Quick visit and lots of hill climbing

Finally did yoga and did it ever feel good – I was starting to feel a bit stiff and it did wonders. Went down into the village and got some fresh bread from the little supermarket – you just tell her which loaf you’d like and how large a piece and she cuts off a chunk for you.

Colin was meeting some friends across the road from the store at the other bar so I joined them – got complimentary pastries filled with custard and a bowl of peanuts. They came back up to see Colin’s house and then left on their way – both couples (Kay and Mike, and Barbara and Mike) have places in Italy, nearer to Rome and were on a small trip together to see other parts of the country.

Took Mo for a walk further up the hill past the bell tower and followed what I thought was a small road hoping it would take me over the hill and then west, but it turned out to be someone’s driveway so we had to turn back. There were some really good views of the area, though.

9345DD43-1751-422B-B878-0F002F8F6855Watched the first half of today’s Giro, then had to change the channel as usual. Colin was out helping Neil with the courtyard fence while I went with Mo back to the village to get a few things for dinner and watch the end of the stage at Poppy’s bar. When I walked in there were several older men watching a football match – they understood when I asked about the cycling and told me I’d have to wait until half-time which was about 10 or 15 minutes – Perugia was playing and it was a very important match that they just couldn’t miss. I understood about the importance to them – Perugia is the local team and of course they wanted to see the game.

Rather than wait until half-time and maybe miss the end of the race Mo and I hoofed it double-time back up the hill – of course she chose this time to stop and do some business. I didn’t have any proper doggie-doo bags with me so I improvised by using the bag that the onion had been in – luckily there was a receptacle part way up the hill so I didn’t have to carry it far. As any other cat person knows – we don’t have to do this for our babies!

Managed to catch the final 10 km or so of the race, then went back down the hill one more time with Colin to the bar. Sat outside and had a drink, then Neil joined us for a bit before going back up to the house – three trips down and up today and my legs are feeling it.

Had a nice mushroom and cheese omelette with Greek salad for dinner. Face-timed Dominic after dinner – Sly has been sleeping in my closet since I left, although he did venture back onto the bed last night. He had done all he could to keep me from leaving and is obviously missing me as much as I miss him. Merlin is much more independent but I know he misses me too.

I stayed awake longer than I should have – I just had to read a few more pages, then a few more of the James Patterson book I was reading – finished it just before midnight.

Demolition and Bunny Ears

After breakfast Colin went out for a meeting while I stayed at the house to help get things ready for the kitchen demolition. I removed everything from all of the cupboards and put the dishes in the cabinet that the previous owners had left and everything else stacked in a corner or on the table. I was still emptying the last cupboard when Neil was already tearing down the other ones.

D780F0F4-C6F5-4567-A9BC-F1D5FEB9A8ADWalked down to the bar with Colin to watch the end of the day’s Giro, then went with him to get some groceries in Marsciano. After that it was up to Perugia to the home supply store to check on the status of what he had ordered. Many things are there for pick up except for the stove hood that will be another week or so. There will be enough other things to keep Neil busy, though.

While cleaning out the cupboards earlier I had moved the tv antenna a few inches to the side so I could put some things on the window sill and it dramatically changed the tv’s reception – apparently it’s extremely sensitive and I totally messed it up. We all took turns trying to adjust it to little avail.

Had a late dinner of chicken curry over basmati rice, then fairly early to bed.

Friday morning I slept in a bit – jet lag catching up with me I guess. Colin and Neil went to Marsciano to pick up some stuff while I watched Italian tv – their coverage of the Giro is far more than what I got at home. There’s about 2 hours of pre-race stuff, including lots of info about the start and finish towns and sites along the route. I can understand less than half of what they say – they talk so fast – but I can usually get the gist of what they’re talking about. About half way thru the race there was what I thought was a really long commercial – I finally figured out that it was actually a different show and I had to change the channel to continue watching the race.

Neil managed to fix the tv reception – the antenna is now about a foot from where it used to be and the ‘bunny ears’ are in a completely different position but it works perfectly once again.

After the day’s race was finished we headed down to the bar for a couple of drinks. My first glass of wine was bit off so with the second I got a free bottle of water. Unfortunately I didn’t look at the label when I chose the bottle and was un-pleasantly surprised when I opened it and it was fizzy. I choked down a couple of gulps and gave the rest to Colin.

There are lots of cats in the village and Mo knows where every one of them are. She’s actually fairly unaggressive to most of them – if they run she’ll try to go after them but if they just sit and look at her she doesn’t seem to know what to do. The village has many beautiful little touches such as window dressings and old murals on walls. There are also parts of very old ruined walls covered with ivy here and there.

Back at the house we had pizza for dinner and another fairly early night.

Leaving home for Umbria

Left home at 8:15 on May 8th – beautiful morning and lovely views of the city and the lake as we flew over.

DCDBBD19-4E43-4546-924E-A16D242599EFThe wait in Vancouver was a bit long at almost 3 hours, and when they announced that there might not be enough room for all the carry-on luggage I checked my backpack for free – they assured me it would arrive in Rome they same time I would.

5D7A1803-5210-43F5-B3F4-3C23F7B957CCThe flight to TO was ok – great views of all of the mountains lakes and rivers between the coast and the AB boarder, then nothing but clouds most of the rest of the way. That’s ok – not much to see anyway. Watched a bit of tv, and a really interesting documentary about Hedy Lamarr. It did clear up as we approached TO, and got great views of the city – not nearly as spectacular as Vancouver, however, but then not that many cities are.

E7B88DA4-B50D-4827-A766-95A70691965AMet a couple of Cdns (from Vancouver Island) that were connecting to the same flight with me and they were pretty happy when I told them I knew where the train from Fiumicino into Rome was – we agreed to meet at the baggage area after we landed so they could follow me. The final leg of the journey to Rome was long but uneventful – watched several episodes of Big Bang, and couple of pretty funny movies. Again it was overcast almost the whole way but did clear up as we approached Rome.

Landed right on time and cleared customs no problem although the customs guy looked at my passport, and then gave me a funny look. I pointed to my now very short hair and he said ‘looks better now’ – I agreed.

Collected my two bags – the backpack did arrive safely, thank goodness. At least it didn’t get left behind in Canada like my bike did last year. Met Judy and Jeff (the two from the Island) as planned at the baggage collection place and we all headed to the exit and over to the trains. They ended up getting a shuttle bus into the city instead so we said a quick goodbye as I ran for my train.

I didn’t have much time to catch my connection to Foligno so I had to run what seemed like miles to the farthest track possible. In addition to the backpack I had, of course, my camera case over my shoulder and my other two bags that were tied together into one heavy, awkward package so it wasn’t easy – although it wasn’t as difficult as last year dragging the bike box so I shouldn’t complain. I tried to log into the station’s wi-fi but my ipad gave me a message that it wasn’t secure and I should log off. I quickly sent Colin a message about what train I was going to be on so he could meet me in Foligno.

I waited along with a couple dozen others for our train to board, but then there was an announcement that it wouldn’t leave for an hour. They had sent us all to the wrong track as the train we should have been on was slowly pulling out and passing us on the next track over. I confirmed several times with other folks that we were now waiting on the proper track for the proper train.

We did leave finally at 2:28 and it took just over an hour and a half to reach Foligno – I recognized some of the passing towns as it was the same route I took last year. Just before we reached Foligno it started raining – by the time we dis-embarked it was pouring pretty hard. Colin wasn’t there to meet me – I assumed he either didn’t get my message, or had met the train an hour earlier and I wasn’t on it. Hoping he was somewhere close by having a coffee or something I tried to find a place in the station with wi-fi so I could contact him – no luck.

The rain was really pounding down but I took a chance and lugged my bag across the road to the lovely little hotel I stayed at last year. It was a different front-desk guy but he was just as nice as Anil had been last year. He let me use their wi-fi so I could message Colin, who immediately responded and said to hang tight and he’d be here in about an hour – he hadn’t received my original message as they all arrived at once when I logged in at the hotel. The front desk fellow let me stash my bag and backpack in the hotel’s office while I went out to the old town to find something to eat.

It was still raining hard, but I was so soaked it didn’t matter any more. I found a very nice lady that directed me to a bank machine so I could get out some euros, then another lady directed me to a place where I could get a bit of wine. The store was closed but there was a shop next door that sold excellent cheese, prosciutto and – wine! I asked for ‘vino tinto’ and she looked very confused and I pointed and repeated ‘vino tinto’. There was a younger lady there that spoke english so I said I wanted some red wine – only then did I realize I had reverted to spanish (which was the last language I studied in full) – no wonder the older lady hadn’t understood me! The bottle had a cork so they opened it for me and stuck the cork back in so I could get it open later.

I then headed to the turkish kebab shop I had gone to last year and got the same thing – a huge donair wrap. I chatted with the owner while I waited and he was super happy when I told him I’d been to Turkey many years ago and loved it. I told him where I’d been, and recognized Agia Sofia on a poster on the wall – he thought it was great.

The rain was abating a bit by now and when I got back to the hotel I went into the courtyard (where I’d put my bike back together last year) and ate part of the donair and sipped wine from the bottle at a table under an awning while watching the end of the day’s Giro stage on tv thru the window.

Knowing that Colin’s campervan wouldn’t fit into their driveway I collected by bags and went out to the sidewalk to wait for him. I would highly recommend the Villa dei Platani to anyone that ever happens to be in Foligno – I have been there twice now while only actually staying the night the first time and both experiences were extremely pleasant. Both Anil the first time and the fellow the second time (didn’t get his name) were so helpful and kind right when I needed it.

8EDEFC26-EDDF-4EB1-B055-2B3581ED212EColin arrived and it was just like old times – found a 5 euro note on the ground right in front of the van and took it as a sign of good luck ahead.  Loaded my stuff into the van and hit the road for Papiano.

Had a lovely salmon and chips dinner, followed by a really nice shower and early bed. Colin’s friend Neil is here to do some renovations so he is using the guest room while I get Colin’s room. He and Mo are making use of the campervan that is parked down the hill a bit.

November 2 – Thursday

Was awake and up by 6:00, and Colin and the doggies walked me to the metro/train station to get the bus to the airport before 7:00. They stayed and waited until the bus left – I’m sure going to miss them!

Got to the airport in plenty of time, to find out that the flight to Toronto was almost 1 1/2 hours late. While I was waiting I got a nice Italian cappuccino, which I managed to spill all over the table, floor and my camera case when the case got caught on the table as I was trying to put my cup down. A lady at the next table gave me a couple of wet-wipes, and the cleaning lady was right there with her clothe and mop – all cleaned up in no time, although no nice cappuccino for me.

2C06D44E-8822-45D9-B5DC-994ED8D142D0The flight seemed very long – around 9 1/2 hours. They fed us a meal – the lady next to me got the last of the chicken so I got pasta by default – not too bad, although the ‘salad’ of mixed veggies was questionable. After a few more hours they came by again with some heated panini-type things that weren’t too bad – she gave us a veggie one each, then said they had some chicken ones left also so we each got a second one.

Got to Toronto with lots of time to catch the flight to Vancouver. They didn’t give us anything at all on the 5 1/2 hour flight – I could have bot something at inflated prices but figured I’d already spent enough on the flight and they weren’t going to get any more from me.

Landed a few minutes late, but okay for catching the final flight home. A couple of earlier flights had been cancelled due to the weather in Kelowna and ours was completely full with several folks waiting on stand-by. I was in seat 13A, so followed the rows to the back only to see that the last row was 12 – was I sitting in the galley (maybe on top of the wine cooler?!?). Nooo – the 13th row is right at the front – facing row 1, which makes a lot of sense – right? A really tall fellow sat next to me, but I leaned against the wall on my left and tried to sleep.

The pilot’s little speech was not reassuring – he said that right now the visibility for landing was not good, but they were going to hope it cleared a bit as we flew – it didn’t. We must have been just about there when he came on again to inform us that it had gotten worse and we were turning back to Vancouver.

As soon as we re-entered the terminal we all headed to the information desk where we were given pamphlets with a number to call to re-book our flights – I scurried to a pay phone and the first flight I could get isn’t until Saturday morning so I booked it, then ran to get the bag I’d checked in Rome – at least it was there and hadn’t been left in Toronto or something.

Found another pay phone and called Dominic – he knew the flight had been cancelled as he was at the airport to pick me up but, of course, I wasn’t there. Realized that face-time hadn’t worked for me as I still had my ipad on ‘airplane mode’ so switched that off so I wouldn’t have to use the pay phone anymore.

Dominic checked the highway news – some of the roads had been closed because of the storm earlier in the day. The really nice guy at the arrivals information desk let me plug my ipad in to his power outlet, and got the highway map up on his computer also – it showed that the Connector was closed, but Hwy 3 should be ok, so Dominic was going to hop in the car to come get me.

My 21 hour trip home just got a lot longer, so I headed to Tim Horton’s on the upper floor for some coffee to keep me awake. Several other folks doing the same thing, only they have flights for Friday morning, not Saturday. I asked for a cappuccino, and told them I’d just come back from Italy (the land of great coffee) so they better make it extra good – they did what they could, but it’s just not the same.

I managed to stay awake until Dominic arrived just before 8:00 Friday morning. The highway had been hell to drive – black ice everywhere, and snow blowing sideways making visibility almost zero.

But – he made it and was it ever good to see him coming towards me in the airport. Headed back immediately – roads were much better now. Stopped at Starbucks in Chilliwack for coffee and a bite to eat – took the Coquihalla which was in much better shape than it had been in the night.

9E1091F2-6890-4BED-B4B9-D3A09E4F56D2My first glimpse of the Lake as we came around the bend on the Connector was beautiful, as usual, despite (or maybe partially because of) the snow. The cold here was almost shocking to me – two days ago I was wearing shorts while walking along the sea. I hope this isn’t what it’s going to be like for the next four months.

Arrived home after about 38 hours of traveling – just exhausted. The kitties both were wary of me when I first walked in and ended up scooting out the window, but that didn’t last long. By the time I had showered and unpacked a bit Sly was ready to cuddle, and Merlin was squeaking for combs – home sweet home!

My trip was, overall, a resounding success – I enjoyed (almost) every minute, and had many wonderful experiences. Meeting Colin in Italy in the first week or so was a great coincidence (if you believe in them!) and the whole six months would have been considerably different for me if he hadn’t been so kind and generous towards me and allowed me to travel with him and the doggies – a huge thank you to him, and hope to see them again next May!

THE END – or at least bye for now. Look for Sally’s European Adventure – take 3 coming to a blog near you next May.

 

November 1 – Wednesday

Got out of the hotel a little earlier today – went first to the metro/train station where the shuttle bus to the airport leaves from so I could check out the times, etc. It leaves every half-hour starting at 5:30, and is only a 10 minute or less walk from the hotel.

Tried to get some cash from a bank but it was closed – a very kind Italian man told us today is a holiday here – all Saints Day, I believe – he was going to lead us across the bridge and to an ATM as he lived close to it, but then remembered a closer one that was only a block or two away. After that we walked to the seashore – or at least as close as we could get because of all of the private beaches. At one point there was a pier that was actually public, and was it ever crowded – it seemed that every third person had a dog or two that Mo and Ben had to bark at, although they weren’t always the aggressors.

There were dozens of ‘sand tennis’ type of games going on – two people per side, with racquets similar to table tennis, although slightly larger. There was also a ball game of some sort happening in the water, and one guy was fishing.

Stopped across the street for a nice cappuccino, then headed towards ‘home’ – stopped at a really nice restaurant for lunch, that Colin (once again) treated me to. It was very delicious – we both had the special of the day, which was pasta with swordfish and egg-plant. The wine was also very good. They use wine corks here too – the bread basket was made out of them, and there were ‘cork boards’ on the wall above some of the windows.

0F41292F-9099-4E8C-994D-8EC9371602E0Back at the hotel we sat on the outside terrace in the sun, across from the large park. Lots of kids were playing, and I didn’t actually hear any whining or crying – it was all happy sounds.

I think the doggies know I’m leaving – little Mo spent almost all of last night snugged up against me, and Bennie sat and cuddled on my lap several times today. I’m going to miss them so much, and I think they will miss me too.

74F3ED86-332E-4B00-BA46-CECE8166C176

 

October 31 – Tuesday

Got up fairly early but didn’t leave to go out until mid-morning. Had a nice cup of tea first, followed by breakfast and a second cup of tea before heading out for a walk to the beach. Went thru the park across the street from the hotel, then down one short street to the seaside.

AA233E38-4CE6-4698-92F1-FBB59AA99635A lot of the beach is ‘private’ and there are only certain places you can actually access the water at ‘free’ beaches. Passed one cafe that had a bunch of flags on it – at least the maple leaf was right-side up this time as opposed to the one we saw yesterday on the way into town that was hung upside down.

F83B604B-1A2F-4E77-AD10-E9F8D75D1676Walked along a ways until we came to a nice little cafe that we chose to stop at for a drink. By now the sun was out and I wished I had put on my shorts. Sat for a bit in the sun, watched the waves hit the shore – couldn’t decide whether the tide was coming in or going out. Planes coming in to land at the airport nearby were basically lined up on the same path every few minutes for awhile, then just stopped – guess the wind direction changed, or else all of the aircraft controllers were gone for a 3 hour lunch like most of the shopkeepers here do (just kidding – maybe they were joining the police for a quick donut break).

An Italian man sat down at the table next to us and the doggies both went over to make friends – they think anyone that’s nice to them has sausages or treats in their pockets just waiting to hand them out to cuties like them. We started chatting with him and ended up talking for over an hour. His name is Roberto and usually he has his red Irish setter with him but today he was alone. He’s now retired but is the former CEO of the largest book/printing company in Italy and has travelled extensively, including living for a couple of years in different countries. He and his wife (his third) have adopted two Ugandan orphans and are going to visit them soon.

 

He’s going to go to Baja California in January to see the whales that give birth there, then is going to Vancouver Island in June to see the whales there, and maybe some bears as well.

We had seen a cute cat that was curled up in a planter below us – it was watching a gecko that was on some steps – running back and forth trying to crawl up to the next step but slipping back down every time. At one point we noticed that the cat was no longer in the planter, but was walking at the bottom of the steps with the gecko’s tail hanging out of his mouth.

 

Shortly after Roberto left Colin and the doggies and I continued our walk, and stopped at another cafe back the way we’d come. We were sitting outside and enjoying the sea and the sunshine when poor little Bennie got sick. The bus-boy wasn’t very helpful – he indicated that he wasn’t going to clean it up, but at least gave Colin some paper towels.

BFC551BD-D370-4B7A-BB99-95C6BB3C22C1Some of the older buildings must have been really something many years ago – I imagine this place was a great weekend getaway for rich folks from Rome.

 

Back near the hotel we went to a store at the next corner but it was closed – that pesky 4 hour lunch again. Read news a bit, then went back to the store after 5 and it was open. Read more news, did some puzzles – another quiet evening.

 

 

October 30 – Monday

After breakfast and then checking out we walked down the stairs to the cafe and a cup of cappuccino. For some reason the wi-fi wasn’t working for me so I took the doggies for a short walk around and took a couple of final photos of San Venanzo.

5845E3B7-DBD1-48D6-B86E-E62E7E746DBBThe route we followed when leaving was mostly on quiet back roads and the countryside was very beautiful – many olive groves in mid-harvest with large green nets at the base of the trees. The first larger place we went thru was Orvieto, where we took the wrong road out and had to back-track a bit. Much of the town is on a high rock cliff that you can see for miles.

We kept heading southwest to the town of Bolsena, on the shore of Lago de Bolsena. The lake was lovely and the town looked, even in October, to be quite touristy. We drove along the eastern shore, and stopped at one point so I could take some photos. There was a war cemetery and the memorial indicated it was for Commonwealth soldiers. During WWII the Allies landed at Anzio to the south of Rome and I guess this was where a big battle or something happened a while later. There was also a monument to Piero Taruffi, an Italian motorcycle and race-car driver.

After leaving the lake we passed thru Viterbo, then Vetralla, and eventually could see the Sea in the distance. The countryside wasn’t quite as nice – mostly very flat and with more industry, and the weather had changed from sunny to overcast.

01E26813-429F-4B69-B143-E95F7256B801 Passed several portions of old an Roman aqueduct along the way to the actual seaside at Civitavecchia, which has a harbour for large ferries, etc. We drove south along a secondary highway and eventually passed the airport en route to our destination of Lido di Ostia.

At one point only a few km from Ostia the traffic slowed to a crawl, and it wasn’t just regular rush-hour traffic, but an accident. One car was bashed in on the side and had swung so it was completely blocking an exit to another highway, and another car was further along our road right on its side. Police had just arrived and were trying to sort things out – didn’t see an ambulance but don’t know how it would have gotten thru anyway.

CCBB3E8C-F1FB-430D-9CF4-84E54855FF97We managed to find a parking space close to the hotel that Colin had booked online, but no one answered the buzzer. There was a phone number so he called it but got no answer, although a few moments later Daniele pulled up in his car. He let us in and showed us the room – one large bed, but it looked like it could be pulled apart into two small ones. We went back downstairs to retrieve the rest of our luggage and the dogs, and when we got back up Daniele said – ‘oh, you wanted two beds, didn’t you – here, take this room instead’. It’s really nice and large with a double bed and a single one, a table and chairs, lots of floor space and a nice tiled bathroom. Outside the room there’s a complete kitchen for our use – fridge, stove, everything.

We got settled a bit and used the wi-fi, which is pretty fast with a strong signal. After a bit we took the little ones out for a walk and to get them some more food. By now it was almost dark, and the streets were getting very busy with people all over the place.

F057E095-35C6-4D31-B77F-A6F34AA112B7The hotel is very well located – only a couple of blocks (thru a park) to the sea in one direction, and 3 or 4 blocks to the metro station in the other – it has a shuttle-bus every half hour to the airport which is great – it’ll save Colin having to drive me in for my flight.

Had a fairly early night – didn’t even turn the tv on.