Sunday, June 22, 2008
Hotel Nightmare...Magical Four Days
Okay, I haven't seen my kids in four days, so while I have a lot to write about, it just has to wait until they go to sleep...which was late tonight because Italy was playing Spain and lost in World Cup Soccer. I am in Italy and there are priorities.
I have so much to write about, I have to post my speech (I have no video or pix for international reasons and the fact that I forgot my camera and my deodorant - I immediately hit the pharmacy for some deodorant and took some photos on my cell phone, but I can't seem to send them by internet, nor do I have the energy)
*Btw...I think everyone on the four trains I took forgot their deodorant, too, but didn't bother to visit the pharmacy to buy a new one:(*
Okay, I laughed my ass off for four days. You need to understand my accomodations. I arrived at my hotel (if you can call it that)at 5:45 pm and had to make a 6:30 pm. cocktail hour. Things started off great, when I walked in the "hotel" they handed me a really cold glass of white wine and started chit chatting about Baltimore and Frank Zappa. They had me on the third floor, you can't even imagine how heavy my luggage was between books and clothes. Note: the guy working in the hotel not only didn't have any deodorant on when he took my bags upstairs, but by the time he got up the three flights, he was sweating and really stinking profusely as he made his way back down.
There was a sink in my room, a queen sized bed, a table and a wardrobe. I stripped, threw on my robe and flip flops and headed for the bathroom. There was a hole in the floor that was the drain, a toilet, a sink and a "shower" which was a pole connected to a wall with a shower head dangling from it. I swear, I had to hold the shower head in one hand, soap myself with the other, while trying not to get my towel or robe soaking wet in the strategic position I placed them so that they did not touch anything funky. Note: there was a dried up contact lens in the sink. Somehow, I managed to take a shower - I'm super-coordinated like that. I got dressed really fast and raced downstairs to the hotel dude.
I said, "One mighty fine shithole of a hotel you have here." And I was laughing, I have no problem roughing it. He dug me, because he said, "Well, I do have one room with a shower in it, if you want it, it will cost you a little more." No need to think twice here...poor guy, he ran up the steps, sweating, sweating, sweating and carried my bags down two flights of stairs to room number 3 - my lucky number. He swung open the door and there it was...the smallest shower in a plastic box I have ever seen, but it was ALL MINE! Next to the shower was, yes, a sink, no toilet, all of it wide open, yet, it was ALL mine. And...there was a mini balcony in this room!!!!!! I STRUCK GOLD!!!!
The hotel man sllllllllliiiiiiiiiid out of the door and left a couple of drops of sweat on the floor on his way out. I whipped out Jordan's Pokemon sheets and a Scooby Doo pillowcase that I threw on top of the sheets and pillow and was on my way!
When I walked into the cocktail hour, I saw Professor Ferdinando Grandori (who now will be called Ferdi)and introduced myself. He looked kind of surprised (later he told me he was expecting a short, fat American Mom *surprise*)and proceeded to introduce me to Scientist this and Doctor that, who really didn't look too impressed by me, but were very cordial all the same. By the end of the Conference, we were all buddies.
Cernobbio (Lake Como)was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, a lake surrounded by mountains and small towns dotting the mountains. I had two glasses of white wine at the prestigious Villa D'Este overlooking Lake Como,
dined in a restaurant hovering over Lake Como near George Clooney's Villa (who needed George?), walked the lawns of Villa Erba and noticed a patch of bamboo trees, participated in a Gala Dinner held outdoors on a beautiful evening where we watched the sun set behind the mountains surrounding the lake. I even watched an egg-shaped moon rise from the mountains announcing the beginning of summer. Every single morning I left my "hotel" with a smile on my face and a feeling of peace that I haven't felt in such a long time. (The morning I had to give my speech I was listening to my iPod and crossed what I thought was a one way street, that ended up being a two way street and I was literally five meters from getting knocked off by an oncoming car...I laughed the whole way to the Conference center)The walk from my hotel to Villa Erba changed every day as I got lost in the alleys and cobblestone streets only to find a different church on every street...or maybe it was the same church and my head was so in la la land that it looked different every time.
In any case, the place was simply magical as was the company...magical and stimulating - four utterly unforgettable days.