Five countries in 3 days…no big deal!

Since I am sure you have waiting at the edge of your computer chairs to read about the rest of my Spring Break adventures, I guess I shall keep you waiting no longer.  In case you missed the first blog, a quick recap follows:

I flew to Paris to meet up with my family, we had been before a few years ago so we got to skip the major touristy things and stroll the streets, eat, and relax.  After four days my brother and his girlfriend returned home, and my Mom and Dad accompanied me for the rest of the week.

For years my dad has had this strange infatuation with train rides, more specifically train rides in Europe so on Tuesday morning we caught a train from Gare de Lyon and headed to Liechtenstein via Switzerland.  The plan was to A. save money because traveling from Paris to Switzerland is much less expensive than Paris to Venice, B. save travel time, and C. give my parents a glance at the world in which I have been living for the past month. So after a brief 4 + hour  train ride (sarcasm not intended, that really is brief for that amount of distance) we arrived in Switzerland and began the trek to the Uni.

We had warned my dad about THE HILL that awaited us, and if you have been a faithful reader you know my previous experience with this same “hill”.   Father still convinces himself that he is “the kid” so he paid no attention to our warnings or preparations.  Needless to say, “the kid” was huffing and puffing his old self up by the middle of the hill and CPR was almost a possibility by the top.  Ok maybe it wasn’t that bad but…he certainly was more prepared the next time!

After settling in, we explored the downtown area and picked up some souvenirs and later that night traveled up the mountain to Treisen for traditional raclette.  (cook your own veggies, meat, and cheese)  My family was very impressed by the raclette, and it was definitely a good decision to let them try! Hopefully when I get home the fam will have purchased a raclette grill…here’s hoping!

Exhausted from traveling the next day we slept way later than usual, but still made time to explore nearby Switzerland and Austria in the dreary weather.  I swear every time and everywhere that my family goes on vacation it is either A. raining or B. freezing cold…no joke.  Anyhow….Thursday morning we set off to end our Spring Break with four days in Venice, Italy and man was it a great ending for the week!

Venice is definitely now among my favorite cities list…I’m pretty sure it even bumped Paris out of the running.  Granted, Venice is only a 2-3 day city so our trip there was perfect!  We stayed at the most amazing inn right on the border of “tourist trap Venice” and “local Venice” so we were literally surrounded by the best of both worlds. We spent the days roaming the city, and by roaming I of course mean lost.

Before leaving everyone said oh you just HAVE to “get lost in Venice”, now I know they really meant it is absolutely impossible to not get lost in Venice and just forget about reading a map.  Seriously…I consider my father and myself very adequate maybe even good map readers, but this took our skills to a whole new level. You’d be headed in the right direction and come to a square and just forget it…you’re NOT going to choose the right street out of the square, so as long as you don’t have a specific time or place to be no worries you’ll find something at some point.

Having been born and raised on the water, another neat aspect of the city was the boating and nautical way of life.  Obviously they have no choice but to do everything with boats, but seeing a boat hurse leaving a funeral I mean how strange is that!  Or picture a water ambulance bumping and bouncing along the waves headed to the hospital…I hope no one ever has a neck injury!  Or the garbage boat which was my dad’s personal favorite. The ability for a community to adapt to their environment has never been more evident to me, and I can thank Venice for opening my eyes…oh and my stomach to the most amazing food!

Now don’t get me wrong some places we ate were indeed tourist traps that tasted more like Papa John’s than actual Venetian pizza, but others…now those places were good!  Alberto’s was my personal favorite.  Just a few blocks from our inn, Alberto’s is a osteria filled with locals and packed to capacity.  Fantastic pasta, and THE BEST tirimisu I have ever had.  I don’t even like tirimisu, but this was unbelievable. I convinced myself that because of Alberto’s I know liked tirimisu and proceeded to order it at multiple restaurants afterwards, and it just wasn’t the same…long story short if you every find yourself in Venice go to Alberto’s! (and get the tirimisu)

We also had a day for visiting the nearby islands Murano and Burano.  Murano is known for glass blowing, which really is amazing as you think and the island definitely has no shortage of shops selling the local creations. Burano on the other hand is much smaller and known for its lace and brightly colored houses, and by bright I mean literally neon yellow and pink among other colors.

On Sunday after a whirlwind week we returned to Liechtenstein, and by early Monday morning my parents were headed back to the states. I am beyond blessed to have such a fantastic and supportive family, and the week was the best reminder of just how lucky I am.  It couldn’t have been a better Spring Break, but I can’t say that I won’t be soaking up the sun on a beach next year.  As they say; You can take the girl from the Coast, but not the Coast from the girl!

Interesting facts learned:

1. Venice does in fact appear to be sinking.  I mean it could have been high tide, and it certainly doesn’t look like that in all places, but along the Grand Canal the water was literally entering the basement levels of homes.

2. It is entirely impossible for the Cantrell family to have a sunny and warm vacation.

3. Traveling with a camping style backpack (mine from SF Alman) is the way to go!  Mine of course doesn’t look like a camping backpack, but it fits all of my clothes for a long weekend and I can just throw it over my shoulders when walking to the train station or metro.

4.  Busch’s baked beans taste even better when eaten abroad.  No, they don’t sell them here, but mother was nice enough to bring me a few cans to share.

5.   Gelato in Venice isn’t actually as good as in Vienna. Strange since gelato is Italian and everything, but true! I guess we will have to test the gelato in Milan this weekend just to be sure….

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