The Alps by Automobile

In January of 2019, Rebecca and I decided to embark on the ultimate road trip and explore the Alps by automobile.  We began our crazy adventure in northern Italy, but before it was all over we had traveled through the snowy passes of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria. This post serves as a photographic diary of our scenic journey along the way.

We entrusted this little French 5-speeder, a Citroën, to carry us safely through the Alps.




The Castelgrande Castle, near the Italian border, is located in Bellinzona, Italy



Rebecca wasn’t skipping any of the rides outside this rest stop in Tremorgio, Switzerland.




Our journey carried us through the beautiful Lake Como Region of Italy.




The roads weren’t bad and we carried snow chains in the trunk just in case things got icy.




One of my favorite things about these quaint villages is their perfect little chapels. Check out the traditional clock face on this one in Amsteg, Switzerland.




The lakeside community of Beckenried, Switzerland




Big John gets out the car to stretch his legs at a small grocery store in Beckenried.




The famous Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland




Perhaps one of my visitors can give me more information on this beautiful mosaic observed on a Swiss mountain pass.




The Hotel Post in Realp on the Furka Pass, Switzerland




Cross-country skiers enjoying the Swiss powder




I can only imagine all the simple pleasures one would find in the rural Alpine life.




Around two-thirds of the Swiss population identify as Protestant or Roman Catholic.




All of the timber houses, cottages, and other wooden structures maintain that unique Swiss appeal.




Pretty as a postcard!




While venturing out towards Zermatt and the Matterhorn, we reached a point where all private automobiles were required to load up on trains to continue onward.




A view of the majestic Matterhorn from the village of Zermatt




The Austrian countryside on the way to Innsbruck



Innsbruck, the capital city of Tirol Province, Austria




The sun has brightened our day as we continue along down that Alpine highway.

Our fun-filled Alpine road trip proved to be a memorable experience we won’t soon forget. For Rebecca and I, the chance to travel the world, visit exciting places, and see all of God’s handiwork has become one of our greatest passions in life. Thank you for visiting Big John’s Adventures in Travel. I hope that by sharing these posts, it will inspire you to pack those bags and set out on an adventure all of your own making. Please visit my site soon to see where our next adventure will take us.


Happy travels,

Big John

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The Lake Como Region of Italy

As Rebecca and I drove across the Swiss border into the Lake Como region of Italy, the clouds darkened  and it began to rain. Lake Como, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, is a posh resort area known for its splendid scenery, set against the backdrop of the Alps. Lake Como has been a popular retreat for the extremely wealthy since Roman times. The actor, George Clooney, fell so in love with the area that he purchased a multi-million dollar mansion in the lakeside community of Laglio. Unfortunately for us, we encountered a dreary, wet and windy afternoon when we entered into Lake Como and our visit there was a very brief one. Along with scattered showers, the heavy clouds brought in a dense fog that limited our visibility and made any picture-taking a real challenge.

A fleeting glimpse of Lake Como from the highway.


Lake Como, the third largest lake in Italy, is 28.5 miles long and 2.8 miles wide at its widest point.


Listed as one of the deepest lakes in Europe, Lake Como has an average depth of 505 feet.


Due to poor weather, much of our exploring was done through the windshield of our car.



American authors Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway have both visited and written about the Lake Como area.


Among the many noted lakeside communities surrounding Lake Como are, Lecco, Bellagio, Tremezzo, Menaggio, Varenna, and the village of Como itself.



Many movies have been filmed in this area from Ocean’s Twelve to Casino Royale.


Lake Como is the birthplace of Villa Culture inspiring the likes of Leonardo de Vinci.


Rebecca steps out the car to get a better view of Lake Como and the surrounding area.


At the Cemetery Bellagio, Lake Como Region, Italy




The Hotel Villa Aurora in Lezzeno offers their guests a spectacular view of Lake Como, Comacina Island, and the Villa Balbianello.


Many of the shops and businesses in Bellagio appeared to have closed their doors during the winter months. Arriving in the late afternoon, Rebecca and I were practically the only tourists to be found on the nearly empty streets.


While exploring the streets of Bellagio, Rebecca is on a mission to search out some delicious Italian cuisine.


Companies such as Taxi Boat Varenna offer luxury taxi boat rides around the lake.

Being here way outside of tourist season, the streets were nearly deserted around the lake. During the warmer months, these fascinating boat tours allow countless visitors the opportunity to learn about the local Italian history; all the while admiring the breathtaking views of Lake Como surrounded by the majestic snow-capped Alps.

With the sun setting quickly over Lake Como, Rebecca and I made our way back to our car and soon put this beautiful landscape in our rearview mirror. Although the weather was less than desirable, we still enjoyed our short visit along the shores of Lake Como. Perhaps we will return one day when the sun is shining and streets are crowded with festive people. For now, thanks for visiting Big John’s Adventures in Travel. I hope this post motivates you to pack those bags and set out on an adventure all of your own making.


Happy travels,

Big John

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Two Days in Venice – Italy’s Famous City of Canals

In the Veneto Region of Italy, partially submerged in the murky waters of the Adriatic sea, rests one of the most romantic and renowned places in all of Europe – Venice. The heart of this Venetian lagoon has no roads above water and, outside of its raised walking paths, its winding canals can be traversed only by boat.  The area of Venice is actually a group of intriguing islands, where art and history are said to come alive. Combined with old trades and the beauty of the sea, this priceless treasure is a must-see World Heritage (UNESCO) site.

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The hotel Villa Barbarich in Venice

It wasn’t just any old occasion that brought us to Venice, it was the final leg of our fabulous honeymoon. Considering that, I did a lot of research before choosing the hotel for our Venetian getaway. Just 15 minutes from Venice, the Villa Barbarich was an amazing resort . The hotel, featuring all sorts of great amenities, is actually a renovated 16th century villa. For anybody who appreciates history with elegance, this place is certain to please!

The quickest way to get around Venice is always by watercraft.

If you’ve never had the privilege of visiting this lovely floating city, keep on scrolling down. Big John will take you on a tour through my vivid collection of photos. This ride is a whole lot cheaper than one of the pricey gondolas; although, if given the option, I seriously recommend you see it by boat.

The barber-striped poles are called palinas and they are used to moor boats.

A banner advertising Glasstress drapes from the upper corner of this three-story structure.

Glasstress is one of the many art exhibits in Venice. This exhibit showcases sculptures made entirey of glass.

I believe she can fly!… no, not the car.

The courtyard outside the 9th century Santa Maria del Giglio church.

 A gondolier rows a relaxing couple through a narrow passage adorned with flowers.

Rebecca strikes a beautiful pose in front of Zora’s Shop Gallery.

The building in the background is the former home of Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi, a famous Greek – Venetian writer, salonist and countess. The building now houses Zora’s Shop Gallery, an exquisite art gallery of glassworks.

The Chiesa di San Moisè is a Baroque style, Roman Catholic church built in the year 947 A.D.

Wearing a striped shirt and shades, this guy is going places!

I’m sporting a blue “Italian” shirt in order to blend in with the locals. There are no elephants in Venice! Rebecca definitely looks like a tourist!

Three black gondolas and a girl dressed in blue, if we find some pasta, I’ll share a bowl with you.

I just wrote that romantic, lovely poem for my wife. I hope she likes it!

St. Mark’s Clocktower

This Renaissance tower, built in 1499, has a mechanical clock with symbolic decor.

The Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, is the most celebrated area in all of Venice.

St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica is Venice’s most iconic cathedral. With a cavernous gilded interior, myriad mosaics, and an on-site museum, it is one of the greatest national treasures of Italy.

An Italian fastfood pizzeria (not to be confused with Little Caesar’s) .

Rebecca stands outside the Bestrot De Venise, a restaurant known for exquisite Venetian wines and cuisine.

My sweetheart browsing around a candy shop.

Some of these passages are so narrow that there’s only enough room for one gondola at a time.

Rebecca is ready for a cocktail at the Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso restaurant.

Rebeccca outside the Venice Hard Rock Cafe.

It’s rush hour traffic on the Grand Canal.

Rebecca finds some much needed shade under the green awning of this Italian eatery.

Gondoliers wear strictly regulated clothing.

In the summertime, they wear a white sailor’s shirt or a striped tee shirt (red or navy) and a straw boater with matching band. I put the uniform on but my disguise didn’t really work. I still had to pay if I wanted to ride.

That sundial is reading about 12:40 P.M., it’s getting hot and I need a drink!

Rebecca browsing around at Rialto Market in Venice.

These sculpted pair of giant hands cling to the historic Ca’ Sagredo Hotel in an effort to draw awareness to global warming.

The most beautiful piece of work in all of Venice!

A group of young Italians find refuge on shaded steps inside the San Polo district of Venice.

This looks like a best-selling jigsaw puzzle in the making! What a beautiful scene!

Something tells me they don’t get many visitors walking up to the backdoor.

It was time for somebody to hang out the laundry.

Two gondoliers call out to each other during a stroll in the canal.

I imagine a gondolier is required to have a strong sense of balance, and drinking on the job is probably frowned upon.

I told her she was way too pretty to wear one of those masks!

A single curved oar is used both to propel and to steer the Gondola.

These sleek yet ornate boats typically measure about 35 feet long and five feet wide; surprisingly, their average weight is about 1,100 pounds.

Rebecca stands over the Grand Canal on the famous Ponte degli Scalzi bridge.

The San Simeon Piccolo church, with its copper dome, is the prominent feature in this waterside row of structures.

The sun begins to set against the copper domed church of San Simeon Piccolo.

Rebecca sampling the gelatto.

Now she’s a happy camper… Wait, she hates camping!

One of many beautiful vintage boats you might see in Venice.

The Parrocchia Dei Tolentini is a Roman Catholic church constructed in 1754.

The setting sun brings with it a peaceful calm to the watery streets of Venice.

Honestly, I don’t know what happened. I was just strolling along when the sidewalk simply disappeared from under me!

Believe it or not, the average depth of a canal in Venice is 16.5 feet deep! Still, when diving, I recommend going feet first the first time.

Venice used to be its own country.

For most of the eighteenth century, this quaint eastern Mediterranean city used to be known as the Republic of Venice, a country considered to be the mercantile empire of the Adriatic Sea.

There are over 400 footbridges in the city of Venice.

She makes all my selfies look good!

This was one of my favorite pictures I captured in all of Venice. What do you think?

Wow! That is one thirsty girl!

A Norweigan cruise ship pulls into the deep channel in Venice.

A nautical display outside the Il mercante di Venezia.

The store had an amazing selection of nautical antiques, an art gallery, and more.

Rebecca was pretty amused with the large cistern in the middle of the square. What was it used for? We hadn’t the slightest clue.

Many do not know this, but the entire city of Venice was built upon wooden pilings. Because the city has no forests, the wood was floated in from the mountains of Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro.

About once every four years, over half of the island of Venice is submerged under the water. Judging by the water level here, I’m surprised it doesn’t flood more often.

A parade of Italian motorboats leave a wake in their path.

More than one James Bond movie featured a high-speed water pursuit in the canals of Venice. I had better stay on dry land. I don’t want to blow my cover.

Rebecca stands on a bridge, enjoying a refreshing Peroni.

Don’t let her fool you. She doesn’t really like beer all that much. That’s the reason she’s been nursing that same bottle for the last several hours.

The Trattoria Pizzeria – One of the many places in Venice for authentic Italian cuisine.

Many of the buildings in Venice have structural problems and are vacant.  Some dwellings are only occupied a few months out of a year. Regardless, I’m sure we can all agree that the architecture here looks simply amazing. Venice is certainly a beautiful city.

As you can see from the picture, I’m wearing my “drinking” shirt (I’m not quite certain if I own any “non-drinking” shirts).

Now my tour-guide is trying to lure me down this dark, deserted alleyway. She’s looking a bit mischevious. I think I’ll follow.

My partner-in-crime is exhausted from a long day of good times and nautical nonsense. It’s time to say our goodbyes to this famous floating city.

A high altitude view of Venice’s topography captured from the plane carrying us home.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this pictorial journey through the streets of Venice. As always, I pray this post has inspired you to pack that suitcase and go see someplace exciting.  Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, leave a comment, and share some love on social media.

On behalf of Rebecca and I…

Happy travels,

Big John

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