Monday, March 10, 2008

Laurie's Return to Journalism

Laurie with Castiglione di Sicilia in the background

Hello again!  I awoke this morning to a beautiful day and the sounds of the local gardeners mowing.  At least they only come once a week here. Today it is my pleasure to share some more of my thoughts.  I have now been in Italy for over a week and George reminded us that this is his 69th day!  So much to tell, not enough time or space, but I HAVE to share some of these things now. 


Upon my arrival in Malibu, I FINALLY got to wash my hair and had brought a small hair dryer.  The history of American hair dryers isn’t good, having blown one up in Rome on our last trip and fellow traveler Koreen also exploded hers, I didn’t bring my good one, figuring that I might just buy one over here.  As expected, the little one ran for about one minute and then crashed.  Having discussed hair dryers, etc. with Christie prior to her leaving Canada, we agreed to buy one, which was great because we shared the cost and she didn’t have to lug one over here.  I found a good one.  It had a two-prong (round rods) male connector.  Upon attempting to plug it in, I found that the two prongs were wider in diameter than most of the outlets!!  This is THEIR country and THEIR appliance, for Pete’s sake!  We therefore found that one of our adapters worked for the dryer, my curling iron and Christie’s flat iron and the problem was solved, but why sell it here if I doesn’t work here!?!?!  It is a constant search to find the right adapter and take it from one of the multiple video cameras, telephones, and digital cameras.  But now we are both really happy, because you KNOW, a “good hair day” makes any day better, even in paradise, especially when cameras are going off every time you turn around.


OMG!!!! (that means Oh My God, Dad).  All I can say is that it’s like dating George again in the 60s in his MG Midget.  Here, he’s driving a 5-speed little Nissan that’s about the size of a VW bug.  He drives just like the locals.  I guess you have to or you would get squished.  Everyone drives so fast.  There are posted speed limits, but no one pays attention, but there aren’t really any accidents, only side-swipes and minor dents.  No one stops when that happens (unless it’s a Benz), they just wave.  There are obviously different rules-of-the-road here, and it has a totally different driving system.  Lines are painted but as GW said, they are merely a suggestion.  If you are on a two lane road and the right lane has actually become two rows of traffic, it is not unusual in gridlock to see a car or two or three or four just drive down the on-coming lane until someone is coming at them and then they just cut in to the correct lane to avoid the head-on and no one gets mad!?!  The main rule is you can do ANYTHING, as long as you can get away with it and as long as you honk before you do it.  As George said, honking has different meanings, which I think makes sense.  If you are passing on the right or the left and the guy in front of your is in the middle and you can’t get by, you give a little beep and the front guy moves to one side allowing you to pass.  In short, that is how George now drives.  I will never again bug him about his driving at home, as we haven’t been in an accident yet.


The four of us (the two couples) finally had a bad liter of wine at dinner the other night.  We justified the fact that is really wasn’t that bad, as earlier that evening, we had set out “munchies” to enjoy when the guys returned from football before we went to dinner.  They included spicy salami, dry salami, FANTASTIC blue cheese, parmesan cheese and a milk, semi-soft white cheese, crackers, green olives (of course), and some wine – which turned out to be really good wine.

When I arrived there were a couple bottles of white and a couple of red in the apartment.  The guys had tried a couple and found some they liked.  Everyone agreed that they were willing to “test” others.  So, at the next trip to the market (which I love, by the way), we purchased several new labels.  My point here was, that we had one white I really liked, and a pinot gregio that we all LOVED, so when we went to dinner that night and had their house wine, it was awful.  (We, of course, still drank it all, anyway.)  I promise that I will continue to assist by tasting as many as possible.  As a side note, my orthopedist, Dr. Ghilarducci (Italian, of course), should have maybe prescribed wine for my shoulder, instead of the cortisone shot as it has been more effective. 


Unfortunately, we have all had some trouble with the internet and its consistency.  It has been necessary to go to the nice local hotel and pay (onlysometimes, we are in Italy after all) a three euros for an hour.  Not too bad.

Yesterday we went to the hotel’s lounge area, which has about 9 couches in a lovely setting.  We paid for an hour, but nothing was downing loading (GW was REALLY happy), for the first hour.  We ended up calling lots of people on the Skpe (really cheap) as it was Sunday afternoon in California.  The fun part was that Jason and Christie (seated 20’ across the room) would call someone, and we couldn’t help but be involved with their conversation. At the same time GW was working on his blog or one of us were checking our e-mails.  We would then call someone and I am sure they listened too, as you couldn’t help it!  The best part was at the end, after being there for about 2 hours, and the guys finally getting to the end of their blogs, it turned into sort of a race, when someone said, “We’ll be done in about 10 minutes, right?”  The next line was, “I’m going to look at your blog.”  At the same time, the other guy (not sure who said it first) said, “I’m going to look at your blog.”  I know, you had to be there, but it was hilarious.  Dueling blogs.

I, of course, could go on for a long time.  This is a wonderful experience, as you all thought it would be.

Love to all, Laurie


vanessaperez125 said...

Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time!! Love the pictures!

p.s. everything is fine here. michael is doing a great job with your list Laurie! :)

Koreen said...

So do you both think that Brian could drive there or would he be telling me where to drive, how to drive or what I should be doing?

DPLassen said...

Laurie, George is a far braver man than I ... in the first five minutes of my first trip to Italy (getting off the ferry coming from the Athens Olympics in 2004) the cab driver went the wrong way down a street, nearly mowed over a pedestrian going down a bus lane, and I believe broke the sound barrier twice. I vowed then never to drive in Italy and have stuck to that vow in two subsequent trips, so if George has learned to drive like a local, I'm truly impressed. Of course, I'm not going to get into a car with him anytime soon after he gets back.

Keep the writing up ... it's the next best thing to being there, without the pain of the exchange rate.

Cristiano said...

My fiance' would definetely love your opinion about Sicilian (no it is not the same in the rest of the Country)driving system.
But truth must be said. After having learnt how to drive fast and crazy (during her 3 years Catania driving experience), she admitted it is frustrating now to drive in Washington at 30mph.

George said...

Brian would be under the front seat whimpering.

Formula 1 baby, Formula 1!

I'm scared to think how many tickets I'm going to get my first week back in California!

vanessaperez125 said...

Hey Laurie are you bringing back your new European hair dryer?? Because I would love to borrow it for our trip!

George said...

She can't, Christie is half owner.

vanessaperez125 said...

Oh well, I will just have to brave Europe with my hair dryer and pray it doesn't blow up!!