Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baveno -- Sept. 3, Day 1 (Part 2)

Our first dinner in Italy consisted of four courses: an appetizer of dried beef and arugula, then locally made pasta, then an entree of veal or swordfish (I had the swordfish), followed by dessert. The chocolate cake was spectaular, the gelato even better. Diners also had their pick of white or red wine and the glasses were basically bottomless. Our group, which totals more than 40 ... we have a few other schools on the trip ... was spread out among 6 tables or so. The best I could compare it to is the atmosphere of a wedding reception. Without the Chicken Dance.

After the food was done, guests bounced from table to table introducing themselves to their fellow travelers. It was a perfect opening. Everyone seems to know everyone else or at least knows a friend of everyone else. Not ony does it feel like a wedding reception, it has a bit of a reunion feeling as well.

One of the great things about this trip (and most Emory Travel Program trips) is that a majority of the meals are included in the purchase price. If your destination is a culinary dreamworld like Italy, the value is doubled.

I am still getting to know our travelers, but I know this much so far ... every one of them has a fascinating story. Many of them, of course, involve travel. There was one couple who has been on 14 Emory Travel Program trips. Other couples are on their second or third trip this year. Many travelers graduated from Emory in the 1960s and earlier. Their recollections of campus are so crisp, it is like they were students yesterday.

The Lido Palace Hotel, in whose lobby I an writing this, will be home for the next 8 days. I am looking forward to exploring it. Tonight, though, all the exploring will be inside since it is raining outside and has been for the last five hours. It is a little damp in here, too, but not uncomfortable. In the lounge there is a pool table (a full-size one, too, not the kind you used to find at Park Bench). Inviting travelers to shoot a game or two is high on the agenda. I have always been an inconsistent player ... I wont even have to let our guests win. They will beat the EAA guy on their own. Everyone will be happy!

I miss the apostrophe key. I do not think these European keyboard have one. More research must be conducted. Until then, I will minimize contractions. Thats upsetting.