Back in our house in Guilderland, NY

We are back home! Again, everything went pretty smoothly. Kayla took us for a walk on the east side of NYC Saturday morning. The east river is not nearly as pretty as the Arno:



But it did have a dog park:


In Italy they take their dogs to the small parks around the city and let them loose. I learned early on to look carefully where you trod when walking on the grass in an italian park. As I was walking in NYC I tried to note the differences. NYC is certainly bigger than Florence, and it was nice to have wide sidewalks and hear English spoken again. It also made me hesitate to see a door with ‘Push’ written on it. I have been seeing ‘Spingere’ or ‘Tirare’ for a long time now. Overall I am glad to be back home.

No problems getting the train at Penn Station, but I like the assigned seating of Italy better then the long lines waiting to get on the train from Penn. Also, the Amtrac trains are noticeably slower than the trains in Italy. We had a little entertainment on the train from a drunk passenger. Why is it that drunks feel they must talk so loud?

Joe and Kara picked us up at the train station in Rensellaer and got us back home. I greeted George (our cat) who seemed to be a little upset at us for being gone so long. I am feeding him his favorite cat food and he seems to be starting to like me more. The gauge I use is the more cat hairs I have on my cloths the more affectionate George is.

Joe had cleaned out all the food in our refrigerator so I took the opportunity to take out all the shelves and clean them. I did a good job, but I was too tired to do the blog last night so I am doing it Sunday morning. Anne went to bed early, but I stayed up to watch the Syracuse basketball game. Why can’t Syracuse play that tough hustling defense every game? Good defense can almost always defeat poor free throw shooting.

I don’t know whether I will be continuing this blog or not, but probably not. So to summarize, I loved my time in Italy but it is nice to be home now. We may go back to do the southern part of Italy some day, but I can’t see myself living there. I was able to speak enough italian so that I could be understood, but I would really have to work hard to understand someone else speaking italian to me.

Let me end with the fact that I lost 5 pounds in Italy! That is correct, I LOST weight! We ate at least 3 meals a day and we ate quite a bit of delicious food, but we ate healthier and we did a lot of walking. That is the only explanation I can come up with for now. I guess the next time I need to lose weight I will just have to schedule another long trip. It certainly beats counting calories.

Bye folks. Thanks for following the blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Ritorniamo (we are back)

We are back in the good old US of A. That is, if you consider NYC part of the US. We are staying at Kayla’s apartment tonight and will be in Albany tomorrow. Nothing all that exciting to report about the trip. I got to see the movies Argo and most of Lincoln. Both movies were enjoyable.

The worse thing that happened was that Anne had 9 Cheese slicers confiscated from her carry on bag. Also the customs line in NYC took over an hour. Otherwise things went fairly smoothly.

Here is the plane we flew on. It is an Airbus A330 and has 8 seats going across.


Here are the Alps from the plane.


I am going to bed now even though it is only 10pm since my body thinks it is 3am.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Il nostro ultimo giorno (our last day)

Today is our last full day in Italy and wouldn’t you know that this is also the warmest day we have seen. It is easily in the 60’s, the sky is clear, and there is a slight breeze. A perfect spring day! We decided to walk over to the duomo and have gelato. I wanted to take some last pictures before we left. Here is the infamous shower that Anne finally mastered. Note that the handle in the center is missing.

These are the stairs that gave us some extra exercise. This is a guess, but I believe that I actually lost weight over here. We will see when I get home.



Count corks to see how much wine we drank in this apartment. That doesn’t count all the wine that we drank outside the apartment.


I went through my blog today and I realized that I didn’t have many pictures of the duomo. We passed this landmark almost every day and toward the end I was scoffing at all the tourist gawking at it. The crowds around the duomo have been getting bigger every day and I would say that we are no longer in the off season. Here is the Florence Cathedral, the baptistery, and the bell tower.




Here is a shot of the magnificent dome. I am sorry to say that I never got to climb to the top of it. My knees were not up to it.


And here is a statue that shows why it’s official name is the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower.


I should also show what will probably be our last gelato in italy


The rest of the day we will be cleaning the apartment and then off to dinner. Hopefully we will get a good night sleep tonight for our long day tomorrow. The next blog entry will hopefully be from the good old US of A. Ciao.

Posted in Italy | Leave a comment

Sto bene (I am feeling good)

I seem to mostly be over my cold. All that lingers is a cough. Anne and I just got back from Kitsch, the place for apertivo. This is the best deal in Italy. For 9€ you get a drink and all you can eat from the buffet. I think of it as an all you can eat buffet, but the Italians more consider it someplace to have a drink and snacks before you go out and actually have dinner. Our last plates were nothing but deserts with cheese cake being our favorite. We were planning on returning to the Cat and the Fox restaurant, but it was raining too hard for such a long walk. Hopefully tomorrow.

This was a pretty boring day with us trying to figure out how we are going to pack for the return trip. When Anne told me she filled her carry on bag with nothing but souvenirs and gifts, I got a little worried. We had no extra space when we came, so how are we supposed to go back with extra stuff. I wore out some pants and socks, so I will toss those. Anne bought a bigger purse in Venice, and that will help. The funny story about the purse is that Anne actually negotiated a lower price on the purse, but when the guy lowered his eyes, looked sad, and said we would make no profit on this sale; Anne felt sorry for the guy and gave him the full price. That soft heart (some might say soft head) is one of the things I like about her.

Since nothing exciting happened today I will tell another story that happened yesterday. We were wandering around the streets of Venice looking for a place to eat lunch yesterday. Everyplace was expensive, so I figured the more we got off the beaten track (in other words the more lost we got) the better chance we had to try some authentic non-tourist food. Be aware it is quite easy to get lost in Venice. Most street signs are missing, the streets wind around, they go underground, and heaven help you if you get to water and there is no bridge in sight. Anyways we stumble into a little place and I order a tuna and egg sandwich (surprisingly good combination) but Anne doesn’t know what to order. So she says to our waiter give me 6 bite size things on a plate, whatever you think is good. So the guy hands her this plate:


Be aware that the egg has anchovies on it, the one at 11:00 is the bottom of an artichoke, and that is a baby octopus at 3:00 on the plate. Venice is noted for its sea food, but I wouldn’t have ordered any of this stuff. Anne ate every bit of it and said everything was delicious. I couldn’t imagine eating that plate, so my wife definitely gets the prize for being the more adventurous eater.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Venezia (Venice)

Today Anne and I went to Venice. This will probably be our last big adventure before we head home. Today was St. Joseph’s Day in Italy which is like our Father’s Day. They gave discounts on the train if a man was traveling with someone else, so Anne got to go for free. We lucked out on this, since it also was a beautiful clear day in Venice.

The train let us off at the Santa Lucia train station and they don’t have taxi cabs in Venice, so we took a Vaporetto. Here is what they look like.


In fact the only cars I saw in Venice were being transported by boat. So there must be cars somewhere in Venice, but I never saw one on the road. It is nice to walk the streets and not worry about cars or motorcycles.

Here are some pictures I took from the vaporetto:



The vaporetto let us off at Piazza San Marco. This piazza is sometimes under water, but luckily today the water was below flood level by around 8 inches. In fact they have platforms they use specifically when it floods. They looked to me a little like picnic tables without seats. They came in real handy when we were tired and wanted to sit down. Here is the Basilica of Saint Mark, the Doge’s Place, the clock tower, and the campanile (bell tower):



Can you guess which one the Italians call the birthday cake?

We went inside St. Mark’s Basilica and they said no pictures, but I snuck a couple on my cell phone. This church is also quite unique. It is covered with gold mosaics. The story Rick Steves tells is that Venice made their money trading goods between the east and west, so the church was influenced by many cultures. The other story is that a couple of Venetian merchant took St. Mark’s body and they built the church to house his bones.






And of course I have to show a gondola and the Bridge of Sighs.



After we got back to Florence Anne and I were still hungry, so we stopped at McDonalds for a BigMac, fries, and drink. I asked for root beer and the girl said all they had left was Peroni. So I thought if that is all they have, I’ll take it. Little did I know they would give me a can of beer (4.7% alcohol). I also learned that ketchup costs .20 euros.


Posted in Italy | Tagged | 1 Comment

Non sto bene (I have a cold)

Yesterday afternoon I came down with a miserable cold so I decided to take it easy today. Tomorrow we go to Venice and I want to save my energy. Kayla caught a cold out here and was sick for over a week. I am hoping this is just a 24 hour bug.

No matter how sick I am I had to go out this morning for fresh pastries for breakfast. I may try to continue this practice when I get back. For lunch Anne heated up the sauce that Kayla and Sam made for us when they were here and we had macaroni. We have pretty much emptied the freezer now and are working on the fridge. We just got back from dinner at our favorite pizza place. Eileen: we had the vegetariana again.

I finished the third book from the Game of Thrones series and I am ready to move on to the next book. I guessed right that Tyrion would be saved, but I never would have guessed the two acts he performs as he is escaping. I wonder who will be the next hand?

Bye for now. Hopefully we will have some nice pictures tomorrow from Venice.

Posted in Italy | 3 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day

Today was St. Patrick’s day and I was determined to find a place that served Corned Beef and Cabbage. I searched the Internet and found Finnigans which is supposed to be the most authentic Irish bar in Florence, since it is Irish owned. We did find it, and it was open, but the only food they served was hot dogs; so we decided to look elsewhere. We found a nice little restaurant, Ristorante il Cardellino. A cardinello is a European goldfinch with a different coloring than our goldfinches. Again the food was good. I ordered grilled swordfish and a side of beans (Fagioli in olio). Anne had spaghetti and a side salad. She also discovered that she likes Italian ice tea with lemon.


Afterward we did some grocery shopping but we have to be careful and not get too much since we are leaving in 5 days. We just finished dinner where Anne made fried potatoes and eggs. I learned this dish from my grandmother who used to feed it to me on Wednesday afternoon when I would go over and visit with her. My mother makes the best fried potatoes, but Anne comes pretty close. I used to think that Schoharie potatoes were that best, but after tasting the ones in Italy I have elevated these to the best. This is one of only about 4 things that I know how to cook, but Anne took charge today.

I also mailed some post cards to friends and family. I had bought the cards and postage long ago and it slipped my mind to actually send them along. My guess is we will arrive home before the cards reach their destination, but the last time it only took 5 days, so you never know.

It is back to rain so I don’t see us going out any more tonight. I should be able to finish the book A Storm of Swords tonight. I hope Tyrion Lanister keeps his head, but right now I don’t see any hope, unless someone helps him escape.

Posted in Italy | Tagged | 1 Comment