: Pics from my stay in Italy/Poland
I have spent the last two weeks in Europe, just got back a few hours ago. I spent four days in Rome, one day in Florence, and the remaining nine days in Krakow, Poland. My mom was born there and her entire side of the family lives there, so it was nice seeing them all. Altogether I took 1447 pics, so here's a consolidated best of picture thread. (Massive amount of pics ahead)
Chicago ORD, one of the busiest airports in the world and it shows.
Most flights to/from Poland are through LOT airlines. Top notch airline all around. We flew on a Boeing 767, very smooth flight with almost no turbulence. Their food is fantastic too, on international flights you get dinner (usually a choice between chicken/pork/beef) and a breakfast sandwich along with unlimited drinks.
After a 9 hour flight into Warszawa we stopped for some coffee at the airport before the two hour flight to Rome.
I also got this text, egads.
Aboard the Embraer 175.
View of Italy from the air, I saw so many roads laid out like pieces of spaghetti that I would have killed to drive on.
We arranged for pickup from the airport to our hotel, and rode there in a Mercedes-Benz E270 diesel. The engine was almost dead silent. The ride was pretty smooth but the suspension was much too floaty at speed for my tastes (our driver had it up to 100mph). Was also refreshing to see people respect the left lane, promptly moving over when necessary.
We stayed at Hotel Mediterraneo, an excellent four star place that was about a 20 minute walk to the Colosseum and literally steps away from the high-speed rail station. Service was excellent, although the room smelled of cigarettes and the wood floors squeaked but those were almost non-issues since we basically were only in the room to sleep. Fantastic breakfast buffet too with the strongest, best tasting coffee I've ever had and a huge selection of meat, bread, danishes, bacon, eggs, and fruit.
View from the hotel window
After about an hour we set out exploring the area around the hotel.
We got pizza at a small restaurant right down the street. Pizza was unbelievably good.
And this place was literally right across the street from Santa Maria Maggiore, was something else to eat dinner right across the street from a church where six popes are buried.
Hotel at night
Got up early next morning, and walked towards the Colosseum. Nothing like seeing it in person for the first time. Didn't go inside yet though.
We began to get acquainted with the city, just walking around and seeing what we could see. Traffic was almost nonexistent.
Stopped on a sidestreet to exchange some $$ for Euros
Ruins of ancient Rome
Ruins of the Roman Forum
Walked to the Pantheon next, the best preserved structure in Rome and IMO the most impressive architecture-wise. Stupid scaffolding outside though.
Mind blowing inside.
My first gelato! Lemon. Very tasty, kind of a happy medium between ice cream and sorbet.
Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, very impressive. Absolutely massive.
Arch of Constantine
Went to the same pizza place again that night
Woke up very early the next morning and started walking towards the Spanish Steps. Saw a new CL65 outside a hotel on the way.
View from the top of the steps.
At the bottom. Was lucky to get there before it got really crowded.
Piazza Del Popolo was steps away.
Some great cathedrals there.
TRUCK OF THE YEAR 1993
Another Basilica, looks pretty meh on the outside but the interior is a different story.
On the 10th floor of our hotel there was an outdoor restaurant with a great view of the city.
Later in the day we took a tour of the Vatican museum (the only guided tour we took, the hotel forces you to do at least one). St Peter's Basilica in the background.
Ended the tour with the Sistine Chapel, absolutely phenomenal to see. Pictures do it no justice. Ceiling painted by Michelangelo. You're not allowed to take pics in there and they had security roaming around, but I snuck some inconspicuously from my hip. The company from Japan that helped finance the restoration of the paintings wanted copyright protection, so they don't want people being able to profit off pics of the chapel.
This was real neat, four small rocks brought back from the moon just for the Vatican. The plaque reads "Presented to the people of Vatican City by Richard Nixon President of the United States of America. This flag of your state was carried to the Moon and back by Apollo 11, and this fragment of the Moon's surface was brought to Earth by the crew of that first manned lunar landing."
Spiral staircase at the museum
The next day we took the high-speed rail to Florence, took less than two hours to get there. The train was on time to the minute, the seats were comfortable, and it was extremely quiet. It's nearly impossible not to fall asleep on it.
Each sleeper is numbered and has the rail company logo stamped on.
Santa Maria Novella
Vasari's Fresco inside Brunelleschi's Dome
Great pictures Gary. I hope it was a good trip, but from the pics I don't see how it couldn't have been good. Though, suddenly I feel very unproductive in my life, and maybe even a little insignificant...
Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, took 21 years to finish.
Santa Maria Novella again
Next we stood in line for what I thought was to get right under Brunelleschi's dome, but it ended up being much more than that. There's actually a walkway way high up that lets you get real close to the painting on the ceiling. To get there you walk up 100 or so narrow stairs.
The stairs kept going though, about another 100 of them or so, but once you got to the top it was all worth it for the stunning view of Florence from the top.
Giotto's Bell Tower
So many scooters everywhere in Italy
Dibs on the left
The train station
We started off the last day going back to the Vatican to see St. Peter's.
First we went to the catacombs where the tombs of previous Popes are. No pictures allowed down there. It was a very neat moment for me to see John Paul II's tomb there since he was one of the only Polish popes, and had a very strong connection with the town the Polish side of my family is from (Krakow), and also my mom received her confirmation from him when he was a bishop there. There was a roped off section in front of it where a lot of people were praying.
Next we went inside the Basilica. Just stunning and absolutely massive inside.
List of all previous popes.
Then we finally went inside the Colosseum.
After that we had about six hours to kill until we had to leave for the airport, so we wandered around aimlessly.
I love Alfas.
An hour before we left for the airport as we were sitting outside on the steps of Santa Maria Maggiore passing time, I saw a yellow Ferrari 458 drive by me and everything was suddenly right in the world.
We somehow had perfect weather every day, 85-90 degrees with almost no humidity and not a cloud in the sky. Italy is such a beautiful country with great food, great people, great culture, and a great history. I'll be coming back for sure.
I'm going to go pass out now, pics from Poland tomorrow.
That architecture is just... wow. breathtaking
09-07-10, 12:48 PM
Beautiful pictures! I've always wanted to spend time in Italy, now even more so...
09-07-10, 02:53 PM
Nice pics, as always Gary :)
I was in Rome last December and it was beautiful. Your pics make mine look like crap :yup:
09-07-10, 03:23 PM
That architecture is just... wow. breathtaking:yeah:
Beautiful pictures! I've always wanted to spend time in Italy, now even more so...Italy is on my short list of places to visit. My sister and I are planning to go to Paris — and I hope London — next fall. She and my other sister went to Italy last spring, and we both want to see Paris, so Paris it is (plus I want to see my chateau (http://www.lelude.com/)). She's been to London, but it's close enough to Paris that I figure we can either fly in or out of London so I can see both. Plus she has a friend in Kent.
I already know I won't get pictures like gary88's, but then who will?
Wonderful to see Italy again through your well composed and beautifully exposed pictures. My visits to Italy always seemed to be in early April, so the weather wasn't nearly as spectacular! I very much concur on your thoughts on Alfa Romeo. Thanks for the opportunity to Italy again through your splendid camera!
Damn I love Italy. Thanks for those gorgeous photos. :thumbsup:
GREAT pics! Dibs on the left and the pizza. :drool:
09-07-10, 11:14 PM
Those pictures were a treat! Thanks for posting them. I'll be in Greece this coming April. Doubt I'll take pics like that as I'm just not into taking pics but I'll try. :thumbsup:
09-07-10, 11:27 PM
Great pics, Gary. :thumbsup: Thanks for sharing.
Thanks all! Now for Poland.
Our flight from Rome to Krakow was scheduled to leave at 12:15am, but due to thunderstorms over Europe it was delayed until shortly after 1am. It was pretty odd being in a mostly empty large airport. This time we were in a slightly smaller Embraer 170, and there was quite a bit of turbulence. Felt like I was on a rollercoaster at times.
We landed at KRK around 2:30
Every time I've ever been to Poland I've stayed at my Grandma/Grandpa's apartment and have slept on an inflatable pool raft. This time I got a room to myself at the hotel my aunt works at. They call it a hotel but it's mostly used as dorms for students. They only pay only $1000 per year to live here.
Went to sleep around 5am then woke up at noon. The first half of the day was spent at my Grandma/Grandpa's.
Standard Polish dinner. 500ml of beer, soup, chicken/pork/beef (pick one), pickles or cucumbers, and potatoes.
Later than night my aunt's friend was having a party so we headed there, where I made a couple of new friends. We stayed there for maybe 30 minutes, had a couple of shots, then they decided to show me what Krakow nightlife was like. In a word it's amazing, almost all the clubs are underground, and there are so many of them on every street. Plus the women are absolutely :drool: We went to four different places and at 3am I took a taxi back.
For almost the entire time I was in Poland it was raining, like it was monsoon season or something. Whenever it wasn't raining I got out though and walked around.
Wisla River with Wawel Castle in the background
Krakow's main market square (Rynek Główny)
This year Poland is celebrating 30 years of Solidarity, the first non-communist controlled train union in a Warsaw Pact country. They were playing a film about the history of it all outside.
Another day, more rain. Walking down a street in market square.
Wall of paintings for sale.
Saw a BMW X1, we get this next year. Looks pretty good in person.
Small market underneath the train tracks
The next day we lucked out and didn't get any major rain.
You see these blue pretzel stands everywhere around Poland
View of the Wisla River after all the rain.
Wawel Castle. This is where the Polish president who died in the plane crash not too long ago is buried. There was a huge outrage over burying him here since nobody in Krakow liked him, and they didn't think he deserved to rest in the same place as Polish kings and saints.
This guy has been performing on the street for as long as I can remember
The Jewish quarter, Kazimierz
Then my Uncle (51 years old) played a football match with his club vs another club from England. All of these guys are in their 40s-50s.
My uncle Ted
My uncle has a diesel Passat wagon with about 140,000 miles. It still looks pretty good, barely any rattles on the inside too. It's also a taxi for part of his work. Lots of room inside and comfortable seats.
Last Saturday I went out again at night, this time with my cousins, to the best nightclub in Krakow where we stayed until 4am. Right across the street from Jagiellonian University where Copernicus studied. Four aesthetically different bars with two dancefloors and a couple of girls who walk around collecting your empty glasses and wiping down your table. Great times were had for sure.
Back to KRK for our 12:15 flight back to the US.
The 767, LOT has four 787s on order so hopefully next time I'll be on one of them
Best two weeks of my life, back to the real world tomorrow.
09-08-10, 02:15 AM
Poland looks lovely. It's nice to see how the country has evolved since the fall of Communism. Good for them.
I really like the 767. I prefer window seats, so I like the 2-3-2 layout of the 767 in coach.
Krakow looks much better since I last saw it in 1990. Doesn't look dead grim anymore. Looks like you had a really great trip, Gary! Thanks for sharing the pics!
Yep, ever since Poland joined the EU things have become much better and the country overall has recently started to become a popular vacation spot for other Europeans.
I remember back in the sixties and early seventies when they started cleaning the grime from som many Western European cities, what a difference it made. Paris became a beautiful city, not the grimey old place it had remained for many years. Same went for Rome and London. The night time lighting of many of the historic buildings really helped too. I remember visiting Paris in 1967 and then returnining for a six month stay in 1972 .... what a difference! Paris had really begun to regain its' "brilliance" as the city of lights.
Ofcourse many American cities like Philadelphia and Boston were grimey and antiquated at that time too! Washington, D.C. was a shabby mess in the 1950's-60's with only the monuments to recommend it. I remember visiting D.C. both before and after I had lived in Brazil, as a child, and thinking what a poor place it was. L.A. got a huge face lift in the 1980's which was much needed.
09-09-10, 05:54 PM
Nice pics! These pics motivate me to have a trip to Eastern Euro! For some reason that I do not know I dislike Italy! May be it is too chaotic for me.... Couple of years ago I had a trip to Central Euro and was planning to go East further, but could not because of lack of enough time... I decided to return back to visit those parts but could not make it so far!
Ben, you must be one of the few who doesn't like Italy .... and for no apparent reason. Perhaps you were an Ethiopian soldier in a past life!
I also have a completely irrational dislike of the Phillipines. I have never been there, except to the old Clark Air Force base (never judge a country by what an American base or its' surroundings are like). I have known few Phillipinos and those I have known have been friendly, intelligent and pleasant to be around. I know from my time at the University of Hawaii that Phillipino women are among the most beautiful in all of Asia. So what's my problem? I wish I knew! I have learned that when ever this irrational dislike comes on me to totally disregard it and neutralize it and go on and enjoy whatever the Phillipines and her people offer me. But I still don't know why I have these feelings.