Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milano Musings

For whatever reason, I don't have trouble calling Firenze, Florence; or Roma, Rome; but I can't seem to call Milano, Milan. I have no idea why. Maybe because I never heard it called anything much before going there, and so it remains Milano in my mind.

At any rate, I spent the night in a hotel that I would not especially recommend. What saved the evening there was having dinner at a table next to the only other dinner guest at that time, a man from Scotland who was quite friendly and clearly enjoyed having someone to speak English with. He gave me great advice about visiting Scotland and specifically the Isle of Skye, which I truly hope to do someday, as we have ancestry ties to a castle there.

And then the server was so sweet. She was clearly glad that I spoke Italian! At one point in the evening, when I apologized for not knowing the word for something and attributing it to my tiredness, she said that she was also very tired and had been having trouble sleeping and was thinking about switching to a night shift since she's always awake at night, anyway.

She spilled the water at one point, and later dropped a glass, which shattered on the tile floor. I felt an immediate bond with her.

So, exhaustion aside (I never am able to sleep on planes), it was an enjoyable evening, and I went to bed happy and beginning to feel as if I really were on vacation.

Next morning, a shuttle to the airport, and a bus ride to the most beautiful train station I've ever seen. You really should take a moment to enlarge the pictures and look at the detail.

The ceiling in the "Sala di Attesa," the official waiting room, is just wonderful. Makes sitting around and waiting much easier.

I couldn't help but notice, though, how somebody apparently didn't appreciate the history and tradition as much as I did. Otherwise they would not have put an ugly digital screen right where they did, with its brightly colored advertisements.

This became a theme on much of my trip. In another area of the station, I saw this exit sign surrounded by a beautiful mosaic .  . .

. . . but had to work hard to really see it what with all the glossy ads surrounding it.

Eventually it was time to board the train, and then I knew for sure I was no longer at home. Riding a train is just not part of life around where we live. Now I was heading for another home. Physically still tired, but my spirit was beginning to wake up!

It just occurred to me as we were stopping at Bologna, I think, that many of my friends stateside have probably never had the expeience of riding a train and looking over at the nextdoor train. So I took a picture.

And this, such a familiar sight, is something many Americans have never seen. And the sky was beautiful, so I took another picture.

And soon I was in a less beautiful train station. But that will wait for another post.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The calendar was way too crowded for me to even realize that I would be arriving in Florence on Friday the 13th. I didn't realize that until yesterday, I believe. Looking back at it that way, though, it kind of makes sense of the fact that I had an intense migraine on both of the two days before I left. And our air conditioner went kaput the same day the first migraine began.

And in the week before leaving, work was intense. I was packing in extra sessions, meeting with dogsitters who were new and needed "orientating," doing last-minute shopping, etc. Oh, and trying to find a new (used) car, because my registration would expire three days after my return, and my car has been on probation all this year due to some minor leaks that were detected at the last inspection.

For weeks people had been saying, when hearing about the trip, "Oh, aren't you exicted?" And I could not honestly say that I was. It just felt like a huge list of tasks that had to be taken care of because soon I would be leaving. I was encouraged by hearing a friend say, "I never feel like I'm going on a vacation  until I'm actually sitting in the plane and there's no way I can do anything else, even if I've forgotten something."

That's how it was. I wound up doing all my packing the same day I left and sending a note apologizing to our dogsitters for the house not being clean.

But I made it! And once I was on the plane, yes, I did feel excited. Mostly I felt relieved, actually. Relieved to leave it all behind for a while.

So, I left after my sweet husband drove me to the airport. (He had taken two days mostly off work to be at home and help the a.c. fellow try to fix our system, only to conclude that we'd have to buy a whole new unit.)

Flew from Memphis to Newark.

In the Newark airport I bought a book of "Good Poems for Hard Times," edited by Garrison Keillor. I've really enjoyed it. I also bought some ice cream. Still fearful of migraines, and my head had started hurting. The ice cream must have done the trick, though. No migraine for at least a week.

It was getting to be dusk by the time we left Newark.

And although this didn't turn out well at all, it was neat to see the NYC skyline as we were taking off.

And the sun went down, as we think of it. I almost never sleep in planes, and this time was no exception. But I had a nice person to sit next to, good poems to read, and the night passed gently.

And in the morning....not quite the NYC skyline! Something much more impressive! I love flying over the Alps. They are simply amazing. Beautiful and, well, they command respect. You wouldn't want to get lost around there.

So, flying over the Alps means Milano is not far away. And that work and needing a new car and broken air conditioners and a messy house are far, far, far away.

At this point I really felt like the vacation had begun. And I was also really tired! As I am right now, so that'll be it for tonight. Buona notte!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


And here's the same view from the same door, two years later than the previous one was taken. This is taken from the interior of the church of San Miniato al Monte, one of my favorite places to be. I left Italy on Friday and am now in Croatia, but given that I don't consider sitting at a computer one of my preferred vacation activities, more about both countries will likely wait until I get home.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012