Geneva, Switzerland

October 10, 2014

We last posted on September 26th. That has been 13 days ago when we were packed and ready to leave Greve for destinations undecided. During the last 13 days, we have been very busy. We have been to Milan, Lake Iseo, Lake Garda, Venice, Lake Como, St. Moritz, Appenzell, Zermatt and this evening we arrived in Geneva, Switzerland. We have been busy, seeing a lot of wonderful places, and enjoying every minute of it. Unfortunately, we have only 22 days left in Europe.

 In Milan, we saw the Cathedral of Milan. Not only did we tour the inside of the Cathedral, we went to the top of it so we could see the beautiful view over Milan and to get a better eye for the structure and how this magnifcent place was actually built.  It is the third largest cathedral in the world, took six centuries to build, and is the greatest example of Gothic architecture in Italy.   As you will remember, Gothic architecture is best known for its pointed arch above the entry door, the ribbed vaulted ceilings and the external flying buttresses for support. The cathedral also has one of the venerated nails from Jesus’s cross.

IMG_3071

IMG_3082

IMG_3086

IMG_3091

IMG_3094

IMG_3096

IMG_3097

We also viewed the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci in Santa Maria delle Grazie. Da Vinci started the work in 1495 and completed it in 1598. Unfortunately, he tried a new technique of painting on a dry plaster wall, rather than a wet plaster wall, which would have been a true fresco. Da Vinci new technique did not work and has been painted over several times and little remains of the original work of Da Vinci. Nevertheless, the painting is inspiring. It is the second most recognized painting in the world after the Mona Lisa, another Da Vinci. The third most recognized painting is ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.   Rita and I have been fortunate to have been able to see all three of these paintings. We were not allowed to photograph the Last Supper, or anything inside the building where it is viewed.  Sorry about that.  No pics of it.

Our less religious endeavors in Milan included a visit to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where Rita took a spin on the bull’s balls for good luck, which is a local custom in Milan. The Galleria is one of the world’s oldest shopping centers. Today it is filled with luxury shops like Prada, Gucci, etc. The bull’s balls are part of the tiled floor at the Galleria and are part of the symbol of the city of Turin, Italy. Local custom is that if you stand on the bull’s balls and spin around, you will have good luck. I hope Rita has good luck, because the bull’s balls certainly did not!! So many people spinning on them have worn them away. Instead, there is just a hole in the tile where the bull’s balls used to be.

IMG_3066

IMG_3068

IMG_3070

From Milan, we drove around Lake Iseo and Lake Garda in Italy on our way to Venice to see if any celebrities were still hanging out in Venice after George Clooney’s wedding. The Lakes were beautiful and surrounded by mountains. Unfortunately, there is some pollution in the air that makes them seem a bit smogged in like Los Angeles is at times.

Venice was lovely even though it rained one day. We did not see any celebrities, but we were not disappointed with the sights in Venice including St. Mark’s Square, the Grand Canal, the Bridge of Sighs, the Doge’s Palace, the battle of the orchestra’s, and the Rialto Bridge.

Since we could not find George in Venice, we decided to visit him at his home at Lake Como.   We rented a boat for the afternoon and drove by his “compound” of four homes on Lake Como. They were nice, but not over the top. But, his compound has lovely gardens. He bought his home from Mrs. Heinz (of Ketchup fame), who owns another home on Lake Como, as do the Rockefellers. Unfortunately, George was not at his home.

A short drive from Lake Como over the Italian Alps and into the Swiss Alps is St. Moritz. St. Moritz is a ski resort for the rich and famous of Europe. We were there in October and it was pretty much closed because the summer season was over and the winter season had not started. But, the drive to St. Moritz as through the most beautiful mountains and alongside blue lakes made the visit worthwhile for us.

We spent only one night in St. Moritz and from there we drove North and a little East through Switzerland and even entered the small country of Liechtenstein for part of the drive before we arrived in an area of Switzerland known as Appenzell. Appenzell is farmland nestled into green, rolling hills. It is not just any old green, but the greenest green you will ever see in your life. The cows have bells around their necks and when you stop and get out of your car, all you hear are the cowbells ringing from hillside to hillside. The music of the bells is beautiful to hear. Appenzell is composed of independent Swiss. They did not allow women to vote until 1991. They also defied the Swiss national government by refusing to teach German or Italian in school, but instead teaching English. Their homes are made mostly of wood and all the windows have the most beautiful flower boxes. Most of the homes are painted bright colors. Appenzell looks idyllic to us.

From Appenzell, we drove to Zermatt, Switzerland by way of Lucerne. We only had a couple of hours in Lucerne, but the old city was beautiful. Lucerne is located on the Reuss River, which flows through the city into Lake Lucerne. In the middle of the River and old city, there is a wooden bridge known as the Chapel Bridge, which is the oldest covered bridge in Europe even though a large part of it was destroyed by fire in 1993. The Chapel Bridge is the second most photographed sight in Switzerland after the Matterhorn, which is located in Zermatt. On our drive to Zermatt from Lucerne, Rita drove the Novena della Passo in a blinding fog.   It is the second highest pass in Switzerland. Rita could not see a thing, but that was also very good because there were no guardrails. In places the road was only single lane, and, of course, as we climbed to the 8,130 feet to cross over the pass, there was snow.   Rita was white knuckled and scared SH*TLESS!!!! We didn’t speak during our entire climb up and down the pass, but rather held our breaths and silently prayed. After an hour of driving, we descended from the pass into sunshine and were greatly relieved.

Zermatt is a ski town in the Swiss Alps that border on Italy. It is a small village of 3500 people. Besides skiing, people go to Zermatt to see and photograph the Matterhorn, one of the most beautiful and recognizable mountains, in the world. We spent three days in Zermatt waiting for the weather surrounding the Matterhorn to clear so that we could take a photograph. But, the wait was well worth it. Once the weather broke, we also rode a train to 10,000 feet above sea level to get a better view of the Matterhorn and 29 of Switzerland’s 35 peaks over 13, 135 feet.

Today we drove from Zermatt to Geneva, Switzerland along Lake Geneva and through Montreux and Lausanne, Switzerland. We are spending a couple of days in Geneva to unwind before we enter France for the final leg of our journey. Stay tuned.  We’ll post the rest of the pictures soon, we have to check out now!! Loosing our great wifi connection!

  
Finally the Pictures from our last blog!  Beginning with our drive to Lake Iseo and Lake Garda.  

Just another round-a-bout decoration! Ryka made in Italy.

Just another round-a-bout decoration! RIVA made in Italy.

This is just on one of the winding curvy roads on our way to Lake Iseo. Riva di Solto.

This is just on one of the winding curvy roads on our way to Lake Iseo. Riva di Solto.

This is in Lovere. Such a beautiful drive.

This is in Lovere. Such a beautiful drive.

Toscolano-Maderno from the road.

Toscolano-Maderno from the road.

This is in the little town of Toscolano - Maderno facing the lake.

This is in the little town of Toscolano – Maderno facing the lake.

View of the pool and Lake Garda from Gargnano with all the "haze" that surrounds this part of the area.

View of the pool and Lake Garda from Gargnano with all the “haze” that surrounds this part of the area.

We finally found our hotel in Gargnano, on Lake Garda, after quite awhile without GPS working. It was at the top of a hill, actually 9.2 km up the hill.

We finally found our hotel in Gargnano, on Lake Garda, after quite awhile without GPS working. It was at the top of a hill, actually 9.2 km up the hill.

Took this picture while I was driving out of Gargnano, just such pretty scenery, couldn't resist.

Took this picture while I was driving out of Gargnano, just such pretty scenery, couldn’t resist.

This is on our way back to Venice, we went through a lot of these, this one is short, but some were miles long.

This is on our way back to Venice, we went through a lot of these, this one is short, but some were miles long.

Now we are in Venice!

Not a lot of traffic today on the Grand Canal!

Not a lot of traffic today on the Grand Canal!

Well, you can sure tell that George is gone!! This is the view from our balcony. We found out that CNN had our room while George was in town and they broadcasted from it! Cool!

Well, you can sure tell that George is gone!! This is the view from our balcony. We found out that CNN had our room while George was in town and they broadcasted from it! Cool!

IMG_3181

Nice day for a gondola ride!

Nice day for a gondola ride!

Bridge of Sighs.

Bridge of Sighs.

IMG_3209

Love these "roads" here in Venice!

Love these “roads” here in Venice!

 

And back to Lake Como! 

We stayed here in Tremezzo, on Lake Como.

We stayed here in Tremezzo, on Lake Como.

Here's Norm!! We're wondering why our car gets to be parked right here at the entrance, it's not a Ferrari or a Lamborghini !!!!

Here’s Norm!! We’re wondering why our car gets to be parked right here at the entrance, it’s not a Ferrari or a Lamborghini !!!!

Church along the coast of Lake Como.

Church along the coast of Lake Como.

What they used for the James Bond Movie " Casino Royale"!

What they used for the James Bond Movie ” Casino Royale”!

Just another lovely home that you can rent.... probably for a million gazillion dollars!!!

Just another lovely home that you can rent…. probably for a million gazillion dollars!!!

This hotel is for sale... Norm's been pondering this venture.

This hotel is for sale… Norm’s been pondering this venture.

Missoni ( designer ) home.

Missoni ( designer ) home.

First sighting of George's home, on the left, behind the BIG trees. You can't see, but there are two other buildings (large homes) behind this that is also on his compound. One is a studio.

First sighting of George’s home, on the left, behind the BIG trees. You can’t see, but there are two other buildings (large homes) behind the house which is also on his compound. One is a studio.

He does have a lot of "lake frontage and property".

He does have a lot of “lake frontage and property”.

This is his guest house, at the end of the garden area.

This is his guest house, at the end of the garden area.

This was just a beautiful place along the waterfront!

This was just a beautiful place along the waterfront!

We were told that kids jump off the top of this yellow home, there is a terrace up there and they jump directly into the lake! Must be crazy-ass Italians!!

We were told that kids jump off the top of this yellow home, there is a terrace up there and they jump directly into the lake! Must be crazy-ass Italians!!

Bellagio, a very quaint village on Lake Como.

Bellagio, a very quaint village on Lake Como.

This home belongs to the Guinness, still the best selling beer in Ireland.

This home belongs to the Guinness, still the best selling beer in Ireland.

Rockefeller's house is the one in the trees overlooking Bellagio.

Rockefeller’s house is the one in the trees overlooking Bellagio.

Nice corner lot we loved!!

Nice corner lot we loved!!

And the Heinz Palace. This is as close as we could get, the people here in Italy are very respectful of Mrs. Heinz.

And the Heinz Palace. This is as close as we could get, the people here in Italy are very respectful of Mrs. Heinz.

Couldn't get the huge mountain behind this lovely home in the picture, but I think you get the point.

Couldn’t get the huge mountain behind this lovely home in the picture, but I think you get the point.

Could this be a postcard?

Could this be a postcard?

 

Now we are on our way to Switzerland. 

 

Now we're back on the road again to Switzerland. Think this is what they call falling rock? Or a half of a tunnel?

Now we’re back on the road again to Switzerland. Think this is what they call falling rock? Or one half of a tunnel?

I think we just crossed into Switzerland!

I think we just crossed into Switzerland!

And now, the real beauty begins. This is also taken while driving.

And now, the real beauty begins. This is also taken while driving.

And the curvy, winding roads begin, uphill here.

And the curvy, winding roads begin, uphill here.

Imagine if you had this view every day.

Imagine if you had this view every day.

Now this is one of my favorite pictures! Lake Sils, Switzerland.

Now this is one of my favorite pictures! Lake Sils, Switzerland.

St. Moritz, another beautiful place.

St. Moritz, another beautiful place.

They do have modern architecture in St. Moritz.

They do have modern architecture in St. Moritz.

View from the roof of our hotel in St. Moritz.

View from the roof of our hotel in St. Moritz.

View of the Lake of St. Moritz.

View of the Lake of St. Moritz.

 

Here are some views of the countryside. 

 

These views are everywhere, Mamorera Lake, Switzerland.

These views are everywhere, Mamorera Lake, Switzerland.

I've got to stop taking pictures while driving, but I just couldn't stop myself!

I’ve got to stop taking pictures while driving, but I just couldn’t stop myself!

We could not believe the beauty here.

We could not believe the beauty here.

This is the close up....

This is the close up….

This is the countryside photo.

This is the countryside photo.

So.. while Norm is out of the car, chasing these guys along the road for a picture of the cowbell, this guy comes up to my car window and says hello! I got the good picture!! LOL !

So.. while Norm is out of the car, chasing these guys along the road for a picture of the cowbell, this guy comes up to my car window and says hello! I got the good picture!! LOL !

 

Appenzell, Switzerland - known for their "Painted Houses".

Appenzell, Switzerland – known for their “Painted Houses”.

We were amazed at how the gravesites were all in a perfect row and decorated!

We were amazed at how the gravesites were all in a perfect row and decorated!

Another view of Appenzell.

Another view of Appenzell.

Train station in Appenzell.

Train station in Appenzell.

This countryside just goes on forever! Such beauty.

This countryside just goes on forever! Such beauty.

WAIT!!!! We have a little roadblock ahead of us!

WAIT!!!! We have a little roadblock ahead of us!

 

Then, on to Lucerne!

 

The bridge in Lucerne. Oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Second most photographed sight in Switzerland.

The bridge in Lucerne. Oldest wooden bridge in Europe. Second most photographed sight in Switzerland.

Little guy in Lucerne.

Little guy in Lucerne.

View of Lucerne from the bridge.

View of Lucerne from the bridge.

YEP!! Heidi is from here!

YEP!! Heidi is from here!

And…. Zermatt!

 

View of Zermatt from our bedroom.

View of Zermatt Village from our bedroom.

Chandelier in our apartment in Zermatt!

Chandelier in our apartment in Zermatt!

O.K. what do you call this kind of building?

O.K. what do you call this kind of building?

These types of homes are all over the place.

These types of homes are all over the place.

One of the many streets in Zermatt.

One of the many streets in Zermatt.

Nice use of old shoes!

Nice use of old shoes!

Sunrise view from our room! Yes, I do get up early, I actually had to show this to Norm.

Sunrise view from our room! Yes, I do get up early, I actually had to show this to Norm.

Nice view from Zermatt of the Matterhorn.

Nice view from Zermatt of the Matterhorn.

On our way up to the top view!

On our way up to the top view!

 

Almost there!

Almost there!

We're here! Now lets get off this train and look around!

We’re here! Now lets get off this train and look around!

 

Beautiful view from the top!

Beautiful view from the top!

We made it!

We made it!

Another nice view from the train on the way down!

Another nice view from the train on the way down!

Close train tracks all the way up and down (when there are two sets)!

Close train tracks all the way up and down (when there are two sets)!

Now these people have this view every day! WOW!!

Now these people have this view every day! WOW!!

Another postcard in the making!

Another postcard in the making!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s