Category Archives: Preparation

Danger: Sols Glassants

One word is English, the others French, with no translation offered. I see this phrase on a cautionary sign in the walkway from the Paris airport to our AirFrance plane. Having no idea what the phrase means in English, I say, “Ooh…Sols Glissants. I hate those things. Have you ever seen one? They’ll bite your arm clean off.”

Unfortunately, Laura is too jet-lagged to even appreciate my humor. She says we could use a third person on our trip to just follow behind and explain my jokes.

In case of emergency, luggage must stay on the plane.

- Journal Notes: September 3 -

6:50 AM | The taxi to the gate in Paris is interminable, maybe five minutes of touring what seems to be an appropriately modern airport for so fashionable a city. I was impressed by the endless sprawling mass of urban lights I saw from the air, and am equally impressed with the design of the terminal buildings.

It only took me the length of one skywalk to determine that this aiport isn’t nearly so flattering on the inside. Walking the neglected, dirty terminal, we stared blankly at the signage and flight schedule board, all posted in Inglese, bu still somehow nonsensical. I’ve never felt that French is an attractive language, a sentiment that is now confirmed for me.

“Steak au poivre, goodbye,” says the French flight attendant as we disembark.

“Marquis,” I respond, “Thank you.”

7:20 AM | When we ask about our connecting flight, we are directed to a forlorn terminal, destitute of people, personality and life.

“Grandeur, hello,” says a friendly airport worker who ushers us through an empty queue with at least eight turns. The border police offer at the sends us back through the empty queue to get boarding passes, which we then take through the (still empty) queue a third time.

7:40 AM | Herded by the close corridors and gaudy-colored signs, we make our way to an unexpected second trip through security. The officers there seem lackadaisical, very different from the agents in the U.S. The x-ray monitoring agents lean back in their chairs as if they’re in detention hall while the other agents banter back and forth and ask us to remove our laptop, our iPods, and our Nooks, each item in turn.

They look at me strangely when I ask if I need to remove my shoes. Silly Americans. “Marquis,” I tell them as we repack our things and move on.

A dilapidated escalator finally delivers us to a terminal hub full of light, people, activity. The grime and fecundity of the previous area are invisible here, but my sinuses close up as I watch swarms of dust motes sparkle through the piercing rays of early morning sunlight.

Photo of a sign in the ariport terminal

Photo of the terminal at the airport in France

The light-drenched terminal in Paris de Gaulle

Our first espresso of our vacation!

There now remain only a few short hours before we arrive in La Serenissima, shedding our tired roles as travelers and donning the caps of explorers. Our compass stands at the ready, our water bottles are full, and our legs yearn for activity. Andiamao a presto!

Thank you for the business, and have a great day.

- Journal Notes: September 2 -

12:30 | Terminal A (the US Airways portion, at least) at Orlando International Airport is small and mostly deserted when we arrive. A small convenience store–overpriced as always–is situated adjacent to our gate, #54. The clerk seems bored, suspicious, evaluating each passerby as a possible sale. Despite appearances, every time someone makes a purchase, the clerk bursts into a spontaneous song, loud enough to be heard in a four-gate radius: “Thank you for the business, and have a great-great-great-great day-day-day.” This is followed by vocal sound effects faintly reminiscent of a techno beat. Now, instead of reading, I’m waiting for his next customer, his next song. Sadly, I have no need to buy anything.

5:00 | Sitting on the plane to Paris in the 5′x3′ vinyl-and-plastic nest we’ve purchased for oursselves, I stare at the seat-back monitor booting Linux. The machine’s commands scroll past my eyes meaninglessly, matching the cadence of the flight attendant’s words, a string of instructions in rapid-fire French. I can’t help but think that our little home for the next eight hours is at least more than we own in Orlando. I’ll be overjoyed and relieved when we successfully close on our house on September 16.

Can’t Sleep

It is 6:30am on the day we leave for Italy, and I have been wide awake for quite some time! I seriously feel like a child on Christmas morning. Except my present is a thirteen day long affair in another country. At this point, all our bags are packed with a few remaining last minute items: toiletries, iPods, the computer I am writing on. We’ve already printed our boarding passes and I have been checking that my passport is where I left practically every four hours! I am finding it hard to believe this day has finally come!

One of the things I am looking forward to the most is visiting the small Tuscan town of Chiusi. John’s sister Sara, visited there the last time she was in Italy. A friend had taken her to a little family run restaurant called Osteria La Solita Zuppa. There she said she got a great meal, and the owners (who were the servers and cooks too) knew exactly where every food came from, the farmers who grew it,and even the specific animal that was butchered for the meal. Knowing that this respect for food was right up our alley, Sara helped us pay for and find ways to make it to Chiusi for one night to eat at Solita Zuppa.

We’ll only be in Chiusi for about twenty-four hours, but I have found that I want to visit the Duomo while we are there and if possible the Labrynth of Porsenna, an underground series of tunnels used by Kings between the 7th and 5th century B.C.

We will of course let you know how it all goes but with views like these, how can Chiusi not be great?


Gelato Tally

Photo of gelatoWe love all kinds of food, but Laura and I both share a fairly insatiable sweet tooth. (Actually, we don’t share the tooth, we each have our own.) We are looking forward to enjoying authentic gelato just about every day of our trip, so we recently guessed at how many times we would have gelato (or sorbetto, in Laura’s case) during our trip.

Laura guessed 12, one for each day we’re not flying.

I guessed 14, because once a day just might not be enough!