And They’re Off!

Although we officially began our round-the-world travel in Sebastopol, California, we left Sonoma County on Wednesday afternoon as the first rain drops were beginning to fall. Our flight from San Francisco to Zurich took about 10 hours, but thanks to a remarkably decent serving of lasagna, a glass of wine, and modern pharmaceuticals, we slept for about half that time. We were awakened at about 5 a.m. California time for a buttered pretzel and a glass of orange juice before disembarking in Zurich.

We sailed through customs – no lines and no questions about our travel plans. We anticipated a bit of hassle here because we were traveling on one-way plane tickets. We assumed they would want to know the nature of our visit, and when we planned to get the heck out of Europe, but they just stamped our passports and sent us on our way.

This was a very, very short day since we arrived in Switzerland at about 3 pm their time. By the time we boarded the plane for Florence, it was already dark. We arrived at the Amerigo Vespucci airport in Florence where we collected our luggage and headed for the airport shuttle bus in record time. We took the shuttle bus to the main train station in Florence and walked 5 minutes to our apartment.

We were afraid that our landlords wouldn’t have arrived yet, but they were here waiting for us. Mary and Fabio greeted us warmly in English and Italian, respectively. Mary, an American woman, has lived in Italy for 15 years and is married to the oh-so-Italian Fabio. We had met Mary before, but this was our first time meeting Fabio. Unbelievably, after nearly 20 hours of travel we were able to understand and respond to Fabio in Italian. Although we ran into vocabulary problems here and there, we actually didn’t embarrass ourselves too badly in that conversation. (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!)

After our re-orientation to our apartment (we lived here in 2009 for 3 months), we realized it was 9 pm and prime dinner time for Italians. We headed out to our first Italian meal at Osteria delle Belle Donne (Cafe of the beautiful women.) I had ribolitta, a white bean, spinach and bread stew, which may not sound all that appetizing but it was fantastico! George had the pasta al tartuffo (pasta with truffles) which was also delicious. I’m planning to make some ribolitta at home in the next few weeks, so I’ll share my recipe and some instructions.

Now it is 3 pm on Friday. We missed breakfast, but had a lovely lunch and a nice stroll around the city. I thought I had escaped jet lag, but I’m getting sleepy now. No nap for me, though. I shall press on until dark and get myself into a truly Italian rhythm.

Perhaps we’ll go grocery shopping this afternoon. How can I always be thinking about food? …


8 thoughts on “And They’re Off!

  1. Hi Lois and George!
    So glad you are keeping a blog. Looking forward to hearing more.
    Details about meals are encouraged:)
    Teresa and Ted

  2. I just finished breakfast and you are already making me crave food!
    It is great to hear from you already (and even share word-play). Make sure you get plenty of sun on your pineal gland (stimulated through your eyes), it will help you reset your biological clock!
    love Robin

  3. Yay!! I’m so excited for you both! I know you’re going to have a great time exploring the world together this year! It seems like your trip, despite being a long one, went swimmingly, which is always somewhat of a relief. I can’t wait to hear more about what you’re up to and please please don’t stop talking and/or thinking about food! It is, for me, one of the best and most important aspects of integrating into a different culture. And that ribolitta sounds DEVINE. I can’t wait to get the recipe and tips!
    Also, might I suggest you sign up for a Twitter account?? Not only does it allow you to churn out little tidbits (which can be nice when you’re not feeling up for a whole blog post but want to make a note of something fun you did or are doing so you can expand on it later…), but you can also let the world know when your blog is updated (as you did via Facebook, thank you!!).
    Glad you’re settled in and already parlando italiano!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  4. Although by now those samosas at your farewell party that I very regretfully could not attend are–hopefully!–just a fond memory, I want you to know I lovingly hand-rolled each and every one of them while thinking of your gastronomical adventures to come. Shocked and disappointed, I am, that your travels went so smoothly–endless tales of suffering, that’s what I recall from setting foot on transatlantic planes; you will soon run out of material if they don’t start fondling you and losing your luggage. Anyway, Robin and I await actual recipes, no metrics please, we’re still backward here, and getting hungrier by the minute. First gelato? Any Vespa near misses?

    Take care, you two,
    Your virtual fellow traveler,

  5. I’ve just made a wordpress account, so now I can reply to your blog (is a year late too late?). The way that I experienced jet-lag when I first got to Korea was that I woke up at 6am for the first couple of weeks. Well, I’m not sure if it was jet-lag, or farmer-lag.

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