Monday, April 13, 2015

Skavsta, Sweden

Out flight to Stockholm Skavsta Airport on Ryan Air was a bit complicated. We had a scheduled departure out of Bergamo (BGY) airport at 20:50. Unlike other airlines, Ryan Air charges extra for printing airline tickets and for additional bag. Each bag is weighed and additional costs are added for anything over 15 kg. Inna and I spent some time packing and repacking to get our weight close to 15kg (to avoid overweight penalties).

Normally Ryan Air requires tickets to be printed by the traveler or shown on their phone (using the Ryan Air phone app). However, for non-EU travelers, one is required to have printed tickets and the Ryan Air app cannot be used.

Since we arrived into Bergamo early, we were able to get our Ryan Air tickets printed for free, but Ryan Air would not accept our 2 bags. Ryan Air requires check in two hour prior to departure and not any earlier.
We had the best lunch ever at Bergamo Airport's Vicook Restaurant. Since we had nothing better to do in Bergamo, we decided to enjoy our last day in Italy here. Although the service was very slow and inattentive, the food was absolutely fabulous.

Alex ordered a Caesar salad. He said that he was ravenous and could eat it all himself. He was a bit surprised by the enormous portion.


For a shared appetizer, we ordered  the "Galiziana", which had bits of octopus with potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and mignon beans.. It was really delicious!


I had the "Tagliatelle Al Ragu" - fresh homemade pasta with Bolognese sauce. It was very well prepared.


Alex had the "Pizza Nuvola" which was an interesting soft dough pizza with Buffalo mozzarella cream and basil.


The desserts were fabulous as well. We tried the "Meringata ai frutti di bosco"  -a meringue with wild berries and Chantilly cream and it was just grand.



When we came back 90 minutes before departure, Ryan Air had a huge check in line, but I was able to drop off bags.

Our flight to Stockholm’s Skavsta airport aboard Ryan Air Boeing 737-800 proceeded on schedule and we landed in Stockholm at 23:15. We collected our bags and checked into our Connect hotel (300 feet away). Sweden was much, much colder than Bergamo, Italy. The air outside was 6 deg Celsius or 45 Fahrenheit (really cold).


Connect is a fine looking Swedish hotel, but our room was rather cramped (though clean and very modern) and Alex’s bed had to be rolled out from underneath our bed (a bit inconvenient to do at midnight).


Monday, April 13, 2015

We had to get u early at 6:00am to take the bus from Skavsta airport to Stockholm (an 90 minute drive), before changing buses for the Arlanda Airport (60 minute drive). Since the buses from Skvasta to Stockholm are infrequent (the first one being at 7:40am, we had to eat breakfast and leave our hotel by 7:30am).


Our breakfast at Connect hotel went well and we had the light Swedish breakfast (dark rye bread, yogurt) in a modern looking breakfast room. Everything was very high tech with automated cappuccino makers and juicers. Both Inna and I really liked the contemporary, modern decor in Sweden (home of Ikea).


We had to wait a bit for the bus to Stockholm, as it arrived a bit later than 7:40am. The journey to Stockholm downtown took longer than expected. We were told it would take 80 minutes but it took almost 120 minutes. Once there, we boarded the next bus to Stockholm's Arlanda airport, which took us an additional 45 minutes.

Check in at Norwegian Airlines went relatively smoothly, and we went upstairs to get lunch at the Food Market - a cafeteria style restaurant. Alex ordered a Milanese Pizza.and  All of the food was excellent and we enjoyed our lunch there a lot. I wish U.S. airports had restaurants of this quality.


Inna ordered a "Raksmorgas" Open-faced Shrimp sandwich.


 I ordered a "Pasta Pesto" with chicken, It was freshly prepared and tasted great.






































For dessert, we tried some local cakes. They were delicious!



Our flight from Stockholm, Sweden to Oakland, California was scheduled for 13:45 but was delayed 15 minutes. It was nice to fly back again on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Norwegian Airlines is all a la carte (like Ryan Air) and all food (including water) or blankets must either be pre-purchased before the flight or ordered in the snack bar. We decided to purchase some salads form the Food Market and ate those on the flight. I think Norwegian should offer at least complementary water on the 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight.

Once again, I had the opportunity to watch a few films, including Wild, Interstellar, The Internship.

The first movie I watched was "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I read the book already, but liked the movie also. Cheryl's book covered a lot more detail (which was cut from the movie). Reese Witherspoon played Cheryl's character well and made the PCT hike believable.

The second movie I watched was "Interstellar". While I liked the movie, it was  bit unrealistic when it came to black holes a lot of science (as are most SciFi movies).

When I started to watch "Gone Girl", Inna suggested that I first read the book, so I decided to stop watching the movie.

I liked the movie The Internship about two middle-aged guys who get an internship at Google.

Our plane touched down in Oakland, California at right about 3:30pm. We disembarked from the plane and waited another hour at U.S. customs. Why does it take one hour for U.S. what takes Sweden 5 minutes?

We were all very tired and sleep deprived and were glad to have grandpa pick us up.







Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Venice, Italy

We arrived into Venice' San Lucia train station (on the island) at around 1:10pm from Bologna. Once there, we purchased a 3-day Waterbus ticket for each of us (at $40/ticket), to enable us to use public transportation in Venice, Murano, and Burano.

I did not realize at the time, but there was a machine that sold those same tickets next to the agent, and I could have purchased the same tickets there (without waiting in the long line). Note - American Credit cards don’t work in European vending machines (but most restaurants process them successfully). I also ended up having problems with my Keypoint ATM card. Apparently, all banks need travel pre-authorization to enable them to work in foreign countries (this was not required previously).


Inna rented an Airbnb apartment at Corte de la Cenere, 937. After taking the Water Bus 5.1 to Giardini, we were met by our host Anna. On the way there, we saw many beautiful gondolas along the Grand Canal.


As the water-bus sailed past St. Mark's square, I took a beautiful shot of Doge's Palace.



Anna was very gracious, meeting us at the waterbus station, and showing us the best way to the apartment. She showed us all of the apartment's amenities, and highlighted the best restaurants to try and museums to visit.


After resting a bit, we headed to get lunch at one of the local restaurants recommended by her - Trattoria Alla Rampa. Anna also recommended Osteria Alla'Ombra but prices there seemed a lot higher, so we decided to try Tratoria Alla Rampa first.


We ate inside Trattoria Alla Rampa, ordering typical Viennese dishes. Our first entrees were black squid ink pasta (which colored our lips and teeth black). Afterward, we looked liked vampires!


The pasta was quite tasty, but not as delicious as Spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna. In general, we found that food in Venice is more expensive and of lower quality than in nearby Bologna (due to the fact that all of Venice’s food has to be imported from the main land).

After lunch, we took waterbus #1 to Ca'Rezzonico - a museum of Venetian 18th Century Venetian Art.



We spent a few hours exploring the three floors of the museum, and especially enjoyed the beautifully decorated rooms on floor 1. By the way, the Ca' in front of name means that it's a palace.


Everything is so lavishly furnished. It's just amazing!


The Murano glass chandeliers were jaw-dropping!




In many ways, Venice is Disneyland for the adults. There are only 50,000 permanent residents, as real estate is very expensive, so most young people choose to live on the mainland. However, the exquisite beautify of the many palaces and churches numb the senses. How did this place every come to exist this way?




After the museum, we grew a bit tired a decided to get a bite to eat. Anna recommended a place that serves small Venetian snacks and drinks - Taverne Remer. We had a difficult time finding it and even used Inna's iPhone GPS to try to locate it. Google’s maps were of no help either! (In general, we found Google Maps completely useless in Venice). We even asked a couple locals only to find out that it's closed on Wednesday's (there was no sign that indicated Remer’s working hours).

While walking around Venice, we saw lots of beautiful gondolas (mostly carrying tourists), though they were really designed as basic transportation.



Giving up on Remer, we decided to find the next closest restaurant - La Mascareta. We had a fun time looking for it too, getting lost a bit with all the turns.

We found many interesting shops on our way there, some selling Murano glassware and some various pastas.



Eventually, we did find it and ordered some Italian dishes. The food was delicious but not of Bolognese quality.

We ordered a "Mixed Plate" for our appetizer, which had a combination of all Venetian delicacies. It was quite good.


In addition, Inna and I ordered "Spaghetti with Clams" for two and we liked the dish.


The house made "Tiramisu" was quite delicious too, but not as good as the one in Bologna.


After dinner, we strolled back to Rialto Bridge and boarded our ferry back home.


However, on the way home, we decided to exit at San Marcus square stop and see the beautiful Doge’s Palace and San Mark’s basilica. We were amazed that even at 9:30pm, the square was still quite busy.


There was an orchestra playing selections from Vivaldi, and then an Argentine Tango "Por Una Cabeza". It would have been nice to get a cappuccino and just relax here, but it was getting late. We boarded water boat #1 for Giordini and sailed home.

We saw lots of beautiful lit palaces on our way home. Venice truly shines at night (when most tourists leave).


The Basilica of Santa Maria was well visible from our waterbus.


When we finally arrived home, we were all very tired. We drank some hot black tea and went straight to bed.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Since we had an early Citytour of Venice and Doge's Palace scheduled for 9:00am, we woke up promptly at 7:00am and got dressed. I stopped by at a local next-door bakery recommended by Anna, to pick up some delicious Italian croissants for breakfast. We made some tea with croissants and had a delicious breakfast.

We boarded our Water Bus #1 for Rialto Bridge, arriving just in time for our Citytour. The guide gave each of us a walkie-talkie with headphones, so that we could hear her explanations. Our tour of Venice began from there, and we walked through many neighborhoods.


The guide told us a bit about Venetian history. Venice started out as a collection of separate islands, each with its own ruler and church. In fact, there are over 255 churches in Venice. Eventually, the islands united into one republic, ruled by a duke (or Doge) who was elected by 10 nobles. The houses are split into two types: the palazzi (palaces) for nobles and ordinary houses for everyone else. In a noble’s house, there was a separate water entrance. Because of flooding, the kitchen and servant quarters were frequently reserved for the lower floors (food was not considered valuable, and due to kitchen fires, proximity to water was considered desirable). The palazzo usually has ornately decorated windows and more elaborate window frames.


Since water was scarce in Venice, special wells were setup to collect rain water for common people (Noble’s palazzo had their own water collection systems). It was a capital crime (one of few for which the death penalty applied) to those who destroyed or poisoned these wells.

Our guide showed us the arch of what was Marco Polo’s original palazzo (Marco Polo’s house is not there anymore).

She also showed us one of the largest (grand) schools. These are not schools in the traditional meaning. Venetian schools were organizations were focused on helping the unemployed or the sick. One of the schools we saw in an extremely ornate building was used as a hospital.



Eventually, we ended up in San Marcos square and entered the famous St. Mark's Basilica. It is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, designed in a Byzantine style with gold leaf mosaics throughout.


We had a chance to explore the church and visit the roof. The church is full of gold leaf mosaics.




Our Citytour continued to Doge's Palace, where the Duke or "Doge" in Italian lived. A council of Venetian noblemen elected the duke.




There was also a jail in the palace for those who disobeyed Venetian laws. Those prisoners who were sentenced to a 10-year sentence could reduce it to 5 years by choosing to row in a galley. In fact, the word for "jail" is derived from galley.


We had a great time on the Citytour, but were exhausted after 3.5 hours (the tour started at 9:00am and ended at 12:30pm). We decided to go back home, to get some rest and to drop off Alex, as he was really tired.

We decided to get lunch at Osteria Alla'Ombra, a local restaurant recommended by Anna. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendly and fast service, and very good quality food.


Alex ordered his “Margherita” pizza, while I had the Spaghetti Bolognese. I liked my spaghetti and the house wine. It was a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.


After dropping off Alex at home, we took the waterbus to see the Scuolo San Ruoco (followed by the Friary Church).  On the way there, we stopped briefly in as shop selling Carnival masks. By the way, the word "Carnival" comes from the Italian word for meat or "Carne" and it literally means farewell to eating meat (prior to the Christian season of Lent).

In Venice, the wearing of masks became a tradition for nobles who wanted anonymity while doing things that were illegal.


Inna got to try out a mask.



Scuolo San Ruoco was full of large paintings by Tintoretto on walls and ceilings. There were mirrors provided to enable one to look at the paintings on the ceilings without straining one’s neck. Being a bit tired, I was not as excited about these Renaissance era paintings.


I got a bit tired looking at the ceiling. There are mirrors available to help relieve one's straining neck. Inna walked around and looked all of the ceiling paintings. This is like Tintoretto's Sistine Chapel.


Afterward, we proceeded straight to the Friary Church. Its doesn't look very beautiful on the outside. All of the splendor is on the inside.


This is the only Gothic style church in Venice. Because all buildings in Venice have a stilt foundation, heavy buildings cannot be supported, unlike buildings in other cities like Rome and Paris which are built on solid ground.


The Friary Church was built to be a lighter, shorter Gothic church. It is definitely a lot shorter than Notre Dame in Paris.


We saw many great paintings here, but the standout was “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Titian. Unfortunately, the painting is so far away, that I had a better view of it in my Rick Steves book than in the Church.





 There are many monuments in this church and even Titian’s remains are here.


As we were a bit cold and tired after visiting the Friary Church, we stopped by at the local Bottega del Cafe to warm over a cup of coffee.


We tried a few of their signature coffee drinks. Inna had the Cafe Bottega and I tasted the "Derciok". Both of the coffee drinks were delicious!


After coffee, we wandered around the narrow cobblestone streets marveling at the beauty all around.


It's a photographer's dream - every square inch of Venice is photogenic.


We made it back to the Rialto Bridge and decided to try a few Venetian delicacies at home.


We purchased a few samples and tried them with hot black tea in the evening.


When we returned to our apartment, we decided to try a highly recommended Ristaurante Oniga.


We were offered some small bits of bread and pretzels to start.


There was a dog in the restaurant, but it did not bother anyone. For appetizer, we ordered a Bufallo mozzarella salad. As usual, it was freshly made and delicious.


Inna and I shared some gnocchi for our next course.


After dinner, we walked back to our waterbus stop and sailed back to Giardini. Once home, we enjoyed trying out Venetian sweets.

Friday, April 10, 2015

After purchasing our usual assortment of chocolate and apple croissants from the local bakery, we had our morning breakfast with hot black tea.


Today was our day to visit Murano and Burano islands.


We took waterbus #5.1 to Murano, arriving at around 9:30am. At this time, Murano was fairly empty of tourists (but not for long), and we explored all the interesting glassware shops, showing off their Murano-made glass items.


There were many beautiful Murano glass items for sale - some very expensive and high end and others fairly inexpensive. In one of the shops, we saw a demonstration of how Murano glass is made. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take any photos.


The owner was making a horse out of Murano glass and it took him very little time to do so. After the item is formed in needs to cool really slowly (for more than a day).



Otherwise, the rapid cooling will crack the glass. The process looked very low tech. Many shops had lots of items on display, but it's hard to tell a genuine Murano glass article from a cheap foreign-made copy.




After exploring the island further, we decided to take the next waterbus #12 to Burano. This was a 30-minute sail, and we arrived in Burano, just past 1:00pm. Burano is a small fishing village with colorful houses everywhere.



It is known for fine quality lace and we saw lots of examples for sale. Inna checked the prices and they were very expensive (over $200 euro for any garment).


We had a wonderful lunch (but very expensive) at Anna's recommended restaurant - Romano.


This was the restaurant where Anna had her wedding and we were impressed by the quality of the dishes.


We started with a delicious seafood appetizer, which had a selection of clams, mussels, and other delicacies.

Alex ordered a steak and it was delicious.


We continued with a delicious Romano risotto - the best I’ve ever had. Usually, I am not a big fan of Risotto, but this one was very special.


We finished our lunch with a delicious cake (it was as good as the cakes in Café Demel in Vienna). This was the best restaurant on our trip to Italy.


After our wonderful lunch, we sailed back to Venice. It took over an hour to get back to our Giardini station.






We decided to check off a few more items on our bucket list, so we sailed on water taxi #1 to San Marco’s square and took the elevator to the top of the tower.



 The view from the top was fantastic (but we did endure the ringing of the tower's bells).







Coming down from the tower, we explored San Marco’s square a bit more, taking a few more photos on this beautiful sunny day (with the sun setting).


It was hard to resist the urge to take more photos, as everything in San Marco’s square is so beautiful. I wish that tourists didn't trash the square so much, as I saw heaps of garbage everywhere.


On the way to the Rialto Bridge, we stopped by at a great Gelateria near Realto - Gelatoteca SuSo. SuSo had some interesting flavors including fig & walnut and panda. Inna and I shared a gelato with pistachio and fig & walnut combination.



We really liked the fig & walnut combination. The pistachio was also very good and creamy, but not as good as the one in Bologna.



For dinner, we thought about going back to Osteria Trattoria Non Risorto, which was fairly inexpensive (and in a less touristy area of Venice). However, on the way there, we saw a small diner - Il Sigillo da Mauro e Mimmo -  serving delicious looking open-faced sandwiches and we decided to try them instead. Inna and I shared a "Special Toast" while Alex munched on a "Margherita" pizza.


After our long day, we sailed back home on our waterbus.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Our last full day in Venice! We had our standard breakfast or local croissants and pastries with hot tea.

In the morning, we decided to check out Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, followed by a ride on the gondola.


On the way to the Guggenheim Museum, we stopped briefly at the “La Salute” church. The church looks quite grand from the outside, but is not so ornate on the inside. We spent about ten minutes walking inside it and then left to explore other neighborhoods.


Since the Guggenheim Museum opens at 10:00am and we were half an hour early, we walked around nearby streets, getting lost in the narrow cobblestone streets.


Eventually, we made it back to the Guggenheim Museum, and it was already crowded with tourists. We checked in our bags, and went inside. The outdoor sculpture garden is quite small with a few statues.


Eventually, we made it inside the museum, taking a look at the works by Picasso, Chagall, Dali, and other modern painters. Alex really liked the museum and was helpful in figuring out the details in some of the paintings.





Inna and I were surprised to find kindergarten kids on a tour of the Guggenheim. They were being shown some of the paintings. It was nice to see kindergartners immersed in culture.


After the Guggenheim Museum, we wanted to catch a Gondola ride. However, all of the gondola stations we asked seemed to be oriented toward ripping off tourists – offering 20 – 25 minutes ride for $80 euro.

Some of the gondoliers use fake gondolas. Authentic gondolas have a prow with 6 points (one for each district of Venice). Some of the black gondola lack this prow and are cheap imitations. Rick Steves recommended discussing the path with the gondolier and paying him afterward. However, most gondoliers we met would not go along with Rick Steves' advice. Our gondolier required immediate payment and we were too exhausted to argue.


At one point, we almost gave up the idea and decided to get delicious gelato at our favorite gelaterie – Suso. Every one of us got their own cup of delicious gelato and I got my favorite Fig & Walnut for the first flavor and Nocciolo (Hazelnut) for the other flavor. Alex tried some cookie flavored “Panda”  and liked it a lot.

We were getting a bit hungry and decided to explore the fish market for a restaurant. The fish market was selling mostly souvenirs and very little anything else. We decided to go back to our previous less touristy Pizza restaurant, but on the way there, find a little dive that was selling delicious looking open-faced sandwiches. Inna and I shared a delicious “special toast” for $15 euros. Alex had his usual “Margherita” pizza, which was shaped like a trapezoid and looked more like bread with cheese than pizza.


After eating our lunch, we did find a gondolier near the Realto Bridge and did our short gondola tour. We enjoyed floating through the canals and our gondolier pointed out Marci Polo’s house and Casanova’s house. However, the tour was a bit too short and the gondolier insisted on payment upfront (not a good sign). Despite feeling ripped off, I enjoyed the ride through the canals.


The canals were very narrow in places and our gondolier navigated through them without any scratching the gondola at all.



He even stopped by for a quick drink while on the job! (We saw many gondoliers talking on the cell phone while rowing). We were told by our Citytour guide that new Gondolas are made in Venice in a small factory and cost upwards to $30,000 euros.

We decided to go back to our apartment, to drop off Alex, so that Inna and I could go shopping. Anna recommended shopping for Murano glass on San Leonardo street in Cannaregio (San Marcuola waterbus stop), where the prices for Murano glassware are lower than on the island of Murano. She also warned us that it’s impossible to tell the difference between an authentic Murano made piece and a Chinese imitation, so buyer beware. We found some colorful drinking glasses for a reasonable price and purchased them. They were much cheaper than in Murano.

After finishing shopping, we decided to explore the Jewish Ghetto in Venice. The Jewish ghetto is a small region in Venice where from 14th century onward, Jews were permitted to live (reluctantly).


Since no other section of Venice was allowed to Jews and space was limited, the building were built much higher up, to accommodate more families. I found the tallest residential buildings in this section of Venice. Since it was Shabbat, all of the Jewish stores and restaurants were closed. A few houses had Hebrew characters. We did not find a normal synagogue – because of space constraints, I believe Venetian Jews used a floor of houses for services. The one Kosher restaurant Gam Gam had a special meal for Passover (but it looked closed).

On the way back home by our boat, our 3-day boat passes expired. Our tickets were checked onboard and were found to have expired at noon, so we had to pay a fine of $60 euro per ticket.

When we got back to our apartment, we decided to have dinner at our local Osteria All'Ombra nearby. We had lunch there previously, and we were delighted to have dinner there too.




We also ordered a delicious dessert.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Our last day in Venice! We were a bit sad leaving Venice, on our way to Bergamo, and then on to Stockholm, and Oakland, USA.

After carefully packing all of our things, we boarded waterbus 5.1 for the Santa Lucia railway station. We purchased our tickets on the boat, since there is no machine near the boat ramp.

It was a foggy day in Venice, but the boat made good time to Santa Lucia train station.

Once we arrived in the train station, we went to purchase train tickets. I was hoping to buy them online but the Trenitalia ProntoTrano app for the iPhone is not available in the Apple U.S. store. Consequently, we purchased printed tickets at an agency, since the standard Trenitalia machines do not work with U.S. Credit cards (European credit cards have pin numbers). I did not realize that there was a Trenitalia office nearby with people (to avoid paying the 8% agency fee for train tickets), which would have saved me $6 euros.

Our fast train #9714 departed from Venice’s San Lucia station at 10:50am and arrived in Bresche at 12:37pm. From there, we took the regional train to Bergamo, arriving at exactly 1:55pm (as scheduled).

We exited the train terminal and saw an airport bus parked a few feet away. We talked to the driver and he told us to go across the street to board the other bus to the airport. I went inside the bus terminal and purchased bus fare tickets, and then boarded the bus to Bergamo Airport (a 20 minutes drive).

We were planning to check in and store our bags, while touring Bergamo. There was supposed to be a bag storage just off site, at the Bergamo airport.

When we arrived into the airport, we found the Ryan Air booth, eventually. An agent there told us to purchase baggage tags for two of our large bags (both weighted around 15 kgs). We went to the ticket booth and did so. However, when we tried to store our bags off site, we were surprised by the high price - $4.00 euro/bag. With our 6 bags, that would cost $24 euros. As we were tired, we didn’t like idea of being ripped off. We decided to forget about our Bergamo excursion and order lunch at the airport instead. This turned out to be a more relaxing idea.


We chose Vicook Restaurant & Bistro. At first, we almost did not go, because the restaurant is on the 2nd floor and the elevator was not working. However, I found a solution. The restaurants buttons inside the elevator did not work, but the ones outside did. So, I put all the bags in the elevator and walked upstairs. Voila! Problem solved.


We liked the décor and ambience of the restaurant. Although service was a bit slow, the food was the best of any airport restaurant I have ever tasted.


Inna ordered a Galiziana (Octopus salad with potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and mignon beans). Alex ordered a Caesar Salad that turned out to be ginormous! For main entrees, Alex ordered Pizza Nuovola (tomatoes, burrata, cream, and basil). Inna ordered chicken Cordon Bleau. I ordered Tagliateli al Ragu. My tagliatelli was exceptional – among the best I’ve had recently.


For dessert, we shared a “Mergingatti Al Frutti Bosco” – a delicious combination of meringue and mixed berries. Alex had a hot chocolate and it was made from real chocolate – not the mixed cocoa that is usually served in most establishments. It was so delicious!


One minor problem is that Wifi in the Bergamo airport is terrible and is generally really slow in Italy. I don’t think I’ve ever had one good WiFi connection anywhere in Italy.


When were were 90 minutes from our scheduled departure time (7:15pm), we paid our restaurant bill, dropped off two bags at the Ryan Air counter, and walked to the departure gate.

The Bergamo airport has much better eateries and stores than any airport I've seen in the U.S. I was impressed that a tiny town of Bergamo can have an airport like this.