Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Atlanta -- Sept. 2, Day 0

Hi everybody,

Back to work after taking Monday off. I hope you got to as well.

Welcome to the last post before I get on the plane (which is about 6 hours from now and at least half that time will be spent sitting in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ... those of you who've been there will know how fun that is). It'll be my first time flying out of the International Terminal (Terminal E), though, so there's at least a ... very small ... sense of adventure. I wonder if the food is any better or the waiting-area seats more comfortable ... Is it like getting a ticket to club seats at Turner Field or Philips Arena where the vendors are just a little bit nicer and the beer slightly colder ... or is just an extra 10 or 20 or 30 more minutes on the lovely airport shuttle? I guess we'll see.

I don't think I've talked much about where our group is going. Well, it's about time I do that. Below is the itinerary for Italy's Magnificent Lake District and it, like our destination, is pretty cool.

Sept. 2-3, Days 0-1, Atlanta, Frankfurt, Milan, Baveno: After meeting about one-third of our group here in Atlanta, Scott and I will take the group flight, landing first in Frankfurt tomorrow morning, then after a layover on to Milan. After we get to Milan, we board a shuttle to our hotel in Baveno near Lake Maggiore (feel free to surf to a map of Italy, it'll help). That night, after meeting up with the rest of our travel group, we have a welcome reception at the Lido Palace Hotel, our base of operations for the journey. I have a cheat sheet listing which wines I'm supposed to drink, but what I'll probably do is ask for suggestions. I'm a bit of a work in progress when it comes to pairing wine with food. I'm SURE someone will take me on as a project.

Sept. 4, Day 2, Baveno, Intra, Pallanza: A walking tour of three storybook villages on Lake Maggiore kicks things off.

Sept. 5, Day 3, The Borromean Islands: Jewels of Lake Maggiore ... Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori. The architecture dates back to the 16th century. We'll have lunch on the islands, too. That will probably be a bit fresher.

Sept. 6, Day 4, Milan: After wandering quaint, remote villages and islands, the group is thrown smack-dab into the middle of one of Europe's most vibrant cities. We'll see art both classic (da Vinci's The Last Supper) and contemporary (fashionable boutiques on every street corner). I've left space in my suitcase for souvenirs ... don't worry, the painting won't fit.

Sept. 7, Day 5, Baveno: Technically, a day on our own. There will be an optional boat trip to Stresa, on Lake Maggiore. We'll see what happens. I like improv.

Sept. 8, Day 6, Tremezzo, Bellagio, Como: We leave Maggiore for Lake Como and the villages surrounding. One of the things I'm most looking forward to is the drive over, actually. I was thinking about this the other day driving through my neighborhood. I have no idea was homes in Italy look like. Like where regular people live. Whenever I travel in the States, I really enjoy taking a jaunt through neighborhoods to see regional differences ... the alleyways in old Midwestern neighborhoods, where my parents grew up; the lack of grass out West ... I just think it's neat to see. While looking out the shuttle window I just hope I don't leave nose prints like my mom's Sheltie. But it could happen.

Sept. 9, Day 7, Lake Orta: If we thought 16th century architecture was classic, the 4th century basilica here will blow us away. The "arrivederci reception" closes out the trip that night.

Sept. 10, Day 8, Baveno, Milan, Frankfurt, Atlanta: Depending on how the reception goes I may just blow off sleep. Our flight to Germany leaves at 7:00 a.m. We'll need to be up and out the door several hours before. I'm sure that will go well. We're back in Atlanta late in the afternoon. Yeah, jetlag!

OK ... so that's the trip ... I'll check back in when we get to Frankfurt ... at least that's the plan.

Oh, and one more thing, I'm at home this morning writing this ... something I don't get to do too much. I like being home being home during the day ... it's peaceful ... even though I live in condo complex. You can relax.

Except today. Well, several days, actually

Seemingly the last five times I've had a rare day at home to enjoy several cups of coffee from my own coffee maker and the sun peeking in through my own blinds and my porch door open to let in the slightly humid but still refreshing breeze ... somebody is here mowing ... the ... lawn. And using ... a gas-powered ... leaf blower.

My windows are rattling. And it smells like I'm standing behind a 1977 Buick. We're still in a drought in Atlanta it's not like there is even grass to blow.

Anyway, I know that didn't have anything to do with anything ... but this is a blog, isn't it?