Thursday, June 18, 2009

Black Beauty

Hi everyone! I originally had envisioned updating this weekly… that didn’t work out and so I thought monthly. Well, now it’s down to quarterly or maybe every 6 months. Oh well…here goes another one anyway. I’ll try to just hit the high points and not make it too lengthy.

In my last blog I mentioned what a difference a good place to live made after R and I moved into our new home near ‘downtown’ Rovigo. (Yes, I’m changing from Artichoke Heart to R.) Adding to that – what a difference good weather makes. Spring here i
n Rovigo began in March; the temperature turned warm, the flowers, trees, and roses started to bloom, the winter wheat and corn growing, and the sunlight longer. The flowers and trees were/are simply beautiful – reminds me a lot of Shreveport in the spring. Rovigo must be somewhat of a rose capital because there are roses in everyone’s yard and all over the city and countryside. I’ll have to say if you ever come to Italy, do it in the springtime. They also have a lot of linden trees which I wasn’t familiar with before but they bloom and have a very fragrant flower on them and they’re everywhere.

At the beginning of April R & I spent 5 days in Paris. I don’t think you can do that city justice in any less time. I think we saw everything there was to see, not, and since it was springtime it was simply gorgeous. The food – in a word - oo la la. Chocolate crepes are my new favorite food, well, second to Mexican food. Thank goodness they don’t have them here. I have 2 tips regarding Paris:

1. the Musee D’Orsay is as good if not better than the Louvre. The building itself is prettier and the paintings you see there are phenomenal. Even people with no culture (R & I) were able to tell why the Monet’s, Manet’s, etc. were brilliant artists.

2. Take one or more ‘Fat Tire Bike Tours’. R found these people on the internet and since he had never been to Paris we figured it might be a good way to see the ‘big picture’ and get our bearings on the first day. We took the 3 hour guided bike tour that takes you by (not in) a lot of the main attractions. Had so much fun we did the day-long Versailles bike tour 2 days later. About 10 people schlepping our bikes on a train to Versailles (a woman hit me in the back as she was getting off the train! On purpose! It was a very crowded train.) We arrived around 10 in the morning, everyone went to the local market and bought bread, meat, cheese, wine, etc. (the wine was mandatory according to our tour guide.) Then we toured the grounds on our bikes and stopped for lunch by the Grand Canal. Afterwards we toured the palace then schlepped our bikes back on the train to return to Paris. No assaults on the return trip. Fat Tire Bike Tours is American-owned so the language was easy to understand and the tour guides were mostly kids just out of college who want to live overseas and I suppose learn the language. You Aggies will be impressed to know there was a big Texas A&M flag hanging in their office. They give these tours in Paris, London, Barcelona and Berlin. I highly recommend it if you’re ever in one of those cities. We had a blast.

Not really related but I guess a good segue from the Paris trip – I am now the proud owner of an Italian vehicle - a bicycle. Italian-designed, I don’t know where it was made. My own version of a Ferrari or Lamborghini – really more like their Fiat/Chrysler. Her name
is Black Beauty. It’s the preferred method of transportation here in Rovigo and what with our new home location it’s only a short 3-5 minute commute to work. Eat your hearts out Houstonians! Picture shown – hate my hair in that picture – I got it cut the next day. And the horizontal stripes aren’t flattering so only look at the bicycle.

Let’s see…other places we’ve been. Verona - Birthplace of Romeo and Juliet (the Italians, not the Australians.) Fictitious though they are, Juliet’s balcony draws quite a crowd. Nice little city center, very touristy, souvenir stands. We went there on our way to a golf course near Lake Garda - but first had lunch at McDonalds, yum. We haven’t been many other places for 3 reasons. One is I work. Two is because we would have to board It if we went anywhere overnight and three because we’ve found golf again! We’ve finally found a decent course for a decent price within 30 minutes of the house so every weekend we’re on the course, honing our skills. We’ll be watching Tiger and Phil at the U.S. Open this weekend. Bill, Mitch, how are your games coming along?

This week we have a big trip planned. We’re boarding It and Them and taking off to Istanbul (not Constantinople) – does anyone know that song? - to see Anastasia, Randu, and Grey Bear. We’re very excited about it and I hope to bring back some cool souvenirs.

Ok, that’s all for now. Let me hear from you! And as they say here in It'ly - Ciao Ciao