Thursday, March 28, 2019

Grand Tour of Italy Preview


With those four words...GRAND TOUR of ITALY...you can anticipate with Astrid and me what's now before us, starting this Sunday.

The actual tour is 19 days, from April 1-19, on an OAD luxury bus/coach.  It's a first for us, in that there are no planes, trains or automobiles.  [Oops, sorry, there is one train to Florence on day 5.]

On Sunday we will drive to Zeddam, 110 km east of us, to spend a large portion of the day (visiting the Huis Bergh Castle nearby, one of the largest castles in the Netherlands) and then the night at the OAD hotel, from which we all will gather the next day for the beginning of our grand tour.  Right now there are 29 of us (with a limit of 34).

In case you want to follow us along the way, here's the itinerary (hotels with breakfast and dinner are included all along the way):

Monday, 1 April:
Gather for koffie at 8:30 a.m. in Zeddam, get acquainted, and then drive to south Germany for dinner and our overnight hotel in Mulhouse, France, just over the German border (ca. 605 km/376 miles).

Tuesday, 2 April:
From south Germany to Turin, where we'll spend the night in Cambiano (ca. 570 km/355 miles).

The blue line is our first day, after which we drive to Turin on Day 2.

Once in Turin, here's the map of Italy with our itinerary.
The black dots are where our hotels are; the white dots are the extra places we visit.

Wednesday, 3 April:
TURIN:  Main attractions, including the Royal Palace and the Duomo.  Afternoon free.
Spend the night in Reggio Emilia (ca. 215 km/135 miles).

Thursday, 4 April:
PISA and LUCCA:  The leaning tower of Pisa first, followed by medieval Lucca with Romanesque churches, city walls, and Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (half an hour from Pisa).
Spend 2 nights in Montecatini Terme (ca. 290 km/180 miles).

Friday, 5 April:
FLORENCE:  Take train from Montecatini Terme to Florence to see the main attractions, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the San Miniato al Monte, and the Ponte Vecchio.  Explore city on own afterwards.
Spend the night in Montecatini Terme (ca. 100 km/62 miles).

Saturday, 6 April:
SAN GIMIGNANO and SIENA:  In the morning, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Tuscany, San Gimignano, followed by the city of Siena in the afternoon.
Spend the night in Chianciano Terme (ca. 430 km/267 miles).

Sunday, 7 April:
CLASSIC ROME:  In the afternoon we see highlights of Rome, including the Roman Forum and the Colosseum.
Spend 2 nights in Mentana (ca. 210 km/130 miles).

Monday, 8 April:
CHRISTIAN ROME/VATICAN CITY:  Includes St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square.  The Vatican Museum is optional.  Afternoon is free.
Spend the night in Mentano (ca. 70 km/44 miles).

Tuesday, 9 April:
MONTECASSINO:  Benedictine Monastery, perched on a hill.
Spend 3 nights in Mondragone, near Naples (ca. 285 km/177 miles).

Wednesday, 10 April:
POMPEII: Visit the excavations, located under the smoke of Mt. Vesuvius.
Spend the night in Mondragone (ca. 20 km/12 miles).

Thursday, 11 April:
ALMALFI COAST:  Free day with the option to make an excursion along the Almalfi Coast, which we will definitely plan to do.
Spend the night in Monragone (ca 250 km/155 miles).

Friday, 12 April:
BARI:  Drive along the Adriatic coast to the port town of Bari.  Visit the old city in the afternoon, including the Castello Normanno-Svevo, the Fortress of Sant'Atonio Abate as well as the cathedrals of St. Nicholas and San Sabino.
Spend 2 nights in Bisceglie/Bari (ca. 285 km/177 miles).

Saturday, 13 April:
ALBEROBELLO:  Best known for its Trulli--little white houses with cone-shaped roofs.  Explore city in the morning.  Afternoon free.
Spend the night in Bisceglie/Bari (ca. 110 km/69 miles).

Sunday, 14 April:
RIMINI:  After driving north along the eastern coast, we arrive in the afternoon.
Spend the night in Cattolica (ca. 565 km/351 miles).

Monday, 15 April:
VERONA:  While others visit the main sites, Astrid and I (who were there in 2017) will visit something we missed on our own.
Spend 3 nights in Bovolone (ca. 300 km/187 miles).

Tuesday, 16 April:
VERONA:  Free day.  Another free day to explore on our own.
Spend the night in Bovolone.

Wednesday, 17 April:
VERONA (and optional Venice, which we do NOT plan to do):  Another free day to explore on our own.
Spend the night in Bovolone.

Thursday, 18 April:
Drive to South Germany after breakfast.
Spend the night in Aalen-Treppach (ca. 480 km/300 miles).

Good Friday, 19 April:
Zeddam:  Drive from South Germany to Zeddamfor the farewell dinner that evening.
(ca. 580 km/360 miles).


The trip via OAD's luxury bus/coach includes WiFi on board, a kitchen with drinks to buy throughout the trip (at cost), and a bathroom.  All seat-backs include airplane-style monitors with movies and the ability to see what the bus driver sees as he drives.

One more thing:  In my past life I have had the privilege of visiting Rome twice, Pisa and Pompeii once, but, for Astrid, all of this will be brand new.  We will LOVE seeing it all together, just like we did Verona and Venice in 2017.

As I said, this is a first for us, via luxury coach.  We are actually looking forward to it, realizing that everything will be done for us.  Does that mean we're getting older...or smarter??!!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

ROKR Wooden Mechanical Tractor


Remember back to the end of last year when as a Christmas present to both of us, Astrid and I put together first the ROKR clock (moi) and then the ROKR locomotive (Astrid)!

Now it's time to show you the tractor that Astrid finally made, waiting in the wings until after two sweaters were finished, one for me and then one for her.  HA!  That's my girl!

Of the 3 projects, this was the "simplest," in that it had only 135 pieces.
The locomotive had 349 pieces, the clock had 170, and all had 9-10 gears.
There's a wind-up key with spring on each that makes the gears work.

Don't you love it!

The fun tidbit about the timing of this finished project last week
is that it was the same week that sister Ruth and Don moved to their new farmhouse in Maine.
The Farm is in our DNA, Ruth says.  I believe it.


And it really does work!


Just for the halibut, here's another one...
both videos taken in our community room here where we live.

Now you know how crazy we are, right?!
We're actually thinking we might need to find another one...
if we can come up with a place to put it!

Right now these 3 pieces are in our china cabinet, protected from "weather"...and dust.  :)

OH!  And remember that the clock only ran for 5 seconds at the most when I finished it?
It now runs over 2+ minutes on a short wind-up.
That means the temp control in the cabinet has worked its magic, I guess?!


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chihuly's Exhibition at the Groningen Museum, 2019


As promised, here's what we saw last week when we drove the 460 km round-trip to Groningen, NL, to see Chihuly's glass exhibition, closing on 5 May.  It was proclaimed to be his biggest exhibition in Europe in the last 20 years.

First, meet Dale Chihuly, the world's most acclaimed glass blower, born in 1941.
An automobile accident in England in 1976 left him without sight in his left eye,
256 stitches in his face, and permanent damage to his right ankle and foot,
none of which seems to stop him.

It was a rainy day but we still managed pics of the museum.
As you know, nothing rains on our parade.

The first exhibit at ground-floor entrance was his Niijima Floats from 1991.
Because these 6-foot spheres are so large, Chihuly says they're his most difficult series.
Spheres like this are "not natural at this scale."

From ground floor we passed a huge expanse of  Flower Plates up the staircase.
It's a 100% handmade Murano glass Flower Plates art wall!
See the people for scale.

I should have paid attention to what series were presented in the different rooms.
These pieces may be of his Macchia and Seaforms series?

I believe this is his Venetians series, from 1988 and 1990.

The Cylinders series picks up Chihuly's fascination with Native American textiles since 1975.


The juxtaposition against the blankets was stunning!

You can easily say this was Astrid's and my favorite section...

...including also the Northwest Coast Basket series by Indians he had seen as a child.
The displays were breath-taking.


If you want to see Chihuly himself talking about the blankets, this video is long but fascinating.

These, too, are part of the Baskets series.

Then, of course, there's the flamboyant, spectacular Chihuly,
as seen in his Mille Fiori exhibit, Italian for a "thousand flowers."
He says he fashioned this after his mother's garden.


I especially liked what I saw as hands and fingers.

And how's that for the centerpiece of the garden!

In a side room were these Sapphire Neon Tumbleweeds from his City of Glass.

And then there were more of the...Seaforms? 

These reminded me of balloon sculptures but from what series?

Now, walk up one more floor...

...to Chihuly's Float and Fiori Boats.
Can you guess which is which, based on what you've seen thus far?

Last but not least, in a side room next to the boats...spiky things!
I'm sure they, too, have a name/series.

Those of you who have seen Chihuly's work with your own eyes know why
seeing this exhibition was a must for us.
We're still pinching ourselves.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Hailey at 5 Months


Abort Abort Abort Abort....  The post was ready to go from the last 5 weeks, covering Hailey's 5th month, but....  Abort Abort Abort Abort.

The very-very short version is that I will no longer be posting photos of g'daughter Hailey on FaceBook or on In Soul here.

As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men....

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

So, moving right along!

Yesterday Astrid and I drove 460 km round-trip to Groningen, NE of us, to visit the Dale Chihuly glass exhibition in the museum there.  We didn't want to miss it before it closes on 5 May.  (We'll be on vacation from March 31-April 19.)

Here's a a teaser, in case you wonder what I'll be working on for next week's post!  :)

Coming soon to a blog near you....