How to Travel Like A Spy

“Mr. Bourne, your luggage is waiting for you in Baggage Claim.”

Last December, WikiLeaks did one of its notorious document dumps and revealed some information that frankly thrilled me. The WikiLeaks document release included two reports from the CIA whose titles sound like pitches for summer blockbusters: “CIA Assessment on Surviving Secondary Screening at Airports While Maintaining Cover” (dated September 2011) and, even more up my alley, “CIA Advice for Operatives Infiltrating Schengen” (dated January 2012).

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On Anniversaries and Milestones

narrator

Arguably my first public speaking engagement.

October has been a month of anniversaries and milestones, and I’m not sure why they feel connected to me. Which means that the universe is telling me to write about them. So, here we go. Let’s see where we end up!

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Photos Of The Alps, The French Riviera, And Nice From An easyJet Flight

OK, I know I just said that I prefer trains when traveling between France and Italy. But I did take a low-cost flight from Rome to Nice on easyJet in December, and as blessed with a stunning view of the Alps, the French Riviera, and Nice during our descent. So make sure your seats are in the upright position, fasten your seat belts and prepare for some of my favorite pictures from last year.

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I’m Eeeeeeating, On a Jet Plane…

NCE-FCO

I first flew to Paris on TWA flight 800, which some of you will remember had been thoughtfully renumbered sometime after it went into the sea off Long Island. I was traveling on Famous Designer‘s dime to Semaine du Cuir – the leather and suede exhibition where I was to meet vendors I’d known only via phone and fax (hi, I’m old), and hopefully pick up some new sources.

Before I left, I asked the designers for direction in choosing samples to bring back from the show. I will never forget their responses:

  • “I’m thinking…sherbet.”
  • “Bring me back beautiful things.”
  • “I love horsey leathers.”
  • “I want the Marc Jacobs jacket that’s at Barney’s.”

Fashion people aren’t like you and me.

But I digress. Continue reading

Hotel Rant: Not Singing My Tune

I’ve been traveling a lot recently and I’m excited to show you pictures and describe all the fantastic things I’ve done. But first, Cal, ever vigilant of my hotels obsession, alerted me to the most egregious hotel marketing stunt I’ve ever seen. While it should be noted that I’ve never stayed at a Tune Hotel, nevertheless I shall now rant about it. Gather the kids and make some popcorn, this one’s going to be a doozy.

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Morning Light

So a few weeks ago I was in one of my rearranging moods, and decided to see what our bookshelf would look like on its side, perhaps creating a long shelf for our ever-growing collection of electrical boxes and consoles. This idea led to a chain of events involving humiliation, a mad Belgian and morning light in the South of France. Don’t worry, it all will become apparent after the jump.
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My Entirely Personal TBEX Wrap-Up. WARNING: Excessive Hyperbole

I started this blog in August of 2007 with no agenda other than to write about being an expat. I certainly had no way of knowing that three years later, I’d find myself among a group of people who have helped me, hired me, inspired me and, most importantly, who understand my insatiable need to live the life I do. The conference was called the Travel Blog Exchange TBEX10, where travel writers, bloggers and PR professionals gathered to teach, learn and party like freaking rock stars.

There are many, many people who have already written about the conference with insight and intelligence. I’m not one of them, because I’m still on such a high that it may be months until I gain any kind of perspective on it. But I want need to write about it just the same, because otherwise I may just burst into flames from the awesome. Continue reading

The Savage Lushness of Rome

My Mandriones

Rome, for all of its dusty antiquity, has some notable green spaces. And the farther out you go from the city center – but not too far, just outside the walls, really – the more untamed, lush and ubiquitous the greenery is. Today, I’d like to attempt to describe this to you, although I fear I’ll just wind up showing you the pictures I’ve been taking recently on this very subject in the hopes of avoiding actually talking about it. Why? Because words about greenery aren’t in my vocabulary.
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Sunday Photo Meditations

I found all the photos in this post on the Internet, and I want to post them here because they inspire me. I didn’t take any of them, but for a variety of reasons the people who did are not noted here. I figured I’d get that out there up front.

Grab a cuppa, take a look and let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites, and why.

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Italian Easter Lunch For The Win

After cooking up a hamburger I found in the back of our minuscule freezer that was recently unearthed due to defrosting, I received an email from Marco:

today 4 lunch:

Tortellini
Garganelli with sausage and mushrooms
Roast beef
Fried lamb
Saltimbocca alla romana
Fried artichokes
Fried potatoes
Peppers
Tiramisu
Strawberries with fresh cream

now @ work, but… you know: BUUUUURPISSIMO!

Gay Mafia Easter lunch WIN. Miss Expatria holiday meal planning FAIL. Sigh. And here’s what I was doing last year: double sigh.

Clarifying Point #3 of My Rant:

I realize that in my vapors, I was not totally clear about the map above. Here is some context:

Rome/Milan: 2 hrs 45 mins, 389 miles
Rome/Genoa: 5 hrs 22 mins, 326 miles

Genoa/France-Italy border: 3 hrs 40 mins, 100 miles, compare to:
Rome/Venice: 3 hrs 30 mins, 352 miles

Via Genoa, takes me 9 hours to get from Rome to the border. This does not include the mandatory 2-hour stopover in Genoa due to the fact that the earliest train I can take from Rome gets me into Genoa 3 minutes after the previous train leaves for the border.