Month: July 2003 (page 2 of 3)

Arrivederci, Florence… Hello, Rome!
The Snook and I now find ourselves in the Eternal City. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any of the quintessential Rome movies (Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita), so I’ve been reduced to saying things like “Hey, that’s where the Griswolds got their video camera stolen!” every five minutes.

But my cultural ignorance aside, Rome is a lovely place. On our first day we visited the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. St. Peter’s was definitely my favorite place, and I think it may be my favorite church ever. It’s full of beautiful paintings and statues and mosaics, but it doesn’t look gaudy and everything is just the right scale and position. I didn’t even mind that the stupid guard made me put a skirt on. (Shorts are evidently not quite holy enough, but I’d brought a skirt for such a case. I wasn’t about to walk around in two layers though, so I have the distinct honor of taking my pants off in the Vatican.) We finished our first day at a Roman steakhouse where the Snook and I both consumed the biggest hunks of cow we’d every seen in our lives. When in Rome, I guess…

Today we hit the Colosseum first thing in the morning to try to beat the crowds. Unfortuately our strategy failed, as the line was still half an hour long. A nice man sold me twenty postcards for a euro though so I stood in line writing them out to everybody I had addresses for (which wasn’t a lot, since I forgot to update iPod with them before I left). If you want one, drop me an e-mail with your address. (Especially Brigita and Tricia, as I had addresses for you but I wasn’t sure if they were correct.) Less than a week to go!

The unforeseen perils of backpacking in Europe…
Me: Hey, Snook, can you grab me one of those towels in the bathroom? I wanna take it along on our day trip in case we get sweaty.
Him: Which ones?
Me: You know… The little hand towels hanging above the bidet.
Him: You mean the ass towels??
Me: Ass towels? No, I mean the little hand towel right above the– Oh my god! They are ass towels! I took one yesterday and wiped my face with it! You didn’t use any of them on your ass, did you?
Him: No! Did you?
Me: No! (pause) Okay then.

Milan, Cinque Terra, Florence…
All in the space of 72 hours. Milan was actually pretty nice and the Snook and I had a great time climbing up on the roof of their huge cathedral. We had been worried about our hotel, which was disturbingly cheap for the area and season. We solved the mystery in the morning when a jackhammer woke us up at 8 am. No worries though; we needed to get up early anyway.

Our bad hotel karma was not over yet. We headed to La Spezia which is on the northwestern coast of Italy, just down from Genoa. The Snook had never been to the Cinque Terra and this seemed like a good base for exploration. The Cinque Terra (“five lands”) are five tiny villages perched high up on cliffs overlooking the sea. They were gorgeous and lovely and fun. Our hotel, however, was not. No air conditioning, no ceiling fan, and it was about eighty degrees in there all night. Finally the Snook decided to accept the inevitable mosquito bites and throw open the window, only to discover that the noise from the street below was so loud we couldn’t sleep. That was definitely the low point of the trip. Everybody needs at least one bad backpacking trip though, right? So we shrugged it off and headed on to Florence, city of my Room With a View fantasies…

Well, the fantasy didn’t last long. I stepped out of the train station ready for my first sight of the ultimate Renaissance city only to see an old dirty homeless man having a wank on a nearby bench. (I’m still shuddering.) We seem to have passed through hell though and our luck has only gotten better. Our room here in Florence is actually supposed to be for four so it’s huge! We’ve got AC too, which is a blessing. We spent our first day today wandering through the Uffizi (big art gallery) looking at Botticellis and Michelangelos. Then we had a tour through the Duomo and walked across the Arno on the Ponte Vecchio. It was so beautiful. Old scary homeless men aside, this could be my favorite place yet. It’s got all the modern conveniences of Milan combined with the cobbled streets and oldy-worldy charm of Venice. I like it very much indeed.

So that’s us so far. I’ve got the worst farmer’s tan of my life and my feet are killing me, but I’m having a great time. The Snook and I have settled into the backpacking routine and are making more of an effort not to irritate each other. (To paraphrase my mother, “nobody can spend five weeks together 24-7 and not want to kill each other”.) Only ten days left!

If any of you are still pondering Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, my Book Group discussion is still going on.

48 hours in Venice and I’ve…

  • had gelato (yummy Italian ice cream) twice
  • realized that cities without cars are really, really nice
  • seen the famous glassblowers of Murano
  • travelled all over the city via “vaporetti” (canal ferries)
  • dipped my toes in the Mediterranean at the beach on the Lido
  • applauded the string quartets playing in St. Mark’s Square at night
  • taken pictures of the colorful little houses in Burano
  • eaten a pizza as thin as a tortilla and bigger than a record album
  • made more references to the Venice episode of The Amazing Race than I can count.

Unfortunately the city itself isn’t the only Race similarity. I used to think it was ridiculous how some of the teams treated each other. Now I realize that irritation, impatience, and general irrational behaviour is to be expected when you travel with one person for an extended period of time. Yes, the Snook and I are driving each other crazy. It’s been three weeks of seeing each other 24-7 and we’re going maaaaaad. If you don’t hear from me by the end of the week, it’s probably because one of us finally pushed the other into a canal. 🙂

HoIy crap. This post is being made on a Sony E ricsson mobile phone. How cool is that? I do miss London technology…

Ummm… My Carpenters Album Bag has been linked on The Karen Carpenter Remembrance Page. I was kinda worried when I saw the backlink that they’d be upset that I was taking the piss out of her, and it’d wind up being like the Ashley and Mary-Kate thing all over again. But they seem cool with it, so far.

Happy birthday to my sister Amy, who turns 24 today. Woo! Hopefully her new boyfriend will take her out on the town.

One hundred and eighty degrees.
Interestingly, that figure does not refer to temperature (even though it felt like it for a while there in Boston). Rather, the Snook and I have now traversed one hundred and eighty degrees of the globe. Kinda mind-blowing, huh? We took off from Boston Wednesday night (after spending our last day on the fabulous Sam Adams Brewery tour) and landed in London early Thursday morning. It was a vile flight. Being a bit of a chunker myself, I’ve always felt sympathetic to the plight of folks too big for conventional airplane seating. My patience was sorely tested by the lady beside me though, who spilled over into my seat to the point where I couldn’t fully lower my arm rest (as it was sitting on her leg). She also had a walking stick and about forty-seven packages sitting on her lap, which meant she wasn’t easily moved. Thus I was trapped for five hours with no aisle access and such limited elbow mobility that I felt like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Grrr.

Anyway, London seems different somehow. There are lots of shiny new buses (courtesy of Red Ken, I hear). We’re staying with our friend Alex in Fulham, which looks a lot more upmarket than I remember. Times, they are a changin’. Hopefully I’ll feel more at home when we hit a pub tonight…

Congratulations to Kristen on her wedding. The Snook and I have been thinking of you and Mark and we hope your big day was as special as you planned. And hey, maybe we’ll run into you in Italy! 🙂