One Eighty
The Snook and I went into our local Flight Centre today to price flights home for a 10-day visit in July. We walked out half an hour later planning a one-month round-the-world trip instead. As the Snook put it, if we’re going to be spending $2000 each anyway, why not go the extra $500 and make it a proper holiday? I was trying to be all grown-up and economical but then he mentioned the magic word… Italy. With visions of the Arno in my head, I rapidly agreed. Looks like the Snook-Howard World Tour will be leaving here in late June bound for Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, and Rome. Anybody got a floor we can crash on in one of those cities?

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  1. That sounds quite incredible. Sadly I”m no use to you at all, though if you included Glasgow in your world tour I might have been able to help you out. But Glasgow doesn’t exactly have the lure of Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, and Rome, does it? Not even slightly! Anyway, I hope you do it, it sounds incredible, like I already said.

  2. If you’re in Chicago, don’t forget to try the viewing deck of the John Hancock building (second tallest, but much less busy than Sear’s – also (unbelievable as it will seem) cheaper than the latter), plus when you’re done, there’s a CHEESECAKE FACTORY in the basement!

    Best breakfast place was Nookie’s on the corner of W. Buckingham and Halsted; avoid Anne Sather’s! Michigan Avenue for the shops no mortal (read ‘student’) can afford to spend money in, and the lakeside for some great lengthy walks, cycling, blading and a great, free Zoo!
    Lucky, lucky, lucky.

  3. Actually we’ve already been to Glasgow, Grandpa Joe! We had a weekend there in 2000. Stayed in a gorgeous little bed and breakfast, and then went up to Loch Lomond to visit a friend that was working at the hotel there. I regrettably did NOT have a deep fried Mars bar though.

    Thanks for the tips, Alastair. I’m from the area so I’m well aware of the city’s charms. 🙂 I took the Snook up the Hancock last time we were there, and then for lunch to Ed Debevic’s. He also got to see a Cubs game and catch a flick at Brew & View. This year we’re planning to hit the Taste of Chicago festival on the fourth of July. I haven’t been in a few years and I can’t wait. Ribs, beer, fireworks, music… and yes indeed, a slice of Eli’s cheesecake frozen on a stick. 🙂

  4. I should see you in Chicago. I’ll be up there in a few weeks dropping off resumes. I plan to move up around the end of July or August. Have you heard who’s playing the Taste yet? *sigh* That was the first place I saw Harry Connick Jr.

  5. when will you be in london? and are you just headed to rome, or are there other italian cities on the agenda. reason i ask is that mark and i will be in europe around that time. how cool would it be to meet up for expresso in italia?!

  6. Sweet! We’re probably looking to be in London during the second week in July. As it’s expensive and we’re poor (and most of our friends seem to have moved away), we’ll probably only stay a couple days. As for Italy, Rodd’s currently investigating our options. We’ll definitely be hitting more than one city. I think he’s thinking Venice, Florence, and Rome. He’s been there before and didn’t like Florence much, but I absolutely insist on seeing it for myself and reenacting A Room With a View. Do you know exact dates for you guys? We’ve got nothing set in stone just yet, so pass ’em along and we’ll see if we can intersect. 🙂

  7. Oh, and Jenny – No, I checked their site but nothing’s been posted yet. I hope someone good. I’ve got Cindy booking a hotel room for me, Rodd, Amy, her, and Dad. Should be fun…

  8. Aww, don’t remind me; had the best times out there and would love to go back… alas, life gets in the way these days 🙁 I had forgotten that this was home territory – oops 🙂

    I also know a couple of people who aren’t overly fond of Florence either, but many more who love it. It really is a fantastic place for lovers of art and craftwork (hate to generalise, but as a raging poof, Florence was just the place for me), and comes with some of the finest architecture in the region.
    The museums are just breathtaking, and there are a lot of things to explore provided that you are i) a walker and ii) a lover of all the above. Plus, in no other place will you find such terrific gelati or proiteroles (Florentine profiteroles are covered in chocolate mousse, unlike the original French scheme that calls for a chocolate fondant).

    Are you aware that the Atkins diet is practically impossible to stick to in Italy without depriving yourself of some major scrumminess? Actually, there is ossobucco, which is heaven on earth, and absolutely zero in carbs… you’re going to go to heaven and back if you find some good trattorias 😉

    If you’re doing Rome, Florence and Venice, suggest you start south and travel north; arrive in Rome and take the Eurostar to Florence when you’re ready – the journey is three hours (Italian railways are unbelievably efficient). Alternatively, the stopping service halts in San Gimignano which, if you’ve seen ‘Tea with Mussolini’ (1999) is one of the most beautiful little towns on the route. From Florence, Pisa is under two hours by train, and worth a day trip as the tower, and neighbouring campanile are quite beautiful (the lean is best seen in person, but the best part is in the pristine stonework).
    On that same train journey, you pass through Lucca, which is one of the most famous towns in the country. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s because your professional chef friends are keeping secrets; the chocolates are rarely surpassed anywhere else, and the ragus that come out of this town are… indescribable! – i.e. people come here predominantly for the food, though the town has a really lovely feel (surrounded by walls, centred around a perfectly oval town square.
    Venice is very beautiful, but stinks like the blazes in the summer, but you may be early enough to escape the stench.
    If you find yourselves lingering in Italy, Naples is fabulous, boasts a volcano, and visiting Pompeii (or better, Herculaneum) is pretty interesting. The city has a very rough feel to it; the people are tougher, make better pizza than anyone else, and simply ooze with character, warmth, and paint a tremendous portrait of familial strength (no surprise the mafia hail from here). Near to Naples is the Amalfi peninsula, best for seafood, and home to the town Positano, a living, breathing postcard. From here, catamarans will take you to Capri, which is ridiculously pretty, and the hideaway of a number of famous people in history.

    Ah well, as you can tell, Italy is my favourite country in Europe, and I could go on for hours. But I won’t, because there’s just so much to see and do there. Frankly, whatever you end up doing will be a pleasure, whether you wing it or plan things to the minute. Urgh, urgent need for sleep – sorry for rambling – you’ll love it!! 🙂

  9. Wow! Thanks for all the tips. I’m passing this all along to the Snook.

    As for Atkins, we’ll definitely be taking a holiday from it as well. Although it won’t be much of a change here lately. I had eggs benedict twice this past weekend along with, like, half a loaf of Turkish bread. Very naughty. We’ve had osso buco a couple times. Atkins has a good recipe in his book plus it’s one of the Snook’s signature dishes.Very yummy. But there’s no way I’m visiting Italy and not pigging out on pizza and gelati… 🙂

  10. Ooh! They didn’t have it up last time I checked. Yeah, Sheryl Crowe would be good. BUT HEY! KENNY FRICKIN’ ROGERS! We might have to come home a week early! 🙂

    Actually, man, I’d LOVE to see Elvis Costello, but I think Sunday would be pushing it, especially if we’re gonna see the fireworks (which I really, really want Rodd to experience) on the 3rd. Thanks so much for finding this!

  11. that’s a lot of info from alastair! i’m taking notes.

    mark and i will be in italy (milan, venice and possibly some stops in between) from around july 9th til the 17th or thereabouts.

    your trip sounds like a lot of fun. yay for travel adventures.

  12. I believe Cindy was taking care of the Hotel reservations last night but I will have to let her tell ya, it was about 1AM and I was half asleep but I do remember her mentioning it, look for it here in the near future.

  13. Sweet, Dad. I can’t wait.

    Kristen – are we talking about your honeymoon? We can’t crash your honeymoon!

  14. Good Lord, I’m now sold on Italy. It sounds fabulous. I have a new goal.

  15. florence is fab. It even looks good in the rain and it has stuff by all of the ninja turtles…

  16. I’ve been to Italy once and really enjoyed it. We were based around Lucca. Most of the holiday was visiting nice cities/towns and the churches. Religion isn’t my strong point so I’m sure if I knew a bit more on what I was looking at would have helped the holiday.

    If you’re going to see things like that, deffo read up on some religion as it’ll make it more enjoyable knowing what you’re looking at 😉

  17. You’re quite right; Italy’s heritage represents the centre of what was the Roman empire, and is among the most blatantly Catholic countries in the Universe, and while you ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ at the beauty of what this has given rise to, remember that it is a history drenched in blood, violence and greed. Fascinating stuff to which numerous tomes are dedicated, though if you aren’t a historian a fun history book aimed at kids is still a pretty good reference.
    Since I speak comfortable Italian, extracting information isn’t too difficult, but if you’re relying on a guide book, the Eyewitness Guide to Italy is one of my favourites – it’s not dull like some, and presents information in pieces rather than lengthy paragraphs (you can always look things up on the net when you get back!).

    The first time I went to Rome was for a weekend; first thing I noticed was that all of the art (mainly sculptures by Bernini etc.) that I wanted to see was in Churches, so I saw 28 different church interiors in less than 48 hours. It was a killer walkathon, but really opened my eyes to how religion has been utterly central to the culture.

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