Spring 2018 Vacation Day 5: Last Supper, La Scala, Duomo


Early morning. Last Supper. We had 8:15 am tickets. We mapped out an easy 8 stop subway trip. Bought €4.50 all day subway tickets. That all worked perfectly. But got off the subway, was supposed to be only 350 meters to the church. Except the GPS on my phone was wonky and didn’t change walking in different directions. And the map we had doesn’t have all the streets. We got slightly panicked, so let Uber come to the rescue again. Expensive short trip, but so worth it.

The Last Supper is in the Santa Maria Delle Maria monestary. NOT the church, as we later saw many signs. They take in groups of about 25 people. 15 minutes. Low light (that made photography challenging). But it is spectacular and worth the trip. It looks different from different angles.IMG_5249

After our time was up, we of course visited the church itself. DSC_0068DSC_0080

Next stop for the day (after breakfast) was the La Scala Opera House. It isn’t much from the outside.IMG_5254

But it’s gorgeous inside. 6 rings of boxes above the orchestra. Can’t take pictures inside the opera house, but I kinda snuck one from the hallway.IMG_5253

There is also an opera museum, but not being fans of opera, it didn’t do much for us.

Off to lunch, we found a healthy restaurant that did the trick. We passed a September 11 monument that was really interesting.IMG_5256

Last site of the day was the Duomo. We had a rooftop walking tour that took you right to the flying buttresses, figures and the gold statue on the top. Some amazing sites. DSC_0094DSC_0105DSC_0108DSC_0112DSC_0118DSC_0120

After the outside was the inside. (Almost) equally impressive. I’m a sucker for ribbed ceilings and stained glass. DSC_0122DSC_0131DSC_0134DSC_0136DSC_0137

We chose a neighborhood restaurant for our last dinner (see what I did there). Back home tomorrow!


Spring 2018 Vacation Day 4: Lake Como


Lake Como is surely beautiful. We traveled on two boats through the lake, the first ride lasting for 2 hours. The whole way, you saw scenes like the above, buildings nestled in the hills.

We took a train from Milan to Como, just over a 1/2 hour ride. In Como, we had breakfast, then visited their Duomo. Boy, can they build amazing churches in Italy.DSC_0004DSC_0007

We then walked around the water, first visiting this Fascist World War I memorial, known for its plain design. DSC_0018

You could walk out into almost the middle of the lake, where this sculpture sits.DSC_0025

Next was the 2 hour boat ride, from Como to Bellagio. We walked through town, enjoying the views, climbing up steep steps and back down. Lunch was at Ristorante Bilacus, which we chose because it had a great outdoor patio. But the food? This was my salmon with spinich and roasted potatoes. Amazing. IMG_5229

I tried taking arty pictures of the steps, both with and without people.DSC_0051DSC_0065

Time now for our second boat ride, just about twenty minutes across the lake to Varenna. IMG_5234

We had a drink (and fries for dinner) at Bar Il Molo that overlooks the lake. Relaxing! The train ride from Varenna back to Milan was about an hour.

It was a relaxing and enjoyable day trip. Tomorrow, we do Last Supper, tour of the Duomo and La Scala, all the essential Milan things.

Spring 2018 Vacation Day 3: Outside of the Duomo, Tomorrow to Como


I had not seen pictures of the Duomo before walking up on it. DSC_0969

It is amazing in its size and intricacy. The only church that it reminds me of is Sagrada Familia. We are taking a tour inside on Tuesday, so today we just walked around it and listened to a Rick Steves walking tour of the area around the church. DSC_0979DSC_0981

You can’t think about Milan without thinking about Leonardo di Vinci. We see the Last Supper on Tuesday.DSC_0993

The shopping in Milan is truly something. Even the shopping arcades are works of art.

We lunched and then went to the Pinacoteca di Brera museum. Appropriate place to visit on Easter Sunday as there were literally hundreds of Jesus and Mary paintings from the Renaissance.

We stopped for coffee/tea and Belgian fries on the way back to a short stay at our apartment. Then we were off to dinner at a fancy restaurant, Terrazza Gallia, just across from the sketchy train station!

The meal was amazing, with lots of amuse bouche along the way. I had venison for dinner, most tender meat perhaps I’ve ever had. IMG_5211

We had a chocolate mousse for dessert. It was topped with real gold. Really!IMG_5212

It was over a two hour meal, and as much about the experience as the food. We were glad to walk home and relive a great dinner.

Tomorrow, Ellen believes the Clooneys will welcome us in Como. We’ll see.

Spring 2018 Vacation Day 2: Finishing Zurich, Off To Milan


Doesn’t the above photo look exactly what a European square should look like?

After not the greatest night sleep for either of us, we were ready to get going again anyway. Breakfast at the hotel, and then off for Ellen’s most important destination, Thomas Sabo. They have 2 shops here, and we had to hit them both!

Next was the Fraumünster Church, famous for the Chagall stained glass windows (and not allowing photography inside). Outside of church looked like this:IMG_5185

And from their website, the Chagall windows: chagall

Back across the bridge, we went into the Grossmünster Church. Plain inside, but we could check it off. Here’s a view of both churches: IMG_5188

We then returned to our hotel to check out, and then walked to the train station. We stopped at a grocery store in the train station underground and picked up some cheese and crackers for Ellen and some fruit (yes, Passover is underway) for me.

It was a 3.5 hour train ride from Zurich to Milan. Comfortable and nice views of snow and Alps along the way. At the Milan train station, we found a 3 cellular store. For €25 each, we got SIM cards with 15GB each. SO. MUCH. DATA. Milan train station:IMG_5192

We’re staying at an AirBNB. The hostess provided good instructions to get there via tram or subway. The 3 employee suggested the tram, but we had trouble figuring out where to buy tickets. The train station was slightly sketchy, so once I verified that my phone had data and that Uber was available, I decided that’s how we were going. €10 to transport us and our luggage about a mile, money well spent!!

We met our hostess and love our apartment! We made a quick trip to the grocery store to buy stuff I can eat. We then walked about 1/2 an hour to dinner at Paper Moon. I will now use this as the standard for a caprese salad: IMG_5195

The mozzarella had taste! Ellen had pasta, I had a plateful (literally) of lamb chops.IMG_5196

Tomorrow, we will take in Easter in Milan and do a bunch of walking tours. The Italy portion is off to a good start!

Spring 2018 Vacation Day 1: Zurich


For this spring’s vacation, we decided to start visiting Italy, even if it meant going during Passover. Besides, Ellen claims the Clooneys invited us to lunch in Lake Como.

We had an easy, but long journey to Zurich. We flew to JFK and then had a 7 hour layover. After a lunch at Blue Smoke, we splurged for daypasses at the Delta club. Gave us a comfortable place to hang and enough food to count as dinner. The seven hour flight went pretty quick as we tried to sleep the whole way. Upon arrival, our luggage was on the belt by the time we got to baggage claim (Swiss efficiency!). We bought tram tickets and 1/2 an hour later, we were in the city center. A 10 minute walk had us to Hotel Adler (an Andrea recommendation).

We dumped our luggage and headed out. A quick casual lunch because of the hour, not because we were hungry, and we walked over to Grossmünster Church. It sits atop a hill, with great views of Zurich. As it was Good Friday, it was closed to the public. IMG_5143IMG_5140

Ellen’s main priority for the trip was the Kulturama Museum. It’s permanent collection includes some great impressionist, pop art and a number of Chagalls.

Oh, and Rodin’s Gates of Hell.


My top sight for this trip was the recently opened FIFA museum. To get there, we had to walk past Lake Zurich, where you could see the Alps.IMG_5163


The FIFA Museum opened in 2016. It includes jerseys from all the member countries, interactive exhibits and a movie of World Cup highlights. While not a huge soccer fan, I feel linked to it because I collect jerseys as my travel souvenirs. We even got to see the actual 2018 World Cup trophy.



Ellen had made dinner reservations at Zeughauskeller, especially important tonight as much was closed for Good Friday. The tables are family style, so we shared our table with 3 different couples. The last was delighted as the restaurant had menus in Portuguese! This was my last meal before the start of Passover (I observe based on my home time zone). I brought a bunch of K-P stuff, don’t worry about me starving to death!


We took a quick, 3 day trip to Toronto. I brought nothing to capture it except my iPhone X. Here are some pictures and highlights.

First stop on our walk was the Old City Hall (currently a courthouse).

We started on Thursday walking to St. James Church.

Beautiful inside.

Next we went to the St. Lawrence Market.

We heard good things about the Distillery District, so walked there.

Dinner was at Canoe, on the 54th floor of a financial district building.

Friday was museum day. We walked through Yorkville to Royal Ontario Museum.

We then went down to Chinatown for lunch.

We loved the Kensington Market neighborhood. Had a view of CN Tower from there.

Next museum was the Art Gallery of Ontario. Our Philadelphia membership got us in for free. Came out to great late afternoon light.

An okay but not memorable Italian meal followed. Then we made another visit to Eaton Centre.

City was packed Friday night. Seems Black Friday has become universal. And loved Yonge-Dundas Square.

Today we hit the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ellen might have enjoyed more, far more Penguins successes.

And of course every day featured a stop at Tim Horton’s.

We loved Toronto. We walked almost everywhere, using their subway only on occasion. Easy train from airport to town. Nice people. Lots of colorful murals.

Stayed at the St. James Hotel, a boutique hotel on Gerrard, just off Yonge. Quiet, comfortable, convenient.

Great getaway place to visit!

Chile Day 10: Last Few Things

We had a little more than half a day left. We woke up to the first rain of the trip, so we decided to stay in the neighborhood.

La Chascona, the home of Pablo Neruda, the poet, was just meters from our hotel. 

We didn’t know much about him, but a short film told his story as a poet and statesman. An excellent audio guide took us around his house, which had been restored by his wife after it had been damaged during the first days of Pinochet’s dictatorship. In fact, Neruda died just days later and his funeral was the first protest of the changes. 

Our only regret is we didn’t visit his home in Valparaíso. 

We then walked along Bellavista Street and found a jewelry store that Ellen has wanted to see. She has a new pair of Chilean stone earrings!
 We had lunch at a recommended restaurant in the neighborhood, Galindo. The Aubrey had been nice enough to give us late checkout, so we packed up our things and got an Uber to the airport. 

Our driver was so nice, speaking no English but wanted to talk to us so we struggled with some Spanish and did the best we could. 

We chatted in line to check-in with a public health grad student at Emory who had been working with midwives outside of Santiago for 2 months. 

We picked out a couple of piscos in duty-free and waited for our plane. We left on time. I caught up on podcasts and watched the live-action Beauty and the Beast. Before you knew it, we were in Atlanta. 

Global Entry again was a breeze. We were counseled to move the pisco to our checked baggage, so we will hopefully see it again soon in DC. 

I’ll end the post with more Street art from Santiago.