Italy by Rail and Ship: Spoiled Americans! (That’s Me)

So I have been wanting to blog and post photos of our trip on a daily basis, but when we arrived to Italy and into Lake Como I realized that this would be a near impossible task.  Simply put, WiFi here is not the blazing super fast speed that I am used to at home.  Even our data plan via TMobile is often at LTE speeds, but abroad the maximum speed allowed is at 2G.  Basically, it will take hours to post a couple of photos and oftentimes it will “time out” or will need a “connection reset.”  It has been a frustrating lesson in patience and in realizing that I am a spoiled American, used to things like fast internet, ordering free water and everyone speaking English.

I have come to the conclusion that my daily blog posts will just have to be text-based, and if I am lucky perhaps there will be one photo that will somehow upload to this site.  And since I don’t really care a whole lot about appropriate / correct grammer, I will probably just use my phone speech-to-text feature and see what happens!   But I should at least list out my approximate expenses for each day, as this is after all a blog about traveling and saving money.  So here are our expenses for this Saturday, July 22nd:

4 euro:  bus ride to train station

9.2 euro:  train to Rome

3 euro:  bus from train station to hotel

100 euro:  one night lodging at hotel

10 euro:  tip for our walking tour guide

3 euro:  Gelato

4.4 euro:  Pizza

Total:  124.6 x 1.2 = $149.52

What, only 7.4 euros for food all day?  Yeah, well, we got off of our cruise ship this morning and had a huge breakfast.  I decided that I was going to fast all day today and not eat until breakfast tomorrow, and Lisa wasn’t too hungry and just needed a late afternoon slice of pizza and a evening scoop of Gelato.  So yeah, 7.4 euros or about $9 for food for today, but with that asterisk.  We’ll definitely spend more tomorrow, especially since our hotel is located in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, known for a lot of great restaurants with all’aperto dining and at prices that won’t rip you off.  So we will probably do that sometime tomorrow, in addition to getting some Gelato or trying out another slice of pizza!

Italy by Rail and Ship: Mdina and Rabat, Malta

Day trip to the walled city of Mdina and its neighbor Rabat.  We took the city bus and then just walked around the two towns, just like the hundreds of other tourists who were on cruise ship shore excursions.  But in our case we could take our time and follow our own agenda, like stopping for some risotto and Panini.

Mdina Cathedral


St Paul’s Church, Rabat

Italy by Rail and Ship: Valletta, Malta

My smartphone has been resurrected. After I feared that it was lost for the remainder of our vacation, I plugged it in last night and when I checked it in the morning it was able to reboot and start up like brand new. I did not lose any apps or photos or anything so I am good to go.

We spent a full day in Valletta, Malta taking in a short historical multimedia presentation and then taking a three hour self guided driving tour on an electric golf cart. We survived driving on the left hand side!  

Valletta is a walled Fortress town and its claim to fame was withstanding The Great Siege from the Ottoman Empire in 1565, where they were outnumbered four-to-one.  It is the capital of the three island nation of Malta, and it is filled with churches, cathedrals, palaces and it is basically  stepping back  in time… many movies have been filmed here such as Assassins Creed and Popeye!  Valetta is also the 2018 European city of culture, whatever that means.  Pretty awesome port of call!

Sunrise over the Valletta seaport

Killed My Smartphone…

Attempted to clear my cache, but in doing so the system crashed and now I have the dreaded yellow triangle with the red exclamation point. Not able to troubleshoot a fix so this will be my last post for a while since my app was on this now bricked phone.  For what it is worth, we are in Valletta, Malta and will soon be on our way to Sicily, Italy.
Not all is lost however, Lisa still has her phone and can take pictures on it.

Italy by Rail and Ship: Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor is the second walled city we’ve visited in the last two days. The main attraction here for me, however, is above the city.  Hiking up over 1300 steps from the town’s North gate, those brave and fit enough to ascend will be about 900 feet above the town at the Fortress of St. John.  

Actually, the climb up was not that difficult. Most people can get to the top in about an hour, but those that are super fit and can power hike it can probably do it in about 20 minutes. It took me a little over half an hour with stops along the way for pictures.  It is basically just walking upstairs on wide steps. The hard part for me was actually coming back down, especially since my shoes have little traction and are quite slippery on some of the stones. This is definitely a hike that I would not want to do in the rain or with wet rocks — I would have definitely slipped! 

The trail costs three euros to hike it, payable to the attendant at either entrance at the base of the mountain. Along the way there were three vendors selling bottled water, and an artist at the top selling some of his paintings.  There were no bathroom facilities.

This was a fabulous hike and I was lucky to do it in the morning before the sun fully came out to heat things up. I met up with Lisa back down in the town and we just strolled around for the rest of the morning admiring the alleyways, the old buildings, churches and the 14th century walls that contain the city.