Travel is Planned Disruption

This is post #1 of our trip to Italy and England, June 2008.

Italy2008_1_13We work so hard at keeping the status quo, keeping up with things, staying on time and on schedule in our lives. Things like flat tires, sick children, headaches, funerals, births insert themselves into our carefully crafted schedule and pull us off center and we resent the fact that we can’t fight our usual 100 little battles everyday in our usual way.

Why then, do we choose to travel, to take on a new set of 100 little battles, and where everything is planned disruption?

The flight from LAX to Atlanta was smooth, and we were able to catch up on our too-short night’s sleep. The meals were not-so-hot (and we had to pay for this displeasure), so Qdoba’s guacamole and chips were a great snack while we waited for the Milan airship to carry us to points beyond.

And they did until about six in the morning, Greenwich time, when we diverted to London because the “lavatories were having issues,” or something like that. It took ten minutes to fix the lavatories which had been shut down for about 90 minutes, and another 45 minutes to file the paperwork for our flight plan and to leave. One hot breakfast from a swift moving crew (if you call a warmed croissant a hot breakfast) later and we were in Milan. I think we were all more than happy to get off the plane.

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Find your way through the tube to get the car. Check.
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Get the car checked out. Check. They told us we had three scratches. Here’s one of them.

Get out of the airport. Check.

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Get on the autostrade and buy a map at the most happening place I’ve ever seen on the side of the road. Check.

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Get almost all the way there and then get lost. Check.

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Hotel Belvedere is a family-run restaurant that decided to upgrade with some new rooms.

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We’re in room #4 , on the right (in this photo), with a small balcony (first floor, which is really the 2nd floor in Europe) and it overlooks Lake Maggiore.

We check in amidst a huge lunch crowd at the restaurant–yes, they’ll save us a table for 1 or 1:30 p.m. but not past 2. We go upstairs, try to sleep –bad idea–freshen up and at 1:30 we go down to eat.

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Great food. I took pictures (of course).

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This cake is not ours, but is for a party for someone else.

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After lunch and brief rest, we go out driving, heading up to Ispra, about 15 minutes north of Ranco. This multi-colored church caught our eye, and I loved the women sitting on the bench, chatting it up on their cellphones.

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Even the most plain exterior can have an ornate and fanciful interior.

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Wrought Iron Gate, Ispra, Italy  •  June 2008

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Jetlagged travelers heading down to the Lake. This was taken by a British couple who happily chatted to us about sights to see in the area. We changed our plans because of their advice. She has a job at JRC, a research center run by the European Commission, which is here in Ispra (Dave visited here when he worked for State). She got a three-year contract which required her to relocate to Italy, and asked her husband, who had just retired, if he’d like to retire in Italy. He said it took him about 3 nanoseconds to make up his mind.

They have to drive their car up to England once a year for licensing reasons and they said they have no problems with the drive until about the last 20 km on the drive home when they hit Italy. He said some maps are “artist’s impressions” of the roads–completely unrelated to the actual routes. (That explains some things for us.)

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We walked along the waterfront for a few minutes.

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Couldn’t resist this shot. Maybe it’s these kinds of sights that draw me into planned disruption (although some days I think I’m getting too old to do jet lag with any grace). The juxtaposition of the sacred against the profane, the mundane with the celestial, the trivial contrasted with the significant, all fell away as we enjoyed the peaceful evening’s sunset on the waters of a foreign lake.

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