Saturday, November 5, 2011

The journey to Rome and then the U.S.

After our two night stop in Germany we were on our way to Rome. We looked at many options to spend our time in Europe before we had to leave on the 6th of November. We seriously considered spending time in southern Italy where we haven't been before but felt we would be too rushed to enjoy it. We then decided instead to visit two places neither one of us had been before. Those two places were Luxembourg and the city of Basel, Switzerland.

In Luxembourg we spent a total of 2 nights which was all we needed. To get to Luxembourg we took a 4 hour direct train with many stops from Munster, Germany. The first part of the train ride wasn't that scenic. The neatest part was when we went right by a couple of nuclear power plants. I was surprised at how close we came to them. The second half was more much more scenic. We followed the Moselle River for a while before our final stop into Luxembourg.

Luxembourg City close to sunset
We arrived in Luxembourg City during the afternoon and didn't do any sightseeing which was probably a good thing since it was All Saints Day (November 1st). All Saints Day is a pretty big holiday with banks, offices, stores, and many restaurants being closed. On our second day we visited the US Military Cemetery just outside of town. The cemetery is real nice and similar to the one we visited in Normandy in the spring. There are just over 5,000 American serviceman buried at the cemetery. Most were killed in the Battle of the Bulge which was fought nearby toward the end of World War II. We also got to see the grave of Gen George Patton which was pretty neat for me. I always enjoy watching the movie Patton and have read quite a bit about Gen Patton over the years. The rest of the day was spent on a city walk including visiting the old city walls that date back over 4 centuries. In all it was a pretty nice visit. Not too much to see as far as major attractions but still quite scenic. It definitely reminded me of France and could have passed as a suburb of Paris.

Gen. Patton's grave @ the WWII US Military Cemetery just outside of Luxembourg City
Next stop for us after Luxembourg was the city of Basel, Switzerland. We spent just two nights in Basel. I had never been to Switzerland before and Alethea had never been to Basel. She has been to other parts of Switzerland though. To get to Basel we took a three and half hour train ride from Luxembourg City to Basel. An interesting thing about Basel's train station is that since Basel lies at a point between the borders of Germany, Switzerland, and France one of its main train stations lies both in France and Switzerland. When we arrived in Basel we stopped and dropped off passengers in the French part. The train then backed up and switched tracks before pulling into the Swiss part of the station.

Basel, Switzerland and the Rhine River
We essentially spent just one day and really a half of that day sightseeing in Basel. We got in during the evening on our first day and decided not to do anything but relax including doing some laundry. We spent our one full day strolling around town. We picked up a brochure at the train station TI office that listed multiple walking paths. We spent 3 plus hours following the different paths. We walked around a street fair in more than one part of town that is currently going on for the next two weeks. We also toured the Munster Cathedral before eventually ending up at a micro-brewery bar on the opposite side of the Rhine River. We then took the tram back to our hostel. One interesting thing about Basel is apparently all hotel guest receive a free transit pass while visiting the city which also can include the bus to the airport. Most of the sights are within walking distance of downtown and we could have walked from our hotel to the center of town but the pass did come in handy after a long day of walking.

many traditional half-timbered German style buildings in Basel
The final leg of our journey was Rome, Italy. To get to Rome we considered training all the way down form Basel but found a real cheap flight. We got up at 4:30 am and hiked 20 minutes to the central train station where we caught the airport bus. Once we got to Rome we took a train from the airport to the main Termini train station and checked into our hotel. Instead of sightseeing we decided to take a nap and work on some additional travel planning.

This brings us to the next part of our honeymoon travel adventure which is how we will be returning to the US. We will be taking a 15 night transatlantic re-positing cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The cruise starts on Sunday November 6th and we arrive in the U.S. on Monday November 21st. I have never really been on a cruise before and had never had much of a desire to go on one either. However, Alethea found a great deal on this cruise and since it makes port calls throughout the Mediterranean including Morocco I figured I would give it a try. I also said I would at least do a cruise once even though I thought my first one would be to Alaska and not traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. I am looking forward to it. I think it will be real interesting. I am looking forward to having the same place to sleep for two weeks in a row for a change. I hope I don't gain too much weight eating though. I plan on working out some while on the ship. I plan on blogging about the experience and expect to post something once we get back to the US in a couple weeks. For the most part we shouldn't have internet access. We'll try to access our email in Barcelona and maybe at a our last stop on the Madeira Islands in Portugal. See everyone in a couple weeks!

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