convos with strangers, travel

conversations with strangers #5

even though my mom taught me not to, here’s why i’m talking with strangers.

i was dining al fresco with mom, dad, and sister E in sorrento, italy. the patio was packed, so it felt like we were at a table for 16 rather than a table for four.

dad paid the bill. the waiter grinned at the tip left. (they sure loved us americans.)

waiter: he’s a good man.

mom: yes, he is. we’re been married 40 years this year.

man from the table next to us: i don’t mean to eavesdrop, but i have to say, congrats!

mom: thanks!

man: *gestures to wife* we’re at 33 years this year!

mom: congrats to you too as well!

man: thanks!

and with grins wide from wine and long lasting relationships, we left.


italy (by the numbers)

there are too many words to describe the trip i just took with my parents and younger sister and too little time to tell them all, so i figured i’d go a different route. an unexplored route. an unexpected route (if you know my lack of mathematical abilities). i’m going to tell you all about italy BY THE NUMBERS.

days of vacation: 14

modes of transportation: 6 (plane, car, bus, metro, train, boat)

pictures taken: 803

pictures of the four of us: 1 (hint: we’re in the reflection.)

cars rented: 1

GPS’s rented: 2

bowman misguided tours (BMTs):  2.5 (this all started way back in hawaii during my mom’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. we had multiple minivans packed full of family and let’s just say the GPS wasn’t invented back then, so we took multiple wrong turns — all 3 vans. this italian trip was kind of one big BMT because we had no guide other than our rick steve’s book and my mom’s ability to read a map and my dad’s insanely accurate sense of direction, however, we attempted to trust the hertz “never lost” GPS and that’s what led us down streets almost narrower than our car and had us turning the wrong way on a one way street that only allows limited traffic to begin with. yes, we had some italian women shake their heads and fingers at us. fortunately, we understand that type of sign language. and fortunately, one of them took pity on us and told us that “in this moment, you are here but you want to be outside of here.”)

close encounters while in a car/bus: too many to count. (most of them occurred while on the bus tour of the almalfi coast. the road is one way (up) in the morning, but it becomes a two way street in the afternoon. it barely allows the traffic through in the AM, so you can imagine the traffic jams in the PM.) (this picture is of a bus going in the opposite direction. i did not use any zoom. we are THAT close.)

pasta dishes consumed: at least one a day

pizza pies snarfed up: 6

meat dishes eaten: 5 (including a meatball dish in honor of brother G.)

gelato devoured: again, at least once a day. my favorite was the chocolate from a small little place by our hotel in rome.

moments of great timing: 1

pairs of shoes worn: 5 (every single one i brought, though i did wear one pair just to say i’d worn every pair of shoes i’d packed.)

tips given unexpectedly: 3

times we were the first ones in the restaurant: 4

bottles of house red drunk: 13

stairs climbed: i stopped counting after 3,000

times with internet accessibility: 4

“celebrities” sighted: 3 plus we stayed at the hotel where the NEW MOON cast stayed while they filmed in italy! (and celebrities is in quotation marks because we saw members of the cast of the jersey shore…)

gorgeous views of the countryside: a gillion

flight delays: 6 hours

train strikes: 1

metro closings: 1

ruins visited: 4

museums visited: 7

churches visited: 6

times we were inappropriately dressed for the church: 0

grottos visited: 1

audioguides/tours purchased: 6

pairs of sunglasses broken: 2 (both mom and i broke ours)

pairs of sunglasses bought: 4 (2 for mom, 2 for me)

books read: 4 plus 1 on a kindle (how tech savvy am i??) and sister E read even more than i did. case in point:

pick pocketers spotted: 2 (don’t worry, we weren’t pick pocketed. i stared them down.)

early wake up calls: every day but 2.

real cappuccinos drunk: 1 (this is a travesty, i realize.)

crazy road signs: 5

rainstorms: 7 (and oddly enough, usually right around 4pm)

funny english translations on menus: too many to remember, except when they described gnocci pomodoro as “of the potato to the tomato.”

times we almost lost the guidebook: 3

marathons/road races/football matches watched: 2

street performers watched: 3.5

“bravos” given (to mom): 2

horn honks given (to sister E): 2

sunburns: 0 (a miracle)

postcards sent: 2

italian words learned: 15

times we spoke a language other than english or italian: every other day

pairs of earplugs used: 7

smiles worn: continuous

convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #4

(i know, i know, you want an italian recap. you’re going to have to wait a little longer as i struggle with some serious jetlag. and, to refresh your memory about why i’m talking with strangers, here’s the deal.)

a couple of weeks ago, i was back in wonderland, aka porter square books. i had time to browse and oh boy was it fun to sift through the titles and skim through the jackets with nothing more important on the agenda than picking new books for my TBR list. they didn’t have the book i originally came in to buy (DIE FOR ME by amy plum), so i picked up HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by lish mcbride mainly because of this review, but also because i find it impossible to walk out of a bookstore with empty hands.

“you’re all set?” the man asked.

“yes, this, and could you order a book for me?”

“sure thing. what’s the title?”

“DIE FOR ME by amy plum.”

he types some stuff into the computer. “i don’t see it. you said it was called DIAPER ME?”

me, mentally pointing to the name of my blog, can’t decide whether to make a joke or repeat myself. i settle for the latter, but wonder if he’ll even be able to understand me due to my barely contained laughter.

“oh,” he says, giving into his own chuckles, “i thought it was some kind of parenting book.”