If It's Tuesday....

January 10, 2007


This must be Belgium...

So goes the title of a movie from way back in the day about making a mad dash through Europe on your vacation.

I did that.

I sure did.

And now I'm back and have been working on some of my photos and doing laundry before school starts this afternoon.

Don't worry, I won't post all 1,200 photos here, in fact I'll probably not post a whole lot of them here because sooner or later (probably later) I'll be making a whole bunch of galleries for the great Italian walkabout.

Well, let's not forget trainabout as well, since that was my primary mode of transport when I wandered by myself.


Well, to begin, first class travel is delightful, at least as delightful as it can be under the circumstances. I didn't know for example that I had to drag my luggage from terminal to terminal once I got to Chicago and I even got to play the same game on the way home.

But after a series of nice flights I finally landed in Zürich and caught the next plane to Venice which crossed the very alps that I would end up skiing in and then end up crossing back by train.

I know it looks snowy, but all of Europe has had a dearth of snow this year. You might say that it was more than a tad ironic that Albuquerque got two feet of snow while I was gone, while places where we skied had two or four inches on the ground instead of four feet.

You know what's a really sinking feeling?

It happens when you are the last person at the baggage carousel and there are no bags left and you are some 4 or 5 thousand miles from home.

Worse yet, it's freezing outside and you packed your coat, and all your warm clothes in your luggage.

It's Day two - and Daughter and I took the train into Venice. It was cold... something on the order of 17 degrees and I was walking through the streets in a borrowed coat. I ended up buying a hat, scarf and gloves all of which will hopefully be reimbursed.

The night before found us off to the department store so I could use up my 200 euro allowance on some clothes, but that was not enough to cover winter outerwear.

But one must keep things in perspective, so Daughter and I went to the most famous cafe in St. Mark's place to have dessert. Two desserts and two coffee drinks.... set me back about 50 bucks, but I figure, the chances of the two of us being back there in the near future are probably not real high, so why not?

Besides, there is always room for less expensive Italian gastronomical treats, right?

By the morning of day two we had a call that one bag had made its way to the airport and my host decided to drive on in to see if the other one would arrive on the 12:00 flight. Good thing we did, since the plan was for me to boogie on off to another town while daughter and friend went off to the mountains to ski.

Since they didn't want a chaperon, I headed off to another little town called Florence. It's one of those places filled up with old shit and cobblestone streets and the like.

It's got this real old bridge there where everyone stands and takes pictures, but that's not the reason I really went there.

You see, like I told my dad when I was going, "Someone made a statue of me and I've got to go check it out."

He was so puzzled.

"Someone made a statute of you? Why would someone do that?"

I clarified...

Ok, Ok, so we share the same name and the statue is kind of old, like 500 years old so it couldn't really be me.

We'll talk about this all later, but I'm here to tell you, it was hard to get a shot of the big dude with all the "NO PHOTO" police hanging round the place.

But they were looking up, not at some guy fooling around with his backpack on the floor.

So as you can see, he's a big dude. Really big, like over 15 feet tall. It seems that the weather was not doing him a whole lot of good out there in the cold and all, so they moved him inside.

But you know what?

Some people have this fascination with the nekkid guy that I just don't quite get. I mean, when you look at the whole thing, I think 500 years of being out in the cold shrunk parts of that guy down to practically nothing.

Like I said, we'll talk about the dude another day, and then I'll include a much better shot.

When you are doing the train gig, sometimes you don't have the luxury of having lots of time to go sightseeing. I had a train change in another place called Piza where I'd been once before (also in the rain) so I didn't get to see the famous place.

You know, there is this building that is falling down and everyone wants to see it, but I'm not sure why. Lots of buildings are falling down, aren't they?

So anyhow, I stood outside of the train station with my luggage and asked a taxi driver how much time it would take to get to the building and back and he said 10 minutes each way... and I paused. I mean this conversation took place with what, 2, 3 words, since I don't speak Italian and he didn't speak any English except 10 minutes.

Then he changed his mind... "Five minutes."

"Five minutes."

I said OK in the universal language and threw my bag in his trunk.

He careened through the narrow streets of Piza and got me to the square in time. I fired off 4 or 5 photos so I could truly say, been there, done that, got the photo to prove it and was back in his taxi in just under a minute. (I know that because all of the photos have the time stamp on them.)

We careened back to the train station and I got to the track with 5 minutes to spare.

What a way to see the country. Not to worry though, it wasn't Tuesday, I think it was Saturday.

I got in after dark to the town of Rapallo on the Italian Riviera. That's my hotel behind the castle.

I wasn't there much, especially since the very next day, New Year's eve I was set to start hiking along Italy's famous Cinqua Terra (5 Lands) coast.

We'll start there tomorrow.