Strada delle 52 Gallerie

In the Dolomite mountains of Italy not too far from where we live there is a series of tunnels that where cut into Mount Pasubio by soldiers during WWI in order to safely transport supplies. Work began on February 6, 1917 and was concluded in November 1917. It is considered to be an engineering masterpiece for it’s day and is one of the few remaining structures from WWI.

The road is 6,555 meters long, of which 2,280 is 52 rock galleries, each gallery is numbered and marked by its own name. The minimum width of 2.20 m was originally intended to allow the transit of contemporary two mules with their baggage. My favorites were the 19th, because besides being the longest (320 m), it had a helical path to 4 turns, within a giant tower of rock. The 20th is excavated in a rock tower, and is screwed on itself like a corkscrew.

This is what I have to deal with…

A “well” made to blow up if need be to make the path unpassable

The tower that the 20th tunnel comes out of.

Interlaken, Switzerland

From Luzern, we headed to Interlaken. The drive was gorgeous, pretty much anywhere you drive in Switzerland is breathtaking. There is always a lake, a waterfall, a river and a mountain within view. It’s so beautiful it seems fake.

Interlaken is on a river that runs between two lakes. It is the capital of extreme sports. There are companies that will take you rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving, paragliding, canyoning…you name it, they do it. There are also lot’s of mountains to hike, and of course very expensive gondolas to help you see the view without having to hike. The first evening there we found a little mountain to hike, Heimwehfluh, just a short 20 minute hike up and it had an awesome view and a fun park on top.

Next we went to watch Aneesa jump to her death. She did a “canyon swing” where you jump off of a platform and instead of springing up and down like bungee jumping, you swing back and forth between canyon walls. Scarey!

The next day we went up just past Lauterbrunnen to the Trummelbach Falle. A series of waterfalls in caves. They are the run off of the glaciers up on those big mountains and they have carved out these awesome caves that you can walk through and stare in awe at the power of water.

 Then while Aneesa went white water kayaking, we went for a peaceful kayak ride on the lake.

We went for a little walk near Lauterbrunnen, and found a very old sign, see how old fashioned the car on it looks? I think if I had lot’s of money I would rent a place in Lauterbrunnen next time we go. It was such a cute little town and felt less touristy then Interlaken. The waterfalls in town are said to have been J.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for writing.

Lauterbrunnen, see the waterfall?
Awesome car at the campground

Our plan was to head to Zermatt next. We needed gas though, so we decided to drop down into Italy, get some gas (buying it on the economy is $9-10/gallon, I have no idea how anyone affords to drive here, the price of oil puts an oil change at at least $100). When we got to the border the gas station was on the swiss side and wouldn’t take coupons, so we drove further. The next station was closed (this was Saturday, I’ve heard of them closing on Sunday or Monday and every afternoon for reposo but not Saturday), so we drove on. By the time we found a gas station that was open we had discussed the possibility of going home and all decided that we were tired and just wanted to go home, so we did.

Getting down into Italy we passed through an amazing mountain pass, it was beautiful! And there were all these crazy road bikers going up it, it was insanely long and steep too. Some of the bikers were at least 70, I was impressed.

Jonah on top of the mountain pass

Luzern/Lucerne, Switzerland

Sept 6th we headed up the Switzerland. We stopped at Lake Lugano and ate out lunch, then continued on to Luzern. Everything in Switzerland is super expensive, (the swiss are rich!) so rather then pay $200 for a cheap hotel, we paid $50 a night to camp.

The city of Luzern is beautiful, lot’s of half timbered buildings, next to a lake and surrounded by mountains. The first morning we walked around town looking for tourist info to decide what to do. Chapel bridge in Luzern is the most photographed monument in Switzerland. Built in 1333 it has 17th century paintings depicting Luzern’s history.

Near Luzern is Mount Pilatus, there is a gondola that goes up to the top but they charge an arm and a leg for the ride so we decided to hike it. We wanted to get up to the view and to Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run. After over 3 hours of UPhill, I think we were regretting that decision! It was a beautiful day, you could hear the cow bells ringing from the pastures all around.The view from the top was amazing and the toboggan ride was a thrill, Jonah even got to ride down with me. But we were totally exhausted and we still had a two hour walk down the mountain. We pretty much killed our legs for the rest of the trip.

Here we are starting our hike….we had no idea.

At the top.

There’s the stupid gondola.

The toboggan ride

Coming back down a steep part

The next day we decided to take it easy. We ate some swiss Chocolate, walked around town and saw the Dying Lion monument commemorating the hundreds of Swiss Gueards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when the mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Interesting fact for you…in an attempt to maintain neutrality Switzerland has strategically placed explosives around the borders that when activated, because of all the mountain passes would make access to Switzerland impossible by road.

How to call

Yesterday my friend got a call from her mom on her cell phone… and I realized that no one has ever called our cell phone soooo……

I would like to remind all of our family and friends that you can in fact call us. The cheapest way that we have found is through Google voice. If you don’t have a Gmail, lookup “google voice” and make an account. If you do have gmail, look on the left hand side when you are logged in, the first option on your “chat” menu is “call phone”. Click it. Load ten dollars to your account. Then pay 12 cents a minute to call us. If we are home we can call you back for a mere 1 cent a minute.

Our phone number is: (+39) 327-263-8481

Seriously, call it. (But remember we are 8-9 hours ahead of you guys….)

Regatta Storica

In Venice there are boat races on the grand canal that you can go to and watch called “regatta”. This month was the Regatta Storica, which is a historic boat race where before the race they have a parade of boats that look like they would have in the past, even the people on them are dressed up. It is one of the least crowded Regatta, but in my mind, the most fun as you get to see the little parade before hand.

We were babysitting a friends’ kiddo so here is what we would look like as a family of four.

Nick and Aneesa crossed a bridge to try to get some photos of the boat from the other side. When they tried to cross back over the bridge they got completely lost. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s that easy to get lost in Venice. So Nick gave Aneesa the true Venice experience…being lost. They missed pretty much the whole parade and didn’t find their way back to us for almost two hours as they wandered in circles. Oh Venice.

Here’s the whole crew on the train going home, totally exhausted. Megan and Reid are our good friends, my cousin Aneesa, and my friend Joy’s kiddo.

Aida in the Verona Arena

This lovely young lady (below…my cousin, Aneesa) is here staying with us for a few months. We are trying to cram as much stuff into her time here as we can. She is a big help with babysitting and cleaning, it’s wonderful.

I have been meaning to catch an opera at the Verona Arena all summer. So on Sept 3rd (ignore the date on the photos), the very last day of the summer opera season, Aneesa and I decided to get dressed up and go see “Aida”. It was beautiful. We only stayed for half of it because the way it was going it looked like it would be on until 1 am (crazy Italians, they never sleep!).

The story line goes like this: This military dude is engaged to the princess but is actually in love with one of her slaves, Aida (who is actually the princess of another country, but was captured and keeps her identity secret). The princess suspects that he loves someone else. When he goes away to war she tells Aida that he has died and tricks her into telling her that she loves him back. He comes back with prisoners of war and one if them is Aida’s father. He betrays his country for Aida and her father so they throw the military dude in prison and Aida sneaks in just before they close the door to the dungeon and rots with him, so romantic.