some breakfast. Heidi was super excited to be in Europe!
The Duomo is one of the most beautiful structures on earth.
What is this? A Smart Car? They should have these in the US!!!
Venice, Italy. September 6, 2001.
The next day we hopped a train for Venice. We had been here in 1996 and loved it. The weather was amazing!
The Gondolier was singing in a beautiful baritone Italian.
Piazza San Marco, filled with people and pigeons.
San Marco Basilica- trying to be artistic with a pretty lame digital camera.
San Marco Campanile
After a beautiful day of walking around, it was time for some lunchtime pizza.
Now that is a beautiful sight!
This is a taxi boat.
Our hotel was right by the fish market, pictured below. What isn’t visible were the extremely loud sounds starting at 5 am. Those sound are part of life in Venice, which is fabulous, but not when trying to get over jet lag.
Pre-sunrise view of the Grand Canal.
Piazza San Marco before the tourists arrived.
This is not lens distortion- that tower is actually leaning. Yikes.
Varenna, Italy. September 8, 2001.
It was time to explore Lombardia and Lake Como, so we took a train to Varenna. This photo is from our hotel room- we were situated right next to a car ferry landing.
Just out of town was a castle that we visited. Those mountains in the background are in Switzerland.
This was our excellent skinny hotel.
Heidi being a happy camper.
The next day we took the little ferry over to the real Bellagio. What a super cute town! We did some shopping and then headed back to Varenna.
This is from the castle above Varenna. As you can see, the weather couldn’t have been better.
Looking down onto Varenna.
I bought a local cycling jersey!
Delicious pizza- that’s what I call veggie pizza!
The view from our room looking west. Those are some big mountains between Lake Como and Lake Lugano.
Lucern, Switzerland. September 10, 2001.
We took the train through the alps and into Switzerland. Our layover before going to the Berner Oberland was Lucern. We definitely need to spend more time there in the future.
Wengen, Switzerland. September 10, 2001.
After leaving Lucern, we trained into Interlaken. From there, we took the mountain train into Lauterbrunnen, where we switched to a cogwheel train that led us up to Wengen. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
Wengen from the gondola.
We rode the gondola up to Männlichen. From there we hiked through the snow to Kleine Scheidegg at the base of the north face of the Eiger. Wow!
The mighty Eiger shrouded in clouds and a fresh layer of snow. This was our second time to the Berner Oberland in September and both times we experienced the first snow of the season.
Riding the cogwheel train.
Looking north toward Wengen.
This was our hotel. This is also when we found out about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. It was surreal being in such a beautiful place with the events happening in America. Needless to say, the Swiss were incredibly concerned about what was happening and they made us feel very comfortable. I guess it was a pretty good place to be considering the circumstances.
The next day we went up to Kleine Scheidegg, hiked under the Eiger and down to Grindlewald.
The town of Grindlewald. From here we took a super long gondola back up to Männlichen.
On September 13, we rode up the cogwheel train to Kleine Scheidegg and headed to the “Top of Europe”, the Jungfrau Joch. This is a view from the middle of the Eiger north face where they cut holes to dump the tunneling rock. Looking down toward Grindlewald.
This is looking straight down the face, where many climbers have climbed and many have died trying to conquer this face.
Once we got to the top- 11,388 feet, we looked south and across the largest glacier in Europe= the Aletsch Glacier.
You can walk down UNDER the glacier and they have a bunch of carvings and cool tunnels. It’s incredible. You can actually hear the glacier creaking as it moves down the mountain.
Some of the tunnels were a bit claustrophobic.
You will never again see a photo of Heidi eating a weisswurst and rosti. It happens every few years, but photos are no longer allowed.
Zermatt, Switzerland. September 14, 2001.
We hopped the train for Zermatt via Brig. As soon as we arrived we got a room and headed out for dinner. Of course we got fondue. It was amazing!
The next morning we woke up to beautiful blue skies and incredible views of the Matternhorn.
It was time to do a huge hike.
I believe the mountains in the background are the Rimpfischorn and the Strahlhorn.
Avignon, France. September 17, 2001.
After a week in the high Alps, we took off to Provence via Geneva. We got a cute little apartment in the old town of Avignon.
We spent a day wandering around the beautiful town and enjoying our first experience in Provence.
Arles, France. September 18, 2001.
The next day we rented a car and drove to Arles. This apartment wasn’t very cute, but it was super inexpensive. Like $25 US per night. Crazy.
The town of Arles was super cute and we checked out a bunch of shops and museums.
One of the best things in town was the old Roman Amphitheater. It was incredible.
I think they still use it today for bull fighting, believe it or not.
This is a view of the Rhone River from the top of the amphitheater.
The spices in the market blew our minds. We’d never seen anything like it.
The selection of olives was pretty impressive.
Here’s a picture of Heidi with our trusty Renault. It got us through the narrow, winding streets of Rouissillion and amongst the vineyards in Provence. But it didn’t keep Heidi from getting car sick.
This is the hill town of Rouissillon. It is the first place in France where no one we met spoke English. We arrived in the late afternoon.
The streets were very narrow because this down was a true medieval hill town. For some reason, I don’t have any more photos of this town. We checked in to a little (almost empty) hotel, went to a neat restaurant, guessed at ordering some meals in French and ended up eating some things that we had no clue as to what they were. Heidi avoided the meat, which is always a good idea in these types of situations, but the meal was fun and adventurous.
The next day we drove through the beautiful Ardeche Gorges region just west of Provence. The roads were extremely windy and Heidi had to work hard to avoid getting car sick, but the sights we saw were epic.
The next few photos are Pont du Gard. This is an amazing aqueduct built by the romans 2000 years ago.
That night we returned our car in Avignon, stayed at the same hotel we had previously rented and made a plan for the rest of our trip. We were still only 10 days post 9/11 and didn’t really know what was going on. We decided to hang out in Paris for a few days and then end the trip early by a few days. We grabbed a TGV from Avignon the next morning and made our way to the City of Lights.
Training in style.
Paris, France. September 21, 2001.
We attempted to get a hotel on Rue Cler, where we had stayed in 1996, but all the hotels had been influenced by the “Rick Steves” effect and were significantly more expensive than what we wanted to spend. We wandered around the 7th Arrondissement and found a great place on Avenue de la Motte Picquet. We were still only a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides.
We, like normal, hiked all over the city and of course spent a lot of time on the Champs Elysees.
This is a view looking south east from the top of the Arc de Triumph.
The Hotel de Ville. We almost stayed there. Well, not really even close.
We wandered around the Jardin des Tuileries, but avoided the Louvre which we had spent many hours in during our trip of 1996.
Heidi taking a well deserved rest on the banks of the Seine.
Notre Dame Cathedral.
Someone bought a new pair of shoes and a jacket- from Prada.
The next day we spent a lot of the day in the Musee d’Orsay. It was pretty incredible. BTW, all these photos were taken with no flash. Not bad for a crappy 2001, barely megapixel camera.
That night we visited the Eiffel Tower, rode the elevator to the top and enjoyed the view.
The next day we took an early flight to Copenhagen, which was significantly delayed by fog. SAS put us up in an incredible hotel at the airport and we rested from 3 weeks of traveling by lounging around the hotel and our beautiful room for the rest of the day. If we had a bit more energy we would have, and should have, visited beautiful Copenhagen. Next time!
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