Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Scenes from Bolzano

Due to a VERY hectic pace the last few days, I've fallen a little behind in posting pictures so I'm submitting these late, hopefully I can still get half credit.

We begin with Saturday night before the Bolzano game. We decided to go out to dinner in Aci Castello after getting home from a Baia Verde Hotel internet run to finalize our post Bolzano game travel plans. 


The first unread and thus unheeded omen of the upcoming 24 hours of fiasco after fiasco came at the Treza Millennio Ristorante.

NO eating establishment in Italy serves ice in ANY form. They brought us this...hmmm?

We wanted pasta and a few pizzas too. After waiting 20 minutes to get in, we gave up on the pasta after waiting for it for over ONE HOUR! It was getting very late and we had to be up at 4:30 a.m. to get the 5 of us up and ready to catch the 7:00 a.m. flight to Verona.

Jason and Christie gave up and went home about 10 minutes before we did so that he could get as much sleep as possible.

We paid for the pizzas and they cancelled the undelivered pasta charges. By the time we walked home it was 12:15 a.m.

A funny thing happened on the everyday trip up the 53 flights of stairs to Malibu, I stubbed my toe and lost my balance. No big deal, I didn't fall, staying on my two feet the whole time thanks to years of athletic training and superior conditioning.

About 5 minutes later I started feeling a growing INTENSE pain in my back, something was amiss. Then my stomach started churning. Bottom line was that after throwing up 5 times and being in so much pain that I could not sleep, lay down, sit up, stand up, etc., I got zero sleep Saturday night.

Laurie dug into her magic bag of tricks and gave me something to relieve the discomfort and it worked by the time we got to Bolzano but I was tired.

The Pullman

An uncomfortable flight to flight Verona due to my back, by the time we got on the Pullman (recliner bus) I was doing much better.

The Dolomites

The drive from Verona to Bolzano through the Dolomites was SPECTACULAR! Scenes like this castle were everywhere.

Our Pino Anello, on the right, with his buddy Maurice Visamara, who plays for Milan

Here's Maurice's interesting story. He is 51 years old and still playing American football for the IFL's Milan Rhinos! As if that wasn't enough, his 17 year old son played for the Rhinos too this season.

Talk about family bonding!!!

Kicking Off in the Rain...
and soon will come the Lightning

Jason leading the way for the Elephants

I was SO PROUD of Jason in this game. He was battered by Bolzano's fierce pass rush. I like to judge players by their reaction to adversity and this game, a 49-20 loss, was the second coming of the Black Plague for us.

Jason never lost his composure, stayed true to his positology philosophy and just kept making what plays he could with his head, feet, arm and, mostly, his heart. Earning new levels of respect is a good thing!

Matt and Claudio also had standout games and kept us alive at critical times but the bottom line is that Bolzano is 11-0 for a reason...they are a very good American football team!

A Post-Game Thank You to the Elephants for the Wonderful Experience!

With my bride, Laurie

I was so glad to hear her whistle for the first time before the game. It's a family tradition to let me know she is at the game.


It's a long story but I'd like to think that romance was involved.

One last shot of the "Gangsta" Elephants...

...and of the Americanos

After the game we drove back with the team to the airport in Verona. Jason had rented a mini van to drive us to Bergamo for flights out the next morning.

Laurie, Joe and I were headed to Spain, Christie and Jason to Amsterdam and Brandon and Matt were off to Finland.

The fiasco continued as the phrase "mimi van" in Italy means a 5 passenger car! We had to rent a second car. Joe, Laurie and I took one and headed out. After 10 minutes of mindless driving I realized I had the Garmin and the other car had...WHAT?

We stopped at the first Autogrille on the highway to eat. Ten minutes later, by sheer luck, the other Americanos walked into the same Autogrille!

I offered to wait for them to finish and then caravan with Garmin to the hotel in Bergamo that we were all staying in but Jason said go ahead, he had maps on his laptop computer.

We drove for about an hour and got to our hotel at about midnight. I was told to move my car from the upper area where I had left it into the underground garage reguiring me to make a very sharp U-turn at the underground garage's entryway.

Let's just say I had a problem making the U-turn and leave it at that!

I would need all 5 of us guys to fix my problem, but where was the other car? It turns out that Jason's computer had absolutely NO POWER and he could not turn it on to access the maps he needed to get to our off the beaten path hotel. We tried to talk them in by phone and they finally arrived at about 2:00 a.m.! On a positive note, they are now very knowledgeable about the geography of the town of Bergamo.

2:00 a.m now made it Monday, July 7th, my 61st birthday and I NEEDED a big present from the guys because...

...my rental car was perched on only 3 wheels due to the ledge I didn't account for in trying to make my U-turn.

It took a while for Brandon to stop laughing, but he did orchestrate how to move the car, based on some obscure experience of his with 5 cars in Mexico. With Laurie driving, Christie documenting and four of us lifting the back bumper, Brandon, a.k.a. Paul Bunyan's blue ox Babe's stunt double, proceeded to just push the car over. Years of driving the 7-man sled paid off big time tonight! All was good and I parked the car without further excitement.

Thanks boys for the Best Birthday Present EVER!!!

We finally got to bed, got about one hour of sleep and then drove to Bergamo's airport to catch a flight on Ryan Air for 29 euros to Spain. At the rental car drop off, located about a 10 minute walk from the airport the fiasco continued and apparently ended. I dropped Joe and Laurie off with the bags at the check-in area. There was no place to drop off the key since the Sixt rental company does not have either an office or a drop box for keys in the return lot.

I parked the car next to their alloted but full spaces and left the keys in the unlocked car to walk back, no shuttles at 5:00 a.m.

I hope no one stole the car...

So now I've had about 3 hours of sleep in the last two nights as we board to fly to Valladolid, Spain and then drive to Madrid for the rest of my birthday.

What a weekend we had!!!


JTwice said...

...and so ended the most bizarre 36 hours of our Italian Experience! What a crazy time!

Let me know and I can have christie forward the shots she got of us lifting the car! Hilarious (but only afterwards!)

Enjoy the running of the bulls!!!

JJ and CC

rbjcpalmer said...

We are American expats living in Spain and will be relocating to Italy soon. We'd like to buy tickets to the super bowl. Can you help us?

R & BP