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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 10, 2015

Monday - Arrevederci to Firenze!

so it goes Before I head into my last report of the trip, I forgot to tell you another accomplishment on my list of things to do while in Italy.  I’ve read about and even seen a cooking show or two that made a dish using wild boar.   It’s kind of a big deal in Italy - the hunt, the cooking, the eating - and so I thought that was something I should have some day.  Well, when I was in Fiesole and getting peckish, I started looking for a restaurant.  Around the piazza where the bus had dropped us off, there was a row of them all with tables outside and all having that “welcome tourists” look - I looked at the menus and I’m sure it would have been good enough eats, but I decided to venture up the street a little.  I came to a restaurant that didn’t look all touristy and what made me decide to eat there was the handwritten sign in the window that said “no spaghetti!” “no pizza”!!  I thought okay, this is local.  I don’t think they even had a menu outside which is unusual but in I went, looked at the menu and there was penne with wild boar sauce.  I tried to ask the waitress about boar meat - was it strongly flavored (thinking of our venison and game meats) but I couldn’t think of any good words.  She called the chef out and I asked him the same thing - is the mean strongly flavored?  He gave me such a nice smile and said “the mean, it is beautiful”.  So that was it for me.  I ordered it, being a little worried that it might be a real tough meat to chew but…Got a big basket of various breads, and a glass of red wine.  And it was delicious - fork tender and just the right amount of meat.  So, write it down - I’ve had boar meat!

So, on to Monday.  I had done all the packing I could on Sunday night but at some point Sunday had thought of a neat idea for my three kiddies who are so patient and helpful with their old Mama.  And so I worried around about how I would get it home if I bought it cause my suitcases were crammed pretty full.  Decided I would go to the post office as soon as they opened, see if they had boxes like we do in ours, and then go shopping.  But I woke up early, started worrying over it some more and figured I would go shopping first - the place I wanted to pick things up opened early in the morning.  So I did that and by then had decided that I would also go to the street corner guy who sells really cheap suitcases and buy the smallest one he had so I did that and voila - the neat idea for the kids and a way to get it home.
That all took awhile and so I had a leisurely, late-ish breakfast and then strolled down to the Duomo to see how it was doing.  It was doing beautifully and there was a lot going on because Pope Francis (or Papa Francesco as he’s called there) was going to arrive at the Duomo Tuesday for a convening of something.  Many broadcasting trucks, a raised platform for photographers of probably newspapers, many police cars, hanging banners, 5 ambulances all ready and waiting, and I even saw two vehicles marked “carabaneri anti-sabotage”.  Took a few pictures of that…

And then I wandered some more and just took as many pictures of the Duomo as I wanted to without thinking “gee, do you really need more?” cause yes, I do.  I love it.   Here are some…

Strange as it may seem, I think this is one of my favorite photos I've taken of the Duomo.  Actually all three of these are new views for me I think unless I'm forgetting earlier trips and I'm happy with all of them, but especially this one.

I took this last one to give some idea of the size of the building.  That's a normal, tallish man walking there and that's just the start of the Duomo behind him.  It is such a presence!

and here’s a disappointing  picture that I actually asked someone to take of me.  I’m standing in front of a statue of Brunelleschi (the genius who designed and built the duomo) which I had never noticed before - too busy looking the other way at the cathedral, bell tower and baptistery I guess.  They were taking pictures of each other and I offered to take one of them together which I often do and usually the people ask do I want one of me.  I don’t know if they understood me but they waved their hands no, no so I got bold and indicated I’d like them to take one of me in front of the statue.  Just in case they understood anything I was saying, I said it was because I love Brunelleschi.  So the woman took it and I guess they must think that the important thing is to get from head to toe of the person in the picture whether that cuts off some of the thing they’re standing beside, in front of, or whatever cause one picture she took already had a tiny bit of his head missing and was SO crooked, that I opted for the second one that had a tiny bit of space above his head to allow me to correct the crooked a tiny bit.  So here is crooked me standing by crooked Brunelleschi,  I’ve also posted a picture I took of the statue by itself and to me the expression on his face is just perfect - sort of like “I did that and it’s just the way I envisioned it!” And I checked - stood right in front of him and looked up and he is looking right at the dome.

And then as I left the area, just a few more … and arrivederci Duomo once again.

If anything else of any interest happened on Monday, I can't remember what it was.  I had to get to the airport by around 6:15 or so for my flight to Barcelona and managed to do that like I was a professional traveler (not the norm for this trip).  I scoped it all out beforehand - where the bus stop was, the best way to get to it, what time it ran, etc.  Got my flight with no problem and had to wait a bit in Barcelona for the shuttle to the hotel (plus figure out where the heck the stop was), got there and it was an okay room (certainly larger than what I'd had in Florence, but nothing to eat somehow and I was hungry.  But c'est la vie as they say in France where I wasn't.  Got up in plenty of time to get the shuttle to the Barcelona airport for my flight to Philadelphia, got through the hell of getting off the plane, walking a mile to customs, getting through customs (always kind of nerve-wracking - one feels like one might get "caught"), then getting my checked suitcase, and handing it over shortly after because I was on a connecting flight, and then finding out that my connecting flight had been cancelled.

Which brings me to the present which is sitting in a restaurant at the airport in Philly having had a fair amount of wine and a chicken quesadilla nowhere near as good as Applebee's and wondering if I'll be lucky and get the 8:30 flight to Baltimore or unlucky and get the 10-something flight.  This has been my first real bad luck with air travel and it is not pleasant.  However, the wine has helped and really, there's nothing I can do about any of it.

So, welcome home to me and I look forward to being back in my own "nest".

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