Duomo di Siena

Thankfully, we had time to tour the beautiful cathedral of Siena.  It was completed between 1215-1263.  Can you imagine the skills it took to build it?  The architecture is Romanesque, which I love.

2015-03-30 12.53.38_500

We took a tour that took us high up on the building itself, with views inside and out.  It was amazing.  Here is a view of the nave from above:

2015-03-30 12.27.01_500

2015-03-30 12.26.27_500

2015-03-30 12.07.58_500

The original gargoyles had been removed from the outside of the building and could be seen inside in a special gallery.

2015-03-30 12.06.49_500

Below, you can see some of the gargoyles on the outside.2015-03-30 12.51.08_500

2015-03-30 12.56.39_500

We also had great views of the city.

2015-03-30 12.13.36_500

This view shows a large arch that was to be another entire section of the cathedral, but it was stopped when the plague killed so many of the construction workers.

2015-03-30 12.13.48_500

2015-03-30 13.05.18_500

Here are some more views from up above.

2015-03-30 12.21.48_500

2015-03-30 12.16.51_500

2015-03-30 12.18.44_500

I was fascinated by the back of this angel.

2015-03-30 12.25.21_500

You can just make out the angel from the street, right in the center.  We had walked across that little alcove right behind the angel.

2015-03-30 12.54.23_500

The details of artwork in a cathedral are mind-boggling.

2015-03-30 12.47.07_500

2015-03-30 12.46.19_500

2015-03-30 12.39.40_500

2015-03-30 12.34.38_500

2015-03-30 12.37.37_500

2015-03-30 12.32.53_500

2015-03-30 12.26.42_500

What an amazing experience — seeing this beautiful cathedral!

2015-03-30 12.52.26_500

 

Siena

Our next stop was Siena — one of the prettiest walled towns of Tuscany.  We have a friend that is in Siena for a few months, so we stopped to tour the city with her. First we stopped for pastries in Florence.

2015-03-30 05.56.30_500

2015-03-30 05.59.52_500

2015-03-30 06.20.05_500

Then we arrived in beautiful Siena and met up with Jenna at the train station.

2015-03-30 08.00.44_500

2015-03-30 08.58.22_500

We headed for the Piazza del Campo, which was not far to walk to.

2015-03-30 10.12.33_500

2015-03-30 10.01.17_500

The weather was great for us and everyone else was out enjoying it, too.

2015-03-30 10.02.04_500

2015-03-30 11.43.07_500

2015-03-30 11.42.06_500

2015-03-30 16.47.13_500

2015-03-30 22.28.00_500

One thing that’s really great about northern Italy is that they give free appetizers at certain hours of the day, if you purchase drinks.  Here are the “aperitivo” that came with our drinks that night:

2015-03-30 13.46.00_500

The gelato in Siena was also impressive!

2015-03-30 11.17.40_500

2015-03-30 13.09.58_500

Venice

The next stop in our journey was Venice, where we spent one night.  As you know, Venice as a unique look about it, and Chris stepped into the culture right away.

2015-03-29 16.24.52_500

We found plenty of great gelato.

2015-03-29 16.16.11_500

We had a nice meal alongside the Grand Canal — salmon for me.

2015-03-29 15.27.51_500

Venice is such a beautiful city.

2015-03-30 02.53.44_500

2015-03-30 03.06.15_500

We walked a lot.

2015-03-29 19.13.46_500

We found a nice place to stay right on the spot.

2015-03-29 19.15.02_500

2015-03-29 19.04.01_500

2015-03-30 03.01.18_500

There’s tons of shopping that can be done in Venice, at all levels of prices.

2015-03-29 18.59.27_500

And lots of good food.

2015-03-30 03.02.43_500

This is the “Bridge of Sighs” — over witch prisoners were walked from prison to their death.

2015-03-29 16.43.00_500

The gondolas are seen everywhere, day and night.

2015-03-29 17.09.33_500

2015-03-29 19.05.03_500

Then soon we were back on the train for the next adventure!

2015-03-29 15.00.58_500

Evening Hike in the Alps

We just had time to take a hike in the Alps before sunset.  We wanted to get up above the village and look back upon the Dolomites and another pretty church.  Here are some of my photos from the hike.

2015-03-28 13.04.17_500

2015-03-28 13.05.27_500

2015-03-28 13.06.22_500

There were several shrines along the way.

2015-03-28 13.10.23_500

2015-03-28 13.15.21_500

2015-03-28 13.15.38_500

It was truly a beautiful, amazing evening!

2015-03-28 13.15.48_500

2015-03-28 13.16.10_500

2015-03-28 13.21.42_500

2015-03-28 13.26.32_500

This is another beautiful church up on the hillside.

2015-03-28 13.32.09_500

2015-03-28 13.33.02_500

2015-03-28 13.33.39_500

2015-03-28 13.34.58_500

2015-03-28 13.39.27_500

I’ll never forget the wonderful evening we spent in the Dolomites of northern Italy!  Memorable!

Dolomites

The destination that Chris had in mind for us was the Dolomites of northern Italy.  We got off the train at Bressanone and took a bus up to the  village of St. Magdalena.  We arrived just in time to get a few photos before sunset.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

2015-03-28 12.10.27_500

2015-03-28 12.10.08_500

2015-03-29 07.33.00_500

2015-03-28 12.16.19_500

2015-03-28 12.21.18_500

It was a great place for a jump pic.

2015-03-28 12.37.39_500

The little church is so pretty.

2015-03-29 07.38.39_500

2015-03-29 07.44.00_500

The village isn’t very big, but we felt it was very pretty.

2015-03-28 12.44.26_500

2015-03-28 12.46.21_500

We noticed a climbing wall in the corner of a garage.

2015-03-28 12.45.21_500

The mountains are stunning.

2015-03-28 12.50.04_500

We stayed at the Gasthof Edelweiss — a wonderful hotel we would highly recommend for the friendliness of the owners and the great meals.

2015-03-29 03.10.08_500

2015-03-29 03.03.40_500

2015-03-29 09.27.18_500

Delicious spaetzle and strudel!

2015-03-28 19.50.40_500

2015-03-28 20.25.26_500

The breakfast buffet was a typical, delicious, German selection of goodies.  It couldn’t have been better.

2015-03-29 09.27.08_500

Sleeping Pods

We’ve done a lot of traveling, as you know, since our son is a commercial pilot.  It’s interesting flying on standby.  We’re flexible with our plans.  We carry everything on our backs.  We make plans about where we’d like to go (in this case, the Greek isles) but then we go where the flights are available and the weather is good (this time, to northern Italy).  It’s always interesting to see where we end up and what new adventure awaits us!

We flew into Munich since there were direct flights there from Houston.

2015-03-28 02.06.42_500

We were fascinated by the sleeping pods available for travelers at the airport, but did not use them.  We all had slept pretty well on our flight.

2015-03-28 09.00.08_500

2015-03-28 09.00.19_500

About all we saw of Germany was the airport.

2015-03-28 10.51.12_500

2015-03-28 10.51.41_500Unable to make flight arrangements to Greece, we jumped on a train instead and headed south through the beautiful countryside.  Chris had a great destination in mind for us in the Alps.  On the way, a German dinner on the train wasn’t too bad.

2015-03-28 12.35.04_500

2015-03-28 13.41.41_500

 

Great Videos

Here are a couple of great videos that Compassion has posted for us.
This great story is from The Philippines:

Here is another compelling story from Brazil:

Please — sponsor a child today!