Saturday, March 30, 2013

Oh My!

I love my blog friends, I really do.

I mean, from who (whom?) else are you going to receive a present like this...

Yes, I have a friend with mad crocheting skills.  You might know her as Crazy Texas Mommy, but I might start calling her Peni Peddler.  As much as my lipstick holder made me giggle, I was really happy when I when I realized the lip balm inside was Nipple Nibbler.

Why would I be so happy about the lip balm?  Because I've kept a jar of a similar product in my work drawer for years that I used as lip stuff.  To find that it's packaged as a respectable tube of lip balm made me very happy.

And since my present made me giggle, I *had* to share it with my co-workers, who dared me to leave it in plain view on my desk all day, just to see what the guys would say.  They didn't even notice.  Until I picked it up to show to another female co-worker.  I realized then that I really needed to dust my desk, as the back of my lipstick holder was covered in dust.  So I began trying to rub it off...

It was at that exact moment that a male co-worker decided to walk by and notice that I was intently rubbing the head of a crocheted penis.

Yep, that's my life.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Italy, Day 13

11 Apr 06

We had a great sit-down breakfast at the hotel today, then set off in a water taxi to Murano island to see the glass blowers. 

The water taxi was much more like a "water limo" with wood and brass cabin and cream-colored leather seats.

The glass on Murano was amazing!  Watching the glass blowers do their thing was unbelievable.  Even after watching them start with plain glass and work it, I'm still in awe at what they are able to do.  I took a ton of pictures of sculptures that I loved, but couldn't afford.

Robs spoiled herself and bout six wine glasses and a carrafe caraffe wine decanter for 325 Euro including shipping and handling.  She should have everything in 4 - 6 weeks, so we'll have to have a party to celebrate when she gets them.

Signing her life away.
I bought some very cool bracelets for my co-workers, a necklace for Nelle, horse for Mom, angel for Grandma Mary and mini-carnival masks for a couple of other people.  I spent less than 50 Euro for 12 gifts ~ not a bad deal.

Squid was kind enough to model the jewelry.

The rest of the day was very laid back and relaxed.  Mrs Squid and I walked around while she finished up her shopping.  Then Squid, Kev, Robs and I went for gelato.  I think I'm going to go through gelato withdrawal when I get back to the States.

NEVER pass up an opportunity for gelato.  Never.  Ever.  Never.
I've eaten so much pizza here because it's fairly cheap, that I don't care if I see another pizza again.

After dinner, Squid, Mrs Squid, Robs and I walked to San Marco Square again to see it at night.  I was hopeful that it would flood so I could get some cool pictures of the reflection of the square in the water.

That's the extent of the flooding, which is a good thing.

Venice at night is every bit at beautiful as it is during the day, and we had a good time wandering through all of the alleys, even if Robs and I kinda got lost and worried Squid.

Headed home tomorrow.  As much as I'd like to stay here, I miss the kids and home.  I just hope that I'll be able to bring them back with me one day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Italy, Day 12

10 Apr 06

The train from Milan to Venice was absolutely packed!  I'm so glad we paid the extra 3 Euro to get assigned seats.  Squid had to kick people out of our compartment while Brandy, Robs, and I were stuck in the hallway at the other end of the rail car.  It took us nearly twenty minutes of shuffling people in and out of compartments for for the aisle to clear enough for us to squeeze through.  Brandy and I made it through by turning sideways, carrying one bag in front of us and dragging our backpacks.  We had to send Squid to extricate Robs from the hall.  Once we were in our compartment, with the door closed, we had to endure the glares of the people we kicked out of our assigned seats who were now sitting on fold-down seats in the hallway.

It was a long, but mostly comfortable ride to Venice, where we caught a water bus to the station (dock?) nearest our hotel.  Squid told us it would be almost impossible to find it on the first try because of all of the alleys and such, but we did manage to do it.

The hotel is very nice, but not nearly enough stairs.  There are only 20 stairs to our room, not hardly worth mentioning.  I've gotten so used to marching up a gazillion stairs that it's kind of cheating to only have 20.  I've been assured that all the walking around we'll be doing will make up for it.

And another four-legged friend for Mrs Squid

I loved these shower doors.  Until I had to use them.

We really got lucky our whole trip with finding great rooms.

No chance of using ass-towels here.

We met up with Kev and Shannon and went to see San Marco church, which was really a rip-off.  Admittance to the church was free, but no pictures and we got charged to see anything other than the pews.  After paying 3 Euro to see "the treasury", Robs and I decided we weren't going to continue to be nickle and dimed and looked at all of the "free" stuff in the church.  Frankly, I was much more impressed with the square itself and all of the flying rats (pigeons).

They sell bird feed with "birth control" for the tourists to feed to the birds.  One particular gentleman was overly persistent and did not believe me the first or second time I told him no.  A third, very sharp "NO!" finally got through to him, though I'm certain Squid wanted to die of embarrassment.

We walked around the stores lining the plaza and looked into a very cool art gallery (no pictures).

For dinner, we found a place that served a 5-course meal for 20 Euro ~ it was a good deal.  Bran and Justin opted to go their own way for dinner.  Sitting down for a two-hour dinner isn't everyone's idea of a good time.

It's funny, though.  We were all excited about the great wine in Italy and drinking it with every meal, but it's all we can do to kill a litre between us anymore.  I guess we've been wined-out.

Between the tannins in the red wine and all of the exercise we've been getting, our hearts must be extra healthy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Italy, Day 11

09 Apr 06

Up bright and early today to take the train to Milan to see the Duomo (church) and AC Milan v. Chievo Verona.

The subway from the train station to the Duomo was much nicer than the subway in Rome.  There was much less graffiti and urine.

We climbed the stairs (164) to the roof of the Duomo  and walked around looking down at the square.  It's probably the only time I'll get to wander around the marble roof of a church.

With the drizzle, the roof was very slippery.

Our seats for the Milan game were not the best seats around, but at least we got to see them win 4-1.  I picked up shirts for the kids, which I hope they'll like.

Nothing brings a smile to Squid's face like futbol

When we got back to our hotel, the housekeepers had been in to straighten up and they left actual bath towels.  Then it dawned on me ... we had dried off after our showers with the towels hanging over the bidet.  We'd dried our bodies with ass-towels!

I wish we had more time to spend on Lake Como, but we're down to the last couple of days of our trip and we're off to Venice.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Italy, Day 10

08 Apr 06

Leaving Vernazza this morning, but we had to stop for breakfast at our favorite place...

Another find from "the bible".
Here's hint: when traveling in Italy, travel with a blond.  As long as we went to breakfast with Robs, we got served very quickly - those Italian men couldn't wait to flirt with her.  The gentlemen at the Blue Marlin were so kind and forgave my butchered Spitalian (that would be spanish-italian).

(Sadly, on October 25, 2011, Vernazza was hit by a massive flash flood and essentially wiped out.  The Italians are resilient and are digging out, but my heart breaks just thinking about all of the beautiful places and friendly people who were devastated by the flood.  Should you feel moved to help, click here.)

The trains that cover long distances look like they're straight out of Harry Potter.  The commuter trains are plain ole trains like we rode in England, but the regional trains are exactly like the movie.

Kev and Shannon went their own way for this portion of the trip, so the six of us fit perfectly into one compartment.

Lake Como is, of course, beautiful.  A bit overcast, so the pictures won't do it justice.

Squid wanted to see the castle, so off we went on our castle hike.  It's a good thing we've spent the last 1 1/2 weeks doing nothing but stairs here, because the hike up to the castle was a bitch!

I had to stop several times to rest my burning legs and lungs.

The hike kicked our arses.  This is only halfway to the castle.

Once we got to the top, it was so worth it.  We took lots of pictures around the castle and Brandy played with the drawbridge.

Up we go.

Finally at the top!

The views - I say this a lot - were fantastic.

Busted! Cranking the drawbridge.

Doesn't move much, though.

Squid playing with the armor.

The 78 stairs back to our room after our hike were not a lot of fun, though.  I'm thinking that I was such a big wuss in England, complaining about 50-some stairs when we don't even start to "feel the burn" until well into 60 steps now.

Pay attention to the towels over the bidet - those are important

Notice the lack of towels here.

The set up of the bathroom was ... odd.  The bidet faced the toilet, so if one wanted to use the bidet, one would have to do his/her business in the toilet, then crab walk/swivel to the bidet.  On the wall between the toilet and the bidet was bar soap.  Now, I'm sorry, but I ain't using anyone's bar ass-soap on my bum.  I love Robs, but maybe not enough to share ass-soap with her.

After the hike, we each needed a shower, but didn't see any bath-sized towels.  The only towels in the bathroom were the ones hanging over the bidet.  Not wanting to be "those Americans", we didn't say anything, just made do with the slightly-larger-than-hand towels that were there.

Our hotel is right on the lake front and would offer magnificent views were it not for the fine Irish weather we're having.

Lake Como

We made time for gelato and look who made another friend...