Driving buddies

Does anyone else do this? I’m driving around by myself this week—Lisa has a houseful of friends in Boston for Kelley’s bridal shower—and this morning I found myself looking for a driving buddy. It goes like this:

  1. Find someone going approximately your speed (in my case, look for the person who’s considerately passing the other cars, traveling about eight miles over)
  2. Pass that person
  3. Pull back into the right lane at a reasonable rate of speed, to allow that person to pass if they choose

If it works out, you can travel keeping pace with the other driver for hundreds of miles this way. I think it only works with other solo drivers though. On long drives it’s one of my tricks to keep me from going nuts and talking to myself.

On my way

A mostly unplanned journey this morning. We’ll be heading to Lisa’s parents the first part of the week to consolidate our belongings from a couple of different storage locations in preparation for the movers. Then Lisa will return to Boston while I head south for a few more days to see my family. Blogging will be erratic. Talk amongst yourselves.

Italy 2002 Trip Report: Rome

May 30 – April 2: In contrast to our previous trips to Rome, I don’t have that much to report about the four days that ended our Italy trip…probably because I was sick for two of them.

We arrived around 2:30 pm Saturday afternoon and checked into the hotel. (Aside: If you can save the money to go there, the Hotel De La Ville Intercontinental in Rome is a decent place to stay—atop and to the side of the Spanish Steps, five star service…<sigh>.) We grabbed a late lunch at a trattoria around the corner from the hotel. I was tired out from driving and flopped while Lisa took her parents in the direction of Trastevere. She woke me up later to go down to the Piazza Navona with her and grab a glass of wine at our favorite enoteca/café.

Sunday we went to Santa Maria di Trastevere, a thirteenth century church that’s pretty distant from the crowd at the Vatican. After we went to lunch at Romolo, built in a fifteenth century palazzo (with a walled garden) that was the home of Raphael’s mistress. Afterwards I started feeling unwell. Thinking it was heatstroke, I walked home ahead of the family. And then it started. At one point my distress was so bad I was shaking (though not with fever). By Monday I was some better but still had to spend the day in bed. Tuesday morning we flew back. So all I really saw of Rome was a little bit of Trastevere, the Piazza Navona, and the inside of our five-star bathroom.

Italy 2002 Trip Report, Day 6

The fifth in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

29 Mar 2002: Lisa’s dad has decided to take the day off; he will remain behind in Positano while we take the boat to Capri. A wise choice, it turns out, given the amount of wind and rough water we face in the next hour.

Capri is as beautiful as I remember it, though colder. We start in the town of Anacapri, which is smaller than the main town, tourists everywhere, fewer stores. A poster on the wall of a store shows an unusual lion and a little less high-brow style than is normal on the other side of the island.

The other side of the island: expensive pottery, good food, limoncello. Sitting in a café it occurs to me that I enjoyed the island more when I was able to hike around it on the previous visit and get away from the pottery, food, limoncello, and cafés.

That night in Positano, we try to go to a restaurant I remember on the cliff path above the town. But our early dinner plans don’t fit the Positano lifestyle and we return to La Cambusa. The food is still excellent… and the staff seem actually happy to see us.

Italy 2002 Trip Report, Day 5

The fifth in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

28 Mar 2002: We breakfast leisurely and catch 10 a.m. boat to Amalfi. Fall into tour of the Duomo—fascinating, as the church is a palimpsest of 10th through 19th century with frescoes over frescoes, baroque over medieval, plaster and wood colonnades over original Roman and Moorish columns.

Window shopping, disappointing lunch, more shopping, gelato, and return to Positano. Dinner (2) at La Cambusa. Highlights—complimentary prosecco and antipasti, delicate seafood risotto, grilled anchovies, complimentary local provolone. Gelato after.

Italy 2002 Trip Report, Day 4

The fourth in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

27 Mar 2002: Spend 1.5 hours lost but find Fiano Country—Feudi di San Gregorio. Very under construction. Big facility. Tour from very patient guide Cinsia includes Feudi’s olive oil production, the lab, and a 40 min discussion of the processes with head oenologist Massimo. Taste: Falenghina, Greco, Fiano, and top of line Taurasi.—Drive down toward Naples. Lunch at self serve place in Pompei. We take Lisa’s parents through—most impressive is Villa dei Misteri with frescoes of the initiation rites for the Dionysiac Mysteries. Leave. One wrong turn later, find road for Positano behind a series of buses. Dinner (1) at La Cambusa—very enthusiastically received. Bed.

Italy 2002 Trip Report, Day 3

The third in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

26 Mar 2002: Directions from a resident businessman to Calitri—to make up for inadequate signage, he sends us an hour out of our way north, then down through lots of hill towns—and wheat fields—and wind farms. Half an hour after a declaration from il mio suocero that one would have to be crazy to live here, that he understands why his parents left, and that as far as he was concerned they could have it (occasioning a response from mom: “stop being such a nutty old coot!”)—we find Calitri. The Hotel Ambasciatore desk clerk Ten-Su (!) tells us that the Calitri Lucadamos had tried to find us the previous night.

We go to the records office at the Comune and discover that they have no information about the predecessors of the emigrating Lucadamo, Angelo Maria, except the names of his parents, Carmine and Teresa Schiavone. It is decided that the birth date we have for Teresa S is incorrect—she could not possibly have had Angelo M when she was 49.

We meet the young Cinzia L. who runs the town biberia—she is charming and friendly and calls the family to let them know we have arrived. Later as we discover the hotel has no heat we decide to return to Avellino. Just then all the relations show up. We spend two hours conversing in Italian to discover that there are one or two Carmine and Angelo Lucadamos in each generation for as long as anyone can remember, so finding ours will be nearly impossible—and take our leave after Cinzia gifts us with a ton of wine. We take the road back in the direction of Lione, solving the question of how to get back without a very long journey. Dinner at a trattoria—very good pasta.

Italy 2002 Trip Report, Day 2

The second in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

25 Mar 2002: Lost in Avellino—just like two years ago. We miss the turn several times for Calitri—it’s not posted—and give up for the night. The Hotel Jolly, while twice the price of the hotel we were to stay at in Calitri, is as good as a reasonable European chain can be. Dinner in hotel restaurant unremarkable except for a bottle of wine from Feudi [di San Gregorio].

Italy 2002 Trip Review, Day One

This is the first in a series of transcriptions of my experiences traveling with my wife and her family in Italy. The originals were scribbled on whatever pieces of paper were handy and are presented here unedited.

24 Mar 2002: 8 something pm. Off to an interesting start. Arrived at airport 5ish. Lisa and her parents had difficulty with their e-ticket—it took an hour to straighten out. We spent some time talking to the nice ticket lady and found out there had been a system changeover. We expressed lots of sympathy—being IT people, we swapped stories—she is a trainer for the new system! Shortly thereafter we got a complimentary upgrade to World Traveller Plus. Go BA.

Subsequently we had to go back over and get our boarding passes. Then we sat in the Sam Adams Bar and caught our breath.

Watching Lisa’s dad figure out the features in his seat is a lot of fun. The Man Who Wasn’t There on TV.

Slackjawed in Capri

I was going to transcribe some of the notes I scribbled on hotel stationery and a Statue of Liberty memo cube purchased from Newark Airport today, but I forgot to dig them out of my luggage before I left the apartment today. So here’s a photo of Lisa and me from Capri to tide you over.

Lisa and me in the Augustine Gardens in Capri, telling her mom how to use the digital camera.

We’re trying to tell her mom how to use our digital camera, which partly explains my look of slack-jawed yokeldom. Or it may be, as Mark Twain stated in his short story “Niagara,” a general phenomenon:

Any day, in the hands of these photographers, you may see stately pictures of papa and mamma, Johnny and Bub and Sis, or a couple of country cousins, all smiling vacantly, and all disposed in studied and uncomfortable attitudes in their carriage, and all looming up in their awe-inspiring imbecility before the snubbed and diminished presentment of that majestic presence whose ministering spirits are the rainbows, whose voice is the thunder, whose awful front is veiled in clouds, who was monarch here dead and forgotten ages before this hackful of small reptiles was deemed temporarily necessary to fill a crack in the world’s unnoted myriads, and will still be monarch here ages and decades of ages after they shall have gathered themselves to their blood relations, the other worms, and been mingled with the unremembering dust.

There is no actual harm in making Niagara a background whereon to display one’s marvelous insignificance in a good strong light, but it requires a sort of superhuman self-complacency to enable one to do it.

Home again

Well, we’ve returned. We have been up for at least 24 hours apiece. Italy was wonderful. I am only now recovering from a two day bout with some horrible gastric thing that made me miss the papal blessing in Rome.

There was more that I wanted to say, but since I can only remember it as being dictated to me by a thirty foot tall alien who spoke with pheromones rather than audible speech, I think I’ll postpone it until tomorrow.

Getting ready for Italy

One reason for the urgency in getting the DV camera: we’re finally taking Lisa’s parents to Italy. Lisa was to take them back in the fall. In fact they were supposed to fly out September 13. Needless to say, the flight was cancelled and they had travel credits to spend. The credits were enough to add me to the flight plans, so the decision was made to postpone the trip until my spring break. Which, thank heaven, starts Wednesday. We fly out next Sunday. I’m looking forward to getting over there again. It’s been too long.

Our itinerary: a day in Rome, then south to Campania. We’ll spend two days in the family’s ancestral home town of Calitri, then a few days in Positano and Amalfi, with a day trip to Capri, wrapping up with Easter weekend in Rome. Should be a lot of fun. Hopefully I won’t gain too much weight from all the incredible food.

Belgium calling

I take off for a quick trip to Belgium later today. I wish I had a really good reason for going, but mostly it’s the cheap airfare. And moules frites and good Belgian beer. Lisa and I have never been to Belgium, but it’s been on our list of European trips for a long time (this is the list organized thusly: wine, beer, wine, beer, wine, beer, vodka, otherwise known as Italy, England and Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Russia. We’re currently rethinking the last one). So no blogging unless I find free Internet cafés over there.

Breaking the silence

Whew. Whirlwind journey almost over. I have a long train ride between Metropark and Boston tomorrow, and then I’m really back. Apologies for radio silence: some things came up. I’ll probably write about a few of them shortly.

In the meantime, I wrote this update on Saturday: Sorry about the unexpected silence the last two days. I was staying with a friend who had no broadband and had given up his home phone. I spent a few days catching up with old college and work friends. I’m certainly happy to have had the chance to visit with everyone, but I’m really ready to come home now.

I spent most of the day with Esta. We drove into Charlottesville for dinner and nostalgia, and now we’re sitting in Cocke Hall blogging. At least she’s blogging–my site is down and I’ll have to post this later.