Feb 16 2009

A week-long walking tour, Michelle-style

by at 11:23 pm

I went on a week-long walk with my sister, Michelle.  No, we did not hike the Swiss alps nor did we walk from Rome back to Lausanne.  No camping included.  Instead, we rose early every morning, spent a day walking around in the cold (wet in Italy, snow in Switzerland), and on occasion, warmed up, but did not sit down in, restaurants and museums.  While walking, we did a lot of talking and catching up.  I basically was allowed one sit-down per day: dinner*.  We then returned to our apartment or hotel and collapsed into bed.  However, all this walking and trying to keep warm meant lots of calories getting burned up really quickly, thus making room for all of the food I stuffed in during this past week.  The food in Italy was so tasty, so reasonably priced (at least compared to Switzerland),  fairly vegetarian-friendly, and perhaps too often built on the model of take-away or stand-at-the-bar-and-eat.

First up was Rome.  I was suprised to discover that all of the Roman ruins were not outside of modern-day Rome, but everywhere, scattered all over, throughout the existing city!  Michelle took Seth and me to all of her favorite places from her semester abroad with Cornell architecture, and tried really hard to get us to cover what she viewed as the basics in three days.  Apparently, we fell well short of her aims, but did get to her favorite pizza and gelato spots, even if we did not make it to each museum and hill.  One thing the off-season and rain had going for it is we did not have to suffer the long lines and crowds of tourists.  We went to the Vatican (including the Sistine Chapel), to the Roman Forum, to the Colosseum, to Trevi Fountain, to the Spanish Steps, to the Pantheon, to the Borghese Gallery, to the big synagogue and through the old Jewish ghetto, across many piazzas, and into a few churches.  The funniest ordeal in Rome was trying to get to the Borghese Gallery on foot by 5 pm–Michelle had it in her head that it was about a 20 minute walk, but it was more like a 20 minute bus ride, I think.  It  involved power walking through a gigundo park.  Another memorable experience was eating Jewish-Roman specialties at a dairy/vegetarian restaurant in the Jewish area, next to a table of two hilarious elderly Italian-Jewish women who wanted to know all about us and tell us about themselves (even though they didn’t speak any English!), as well as give us their leftover wine.

Sisters in the Colosseum
Overlooking the Trajan Market

Seth then went back to Switzerland for work as Michelle and I continued on to Florence.  It was more orderly than Rome with the piazzas I’d always pictured as being central to Italian cities.  We saw the David (who was WAY taller than I’d imagined), climbed over the dome of the main church, ate amazing pasta, went to Palazzo Pitti, and walked around a lot.  Of course.  The dome was really cool, as it has two layers, and you climb OVER the inside dome and pop out on top of the outer layer.  Palazzo Pitti also featured a hilarious security guard who decided to give everyone who went through the rooms under his survey his commentary on the paintings, explaining excitedly to Michelle and me in Italian that they were of battles, of people, of a baby taking his first steps, of Florence.

Over the Dome On top of the Duomo
Climbing over and then out of the Dome of the Duomo

Then Michelle and I went to Switzerland, spending one day in Lausanne, the next snowshoeing up in the alps at the chalet Seth and I stayed in when we first arrived, and the last day in Bern.  This was less of an eating tour, although we did make a lunch stop on the mountain for tasty fondue and roesti.  Bern was pretty nice, but we were sort of underwhelmed by the Paul Klee Center, designed by Renzo Piano, considering the hefty price.

Snowshoeing by Lac le Chavonnes—it looked like this in August

Michelle landed yesterday afternoon back in the US, her bags stuffed with olive oil, wine, cheese, and chocolate.  So ends her vacation and mine, too.  Today was my first back in class.  It went ok.

*Michelle points out that this is a bit unfair, which is true.  There was only one day when we didn’t sit down whatsoever.  But it still felt like we did an awful lot of walking and very little resting!

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “A week-long walking tour, Michelle-style”

  1. Utpalon 17 Feb 2009 at 5:58 am

    Crazy Michelle! Good to see that your time together was so well-spent. Hope your classes are resuming well!

  2. SwissWatching » Seth skison 09 Mar 2009 at 12:39 am

    […] For the first time in Switzerland and the second time in my life, I went skiing this weekend!  I returned to the chalet where Jackie and I spent our first week and where Jackie and Michelle recently went snowshoeing without me. […]

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