Italy – Day 5

Monday, 19 March


Train to meet Roger’s friends – missed connection.
Picked up at transfer station by aforementioned friends
Cantina – not so successful
Short visit to Francesca and Massimo’s villa – a work in progress, no need to apologize!!
Driven by F & M to an even closer train station to get back to Rome
Roger done for the day
I enjoyed the “me” time, though I wish it hadn’t been at Roger’s expense!

Monday 19 March
After breakfast at Danieli off to the central train station (Termini) to catch a train to Montefiascone. The train was at track 1 est which was a walk and not all undercover. We needed to change trains at some point in the journey. Unfortunately the first train departed Rome late so we missed our connecting train. Massimo, Francesa , and Batei picked us up at the transfer station. We drove to a winery (Cantina Stefanoni). The lady let us roam around but without a reservation no tasting. That was a bummer. Somewhat unique locals would come in with an empty container and buy wine by the liter. As we were winding up our stay the owner arrived with his dog. The dog attached Batei. I believe the owner was offering us a tasting to atone for his dog but we decided to move on. By the while we were enjoying Monday in Montefiascone Pepper was hanging out with Boomer (in box). I believe our next stop was lunch at Borgo Antico da Claudio. We started with a cheese sampler with honey and something else. Would not have that again. Then several different types of pasta that we shared. Do not remember if we had dolci. Claudio had no problem with Batei being with us. Would go back again. After lunch we drove to the high point of the town to look at the view. Then we drove to their house which is under renovation. They also have a place in Rome. They drove us to a train station that had a non stop to Rome. We got off at Tiburtina station and took the Metro to the apartment. I believe we had leftovers if anything that night.

Italy – Day 4

Sunday, 18 March


As we drove around the park, we came across lovers, in parked cars, making them uneasy.
No mention of the cow you encountered or your slide down the hill. How about the panettone and caffe at the finish.
At Ristorante Al Padovano no mention that one of the owners chatting with us about the snow and the menu. They seated one group after us. We took the dessert to go and it was really no good. Would go back just skip the dessert next time.

So much fun!!

When Roger was planning our trip to Italy, the original plan was to go first to Naples for a week, and then to Rome for a week. But, when we looked to see what orienteering events might be near either city, the only one scheduled was near Rome, on the first Sunday, March 18. After making contact with the organizers of ENEA to make sure the event was taking place, we reversed the locations, starting in Rome first. Besides being able to orienteer in Italy, I was also happy about this, since I think Rome will be even busier next week, as more people arrive for Easter on April 1. We are departing for home on March 29, after leaving Naples on the 28th…

Each year, from about October to March, ENEA Casaccia Orienteering puts on the Trofeo ENEA, a series of 7-9 events. From reviewing past results, I knew that the event have two courses: Corto (Short) – 2.5 km, 125 m climb, 9 controls and Lungo (Long) – 4.3 km, 210 m, 11 controls. I was prepared to tackle the Long, and I hoped to complete it in less than two hours.
It was tough getting out of the door to the event because Roger was still feeling weak, but he was feeling better this morning. But then there was the rain. I kept Roger telling that it was always better in the woods, and I told myself that I didn’t come all this way not to go orienteering. So, off we went, with just a little bit of a driving adventure getting out of Rome, Porta Pia area.
We arrived early, around 9:15, and no one else had arrived yet. However, on the way, we saw this sign, so we encouraged that the event would take place.

And, I was not concerned because I was told that it was to be a small event, and people would arrive just before 10 to set up. We parked and waiting in the parking area above the “arena” and when cars started going by around 9:45, we drove down the hill and parked near the tent.

I was welcomed by Vincenzo, who was the organizer. Vincenzo told me that it was muddy and slippery, and that the green was impossible to penetrate, so taking the trails was better, even though they were slippery. He also inquired if I was expert, which I translated as experienced. I assured him, and another woman later, that I was, and that I would return safely before the courses closed. Being an organizer at home, I appreciated that there is concern when unknown people show up at an event, and then they do a course which is too difficult for them. I didn’t want them to be too concerned about me.

The temperature was around 50 F (10 C) and intermittent rain. I paid my 5 euro, received a punch card, and picked a start time of 10:10. I did not take the separate control descriptions, which were in symbol format, which would be important later, perhaps.

The event turned out to be everything I expected. It was small, inexpensive, low-key, and, yes, pin punching was used, which was quite OK. Everyone was very friendly, and I believe they were happy to have a non-Italian come and compete at their event. The maps were not overly complicated, and were pre-printed. There were extra trails in some places, but I knew this and concentrated on the contours. The controls were in the correct locations, which is always appreciated.
I finished the course in less than two hours, I didn’t get hurt, and I wasn’t last. The slippery mud made it an adventure, going both up and downhill. Those of you, who know me, know that I love mud, and so that did not bother me at all. Even the hail was an unexpected bonus – the icing on the cake!
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first time orienteering in Italy. And, I earned 5,674 points towards the ENEA Trophy!

After a long nap, and only a small Danish/pastry in the last 24 hours, I am starving! Likely, the only vacation where I will probably not gain weight… Roger is feeling better after a nap, so we head out to find a meal, which is not an easy proposition on a Sunday afternoon at 3 pm, since many places are closed on Sunday, and those which are open close at 3 pm.

The first place turns us away, but the second place seats us, even though it is after 3, and we have a very fine meal, not rushed too much at all, considering that the kitchen is trying to close – bags of garbage being schlepped out to the front dumpsters, and all that. Seriously, why are all the dumpsters in Rome on the front street?!

Anyway, a fine way to end the day, and Roger has another early night, while I enjoy the time to myself.

Italy – Day 3

Saturday, 17 March


Friday morning we took a 62 bus to Piazza San Silvestro to buy postage stamps for the postcards. Somehow we managed to miss our stop and did not realize this until we had gone a considerable distance. When we got off the bus instead of going to the other side of the street for a 62 going to San Silvestro we got into a cab. It was a short trip as we discovered the guy did not want to use the meter. We made our way to a 62 bus stop. Fortunately the bus ticket is good for 90 minutes so we did not have to pay a second time. We were the only customer in the post office so the transaction was quick and painless. We went to EnotecaTrimani to purchase a bottle of white wine. I kept calling the winery GaGa and the guy had no idea what I was talking about. Finally he asked if I meant Gavi. Bingo. He took us over to the shelf and there was a choice of five different Gavi whites. We had lunch next door at the Trimani Wine Bar. Again leftovers to bring back to the apartment. They had nice bathrooms but not the fancy seats. On the way home we stopped at Gelateria La Romana for some gelato. Small cup for me. Then we slowly walked back to the apartment. Along the way we saw what maybe was a preschool with beautifully manicured grounds. Due to my stomach issue we stayed in that night and Valerie had leftovers and GaGa.

St. Patrick’s Day – did not realize it until we see some green clad revelers. Not to be confused with the many Scots in kilts in town for maybe a rugby event.

Back to San Silvestri via bus 62, though we missed our stop. Got off much later, and I needed a fix, after skipping yesterday. Coke zero, not exactly diet coke, but close enough. Roger claims that this is why he panicked, and he approached a taxi driver at the nearby taxi stand. Or maybe the driver approached us, jumping the queue, and after arguing with the other driver, we drive off. Roger notices that the meter isn’t working and asks the guy to start it. He says, no 15 euro, and we say no, meter. He says no, not today, and we say, no, you are ripping us off.

So, we opens the doors, while the taxi is moving, luckily slowly, since he had tried to confuse us by taking us through a rabbit warren of roads. We get out, and realize that we should have just gotten on the same bus going the other way, which we so. Whew, rookie crisis averted.

Get the Disney stamps for the kids and them off to Termini Wine Bar for lunch, followed by gelato and a nap.

Roger still is experiencing lower intestinal distress, but that doesn’t stop us from having a noon meal at the Tremini Wine Bar.

Long nap, and quiet time for me follows.

Italy – Day 2

Friday, 16 March


Started the morning in Piazza Galeno observing the authorities checking car registrations. Then took a taxi to the Pantheon. Another tourist took pity on our selfie attempts and took some pictures of us. Among other things, two Italian kings are buried here. Starting in April, the entry will no longer be free. We did some people watching in the piazza in front of the Pantheon. I was admonished about for sitting on the stone columns. When I pointed out to the guy some other tourists were doing the same, he rousted them also.

We had lunch at Armando al Pantheon. Loved the food, the mozzarella was excellent, but not the service. Waiter was insisting we order everything at once. After some push back, we ordered a course at a time and had leftovers. Valerie was enamored with the toilet in the place that had automatic seat paper, though it didn’t work [V: was out of new paper]. As our time in Italy continued, she would just be happy if the toilet had a seat. We saw people celebrating St Pats Day. Also, there were rugby guys in town wearing kilts. We made a purchase at a clock shop. I was not feeling well the first three days, so Friday night we stayed in and Valerie had leftovers.

When Roger gets up, he is still sick, so he gets back in bed, and at 11 we make our way to a restaurant near the Pantheon, via taxi. The food is good, and Roger stuffs it in, despite the intestinal distress.

Bought a clock.

Taxi to San Silvestri, in the opposite direction, which was worth it since Roger was pooped. Philatelic store was already close, and ATM was out of order.

Back to Piazza Galeno.

Roger goes to bed and passed out to morning. I strolled around the neighboring area, maybe more casually than I should have, considering the Adult Film options in the area.

Back safe and sound, and Roger still asleep.

Roger still is experiencing lower intestinal distress.

Italy – Day 1

Thursday, 15 March


Roger – Part 1:
Boarding the Air Canada flight a border control person asked if I was carrying more than $10k. Once aboard the flight, it was uneventful and comfortable. All the announcements were in three languages [V: English, French & Italian]. I have no idea if they were speaking good French or Italian. Before the meal, I passed on the hot towel. We had General Tao chicken and braised veal stew. Gathered our luggage at the Rome airport. Valerie scored a free cart to put it on and off the Hertz place, which was a good walk. The rental car was a Renault. Had the guy show me how to take off the parking brake and change the onboard navigation system to English. Off we went to a nearby mall (Parco Leonardo Mall). Hit a bank machine for some Euros and then stopped at Auchan grocery store but found nothing on my list. Final stop was Vodafone store for an Italian sim card.

The drive into Rome was interesting. Our car had a on board navigation system and while the commands were in English our responses to the directions at times were incorrect. This resulted in hearing re-calculating route many times. Made at least one left turn from the middle lane. Encountered two police motorcades. The police would be waving their lollipops for us to get out of the way. Only problem was most of the time there was no place to go. Hoping there were no active traffic cameras getting my tag number on the streets where I possibly did something illegal – entering a residential zone without the proper permit [V: Ticket #1].

We finally made it to the Airbnb. The next challenge was to find a spot to park the car, as there did not seem to be any. We pulled into a very illegal spot and tried to call out host, Angelo, but the call didn’t go through on the Italian phone. While troubleshooting this, Valerie called the number on the small florist stand across from where we were parked. The guy answered and was looking right at me when I said “Sorry, wrong number”…

Reached Angelo the second try, and he showed up pretty quickly, and we found a free spot in front of a driveway gate that was no longer used. Checked into the Airbnb apartment near Piazza Galeno, unpacked and then nap time.

The weather was cool and damp, but we came prepared. We met friends for happy hour (precena). 10 Euros you get a glass of wine (only five choices) and a plate of food. After that I went to bed and Valerie went out to checkout the night life.

Toronto to Rome

Wish we had upgraded to First Class. This was hard on us. Arrived in one piece and got the rental car. Would have lost the Amazing Race at this point – can drive a manual but can not figure how how the emergency brake disengages. With help from the car rental staff, and maybe 45 minutes later (steep learning curve), we were on our way. However, Roger almost hits the car behind us when backing up – a sign of things to come. BUT, on the drive out of the airport we see the young couple who drove out well ahead of us on the side of the road trying to figure something out. So, maybe we wouldn’t do so badly in the AR. Nah! We wouldn’t last a day driving together in a race.

Anyway, after narrowly missing the concrete barrier to the on ramp, as well as cutting off a couple of vehicles, we make it to the shopping mall.

No success for the product Roger was looking for at the grocery, but we did get an Italian phone number for 30 euro, which included data, and then headed into Rome.

After imploring Roger to drive more carefully, we only had about five more incidents before we reached our accommodations. After having to throw my body across the parking spot to reserve it, we were able to park and get into out accommodations.

Things were looking up, and then they weren’t. Roger was feeling very weak and had the big D. We didn’t realize until later the extent of his illness/intestinal distress – weakness, light headed, in addition to the other fun things…this likely explains the very poor driving. Likely, it was food poisoning. Of course, this isn’t going to stop us from meeting the friends he made in 2016, Massimo and Francesca, at an eatery. So, after passing out for several hours, we make our way to the eatery.

And, Roger doesn’t know how to not eat – three meals a day, come hell or high water. So, he eats. Note, that it wasn’t until day three, that I finally convinced him that crackers and water for 24 hours will be helpful.

After tucking Roger in for the night, I wandered around the area, stumbling across the adult night life district by accident. I got back to the main street and back to Roger and to bed.

Italy – Just getting there can be a challenge

Wednesday, 14 March
This is how my morning went:
8:45 Dropped Pepper off with Laura, Aaron, and Boomer
9:30 Stopped at Target to buy a suitcase
10:00 Home to pack – at this point, I had packed nothing for myself
10:30 Arranged online for a cab to pick us up at 11:30
11:00 All ready – who needs a gazillion hours to pack anyway?!
11:30 No RedTop Cab, try to check on status but option is missing online and via phone
11:33 Go back online and arrange for another taxi ASAP
11:38 Taxi arrives – whew!, though not to worried because flight is delayed

Maybe 60 minutes late, we eventually get on plane to Toronto – Economy Plus – more than adequate for such a short flight.

Arrive in Toronto. Roger is flagging a bit, so I grabbed his carry-on and jacket and we headed towards customs.

Once through customs, he asked where his jacket was, which had his credit cards and IDs, though not his passport, thankfully… Ah, crap, I dropped it somewhere. I ask airport staff how to go back for it, and they let me reverse myself, through customs, back towards the gate, but I do not see it. Pretty sure that this is grounds for divorce. Not the best way to start a two week vacation…

I checked around, and many Air Canada people were very unhelpful, but back at the customs area, an airport employee was able to confirm that someone had found the jacket and turned it in. But, they wanted to know why I am on this side of the customs area, if I had already gone through customs. Um, they told me I could go back and check.

After getting escorted to the Lost & Found area, by a very wonderful airport employee, the jacket was brought out and then checked for bomb residue. Whew, a harrowing 20 minutes later, I was in possession of it again, and the grounds for divorce had been alleviated, once again. On to the Toronto to Rome flight!!

A stopover in Ireland

Arrived safely in Dublin on Sunday morning. The plan to leave the airport was nixed by the rain.

A friendly reminder on the rules of the road…

And, the maximum size bag allowed on the next flight on Flybe into Inverness.

Checked in for the Flybe flight, and then realized that I had left my most favorite pillow and pooh blanket on the plane. Running between terminals a couple of times trying to make it appear didn’t work. Some tears were shed.

Life goes on. Made it through the third security check of the trip and hung around for several hours waiting for the next flight. Treated myself to a cold one to get over the trauma of losing my pillow and blankee. I only cried a little more.

Took this on the way out of the Dublin airport.

Still raining as we departed for Inverness.

Flying low…861863

Arrived in Inverness safely, only two days later, or so it seemed. I liked the the name and paint job of the airline we didn’t fly into Inverness on.

Off to shop next!

Scotland – Here I come!

surprisehibiscusA last look around the yard before heading to the airport today. A surprise lily on the left, and a hibiscus on the right.

Roger took Amy and me to the airport, with a stop on the way at the Bean for some rain pants. Got some new shorts as well, and Amy got a fleece jacket. Still had plenty of time to hang out at Dulles waiting for our flight to Boston – like five hours, because the flight was late leaving for Boston.

Which meant that the cushion for the next flight evaporated, and we had to make a mad dash to the international terminal (on foot, because we didn’t see a shuttle option), get back through security, and to the plane just as they were putting the final touches on the boarding process.  Whew!

Amy and I didn’t have seats together, and there was no time to try switching.  I scored a great alternate seatmate, originally from Edinburgh, and we chatted some, but mostly just read or tried to get a little sleep.  He did suggest I try a lager called Innocent Gun.  I will have to look into that.

Stopping to smell the roses…

Usually have all of June and July off after National events and QOC events finish, but this year there were two additional events for the WPFG at the end of June…now a month’s break before going off to Scotland for the Scottish 6 Days and volunteering at WOC.

My sister, Cris, has been sending me pictures of the garden in Baltimore. Here is a view of some flowers from my garden…the actual roses are not photo worthy.