Sunday, September 13, 2009

Highlights from the Griswald's Trip to Italy

We are finally back in Zurich and I can't believe this is going to be our first post! We were so busy and I was way too tired to write at night - so sorry! But we decided to do a Top 10 List of the Highlights of Italy - so here they are and there will be more to come - promise! (And for the people who don't know Nathan and I have been traveling in Italy with Nathan's mom, Bonnie, and his stepfather, Bob, for the last 7 days)

Top 10 Highlights from Italy:
1. On our first day in Rome we went to see all the ruins including the Coloseum and the Roman Forum. It wasn't long before we found out that Bob was going to avoid ALL stairs or hills at ALL cost. However, when we got to Mussolini's House (and as Bob was complaining about not going "all the way up there") he was passed by an 80 year old woman with a cane! So he "manned up" and walked to the top (just 20 steps) - nothing like being shamed by an OLD Lady with a cane - huh Bob?

I thought I would show a picture so you guys could get a visual -it wasn't like the scene from Rocky or anything.:)

2. On our 2nd night in Rome, we were having a hard time finding a restaurant near the Spanish Stairs so we started walking towards a main street to hail a cab. I glanced over me shoulder to find Nathan when - BAM! -a woman punched me in my stomach - hard! I thought she was trying to steal my purse so I automatically what down to grab that but she just kept on walking like "you shouldn't have been in my way b@#$*!" Of course no one saw what happened b/c they were too busy getting in the cab but I really wanted to go KICK HER ASS! Next time Lady - Next time!

3. We were on a side street in Rome enjoying our Gelatto when a man on a Vespa (going about 50 MPH) came out of nowhere - held down one nostril and blew a booger out the other! It landed within 1 meter (3 feet) of Nathan - how appetizing! Bob took a picture for proof -Thanks Bob for capturing the moment!

4. On our first night in Florence we went to Osteria All'Antico Mercato - the restaurant our hotel suggested. Luigi owned the place (at least we think he did) and he was a TRUE Italian - a lover not a fighter:) Every time he came to our table he held my hand or caressed my arm - but hey - I was taking one for the team - because he brought us free bruschetta, free prosciutto with our pecorino cheese, and when I ordered dessert (almond biscotti dipped in dessert wine) he brought an ENTIRE bottle and shot glasses for the whole table! (At one point he asked Nathan if it was okay and all Nathan said was "you can have her for 5 Euros.... well actually 3 b/c of the conversion" - Thanks Honey:)!

All of us with Luigi - this is one of my favorite pics from the trip:)

The WHOLE bottle of dessert wine!

My good night Kiss - Ciao Luigi!

5. Later that same night we went to the Piazza Della Repubblica to hang out and watch the street performers. After this one "show", Bob looked down and found 55 Euros on the street! (For the record we did wait about 15 minutes for its owner to come back and claim it and - no Bob didn't pick pocket this money - I saw it laying there too:)) But since no one came - this was great -not only because he found free money but because before this he wasn't even allowed to hold 1 Euro! Bob was now living the high life - and he even took us out for lunch! Thanks Bob!

6. Michelangelo's David. I think Bonnie has been talking about seeing this one statue since about May:). I do have to say it is a very fine statue and it is unbelievable that it is carved out of marble! Unfortunately, the museum where David is housed - the Galleria dell' Accademia - does not allow pictures to be taken - so this is the best we could show you:

But the statue looked JUST like this - promise:)!

7. Of course all the tourist crap in Florence had pictures of David on them (usually his nether regions) - magnets, aprons (as seen above), miniature statues, and boxer shorts. Bonnie REALLY wanted Bob to get a pair of the boxers (he said No - well something along those lines) but that he would take a picture of them. As he was pulling out his camera the owner of the "booth" started yelling something at Bob in Italian then finished with F.U.! Does that mean we can't take the picture? Oh - and thanks for the Italian hospitality! Where's Luigi when you need him?!

8. The third leg of our trip was to the Cinque Terre (the Italian Riviera) which was amazingly beautiful! Bonnie, Nathan and I set out on Friday morning to hike the trail through four of the cities from Riomaggiore to Vernazza. (Bonnie tried to convince Bob it would just be a nice "stroll" through the mountain side but after a conversation with a local on the train who told us it was "quite strenuous" in places I knew there was NO WAY Bob would be attending the hike - and of course he didn't.)

The leg of the trip between Carniglia and Vernazza was the most strenuous, it was really hot (it felt about 90 degrees) and there was no shade. Just as we were turning a corner of the trail I saw someone go down about 50 feet in front of me. We ran up to see what happened and found a 65 year old couple from New Zealand - Digby and Janis. Janis had gone into a diabetic coma right there on the trail! Another hiker arrived from the opposite direction at the same time we did and we all tried to keep Janis from rolling off the side of the mountain (the trail was about 3 feet wide in this particular area). Janis had started to throw up and she was completely unresponsive.

This is what the trail looked like near where we found Janis (yes the left side is straight down)

The closest town was about 45 minutes from the direction we hiked from, but the other guy said there was a restaurant about 10 minutes from his direction. Nathan and this hiker were going to try to carry Janis (again on the 3 feet wide trail with a straight down plunge into the sea about 600 feet below). But when they tried to lift her Digby said and I quote "Oh - my Janis is a big girl" - which was true - but coupled with the fact that she was completely dead weight it was going to be an impossible task!

So the other guy ran back to the restaurant to call 911 (or whatever number they call in Italy for an emergency) and Nathan tried to get Janis to drink water. Now this is a VERY busy trail and LOTS of people came upon us - some just tried to pass and others offered help - within about 15 minutes we had a Fanta soda, gum, powerade, a power bar, a nurse from Germany, grape jelly, an EMT from Seattle, and finally a doctor from another country that doesn't speak Italian. Nathan had been trying to feed Janis the Fanta before the EMT arrived then he took over and started feeding her the grape jelly under her tongue. When the doctor arrived the EMT was giving her the stats on Janis' heart rate, her pain level, and other facts about what had happened. Janis said she also felt chest pain. Honestly it was very scary and there were a few times that Janis was completely unresponsive.

Bonnie did her part by translating the drugs Janis was on from Digby's description to the doctor (she knows them b/c Bob is also diabetic). I also helped out by holding ALL the stuff any hiker wanted to offer us - at one point I was holding 2 bottles of water, the opened half finished jelly, 2 sticks of gum, a half can of Fanta, a towel, and our backpack.:)

It took what seemed to be an eternity (it was actually about 1 hour) for the paramedics to arrive. Of course they only spoke Italian and of the 15 hikers representing about 5 countries none of us spoke a lick of Italian! This was a bit of a struggle at first but finally the Italian paramedics took over and had to call in a heli-ambulance! (There was no way they were carrying her off the side of that mountain!)

It was a very intense hour but after we saw that the situation was taken carry of we could find a little humor in the situation. (I know we are sick but it isn't every day that you get to save a life while you are hiking - okay well WE didn't save her life - but I did hold the jelly!). Nathan had realized it might be a little rude to take a picture of Janis during the situation but after the paramedics got there and we continued on our hike we did get a photo of them helicoptering her out of there!

They sent down a basket and 4 additional paramedics for her

Moral of the story: Bonnie isn't go to try to force Bob to come on any more hikes and to keep jelly packets in your purse! You've always got to take a little something away from every situation:)

9. On Saturday morning we left Cinque Terre for Lugano, Switzerland. Unfortunately we had to take 4 trains for this 3 hour trip! We had heard terrible stories about the Italian trains (being late, no air, etc) so I was hoping that everything would work out - but I wasn't expecting our seats to be DOUBLE BOOKED from Genova to Milan! We checked with the ticket guy and he confirmed that both sets of tickets were valid - and since they got to the seats first we had to ride in the aisle with every one's luggage! This was a bummer but didn't fall into the all out SUCKS category until the guy with the "refreshment cart" came barreling down the aisle (and of course we didn't have anywhere else to go). He kept ringing his bell until we moved our luggage and our butts out of his way! HaHa! Let's just say this wasn't a highlight and that Bob WASN'T that happy.:)

10. And finally one of my favorite parts of the trip was reminiscing through all the photos. Especially on Bob's camera! His view of Europe just makes me laugh! Here are some of my favorites - I hope you enjoy them too:

Wow! They have defibrillators in the phone booths in Zurich..... and they have phone booths in Zurich!

Duck's butt in Lake Zurich (this was like Bob's 2nd photo:))

Bob's 3rd photo - a fancy porta potty in Zurichhorn Park! You wash your hands in the same bowl you pee in!

The parking "situation" in Rome.....however I don't think that is any worse than the driving "situation" in Atlanta!

Quote from Bob "We would have a lot more room in our bathroom if they'd just take out that useless second toilet!" (well something like that:)) But it did come in handy....Bonnie washed her feet in it:)

The female Polizei in Florence working hard!

Look out how many Vespa's there are!

Chicken's in the market in Florence with their heads just rung and still attached!

Come and get your Fish - it is fresh - right out of this rusty bucket!

While we were saving Janis' life - Bob was taking naked photos in Vernazza! There were lots of close ups but this was the only one I thought I could post on the blog:) He said he wanted us to know what we had missed ...... thanks again Bob - you are always looking out for us!

So now you know what Bob's trip to Italy was like!:)

I promise the rest of the trip will come soon - I've just got to get some real work done first!


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