Roma – Day 1

Friday, September 7, 2012

Arriviamo a Roma!  At the Fiumicino Aeropuerto, we gathered our Denver/Charlotte group and our luggage before attempting to find Anne (flying from Vermont/NYC), Mary (Des Moines), and our limo/taxi drivers.  After the whirlwind of activity surrounding our Denver to Charlotte flight, our arrival went off without a hitch. The Passport Control agents in Rome seemed to have no interest in even checking our passports, let alone stamping them, much to Amy’s chagrin, since this is her passport’s virgin voyage.

But we loaded the two FacileTaxi cars and were eventually deposited at our hotel, the Hotel Smeraldo.  First order of business . . . catch our breaths, get situated in the rooms, and then gather for lunch and our Hop On, Hop Off bus tour.  I purchased the bus passes from the hotel, before scurrying off to Piazza Navona to secure the Roma Passes at a news kiosk.

Today’s plan would be for all of us to sit on the two-level bus, sit on the upper deck, listen to the mediocre narration and see the city.  While some people could barely keep their eyes open, we all got the trip around, and disembarked at the Colisseum.  Once on our feet again, we realized how exhausted we were, and made our separate decisions about actually going into the giant ruins.  Some of the group got back on the bus, four more stops, and exited the bus closer to our hotel to take naps.  Ann, Sarah and I decided we might as well explore it now, since it was standing right in front of us in all its glory. And the lions ate the Christians . . . "What would Jesus do . . . ?????"

No matter how the afternoon ended for each of us, the evening began with a stroll over the Tiber River to Trastevere and dinner at Taverna Trilussa before returning to our hotel.  Trastevere is a very hopping place, especially on a Friday night, but my very tired ducklings declined the festivities this time . . .

5.47 miles logged today on my pedometer, before a long awaited sleep after our first day in Italy!

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France Women 2012 Part I – Provence

May 6, 2012.  We’ve arrived and settled in to the villa St. Roch in Robion, a little village in the Luberon Valley of Provence.  The new village is one block to our right, the old village perhaps a 10 minute walk to the left, and the Luberon Mountains protect our backs and the back of the property.  It is a gorgeous day, we’ve been to the old village for cafe au lait this morning (our villa owner, the darling Sebastian, walked to the boulangerie for our just-out-of-the-oven croissants), and enjoyed the early part of the morning watching the townspeople stream into the Hotel de Ville to vote for the French president.

This afternoon we are heading to L’Isle sur la Sorgue for the Sunday Market.  It’s a beautiful day and we’re getting an earlier start than we usually do on these trips, so perhaps half of the vendors won’t be packing up already!  This evening we will return to the restaurant Le Jardin du Quai, right across from the train station, within a high iron fence.  The beautiful garden areas welcome the restaurant’s customers, and the chef, Daniel, prepares fresh dinners from what he gathers at the markets on Saturday and Sunday.

The women are chattering already, as though they’ve known one another for half a century, and indeed three of them have done just that.  Anne, Penny and Etta met in New York in the 60’s, married men who were all friends, and the rest, as they say, was history.  Kathy and Ingrid are delightful additions as well, so I’m looking forward to an excellent week.

My photos (I know, I say this every time) are giving me trouble, so at the moment I can’t transfer any of them to this post, but I promise I’ll insert them as I can.