The Blob

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Travel Journal

Florence - May 19 - We arrived a week ago in Italy, flying to Milan and being driven to the town of Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como. Before we left, the weather called for rain during our whole trip, making us more than a little apprehensive. But happily, it has been nothing but sun and perfect weather in the 70s the whole time. We have been blessed!

Bellagio, Menaggio and and Villa Balbandello are must-sees if you come to Lake Como. It is a stunningly beautiful place, surrounded by towering mountains and beautiful villages. If you visit Bellagio, be prepared to walk up and down steep and narrow streets (so steep that the streets are stairs, rather than regular pavement), but it's so charming that you don't mind a bit.

We spent a day in Lugano, Switzerland, a short train ride from Como. It's a lovely city, clean and quaint, on the shores of Lake Lugano. We rode a funicular to the top of Monte Bre, almost a mile above the city. From there, you could see the Swiss and Italian Alps and had a stunning vista of the lake below.

Today, we are in Florence, walking the narrow winding streets and vast piazzas. It is very much a city, but charming nonetheless. We are staying at Villa Poggio about 8 miles south of the city. Set in the hills south of Florence, the villa is an intoxicatingly beautiful 14th century villa surrounded by countryside, other villas with a view of the city of Florence below in the distance. I awoke this morning to the call of a rooster from a vineyard nearby and walked the gardens at dawn. For the moment, life is beautiful.

As we flew across the Atlantic on American Airlines, they gave us Bose noise cancelling headphones to use, for movies or our iPods. The great thing about these is not only do they sound great, and cancel out the jet noise, but when you want to sleep, it's a wonderful thing to have. We got to London Heathrow airport, which was a huge disappointment for me. I really thought that Europe's busiest airport would be nicer - it's anything but. I did have fun looking at the jets of airlines from all over the world. One irony was the Iran Air plane was a 747. We might be the great satan, but they love our planes. Go figure.

I'm glad to say I'm not thinking about work or home, just about what we are seeing an doing here. This trip is costing a lot (but we are under our budget - my wife checks this every day), but it is worth every penny. I hope you can make it here someday!