PK to Europe 2018 travel blog

Piazza Majjiorie

Statue of Neptune

San Petronius Cathedral




I intended to set out from Liechtenstein early, but was tired and I keep reminding myself, I am on vacation. I don’t have to kill myself with early mornings and late nights. Still, the goal was to be in San Marino by evening and I wanted to stop in Bologna on the way. I finally got away about 10 a.m.

I loved visiting Liechtenstein. This tiny country has a rich culture and heritage all its own. The mountain views are spectacular. It is cool and just a little bit slow paced. Something I could really appreciate.

I was surprised at how fast I was out of Liechtenstein and back into Switzerland. The GPS on my phone has been very handy, but, without wifi, it is hard to get it set. I should have set up my itinerary before leaving Stephan’s place, but I thought I would do it on the road. Not a great idea. So, I was more or less blind about which way to go until I got to a gas station and could get enough signal to set the direction. Oddly, once it is set Google Maps seems to continue to direct me, even with no clear signal. I wonder how that works. In any case, I figured Italy was South.

Driving through the Alps wasn’t quite what I expected. The Swiss have done a remarkable job developing a freeway by blasting through God’s creation to make tunnels. Where there isn’t a tunnel, there is a bridge. It feels a little wrong to so easily cover miles that would have cost many a travel his life in days gone by...but I suppose I like it better this way. The road wound it’s way through spectacular least, the ones outside the tunnels. Every mountain looked about the same from the inside. There were beautiful lakes and streams I crossed over. I thought my little Lemon would struggle a bit going through the mountains, but it tugged along just fine.

I had planned lunch in Bologna, but...what was I thinking? Bologna is about two hours away from San Marino and about six hours away from Liechtenstein. Not exactly a halfway point. No wonder Stephan looked at me funny when I told him I hoped to be in Bologna by lunch. I grabbed a quick lunch at one of the conveniently placed servicios—a cut out on the freeway that includes gas, food, and best of all, restrooms.

The border crossing coming into Italy was easy, but there were some Italian guards giving everyone the once-over as we slowly drove past. I always feel like they are going to pull me aside and say something like, “You look like an American. We hate Donald Trump so we are going to take it out on you.” I suppose that is fair; I did vote for the guy. But, whether there ability to recognize Americans was ascew or they were simply more gracious than my Democratic friends back home, they just let me go on by.

Bologna is a fairly large city and my GPS worked overtime to get me to the heart of the city, the Maggiorie Piazza. Rome feels old and full of tourists, like you are never sure if anyone is really from there. Bologna is a young and thriving city. The square was old and beautiful, but it was set up for an event that evening, outdoor cinema, I think. There is a statue of Neptune that figures. Prominently on the piazza across from the Cathedral of St. Peter, as if the history of Bologna is competing on that stage. Odd that they would so honor Neptune. If for no other reason, they are no where near the sea. Perhaps they picture Neptune rising from a pond just outside of town. I think there are a few of those.

St. Peter’s is an odd church building. It is rather square with minimal decoration. I wonder if they are in the process of re-working the face fo the church. The lower part seems new, white, and slightly more decorated. The top is more brown and rock-face. If they are, they have taken a break for the summer heat. No sign of scaffold or workers.

Bologna is famous for their pasta. I had wondered the old town enough and was ready to eat something and get on the road. unfortunately, it was only a little after five. No self-respecting Italian has dinner until at least 8 p.m. and probably not until 9 or 10. Most of the cafes and restaurants were still closed. They few places that were serving were just selling slices of pizza or, believe it or not, hamburgers. I found a group of waiters standing outside a restaurant and decided to ask one of them if it was possible to get some food. He looked at me with shock. Then, sizing up that I was an American (probably a Trump-voting American), he decided I was just a little on the insane side and he would be accommodating. He went to talk to the cook who agreed to make me some pasta.

I had my pick of ALL the tables inside and out. The waitress made a suggestion and I ordered what see. Recommended. To be honest, I’m not sure what I got. It was some combination of pasta and meat, very tasty. It was not quite as much as I usually eat for dinner, but I decided a little gelato would finish it off great. An hour later, I was back on the road in search of the fifth smallest country in the world: San Marino.

You would think there would be major signage coming into San Marino, but I never actually knew where the border was. There are three major peaks that overlook San Marino. On one, an old tower looks down on the city as protector. My host in San Marino was Valentina who lived with her mother and brother in a beautiful little house with an upstairs apartment—for me! At least for a couple of nights. Valentina was out, but I found the key where she said it would be, let myself in, and relaxed. Long day.

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