Saturday, May 28, 2005

I see old people...

This morning I went off to visit the market and have a caffe as usual and I noticed something very strange. There were tons of pasty white northern European senior citizens everywhere on the street. They stick out so much down here it’s amazing, of course, wearing shorts is a dead give away. This could only mean one thing…the cruise ships are back. I saw a few people a couple weeks ago but the numbers have definitely picked up. I don’t remember this happening last year but maybe I didn’t notice. I asked the guy behind the counter at the bar about this and he said I should have seen yesterday. So evidently while I’m at work hundreds of cruisers are in the town everyday. I had no idea it was like this and by lunchtime they are all back on the ship and gone. Just an interesting little note, I can’t sit in this chair any longer as I fell asleep in the sun this afternoon and I have a pretty toasted back. Yes, I had sunscreen on but... it was only No 6 as I’m going for a darker look this year and I was trying to get a head start on these naturally dark Italians. So much for that idea…

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Prague "Castle"

Changing of the guard at Prague Castle. Still don't believe me when I say Prague is a little "touristy". Also Prague Castle doesn't look much like a castle. It has no real defensive wall or towers or a moat. The church is the most striking feature that you see from afar.Posted by Hello

Tower shot

This tower was my favorite because it has the goofy astronomical clock on it and we could go up to the top. I could fill up the blog with pictures I took from up there. Posted by Hello

Paola and Berti

Here we find the real unique part of my trip. This is Paola with Berti. He is the son of Roberto and Madelena so he's half Italian and half Czech and he's already learning those two languages and English. Having dinner at their apartment was great. I don't know when I'll have handmade Italian pizza with local Czech wine again.... Posted by Hello

At the Disco!!!

This photo is of Paola, Roberto, and Madelena at the disco. Hey it's 2:30 AM and I think everyone still looks awake and sober... Posted by Hello

River Scene

This is one of my classic photos and it shows a river scene of the National Theater. Looking in this direction the river is dammed to make a nice quiet pool for little peddle boats. The other direction has the bigger tour boats. Posted by Hello


I don’t want everyone to loose interest in my blog so I made another crazy getaway this weekend. This time I went to Prague in the Czech Republic. Now I will say right off that this city does not look AT ALL like a city that was suffering under the rule of Communism some 12 or so years ago. Naples looks more like what I thought Prague would look like. Prague is clean and beautiful with many medieval towers and a beautiful river walk. I was very overwhelmed by this but also a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it I highly recommend going there it’s just very touristy so don’t go there with the impression that you are exploring someplace new. I, however, did get a chance to explore and experience the Czech Republic like no one else. Paola has a friend there, Roberto (a Roman), who has a son with a Czech woman named Mandalena (that’s what her name sounded like). No, they’re not married but Roberto is driven to help take care of the son and is willing to live in the Czech Republic to do it. He really is great guy who has given up a lot to be a good father. My unique experience was when Paola and I went to their apartment for dinner way outside of Prague Saturday night. We brought Limoncello and some fine Italian chocolates and Roberto made some amazing pizzas. A couple of Mandalena’s friends were there too and they had brought several types of local white wine (the kind that you bring your own water bottle and they fill it up). So there I was having dinner with Czechs and Italians in Czech countryside. One of her friends spoke English pretty well but the others didn’t so the conversations were choppy and short. Afterwards the four of us went out to a local disco while her friends watched their son, Alberti who is between 1 and 2, I think. We danced like a bunch of nuts and I know we were the only non-Czechs in the place. It was a blast because I haven’t danced like I didn’t care (with my hands in the air) in a disco for a long time. On Sunday our touring was slower and started later. Overall it was another truly unique experience. If you want to know more then send me an email. Pictures to come later.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Journal Entry

I keep a private journal on my computer where I have been writing my personal feelings that no one is ever meant to see. It started as a way to vent frustration when I first moved here and I also wanted to keep track of how I felt "at the time" verses how I feel looking back. Hindsight is 20/20 so it can be very embarrasing to see how you felt before an event or when a problem first happened. This blog has lowered the number of entries in that journal but there are still some things that can’t be said in this forum. So I was looking at my private journal from last year at this very period to see how things have changed (I hadn’t started the blog yet). Last year I was getting ready to go to Venice for the weekend and then back to the US for the whole month of June. Both of these were great trips and I am sad that I haven’t made it back to Venice. This year I’m planning a trip this weekend to Prague and maybe with the Italian holiday coming (June 2nd) I may use the long weekend to go to Athens or back to Venice. After that my plans are pretty light compared to last year. Not many people are coming this year and they all are waiting for September or later when flights are cheaper. I’m not worth a flight in high season!!! Hey, you have a free place to stay! I also have seen signs that the dollar is bouncing back ever so slowly against the euro. Anyway I guess I can’t complain since I’m using most of my spare time and vacation days to chase Paola around Europe (the real reason for going to Prague this weekend and my traveling of late). I hesitate to say any more because as soon as I talked about Arianna in the blog we stopped going out. I would truly be sad if that were to happen with Paola.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Castle Scene

This knight and the kids were busy playing medieval games at "The Rock of Angera", a castle on the banks of Lago Maggiore. They were funny to watch at first but then they were annoying after a while and they were everywhere. Posted by Hello

Piemonte in one picture

This photo shows quite a lot if look close. Open this photo up bigger to see castle near the middle. The town I stayed in is just to the left of it. In front you see rice fields something this area of Piemonte is known for and in the background you see the Alps. No explanation needed there. Posted by Hello

Isola San Giulio

This is the island of San Giulio in the middle of Lake D'Orta. This lake and the area around was incredible. There is also a nice small town right on the lake facing the island. It really was like a movie set.Posted by Hello

Up North!!

This space was quiet last week but for a good reason. I spent the whole week on vacation in the northern parts of Italy. My vacation centered on an area near Novara, which is between Milan and Turin. What a vacation it was. I stayed at the house of a friend with her and her whole family. My favorite part was definitely Lago D’Orta. I hesitate to tell you how good it was because it’s one of the smaller lakes to the east of Lake Como. Lake Como was too touristy for me so I hope everyone keeps going there and leaves Lago D’Orta to Italians and a few outsiders. It’s very romantic and cozy especially when compared to the other big lakes with their big boats trying to carry as many tourists as possible around. I’ll put up a photo of Isola San Giulio since it’s such a nice sitting in the middle of this calm lake. After seeing the lakes (D’Orta, Maggiore, and Como) we went up into the mountains specifically to Sacro Monte. This particular mountain has an interesting assortment of about 40 buildings scattered along short paths through the forest and each houses a scene with statues showing an event in The Bible. For over a hundreds years Italians (in the 14th century, roughly) built these life sized statues and huge background paintings all sheltered in these little stone buildings. Other highlights of the trip were visiting little towns in area and the medieval castle “The Rock of Angera”. It was also fun meeting Paola’s family and friends. We spent one day shopping in Milan, which wasn’t to my taste and I didn’t buy anything. Still, I need some nice clothes so I should have. Another photo I’ll put up shows kind of the cross section of where I was. It has the rice fields in the foreground and snow capped mountains in the background with the town I stayed in between them. I will say that Northern Italy is pretty nice. They have mountains, lakes, rivers, but yes it’s little farther to the sea, usually. Down here we always have the sea and sun. All these good things but I think the North may be a little more to my taste. I hate saying that but getting a tan has never been a high priority to me. So I’m a little envious of the north, although when I see them sacked with a foot or two of snow next winter I’ll be thankful for where I am. Also I couldn’t appreciate the differences between north and south without having lived here. I could see and feel the differences immediately. Well this is getting long…. again. Pictures next…

Monday, May 09, 2005

Late Mother's Day post

I found this a little while ago and I wanted to post it around Mother's Day....
Mother's Day - the bond between Italian mothers and sons is probably the strongest in the Western world and is on the rise according to experts. A recent study by the national statistics bureau found that one third of married men see their mother every day and 78% visit her at least once a week. In addition, 52% of Italian men between the ages of 20 and 34 live at home until they are legally married. This is the record for the European continent and for most of the rest of the world! Italian men who remain single tend to stay at home until relatively late in life with seven out of ten men over age 35 remaining with their parents. Only one out of five single men who leave home move further than 50 kilometers away while 42% of them live within one kilometer of their mother's clothes-washing services. Comments journalist Beppe Severgnini, 'No wonder the birthrate in Italy is so low. After all, it is hard to conceive with mom and dad in the other room'. With all this Italian family super bonding it is understandable that Mother's Day carries a special significance here. Most children remember their mothers with flowers and special dinners.