Saturday, March 31, 2007 was I?

Oh yes...the 2004 trip planning.

We were hoping to travel to Rome and back and spend about three weeks in Italy for $5,000. We decided to use air miles to get to the east coast from Seattle and reserved two round trip tickets from Seattle to New York on American Airlines. Cost us only 40,000 miles because we made these reservations very early...April or May...for an October trip. Coordinating a flight from NYC was pretty easy. We had decided to visit my wife's relatives in Baltimore for a few days on the way. With that challenge out of the way we booked on Iberia for the sum of $1,146 round trip, the two of us! We would arrive in NYC on Thursday, September 30th, spend Friday in the city, take the train mid afternoon, Friday, to Baltimore and spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday night in Towsen, MD.

We would finally leave for Rome Monday evening and arrive early Tuesday after a plane change in Madrid. (My wife's birthday was the day we arrived in Rome, October 5th). I will write about Towsen another day because the visit was certainly a big part of this first trip to Italy in 20 years. Sort of a warm up with my wife's Italian American family, Romans, all.

We arrived back in Manhattan by train late Monday afternoon, transferred to JFK and checked in for our 9:50 PM flight that was to arrive in Madrid about 6 in the morning, as I recall.

Jeannie was not a good flight passenger and had carefully planned that she would enjoy "assisted sleep" the entire Trans-Atlantic flight. In Madrid the next morning we passed through EU immigration and customs and took the merry bus ride around the Madrid airport to our flight bound for "Roma". Oh, I forgot to mention, on the Trans-Atlantic flight, I watched a movie...not being a regular world traveler I watched the entire movie in Spanish not knowing that by simply changing the channel I could have watched it in English...oh well...lesson learned...

We had planned one night in Rome and then a train ride to Venice. The train tickets were booked in advance (both the Amtrak to and from Baltimore and the TrenItalia from Rome to Venice)an easy, no sweat online transaction. In fact, both now issue e-tickets much like the airlines, with a confirmation number that one can print out at the moment of purchase.

Upon arrival in Rome we were a bit challenged by the train ticket kiosks so I think that we were able to buy our transfer (by train) from the Fiumicino Airport to Roma Termini (the main train station in Rome) at a tobacco stand in the airline terminal. I note that last year (2006) the yellow ticket kiosks seemed much more user friendly with many languages available to explain the ticket purchase. Maybe they were like that in 2004 but I simply do not recall.

The hotel we had booked for that first (Tuesday) night in Rome was a mere 300 meters from the train station so upon arrival at Termini we set out on foot and negotiated the three blocks without incident (in fact, our entire trip was without negative incident, much thanks to Rick Steves guide books, DVDs and advice). Our hotel was the Dolimiti, again, booked in advance, online through the web site. I have read numerous reviews of hotels online and the Venere sites reviews by persons who have stayed in the hotels listed, seem accurate at least as to the hotels we have booked from that site. I highly reccommend this web site as a supplement to any respected guide book and perhaps the prices might even be better than the guide books promise?

After check-in we asked the hotel to send us to a local neighborhood restaurant and were delighted by the experience. I only wish I could remember the name of the place but I can tell you that it was located on the south side of Via S.Martino della Battaglia about 100 meters east of the Dolomiti, upstairs just a few steps to the main dining room. The place is run by brothers and the clientele is definitely local!

After sa fine dinner we enjoyed the evening strolling around Rome, to Trevi Fouintain, and along the Via del Corso to the Piazza Republica and back to our hotel by midnight. Oh! Did I mention...dinner in Rome is easily taken after nine PM and the city does not seem to quiet down until well after midnight. We have found Rome to be a safe environment in all of the areas we have wandered inside the old city walls. We are by no means Rome experts but I believe that if one stays on the main streets, is alert to what is going on around them and is diligent about not over imbibing in drink, no harm will befall them.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Starting the quest...

I am thinking about my two recent trips to Italy and planning the next one, but in the meantime, where will we live when we retire? At first glance, I thought that perhaps Umbria near or around Foligno. Our friends from Assisi thought that there might be some RE bargains there and in fact, actually found a couple of homes for us to view during our October 2006 trip. Well, not only did we not get to Foligno, but we didn't even get to Assisi for more than a half day and we completely missed our friends family (who were expecting us for dinner on Sunday the 21st or Monday the 22nd for lunch). We really felt like idiots because we could not find the restaurant.
But I digress...I actually was hoping to get started telling you all about our last two trips to Italy...

It all started in early 2004 while we were assisting with an adult confirmation class at out parish in Seattle. One of the participants in the class was a young Italian who was married to a Seattle girl and who wanted to marry in the church in Assisi later that year. Well, we started talking about how we would love to get back to Italy (we had been there in 1984, so it had been 20 years) and the newly weds invited us to their wedding scheduled for October 14 of that Italy! We thought, what the heck...a darned good reason to take a dream planning to spend three wonderful weeks in Italy for less than $5,000!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

...just wanted to add...the pictures in the first post are Assisi and Venice (who could guess) and here are a few more...

2004 Trip to Italy; The Planning

It is too late today to get this thing going but feel free to link and come back later this week to see what has been added...I am going to write only about Italy and things Italian and I am not going to bore anyone with my prejudices or preferences. I hope to tell a story that will stir your interests and entertain with our experiences. Stay tuned...