We rented a small car at Sixt by Ciampino, it was only 119 e for 8 days – a good price. It is not hard to drive in Italy if it is not in Rome. In Rome traffic is very intensive, the streets are complicated, some with trams, and not surprisingly there a traffic jams. But Ciampino airport is by a highway and in the middle of the day it was a good drive out of the metropolitan area. 40 km north we reached a town Monterosi, and from there turned towards a lake on a small road. The countryside was beautiful, the warm and peaceful day reflected on the lake:The town by the lake is calledￂﾠ Trevignano Romano, is very picturesque and is loved by Romans for getaways: Fancy chimneys: There were several hill towns on our way, but we stopped only in one -Montefiascone. There we climbed the hill in the center, admired the cathedral and enjoyed the swings on top of the hill in the park with the far away views! The cathedral is build on the side of the hill leaving the top for the park. But the interesting part of it wasￂﾠ that it was of octagon shape, very unusual. The other interesting feature-ￂﾠ it was built on an old Roman temple, turned into a church – mausoleum for St. Lucia. Her body is in the center of the octagon, mummified, I guess, in a fancy glass coffin. It is evidently an example of one of those strange Italian fascinations with mummies and reliquaries: We reached Pitigliano at dusk. Made total of 185 km, not so many but we got tired. This was the most exotic stay of our trip. It is called Grotto on Booking.com. In the very center there used to be a place to house horses. the new owner Anna turned it into a very cozy apartment built literally in a steep vertical rock! With modern amenities, kitchen and all a person needs. There were windows towards the valley of a stream very very low down. Luckily – we didn’t need to climb up or down to the Grotto because the center of the town was there. Well, we had to go down one flight of stairs only, so here it is: The red doors are ours: This is the view from our entrance or exit: Pitigliano is a town of inner gardens and stairs. I wonder how old people manage to survive: This church was seen also form our doors towards the other side of the deep valley:Pitigliano at night: A view from the other end of town: ￂﾠￂﾠ ￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠￂﾠ This is the cathedral of Pitigliano: St. Mouse or Rat? The castle-palace of theￂﾠ nobleman who ruled the town, it was being restored:We walked around two mornings and two evenings and the rest of the days we spent driving to some other hill towns and the hot springs.
It was last beginning of March. We visited my parents in Lithuania for a couple of weeks and then flew to Napoli directly from Kaunas, my city. It is a good flight, a convenient one.ￂﾠ But we did not plan to travel in Southern Italy, just used the direct flight and then a train to Rome. After a couple of days in Rome we planned to rent a car and drive North to Tuscany. After our travel experiences we decided that it is more fun to stay in one place at least for 2-3 nights, so we arranged our trip based on that principle. Also – we looked for attractive places to stay at, so it defined the towns where we were staying. We flew to Napoli pretty early, in the morning, so we had some time to leave our bags in the train station and walk around town a little:The center was kind of claustrophobic -ￂﾠ for me the streets were too narrow and churches tucked in between buildings so much so that you may not even notice that there was a church. but we found the Domo – cathedral” Lots of different figurines by cafes and shops: It was a Mardi Gra day – so kids were dressed inￂﾠ costumes, parents taking there pictures. Like following a strange tradition – rarely a kid seemed very happy in his costume…they were just doi8ng what they were supposed to do – to trash their squares and streets throwing confetti and something that looked like liquid chewing gum. Which made me feel very sorry for the street cleaners…A little “lady bug”: There were also processions in pedestrian streets collecting money for their parishes: The most typical Napoli street to me: We even didn’t stay long enough in the city, got tired and went to wait for the train by the station. Trains in Italy are far from the quality trains in Japan…I don’t mind their seating arrangements and softness, I mind the noise that immigrants make by talking on their phones for hours…I guess phone services are very cheap there. But what can you doￂﾠ – nothing is perfect during a trip. In Rome we rented and apartment through Air B&b close to train station – why to carry the bags. Stayed for 3 nights, then 2 nights in Pitigliano, 2 nights in Tigliola by Quirico d’Orcia, 3 nigths in Sienna and back to Rome, a sleep on the way by some lake. the trip was good, saw a lot, enjoyed even hot springs, but the very last part of our drive to Rome on its circle highway we got stuck in such traffic jam, that had nerves over the top to get in time to the airport…Travels are rarely unstressed…
Gdansk is amazing. In all aspects. Considering that it was totally bombed during the 2nd World War and now it looks as it looked before the war – makes you believe in the Fenex legend…No wonder there is a new 2nd World War museum built and opened on the outskirts of the old town, right where Russians and Germans had flattened the city. It is in a modern structure, the main part of the very informative expositions being situated under the ground level in a very creative manner:
Last summer I stayed in Lithuania pretty long, like never before. thanks to my good husband who took all the responsibilities of taking care and irrigating our gardens. I guess I stayed too long, because close to the end I fell of a ladder and broke my knee. Consequently I had to extend my stay by 3 more weeks in order to somehow reach home. Though totally for 4 months there was not much use of me in our household…Never ever break your knee, always be aware of that! Never loose concentration and attention!
It is fun to drive around Lithuania and visit those restored estates. I very much recommend! Some of them organize good concerts, if it happens to visit at that time!
I was lucky that during my visit to Lithuania this summer my friends Arￅﾫnas and Nijolￄﾗ drove us to Northern Poland for a several day trip. That land at some point in history was Prussia, so it has a very well built red brick churches and castles, built by the crusaders. Also, the soil is fertile and flat, good for agriculture. But some of the roads are still very narrow and have big trees growing very close to their sides. The biggest of the castles, in fact the biggest castle in Europe from red brick is the Magdeburg castle. If you are interested in its historical significance, have a look at Wikipedia. it also has fantastic pictures of the whole castle from the other side of the river. We didn’t stop for those pictures, so here are mine glances inside the castle courtyards and halls. The good feature – most of polish museums provide you with the “talking stick – audio guide” – you can switch it into any language of your choice and once you enter each location, it starts telling you stories about what is shown. It even sends you from one location to another, whereas otherwise you can end up seeing only a fraction of the rooms and places. The castle is rather big and complicated. I would advise at least 3 hours visiting, maybe even more. Here are the views through my eyes:
Good friends of ours Egidijus and Jolanta took us three Lithuanian-American ladies to Neringa for a couple of days. And it was wonderful! I haven’t seen Nida the town, my namesake, for 30 years, or maybe 32. It was sentimental. Luckily – the weather was perfect! Neringa is a narrow slit of sandy dunes and earth blown by winds to this corner of the Baltic sea, where it protects an inner sea from the salty waters and too many boats. The biggest river Nemunas is bringing its waters into this inner sea called Kurￅﾡiu Marios. Several little fishing villages are fighting nature since ages ago. Some of them are under sands, some survived or moved to another location. And now they are flourishing resort towns. Especially Nida, where I used to spend my childhood summers with my parents. I will never forget how we used to fish on this pier at every sunset, and that is where I ran to the first thing we got there:
We had a small walk in the very center of Nida and admired the clouds on the East, the flower beds all over with flowers very well matched in colors. And so natural, like it is their place to grow.
Baigￄﾗme mokyklￄﾅ 1976 metais. Beveik su visais klasiokais praleidome kartu 11 metￅﾳ, beveik giminￄﾗs…Turￄﾗjome keleta susitikimￅﾳ iki ￅﾡiol, bet 40-meￄﾍio susiorganizuoti nepavyko. Geriau vￄﾗliau negu negu niekad. Mￅﾫsￅﾳ auklￄﾗtoja J.Kovienￄﾗ gyvena labai jau graￅﾾioj vietoj Lampￄﾗdￅﾾiuose palei ramiai plaukiantￄﾯ Nemunￄﾅ ir ji mums pasiￅﾫlￄﾗ susitikti jos kieme. O groￅﾾis:
Kaip ￅﾾinia, man iki klasￄﾗs susitikimￅﾳ fiziￅﾡkai toloka, bet ￅﾡￄﾯ kartￄﾅ pasisekￄﾗ-kaip tik buvau Lietuvoje. Susitikome treￄﾍiadienￄﾯ, idant nesusitrikdytￅﾳ ￅﾡeimￅﾳ savaitgaliai. Tania ir Dainￄﾗ suorganizavo, aￄﾍiￅﾫ joms. Ir buvo gerai, dalyvavo net Inga ir Ina- uￅﾾsienietￄﾗs. Kaip kad Audrius, kol neturￄﾗjo ￅﾡuns ir turￄﾗjo gerￄﾅ jumora, vadindavo mus – ” intermergaitￄﾗs” (Tokￄﾯ filma kadaise rodￄﾗ). Kadangi neplanavau ￅﾡio ivykio ￄﾯtraukti ￄﾯ savo Blogￄﾅ, ne iￅﾡ nepagarbos ￄﾯvykiui, bet gal dￄﾗl savo sulietￄﾗjusio galvojimo proceso, todￄﾗl nuotraukos neiￅﾡfasonuotos, neiￅﾡkonfiguruotos, bet gal save paￅﾾinsite. Plius juk buvo didelis susijaudinimas! Taigi -ￅﾾiￅﾫrￄﾗkit.
Pasiaiￅﾡkinu, kodￄﾗl taip vￄﾗlai iￅﾡleidￅﾾiu ￅﾡias nuotraukas ￄﾯ eterￄﾯ. Lygiai lygiai savaitￄﾗ po susitikimo kritau nuo kopￄﾗￄﾍiￅﾳ ir susilauￅﾾiau tibialio virￅﾡￅﾫnￄﾙ, liaudiￅﾡkai – kelￄﾯ. KKL darￄﾗ operacijￄﾅ, dￄﾗjo metalￄﾅ, buvau “ￄﾯkalinta” LT dar mￄﾗnesiui, o nevaikￅﾡￄﾍiojau 3 mￄﾗnesius. Nuostabￅﾫs daktarai, nuostabￅﾫs draugai padￄﾗjo, ypaￄﾍ Audronￄﾗ, kuri tￄﾅ patￄﾯ vakarￄﾅ atlￄﾗkￄﾗ su skaniais maistais, Tania ir Algis I. veￅﾾￄﾗ ￄﾯ ligoninￄﾙ patikrinimams, aￄﾍiￅﾫ jiems. O man buvo itin liￅﾫdna ir Lietuvos nuotraukas atsiverￄﾍiau tik prieￅﾡ savaitￄﾙ…Vis tik nevaikￅﾡￄﾍioti yra baisu, o dar kai ta proga pamatai kitus su didesnￄﾗm bￄﾗdom…Linkiu bￅﾫti budriems, angl. “aware” visￄﾅ laikￄﾅ ir nekristi.
O dabar trumpa reklama. Rasa suspￄﾗjo man ￄﾯtaigiai paskaityti trumpￄﾅ paskaitￄﾗlￄﾙ prie stalo apie marketingo naudￄﾅ, tai jos minￄﾍiￅﾳ bei pavyzdￅﾾio (vyko vaikￅﾳ pasiekimￅﾳ reklama) ￄﾯkvￄﾗpta noriu supaￅﾾindinti Jus visus su faktu, kad kai turiu laiko ir netingiu – raￅﾡau Blogￄﾅ apie mￅﾫsￅﾳ keliones. Niekad gyvenime neplanavau, kad nuskils tiek pamatyti, iￅﾡ to dￅﾾiaugsmo nesusilaikau nepasidalinus patirtais ￄﾯspￅﾫdￅﾾiais ir ypaￄﾍ vaizdais. Pabrￄﾗￅﾾiu – tai ne verslas, jokio uￅﾾdarbio iￅﾡ to as neturiu (na netiesa, per daug metu uￅﾾdirbau kartￄﾅ $40 uￅﾾ vienￄﾅ nuotrauka iￅﾡ turizmo agentￅﾫros :-)). Bet galvoju taip – kol kas mes niekas neturime laiko skaitineti svetimus Blogus ir ￅﾾiￅﾫrinￄﾗti gamtos vaizdus kompe. Taￄﾍiau juk nejaunￄﾗjam, deja. Ir gal net ￄﾯ pensijￄﾅ kaￅﾾkada iￅﾡeisim, ir gal keliauti darosi vis sunkiau ir sunkiau, ir gal atsiras noras pasigroￅﾾￄﾗti be streso kaￅﾾkuo. Tam aￅﾡ ir pluￅﾡu :-), prisipaￅﾾinsiu – su vyro pagalba, nes be jo nei keliauti, nei kompo nustatyti Blogo raￅﾡymui nesugebￄﾗￄﾍiau (aￅﾡ gi esu “technologically disadvantaged” :-)). Visuomet knygose raￅﾡo padￄﾗkas, taigi – aￄﾍiￅﾫ mano geraￅﾡirdￅﾾiui ir nusimananￄﾍiam Andrejui.
Linkiu nepamirￅﾡti vieniems kitￅﾳ, susitikinￄﾗti ir toliau, linkiu visiems kuo geriausios sￄﾗkmￄﾗs ir kai turￄﾗsit laiko ir noro – uￅﾾmeskit akￄﾯ ￄﾯ mano kelioniￅﾳ Bloga, pasirinkite ￅﾡalￄﾯ, kuri Jus domina ir keliaujam kartu. Yra ￅﾾmoniￅﾳ, kurie labai giria mano nuotraukas (ￄﾍia jau ne lietuviￅﾡkas bruoￅﾾas save pagirti :-)), cha! Ir iki kitￅﾳ susitikimￅﾳ.
Guanajuato is about 70-80 km away from San Miguel. There are two ways of driving. the longer passes by a town where Mexican revolution started. but this time we didn’t visit it. The road goes up and to tell the truth – it was a scary drive, to many time you have to drive on a very steep edge. But you enter Guanajuato via a perfect side, close to downtown, plenty of spaces to park on the streets. Still I preferred the not so beautiful drive back because it was shorter and not high up on the ridges. This time we didn’t sleep in G., just walked around and came back home to “Life Path”. We wanted to compare both of those magic towns. but it is hard to compare. i thing Guanajuato has more museums, both of them are perfectly colorful and beautiful. G. has more culture expressed on the streets, I would say – much more. But it is amid some hills, an old mining town and not so convenient once you decide to drive out. It is also significantly dirtier. Whereas San Miguel is very clean. The world knows Guanajuato mainly because of its exhumed poor people’s bodies, turned into mummies and placed in a museum, some 110 of them. We don’t enjoy such things, I think it is ridiculous to expose them for peculiar viewing. Only because they were poor and could not pay for their grave site. But there are really good museums, including the birth house of their beloved son Diego Riviera, so we visited this one. Sad as it is – I almost forgot everything I saw there last time, 4 years ago. This time they had an exhibit of some artist, whose name I didn’t write down – he has a peculiar way of creating art:
It took us several hours to reach San Miguel by car from El Geiser. On the map you see a highway on the East side of Queretaro, you are driving from there and you plan to join it and proceed North. No way…it is a toll road and it is tricky to find a place to get on it. You have to do more research how to get there, which takes time and attention. We ended up driving through the whole million people town of Queretaro and getting onto a highway on the West side of it. It was additional stress and more time on the roads. Then in San Miguel it is not so simple to get on the right road while doing a number of roundabouts. We got lots once even with a GPS. So be careful and very attentive while driving there. We stayed in the very center. That also added the chill of driving on their cobbled streets. We picked a place to stay on a pedestrian street, which meant low noise level. The place is called Life Path -so we assumed there will be people who speak English. they are considered a rehabilitation place and so silence is required. That is what we need! Forget it- nobody speaks a word of English there and silence is required only during the day time while gringo’s (American expatriates) are doing yoga in a nice hall there or if they are meditating, but after they leave- I do not say that it is a party place, but it seemed to me that it was an overnight place for guests to sleep after participating in some party or wedding in this city. Which meant they would come late at night and walk in the room endlessly on stilettos. Happy people. Everything else in “Life Path” was perfect! I even had one class of yoga -meditation, it was good! Highly recommend! And yes, yoga was taught in English.
We rented a car for a week in some hotel on the edges of downtown in Queretaro. And drove towards Bernal. Locals say it takes half an hour. They are wrong. Maybe it would if they don’t close the important exit on a highway and you have to drive far away, turn around and so on and so forth. The other unpleasant feature on Mexican roads in smaller towns but sometimes even on highways are the Topas, or ‘lying policemen’. I think it shows how Mexicans like to not obey the speed limits so they are forced to, or maybe it is to make sure people do not drive fast where there is a lot life close by a road. Whatever they are for- I hate them…It causes stress on a car and on us inside. Luckily there is pretty good highway that leads to Bernal once you get on it through the maze of Queretaro roads. And there is a couple of seafood restaurants right by the highway – they are called Mariscos. Everything is tasty there, but Sopa (soup) mariscos – wow!