Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flowers at Home: Almost Italy

The next major trip will be to Italy in late October. I will be spending 5 days in Tuscany - driving around to see the small towns sprinkled between Florence and Rome. I plan to roam vineyards in Chianti, stroll the cobblestone streets of Montepulciano and Volterra. I plan to sit and bask in the Tuscan sun in the midst of ancient piazzas.

And so in prep for this major solo travel, I have literally brought home all travel books from the NYPL because I am too cheap to buy. I am memorizing phrases and dutifully practicing my Italian.

To bring home the feeling I grabbed the summer bouquet from the deli downstairs. Great yellow from the sunflower and oranges from the mini sunflowers plus bursts of green and brown from other flowers.

Ahhhh, la bellisima!

M
NYC

Friday, August 13, 2010

Scandinavian Summer

Everything about this trip went wrong right from the start. Deciding to pack light I only brought my iPad and my camera and hoped the iPad camera connector kit I ordered online would arrive on time. It didn't. 10 days later I have 4 4GB cards with pictures, I am unable to download. They will have to wait until I return to New York.

The flight to leave NYC was scheduled for 8:30 PM. My friend stayed too late at work and ended up missing the limousine service so had to flag a cab. In Manhattan at 6PM, that was tough. Hardly enough time to pass by for me and make it through the rush hour traffic to the airport. It was photo finish but we didn't get to check in our bags since the gates were almost closed. Fine with me - I travel with my trusty carry on luggage and my overnighter. Not too good for my friend with two pieces of carry-on, one which he had to pay for. Oh well...

We landed in Norway on time though and spent the next days gallivanting through Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. For countries I hardly knew anything about prior to the trip (except for the Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy), I was fascinated. Many times I just stood and stared and tried to take in the unusual natural beauty of my surroundings. The architecture of the old as it mixes with the minimalist modern. The calming waters that surround each city, the cruise through the canals of Denmark and the harbour views of Stockholm and Oslo had been close to dreamy.

The summer here has the sun setting often at 10:00 PM. And then the skies do not get too dark, the skies always having a hint of light. As though the heavens would like to keep its eyes just barely closed for a nap, afraid to miss the beauty of the season. You see, when winter sets in I was told, the temperatures plunged as early as October and by December all is covered in white snow.

The people are nice, very warm and hospitable. I have made so many new friends in the 10 days I was visiting, I felt sorry that I had to explain why I do not add people to my Facebook. I felt trivial and maybe I will reconsider. I met up with old friends who introduced me to their friends and families. They welcomed me, offered me aquavit which I have learned to enjoy.

It is almost Saturday now. A full 10 days since I arrived. The time on the iPad says 2:51 AM. It is quiet at the hotel and I am still awake. Heart-broken about leaving, wishing I could stay. There is still too much to see, so much to enjoy. Friends today tried so many ways to extend my stay but the cost of rebooking and the new ticket is just too exorbitant. I dismissed all efforts today by declaring I would just have to come back.

Another summer.

Oslo, Norway
2:53 AM