Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finally home.

There are a number of reasons I know we're home; I can understand most of what people are saying, there are fewer scooters, and we went to Costco today.

It was a great trip. Lots of people to see, mostly Australians, and lots of sights and smells. Some good, some bad. The best part? Traveling with Belinda's Aunt Alice. I never had to go shopping while she was with us. And then Thomas showed up and it was even better. I think they will be our new traveling partners. I can just hear Thomas " Oh Gawd ! " I have posted some pictures at:  

This blog is a little different than the last one. Maybe a little more serious. Not sure why but maybe it's because we were not on a tour and my opportunites for picking on someone was much more limited. And it was a little frustrating trying to find an internet access point. By the time I did, much of my memory had faded. Right now, I'm still lying awake at night trying to figure out what train to take tomorrow or if it's a "down day". As I mentioned, my definition of "down day" and Belinda's definition are a little different. It turned out she merely meant fewer steps to walk down (AND UP !). I just wish she had said this was a "hill town tour." When she retired Belinda said she wanted to take the more strenuous trips first and so we started with the Machu Picchu trip, then Egypt. I think the "hill town trip" should have been first. Much more climbing than Machu Picchu. . . or is it that I'm getting older? Nah. Am I?

On one of our "down days" (I need to put quotes around these words because it's Belinda's phrase, not mine) we got caught in the middle of a service workers strike in Nice, France. But this was one of the days where we actually were taking it a little easy. Even so, Belinda still found steps to go down (and up).

Our last night was in Milan. A very big city with one of the most impressive duomos.

And we climbed to the roof. Well, actually we paid 8€ to take the elevator. Is that cheating? There were still some stairs left to climb. Eight or ten anyway. Then we jumped on one of the streetcars and rode it to the end. Then we took a bus and subway back to our hotel and went to bed.

Our flights home were uneventful. Tried to sleep as much as we could and now our clock is a little off. Still trying to organize our pictures and will be doing so over the next few weeks. I may post a few more and will note that on this blog.

One thing that really struck me was something right here in the U.S. As I mentioned, we had a 13 hour layover in Newark so we took the train into Penn Station in New York and visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle and Ground Zero. We especially wanted to see what the deal was with the proposed Muslim center, a few blocks from Ground Zero. (See above).  First of all, this isn't a just a Mosque, it's a Cultural Center. Something we've seen in other cities around the world. But even if it was a Mosque, don't they have a right to build where they want? Isn't that one of the main reasons we declared our independence from England - freedom of religion? What kind of message do we want to send to the world?  How we handle this issue really is "a test of our commitment to American values" as Michael Bloomberg has said.  In all our travels, it is so apparent that most wars, conflicts, killings, etc. are in the name of someone's religion. In Mostar, Bosnia, it was the Muslims against the Serbs (Orthodox Christians). God (Supreme Being, Allah, whatever) didn't create the U.S. above all other countries. He created all of us to be like him, in his image, to love one another. Do we have to go to our religious corners every time there is an issue? Those who flew into the World Trade Center buildings were radicals, as was Timothy McVeigh. We can not lump all Muslims together because of the WTC any more than we can the Catholics because of McVeigh or any of the other radical religious groups who kill doctors and blow up abortion clinics. These people don't represent the vast majority of their religious order. They are all radicals! And yet we continue to kill one another over our different beliefs. What possible difference does it make to someone what somebody else believes? It is obvious that killing someone with different beliefs has accomplished nothing. As one bumper sticker says "We are creating terrorists faster than we can kill them!" Someone has to say "Enough!" If you can't love your neighbor, at least tolerate them.

Stepping off my soapbox now. . . . and ending this blog. I hope you enjoyed it. . . or at least tolerated it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bellagio, Italy and THE screwup

I'm referring to me, in the second part of the title.  I failed to cancel at least one reservation and so far it has cost us 97€.  1/3 the cost of the netbook I should have brought with me to make sure I could keep in contact with all our hotels.  I have certainly learned a lesson here and I've mentioned it before. NEVER leave the country without some form of communications device- web-enabled cell phone, netbook, tin can and string.  We've managed fine but it's been more of a hassle to keep in touch than if we had to carry a device.  Next time I will get a suitcase the size of the trunk in most small cars here and load it up with gear.  Netbook, cell, iPad.   It's been a great trip but we are winding down and looking forward to English, free toilets, and smiles.  The smiles are interesting here.  No one makes eye contact until you speak to them and then most have a big smile and offers of help.  Just like LA except for the offers of help.

We have a nice room here in Bellagio.  It is raining so we feel like home.  We met some ladies from Oklahoma City.  Jennifer, Candy, and Honey, celebrating their 40th, 60th, and 80th birthday.  Grandmother, mother and a granddaughter.  Sweet ladies.  We love the "stripper" names, as Jennifer calls them. 

And still no card reader so I can't post a picture with my blog.  I hate that !  Did I mention Bellagio is another damn hill town!  Gratefully not as steep as the others but their steps have rocks sticking out of them.  I'm sure it's for looks but don't walk on them when wet.  And it's wet.  Not too wet but slippery wet.  Belinda really likes this internet cafe.  She's sipping wine and eating a sandwich.  Me and my Coke.

I think we are going to head back to our room and watch Italian news.  Last night we watched MTV.  The Italian Top 20.  Interesting.  There were two videos that were in the top 20 twice !  Not sure what that was about but one was #17 and also #3.  Don't remember the other combination.

Of course, we leave Bellagio Wednesday morning and it was clear and beautiful.  We headed back to Milan for one night at the hotel where I had originally reserved four nights.  I must have done that before Belinda decided to add Lake Como.  Then I promptly forgot to cancel.  Fortunately they only charged us for one night.  I can live with that.  We get home Thursday night and hopefully Cheryl will remember to pick us up.  I'll email her to remind her but with jet lag and all the excitement of her trip, I hope she remembers her old friends.  I have my massage scheduled for Friday am which I do not want to miss.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pictures have been posted

I have just posted some pictures at: .  You may need to copy and paste this link in the address window of your browser

I will post some more info when I can get to an English keyboard.

OK, got a good keyboard.  As I mentioned previously, of course we couldn't just sit and look at the view in Nice so we got on a bus and headed to Eze and Monte Carlo.  Just a few hours away and the day was beautiful.

And of course ------------>

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nice is

Have I moved up the evolutionary ladder ?  Is the title a pun?  We are in Nice, France,  now.  Beautiful city but larger than I imagined.  About 450,000 people but mostly French !  Everything is in French.  Misenga where are you.  I don't like to make comparisons but since you aren't here, let me tell you some of the differences between France and Italy.  In Italy, most everthing is in Italian or English.  Thoughtful.  In France, they apparetnly are too snobbish to think there are other languages. Maybe that's just in Nice.  At least, that's what I was told.  In France, the trains and train stations are clean.  Italy, not so much.  But we do have the largest shower at our Le Royale.  Thanks Dave and Mary.  Right on the water.  All you see out our window is the Mediterranean.  Charming.  I thought maybe some of you missed that word.  The downside is that I feel like I have to keep my shirt tucked in.  Last night we ate at a nice little French Asian self-serve place.  Good food and inexpensive.  Then we headed for something I saw on the "tourist" row of restaurants - crepes!!!  Nutella crepes !!!  Oh I love those.  They weren't as good as Misenga used to make but they hit the spot.

Today is what Belinda calls a "down day".  That means we only walk for 5-6 hours.  Probably take a bus to Monte Carlo, Monaco, and Eze.  I see there is a city called Beausoleil nearby.  I used to work with a Beausoleil at Chemeketa.  Wished I had his email.  Maybe we could get a free meal.  So, we'll walk to the bus station and try to figure out what bus to take.  Then we'll walk around whereever we end up.  Walk back to the bus stop, back to our hotel, then walk out for something to eat, then back to the hotel for a nap, then back out for another mean (crepes !), then back to the hotel.  A nice, quiet "down day".