The line to check in was almost as long as the pop-up shower delay (an hour and a half) on the runway, but we finally got clearance and started the flight to Italy. Lufthansa was a pretty good airline; the flight attendants were efficient in German style, but I stole a few smiles with a "danke" and "tschuss." I got a window seat on the way there, but there was not much to see other than clouds and sunset. I watched a couple movies and a special on the World Cup before finally falling asleep. Edge of Darkness was actually a fairly enticing thriller, but the acting could have been better. Planet 51, which despite it's overly numerous reference to other sci-fi films finished relatively strong for it's simplistic and predictable story.
We landed in Frankfurt and passed through the passport window - my first stamp in my new book! I was going to keep my "silverware" from the flight, but it is a good thing I ditched it as we passed through another security gate. That could have been bad. The wurst kiosk was very compelling, but I was short on Euros, so I kept on, hungry again to the next gate. On the way down from our second leg, I managed to catch a glimpse of the city. I had no idea how far out away from the mainland Venice is. It looked pretty cool from a distance, but that's about all I'll see of it. I was a little disappointed that we did not need to stamp our passports in Italy as we had already entered Europe.
Back on the road we stopped at a rest stop; they sure are quite a bit more than a gas station - more like a gas station, rest stop, deli, and convenience store combined. I wish I had had my camera at the moment.... right inside was this shrine-like pile of merchandise of Hello Kitty.
We drove the rest of the way to the Hotel Villa Michelangelo, which is actually in the village Arcugnano in the mountains above Vicenza. The view from there is quite amazing - Villages below in the valley, villas up on the hillside. At the hotel we got our rooms and I took a tiny nap, then another in the lounge. Other engineers are at the same hotel, so we had some drinks with them before dinner. Our server was a young lady from England, but she had a noticable Irish touch to her accent. She claimed to never have lived there but said that I was not the only one to inquire about it. Our dinner was at La Vera Birreria, a local pizza and beer house. The pizza was not as good as Antico, but good; we're not in Naples yet anyway.
I fell right asleep when we returned to the hotel, and felt very rested. Breakfast was continental, but much better than most "free" breakfast at American hotel chains. Prosciutto and cheese, croissants and several flavors of jam. And of course, the coffee was actually good. Despite such a good start, jet lag drug me down for the rest of the day. During meetings, I took notes more to help stay awake as most of the discussion was between others. I hoped one more evening of sleep would snap me awake.
Before I could rest we had another round of drinks and then a big Italian dinner. My first course was a garlic risotto which was fabulous and lots of it; I could not even finish. My second course was goat spine... or at least I think it was. It was pretty tasty; although, a couple of my pieces were far too fatty. But all of that and quite a few glasses of wine were a superb meal, only to be topped off by an espresso and then a questionable choice, grappe. Grappa (or at least this one) is like turpentine made from raisins, but hey, I tried it. I fell asleep even more quickly, waking some time around 2am still in my clothes. Oops.
Having been exhausted the night before and having ignored my phones repeated calls for me to wake, I was in a frantic panic to pack. This didn't give me much time to enjoy breakfast which is a pity which it really deserved. I did sneak a pear for later, which proved to be a wise decision. And I noted however that the morning server had a strong resemblence to Audrey Toutou.
Back to work, but today was much more enjoyable. I had some drafting to do, and the lag was essentially gone. I made use of that pear shortly before we hit the road to Verona where we caught a short flight to Napoli (Naples). Fortunately I was exhausted and slept most of the way, because the person behind me was having a deep conversation with hand motions... motions into the back of my seat. I felt it better not to cause a scene in a foreign country... on an airplane... so I just dealt with it. We took an unregulated "taxi" to our hotel. The guy tried to bleed us for money at the end of our deathride. I tried not to think too much more about it, checked in and hit the bar for a glass of wine. I had risotto again, but the lemon in it was far too strong. Risotto does not have a strong flavor, so less is more, folks. Less is more.
So here, I am, finally, typing away at the Hotel Paradiso. (Is there any relation to the film? I've not seen it. Probably not, I think it is set in Paris.) As I understand, there will not be much free time to site-see in the next week. But maybe I will be able to stretch my legs in Naples a bit in the next few days. Ciao!