A Travellerspoint blog

Here Comes The Rain, Again.

rain 68 °F

We did get decent weather on our last full day in Trento, meaning that it didn't rain until evening. My husband had to attend conference sessions, but he was able to take a lunch break with us. We visited a supermarket for bread, prosciutto, and snacks and took everything with us in the cable car up the mountain. We ate our picnic lunch on a park bench overlooking the Alps. It was beautiful!

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My daughter and I also spent some time outdoors while my husband was working. We checked out a farmers' market/art festival at the park across the street from our hotel.

Unfortunately, we woke up the next day to--you guessed it--more rain. Our first thought was to do some laundry since we couldn't be outdoors, but no laundromats were open because it was Sunday. We hung out in our room for a while and packed. Luckily, the rain let up, so we got some lunch, checked out, and headed over to the station to catch our train to Verona.

Once we got to the station in Verona, we remembered the reason why we had such a hard time finding accommodations: a One Direction concert. There were young girls everywhere, decked out in t-shirts and bandannas. We even saw a horde of them waiting outside near the Arena.

After settling in our apartment, we popped some laundry in the wash and walked to a medieval bridge.

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It rained some more, but at least the shower was brief. When we returned, we found out that the detergent capsule hadn't dissolved in the machine, so we ran it again and went to dinner. When we returned, we saw that the soap had dissolved, but that the clothes were waterlogged even though I had set the machine to maximum spin. We had to wring everything out at the kitchen sink before hanging it to dry. When we wrung some items out, soap came out along with the water; our soap capsule may have dissolved, but it was never fully rinsed away. This was not a good development, as we still had plenty of other things that needed washing. We turned in for the night hoping for better luck.

Posted by amikulski 13:48 Archived in Italy Tagged children italy Comments (0)

It rained.

rain 65 °F

That is my bad Hemingway imitation. It is also the title of this entry because we've been seeing lots of rain the past 3 days.

After checking out in Milan, we went back to the center of town to walk along some of the Quadrilatero d'Oro, where many designers have their Milan stores. We did some window shopping and saw plenty of fancy names with prices to match (that's 1,200 Euro for the dress).

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We then walked back to the Galleria and ate lunch there, followed by some gelato. It rained off and on the whole afternoon, which made it feel very Hemingway-esque.

We took a late afternoon train to Verona and then Trento. We had the chance to nap, catch a glimpse of Lake Garda (I couldn't get a good photo from the train window, unfortunately), and stay dry.

We woke up the next morning to more rain, not just sporadic showers like in Milan the day before, but a full -on steady pour. We had been watching the weather reports, so it wasn't a surprise. We were even proactive and had packed an umbrella. However, we weren't proactive enough to consider that we might need two, given that my husband was at his conference and my daughter and I wanted to leave the hotel. We sent my husband with the umbrella so that he could stay dry in his professional wear and went out to buy a second one. We met again after lunch and decided to visit the Diocesan museum because a) they have paintings of the Council of Trent (the city's big historical event) and b) we would stay dry. We had a couple of close calls where my daughter almost touched a centuries-old painting, but disaster was averted. Although she didn't seem terribly interested in the art, she kept saying that she wanted to paint. We didn't have any paint, but we did break out the crayons, coloring book, and sketch pad back at the hotel. The rain continued.

We woke up the next day to find more rain. This had been the day that we had set aside for a visit to Lake Garda, but we decided against it because of the weather. Instead, we visited the Castello de Buonconsiglio, the castle where the meetings for the Council of Trent were held. My daughter seemed to like this castle better than Castell Sforzesco in Milan because there were balconies;
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it also helped that we went inside instead of just walking around it. She was disappointed to learn that princesses did not live there (the castle was a home for bishop-princes), but when she saw some portraits of assorted noblewomen, she snapped several photos of the "princesses" with her kiddie camera!

We enjoyed the castle, but the best part was that the rain stopped while we were there. It has been dry ever since, so we're hoping for at least some respite from the wet travels.

Posted by amikulski 10:22 Archived in Italy Tagged children italy Comments (0)

Buon Giorno, Milano!

sunny 68 °F

On Sunday, we set out for Milan. Before our flight, though, we had to get to the Newark airport, which is about 4 hours from our house. We left at 10 AM to give ourselves plenty of cushion to make it for our 6:30 PM flight. Even though it's a long drive, it definitely beat our last trans-Atlantic trips, where our airport was nearby, but connections in Philly meant waking up at 4:30 AM Arizona time to catch an early flight. This time we were well-rested and our daughter even napped for an hour in the car. Bonus!

We made it through check-in and security with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, Newark doesn't have a play area, so we entertained ourselves with walks for to buy snacks, coloring, and watching some of the new children's programs I had bought for the iPad.

The flight itself was fine except for food and sleep. Ironically, the beef cannelloni served on the plane were terrible. I thought that United would have done better on a route to Italy. At least it has made all the food afterwards seem even better!

As for sleep, I had my hopes up. We ha talked to my daughter about how everyone was going to sleep on the plane, and she seemed to get the idea, but it did not work out in practice. When the lights went out on the plane, we did an abbreviated bedtime routine and encouraged her to sleep. The poor girl could not get comfortable, and she squirmed constantly. That also meant that she was constantly bumping against me and/or my husband, often while she had her head or feet in my lap. I couldn't doze off for more than a couple of minutes. I felt like I was in the fifth circle of hell. Plan B was to have her fall asleep watching TV, which is what she did on the flight to Germany 2 years ago. That didn't work, either, but at least I slept a little. Finally, I came up with the idea that she had to close her eyes until Daddy's timer went off. She was asleep in less than 5 minutes and stayed asleep till we landed. If only I had thought of that a few hours earlier! At least she and I snuck in some more z's on the bus from the airport to central Milan. Here is our final sleep tally (plane and bus):
Daughter: 2.5 hours
Me: about 2 hours
Husband: none

My husband had this idea to follow Rick Steves' advice on beating jet lag, but I was skeptical about it because it meant not napping during the first day. Rick Steves had never let us down before, though, so we thought we'd try it. After getting settled, we visited Castell Sforzesco...

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and the kiddie area of Parco Sempione. My daughter wasn't impressed with her first real castle, but she had a great time on the playground and miniature train.

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The weather was great, so we enjoyed being outdoors after being cooped up in a plane. I think it also helped us with our jet lag strategy. My husband and I each took a brief catnap, but that was it. All of us turned in before 9 PM and felt much better the next morning. Maybe Rick Steves is right on this one, though I think it helps to go into his plan well-rested.

We had more great weather today, so we picnicked in the Public Garden and then checked out the Galleria, the world's first modern mall, and one of the places where Catherine and Lt. Henry eat in "A Farewell to Arms." It was very pretty!

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We then visited the Duomo, Milan's main (and huge) cathedral.
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We also stopped for gelato, but it was melting too fast for me to take a picture!

We'll be in Milan till tomorrow afternoon, when we leave for Trento. Thanks for reading!

Posted by amikulski 09:06 Archived in Italy Tagged children italy airplane Comments (0)

Traveling with a 4-year-old versus a 2-year-old

Once again, we find ourselves with the opportunity for a big family trip. This time my husband has a conference in Trent, Italy, and we are turning it into a family vacation. Nearly two years have gone by since our last trip to Europe, which means our daughter has changed a lot. Here's a rundown of the differences we expect between traveling overseas with a 2-year-old versus a 4-year-old:

Plane: Not much difference here with regard to fare or space, but we are hoping for more sleep on the flight out this time around.
Advantage: ??
Transportation in Europe: Last time we had access to a car. This time we will rent a car for part of the trip, but use trains the rest of the time.
Advantage: having the car, which happened to be with a 2-year-old
Stroller: Last time, we used one. This time, we won't. Having less gear will be a plus, but it will mean more breaks for tired little feet.
Advantage: ??
Food: Like last time, we will be relying on kid-friendly choices on menus. However, I give Italy a tentative edge because I expect more availability of pizza and pasta.
Advantage: Italy (4-year-old)
Naps: Two years ago, we typically got 1 a day. Now they are hit or miss; our daughter will go several days without one, but then crash for over 2 hours the following afternoon. Fewer naps means less difficulty scheduling activities around nap time, although we will have to judge which days she really needs the nap.
Advantage: 4-year-old
Potty time: On our last trip, we were in the middle of potty training. Now our daughter is reliably potty trained, so the only trick will be encouraging her to use the facilities where they are available so as to avoid emergencies later.
Advantage: 4-year-old
Bath: Hotel rooms and apartments don't always have bathtubs. We were worried about this last time, but it turned out that our daughter thought the hand-held shower was like a water park. We're hoping for the same reaction again!
Advantage: ??
Communication: Our daughter can talk and understand much more now than she could on our last trip. This can help us explain new situations to her--or so we hope!
Advantage: 4-year-old

The tally:
2-year-old: 1
4-year-old: 4
??: 3
The 4-year-olds clearly come out ahead, but we will see what lived experience tells us. I will return to this post after the trip to see how these predictions held up.

Posted by amikulski 17:25 Archived in Italy Tagged children europe Comments (0)

Where We Stayed: Hampton Inn BWI

My last hotel review from my Thanksgiving trip is below, finally!

We first stayed at this hotel back in 2009 during DC's big blizzard (I hope to tell that story in another post). Our experience there was positive--well, as much as one could expect given the circumstances. When we realized that we needed to stay near BWI for our recent Mexico trip, this was the first place we thought of. We checked ratings and rates at other nearby hotels, and this one gave us the best combination of features and parking for the price.

We stayed at the Hampton for 2 nights: 1 before our flight and 1 after. Each time we were in a different type of room. We had a room with 2 double beds the night before our flight. Upon our return, we had a room with a king bed and a pull-out sofa. Both were about the same size and had equally nice furnishings. However, things got a bit tricky once we pulled out the sofabed in the second room because then was no good place to put the ottoman that had been in front of the sofa. We ended up pushing the ottoman all the way down to the other end of the room, up against the door to the hallway.

I always worry about planes waking me up at airport hotels. Luckily, this was not an issue any of the nights we stayed at this Hampton Inn. Their shuttle to and from BWI was reliable as well. Another great thing about this hotel was that the staff was always gracious with us, even though my daughter was in full-tantrum mode both evenings we checked in.

Breakfast: Typical Hampton Inn complimentary breakfast with continental plus hot items.
Bathroom: shower-tub combination
Blow dryer: yes
Elevator: yes
Internet: free in-room wifi. We didn't have any problems with it.
Nearest playground: Not sure
Recommend for families with young kids: definitely, at least for a short stay.
Recommend for people without kids: definitely.
Website: http://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/maryland/hampton-inn-baltimore-washington-international-airport-BALATHX/index.html

Posted by amikulski 18:18 Archived in USA Tagged children hotels Comments (0)

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