The Wanderer

The top five places I’ve always wanted to visit and have?

Does counting the Cinque Terre count as cheating? That is five right there.

If you’ve never been to these five little towns that snuggle between rocks and il mare, I truly feel for you.  These gems of the Ligurian coast are well worth the time and energy it takes to visit them.

Time and energy you say?

It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to see these towns was by boat.  There are some questionable roads into these towns.  It if is raining or snowing or windy or, hell, if there is weather? I would hike it or boat it.  If you are not that into adventure, take the train.

These colorful and lively towns are best seen by foot.  Monterossa al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

I won’t cheat.  But, if you find yourself along the Ligurian coast some day do yourself a favor and head on over.

Pantheon

pantheon

How this building gets overlooked by tourists is beyond me.  I have asked people that have visited Rome if they saw the Pantheon and most say no.  “You mean the Vatican?”  No.  The Pantheon.  Please visit.

There is so much to say.  I won’t.  I will spare you.

Firenze

ruth orkin

The city by the Arno.  It has bridges, churches, forts, museums, cafes, parks, art, leather, gold, restaurants…  All within walking distance.  You can go from one side of the city to the other (if you can manage not to stop for an espresso or a panini) in less than 25 minutes by foot.  By. Foot.

Skip renting a car in Firenze.  You don’t need it.  Everything is walking distance.  And, if you are a strict budget that’s ok too.  One pass for all the city museums makes it affordable.  You can get to most hotels within 15 minutes of the train station (if not two minutes).

The importance that Firenze holds for Western Civilization is beyond words (I’m sure someone will argue with me).

The birth town of the Renaissance.  Dante, Da Vinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo called this place home*.  Did you know that the famous bridge (Ponte Vecchio) that spans the Arno was spared by Hitler during WWII?

Now you do.

Andalucia

andalucia

The constant ocean breezes.  The surtido iberico that is served with every meal. The most beautiful people to look at and to interact with.  The architecture.  The variety. The influences. The churches and the mosques. The view of Northern Africa. Coastal getaways. Mountain retreats.

It is all part of the allure of this southern part of Spain; Andalucia.

Wake up.  Open your window.  Witness the clear blue waters as they give way to the grey mountains in the distance.  That’s Africa.  Have a delicious cafe con leche y pan and you are set for a nice drive.

Head over to Gibraltar.

Then to Tarifa for a quick boat ride to that not so distance coast line across the sea.

Get lost in the hills and end up in Ronda.

Order the Oxtail.  Start with the Migas.

Granada and the Alhambra.

So much.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

There is only one word to describe the Grand Canyon.

Breathtaking.

Getting Lost

Bellagio

Get lost.  You sometimes forget the specifics of the Coliseum or the La Scala or the Tate Modern.

You don’t forget the times that make life interesting.

Allow me a moment to share a silly anecdote.

We were in Como for part of our Honeymoon.  We decided to take a little boat ride to Bellagio.

We disembark and walk around this lakeside town.  Teeny tiny streets with teeny tiny cobblestones helped make this the most beautiful places in the world.  The iron, the stones, the smell of pizza and pasta, the sound of the water slapping gently on the post near the pier helped us forget where we were and, more importantly, when we were.

We found a cute restaurant.  A bottle of the house red.  Share some salami and prosciutto.  A little more vino.  Un po’ di soup.

Al fine i nostri pensieri e le nostre parole erano in italiano.

Un caffe.

Col tempo we finally came back from la-la land.  We paid.  We headed out.

We stood at the pier for what seemed like forever.  I walked back to the restaurant.  And then I noticed something strange.

The restaurant was the only thing open.  The rest of the town seemed to have closed.  The signs were put away.  The doors and shutters all closed.

I walked back into our cute little restaurant.

“When is the next boat back to Como?”

Heads turned.  From patrons to the chef in the kitchen. Not a sound. Just stares.

“Como?  Eh. Domani.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Si. Si. Domani.”

We had taken the last ferry to Bellagio.  And the last ferry to Como departed two hours ago.

The buzz from the vino and all that other stuff was gone.

She must have seen all the blood rush away from face.  She handed me a glass of house red. Someone had gone outside to get my new wife.

Forks and knives and conversations resumed their activities.  I saw the “stupid-tourist-shrug” all over the place.

“I call you taxi. Maybe 1 hours. Then they come.”

“Sure.  We will wait.”

Then, without any warning, I started laughing.

I never knew laughter could be so contagious.  My wife started laughing. The hostess, the waiter, and the busboy started laughing. A couple of patrons later…

Vino for everyone.

It’s nice to get lost sometimes.

****

Take a Chance on Me

What’s the biggest chance you ever took? Did it work out? Do tell!

Not sure I like the wording of this prompt.  (I haven’t lately anyway.)

I strive to take chances frequently.

I am a chance taker.

I have taken chances since I was a child.

I have told of my tales of little league baseball.  I was made fun of because of my cheap baseball shoes and my cheap glove.  I took the chance of being the best baseball player despite the deficient tools and equipment.  I met success.

I always took chances with the women I dated.  I would always approach the best looking, hottest chick in the crowd.  I had nothing to lose and at least a story to tell.  I would fail often.  But, I would take the chance.

I ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS, ask for discounts or freebies or something whenever I make a purchase.  This goes for restaurants or toy stores or car wash or mattress dealerships.  ASK.  You take a chance but you might get something free.  I have received dessert, free toys, a free car wash, and a free mattress cover; just for asking.  It’s an art.  It’s the kind of art that requires practice.  I have applied the Outliers concept to the art of bargaining or asking for stuff.

I started an internet company several years ago.  I had $10,000 and a dream.  We grew organically from a kitchen table to a large warehouse and employing hundreds; 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.  I took a chance.  I hired the right people.  We made it happen. It worked.  The chance was worth it.  The company eventually closed but that’s a story for another day.  I feel a need to go to 7-11 when I think about it.

I took a chance when I asked Mrs. Atheist to be my wife.  We both did.  I guess I can’t count that “chance”.

I have always looked at life as short.  Even as a kid I knew life would end.  You have to take risks and you have to take chances.  If you don’t you might be filled with regret.  I don’t believe in that.  That word only comes up in my conversations when I am telling people to eradicate from use.  No Regrets.  Take the risk.  Take the chance.  You have nothing to lose.

Well, you might lose.  You might not survive the adventure.  You will lose something.  You might lose friends or you might lose your old way of thinking and behaving.  Is it worth it?  It has to be.

When I take a chance I ask myself one question:

While I regret not having done this on my deathbed?

If the answer is sort of wishy-washy I don’t take the risk.  I don’t take the chance.

I tend to take the chance.

Why don’t you?

 

 

 

 

Junk Food Junkie

What’s your biggest junk food weakness? Tell us all about it in its sugary, salty, glory.

711

 

Some of you might not recognize this American convenient store.  That’s ok.  It’s the work of the devil.

I don’t usually eat the junk food.

I do have comfort food.  For whatever reason I pull into the nearest 7-11 and open my wallet to buy:

A bag of Doritos Cool Ranch

doritos_cool_ranch

A Diet Coke

diet-coke1

And

Are you ready for this?

bagel

A plain bagel with cream cheese.

 

I walk out of the convenient store and I will sit in my car and devour these items.  Sometimes I rip the bagel apart so that I can add the chips to the bagel/cream cheese.  Immediate crunchy, sweet, and savory.  All in one.

I will bite through it.  I will chew through it.  I will wash it down.

I will sort out my thoughts between bites and chews and swigs.

I must look like a mad man.

I am.  I’m combiningthe uncombinable.

Why?

Eh.  Ask me later.

This is how I work through issues.  Dunno why.  It just helps.

 

***

Rehash?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!??!!??!!?!??!!?!?

Florentine Traffic Sign #11

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