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We Didn't Drink ALL the Vino! Maitaitom's Italy Uncensored

We Didn't Drink ALL the Vino! Maitaitom's Italy Uncensored

Oct 13th, 2005, 10:50 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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Bokhara is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 11:05 AM
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Nice!! I just can’t handle teasers very well. I keep checking every five minutes and I put my life on hold. Well, I guess I’ll put my feet up and just wait.
Simone1 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Baby lobster. They served you baby lobster. As a representative of PETL (People for the Epicurean Treatment of Lobsters) I demand you hand it over immediately. I'm sitting in Cattle class, row 45.....

Good to have you back. More, please. Trip report, I mean, though if you should happen to have some melted butter.....
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Tom, I do believe you are J.K. Rowing in disguise. I'm certainly enjoying your adventure thus far and look forward to more!

Statia is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 11:34 AM
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Ok, I should be repenting for my sins (ie Fodors addiction...) and here I am reading MaiTai's first installment. What does that say about me???

Signed, the Happy Hypocrite
OneWanderingJew is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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God---I hope they have overbooked my flight and we get bumped to first class! Who knew???!!!
Can't wait for the rental car details and how the camara ended up deep in a canal.
Thanks for sharing. We all wait tapping our fingers and hoping you will keep up the key tapping...
lanz is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Oh, this is going to be so much fun. I can't wait for more. Work will just have to wait for another day - I'll be much too busy checking here for more of this thread.
Thanks, Maitai.
anotherjudy is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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A good night’s rest, and it was time to walk halfway through the Hilton/Airport sauna tunnel to pick up the car. I thought about just wearing my trunks and a towel to stay cool, but decided against it for fear of causing a national incident. The Hertz line was a mile long, but I quickly got through the Europcar line and went to pick up our car, which turned out to be a Fiat (may it rest in everlasting peace).

It didn’t take me long to find myself in my first rental car jam of the trip. I drove toward the machine where you put the card in the slot to exit the rental car area, but the guy in front of me was having difficulty. He wanted to back up, because his card wasn’t working.

No problema, I thought. Well, no problema until I tried to get my car in reverse. Try as I might, the damned thing would not go into reverse. Of course, the more I tried, the more cars started lining up behind me. And, of course, the more cars that lined up behind me, the more I began to sweat (think Albert Brooks as the hapless newsman in Broadcast News). Finally, the guy got out of his car, walked and got another ticket, and we were all going forward again.

When I got back to the hotel room, Tracy saw my sweat-stained shirt and said, “Man that walkway must have been really hot today.” I didn’t tell her about my driving faux pas until after I quickly took my second shower of the day.

We went downstairs and each had a mediocre 12 Euro Continental breakfast (OK, the Hilton is a tad overpriced), checked out and waited for Kim and Mary, who showed up at 11:30 am.

As Mary changed clothes in the Hilton lobby bathroom, she ran into our first Ugly American, which thankfully turned out to be our last Ugly American of the trip. A young woman put her hands under the automatic sink, and, as automatic sinks often do, it took a couple of seconds for the water to start flowing. Mary said the woman screamed, “I hate Italy. You have to wait for everything!” This became our humorous and endearing catchphrase for the remainder of the trip.

We jumped in the car to head for Spello, but I told Kim about the reverse problem, and he tried for a few minutes with no luck in getting the car to back up. “Well,” I thought, “I don’t have to use reverse on the Spello drive, so we’ll deal with this minor inconvenience later.”

There was terrible traffic on the Rome Ring, but once we got out in the country, it was clear sailing. On the two-lane road heading toward Spoleto, it was exciting to see how close the cars passing other cars going the other direction actually came to causing us to have a head-on collision. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw Mary covering her eyes so she didn’t have to witness these many near-death experiences. She was also getting sleepy.

We got to Spello in a little more than two hours and headed for the city center and our hotel for the next three nights, the Palazzo Bocci. Even with eight eyes, we passed right by it and, like an airliner missing the runway, came back around to try again.

This time I took a different route (not on purpose), which put me in a parking area near the center of town (not the parking area I wanted, but it was close enough to walk to the hotel). I saw a spot in my rear view mirror and was planning to put the car in reverse when a terrible thought occurred to me…”I don’t know how to put the car in reverse.”

This was no time to panic. No sense making a bad impression on our Spello neighbors in the first five minutes. At one point, Tracy, Kim and Mary actually tried to push the car backwards into the parking space (which was the first time Italians could have reasonably laughed at us, yet they stayed restrained, though perplexed, at the actions of their new out-of-town residents).

We tried many different variations on a theme until Kim finally came upon the answer. Put your fingers under the ring and pull up on the stick, contrary to our years of driving sticks where we pushed down. “Spello, we have touch down!”

The Palazzo Bocci was everything it was cracked up to be on the board. We had a lovely room overlooking the Tuscan countryside from our little patio (courtesy of Kim and Mary who took the room without a view). There was also a big patio where the four of us shared wine, cheese and various meats for the next few nights and met some of the hotel guests.

After unpacking, we all strolled the streets of Spello (fortunately no one recognized us as the “pushing car” Americans. We quickly partook in our first gelato experience, found some spectacular views, traversed the quiet streets, stopped in to see the Pinturicchio frescoes at the Santa Maria Maggiore and found a nice wine store to grab a couple of bottles of vino to enjoy on the patio before dinner.

Our first class airline experience unfortunately was different from our friends. They had traveled to Rome via Atlanta from San Diego in the cattle car, and Mary was beginning to feel the effects as we sat outside. She was able to talk coherently to some Brits on an Umbrian walking tour, but it seemed the wine was quickly taking effect on her mental capabilities and ability to enunciate.

We met a nice German newlywed couple who told us about some great restaurants in the Jewish section of Rome (where we would end our trip). When Mary started talking Yiddish to them (the sad part is she really doesn’t know any Yiddish), we knew Mary would not be joining us for dinner. Kim led Mary to their room where, unbeknownst to her husband at the time, she decided to take an Ambien, which sealed the deal. The next thing Mary knew was the light of the next day.

Kim, Tracy and I dined at Il Molina (the hotel restaurant located across the street and down a few doors). It had an interesting curved, vaulted brick ceiling, a fun waiter and terrific food. Tracy had the dish of the night, a pasta concoction chock full of pistachio, pecorino and prosciutto. The honeydew in my prosciutto y meloné tasted like candy. The Montefalco 2003 Rosso Antonellio was a bargain at 13 Euros. We all toasted to our great fortune of being back in Italy and realized how incredibly lucky we were to be able to make these trips.

This would be the last day for quite some time where our feet and legs would feel good, as tomorrow would start our ten day mission of exploring hill towns throughout Umbria and Tuscany.


maitaitom is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:43 PM
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Oh Tom! I had the same problem with reverse when we rented a car in Rome a few years ago. Fortunately for me, it was necessary to back out of the parking space, so I was forced to go inside and ask the guy behind the counter to show me how to get the car in reverse. You could practically read the thought balloon above his head as he followed me out to the car.

Looking forward to the next installment!
Marilyn is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Wonderful I've exeprienced that wine, jet lag, and ambien combo once too - never again!
TexasAggie is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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Marilyn. It was pretty funny. Four relatively intelligent people being stumped by a stick shift question. As you will see as I get further into this report, our intelligence factor will be questioned again, and the answer won't be pretty. Pretty funny...but not pretty.
maitaitom is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 03:57 PM
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You brought back the great memories of 3 adults figuring out how to get into reverse to me too. Wouldn't you know we were the only car in a huge parking lot - and had pulled right up to the curb. I wish I had thought up the push-the-car-out-of-the-parking-spot maneuver. It certainly would have saved us a lot of time. Oh, if I had only known about Fodor's before that trip!!!
kwren is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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..."never again!"

I believe those are the exact words our friend Mary said about that combo.

maitaitom is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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I've just chanced upon this thread from an "old" Fodorite who has magic in his pen!

Love your reports, maitai!

Yes, those European cars - I drove once from Manchester to Oxford before finding out that reverse means pulling UP on the stick shift - LOL!

Unmatchable! Wonderfu! Looking forward to the next installment! Such a treat!
easytraveler is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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I'm glad I wasn't the only one with the "pull up the ring to get it into reverse" problem. I couldn't get out of the Shannon Airport parking lot.
Budman is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:32 PM
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I join the ranks of people who didn't know about pulling up the ring to get into reverse. I'm glad I am not alone!
cls2paris is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 05:33 PM
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Forgot to mention- I'm enjoying your stories!
cls2paris is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:09 PM
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I will go to sleep tonight dreaming of Italy, knowing that in the morning there will be another installment....

Excellent writing. I look forward to spending the rest of the week hooked right here.

kopp is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 06:39 PM
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After four days of rain, some sunshine comes in the form of Tom the maitai nom.
cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 13th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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I LOVE your report! I have never read a report this hilarious! I have been laughing out loud the entire time. Thanks for making this stressful day better!
BELLE0516 is offline  

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