- Staying right by the Leaning Tower of Pisa was convenient in some ways, but, in practice, I might have done well to stay in the area nearer the Arno, which is livelier with locals at night. It's not like Pisa is all that big a city so it would have still been a reasonable walk to Piazza Miracoli. Anyway, as I have said before, the famous things are famous for a reason. I was also impressed by the acoustics of The Baptistery and the frescos in the Camposanto.
- Only real issue in Firenze was that the hotel I was at turned out to be very noisy. I went to the Accademia and the Uffizi (on separate days) and the Duomo. So, in short, I gawked at art. I also ate a lot of gelato (and some real food). I bought yarn and writing paper, too.
- Bologna is not as well-touristed, but has a lot to recommend it. The architecture is superb, for one thing. And the gelato is just as good as in Firenze. Also, I really liked the hotel (Albergo Atlantic) that I stayed in. I can't say there were essential sites (well, maybe Santo Stefano, aka the Seven Churches), but it was a good place to soak up atmosphere.
- I did a day trip to San Marino from Bologna (via Rimini). This is the world's oldest republic, as they tell you at every opportunity. I walked a lot, gawking at views, and went to the horribly tacky but interesting vampire museum. I have now collected the complete set of European microcountries.
- The bus from Bologna to Ljubljana was not too bad. While there are no border controls, you can tell when you have crossed the border because of all the SLO-moving traffic. (I promise that will be my only bad pun about Slovenia. Today.) Anyway, I really liked Ljubljana, which is a lovely mix of Central Europe and Italy and filled with Art Nouveau architecture. I did not buy any Slovenian yarn, however, since the one store in the central area selling it was open only 5 hours a week (10-3 on Saturday). And I spent Saturday on a day trip to Lake Bled, which is fabulously beautiful.
- Then I flew to Amsterdam (on Adria). I didn't car emuch for that city when I was there in 1980 and it has not improved. I think part of it is that there are so many sleaze-seeking tourists. Part of it is that it is absurdly expensive. And part of it is that everything is brick, which feels gloomy. I revisited the Van Gogh Museum, which is two-thirds closed for renovations (but they still hit you up for 15 euros). And I went to the zoo, which was disappointing. I did a day trip to The Hague, which is better and has some appealing modern architecture.
- And then I flew home, this time in business class. Which was pretty painless. And now I am jet-lagged.
(Detailed gelato report is still to follow.)