We’re coming home!

Oct 14

We’re coming home!

Ok. Sooo, here’s the deal. Amanda got some kind of sinus infection and then pneumonia. She was admitted to a private hospital and we had to stay for 3 nights. While in the hospital, I got sick (although hopefully it’s just a flu – the doc gave me antibiotics just in case). Our bodies are telling us we need to take a break for a while. We’re going home.

We just booked a flight home on Friday from Rome to Sacramento.

Next time we travel, we’re either going for a shorter amount of time (2-3 weeks, with most of the trip planned out) or a longer amount of time (months) but in one place. I think we’ll make a post later on about our overall experiences on this trip.

For the detailed story about the hospital, read on.

Amanda got a sore throat our last day in Cinque Terre. The next day, her nasal passages “exploded” (her words) and she had a huge sinus pressure headache and a mild fever. She started taking the Cold & Flu pills we brought with us but it wasn’t doing much. Tuesday she woke up feeling even worse so we went to a tourist section of a nearby hospital. We assumed that because it had tourist in the name that at least someone would speak English. No such luck.

As she started explaining her symptoms, the doc stopped her and had her walk into the office and type into Google Translate. Sweet.

This experience was not a good one. Because the doc didn’t speak English, we don’t think he understood what was going on and couldn’t explain why he prescribed Amanda antibiotics. She started taking them anyway and the next day it was hard for her to breathe and she started wheezing. Things were starting to get serious.

We called a 24/7 nurse hotline from her insurance back home and they recommended her go to a hospital because she was having trouble breathing and her history of asthma. Great. Two times already we had been to hospitals in Italy and both times we had horrible experiences. We were not excited to go to another hospital.

We hopped in a taxi and headed to the private hospital the nurse line recommended. It turns out they don’t have an emergency section. What? How does that work? We waited for quite some time before they were able to schedule an appointment with a doc. He did a quick examination and determined she probably has pneumonia and he recommended she be admitted to the hospital for a few days. We were very thankful that the doctors spoke decent English, but had to put down a 5,000 euro deposit. Yikes.

We paid a little extra to get a private room so that I could stay with her and keep her company. They don’t allow visitors in shared rooms. Apparently, in Italy, hospital patients are expected to bring everything they need to feel comfortable. We didn’t expect to stay the night ( or multiple nights ) so we weren’t prepared.

Chest X-rays and blood tests confirmed pneumonia. They started her on a different antibiotic via IV and aerosol therapy to help her breathe (a mask type of deal where they shove medicated gas in her face).

That night, I slept in the hospital bed right next to her – it was my first time staying in a hospital (thankfully). The next day, after the blood tests, they switched her antibiotic to a more intense one that took much longer to go through the IV. For most of the day she was on this slower IV antibiotic. Later that day they determined it wasn’t moving fast enough so they brought in a pump to help push the antibiotic into her viens. Her hand, were the IV was placed, swelled up and was causing her considerable pain. 🙁 It’s still painful and swollen today, two days later. They ended up stopping that IV antibiotic before it was finished because it was causing so much pain and took out the IV.

She was still wheezing at this point, and aside from the pain in her arm from the IV, was feeling a little better. Still not good enough to be released though so we stayed two more nights. The TV only had one English station and it had Arabic subtitles.

We’re finally back in our hotel but we can’t leave just yet. Since she had pneumonia, it’s a little dangerous for her to fly for a bit. We have to wait 5 days so that’s why we’re coming home Friday.

I’m just hoping that my pneumonia doesn’t pop up again and that we can make it home before I get seriously sick again.

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Cinque Terre and now Rome!

Oct 08

Cinque Terre and now Rome!

We found a place to stay in Monterosso, the northernmost of the 5 villages in Cinque Terre, and it was…. interesting. The location was fantastic. We had an awesome ocean view and a balcony that was perfect for eating gelato and watching the sunset. The bed, though, was a little short and the bathroom always smelled like sewer. A weird mix of being awesome and horrible.

On our only full day in Cinque Terre, we took a quick boat ride over to the next village, Vernazza, to start a hike. Our hotel neighbors did the hike the day before and it took them 5 hours so we figured it’d be a good workout. Trying to find the start of the hike was a little difficult. After going the wrong way a few times, we finally found the right starting point at the same time as a group of American guys. About 15 minutes in, Amanda’s asthma was starting to bother her. We immediately hiked back down and took the boat back to Monterosso to get her inhaler. After making a quick gelato stop, and I considering taking a nap, we started the hike in reverse at what would have been the end of the trail.

And a good workout it was; man, were we sweating. About 45 minutes in you could tell the views were going to be spectacular. There were red and white lines that look like a long equals sign painted everywhere (hah, almost everywhere) you might go the wrong direction on the hike. A few confusing forks with minimal signage and three liters of water later we reached the top of our hike, the Santuario N. S. di Soviore, at about 550 meters above sea level (according to the altimeter on my watch, calibrated the night before). The views of Monterosso and the sea were stunning. We relaxed and drank water for about 20 minutes.

We bought some more water, exchanged picture-taking with a group of Australians, and followed them down the trail to Vernazza.

It was a long, long way down to Vernazza and hard on our knees. We passed by many olive trees and grape vines. Some farms had motorized collection contraptions that looked like an unsafe unexciting theme park ride through some plants. If you’d ask me, I’d much rather ride a machine than carry boxes of olives/grapes up and down that hillside.

I had heard (or made up, we’ll never know) that the last boat leaves at about 7pmish. It was about 5:45pm when we got close enough to Vernazza to see that the boat was coming. We really didn’t want to wait another hour to take the boat so we ran the rest of the way. And by ran, I mean we RAN. I wasn’t quite sure we’d make it. As we were running through the village streets, I was sure that we’d missed it. Turns out we made it just in time! As we quickly purchased our tickets from the ticket lady she told us it was the last boat. We congratulated ourselves with some high fives as we wiped the sweat off of our faces and hopped on the boat back to Monterosso. In total, it took 3 hours 20 minutes including a 20 minute break at the top.

For dinner, we ate at Ristorante Miky, a swanky place that we had tried to eat at the night before but they didn’t open until 7pm and we were too hungry to wait. We got there at 7:05 to find a line about 10 people long. We had gotten dressed up (OK, OK, fine, I put on my dress up shirt – a collared short sleeve – and Amanda a nice black shirt. We’re traveling, give us a break) and were determined to eat a Miky. A gal in line told us this was Rick Steve’s favorite restaurant in Cinque Terre which probably was a clue to it’s popularity. Amanda had some triple vegetable soufflé dish with *amazing* cheese and I had some tasty gnocchetti in pesto. Tiramisu and chocolate souffle for dessert. Yummmmm.

We slept real good that night. Oh wait, just kidding. Our sleep has been anything but predictable this trip. Amanda had trouble sleeping with a sore throat 🙁 The next morning, reluctantly, we got up early and, reluctantly, had the same nasty hotel breakfast. A short walk to the train station and we were off to La Spezia, the first decently sized city outside of Cinque Terre.

We’ve been using a SIM card from TIM, an Italian mobile phone company, and were relying on our 3G data too much. We hit our data limits while traveling to Cinque Terre and subsequently used up all of our cell phone minutes. For most of our time in Cinque Terre, we were stuck in a hotel with no internet, with mind-boggling slow cell phone internet, and no upcoming hotel reservations for Rome. Uh oh.

Luckily, my data limit reset this morning (Monday) and I was able to use the internet at a decent speed. We waited at the La Spezia train station for 2 hours for a high speed train to Rome with no train changes. Even more luckily, there was wifi at the train station (for a fee) with which we were able to find and book a hotel for Rome. We’ve done too much traveling to a place without having a definite place to stay until the last minute. It’s getting quite tiring. More than a couple times we’ve talked about heading home before we initially wanted to. We’ll see how Rome goes.

But for now, our hotel in Rome is awesome. Considering we had like 6 choices for hotels with wifi and a gym that had 7 consecutive days available the one we picked has turned out to be great so far. Upon checkin, the front desk manager was funny and sarcastic and gave us a room on the top floor. We were A) surprised to have a separate sitting room with couch & king chair, B) surprised to have a walk in closet, and C) surprised to have a 40 foot balcony overlooking Rome!

We don’t have any set plans for Rome yet, but we do know there are about 5 things we know we *have* to see before we go. First thing on our schedule tomorrow is laundry. Yay! Clean clothes!

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See ya Florence, Hello Venice!

Oct 03

See ya Florence, Hello Venice!

Ryder: So, Amanda hasn’t been feeling all that well and our super helpful and friendly AirBnb host Paolo offered to let us stay longer while she’s sick (Needless to say, we haven’t been doing much of anything since our last post). After some debating, we took him up on his offer Monday morning, the day we had planned to travel to Venice. I was able to massage our reservations into moving back a day and now here we are, on Tuesday, in Venice!

The train ride was a quick one, only 2 hours, but when we arrived we found out that the water bus taxi system we needed to take to reach our hotel were starting a strike today. So far that’s two strikes that have affected our travelling during this trip 😉 The vaperettos, aka the water bus, were only taking people to the Rialto stop, and we needed to go a few more stops down the river. We amazingly did not get lost (thanks to Google Maps on my non-upgraded iPhone). We arrived at our hotel and then went out to explore, grab some dinner, and soak up Venice!

Amanda: Today we woke up in time for complimentary breakfast then went for a walk around Venice. We went over a few bridges and down some narrow streets, enjoying the ambiance and bustling vibe. One of the big differences we’ve noticed between here and Florence (apart from all the water, duh) is the ridiculous number of tourists in Venice. We hardly ever hear Italian walking down the streets! Most of the shops we passed held high-end leather goods, glass wear, lace, and lots and LOTS of Venetian masks for Carnevale Festivals. This is definitely a city geared toward tourists.

We went back to our hotel for a bit, then headed to the famous Basilica di San Marco in the Piazza San Marco just around the corner from our hotel! The beginnings of this structure were built to house the supposed remains of St. Mark the Evangelist, brought (or stolen depending on who you ask) from Alexandria. The original church was burned, but rebuilt to the present basilica, and consecrated in 1094.  This basilica stands as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture as, according to the churches website, “To build St. Mark’s Church, Venice brought the spiritual and material heritage of Byzantium to the West.” Feel free to insert “stolen” for “brought” were you see fit.

We walked around the interior of the church, marveling at the vast space and large intricate mosaics lining the ceilings, accompanied by brilliantly intricate slabs and tiles of marble. We paid a bit extra to see the view from the top and tour the basilica’s museum. In the museum we found the “Horses of Saint Mark.” They are four bronze horses dating back to Classical Antiquity, cast in the lost wax casting method. Some accounts claim these horses once adorned the Arch of Trajan and were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople. They were taken to Venice in the Fourth Crusade, stolen by Napoleon in 1797, but returned to Venice in 1815. The horses now on the facade of the cathedral are bronze replicas.

After our fill of the basilica, we stopped at a restaurant near our hotel for some dinner and are now in for the night.

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More Florence

Sep 27

Just a quick update today. Tuesday, we woke up a little late. We had talked about going to Cinque Terre that day, but on Monday four Canadian women were injured in a landslide on the trail we would have walked on. We decided it would be better to leave Cinque Terre hikes for better weather. We ended up just writing in our journals for part of the day. Amanda started feeling real bad at a cafe we were writing (and drinking multiple cappuccinos at 😀 ) so we headed home. Amanda started to feel worse and didn’t get much sleep that night 🙁

Wednesday, we didn’t do much of anything. Amanda was still feeling terrible so I brought her some medicine from the pharmacy on the corner (or the Farmacia as they’re known here). By the time we went to bed, she was starting to feel a little better.

Today, we woke up after getting a full night’s sleep.

At Noon.

We really need to get our sleep cycles back in order. Staying up with our new friends on Monday, Amanda being sick on Tuesday and a little more on Wednesday has shifted our sleep cycles. I’m planning on waking us up real early tomorrow to hopefully get us back on track.

Here are some cool photos from the past few days around Florence.

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Frankfurt & Zurich, Switzerland!

Sep 10

Frankfurt & Zurich, Switzerland!

Hi all! Sorry we haven’t posted for a while. Ryder wasn’t feeling very well in Frankfurt, had a fever and bad cough on our second day. Our one full day in Frankfurt, we both decided we didn’t want to explore the city after viewing the dregs of society outside our window all night. Ryder was really under the weather the night before we left and I was, of course, a little worry bug.

Sunday morning we took the train from Frankfurt direct to Zurich. His fever spiked to 102 when we arrived and I took him to a nearby clinic in the train station. Turns out, he is down with a virus which could possibly be pneumonia. The clinic doctor instructed us not to leave Zurich until Wednesday, so we are taking it easy for the next few days. I ventured out this evening to find some take-out, walking down the narrow cobble stone streets. The city is absolutely beautiful with all the character of Barcelona streets, filled with people who look French. The few Swiss we’ve had the pleasure to interact with are kind and helpful, but not to the extent of the Irish.

Ryder hasn’t had a fever all day today, so hopefully after one more day of resting we will be back in tourist mode. We don’t plan to linger in Zurich after Wednesday as this city has already burned a significant hole in our wallets. We’re looking at taking a train down to Torino or Milan next! Then on to Florence!! Ah, can’t wait for Italy!!

*Due to insufficient internet connections we were unable to load more than one photo for this post!! Super lame, we plan to rectify the situation sometime tomorrow or in Italy…

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