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Reflections of Travel to Europe
As a four-decade Certified Travel Agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher, and photographer, travel, whether for pleasure or business purposes, has always been a significant and an integral part of my life. Some 400 trips to every portion of the globe, by means of road, rail, sea, and air, entailed destinations both mundane and exotic. This article focuses on those in Europe.
Ireland, the emerald green isle, was also visited on a number of occasions, and its attractions included Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Phoenix Park in Dublin. A Glens of Antrim itinerary included Belfast; Ballycastle, Dunluce Castle; the Old Bushmills Distillery; the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge; and the Giant’s Causeway, which was comprised of volcanic hexagonal basalt columns, all in Northern Ireland.
Morning tea in the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle included scones, butter, jam, whipped cream, and pots of the tea itself, and lunch in the Royal Court Hotel featured fresh fruit; a topside of beef, gravy, horseradish, a pastry cup, roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes, carrots, and cabbage; strawberry and kiwi pavlova with whipped cream and strawberry sauce; coffee; and chocolate mints.
Great Britain accounted for numerous, multiple-mode trips to its three England, Scotland, and Wales divisions and several of the British Isles.
Sightseeing in London encompassed all of its very symbols, including the Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Jewel House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Number Ten Downing Street (the official residence of the English Prime Minister). Buckingham Palace, the changing of the Guard, a cruise on the River Thames, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the Cutty Sark, the Royal Naval College, and the Greenwich Observatory, where Greenwich Mean Time was determined.
A stay at the Hansel and Gretel Hotel in London, whose fairytale served as its decoration theme with gingerbread and witches’ brooms in the dining room, included a daily English breakfast of eggs, bacon, and racks of toast.
Southampton was a frequent pre- and post-cruise and -crossing port of embarkation and disembarkation.
Scotland coverage included Glasgow, Greenock, South Queensferry, and Edinburgh, the latter with visits to its New Town, the Old Town, the 12th century medieval Edinburgh Castle, and the Royal Mile.
The prehistoric archaeological site of Skara Brae, dating from 3,000 BC, he Skaill House, the Ring of Brogar, Scapa Flow, and Kirkwall were all explored in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland.
A narrow-gauge rail journey threaded its way through Snowdonia National Park in Wales.
Travel to Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, accounted for sightseeing to St. Peter Port, Sausmarez Manor, and an island drive that took in St. Martin’s Parish, St. Pierre du Bois, Rocquaine Bay, St. Saviors Parish, Reservoir, Little Chapel, and St. Andrew Parish.
Numerous trips were made to the four Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden in Continental Europe.
Denmark, the first of them, saw both walking and motor coach tours of Copenhagen’s significant sights, including the Radhuspladsen or City Hall; Nyhaven or New Haven, a canal lined with colorful 18th-century houses and enjoyed on a boat cruise; Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, Amalienborg Palace, the famed Little Mermaid, the Ny Carlsberg Glyypotek art museum, the pedestrian-only Stroget shopping street, the Round Tower, and Tivoli Gardens.
A ferry created distance from Copenhagen to the island of Funen, its city of Odense serving as the gateway to the Hans Christian Andersen House, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Manor House, a Danish Country Church, a Danish Farm, and the Oak Forest Castle.
Copenhagen hotel-included breakfasts always featured wienerbrod, or Danish pastries, and a smorgasbord fat the central railroad station entailed more than 60 dishes, from appetizers to dessert.
Coated in light snow, Helsinki, an overnight stop on an easterly global circumnavigation flight, entailed sightseeing of its Market Square, its Helsinki Cathedral, its Railway Station, and rock-built Temppeliaukio Church.
High prices necessitated “tourist fixes” of crusty baguettes and soft cheese for breakfast purchased in the bakery around the corner from the hotel and smoked salmon for lunch eaten in the airport before departure to Tokyo.
A cruise through the Norwegian Fjords, only a prelude of what was to later come, proved a highlight to Oslo, along with visits to the Fram House, which contained the restored, fully-rigged ship that undertook both North and South Pole expeditions, the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Norwegian Folk Museum, Viigeland Sculpture Park (dubbed humanity in the world’s largest sculpture park), the Viking Ships Museum, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump once used in the Olympics, Stortovet Cathedral, the Flower Market, the Royal Palace, and Akershus Fortress, a medieval castle in Oslo that was constructed to provide a royal residence in the city.
Extensive coverage of the Norwegian Fjords was also made.
From Olden, sights included Kjonesfjorden, the valley; Undeelva, the glacier-fed river; Tverrfjellet, the mountain across the road; Ostedal Glacier, Northern Europe’s largest; the Norsk Bremuseum, the Norwegian Glacier Center; Jostedal Glacier, from a second vantage point; the Julestova Christmas Shop; the Audhild Vikers Verstove; and Nordfjorden.
A typically Norwegian buffet lunch, served in the Skei Hotel in the town of the same name, included smoked salmon with mustard sauce, egg salad, potato salad, and thin, crispy Norwegian flat bread; gratinated fish, roasted potatoes, lasagna, and dark Norwegian goat cheese; and chocolate flan, Norwegian rice pudding, and fresh raspberries.
From Flam, a drive to Stalheim on the Stalheimskleiva Road, Europe’s steepest with 13 hairpin turns, preceded a stop at the Stalheim Hotel for flaky apple, raisin, and nut Danish pastries covered with maple syrup and served with tea, before continuation to the ski resort town of Voss to see the Tvinde Waterfall. A lunch buffet in the Hotel Voss itself, which included smoked salmon and smoked trout; a salad of lettuce, cucumber, Norwegian cheese, and Russian dressing; French bread; a meatloaf patty, frikadeller, and boiled potatoes; chocolate flan and caramel custard; and coffee, became the prelude to a rail ride from Voss to Myrdal on the Bergen Railway and then a transfer to the famous Flam Railway, which pursued it mountain-hugging, tunnel-boring, 886-meter track descent. A visit to the Kjosfossen Waterfall along the way and a visit to the Flam Railway Museum at its terminus capped the incredible day of experiences.
Alesund afforded sightseeing of the Burgund Church, the Sunnmore Museum, and the Fjellstua Overlook, while Bergen entailed visits to Bryggen; the Fantoft Stave Church; and Troldhaugen, the Edvard Grieg Museum, with a piano concert of his music. The Hanseatic Merchant’s Warehouses, a UNESCO World Heritage site, became the first to visit after a brief ride, and it was followed by sightseeing of Schotstuene and the Old Guild Hall.
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, redefined the word “city” with its 14 islands and more than 50 bridges nestled on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. Within the cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings on Gamla Stan (Swedish for “Old Town”) were the 13th-century Storkyrkan Cathedral, the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace, and the Nobel Museum, which focused on the Nobel Prize.
New perspectives were gleaned during sightseeing boat excursions between the islands. Skansen, the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden and located on the island of Djurgarden, dated back to 1891 and showcased life in different parts of the country before the Industrial era.
Other than the four Scandinavian countries, Continental Europe travel encompassed some 15 others.
Surrounded by the majestic, snow-craped Alps of The Sound of Music fame, Vienna, the home base of one of the carriers that constituted my three-decade airline career, accounted for frequent travel for training purposes. Tram and subway coverage of the city, nevertheless, afforded cultural and local-life exposure during free time.
By day, I traveled the bridge-crossing Danube River to partake of the significant sights, the crown jewel of which was St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Mozart statue-adorned Stadtpark, and the pedestrian-only, shop-lined streets. By night, opera performances came alive on stage. Austrian cuisine consisted of wurst, wiener schnitzel, chicken paprikash, and dumplings in typical “Heurigens”-that is, rustic wine taverns; pastries appearing more like works of art, in the Viennese coffee houses; and the chocolate and apricot “Sachertorte” baked daily in the famed Hotel Sacher.
During a December visit, I threaded my way through the Chirstkindellmarkt, or Christmas Market, with its myriad of snack and gift kiosks adorned with pine branches and Christmas lights, snacking on Langos fry bread, drinking red Gluewein (hot wine); and topping it off with chocolate-covered marzipan.
One of the many moments was captured in my Trip Log, as follows. “As I walked up to the street level from the U1 subway station at Stephansplatz to the pedestrian-only Kaertnerstrasse and heard the church bells of the Stephansdom, I knew that I was in Vienna. The imprints of the clip-clop horse-drawn fiakers (carriages) in the Inner Ring only cemented my location.”
Morning commutes to the Austrian Airlines Training Center were always preceded by tram announcements of, “Oberlaa. Enstation. Alle aussteigen”–“Oberlaa. Last stop. Everyone off!”
Belgium accounted for two trips.
The first, intended only for sightseeing, entailed visits to La Grand Place in Brussels, the Mannekin Pis, and Mini-Europe, a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the metal Atomium Monument originally constructed for the 1965 Brussels World’s Fair, and featuring reproductions of European Union monuments, as well as an airport, in 1:25 scale.
Day trips, via train, included those to Bruges, with its canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval buildings, and Ghent, a port city in northwest Belgium at the confluence of the Lele and Scheldt rivers.
A variety of bistros, ranging from Italian to French, provided evening fare, which was always followed by Belgian chocolates.
A second, shorter trip, necessitated by a two-day layover before an intercontinental flight to Bangkok, was characterized by the de rigueur visit to La Grand Place, shopping for Belgian lace, and consuming chocolate-covered Belgian waffles.
Despite a single-day time restriction in Tallinn, Estonia, itself in Eastern Europe, a fair overview of the city’s culture was experienced with a walking tour to Toompea Hill, visits to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Rocca al Mare Open-Air Museum, and an Estonian Folkloric Show.
A breakfast tray of hot, flaky croissants, crisp baguettes, and hot chocolate, eaten in a Left Bank hotel room amid the first crack of dawn and the 6:00 a.m. chime of the church bells, brought warm memories of a January visit to Paris.
All of its important sights were toured, including la Place de la Concorde, the Place Vendome, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre overlooking the city, the Trocadero, the Ile de la Cite, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the expansive Louvre Museum, Saint Chapelle, the Parthenon, the Bastille Fortress, Tuileries Gardens, the Luxembourg Palace, the Opera, and Pont Neuf. A cruise on the River Seine could not be excluded.
A day trip to Versailles, once seat of the French government during Louis XIV’s reign, was capped with a walk through its beautiful gardens.
Subsequent trips encompassed other parts of the country
One, for research purposes, took me to the wine growing region of Bordeaux.
On another, a drive from La Rochelle to Cognac afforded views of the deep green, geometrically-precise vineyards of southwestern France enroute to the town of Cognac, location of the famous wine producer, where after a tour of the Hennessy Wine Cellars was made. A one-minute crossing of the River Charente on the Richard Hennessy II preceded a tour of the barrel-aging warehouse, a cognac tasting in the Hennessy boutique, and another walking tour of the Old Town that included the Eglise Saint-Leger and the Couvent des Recollets
Lunch, at La Mie Caline, an outdoor café overlooking the main square, was of typical French quality, consisting of a long, thin, crispy “royal poulet” baguette with chicken, Swiss cheese, sliced egg, tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise; a “foret noire” (black forest) pastry; coffee; and a chocolate-covered almond accompaniment.
A post-lunch drive to Saintes offered an opportunity to explore the city’s Arc de Germanicus, the Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, and the Amphitheatre.
Marseille meant the Vieux Port, Notre-Dame de la Garde, and the Longchamp Palace, and a pop into the Vieux Port Café, where I partook of a calming coffee interlude.
Sights in Nice included La Vieux Nice, the Cours Salaya Market, and another coffee calm in the Cours Salaya Café.
Impressions recorded on the subsequent drive from Nice to Eze, a 1,400-foot-high, walled, medieval city were as follows: “Driving from Nice to Eze on the curving, mountain-hugging Middle Corniche Road, I was afforded breathtaking vistas of the French Riviera.”
Eze itself, a village of 60 perched atop the Mediterranean amid castle ruins, featured progressively ascending stone pathways and steps through stone architecture to its peak.
Lunch, in the Bistrot Loumiri, Eze, was served outside in the garden and featured Domaine Sainte-Beatrice rose wine; a salade nicoise of tomato, lettuce, string beans, tuna, potatoes, and egg; French bread; slices chicken in mushroom wine cream sauce with thin, crispy potato patties; vanilla-chocolate fudge cake with Grand Marnier vanilla sauce; and coffee.
Although Germany accounted for several trips to the major cities of Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, Munich became the location of a leisure one. Located in Bavaria, it afforded sightseeing opportunities of its Hauptbahnhof, or “Main Station,” which was always the center of life in any European city; its pedestrian-only Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse shopping streets; the Frauenkirche; the Rathaus; the famous Glockenspiel, whose colorful figurines emerged with chines, bells, and music from its Clock Tower location; the Nymphenburg Palace; the Schatzkammer; the Alte Pinakothek; and the massive, science and technology-based Deutsches Museum.
Beer, wurst, schnitzel, and sauerbraten with potato dumplings were always on the menu, and the nearby bakery provided in-room snacking on Koenigskuchen” cakes.
Like many January European trips, during winter breaks from college semesters, the one to Munich occurred during the Little Christmas festivities, and the decorations, coupled with light coverings of snow, intensified the atmosphere.
The land of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates philosophers was explored both on the continent and on its Mediterranean islands.
Sights on the former included, of course, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum, the Theater of Dionysus, the Temple of Olympia Zeus, the Agora, the Stoa of Attalos, the Olympic Stadium, the National Archaeological Museum, the Parliament, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Garden, and Hadrian’s Arch.
A trip to the Oracle of Delphi took in the Delphi Museum, the Sanctuary of Pronaia Athena, the Castalian Spring, the Sacred Wing, and the Treasury of the Athenians.
Lunch, typical of “hot country” custom, was always souvlaki, moussaka, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and honey- and nut-covered baklava.
Several Greek islands were also toured.
Santorini, clinging to the cliffs above an underwater caldera, or crater, featured its two principle, Fira and Oia towns, with their whitewashed, cubiform houses. Wine, cheese, and olives were enjoyed overlooking the Port of Santorini before a descent to Skala on the former volcanic rim in a six-passenger gondola.
A walking tour of ancient Delos, accessed by a crossing with the boat Orca from Mykonos, encompassed the archaeological site, including its House of Dionysus, its House of Cleopatra, the Town cistern, the theater, the main street leading to the temple dedicated to the Greek gods, the Temple of Apollo, the Temple of Artemis, the remains of the Apollo statue, the slave arena, the Terrace of the Lions, the Statue of the Governor of Delos, and the Delos Museum.
Because Amsterdam was the home base of the international airline that served as my father’s more than three-decade career, and its flight benefits facilitated numerous trips, it was both a frequent destination and transfer point, the officials at passport control always inquiring after landing, “How long will you be in Holland?” And the answer, if used only for connecting flights, was invariably, “One hour.”
Nevertheless, its sights included the Dam Square; the pedestrian-only Kalverstraat; the Anne Frank, House; the Westerkerk; the Van Gogh Museum; the Skinny Bridge, which represented the numerous canal-spanning, wire-opening ones connecting the city; a diamond factory; the Begijnhof, or Nun’s Courtyard, comprised of 18th-century houses surrounding a green courtyard that offered ultimate solicitude to senior citizens; the Rijksmuseum; and the House of Mr. Tripp’s Coachmen, considered the world’s narrowest;.
Tours, mostly outside of Amsterdam, entailed visits to Edam and Gouda cheese farms; Marken with its characteristic wooden houses; the fishing village of Volendam on Markermeer Lake; Delft, the canal-fringed city in the western Netherlands that manufactured the famous hand-painted, blue-and-white Delftware pottery; and Madurodam, the miniature, 1:25-scale representation of historical cities and Dutch landmarks, complete with a layout of Schiphol International Airport.
Although numerous trips counted for an equal number of hotels in Amsterdam, one, located only a block or two from the Dam Square, consisted of a converted canal house, and its daily breakfast featured slices of ham and Dutch gouda and edam cheeses, breads and rolls, butter, jam, and coffee or tea.
Hungary, the landlocked country in Central Europe, regrettably entailed only a single trip to its capital, Budapest, for Russian aircraft research purposes, but its cityscape, studded with architectural landmarks from Buda’s medieval Castle Hill and grand neoclassical buildings along Pest’s Andrassy Avenue to the 19th-century Chain Bridge, was beautiful.
Rome, the capital of Italy that rests on seven hills, served as the gateway to the country. Its sights encompassed the most famous ones, such as the Villa Borghese, the Fountain of Trevi, the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Forman Forum, the Colosseum, St Paul Outside the Walls, the Vatican, the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Mary Major’s Basilica, St John’s Basilica, and the Appian Way.
Nevertheless, coverage of Italy extended well beyond Rome.
A post-cruise stay in Genova, in the north, brought friendships with a couple met on an African and Canary island sailing and dinner in a typical pizzeria, consisting of a thin, crispy crust pie and deep chocolate gelato.
Further south, a drive from Livorno to Florence, location of the Renaissance, inspired the following Trip Log entry.
“The first sight of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its ringing bell tower as I entered the Piazza del Duomo during the early morning virtually reduced me to tears.”
Aside from it, sightseeing here included the Piazza del Duomo, the Baptistry and the Gates of Paradise, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Bell Tower, the Basilica di Santa Croce, the Piazza della Signoria, the Loggia della Signoria, the Piazzale degli Uffizi, the Arno River-spanning Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza della Repubblica.
Lunch, another typically “hot country,” midday feast in the I Chiostri Restaurant in the Grand Hotel Minera on the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, featured champagne, mineral water, and red wine; eggplant lasagna; Italian bread; beef pizzaiola with tomato sauce, crispy roasted potatoes, and peas; vanilla spumoni with nuts and chocolate sauce; and coffee.
A subsequent drive to Pisa inspired another Trip Log entry.
“Passing through the main gate of the medieval wall surrounding the Piazza del Duomo, I caught first sight of the cylindrical, very-leaning Leaning Tower of Pisa, a life accomplishment.”
Its sights included the Piazza del Duomo – Campo dei Miracoli, the famous leaning tower itself, and the Cathedral and the Baptistery of San Giovanni.
Another trip, this requiring a hydrofoil crossing and then a 600-foot ascent on the funicular from the harbor, deposited me on the island of Capri, an experience which inspired yet a third entry.
“The gradual, 600-foot ascent on le funicolare from the harbor to the town on the Isle of Capri offered magnificent views of the blue Bay of Naples.”
A walking tour took in the Giardini Augusto and the Cattedrale Santo Stefano, before a funicular redescent and return crossing to Sorrento on the Capri Jet.
Lunch there, in the Ristorante O’Parrocchiano’s greenhouse setting, included champagne and white table wine; Italian bread; spinach and ricotta cannelloni with tomato sauce; roasted veal with roasted potatoes; and vanilla, liqueur-laced cake with whipped cream.
“During the drive from Sorrento to Pompeii on the winding, curving, mountain-hugging Sorrento Coast road, I drank in the breathtaking scenery provided by the Mediterranean, portions of which dropped vertically beside me,” I subsequently wrote.
Pompei proved another life milestone.
“Entering the ruins of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius looming-not to mention, menacing-above it in the distance, I could only imagine the fate that befell the entire city in AD 79.”
A walk through the archaeological site encompassed the Temple of Apollo, the Forum, the Temple of Vespasiano, the Building of Eumachia, the Stabian Baths, and the Great Theatre.
The sovereign city state of Monaco, located on the French Riviere, was bordered by France to the north, east, and west, and by the Mediterranean Sea on the south.
A half-day tour encompassed visits to the Old Town, the Cathedral, the Palace, and the famed Casino de Monte Carlo.
Poland regrettably also accounted for only a brief stay. Nevertheless, it offered the opportunity to tour three areas.
Gdynia was a port city on the Baltic coast known for its modernist buildings, such as the Museum of the City of Gdynia and Kosciuszki Square.
Gdansk, another Baltic Sea coast city, featured a magnificent reconstruction of its former World War Ii-torn self, but now featured the colorful facades of Long Market and the Neptune Fountain, a 17th-century symbol of the city topped by a bronze statue of the sea god.
Sopot, along with Gdynia and Gdansk, formed the so-called “Tri-City Metropolitan Area.” Known for its health spas, sandy beach, and long, wooden pier that extended into the Bay of Gdansk, it featured the Crooked House, a surreal building modeled after fairytale illustrations.
Located on the Iberian Peninsula in southern Europe and bordering Spain, Portugal, strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and counting Lisbon as its capital, was the destination of another short visit during a layover before a connecting flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. Nevertheless, it was noted for its beautiful beaches in the Algarve region. Much of its architecture dated to the 1500- to 1800-period, when the country sustained a powerful maritime empire.
Russia, more than anything, signified Peter the Great, whose very St. Petersburg name reflected the city he founded in 1703 and became the imperial capital for two centuries. It is its cultural capital to the present day.
Experiences, as opposed to sheer sightseeing, encompassed St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Cruiser Aurora, the Smolny Cathedral with a choir performance, the Tsarskoye Selo complex of parks and palaces which were once the home to the Romanov Imperial family, the baroque-style Catharine Palace with its ornate staterooms, the landscaped Catherine Park Gardens, the Church of the Savior of the Spilled Blood, and the St. Petersburg Craft Market, where Russian nesting dolls and models of onion dome cathedrals were abundantly available for purchase.
Lunch was at a Russian Peasant Restaurant and was followed by Russian Cossack entertainment.
Attractions on subsequent days encompassed the magnificent and sprawling Peterhof Palace, which actually consisted of a series of such structures commissioned by Peter the Great to vie with Louis XIV’s the Palace of Versailles in France. Post-lunch palace ponderings continued in the Peter the Great’s Summer Palace and at the Peter and Paul Fortress.
Madrid, the gateway to Spain with its unceasing, arm-and-arm family walks of the city, prompted the woman next to my breakfast table one morning to question, “Where do they all bed down for the night?”
Significant sights here included El Retiro Park, the University area, the Plaza Mayer, and the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family. Consisting of 135,000 square meters of floor space and subdivided into 3,418 rooms, it is the largest functioning one in Europe.
In the evening, Spain’s famous paella could not be resisted.
Exposure to Spanish culture hardly ended in Madrid, however. A research trip to Barcelona in the north was followed several years later by one to the south.
After a drive from Vigo to Santiago de Compostela during it, I was prompted to enter the following Trip Log impressions.
“Emerging onto the stone square of Santiago de Compostela, a World Heritage City and one of the three Christian pilgrimage sites during the Middle Ages after Jerusalem and Rome, I took in the spired baroque façade of the cathedral, which was initially constructed over remains of previous buildings in 1075 and consecrated in 1211. Its elaborately carved stones opened onto grand plazas within the medieval walls of the old town.”
Other than inspections of the Plaza do Obradorio and the Pazo de Roxoi, the chill-generating visit to the Tomb of St. James, one of the twelve Apostles, in the cathedral itself was the highlight.
A subsequent, light breakfast in the Café Casino, a casino built in 1873 and now adorned with elaborate woodwork wall panels and tiny tables, encompassed toasted croissants with butter and orange marmalade, and a “doble” coffee.
Marbella and Puerto Banus were on the sightseeing roster during another trip and were preceded by a 45-minute drive from Malaga on the Autopista del Mediterraneo via Torremolinos and Mijas. After a walk along the marina and inspection of the Don Juan statue, another restorative continental breakfast of hot chocolate and slightly sweet croissants was enjoyed at the round, outdoor, umbrella-topped tables overlooking the water at the Salduba Bar in Puerto Banus.
Another walk-this time through the pedestrian-only Old Town of Marbella with its cobblestone streets, cafes, and shops-preceded entry into the Capilla San Juan de Dios.
As the training center location of another one of my airlines, Zurich served as Switzerland’s gateway. However, sightseeing was also not comprised and included the Guild House, the Fraumunster Church, the Swiss National Museum, the Rathaus, the Helmhaus, the Wasserkirche, the Grossmunster Church, the Kunsgewerbenmuseum, and a walk along the Limmatquai, which paralleled the Limmat River’s right bank and threaded its way through the historical part of the city.
Fondue, rosti, and Swiss chocolates were certainly on the menu while there.
Destinations beyond Zurich included the Lake of the Four Cantons and Lucerne, a compact city amid the snowcapped mountains known for its preserved medieval architecture, covered Chapel Bridge built all the way back in 1333, and 870-meter Musegg Wall. The intricately carved, periodically-sounding cuckoo clocks were quintessentially Swiss.
French-speaking Geneva, located on the southern tip of Lac Leman or Lake Geneva, also counted for Switzerland travel. Surrounded by the Alps and the Jura mountains, it offered breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and was the headquarters of Europe’s United Nations. Its attractions included the lake itself, the Jet d’Eau or “water jet” its center, the Jardin Anglais (English Garden), the Parc de la Grange, and the Place de Bourg-de-Four.
Daily specialties at nearby bistros afforded cuisine from French to Italian to Swiss, one memorable meal having entailed spaghetti alla carbonara made with eggs, fresh cream, and bacon.
A day trip via the Swiss Federal Railway to Lausanne revealed the hilly old city with its medieval, shop-lined streets and 12th-centry Gothic cathedral.
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