ITALY AND SPAIN 2010

 

[NOTE:  When Sharon has time to give her favorites, I'll update this list.]

FURTHER NOTE: Left click on an image, and a bigger image should appear. It is left as an exercise to the reader to figure out how to then get back to the report. How you do it depends on which browser you are using, and whether a new image shows up in a new window or not. Et Set A Ra. Let me know if you get stuck.

Trip Log 27 and Last Report.  Costs, References/Contacts/Websites, Birds, Favorites

Costs
References
Birds
Favorite Memories of the Trip

COSTS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



NORMAL COSTS                                           PER-COUPLE $ COST
$3,610 Cash from ATMs                           $129 per day (Sharon and I, combined)
 1,008 Half of the Van in Italy                   72 per day (14 day rental)
   200 Diesel                                     14 per day
   137 Half the 3 nights in Castlerotto apt.      46 per nite 
   784  Half of the 4 nites in Venice apt.       196 per nite
   735  Half of the 6 nites in Tuscany accom.    122 per nite
   558  4 nites in Rome convent                  140 per nite ($112 if directly booked)

$7,032 Cash, Vehicle, Accomodations             $251 per day per couple
               (Total, not incuding food)              (Total, not including food)
SPECIAL COSTS
    804 Two days of birding, with guide          402 per day
    162 Our flight to Barcelona from Rome        162 (81 per person)
    112 First night’s hotel room, extra          112
                 because we were lost

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

  Because of the hospitality of my old Mizzou college friend, Ramon Laos and his wife,
  Emma, we didn't have any accommodation or transportation costs for our 9 days in
  Barcelona (except for the special 2-day, 1-night birding excursion)

Back to the Top

CONTACTS, WEBSITES, REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS (OR NOT)

Castlerotto (aka Kastleruth)

I would not recommend our Castlerotto accommodations. 1) It was very difficult to find, 2) I had to wire 40 euros, which cost almost double, with the bank fee, for the down payment. This was because I handled the transaction rather than going through a rental service, 3) Payment was cash only when we checked out, 4) Because we didn't find the accommodations the first night, I expected a small break in that night's price, but got none.

If I had it to do over, I might try something like the link below:
http://www.south-tirol.com/accommodation/42714/appartements-plattnerhof,
then look at the photo gallery.
You are on your own from here. I don't know the prices, but we loved the village.


Venice

http://www.veneziaresidence.com/en/
then click on "Apartment and /Locations"
then scroll down, looking under San Marco, till you come to "Fuseri Sleeps 2/3". Don't worry, it sleeps 5
click on "Fuseri..."
scroll down to Fuseri 1 and read for a description. This is where we stayed. Click on the photos for bigger image.
Click on either "Prices and Availability Online" or "Availability Request" for email contact, whichever you prefer
This was our most expensive at $196 per couple per night, but the location was worth it.


Castle in Tuscany

www.castellodibibbione.com
After the website comes up, click on "Accommodations"
We stayed in the "Le Ginistre" farmhouse. It was spectacular, and at $122 per couple per night was the world's bargain.
The welcoming staff are friendly and competent, they filled our special request for a not-usual microwave.
I cannot recommend this highly enough. We were there in mid-to-late October 2010


Rome

Google "LAR198"
This hooks you up with monasterystays.com and LAR198, the code name for the convent we stayed in, near the Colosseum
Click on the Gallery (27 photos), Location, Facilities and Map for detail
You have to pay a fairly healthy reservation fee/down payment, which is Monasterystays.com's commission, I think. Then you pay the convent the actual rental fee upon checkout, currently (11/15/10) cash only. The fee on their wall is 80 euros per night. They are trying to get their own website and allow credit cards so this may get better. At an exchange rate of 1.40, this is $112.
You might also try calling them, but may get an Italian-only speaking desk person. Plus I don't know the phone number.

Fill out your "Stay Details" to check for availability etc.
Pros: Location, very near the Colosseum, friendly neighborhood
Cons: Spartan accommodations, but adequate unless you're used to four-star hotels. I'd probably call this a 2 1/2 star, if you think in those terms. But for the location, I think it's the best price you will find when you take into account neighborhood, safety and willingness to assist.

Back to the Top

DA BIRDS

Here are the noteworthy birds we saw in Italy and Spain, on our own.

Alpine Chough (a life bird!) - Top of the gondola ride in the Italian Alps, as we were approaching the restaurant. Looks a bit like an American Crow, with an elegant yellow bill and orange legs and feet.
Fieldfare - Also at the top of the gondola ride.
Rose-ringed Parakeet (life bird) - in a park in Rome
Monk Parakeet - nuisance birds, originating from escaped birds, now established in the wild, in Barcelona

Here is the list of birds we saw with guide Stephen Christopher.

Summary:
Life birds: Lammergeier ("Bone Eater"), Black Wheatear, Penduline Tit, Spotless Starling, possibly Purple Swamphen.


TABLE NOTES:
Red = Although our guide saw this bird, we did not.
Bold Green = Life Bird; first time ever encountered.
Blue = Escaped Pet and not countable. Beautiful though.
Bold Black = Not sure if this is a life bird yet. Must check the species vs. a similar bird in another country.

MAJOR BIRDING LOCATIONS, BIRD GUIDE'S NAME, COMMON LOCATION NAMES:

Our hired bird guide was Stephen Christopher. He has a website, www.catalanbirdtours.com. The location names in the table below are his designation, and are definitive. The three major location names I had on my list are general and are:

Llobregat, near airport
Garraf, about a half-hour south of the airport. A small town and a national park.
Cadi-Moixera Natural Park area, foot of the Pyrenees.

Bird Common Name

Date

Bird Guide Location Name

Graylag Goose

03/11/2010

Filipines Maresma

Gadwall

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Eurasian Wigeon

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Mallard

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Northern Shoveler

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Green-winged Teal

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Common Pochard

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Little Grebe

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Great Crested Grebe

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Great Cormorant

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

European Shag

03/11/2010

Falconera

Little Bittern

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Gray Heron

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Little Egret

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Cattle Egret

03/11/2010

El Prat

Eurasian Spoonbill

03/11/2010

Filipines Pollancres

Lammergeier

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Bassotes

Eurasian Griffon

04/11/2010

Pedraforca

Western Marsh-Harrier

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Eurasian Buzzard

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Golden Eagle

04/11/2010

Pedraforca

Eurasian Kestrel

03/11/2010

Can Granada

Water Rail

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Purple Swamphen

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Common Moorhen

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Eurasian Coot

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Northern Lapwing

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Green Sandpiper

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Common Greenshank

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Common Snipe

03/11/2010

Filipines Maresma

Black-headed Gull

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Mediterranean Gull

03/11/2010

Filipines Maresma

Yellow-legged Gull

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Sandwich Tern

03/11/2010

Filipines Maresma

Rock Pigeon

03/11/2010

Falconera

Common Wood-Pigeon

03/11/2010

Falconera

Monk Parakeet

03/11/2010

El Prat

Common Kingfisher

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Eurasian Hoopoe

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Green Woodpecker

03/11/2010

Filipines

Eurasian Jay

03/11/2010

Campdasens

Eurasian Magpie

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Red-billed Chough

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Bassotes

Yellow-billed Chough

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Bassotes

Carrion Crow

04/11/2010

Pedraforca

Common Raven

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Paddock

Eurasian Skylark

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Coal Tit

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Bassotes

Crested Tit

03/11/2010

Can Granada

Great Tit

03/11/2010

Filipines El Campo

Eurasian Blue Tit

03/11/2010

Filipines Car Park

Eurasian Penduline-Tit

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Pineda

Long-tailed Tit

03/11/2010

Garraf

Short-toed Treecreeper

03/11/2010

Filipines Cal Frances

Winter Wren

04/11/2010

Baga Sant Joan

White-throated Dipper

04/11/2010

Baga Sant Joan

Goldcrest

04/11/2010

Baga Pedraforca

Firecrest

03/11/2010

Sitges

Zitting Cisticola

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Cetti's Warbler

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Common Chiffchaff

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Blackcap

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Dartford Warbler

03/11/2010

Campdasens

Sardinian Warbler

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

European Robin

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Black Redstart

03/11/2010

Falconera

Black Wheatear

03/11/2010

Falconera

Stonechat

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Car Park

Blue Rock-Thrush

03/11/2010

Falconera

Eurasian Blackbird

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Mistle Thrush

03/11/2010

Can Granada

European Starling

03/11/2010

Can Granada

Spotless Starling

03/11/2010

Can Granada

White Wagtail

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Meadow Pipit

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Water Pipit

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Yellowhammer

04/11/2010

Pedraforca

Cirl Bunting

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Saldes

Rock Bunting

04/11/2010

Baga Pedraforca

Reed Bunting

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Chaffinch

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Brambling

04/11/2010

Pedraforca Saldes

European Greenfinch

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

European Goldfinch

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Eurasian Linnet

03/11/2010

Falconera

European Serin

03/11/2010

Campdasens

Eurasian Bullfinch

04/11/2010

Baga Sant Joan

House Sparrow

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Filipines

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Yellow-crowned Bishop

03/11/2010

Cal Tet Car Park

Common Waxbill

03/11/2010

Cal Tet

Back to the Top

TRIP FAVORITES AND NOT SO MUCH. RED=SHIRLEY; GREEN = JERRY; BLACK=BOB

ITALY

Castlerotto, in the Italian Alps
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY:
The farm setting with the llamas
The deck
The area where we parked the van (illegally?)
The cows with their huge cowbells roaming around everywhere we went
How clean it was!

JERRY:
a) The frustrating but fun time we had trying to find our farm on the first ill-fated day.
b) All of the fantastically beautiful scenery of the low mountain area.
c) Our first apartment, with the shades that drew up mechanically and the surrounding  countryside. Also, the llama who did not spit in my face, considering I had no idea they did that!
d) Bonus! The beauty of the town and our first real look at Italian life, even though it was really German life.

BOB:
How out-in-the-forest we were
The snow that coated the mountains around us on the morning after our last night
The Brown Swiss cows
The bank barn with a hole cleverly cut out of the back of it, that was the exact shape of a deer buck
The sound below our gondola, through the fog, of the cow bells, growing as we approached the herd, and receding as we passed
The Bremen Town Musicians carving at the entrance to the lane leading to a farm
The upside down car (trusting that no one was badly hurt)

Not So Much

SHIRLEY
Getting in trouble for going to the top floor of the house where we stayed (we were on the middle floor)
The grocery store was NEVER open when we needed it.

Innsbruck
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
Gorgeous city!
The ride up to the Alps
The Inn Bruck (or whatever)

JERRY
a) Beautiful and amazingly clean, as was most of Italy.
b) My first close look at an ancient church. So beautiful with the gold tiles.
c) Walk side containers for doggy stuff.

BOB
The beautiful color and feeling of the river Inn, with the Austrian Alps as a backdrop
The colorful churches
The leaves that were changing colors

Venice
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
The Guggenheim
The floors of St. Marco
All of it, really

JERRY
a) Upon our arrival at the Rialto Bridge, the strength of your conviction that we are on the correct side of the bridge to get to our next apartment. That conviction only cracked by the fact that the lady GaGa
[The female voice of the Garmin GPS], when given the address shows it on the opposite side. Then everything that led to your being right, and how tired we were after lugging all that crap over the bridge twice!!
b) Our great apartment with its views of our canal and our little alley.
c) Learning to navigate using the maps.
d) Bonus. San Marco Square, Doge's Palace, Glass works and all the other sites. The effects of high tides!

BOB
The multi-day vaporetto (water bus) pass
My camera breaking; making the decision to pay a $100 cost 'penalty' for buying a new FANTASTIC one in Venice
The Bridge of Sighs renovation.
The view from the San Giorgio Island belltower, looking toward San Marco Square.
The partial flooding lots of mornings from the tides (Not sure if I feel good or bad about this - maybe both)
The bear made from spark plugs
The bridges over the small canals

Not So Much

SHIRLEY
None of it (Well, maybe dragging our luggage over the Ponte Rialto twice in the cold rain against the better judgment of Brother Bobby)


BOB
My camera breaking... etc. etc.

Our Castle Accommodations in Tuscany
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
The view
The cats
The cottage
The trip to the Etruscan Tomb
Rummikub with cards
Everything, really

JERRY
a) The beauty and architecture of our castle and all the others around. I think I liked our place here the best of them all.
b) The drive up and down from the castle to and from our various destinations.
c) The adventures of the Etruscan Tomb.

BOB
The evening light in Tuscany
Our two-story stone cottage, on the Bibbione Castle grounds in Tuscany
The spectacular light and cloud show the evening we got back from Vinci

Not So Much

SHIRLEY
Not finding restaurants open in the area
Leaving


Florence
Favorite Things

JERRY
Ufizzi
Accademia (David)
Ponte Vecchio

BOB
The Ponte Vecchio, the river, and the bank flowers

Not So Much

SHIRLEY
No signs pointing the way to anything
Busy busy busy city

JERRY
I found most of Florence to be just a big overcrowded city with some nice highlights. Can’t add much here.

BOB
Florence is very difficult to get around in.

Pisa
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
Climbing the tower
The worn marble steps in the tower
The view from the tower
The other buildings on the grounds that one never hears about! Poor ignored buildings.

JERRY
a) Ahhh, what a fun day! Even now, when I look at the photos, I still have trouble  wrapping my mind around the leaning tower.
b) The climb up the tower with the dished out steps from foot wear and walking alternately uphill and downhill during the climb.
c) The surrounding buildings and town, seen from atop the tower and from the ground.

BOB
The white-robed monks (or whatever) at the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leonardo's Museum and birth home
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
The rain. I liked the rain. Am I alone in this?
The house where he was born, and the fact that one of the three rooms was for the livestock.
The roadblock at the bottom of the street leading to the museum that withdrew into the ground if you had
the right remote. Never saw that before.

JERRY
a) What an amazing mind he had. So much of his works were the inspiration for so many modern day machines.
b) Such a plain little place where he was born, but great views of the countryside

BOB
That one lone man could conceive of such things in a mere lifetime

Not So Much

BOB
The restriction that you could not take photos of the most fantastic inventions in the world.

San Gimignano
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
Sharon and I have new ways to torture our husbands after visiting the Torture Museum.
The view from the tower we climbed.
The architecture.
The timelessness of it.
Probably my favorite day of the trip.

JERRY
a) What a great little “frozen in time” town.
b) Arches everywhere and of different designs.
c) Towers and the evidence of where they had been before the florenzians made them tear them down.
d) Bonus! The pay toilet!

BOB
Oh my, where to start. Oh yes now I remember. Heh heh
Jerry's story of how he almost got rotated through the wall, in a pay toilet he tried to sneak into and use for free, immediately after Sharon or Shirley paid for a session.
The musician playing his invention - a double-tubed sort of digeridoo, accompanying a piece of classical music on a CD.
The view of the town towers, from the small tower on the big hill.
The spectacular doorways and arches.
The central town piazza.
The sign on the Trattoria Chiribiri that said, "OPEN NO STOP," meaning open 24 hours, we presume. In a row, do you think?
The spectacular shopping choices

Not So Much
The weird Italian dude, all by himself beside the trail to the lookout tower, halfway yelling and halfway chanting. Straaaange.

SHIRLEY
Couldn't eat enough gelato because it was so cold there. Cold but cool, if you know what I mean.


Rome
Favorite Things

SHIRLEY
All the Rome-iness of it.
The ancient buildings.
The Vatican
The Pieta
The HOHO
[Hop On, Hop Off Bus], once we found it.

JERRY
a) The Coliseum is forever etched in my mind.
b) The Vatican and the realization of what a big business it is.
c) St. Peters

BOB

The Colosseum, by day and by night.
The lady tech with the GPS tricycle, mapping what's under the earth, for an upcoming archeological dig.
The Roman soldier dude on his cell phone, "Claudius? Claudius? You're ten minutes late for your shift!"
The pattern the sun made on the domed ceiling of the Pantheon
The square in the center of the Vatican Museum, with its gold ball sculpture.
The sunlight shafts coming through the windows of St. Peter's Basilica
The Cistene Chapel's murals
Seeing the balcony the Pope comes out on to greet the people
How the smart cars can "parallel park" by just pulling straight in to the curb.
The Vatican duomo

Not So Much

SHIRLEY
Dirty
Traffic
Getting our ATM info ripped off
Leaving to come back home

BOB
The lack of toilet lids OR SEATS. Come ONNNNN!


SPAIN (BARCELONA, CATALONIA)

Favorite Things

BOB
Seeing ex-Mizzou college buddy Ramon Laos after 43 years, and meeting his wife Emma
Their welcoming us to their home, including Ramon's home made sign
The church atop Tibidabo mountain
The view over the city, to the Mediterranean, from Tibidabo
Spectacular Montserrat
The soft singing of the boys choir in the church at Montserrat
The night view of the "Sail" Hotel on the Barcelona beach - doubt that's it's real name.
The special Pogo birthday cake that Ramon and Emma designed and built for me.
Discovering the Camera Internal Panorama feature of our new Sony digital camera.
The failed attempt by two young women, who did NOT get my wallet.
Gaudi's Park Guell
Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia Basilica, both outside and inside
Gaudi's Casa Battlo
The mini-jet stream pouring over the wing, as we rose through clouds out of Barcelona
Ramon driving us all over the place, showing us his Barelona
Meeting Ramon's son Marc
Watching Sharon and Emma become friends so fast; listening to Sharon speaking Spanish
Emma's lettuce and fresh, PEELED tomatoes. Mmmmmmm.

Not So Much

Getting sick from drinking bad (for me anyway) tap water the night after the first day of our two-day guided birding trip.
Getting motion sick, on top of being sick from the bad water already, riding up the switchback mountain roads on the second of our two-day birding trip
The money wasted on the second of our two-day birding trip because of my being sick


Back to the Top
Previous Report
Italy Reports
Spain Reports
Family Trips
Home