Pictures and story by John Peterson

On August 10 th 2007, we (the Petersons - John is to the right in the picture to the right) flew to Zurich to meet our Australian & Indian friends Judy & Doug Wimble and Raja Varma for a month of traveling in Europe.   The first week we took the "Tops of Switzerland" rail tour.   Raja has traveled extensively in Switzerland and was a great help in navigating the train system.   We got on the wrong car a time or two, but never the wrong train.   We stayed in Zurich, Interlaken, and Lucerne and visited Jungfraujoch, high atop the Alps at 11,782 ft, the highest tourist spot in Europe; Mt. Pilatus.

We took a boat trip on Lake Brienzersee, and then Raja left for London.   From Lucerne we took the train to Venice, Italy for a 4-day stay.   We enjoyed San Marco Piazza along with thousands of others, the Doges Palace, the Grand Canal, the crowds on the Rialto Bridge, the Murano glass works, and wandering the narrow back streets.   We next had 10 days in Slovenia and Croatia, arriving by train in Ljubljana, renting a car and driving NE to the Lake Bled area.   Our rooms overlooked Lake Bled with the Church of the Assumption on Bled Island, and Bled Castle.   We took a gondola to Bled Island (free to go, pay to get back), and saw an enjoyable medieval jousting tournament at Bled Castle.

Another day we hiked through Vintgar Gorge.   From Bled we drove to Opatija, Croatia, on the Gulf of Kvarner off the Adriatic Sea.   Opatija is a seaside resort full of ornate hotels painted in bright pastels with Victorian type white trim, and beautiful flowers everywhere.   On the return to Ljubljana we visited Predjama Castle, built in the mouth of a 395’ high cave below an overhanging cliff.   You could climb far into the cave from the castle, very unique.

Ljubljana has a lovely medieval center, impressive churches, open-air markets, and the River Ljubljanica running through it to add to its charm.   It was then back on the train for the return to Italy.   We spent 2 nights in Bologna with a side trip to Ravenna and their churches and historic, beautiful mosaics.   Another rental car and we were off to Barberino Val d’Elsa where we rented a villa in the medieval area.   What a treat!   We had a patio overlooking the sunsets in the Tuscan hills, grocery shopping with lots of finger pointing, and 2 great restaurants overlooking the valley.   We took side trips to Siena, Florence, Pisa, and many more medieval towns.

Wimble’s then left for France and the Rugby World Cup, and we spent the last 3 days in Rome and the Vatican.