Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade west of MacAskill Station as it passes through a cutting to a level crossing with signage.
Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade as it passes through MacAskill Siding, which went through numerous name changes during its history. A rare structure, likely a small tool shed, sits at western end of the siding.
Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade as it passes through a sharp 90-degree bend (what I call “The Angle”) with numerous high embankments, telegraph poles, cuts and the remains of a wheel flange greaser.
Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade as it passes through a number of curves and over Polly Creek with telegraph poles, culverts and milepost markers.
Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade south of the former flag stop at Milepost 61.4/111.1 with telegraph poles, cuttings, embankments and a culvert over a branch of Polly Creek.
Video of the former Canadian Northern Railway/CN-Kinghorn (Dorion) Subdivision (MP 110.6-115.2) east of Cameron Falls, ON. Features the grade south of Hogarth Station as it passes through a swampy area reaching a former flag stop and siding (1939-1946) at Milepost 61.4/111.1.
Ciao ragazzi! Oggi è una giornata dolceamara (today is a bitter sweet day). The dreaded day has finally arrived, our last one in Italy. We only have mere hours left before we have to board our flight, which will take us from sun and +15 to snow and -4. Sigh. All good things must come to end though, right? It is shocking how quickly this trip flew by, as it seems just yesterday we landed in Rome and were eager to get our explorations started. It’s been a whirlwind of walking, crowds, amazing history, bus rides and changing hotels. Excited and fun, but exhausting.
Alright, we’re in the air now, 7.5 hours out of Toronto. We left Rome about 25 minutes late, so hopefully that doesn’t cause us too many issues on the other end as we have a tight turnaround in Toronto for our flight home. They just served lunch, which consisted of chick peas, chicken with tomato sauce, I think polenta and sadly no dessert, as we have a nut allergy in the vicinity. They said they’d try and find an alternative, so we’ll see what happens. It wasn’t bad overall, though the gentleman in front of me has decided to recline his seat, which made eating it these tight confines even more challenging.
As on the last flight, the entree was scorching hot (I used it to melt my frozen butter), which ironically contrasts with the temperature in the cabin, which is ridiculously frigid. I’m never usually cold, but I am absolutely freezing. I’ve busted out the blanket, so maybe I can stay warm enough to sleep at some point. It would be nice to catch up on my sleep, but I don’t want to snooze too long that I can’t get to bed tonight…ah, the first world problems of flying!
So fast forward a bit, and we’re more than halfway through the flight (according to the map we’re over Greenland). I was so cold, I went into my bag, which the other chaperones have nicknamed “Big Bertha Battistel,” and dug out my jacket. It’s at least keeping me reasonably warm though there’s still a cold draft. I’m still squished though, which does raise an interesting question, to recline or not to recline? I prefer not to recline, even though it may be slightly more comfortable. There is absolutely no room back here in steerage class and moving the seat back makes it even more claustrophobic. But that’s just me.
Back in Canada. We’re now sitting at our gate waiting for the flight to Thunder Bay. The rest of the flight was rather anticlimactic, though my entertainment screen bit the dust in the last few hours. I just filled in the voucher they gave me and I now have 15% my next flight…not too shabby! Before we landed they served our snack, which was either chicken or veggie baked pie heated to 6000 degrees Celsius. It wasn’t terrible, but I’ll be glad to have something to eat at home. Unfortunately they came around with a nut-free brownie for those of us who didn’t get one with the meal, but because I was asleep, they forgot all about me.
We’re all home now…what a long day! Our flight to Thunder Bay left and arrived on time. It was great to see all the families waiting for their kids to arrive back from Europe, tired, but happy to be home. I too am happy to be home, though it is a tad bit cooler here than it was in Italy. Anyway, I’m going to sign off for today. I’ll be back in a few days with some reflections on another student trip that is now in the books. Until then…
Buon Lunedì ragazzi (happy Monday kids)! I’m happy that it’s the Monday after the March break and I’m not at work, but also a little sad as it’s our last day before we head home tomorrow. We’re going to make the most of it as we continue to explore Florence and learn more about its history and culture. My fingers are crossed that the weather cooperates today and that the rain we had last night moves on. Walking around a city in the rain on tour is not fun…I know all about it.
Sitting on the bus now, with a little less than 3 hours to go until we get back to Rome. The sun is poking through the patchy clouds, almost like Italy is trying to give us some nice weather for our last bit of time in the country. Thankfully the rain held off today, which gave us a somewhat decent day in Florence. We dropped our luggage on the bus and power walked the 20 minutes into the city to meet our guide Alessandra.
Our tour started at the Piazza del Duomo and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Battistero di San Giovanni. I really enjoyed the explanations of the design and architecture of both structures. I do have an interest in Renaissance architecture, but not quite as much as my older brother who is an architect. From there we moved on to other places, such as the Piazza della Repubblica and the Piazza della Signoria. Our final destination was one the leather factories that Florence is famous for, where the kids had a quick demonstration and then were able to explore the shop.
We had another good chunk of free time again to explore the city and do some shopping. Since it was around lunch time, one of my first stops was at Antica Porchetteria Granieri 1916, where I had a nice porchetta sandwich. It was very tasty, but a bit dry as it could have used a little sauce, like an aioli. Afterwards, I picked up a few more gifts for my family and then I headed over to the cathedral where Mr. Marcon and myself waited for a short time in the queue to gain entry. These Italian churches never fail to impress, and it was quite the view in the inside as well.
Unfortunately 2:45 came rather quickly and we had to bid farewell to Florence and make our way back to the bus for the ride to Rome. It took us about 4 hours to finally arrive back at the same hotel we’d been at for the first few days, so it was like we had come full circle. Supper was here at the hotel, which consisted of salad, pasta and chicken. It wasn’t bad, and was certainly plentiful.
It will be an early morning tomorrow, as our bus will pick us up at 7:00 to transit to the airport. Sadly tonight we had to say goodbye to our driver, Salvatore, who needed to head back to his hometown of Naples in preparation for his next tour. He was a real trooper, and always calm, cool and collected. The kids absolutely loved him and I’m sure he, as we were, sorry that we had to part ways.
Anyway, I better get rolling. I have tidying to do in my suitcase, and it do need to rise early to ensure the group is ready to go tomorrow. Until then…
Buona domenica ragazzi (happy Sunday kids)! It’s another beautiful day in the neighbourhood…for now. There’s a potential for some showers later this afternoon when we get to Florence, or as the Italians say, Firenze. Presently, we’re on our way to Bologna, which is 1.5-1.75 hours away to the northwest on the “Autostrada.” The plan is stop for a couple of hours there, which will give us a chance to look around a bit. Then it is another similar drive from Bologna to Florence. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can have an enjoyable day.
It’s been a long and busy day, so I’m just getting around to finishing this as I settle into my room before bed. Although our visit to Bologna was very brief, it was a very pretty and impressive city. We walked from the bus station to the Piazza Maggiore through what are known as the Arcades, which are covered walkways beside the streets. From there we had time to explore parts of the city centre. Our chaperone group first paid a visit to the Basilica di San Petronio, a large and beautiful gothic church.
I wish we had more time in Bologna, but we had to hit the road to get to Florence, which many were excited to visit. We did pause for a short break at a roadside travel plaza, where we were able to grab some food and snacks for the rest of the drive. From my experience on past trips, and also this one, I must say that these establishments in Europe are quite impressive and actually nice to visit. This one was pretty good, and it was really the least nice one we’ve stopped at.
The drive from Bologna to Florence was quite fascinating I must say. Our route took us over the Apennine Mountains again, or I should say correctly, through them in many places. The highway was full of tunnels that were bored through the hills and mountains, some stretching on for kilometres. It is rather impressive to see what they did, as the roads are rather flat in this area, compared to all the hills that can be found back home.
When we arrived in Firenze, we proceeded from our drop off point to the Piazza della Signoria, with Kent providing some interesting info along the way. He did not want to say too much as we will have a guided tour tomorrow morning. Anyway, once we arrived at the Piazza, we then had a few hours to again explore the city centre. Our group proceeded past the Basilica di San Lorenzo to the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) where we hoped to find some good buys for ourselves and our families.
Afterwards, we slowly worked our way back to the Piazza della Signoria, which took us past an absolutely impressive set of structures, the well-known Piazza del Duomo and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral dates back to the 13th century and is easily identifiable with its red tiled dome and coloured marble facade. I must say that I was speechless; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a magnificent and unique church. I knew that this was a focal point in Florence, but I didn’t I’d be so awestruck by it.
Supper today was at La Vecchia Firenze, where we dined on spaghetti, salad and roast pork with potatoes. Dessert was a somewhat lacklustre ice cream something or other. It had started spitting before supper, and that continued as we left the restaurant for a 20 minute walk to our bus pick up location. Tonight we staying at the Hotel Grifone, which seems nice, but does not have a particularly great layout from a chaperone perspective. Hopefully the kids are tired and go to bed.
Tomorrow is our last day, so hopefully the weather clears up so we can make the most of it (it is raining right now). We will be leaving Florence around 3:00 for the 4 hour drive back to Rome for another night at the hotel we stayed at for the start of our tour. With that in mind, I better turn in and get some sleep so I can enjoy the final bit of Italy. Until then…
Ciao, sono tornato ragazzi! Oggi è un’altra mattinata soleggiata ma molto fredda (today is another sunny but very chilly morning). Even though we have a later start today, I still woke up early to run down to the beach to snap a photo of the sunrise. In the process, I locked myself out of the hotel and froze my butt off…double whammy! It was worth it though, and thank Jesus the door was open when I got back! While it was a crispy 4C at the crack of dawn, it’s supposed to be 15 by this afternoon, which hopefully will be enough to keep us sufficiently toasty for our wanderings.
We left the hotel at 9:00 today for the brief bus ride into Rimini. Once we parked, we were met by our guide, Marianna, who would take us on a short tour of the old city, which dates back to Roman times. It’s Saturday today, so it was market day, with throngs of locals and tourists (like us) plying the streets. We saw many of the interesting sites, including the Tempio Malatestiano (Malatestiano Temple), which is a 13th century church that was reconstructed in the 15th century as a mausoleum for Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (Malatesta in Italian means bad head).
Once we bid farewell to Marianna, we had two hours to wander around the city centre and explore the shops and markets. I know the kids really enjoyed this part, both for the food and shopping. One cafe we stopped at shockingly had Prosecco on tap, and the winery that produces it is in Conegilano, which is about 30 minutes from my parents town in the province of Treviso. One of our groups suggested a pizza shop that was so good, we even went back and had more after the first round.
After reboarding the bus, we made our way 30 minutes to the west to San Marino, which is it’s own small country surrounded by Italy. I knew a bit about it, but I had no idea most of it was on a mountain, so we had another slightly white-knuckle trip up, with Salvatore once again expertly easing the bus along the winding roads. Kent gave us a quick history lesson and then we were turned loose for another two hours to explore this unique country.
What an amazing place! I wish we had more than that limited amount of time. The part of the country that is on the mountain is one giant castle with many smaller castles inside it as you work your way up. There are countless shops selling everything from designer purses, to clothing to air soft guns. The views though, the views are unbelievable! There are so many vantage points, and you begin to understand the strategic importance of this place. Our elevation here in Rimini is a seal level, while the top of San Marino rises to more than 720 metres or 2300 feet. I must say, as someone who is not good with heights, there were spots that gave me anxiety even approaching the edge. I took a ton of photos and video.
Dinner was back at the hotel, where we enjoyed another appetizer course, followed by pasta and roast pork with potatoes. Tomorrow we leave Rimini behind for Florence via Bologna. I have not been to either place, so I am very excited to see these beautiful cities. Hopefully the weather cooperates as we are supposed to get some rain later in the evening. We don’t have a super early morning, but we do have to pack everyone and everything on the bus, so I better get rolling. Until then…