Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monday westward bound

My alarm is set for 7am plenty of time to get to the airport and return Giorgio, who, btw is diesel fueled and has a bit more get-up-and-go than his twin brother Lorenzo. But it is 6 and I can't go back to sleep from my 5:30 wake up. I'm sensing a pattern beginning, so I'd better change time zones to get my body back on my regular 7am wake up schedule. Hehe 
Re-created garden in Pompeii

I love technology (most of the time).  I get to use paperless boarding passes for my flights today. So handy! Then I get to the airport and when I check my bag find out that I need paper boarding passes. Oh well. 
Ceiling detail in the gymnasium at Pompeii. 

During my trip I have seen people that look like people I know. I saw Kurt Morin this morning. He even got in a Jeep and drove away. I saw Ryan Cronk the same day. I saw Raj Tripathi. He was my impromptu guide at Pompeii. And one other person who I met at the Enzo Ferrari Museum. He was the one who told me about the Maserati parade in Modena. Nice guy from Norway. Then the lady in front of me on the train talking all about Italian food looked like my Great Aunt Ellie.  Funny that almost all these people are men. :) Just another instance of the humanity of all people.

Tent site overlooking Lake Garda

I got to the airport in good time and without incident to me or Giorgio...although in a bit of stop-and-go traffic the person in the Audi in front of me was texting, I think, and rear-ended the person in front of him.  Neither of them was having a good morning and luckily we were only going about 3 mph, but the crunching noise of bumpers is the last thing anybody wants to hear during their morning commute.

I would like the blue Ferrari please. 

Then of course there's always the hurry up and wait thing that happens at airports which sucks people into the Dolce and Gabbana store and forces them to buy $1500 socks.  I guess I was just a little surprised to find so many high end stores in the gate area of the Rome airport and only one souvenir shop and one place to eat, unlike JFK where there are a million places to eat and 2 other shops.

Writing this on Thursday morning, after arriving home in the middle of the night between Monday and Tuesday. I'm still having difficulty with my body clock being completely messed up.  I don't remember the adjustment being so difficult from previous travels...but I'm also the one who complains when we change one hour for daylight savings. 

Things I learned (or remembered) on this adventure:
* Vacations are like order to experience them fully, you have to participate in the adventure, not just read the blog and look at the pictures.
* Don't text and drive (see above)
* There are good people everywhere.  I met quite a few people who were just nice, good people.  It is sometimes difficult to remember that most people in the world want the same things.  They want their children to grow up, be educated, be happy.  They want to feel secure and at peace.  Those feelings have nothing to do with politics, race, country of origin, or monetary wealth.  At the core, we are all the same.
* Pizza is delicious.
* Being out of your comfort zone is essential to growth, but it sure is nice to come back to familiarity.
* I need to sit on the beach and watch the sunset more often.
* It is important to take care of yourself with quiet time to reflect on your life's path (see beach and sunset comment above).
* Gratitude (I'll leave it at one word otherwise you'll need tissues and a bit of popcorn)  

And finally...
Public appreciation is in order.
I think the biggest, most heartfelt thanks go to my sister-in-law Kristie.  When my brother is at my house taking care of Mom, she does her job AND his job in their family. Kristie, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
Then there's my brother, Mike, who takes good care of everything here at my house, including the dishes and laundry which were all done when I got home (even clean sheets on my bed). I appreciate that I can go and feel comfortable knowing you've got it all under control.  
Nellie finally warmed up to Audry, to whom I am grateful for taking care of the house and my dear little puppy.
I need to add gratitude for those who slipped me a bit of cash, which made my trip more enjoyable. I won't name names, you know who you are.  Thank you.
And finally, thank you all for going on this amazing journey with me.  I never felt like I was alone because I knew people were reading about my adventure and sharing it with me.  Thank you.

Sunday Pompeii day

Ok, so I know in yesterday's post I said I wasn't going to Pompeii, but I woke up so early that I figured I might as well. So, away I went. Glad I did. Pics in a there early enough that there weren't very many people. Whew. By the time I left the place was swarming and I had to use all my assertiveness skills just to reach the exit!  A couple of funnies. If I ever come back to Pompeii I will take a guided tour. There are only placards telling you about what you are seeing in part of the city.  So I tried to stay close enough to a couple of English tours to get tidbits here and there.  I got my own private tour from a guide looking to make a few extra euro. He took me through a locked gate to see inside one house. He was very informative, but I didn't tip him. I think he was disappointed.  Then I was walking through another house and two couples from Yorkshire England were getting a similar unscheduled tour and invited me to join in. They were all four very comical. Apparently, their impromptu guide took them to the brothel section of town. I laughed and laughed when they told me I had missed the best part of the tour. They tipped the unofficial guide nicely. As we walked along together I talked with one of the ladies, who was very interested in the fact that I was traveling solo. It was starting to get hot and they were done for the day. As we parted one gentleman recited his address in Yorkshire and told me that if I'm ever there to look them up. Like I'll remember. :) and the other gentleman kissed me on the cheek when he said goodbye.  Such cute couples. I have met some very interesting people on this trip. Ok, so now for pics. 
This place is completely amazing! If you consider the fact that Vesuvius buried Pompeii 2000 years ago. The fact that anything still exists, especially paintings, is quite miraculous. 

This was a small wall painting about 12" x24"

This was a whole corner and two sides of paintings of animals. 

This was the only painting I saw with a blue background. 

The detail work was amazing!

Full height of the wall. 

Apparently an artist workspace has been discovered where the artists were in the middle of a project. So it is obvious the order of the steps they took to prepare the wall and the paint it-the way the plaster went on the wall horizontally from the top down in three sections, and then the background color in frescoe, and then the actual paintings starting from the sketch phase. Wow!

Then there was all the mosaic tile work in the floors. Also amazing. 

This floor in an atrium has stone pieces that reflect light at night so the inhabitants could see where they were walking at night in the reflected moonlight. The depression in the center was used to catch rainwater. There was a cistern underneath and when that was full, there was a pipe that led out to the street. All the wealthy people has similar layouts. Some were more ornate than others. 

This marble table is original to this atrium. 

More floors

This is a typical street. 

Another mosaic floor with reflecting stones. 

My last stop the amphitheater.  

Going down into the arena. 

I wonder if they had their football cushions for those stone seats. 

Then I was finished looking and much too hot, so I made my way back to the entrance and boy howdy were there a lot of people. There must have been a few tour busses arrived at the same time or something. Holy moly. 

Drove back to my place, without getting lost I might add. Changed my clothes and went straight to the beach across the street for a couple of hours. So nice to do nothing but lie in the sun and listen to kids playing and the surf. Lovely last day's activities. Then...

I ate my last pizza tonight for dinner. It was the greasiest pizza I've ever eaten (yes even more oily than Pizza Hut). It had shredded potatoes and mushrooms. Oh so tasty!  Probably have one more round of filled croissants for breakfast on the way to the airport, but it is back on the gluten free wagon for me. It will be interesting to see how all this gluten affects me. Oh, but it has been so yummy!  No regrets!  Oh and I sat on the beach and ate it. Fabulous!

I'm all packed and ready to go. Checked in for my flight, boarding passes on my phone. Just need to get to the airport, return Giorgio the rental car and sit on a plane. Be home in no time. Looking forward to familiar things. 

Ps one two toilets on my entire trip have flushed the same way. It is the bathroom mystery. Whoever standardized the flusher in the US...thank you. 
Two observations...every woman on the beach was wearing a bikini. EVERY woman. (Well except me and maybe two others). How nice to not have the body image issues so prevalent as we suffer from in the states. The "bikini body" thing is an American thing. We need to get over it. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday 20 Sept

Leaving Venezia this morning. I have to say that I'm sure finished with the mad crowd tourist thing. I counted seven cruise ships docked in Venice today.  Makes for some great people watching, but I really like my quiet little life. Returning Lorenzo was a little bit sad, but it was inevitable. I'm now on the train to Rome. Glad to let the engineer drive for the next three hours. Now I can do ALL the gawking and none of the driving. 

Because I didn't want to alarm anyone, I thought I'd save this comment for today instead of yesterday...I think my hotel was in the red light district. As I was coming back from dinner, I noticed a few scantily clad young ladies and one middle aged woman hanging around the side of the road sort of in the middle of nowhere. Glad I was only staying one night. 

Train experiences... I now truly understand why Americans have a reputation for being loud and obnoxious. There are two couples sitting across from me playing cards and being loud and obnoxious. They are completely oblivious of everyone else. I guess at least they are enjoying themselves. 

Yeah, so all that gawking I was planning on doing?  Well, just outside of Bologna when we were starting into the mountains we also started into a tunnel. We've been in the tunnel all through the mountains until Florence! I like tunnels. :)

I've really enjoyed listening to the little old British lady sitting in front of me. She has talked about Italian food the whole ride...about how delicious the fruit is and the non-oilyness of the potato chips, etc, etc. Cute lady. 

Just looked up at the monitor in time to see that we are traveling 247 km/hr. 

Made it to crazy Rome, picked up Giorgio, Lorenzo's fraternal twin, and promptly got lost. God found the autostrada for me and south to Gaeta I drove. It took longer than I thought to get there and I'm staying at an Airbnb find directly across from the beach, but I got to town and missed the turn, not realizing it was the right street. Streets here are not well marked. So I ended up on the other side of town. Turned around, took the road that I missed, but I still needed to contact the host to meet me and give me keys. I stopped at a restaurant and used their wifi to find out that I was across the street and down 100 meters from my destination. I love direction from on high. It is the best!

And now, sunset pics...

After today's driving adventure, I think I'll explore Gaeta tomorrow and sit on the beach. Pompeii will have to wait for next time. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday the 19th

Today was another fabulous day. Started with peach jam filled croissants. Hard to beat that!  Well, unless you go to the Ferrari Museum next. All I have for you today is car pics. After the museum in Maranello, I drove back to Venice. It was quite foggy today. Not enough to slow traffic, but enough that I couldn't see much scenery. Very thankful to be staying in a hotel again tonight. Had a lightning storm and the accompanying rain was incredible!  I was driving on the autostrada when it started. I rarely use my fast speed wipers but I did tonight! Slowed way down because of standing water on the road. I had to duck into IKEA in Padova to wait out the storm. So sad. I got my meatballs and mashed potatoes after all. And oh the dessert!  

A couple of observations...all the painted houses are on the color wheel between yellow and red. I saw one green house today and the only other green, blue, or purple houses were on Burano island. I think I posted a pic of those last week. 

Observation number two: God has been driving my car.  How do I know? Because I'm never lost for too long, and I always find my way wherever I'm going. Tonight is the perfect example. When I first found my hotel it was by accident ;) so I didn't turn into the parking lot directly because I was in the wrong lane. So I kept driving until I could safely turn around. Then tonight coming back from the lightning show and dinner, I was a little nervous about finding the hotel again. I kept following the signs for the town hoping something would start to look familiar. I then came to the place where I turned around earlier and I knew exactly where I was. This isn't the first time either. It happens every day!  Going to Rome tomorrow, and I'm praying that this will continue. Thank you!

Observation number three: I really like having a limited wardrobe. Sure makes getting dressed and washing clothes easy. 

Observation number four: Ferrari makes a car with a back seat. So you can drive with your spouse and 2 children at 150 mph on the autobahn. Hehe

Ok now for the pictures you've all been waiting for... If you don't scroll through the pics that's ok, but you need to at least look at this one... Do you see the fox face?

A little odd looking, but very aerodynamic. 

Kinda looks like a fancy camp chair in that aerodynamic car. 

A limited edition and one of the most expensive models made. The Shah of Iran bought two. Peter Sellers also had one. 

Two favs were out in the parking lot of the museum. 

And just in case you were curios about flying abilities...
The center button says "launch". 

Off to Rome in the morning. Staying in Gaeta at an Airbnb room. Pompeii on Sunday. Home on Monday late. Two more amazing days to come. Wahoo!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Saw something funny yesterday while driving that I forgot until just now. I saw a sign that advertised dance classes and Pilates with an arrow pointing left. I looked left hmmm. Big sign fronting a pizzeria. LOL. 

Here it is Wednesday again. I'm on my way to Pisa today, but I woke up a bit early to head out. So I thought I'd give you all an idea of where I have been. 


Northern Italy 

Started in Venice

Then to Aquileia

To Trieste

To Cortina d'Ampezzo

To Lake Garda

Now to Massa which is between Pisa (where I'm going today) and Cinque Terre (where I'm going tomorrow)

Guess I'm in for a treat this morning no hot showers at this campground :)  First one without hot water so far. No complaints... The weather is warm here. Ah, never mind about the cold showers I just had to look in the right place. Now I just hope I have the right change. The hot is coin operated. ;). So much for that. Had the right change, but couldn't get the hot to work. Cold, very fast shower today. 

So, Pisa. Another WOW!  Here you go...
The Cathedral...

The mosaics above three



I have a thing about taking pics inside, just feels wrong to me so nothing from the inside, but it was amazing. I do have to say that I'm thankful that living in tourist towns has taught me to be a thoughtful tourist. I was reading a placard  in one of the chapels inside the cathedral and a guy walked up right in front of me and held up his camera to take multiple pictures of it. He didn't even stop to read a few lines to see if it was important, just snapped away and rushed on to the next. I suppose that's one way to do it, but I've never seen the point in that.  Is he really going to go home and read what he took a pic of?  Last tourist beef...the vendors at the city walls are so obnoxious. Selling glasses, purses, watches. Almost don't let you pass. I walked next to a policeman as I left the square and they didn't bug me. Then I got back to the car and there was a guy hanging around the lot who walked up to my car and asked me for my parking receipt. It still had about three hours on it (I didn't have the right change). I asked him if he was going to pay me for it and he walked away. I ended up giving it to a couple from Australia who had just been scammed by someone else about parking.  Okay finished with the tourist rants. 

On to the baptistery...


This was 3D. I'm sure there's a name for it but I don't know what it is. 

From above

The cathedral from the second story of the baptistery. And the tower behind which looks like it is photo bombing the cathedral. 

Then the museum. 
Inside one building on the square there were paintings on the interior walls. When restoration of the paintings was started they discovered the hand drawings of the artists underneath. These drawings were then recovered and now they are in a museum. Totally fascinating to be looking at a drawing by the artists hand that is 700 or 800 years old. Just WOW!
Ps the face is a contemporary piece and probably stands 10 feet tall for comparison. 

Quite amazing, and now the moment you've all been waiting for. The tower. 

I decided to not climb up the stairs because I knew there was no jumping from the top to save my knees. I was a little surprised by how much below the level of the square the whole tower is. Then when you add the lean factor, it is quite amazing to still be upright. 

After that amazing ness, of course I had to pass the McDonalds on the way back to Massa. Hehe. I also remembered seeing signs for another IKEA and meatballs sounded good for lunch so I started looking for the signs. When I realized I would have to turn around and go back into Pisa (nightmare tourist traffic) I changed my mind very quickly. 

So now this is my view and will be until I decide to go back to my tent. 

The Ligurian Sea. :)
One more to make your day. 
Pps. Where I am is the free beach. You have to pay in most places. The beach is not sand but smooth stones. My skin just about matches. 

Back to the beach after a shower to watch the sunset. Can't decide which pic to post, so I'll post a couple and you can choose your favorite. 

So there is Wednesday. Now if I only had an internet connection. I could share it with you. Then again if you're reading this, I must have found an internet connection. :)

Thursday- Cinque Terre
Friday- Modena
Saturday- back to Venice, train to Rome, then to Gaeta
Sunday - Pompeii
Monday - long plane ride. Wow!