Posts Tagged ‘europe’

My favorite months in Italy are May & September.  If you have an opportunity to visit any other month of year, I recommend you seize the moment.  The moment for me came in November.  My agenda was to revisit Rome and an overnight trip to Assisi.  I only had eight nights.  That’s rather short for me.  I generally always stay two weeks in Europe.  I decide eight will have to do and I shall be utterly grateful for them all.

I have visited a lot of the usual tourist attractions so for this trip, I decided let’s try to visit some places off the radar plus whatever I happen to stumble upon while roaming.  I did not think this fellow would be one of them.  We gazed at each other a long long time.  Love at first sight.

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My Buddy

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Let’s see what is going on in Rome & Assisi

 

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This is a video I made for my trip to Sicily.   I am very happy with the results!

 

Update:  I’ve got reports all over the place and am slowly trying to collect them here in my new blog.  It will be something for my grandchildren to read when I’m hairless and toothless sitting on my rocking chair so they know their grandmother or great grandmother LIVED!!!  I’ll label them “travel flashback.”

Day one – I work ten-hours and we have a 9:30 p.m. flight to London, I got my prized J16 seat, though I almost changed it, Kelly tried to get next to me, k16 and she called British air, they said no that’s for a mom and infant, well I called them right up, am I next to an infant? Please change me, the man says well its usually available for that but it has not been taken, BA lets u check-in 24 hours before the flight, for fifteen minutes ahead I’m manning the website, I have to check-in for Kelly her computer is broke, I’m bound and determined to get k16, the instant it’s on I dash off to k16 and place Kelly there, ahhhhhhhhhh relief,

We don’t sleep, always too excited plus I need the right conditions to sleep, sitting upright in a plane is not one of them, even reclining some, isn’t going to cut it, we’ve got a layover in London than off to Rome for one-night, this time we did the Leonardo express which I had never done, worked well except just missed the train, so had to wait, no biggie but by this time me and Kelly’s eyes are out on our cheeks delirious with sleep deprivation, I booked near termini, lug those cases to our street, we were in hotels same street, but different she checks in and I do, we are also starving to death, a great surprise waiting for us is a note from our friend Max who lives in Rome, he gave us the address where he was and a phone number, we couldn’t get him on the phone and no energy to find where he was, he nicknamed us the terror twins and I don’t even know if he would have recognized us, we were that tired and out of it , have u had that when u can’t even form a sentence with your mouth ? we eat dinner down the street, I will find the name, something with Angelina and we really liked it, we had a nice waiter who took good care of us, plus told me I talk with my hands and my eyes which is a mafia trait, thanks buddy !! off to bed, there’s a note on my pillow, max came there, oh lord, that means we missed him and he practically had to walk or ride right by us? This happened in New York too with max, max I promise I will buy a phone for Italy next time, I’m an anti-cell phone user but I’ll do it for you

I stayed at hotel Katty, had single but a double-bed put my sound machine on and slept the good sleep, I had a plan to meet Kelly at 1030 am, I was up earlier so I dress and head out for coffee, I find a place down the street with tables and coffee, no one is at the outside tables but I’m in Rome darn it and I want to hear Rome, I have three-cups, go into my usual shakes after, an older man walks by gives me a look, no smile, than proceeds to walk back and forth and back and forth the whole darn time, I decide I’m not speaking to him which I would usually do, no smile, no talk, I say

I go meet Kelly and tell her about where I was and we go there and eat breakfast, she had waffles with chocolate, yuckkk and I had Panini, we get to the train station and get our fast ticket to Naples, I paid a guy 3 Euros to get my stuff on the train worth every penny!

In an hour and 15 minutes, we are in Naples, that was a good ride, now to find the next train to Sorrento, we are by the big doors that go outside so I tell Kelly, well lets go out and look at Naples for a minute, so we step out look around than go back inside, I have a hard time remembering Italian names to things and if its close to a name I know I’ll memorize that, its easier, well I had already named the circum whatever train with its new name, circumcision, which I told Kelly … right off she spots a sign, see I told u I tell her, she will always recognize that train sign now, we head to down, it’s a bit crowded, we are at the right bin and a train pulls up, we go to get on and a bum says to Kelly, noooo Sorrento, nooo Sorrento, she’s asking me why is he saying that and I have no ideal either but we get on, well he is right, it does not go to Sorrento, we hop off in some town, get on an outside train station, I watched the stuff and Kelly goes to find out from someone what we need to do, she comes up on another side, I said how did u get over there? She said I don’t know???  How u getting back? I don’t know, well ask I yell, a man directs her , says next train, we sit smoke and see the train coming , Kelly gets my back pack on me, we roll to the edge and the bugger kept on going, didn’t stop, we both yell at the same time, awww *** !!!! two-workers from the office are out smoking watching they see and hear us and start chuckling, next one comes they come out again, yes this one, this one !!!! thank god,

like the ride into Sorrento, I like looking in people’s yards, buildings u name it, I see water and a shipyard, yahooooo this is it, we are on our way aren’t we? I love that,

Once we get to the Sorrento stop, there’s a man and wife who are kind of paying attention to us in that they got ohh lord can we find an elevator conversation, the man says in very little English and lots of hand movements to walk to the end kind of a box it will be easier, grazieeee we yell, after getting out of the train station and heading down the hill we see them again, he says “WHERE YOU GO?” hotel nice, he motions go left at intersection, we do, we go right on by hotel nice, he sees that and they come fast walking to us and turn us around and show us it, ahhhhh grazie I say, Italians sweet people for sure,

Rome tidbits :

Hotel Katty –

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187791-d650670…

The restaurant we really liked

Mamma Angela’s via palestro 53

tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-…

found it here !

We get to our room, two-single beds, decent size, not too small or big,, I open the window, view is of a garden and a small-pond, it has gold fish in it, there’s a pretty ash tray, Kelly says that’s not an ashtray, yes it is I said, feel the grooves, we can smoke in here !! well we do but mostly at the window, plus I asked the at the lobby because Kelly didn’t believe me, I go about unpacking, I like to feel like I’m living where I’m visiting, I like my stuff sorted, Kelly has never rolled her clothes for the suitcase, she called me before the trip to ask me about it, I said yes go for it, I do it all the time, well I was proud of her, she surely rolled and fit a lot of clothes in her bag, took her some work to do though, lot of good that did her because now that it fits and is rolled so perfectly, she didn’t want to unroll anything and wear it, I swear she only used the top layer ! LOLLL

the plan was when we got to Sorrento was to do the open-air bus to get an overview of Sorrento, since arriving later than planned we can’t and now go out onto the street to decide what, now Julie and Chris from England who were joining us for this trip had arrived the day before, Kathleen coming from Ireland was arriving the same day as us, all the sudden from about on a balcony, I hear “Jeannetteeeee” I look up and it’s the girls, Chris has a balcony on her room, yeahhhhh we yell ! they come down, we hug hard and catch up, so so happy to see the scarves, (our nickname) now ladies, chime in, u know I have the memory of a gnat, so if I forget something we did, my notes are all gone from the checked bag home, so I’m winging it,

next we go to dinner, this was to a place that Julie had been to a few years ago with her mother, actually I believe the night before they ate there too, the name of the restaurant is Largo Sedil Dominova, it’s on the little lanes that go off of Piazza Tasso, here is their website, www.sedildominova.com , this place has great prices, good food and most of all live music, a fellow comes and sings with a piano player and for the life of me, I don’t know why he’s singing there and not in a concert hall because he is THAT GOOD ! he sang Bocelli, absolutely beautiful and many more artists, the restaurant also has a host of characters who work there who make it lively and fun, one little man never says a word, he just walks by, looks at you, pulls your pony tail, moves your wine, takes the parmesan, gives it back, a silent personality with gusto,

made some friends here, by the end of the night leaving I got big hugs from all and was told they were my family which was funny because a week later, walking by they all yell JEANNETTAAAA, btw all Italians say my name their way, it’s not Jeannette, it’s jeannetta, and I like it

We are headed back to the hotel, me and Julie got a beer, I was giddy happy to be back in Italy and in a special new place, I stayed out, smoked etc, Kelly went to bed, she wasn’t asleep yet and told me the sink was stopped up, filled with water, well I have to use it so decide I most go down to the desk and tell them, it’s the night guy and he is talking to some friends at the doorway, (one of which is cute ) he says he can send someone in the morning to fix it, his friend who we have nicknamed the plumber, says he will look at it, so up we go, Kelly is in the bed, he’s got a plunger, he gets that sink going in no time, Kelly’s still awake but pretending she’s asleep, somehow while saying goodbye and the Italian kiss a real one comes along, don’t ask me why, I’m vacation and don’t give a hoot, I can see Kelly’s body shaking under the sheets, she is laughing, well this can’t happen so I see him off, she has such joy telling the girls the next day about the “plumber” and you THOUGHT THE NIGHT WAS OVER ?? we had fun joking about it, it was “excEllent” and i asked Julie if she had any blockage in the room if so i knew the man to fix it,

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I have to say Barcelona sure took me by surprise.  Maybe I thought it was going to be like Madrid?  I liked Madrid.  Had a trip there in May.  Surprisingly it is nothing like Madrid.   Spain reminds me more and more of Italy with each place you visit having its own personality.  Since I’m new to Spain I am just discovering these aspects.  It’s a grand discovery.  That’s what travel is about for me, different people, places and things.

Now to the man, Gaudi.  I am most enchanted with Michelangelo.  I love everything about him, contrariness and all, that’s what gives him spice I think.   I didn’t expect that Guadi would be so artsy and so interesting.  As you explore Barcelona, visually taking in the delights Gaudi has left you, you feel gobsmacked (learned that from my British friends).  What a man way before his time but who came along at exactly the right time.  Here is a link for a bit of background on him.

gaudiexperiencia.com/gaud%C3%AD/biography

The Food:  Jamon, Jamon Jamon !!   I need it everyday.  We almost had it every day.   I found my self staring at it in shop windows mesmerised just as much as looking at a pretty dress!  Ahhhh, there it is……come to momma !

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The Flamenco:  Saw my first show in Madrid and once is never enough.  I never knew the dance would make you feel like you can’t breathe.  I don’t mean while dancing, I mean while watching, while sitting.   We went to Tarantos two evenings and the first night got to meet the papa of one of the dancers who was so proud.  No wonder, she was terrific.  The second night, this time it was a guy who stole the show.  I do believe my friend Vivian started to whimper and cry a little.  Flamenco does it to you like that you see.

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The Market:   We were only able to get to one incredible market called Boqueria.  Before visiting inside we decide to have some beer and jamon right outside of it which was nice because we got to meet two couples that were interesting to talk to, one from the midwest in the USA and the other from Sweden.  Sweden made my eyes go big for a second since I am a big Alexander Skarsgard fan liking that he’s not too big for his britches and doesn’t let fame go to his pretty head.  I also like his family especially what I read of the granny.  The husband has done work with the family.    Of course, I joked well if you see him around town tell him Jeannette said hi.  For you ladies who don’t know who Alexander Skarsgard is take some time to view google images.  It won’t disappoint.  Fire engine hot baby!  lol, True Blood fans well, I guess I don’t have to tell you a thing.   Okay so after meeting these two nice couples I hear a fellow from a nearby table asking, “did you say you are from Baltimore”?  Yes….we are, he said me too”!!!   Well fancy meeting you here in the dead of January in Barcelona.  I asked why are you here?  He said vacation.  I don’t know why I had in my head that I’m the only person in January visiting for a vacation but somehow I did.  He had a plate of seafood and we say, oh you are a Baltimore boy for sure.  So after the snack, we head into the market.  This market is sensational and graphic all at the same time.  Some things I am not used to seeing in a market or anywhere for that matter.  I saw a bowl of I think rooster heads?  What is somebody going to do with that?  I bet something good I don’t know about.  I saw rabbits hanging and fish so fresh it was still blowing bubbles.  Now that’s fresh!  The Swedish couple we met told us they always go to the seafood inside the market that cooks it up for you.  Stools are scarce so I suggest hang on the sidelines and dash to one if you see somebody get up.    Deciding what to choose is hard because there are so many choices.  Watching them grill it is a delight in itself.  I want to squirt my seafood with all the things I saw in bottles at home when I’m grilling.  We asked finally, hey what’s in that bottle?  It looked like greenish water.  It was delicious and I will ask my friend Vivian what was in it exactly because I can’t remember right at this moment but I will tell you.  I have every intention of grilling shrimp or something this summer with that concoction.

The trip:  Now to explain my trip a bit, me and Vivian started our trip in Amsterdam.  To be honest when I was researching a reward flight ticket to Europe in January Amsterdam had the lowest taxes so Amsterdam it was.  Now as you know, that could never be a bad thing.  It was cold, wonderful, beautiful and sad meaning the Anne Frank house.   My friend Chris got to fly in from London and meet us in Amsterdam.  We had a great time together, laughs, frozen feet and a bit of humor from an older local in Amsterdam who told Chris (when she had been saying she was tired from the flight)  oh yeah!….that jetlag from an hour flight will do you in,  we laughed but to her defense she arrived at night.   lol…..  She couldn’t go to Barcelona with us so it was me and Vivian exploring Barcelona together. Searching for warmer temperatures the south of Spain was looming in my head as well.   Between friends advise and researching the trip it slowly evolved into Amsterdam, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, back to Barcelona than back to Amsterdam for the flight home.  A lot of traveling yes which is exhausting but sometimes I get a wild hair and want to fit in as much culture and change as I can possibly muster.  Other trips, I like to hang in one place and not move around so much.  With this report I’ll include Seville & Granada separate.

What we saw and did:

Sagrada Familia – from the outside…. we were too late for our timed ticket, yes a bummer!

La Pedrera, Casa Mila ….don’t miss this if you go to Barcelona

The Barrio Gotico – we did a walk from National Geographic traveler guide, what a wonderful area

La Ramblas – oh up and down we will go…..many times but only ate at one restaurant there

Park Guell – incredible views over Barcelona.  We stayed till dark, what a park !

Barcelona Cathedral – don’t miss the geese in the side courtyard, the Cathedral is stunning

Palau Guel – again like all items by Gaudi, incredible!

Columbus monument – next time I want to take the elevator to the foot

the Port area – reminds me of Annapolis

Hop on and off bus – we spent two days riding this bus.  What a wonderful overview and was so easy.

We met a bunch of girls in a restaurant, there were several tables and none of us knew each other but we all started talking and the waiter said why don’t you all move closer together so we did and when the restaurant closed we took him too!  We partied like rock stars us and the young girls.  The waiter took us to a place that was like a speakeasy.  They played ragtime music and I started feeling like a flapper.  We all loved it, what a cool place!  We danced at bars that I cannot remember.  I had a spill on one of these black things in the road that are like a road blocks, hurt my knee and hand.  That was a huge ouch for a few days and I limped around and took Aleve.

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Is it safe for women to travel to Italy alone?

click the link, watch the video I made, decide for yourself !  If you go, I would LOVE to hear about your trip!

ciao for now,

my mom, kelly, me , and Kelly’s mom

This 2007 trip to Italy saved me.  Here’s my story how I got my groove back.  I haven’t looked back since. 

After ten million hours of research, I come up with this, …………….and a Mom,  background on us – two friends , we are in our 40’s, both just experienced a nasty split with our significant others, (pure coincidence ) during our deep suffering we decide we need a trip, a big one, it will help our new found freedom, see amazing sights and to live it up a bit, so I told my momma about the plan, was ready to book it the next day, so what does she say? I want to go too !! , it’s something I should see before I die, DON’T YOU THINK??

I love Mom I do – but I didn’t expect to take her plus she is very frightened of planes, so she has to be drugged and she’s a slow walker, she’s 62— young still… but walks in that “stroll” mode, me— i’m like road runner, one mile ahead of her, so she puts the guilt on me and i have to take her plus call my friend tell her my mom’s joining , if she doesn’t mind?  I call Kelly and well she laughs hysterically , not the reaction I anticipated low & behold she tells me, i didn’t know how to tell you this but my mom wants to go too, so we are off in September, us and the momma’s.

Rome – Day One

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very emotional dance

Of course always being a Three Dog Night fan, I probably decided when I was little that Spain would be on the horizon.  It took me till the year 2012 to make that happen but hey better late than never.

for your listening pleasure, the song I mention: http://youtu.be/dm6qw_yeo6o

This trip included Madrid, Segovia and Toledo.  It started with four days in London, a flight to Spain and later a flight back to London in time for some Diamond Jubilee celebrations before heading home to the good ol’ US of A.

Flight over not too bad, about 24 hours before the flight I was armed and dangerous at the computer for check-in for my beloved seat with LEG ROOM J16, well a girl from Egypt beat me to it because I got K16 right next to her, my friend Kelly’s usual seat but hey no screaming baby.  I love babies….I don’t like babies during flights unless they are sleeping.  Sorry.

The plan is Chris my friend from the UK is picking me up from Heathrow.  I warned her look for Godzilla because I can’t sleep on planes.  I worked 10-1/2 hours the day of the flight than flew all night arriving 9:30 a.m. looking just like Godzilla as promised but alas she found me!

Two days in South End Sea….

The people:  Sir Winston Churchill & Anne Boleyn

Once picked up by Chris and her family, we all head to the South End where she lives.  It feels weird driving on the wrong side.  Is it the wrong side?  I’d like a list of who’s driving where now.

Jet lag heavy we plan nothing really but relaxing for Day One and dinner by the pier for dinner, longest pleasure pier I might add.   Out back we sit catching up; laughing having wine and I get my first “spotted dick”.  Candy bar that is……it’s a famous dessert in the UK, kind of clever with the name wouldn’t you say?

Did I tell you London was boiling?  I joked some two weeks before leaving.  London put away those umbrellas; get out that sunscreen the sun is going to shine everyday because I’m coming.  That was a joke of course but you check the weather reports and you will find I was right!  So we sit out in the fantastic sunshine and enjoy the heat.

In a while, I’m down for the count and have a nap but not too much.   Me, Chris, Stuart, Janet & Paul head to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  I like it a lot.  Those who know me can imagine my sheer delight on finding Corona on the menu.  Me and Stuart, Chris’s son had two!  This place would make a true Marylander’s heart jump, seafood is all over the menu and some things are done in a new way like Chris’s shrimp and guacamole, two things I never would dream of merging but darn it was good.   I had fish and chips.  I ordered the small and wow it came out big!

http://www.fishermanswharfsouthend.co.uk/history.html  (the place)

So with a lovely dinner, cold beer, GREAT company and a view I end day number one.  Thank you Chris, Stuart, Janet & Paul.

Tomorrow I’m visiting Mr. Winston Churchill, well not really him but as close as I can get and that’s his home in Chartwell.  After that, Anne Boleyn and her childhood home, kind of creepy knowing what happened to her.

What’s not to love about Winston Churchill?  That cigar….  J

Next morning:

We rise early and I am refreshed.  Chris’s sister & hubby are driving us to Chartwell.  This is the home of Winston Churchill till his death.  I admire this man; he was a symbol of courage, a good author, decent painter and stood up to Hitler.  With that alone I’m hooked on the man.   That I get to step foot in his home, an absolute honour.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill

It’s an easy ride there and I am enjoying reading some of the road signs.  US and UK to me are so much alike but at the same time so very different, signs being one of them.  My personal favorites:

Emergency Escape Lane (who are we escaping from, a monster, aliens?)

No hard shoulder for 150 yards (aren’t all shoulders on the road hard, will we sink?)  Later I saw “soft shoulders”?  Maybe we will sink?

 ! Caution Wild Animals (what kind? Lions and tigers and bears oh my?)

Chris thinks maybe badgers.

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