Probably the best month ever or at least the biggest in terms of pictures and pages. Camille celebrated her 60th birthday, we went to Switzerland for Bob’s High School Reunion and then we toured Italy all the way down to Sicily.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO COOKIE
June 4 – You don’t turn sixty every day.
Haruka, Bob and Tami pulled off a great birthday party for Camille. See all the photos on this page: Camille’s Birthday Party
THERE’S NOTHING SADDER THAN AN EMPTY BAGGAGE CAROUSEL
We stared at this thing for four hours and Bob’s suitcase did not materialize. In fact, one month later it still has not surfaced and we suspect it never will. By the time we made it to the carousel, Camille’s bag was already sitting on the floor and Bob’s was nowhere to be seen. A smartly dressed woman hovered nearby with that same lost look on her face. We talked and went over to the lost baggage office to report the problem.
Weeks later, the consensus is that it was stolen in New York. Nearly 47 million bags go missing worldwide each year and about 3% of those are stolen. It’s hard to imagine wanting someone else’s used underwear but apparently thieves hit it big often enough to make the practice lucrative. In our case, they got clothing, toiletries, a Swiss army knife that Bob has had for twenty years, some antibiotics and camera equipment (but not the camera!).
Why, we asked ourselves, did this have to happen at the beginning of the trip? Bob was stuck wearing the same clothes for a couple of days before we could replace some of his wardrobe in Switzerland and we soon developed a habit of washing our clothes out in the bathroom sink every night.
AIRPORT REUNION WARM UP
The organizers of the TASIS class of 1974 40th reunion pulled together a pre-boarding party at the airport. Bob and Ann show off their mustaches. Camille chats with Karen, presumably about horses while alumni Yvette and Roubik get caught up.
We flew over the Alps to Milan and boarded a chartered bus to the idyllic city of Lugano, Switzerland for five nights in a dorm on campus at The American School in Switzerland. This would be Bob’s first glimpse of many of his teenaged haunts in nearly forty years. Lots of fun and activities followed. Please check out the TASIS Reunion page.
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS
After arriving on campus we caught a ride into Lugano to shop for clothes at the Manor, a big department store in Lugano and also picked up a smart little pink and grey suitcase (half price!) for Bob to carry them in.
If you have to replace your wardrobe, this isn’t the cheapest place to do it. All amounts are in Euros.
THE ITALIAN PART OF SWITZERLAND
There are few places on earth with everything this area has to offer. Camille gazes from a taxi window at Lake Lugano and the little while Sant Abbondio Church with it’s welcoming cypress. There are many more scenes from this idyllic place on the Lugano page.
FOOD, FOOD AND MORE FOOD
We traveled for sixteen days and as an army travels on its stomach, so did we. From panini rusticos to gelato and beyond. If you like food, dip into the photos on this page: Gastronomy
EXPLORING BRIGHT MEMORIES
Laden with jet lag, we decided to sleep in and play hookey. The weather was perfect for a long walk so we took a little wander down memory lane in search of the eight-sided house. Bob took a sit on the Red Bench and we ended up stopping for beer and salad at a delightful restaurant with this view of a church and vineyard. See more on: Hike Up the Collino d’Oro
SONOGNO AND VERZASCA
The reunion planning committee outdid themselves with the most amazing activity line up. Our first field trip was to stunning Sonogno and the famed ‘Roman Bridge” at Verzasca. A day to remember! More pictures at: Valle Verzasca
A trip on a funicular, a small cable car in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced to the top of Monte Bre for the view and some wandering around. On another day, we indulged in a cocktail cruise across the lake to Morcote for an epic meal. Check out the fun at: Monte Bre and Morcote
After the reunion, we took a train to Florence, a place of monumental art and architecture. Much more on the Florence page.
Florence is definitely one of the art capitals of the world and we took full advantage of the opportunity to soak in some culture. Please enjoy our Art Museums in Florence page.
TRAIN TO ROME
If it’s Wendesday, we must be headed to Rome. On a fast train, through Tuscany.
THE ETERNAL CITY
Diving further into Italian culture, we made our way a little further south to Rome where, again, we took lots of photos like the two above. Please check out the Rome page.
We only had two days in Rome so we picked a few “must sees” like the Coliseum and The Vatican. See what we saw here: The Vatican
Our final destination was the island of Sicily. Camille recently discovered census records which show that both of her grandfather’s parents emigrated from Sicily, making her 25% Sicilian. So off we went, in search of a connection. See what we found on this page: Sicily
We mainly traveled Sicily by foot but were able to explore the area beyond Taormina and Giardini Naxos using a rental car. Nearby our fabulous Agon Bed and Breakfast was a little shrine featuring St Anthony of Padua, a Portuguese saint whose ship was driven off course while traveling home from Morocco and landed on Sicily.
GLIMPSES OF SICILY
Limoncello producing B&B that we nearly stayed in and the building next door to the Agon B&B which Bob and Davide were joking we should purchase for a mere two million Euros and turn into a hotel.
OLEANDER ON THE AUTOSTRADA
What we saw of Sicily was characterized by the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean and by oleander shrubs as big as crepe myrtles, olives, figs and bougainvillea.
On up the hill from our B&B was the delightful town of Taormina, with its quaint shops, restaurants and the Greek Ampitheater, built 2,000 years ago and still in use for the Taormina Film Festival. Don’t miss this beautiful place: Touring Taormina
An active volcano is always a presence in the lives of those who live within its range. In fact, lava grit from the constant eruptions lays along every street down below and ash has even reached as far as Rome. Our hosts spoke about the latest eruption combined with a hailstorm just days before our arrival and the internet is rife with videos of dark nights made bright by bursting lava and flying sparks. Naturally we were curious so we drove up for a closer look. Here’s more photos: A Drive to Mt. Etna
A day of repose before heading back across the pond and a smart buffer should transportation fail to get us to the Milan airport in time. We strolled down to a nearby village and had a bite to eat and then returned to our room and began working on photographs.
BYE BYE ITALY
One last glimpse of our big European adventure from the oval window of our Emirates B-777. Camille wrote about this up and coming airline on our blog with this entry: Riding on the Ritz
HELLO NEW YORK
Nine hours later we began to glimpse the continent of North America and then Skyscraper National Park below. We had a good night’s sleep, shaking most of the jet lag and woke to this view. We were back in the U. S. and happily it looked clean, organized and welcoming.
At the end of the day, home is where the heart is. Our neighbor Fred had mowed our lawn and Spot couldn’t wait to tell us all about his two weeks as solo inhabitant of Trouts Farm.
A LITTLE BIT OF WEEDING TO DO
The garden was verdant, beets, leeks, potatoes, peppers, chard, carrots, squash, basil, mint and tomatoes holding their own against the weeds.
TRI COLOR FINGERLINGS
Bob began pulling potatoes out of the ground by the pound, including this red, white and blue mix just in time for the fourth of July.
THIS MONTH’S QUOTES:
[It was] “the fullest, most prolific, most industrious and most passionate time of my life.” – Hermann Hesse, in reference to his first year in Ticino, Switzerland
“I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.” – Eddie Izzard
“You go away for a long time and return a different person-you never come all the way back.” – Paul Theroux from Dark Star Safari, 2002
The best way to locate a page or photo from past issues is with this handy Search Engine
Get the back story via our blog at Plastic Farm Animals