By Valerie Quintanilla
I had to take a break from my posts because my camera broke in Siena. Luckily it was after the last wine tour so a crazy amount was not lost — and what’s even more lucky: the images were recovered by a wonderful Italian at a photo shop. I nearly cried when he said he found them. It was the second photo shop I tried and I was still in shock that the camera insisted, “no images”. They are currently on a CD because the memory card refuses to work.
But, now here I sit on the plane en route to Detroit (yes, I have go to Denver via Detroit — thanks to traveling with miles).
Where did the two weeks go? I still need to write posts on my wine tours, on hiking the Cinque Terre…and, so much more! All will come when I return and I’ve had some time to absorb the past 14 days. What an amazing adventure. Traveling solo is not always easy, but I got experience what I wanted — when I wanted, eat when/what I wanted (except for that fish stew in Cinque Terre, I’m still not over that), see what I wanted to see and to meet so many amazing people…it was all very special.
On the flight over I tried to watch the movie, “Letters to Juliet”. I’m not going to lie, I switched that sucker off about 30 minutes in. I just couldn’t get into the thin story. But, I found myself itching to watch it as soon as we hit 36,000 on the way home. Verona, Siena, Tuscany…sigh. As I reflect on my adventures it’s the people I met who make the stops stick out the most.
Jane, Ted and Joanie who treated me like a part of the family. Us gals (sorry, Ted!) are planning to meet up in NYC this December for a play. It was amazing to watch these beautiful souls — so wise and experienced — adventuring thru life late in the game, and some after their significant others had passed. They inspire me.
I don’t even know her name, but the woman working at my B&B just made me laugh. She did her job, and well, but oh how she wanted something more. She gave me great tips on things to do and see, but had a snarky attitude. There was something very endearing about her. I hope she finds what she’s looking for outside of cleaning rooms and recommending restaurants.
Sandra from Australia who was on a five week holiday — I’m considering moving down under just for the vacation time. If you know of any Australian companies looking for a marcom pro (I’m pretty diverse!), please let me know . Sandra was also a solo traveler, out exploring the world on her terms. She did a week long hiking/yoga adventure in France that so intrigued me. The instructor is planning one for Italy next year. I cannot wait to learn more about it. We met up on the tail end of her trip. We hiked the villages together, determined to do Corniglia to Manarola, despite the signs that told us the trail was closed due to rockslides resulting from the unseasonable rain. We marched right past the “trail closed” signs until we found a locked gate. While we were sad we could not complete the journey in it’s entirety, we were also happy that the magical Cinque Terre had given us an excuse to return. We took the train to Manarola and finished from there. I am excited to hear more about her journeys in the future. I hope to be as adventurous — and look as young — at 50!
Rebecca The Tuscan Wine School entrepreneur who has a baby due in March of next year — nearly a year to the date of her store opening! I gasped in excitement when she told us her due date — having already asked when she opened the school. She hadn’t even put it together when her students for that day pointed it out! The look on her face when she realized the connection Suneelaj and I made was priceless! I wish her much success and hope one day to be as brave when I figure out what I want to do with my love for wine.
Chris and Suneelaj, the wonderful newlyweds with whom I shared the wine class and an amazing dinner (seriously, wild boar stew was probably the best meal I had on the trip!). They move to NYC from California in a week. They have been together since they were 15 years old — and are now 29 and 30 respectively. We talked like we’d known each other for years. I was so amazed at their patience in waiting for the right time (for them) to get married (she just finished law school!) and being able to grow together thru 15 years that started so young. I wish them so much love and happiness. We met for dinner in Rome on our last night in Italy. They left today, too. We plan to meet up in NYC in the next few months — maybe when I meet Jane and Joanie! And, they plan to visit me in Colorado for the Great American Beer Fest in 2011. Chris is a beer enthusiast so we hit up a cool beer place for dinner the last night – Bir e Fud (Beer and Food). Fabulous pizza in a great area of Rome, Trastevere.
Kumi and Andy from Japan (Andy by way of Australia, via London — now there’s a route!). Andy taught me possibly the best trick I learned on the trip: how to get more wine poured in the glass at a tasting. Simply make eye contact with the pourer, smile, then gently tap the glass where you want it filled. It works like a charm! I plan to test it out in Napa in a few weeks. Their hotel was truly a gem (deets on the hotel to come later — I can’t remember the name). After we toured Chianti I headed to their hotel to sit on the roof with the most AMAZING view of Siena all lit up. I can’t access any of my images just now, but will post some as soon as possible. I also learned from this pair — and a lovely British couple — that the toilets in Japan are incredible. Apparently they do everything! Interesting conversation topic at a winery, but it was our second and we were having a ball. Anyway, I’ve already asked Kumi and Andy if I can visit to check out the fab toilets. Cannot wait!
Lenny and Lisa were on a two week trip, like me. I met Lenny in the exec lounge at the Hilton in Rome. Lisa was doing a cooking class — her purpose for the trip. Lenny, a self-made businessman who recently met President Obama after winning a prestigious Business Man of the Year Award, was determined to answer the question, “Why do woman love Italy?” When Lisa and I got to talk it seemed she was on the equivalent of my wine trip, with cooking as her focus. She had done the same trip solo the year previous. I’ve got some great info on cooking classes in Italy from her and will post later — check back!
That’s just a handful of the amazing people who colored my trip. There were also pirates in Cinque Terre, a Tuscany wine tour guide who took me to dinner in Siena, a winery owner in the Valpolicella who believes wine benefits from positive energy…oh, and so many more.
And, there are so many more things I want to do in Italy. A bike tour thru Tuscany, a hiking or biking tour through the Piemonte wine region, hiking the Dolomites, experiencing the south — Sardinia, Sicily, Sorrento, taking a cooking class — just to start the list. Sigh…I guess I’ll need a few more trips…
For today, I am so thankful for the short time I got, and so appreciative I got as much as a I did. I will do some more posts on the missing locations, wine tour and class specifics and a post on resources. And will also add pictures to this post. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading along!
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