Sunday, November 27, 2005

New posts and a photo rant/apology

Hey all...

Some rare sunshine up here in Copenhagen so we took advantage of it to take a refreshing 1.5 hour walk in the brisk 40 degree weather. Mogens and Grethe live along a chain of ponds on the other side of the dunes from the sea so we walked from harbor to harbor and enjoyed watching the swans, ducks and seagulls doing their thing. (And it beat the storm we had on Thursday with howling winds carrying snow/sleet around)

Posted some more Italian entries (Florence, Siena, and San Gimignano) and loaded some more photos. Herein lies the rant/apology. I actually spend a lot of time when loading the photos putting them in an order that tells a story and writing descriptions and comments on them to give them a context and a reason for being (though the S.G. photos are not a good example of that). Most of this is for our own benefit. Otherwise when we looked back at them after the trip we would have no idea what/where they were or why we took them. (Heck...that's already happening when I look at older pics!). But it's also so that if any of you are brave/foolhardy enough to look at more of our pics than just those linked to the entries you'll be looking at something with some semblance of order that tells you a story about our trip.

However, I'm discovering that Flickr's technology seems to do everything possible to subvert that goal. I was already grumpy about the fact that the photo stream loads things first in, last out (I must be missing accounting class) so that if you look at the photo stream from the latest everything is backwards. Occasionally when I'm feeling really inspired I reverse the order I load them in to try to fix that (like with the Milan pictures) but usually I trust that viewers can figure that out.

But I realize that clicking one by one through the photostream is not the most user friendly way to do it and most of you (if you have gotten that far) probably look at pics in a slide show (often after searching on tags). And here's where things really kinda suck, experience-wise. Not only does the slide show not include the titles or descriptions with the photos (like Ofoto or places like that do), but I've recently noticed while showing some pictures to friends here that searching by tags seems to just put them in some random order, so they will be even more confusing/annoying/boring to look at. So 1) I apologize to all of you who have been slogging through the photos anyway as you are not getting the benefit of the slide shows as I had organized them; 2) I'm ranting and grumpy because I do actually put a lot of time into it and want people to be able to get the full benefit of that work; and 3) therefore would appreciate it if anyone knows flickr better than we do (which wouldn't be hard) and therefore might know a way to fix this problem. Thanks.

Now that I have more or less finished updating the photos I may actually have a little time to write the blog entries I am responsible for so hopefully you'll be seeing more from me soon than just administrative notes.


Drive me to Firenze...

After the tranquil serenity of Cinque Terre, we headed off to the largest city of our trip with the parents, Florence (aka Firenze). The transition was a bit difficult to start as instead of the sounds of the waves we were treating to the gnat-like buzzing of Vespas galore. However we were able to settle in quite nicely with our hotel, complete with in-room view of the Duomo. Everyone earned their view and nightly gelato though with the four flights of cement stairs up the the place. Nice but a serious hike that made us all make sure we had everything we needed before heading off for the day.

The two big highlights of our visit were the Uffizi and seeing David @ the Accademia. The Uffizi was a great museum, covering an amazing collection of Italian artists, including all the big names (Caravaggio, Michaelango, Raphael and all the other Ninja Turtles). Despite all the great art, it was difficult after a while to look at the same religious scenes painted for the 50th time. Instead I found myself being amazed at all the grumpy, frumpily dressed middle aged women travelling in packs throughout the museum. Everyone of them complete with a guidebook and a stern stare. Guess they weren't having fun (and if you're not, why visit? you're in Italy! go grab some gelato and head off to the beach or something if museums aren't your thing). Not enough rounds of "Name that Saint" if you ask me.

Not one to usually fall for the normal museum trinkets, I'm now the proud owner of a bookmark depicting my favorite of the Uffizi ( Medusa shield by Caravaggio) which has already shocked and disturbed a number of train passengers.

The absolute highlight of Florence for us though was seeing David in the Accademia. Except for a few unfinished "prisoners" by Michaelango the rest of the museum is pretty forgettable but David steals the show. So many of the "big ticket" places in cities fail to live up to the hype associated with it. For me this trip has so far been much more about the places off the tourists map and just oddities of the road. However, both of us were just overwhelmed by this amazing sculpture. The detail in the anatomy is impressive on its own. And the combination of its size and intensity really makes it so you can't look away. We just sat and looked at it for almost 30 mintues. Then when you realize it was one of the first major efforts and what took sculpting to a new level makes it all the more awe-inspiring. Heck, I'd pay the 10 euro just to see it again by itself. (check this random person's page for some good pictures of David in context (since they were very strict about "no photos" when we were there.))

The rest of the time we enjoyed wandering around town seeing the sites and statues, noticing both the chaos and fuel/space efficiency that Italy has to offer, window shopping for expensive, fun, and bizarre things, and appreciating the culinary offerings

One other story from Florence. My parents were nice enough to bring us a few reading materials from the States, including the Economist. While reading it I was just further imprinted with the belief that the economy as a whole just becomes more and more mobile and global by the day. And while in Florence I saw a crude albeit great example of just that. There were a number of foreign "merchants" whose specialities were knock-off brand items such as purses, watches, etc., mainly being sold to tourists. However, since they were hawking illegal products they were constantly on the move, complete with either a cardboard table that quickly folded up or all of their items on a tablecloth that made for a quick getaway. Not sure if this is what the world leaders have in mind for the global economy, but it's a much more telling example for me than hearing about x company buying y or moving all their production overseas. Just my two cents on what we saw while trolling the neighborhoods.

All in all, Florence was a nice stop and a must see simply because of David. On to Siena!


Random Becca story about David. I was in Florence 14 years ago on my own and remember taking a picture of David out in front of the Medici palace by some other sculptures. As I didn't have a guidebook (or guide) with me at the time I didn't realize that it was just a copy placed in the original location when the real one was moved to the Accademia. So I was all satisfied with having gotten a pic of the famous David and thought it was a pretty nice statue. That was all blown away when I saw the real one this time (and the copy again). Between the difference in scale, the glow of the white marble on the genuine version, and just a certain intangible frission about it, there is no way that I could ever mistake the two again.

Hills and Nuns...

...what else could you ask for in a quaint Italian city? Our visited started with checking in at the Alma Domus. It's not a convent, it's not a hotel but somewhere in between (I think it's that way to avoid taxes but that's just the cynical side of me for you). Quite entertaining though after a number of normal places to be checked in by nuns in full habit and have a room complete with yet another a beautiful view. Of Siena's Duomo this time. (and at night)

Another Duomo you say... This one though easily takes the cake. For me it surpasses Notre Dame in its overall beauty and gives the intrigue of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona a run for its money. The outside is basic but unique with its white and green striping. The inside though is a stunning collection of art work, architectural masterpieces and an atmosphere that is both very busy yet strangely appropriate. Beautiful mosaics and inlays litter the floor, detailed carvings of all the popes look over your sightseeing and lots of picturesque stained glass. All in all a very impressive place for us to visit and to just sit and relax. (And we were able to get this money holiday card shot)

In addition to the Duomo, we checked out the Bapistry, (non)-Crypt, and the Duomo museum. The combo pass for all of them ended up being a pretty good deal. You get a lot of value for your sightseeing dollar; we recommend it. The other primary sightseeing destination in Siena though (outside of Il Campo which I think is fairly underwhelming off-season) is just the town itself. We spent most of our time wandering through the streets and the 17 contrade (neighborhoods) and dealing with all the hills. Nowhere to go in town without hiking up or down. At this point my parents probably think we're trying to kill them. It made the gelato and tasty pizzas all the sweeter though.

One of the places we ate pizza led to all sorts of excitement. We chose the place because of its proximity to our room; evidently the AC Siena players choose it because it's so close to the stadium and make it a daily haunt. As a result, Becca and my mom got to drool over all the Serie A (Italy's top league) players strolling back and forth, all dressed to the nines (Armani-like suits w/ team insignias) and looking properly Italian (see here for the #1 whiplash cause for Becca & Elaine). Except for the little blond, balding guy who Becca first guessed was an assistant coach (which gave her the courage to go up and talk to him) but later turned out to be one of their better players.

Yes, we continued the football world tour in Siena, mainly in an attempt to see the team they were playing, Chievo Verona (CV plays an attacking style, rare in Serie A). Both teams are middle to lower table teams whose survival in the top flight is always in doubt at the start of the season. Thankfully both are off to decent starts so we were looking forward to seeing a great match in a quaint little 13,000 seat stadium tucked into the trees on one end of town. We still got to see a good match but one that was slowed considerably by the torrential downpours that had gone on all night and then the mini-flood that hit the town an hour before the game. Made for a lot of sloppy play (including one corner of the field where both teams just refused to go for fear of sinking) but overall an entertaining match (though my parents were surprised to see actual real linesmen, no brawls, etc. given their other experience). Plus Becca got plenty of great use out of my dad's binoculars following her "guys" from Siena.

And with that, it was time to head off to San Gimignano. I think one of these days though we'll have to come back to Siena to see Il Palio.


Not a bad view...

Not to start out a post in full taunting mode, but here is the view from our place (click on the camera icon in the lower left) in San Gimignano (and at sunset). Yes, Becca and I spent every spare moment we had up there. Easily the best of our accommodations in Italy, complete not only with two bedrooms and the terrace, but with an actual refrigerator and kitchen where Becca and I could actually cook. May not sound like much but when you haven't cooked in over six weeks, it sounds good even to a ramen and chicken hack like me.

San Gimignano was recommended to us by the native Italian contingent at my dad's work and they were spot on (not surprisingly I suppose). It gave us the best gelato on the trip (and we highly recommend that anybody who goes there tries the Gelateria di Piazza in Piazza della Cisterna), a quiet town since it was quickly approaching off season and most importantly easy access to the Tuscan countryside. I had suddenly started panicking about this around Florence as I realized we didn't really have anyway to go out and drive amongst the Tuscan hills and all the vineyards. Thankfully SG's locale allowed us to take one of the days to hike amongst the hills, enjoying the views and checking out all the mom and pop wineries along the way (though most of the wineries were closed for the season). Amazing to see the hills alive in color, even if it was the greens and browns of autumn.

The other highlight of SG was the interactions had with our landlord, Carla Rossi. Her and her son Francesco (another cute Italian man for Becca and Mom to drool at, sensing a trend?) rent a variety of apartments/houses in the area. Both were full of personality and like most Italians in Tuscany had a side wine/olive oil business on the side. Not surprisingly my parents ended up buying a decent amount of wine despite Becca and Carla holding a conversation where each of them understood about 20% of what the other was saying. My highlight though was watching my dad stun Carla by eating some of the crabgrass that was growing in the yard. You'd think we shot her dog or something as evidently its a weed for them. Guess she wanted us to eat the Kaki instead.

In all two plus very relaxing days in a locale that Becca and I might not have found for ourselves. Many thanks go out to Mom and Dad for helping out along the way, being serious troopers when they weren't sure whether the hikes were going to be all uphill and for being great role models. And to 35 plus years of marriage...


Also, we highly recommend a little local trattoria, Trattoria Chiribiri (up a side street 100 yards from the main gate) for anybody looking for delicious food, appreciated equally by locals and tourists. Warning: it's very small, so you will want reservations or be willing to wait

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a short note from us to our friends and family around the world: Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country or not, we just wanted to tell you how thankful we are to have you in our lives and know that you are out there.
When travelling like this you don't ever stay in one place long enough to make deep friendships (though we appreciate the folks we have met along the way: the Gimmelwald gang, Karla & Darren, Matthieu & Jeanne), and so the emails and comments on the blog from all of you out there make a HUGE difference in making us feel like we're still part of a normal life and that there are people out there who care what happens in our lives.
We also are thankful for the opportunity to have this experience. It wasn't easy to extricate two ultra-responsible, type-A, "must-do-what-is-expected of us" people from career paths, but it was one of the best decisions either of us has ever made. I hope that following along on our adventure has made it easier for some of you to envision doing things that you might otherwise not have considered.
We'll be thinking of you all digging into your turkey-with-all-the-goodies today. I think we will be having Molly's famous mac and cheese (and maybe a little chicken to pretend it's a turkey) while babysitting the grand kids up here in Copenhagen.
More posts coming soon. We've had our heads buried in Lonely Planets and atlases trying to figure out a path through Asia so that we can get our plane tickets and start thinking about visas. As soon as that gets under control we'll finish updating the blog both about Italy and about the process of trying to plan this next phase of the trip.
Until then we'll be loving living "at home" again briefly and enjoying the time with Mogens and Grethe, Lotte and the family, and Michael and Jannie.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Becca and Brian

Friday, November 18, 2005

Eurorail Pass, RIP

Just a quick note in tribute to our hard-working Eurorail pass, which officially gave up the ghost and expired yesterday. Over the past 3 months this faithful friend had diligently carried us through Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France (on 5 different occasions), Ireland, Spain, and Italy. We pause now for a moment in its memory.


That taken care of, we have added the pics from Siena and a few of the San Gimignano pics to Flickr.



Thursday, November 17, 2005

Get your hot new blog updates!

Updates from our secret internet hideaway.

Brian has put a couple of short sports posts up.

In the interests of getting you more to read on a regular basis instead of long droughts punctuated by a huge pile of long entries, we have decided to post things as we get them written, instead of worrying about them going up in chronological order as we have experienced them. We figured you would forgive us the randomness.

So today, we have posted the entries for the hilarious Level D football championship we attended on the Cinque Terre and for our weekend with good friends on the French Riviera.

We also have all the pictures from Cinque Terre and Florence up on Flickr, even if they aren't yet linked to a blog post. Just go to our locations photo page (link on the right) and search for those tags. (or, since they are the most recent, you can always go to the chronological page as well)

Finally, we have loaded the pics from the earlier entry about the Dottore university celebrations we witnessed in Padua. (See entry from here). You can get to them all here; let's just say they caused our eyes to widen a bit....

Hope you all are well. Enjoy.

More coming soon.


A lazy weekend on the French Riviera...

Who knew world travel was so rough, eh? After dropping my parents off at Milan's airport for their unfortunate reentry into the real world, we took the "screaming kid special" train to the little town of Menton, France. Waiting in Menton were our friends Lene & Cedric (who we'd stayed with in Lyon) and Cedric's parents France & Michel (who were nice enough to open their home to us sight unseen).

Despite the fact that Cedric's promises of nothing but beach and sunshine on the Riviera were quickly nullified by rain and thunderstorms for most of the weekend, we had a blast. We spent Saturday afternoon touring Monaco and the Monte Carlo casino. For me, I was finally able to see one of the minnows of Europe (we'd narrowly avoided Luxembourg and Andorra so far). Of course this minnow is filthy rich, has its own royalty and is home of some of the richest professional sports names in Europe (thanks to the minimal income taxes paid a la Florida and Texas). Preparations for the fieldtrip were a bit improvised; to meet the dress code in Monaco Becca had to borrow a top and shoes that were a size too small from Lene (prompting Becca to utter "I'm practicing for China") while I was somehow able to make the cut with what I had in my bag.

After spending the entire drive from Menton to Monte Carlo touting my superior packing abilities, we arrived at the casino only to find out that it didn't open until noon (and that it cost 10 euros to go in, above any of our budgets). We then headed off to the side casino where the four of us were able to turn 20 euros into 55 in just over 30 minutes at video poker. Thankfully the blackjack tables (and their 25 euro minimums) weren't open otherwise I might have tested my luck to disastrous results. Add in the fact that Lene was practically giddy every time one of us cashed out and it was a good time. Plus we can all now say we took on Monte Carlo and won :-)

Sunday we visited the Riviera town of Nice to visit some of L&C's friends. Nice enough town though the highlights were Cedric's go-kart style of driving and finding out that everyone locks their doors when they enter Nice. Evidently the local crime de jour is to come up beside a car in a scooter, open the back door, grab the person's bag in the back seat and buzz away. Got a chance to admire the waterfront both here and in Menton though in amongst the various storms

The rest of the time was spent eating good food, having great conversation (including me being France's testing board for her rapidly improving English), learning the card game belote (highly recommended though not late on a Sunday night) and just enjoying the french life a little bit more. Many thanks again to the whole crew for a wonderful weekend and just a ton of perfect French hospitality.

Who says the Riviera is all sand and sun?


PS Promotional Hamsters Cheap Here.

CS Vernazza 3: Foce-Magra Ameglia 1

During our visit to the Cinque Terre area of Italy and going on the theory that fill-in-the-blanks match posters never steer us wrong, Becca and I (with my parents gamely in tow) decided to attend Vernazza's end of the season calcio (Italian for football) championship match vs. Foce-Magra Ameglia (catchy name, isn't it?). Of course since Vernazza itself is tiny and doesn't have much in terms of actual flat ground, we had to get on the train and head to Levanto, home of CS Vernazza's pitch (about a ten minute train ride). Despite the poster telling us what train we could catch, we decided to head off early and have lunch in Levanto (picnicking on the boardwalk, basking in the sun and gazing out to sea) before the match. Thankfully, I decided to keep a running diary. Same rules apply as before, though this time Vernazza=V and Foce-Magra Ameglia is FMA. Here we go...

Pregame notes:
-Becca taking a glimpse through the fence and uttering "I think the field is concrete." We actually did walk in to see the players warming up on a gravel/sand mix that was grey. Ouch.
-3 euros for tickets. After our ubercheap experience in Czechoslovakia, we were a bit leery about the relatively high price but decided to plow ahead. Special Finals pricing perhaps? Thankfully those tickets did guarantee us sweet midfield seats made of...
-Cement. Thankfully we'd packed our coats (made smashing cushions).
-13 people in attendance 5 minutes before match time. Must be a pretty big deal this final...
-FMA looks to be in a different league. About twice the size as V and they're actually running drills (as opposed to V who seems to just be kicking the ball back and forth in the little corner of shade)
-The Ref comes running out with the teams to start the match. He's 5 ft. tall, has a rat tail/mullet hairdo going and is wearing a complete day-glo yellow kit. Guess he'll be easy to find in the gravel...

1'- First collision. It's got to hurt like the dickens to be taken down in the gravel. Not quite the bounce one gets, even on AstroTurf.

4'- Bad effort by V #11. Of course, he looks like he just got out of bed. Maybe he did though he still would have had the 15 minutes the ref started the match late by, eliciting the first "sacco di merda" from a V fan.

11'- Linesman on the far side calls offsides. Only notable because he did it from the wrong half of the field...

14'- First Yellow Card (YC) of the match. V #2 for dissent. Didn't look like he said much but the yellow came out. Tough to make out against the ref highlighter uniform though.

18'- GOAL! V #11 flicks a cross that rolls along the entire goal mouth before going in. Goalie didn't move. Somehow I think that's not going on the "Goalkeeping for Beginners" tape anytime soon. 1-0

20'- And with the goal, it's officially getting chippy. Shoving, words, late tackles. Ref may need to get a handle on this one before it's the Italian football equivalent of "Slap Shot". Also "sacco di merda" #2 from the V fan after a late tackle.

23'- Corner for FMA taken about a foot in front of the local pole vault pit. Man, even FK Slavoj didn't have to share the field with someone...

27'- GOAL! V #8 dives (again) about 25 yds out, earning a FK. V #10 takes it and inexplicably scores. I think the ball rolled the last five yds on the ground. Not quite Juninho but the home fans are happy... 2-0

29'- Becca's scouting report on the FMA goalie: Inept. At least he's making the hat he's wearing look good.

32'- Chippiness continues. After a particularly bad tackle, ref tries to get the two players to kiss and make up. No dice. Gets derailed in his further peace keeping efforts by the V keeper who lets him know that the two coaches are now going at it on the sideline. We're beginning to wonder if coaches can get send off...

37'- Really bad offsides (10 yds or so) by V #11. Hate to tell him that the green jersey doesn't blend in so well with the gravel.

39'- YC, V #4. The only yellow in the match for an actual foul. The fouler tries actually tries to shake hands with the FMA player only to get his hand slapped away. Yikes!

42'- FMA free kick goes sailing onto the track. Bails out V who can't seem to the needed four guys in their wall on any free kick, eliciting the chant "quattro! quattro!" from the players, the bench, the fans, the ball boys, you name it.

44'- ANOTHER YC, this time on V #9 for a valid complaint on an unpaid advantage call.

45'- YC V #5 for dissent. Evidently you can't say anything to Mr. Napoleon Complex without getting a yellow.

Halftime: 2-0 Vernazza and at least four yellow cards. Don't they realize they're winning? Will someone get a red from the ref just for shrugging their shoulders? Also of note: attendance for the big match is now up to 40ish. You can feel the electricity in the air...

46'- GOAL! FMA #10 untouched in the V box for a header goal. I'm guessing someone got the hair dryer treatment at halftime... 2-1

50'- FMA is dominating play right now and getting every call known to man. I know Italy is the home of match fixing. Wonder if at this level it involves a case of Chianti and some smokes? Or maybe a pedicure for Mr. Rattail?

53'- V #5 gets hurt clearing the ball. FMA #11 does the sporting thing and drags him across the gravel off the field. What a sportsman!

56'- Talk between the two sets of fans is getting animated, including a "sacco di merda" not directed at the ref. Guess who's currently doing their best Switzerland impression right now?

57'- Crowd thankfully redirects their vile toward the ref for yet another yellow for dissent. This time FMA #4 is the victim.

58'- Yellow card for FMA #6. Maybe they forgot to throw in the free perm for the ref as part of the deal.

60'- The linesmen to this point have been hilarious to watch. The far one hasn't moved the entire match and the other one is covering 5 yds on each side of the midfield when he isn't too busy mocking the opposing players when they whine about a foul call. After some quality deduction work and given the fact that they don't have any uniforms, we're pretty sure they are fans from each side. I think my brother's old youth football matches (aka the bumblebee years) even had real linesmen. Still thinking about the logistics of this when...

61'- The FMA coach obstructs/tackles V #4 by the sideline while he's going for the ball. No call from the ref. Becca ponders whether a coach can get a red card. Not sure but this match is getting much more entertaining by the minute.

64'- V#11 gets stepped on and goes down injured. Of course the ref only notices this after a very large V fan clad in an army sweater trods onto the field and make him aware of the issue "arbieto! arbieto!"

66'- Yellow Card #2/Red Card for V #4. You'd figured after getting taken down by the opposing coach you might have the ability to say something to the ref. Evidently not. Gets sent off at which point he completely loses it and goes for a piece of the ref. Only 7-8 teammate, a few spectators hanging out on the track and a torn jersey kept him from crushing rat boy. Wonder if V will be able to hang on a man down at this point. Certainly not looking good since V# 4 had been playing quite well to this point.

70'- FMA #10 fires one off the post. Really not looking good for V but if they can push it to penalty kicks Lurch from FMA hasn't stopped a real shot all day. Keep getting distracted by Army clad V fan doing some free lance assistant coaching on our sideline. V linesman gives FMA player crap for complaining about a call. This is going to be an interesting last 20 minutes.

75'- V #13 gets hurt. Problem is he just came on as the last sub. Thankfully in the grand tradition of Roy Hobbs he's able to continue, even picking up a Yellow a few minutes later. And yes, I realize I'm making my sports metaphors at this point.

80'- Three nice saves in succession by V #1. Him and V#10 are the only reason they're staying in the lead.

87'- V fans start yelling "arbito finito!" (ref, end it!). Fantastic suggestion. Thankfully before that happens...

88'- V #16 does an Oscar worthy dive in the box, earning a Penalty Kick. As V #10 looks to end the game, a three ring circus ensues:

Ring #1
Players start pushing and shoving, mouthing off and the like. Probably discussing what they all did to deserve such a wanker for a ref. I wonder aloud whether the ref has a secure enough ride home at this point. Order is starting to be restored when...

Ring #2
A V player points out that the FMA manager just booted the extra ball out of the stadium and into a housing complex behind the stadium. This gets the V bench up and suddenly the ref is off to try to cut off a full scale rumble between the managers. V's coach is pissed b/c the ball is probably his. These things cost euros you know! The ref at this point has completely lost control of both managers and coaches (except for V #10 who in true goal scorer form is waiting patently at the spot). Just when we think it can't get any worse...

Ring #3
The FMA linesman, the same one who hadn't moved an inch all match, runs onto the field yelling all the way. He approaches the ref and starts whacking him with his linesman flag. Add in the fact that the man looks to be in his mid 60's and even the fans up in the stands are in high spirits at this point. A joint "sacco di merda" is uttered by the fans and we're just waiting for the match to be called.

90'- Somehow, the ref is able to a) toss the linesman, replacing him with one of FMA's subs b) organize the coaches again so they aren't at each others throats and c) restore order on the field long enough for V #10 to nicely put away the kick and the game. 3-1

90+'- Not much to speak of since two minutes of injury time is called in about 10 seconds. And with that, the Vernazza fans go home champions!

Wish there was more to add but the description doesn't come close to conveying the levels of absurdity in this match. Final highlight was evidently my mom and dad ran into the few of the players that night celebrating their win through the streets. Gotta love small town calcio!


Random laugh of the day...

Thanks to wadE and the Simpleprop guys for a great laugh.

Here's Mike Tice (current Vikings oaf/coach) getting his MCL blown out on the sideline. That's not actually the funny part (well, not the funniest part). Check out the reaction of the player in the upper right...

Now THAT is funny.

More actual worthwhile blogs soon, we promise.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Random sports related blog entry...

Congrats on the Aussies for qualifying for their first World Cup in 32 years. Having been there in 1997 when they failed to qualify it is obvious that despite football ranking being about third or fourth, it's a serious matter of national pride that they finally got over the hump. Plus Guus Hiddink is a wizard.

Read all about it right here. Note the special post game locker room guest. Just odd...


PS Early Civil War prediction: Ducks 35, Beavers 13.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Beating the house in Monte Carlo and other adventures...

Quick note to let everyone know that we're alive and well.  Currently hanging out at a undisclosed location working on updating the blog, catching up on sleep and getting ready to head up to Denmark for a few weeks of Asia planning/hanging out before heading for the warmer climes of the subcontinent.  We should have a ton of pics, blog entries on our adventures in Italy and the French Riviera and other random musings up this week. 
In the meantime a story that shows how two type A's can actually change, at least a little.  Becca and I were taking the train from Milan to Menton, France and after having 3.5 hours of two screaming kids next to us, reading my latest book  was not in the cards.  Instead I decided to start perusing through our SE Asia guidebook the parents brought over.  Within about 10 minutes, I'd had a revelation: why spend two plus weeks in cold rainy Scotland (where it is currently getting dark at 3pm) and England when we can use that time to explore somewhere like India or China that we might not have otherwise given ourselves the time to properly see?
So as we're leaving the train, the following conversation takes place:
Me: "So I had an idea..."
Becca: "I bet I know what it is because I was thinking the same thing..."
Me: "I say we scrap the UK because it's the easiest place in Europe to visit from the States and we can always go back and use the extra time in Asia"
Becca: "Uh... ok.  Not what I was thinking."
With that, a little bit of contemplation and a swallowed cheap plane fare to Glasgow (thank god for Ryanair and their 0.01 Internet fares) we've changed our plans. 
Why isn't all travel quite this easy? 

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Great Britain Bound....

Still finishing up a heavenly 2+ weeks in Italy. Earl and Elaine leave on Friday and we're working on blog entries to describe the Cinque Terre, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and some great football matches. In the meantime we're trying to organize our plans for the next month. From November 18th to December 2nd or so we're going to be wandering down from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London and Exeter with stops and detours in between. If any of you know anybody over there who might be a good contact for local sightseeing info or who wouldn't mind two nice, polite backpackers crashing on a couch or spare bed for a day or two, please send us an email or leave a message in the comments section.
The pound is going to play havoc with our budget (so we'd appreciate any help we could get) and we always enjoy seeing a place more through the eyes of somebody who lives there.
Thanks so much for your help!!
More stories and pictures to come in the next couple of days.