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December 05, 2017


You were brave! And a good navigator. I don't know if I would want to drive in Sicily. Enticing pictures--love that narrow stone street, curving out of sight.

My second time renting a car in a foreign country was Japan this year... The first time we were accused of having scratched the car (we had not), and so our last day (Virgin Islands) was rather unpleasant. In Japan, everything was extraordinarily simple and straightforward, and it seemed they trusted us at each end. However, I remember a late night effort to find our onsen--we could see it but could not figure out how to get to it!

Oh, so vividly evoked - this made me want to be arriving somewhere!

You two could have done. Moon landing - no problem.

Wonderful. I'm stunned by your memory for details, Beth, because so many things that you capture in an almost photographic way completely pass me by when I'm in a new place. Can't wait for the next intallment. The carabinieri laughing and then showing you the way catches the Italian ambiance immediately.

Love this Beth! You two are brave!! I remember getting lost in Erice Sicily over 30 years ago and we were walking! Can't wait to read more!

Thanks for sharing. I liked the details, too, and I am a little awed at your apparent calm while being lost in a city thousands of miles from home. Personally, I never travel without a paper map and a few minutes of research, because my GPS has gotten lost more than once. Andy doesn't understand this and accuses me of wearing suspenders with my belt (something I secretly do on days when I an doing carpentry and carrying a lot of tools in my trousers) -- but he has gotten spectacularly lost because he doesn't prepare. At his age, it's an adventure. I can't wait to read more of your adventure, too.

Just back from three days in Düsseldorf followed by a night spent in Montreuil in northern France on our return, both cities drivable in a day from where we live in the western UK, mainly thanks to the Channel Tunnel. Anything to stay out of planes and, especially, airports, not an option for you alas. Car's TomTom GPS system used in conjunction with Google Maps on the smartphone (operated by passenger) since both have features which the other lacks - vital in new urban surroundings as you have found out. You have one advantage over me, you're used to driving on t'other side of the road.

I would guess that Palermo and Düsseldorf are polar opposites in many respects, the latter being one of the wealthiest cities in Europe although street beggars are everywhere. Ostensibly we were there for the Christmas markets. Secretly I was there to be comforted about the growing nightmare of Brexit and the Germans - as in the past - were sympathetic. With the exception of attending an organ recital in the Johanneskirche (the best internal acoustic I've ever experienced) we did nothing cultural, just chatted, no doubt on a rising note of desperation. How can I afford to be separated in even the smallest technical sense from the homeland of Robert Schumann whose dotted minims in "Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome" I may finally have mastered after three months' intensive study. No sight-reading this end.

Visitors to Italy must understand that cars there are not mere transportation but a means of expressing assertion. Even the humblest Fiat 500 becomes a 300 kph Ferrari in the driver's mind and other cars are there to be overtaken. As to those freaked-out rentalists, the Fiat driver would smile and shrug; if the rentalist was passed on both sides simultaneously then he must have been driving in the middle lane and was therefore fair game. Ciao!

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.