Tuesday, June 26, 2012

West Coast Continues

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
We left Putignano, Italy in our sky blue Fiat Panda rental at 6:30AM on Tuesday morning, and drove to the Bari airport to catch our 8:35 Alitalia flight to Rome. We were going meet one of my colleagues there and stay one night in Rome before departing for our West Coast adventure, the second of three legs of our Italy—United States—Italy Summer vacation. With dolci secchi di mandorle (dry almond cookies) wrapped in a napkin, Anna and Vito, Angela’s parents, waved to us with tears in their eyes.

The road to the airport was relatively traffic-free, and we returned the Panda without incident. It had taken us about 55 minutes to get there. We checked in two pieces of luggage, a black suitcase with my clothes and a red one with Angela’s and Vito’s. Unfortunately, when we arrived at Fulmicino Airport, our red suitcase never appeared on the carousel!

This flight from Bari to Rome, a domestic flight within Italy, only lasts about 50 minutes, and there weren’t many other checked bags. How could Alitalia lose our suitcase? What could we do about it?

Despite our woes, Rome was fantastic! We met Asmaa and her daughter Iman in the early evening, and walked from the Spanish Steps to Trastevere where we found a great restaurant with live traditional music. It was dark, and there were torches burning outside the restaurant. We sat outside the ivy-covered building and watched a comedic skit with the musicians while enjoying our meal. At the end of our meal, we walked to the coliseum, marveling at the beauty of Rome by night, hailed a cab as it was quite late, and finally bid our friends good evening as we returned to our hotel near the train station. Still no suitcase.

Mama's, San Francisco
The next morning, we flew to San Francisco, where we spent three nights. We had to spend a little time shopping to get something warm for Vito and some other essentials that were lost with our suitcase, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits. The highlight of our stay, aside from delicious food (we waited one hour for breakfast at Mama's!), was an afternoon at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. After experiencing the earthquake simulator, we concluded our visit with the earthquake video in the planetarium, and it knocked our socks off.

In the meanwhile, Angela has called, perhaps, twenty times to speak with various representatives from Alitalia and has only received conflicting or confusing information. We finally received a e-mail message that our suitcase would be delivered to our hotel in Portland. We should be there tomorrow. Cross your fingers.

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California
Yesterday, after two nights in Vacaville at my grandmother Ruth's house, we loaded up our little red Nissan Versa rental and followed Highway 1 along the coast to Fort Bragg, California. After checking in last night, we found Glass Beach, and spent some time lingering over the glass-scattered beach sand looking for the rare red glass bits. Afterwards, we ate some fried fish in a little restaurant next to the water in Noyo Harbor, and then returned to our hotel and went to bed.

It's wonderfully sunny outside now, and we're sitting in the dining room of Country Inn waiting for our breakfast while Vito draws pictures with his colored pencils. After eating, we'll continue north along the coast. We're not sure where we'll end up today, but we need to be in Portland tomorrow. Our suitcase should be waiting for us when we arrive. If that happens, all will be forgiven.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Trullo in Time

Our vacation has been going fine, and the mosquitoes haven't torn me apart, either. Everyone's eating well, too, as usual.

All the Italian kids in Apuglia are still in school (today's actually the last day), so no one else has been on vacation but Angela, Vito and me. However, Vito has been seeing two of his Italian cousins (Alessandro and Adrianna) every day as they come over with Angela’s sister, Annamaria, and eat lunch with us when they’re done with school at around 1PM. It makes for an active afternoon. I have plenty of time to use the computer, but that will change soon. We haven’t been doing much else as the weather has been too cold. Also, the cooler than usual temperatures haven’t allowed Angela’s parents to move out to their countryside trullo yet, but we’re looking to do that in the next day or so. Cross your fingers.

Swimming cove - Monopoli, Italy in the distance.
As the weather has finally been cooperating, we took the train to Bari yesterday morning to rent a car for the remainder of our stay. Getting around hasn't been much of an issue so far as we have been staying in town and it is fairly easy to go from place to place on foot, but if we want to leave the countryside when we move there, we need our own vehicle! Moreover, we will need one if we want to go to the beach. In the past, when we have visited Putignano, we have borrowed Angela’s sister’s husband’s (Francesco's) commute car, an old Fiat Uno, but that is not an option for us any longer.

We have been in Putignano since the 26th of May, but we went to the beach with one of Angela's friends, Annalisa, for the first time yesterday. If possible, we are planning on going every morning until we leave for our California-Oregon-Nevada adventure on the 19th of this month. Other than that, we don't have much on the agenda.