30 April 2011


I know I'm missing a day in here...It's written on my iPad and I couldn't connect to the Internet before we left Monterosso; I'll post as soon as I can!

After another huge breakfast and a very tasty focaccia purchase, we left the already blazing hot Cinque Terre to head down to (a pretty rainy) Rome. The train took us through Pisa and the Italian countryside...not exactly sure our route, but it was really pretty.

As an aside, I really miss internet access. Not for the email and all that, rather, for the ability to look things up. It's driving me a bit nuts not to know what things are (this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me).

Anyway, as we arrived to Rome, the skies decided to open just in time for our walk to the hotel. Yay! It's pretty crowded here; today Pope John Paul II will get beatified, so there are lots of travelers.
Once we dumped our bags, it was off to the Vatican. We hopped in a cab (not as crazy as I had thought) and headed on down, zooming past Trajans Market, the monument to Vittore Emmanuele (shout out, Bill E), and down past lots of other old stuff until we reached the Vatican.

It was CROWDED. Too much so for me. It was fascinating to me, all the pomp and decorations, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough. People were already starting to camp out for the mass today. It's going to be a madhouse down there.

We decided to walk back, and headed through the Piazza Navona (and past some statues by a Francesco Mochi...an Italian Mochi?), and past the Pantheon. It was nice to get up and move around!
Then it was back to the hotel then dinner, a rather touristy place but decent (and topped off by free limoncello). We haven't yet had an A+ meal...any suggestions?

29 April 2011

Long Day's Journey

After about almost a full day of travel, we made it to Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost town of the Cinque Terre.

We left San Francisco at about 2pm...a window and middle seat (I was the lucky one in the center). On the end was this woman from Oakland, who at first didn't seem to want anything to do with us. I noticed she popped quite a few pills in the first hour or so of the flight...not sure of what but she did keep taking something. When the meal came around, she strews speaking to us...then suddenly stopped,mid-sentence. It was a little scary, I thought she had a stroke or heart attack and started wondering how I could get the flight attendant over. The woman suddenly came to...turns out she had taken sleeping pills and had fallen asleep, mid-sentence. She then continued talking to us, slurring like she was drunk and falling asleep here and there. It was pretty funny.

Landed in Frankfurt about 10am (1am SF time)... We had to pass through security, which took quite a long time. When we finally got there, the guard told me the rules had just changed and I needed to take off my pants and shoes.  Flirting. Weird for a German security official, no? Then, sadly, my hairspray got confiscated because it was too big -- 4oz instead of 3. It had made it through SFO with no problem, so I was surprised.

After all that, it was soon time to get on the final plane of this leg.  A quick hour later, we were in Milan to meet up with Tony! He was an old pro at taking the bus from the airport to train station, so led the way.  It takes about an hour -- though it seemed much longer-- and by the time we arrived it was right about time to get on our train, so we hustled to our spots.

It was a lovely, quiet ride through the Italian countryside...until Genoa. As we were looking out the window at this gorgeous city -- much prettier than I remember-- a group of about 39 ten year olds got on the train. Our quiet car went to very, very loud, with kids running amok, spilling things, wrestling around (and the teachers safely at the other end of the car!)...generally being kids. But the time we got to Monterosso about an hour later, we were all ready for a drink!

We arrived about 7pm (10am SF time), enjoyed the sunset scenery, and head to our hotel, which is in an awesome location right across from the water. After dumping our stuff, it s tine for some food and drink! We enjoyed some local pesto (specialty of the region), local wine, and local limoncello. Then we got one more bottle of local wine and drank it while sitting on our balcony, watching the ocean.

All and all, a very nice end to almost 24 hours of travel.  We woke up and decided to walk the Cinque Terre trail...more on that later!

28 April 2011

Made It!

After a fairly long journey, we made it to Monterosso. I'll write more later, but wanted to let you know!

27 April 2011

Away We Go!

Chilling out at the airport...mom & I are both fed & watered and looking forward to getting on the plane! We currently have a window & middle seat...I am hoping the person next to me will switch to the window (I wouldn't, but sone people are nicer than me!).
I'll be updating as often as I can while on the road. All depends on the availability of WiFi; hopefully it will be better than last time.

24 April 2011

A Little of the South Here at Home.

On Saturday, we threw a wedding shower for two of my dear friends. I had to share our delicious creations with you...

My friend A planned the Southern-inspired menu and coordinated the cooking. I served as her sous chef, preparing several items per her recipe and instructions. Doesn't it look fabulous!? (tasted awesome, too!)

First, some fried chicken...

Then, some blackened shrimp, and behind that, some muffalata.

Finally, some delicious Red Velvet & Mint Julep cupcakes to sweeten the deal!

And, who can forget drinks! Certainly not us...we had Sangria, Mint Juleps, wine, champagne, and Sweet Tea. Yum!

20 April 2011

Dressing for Travel

Hi kids.
I'm back. I've been super busy with work and planning various things -- travels, showers, parties -- and haven't had much time to update (or think about updating).

But, in planning this upcoming trip, I've been doing quite a bit of research...and one thing I found myself looking up was what type of shoes to wear so that I wouldn't stand out. this lead me down many rounds of, "you will look like an American if...X, Y, Z." After about the 10th thread of this, I realized...that is dumb.

Why? Because no matter what we wear, we'll look like a tourist. And if that's the worst thing in the world, well, our lives are pretty good.

I live in a heavily-touristed city. I can usually spot a tourist from a mile away, especially if they are of the non-American variety. None of the ones I see are particularly concerned with looking like an American. So why are we so concerned with looking non-American when we go abroad?

The old belief that being an American abroad means being treated poorly just doesn't hold true, and hasn't since I first started traveling (if not earlier). Fact is, there are @ssholes everywhere who will treat any tourist poorly, regardless of where they may be from. The bigger deal we make out of it, the bigger the opportunity to push your buttons. No one cares if you are a tourist. Most people embrace tourists, as it keeps the local economy going (and, if they don't, please see: @ssholes everywhere).

That said, there is no need to be dressed head-to-toe in the stars and stripes... ever.

05 April 2011

March Madness: Mad Marketing

March Madness -- the affectionate term for the crazy few weeks of the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament -- came to an end tonight. One team went home extremely happy, 67 others finished up a little sadder, and the whole viewing audience waited for the 2011 version of "One Shining Moment."

Most of you know I am a complete sport nut. I am also a marketer, and have been thinking quite a bit about this tournament from that perspective the last few weeks.

Because it's brilliant.

March Madness kicks off "Selection Sunday," an event where each match up is unveiled, with cameras on the bubble teams to watch them as their dreams come true, or are dashed. A few days later, traditionally on Thursday & Friday (this year there were a few pre-round of 64 games), the tournament starts with back-to-back days packed with games (starting at 9amish and wrapping up about 9pmish on both days). 64 teams face off from across the country, and college basketball fans sit in their favorite watering holes, filled out brackets in front of them, and park for the day, watching their brackets fill or bust.

Oh, yes, the brackets. Somewhere along the line, someone had the genius idea to allow fans to fill out brackets, where they would decide, game-by-game, who the winner would be, whittling it down to the final four, finals, and winner. While gambling this way is illegal, filling out brackets has become an event in and of itself, filling those 3 days from announcement to tip-off with anxiety, excitement, and second guesses.

Already, in looking at what I wrote, I see a marketer's dream come true. "Selection Sunday." Bubble teams. Round of 64. All terms introduced and made popularized by this event. And make no mistake, this is indeed an event.

Much like the NFL has been able to market itself as something that can't be missed, so has the NCAA and March Madness. Even those rather uninterested in sports take part in filling out a bracket, cheering on a team, watching those first couple of crazy games. The tournament continues for 3 weeks, culminating in the Final Four/Finals weekend. This has to be one of the most coveted tickets in American sports (perhaps just by me). And why? Because most of the players will ply their trade no further than this moment; they will go on to be something else entirely. But here, in this stage, they have the opportunity to be the best -- beat a team they never should have (and this often happens, this year's finals is evidence!), win the ultimate honor of their sport's careers. And it is pretty awesome.

Hence, "One Shining Moment." This is often the thing we look most forward to at the final game. This simple, cheesy video. Facebook newsfeeds fill up with comments on it. Twitter trends it. And the marketing folks behind the NCAA finals do a happy dance of joy. They have done their job, made accessible something that could seem a little out of reach, and made it common knowledge.

Brills, really.