A little of THIS and a little of THAT

Initially I started this blog as a way of sharing my experiences overseas with those that were interested...however so much has happened over the last two years, including more travelling to foreign destinations, revelations of some kind or other, and experiences I thought others could learn from that I decided to mix it all up.

I hope that somewhere you'll find something that interests you and that you'll be able to learn from.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

No Remembrance Day for me????

With November 11th fast approaching I am heart wrenched at what the past year has taught me in the realities of war and what Remembrance Day means. I have always been proud of my country, have always been honoured by what we have stood for in past wars, and have always been humble as a military wife. I learned early on in my military lifestyle the importance of honouring our fallen soldiers when only two years in my husband’s best friend died in an accident overseas. It was an accident in a country where they were only doing peacekeeping. It was important for me for my husband to always remember. A couple years ago, we said good bye to another dear friend, lost this time in the heat of battle in a fight against terrorism. For those that know me and have kept up with my blogs you have already read about Shane, a friend of Ron’s who no matter how far away they were posted away from each other, still managed to stop in and visit every year when he went to see family in Alberta where we were posted at the time. We as a family have lost four friends overseas throughout the years, so you can see that Remembrance Day is not just another day for me, it’s not just an excuse to take some time off work, and it’s not just another “holiday”.

This year during my service overseas I stood for 12 ramp ceremonies for 14 soldiers, one of which was a friend. I had hoped this year to wear my medal, and stand proud among the other onlookers paying respect for their war dead. I was informed however that the Embassy here does not pay tribute to Remembrance Day, after some distaste from one Embassy member it was decided that a small ceremony would take place with a five minute speech from the Ambassador. A slap in the face to those lost, and an excuse in laziness from Canada for not taking time to pay respect to their soldiers.

As Remembrance Day means something to me, I promptly donned my poppy on November 1, packing it with my luggage for Italy, the only one I brought from Canada. For me, I will commemorate on my own as I stand faithfully at home, and bow my head at 11:00 for two minutes of silence; tears will more than likely be shed, as the thought brings water to my eyes now, and at 12 noon, I will carefully put my poppy away until next year again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Italian Funnies

There is always something good about a trip, whether it is the food you eat, the places you visit, the hotel you stay at, or the people you meet, but nine times out of ten, we document these and people see all about it in the pictures you take and the video you record. It is after all the little things that go wrong, or the things that go array that we rarely hear about.

Our trip started off quite busy, just as any other and it seemed as if there just wasn’t enough time in the day to finish packing. Our driver arrived early to pick us up for the airport, and if we had more time I surely would have been able to prepare more then I already was, although only forgetting one item. We arrived to the airport early, luckily because our flight was leaving earlier than expected. I do have to sing my own praises though when I eagerly pulled a Russian and body checked a guy at the airport trying to push past Robbie and cut us off as we headed for the rush check through to catch our flight. I was very proud of myself in deed, sometimes the red Diplomatic passport has its privileges.

I have travelled a lot in the last year, have been on a total of at least 16 plane rides, Ron has had over 60 in his lifetime and minor complications if that can even be said has been the only drawback to any ride. I have been fortunate to say that none of my plane rides have had any problems and I have always been able to say to anyone that has asked that my flight was uncomplicated so therefore, for me who hates travel period, it was fortunately uneventful. After all, an uneventful plane ride is a good plane ride. Even Ron though had to admit that the amount of turbulence we encountered on this flight was one he has never experienced before and even had him a little antsy, not so much scared, he comfortable due to the fact that we were all together and was unconcerned with whatever was to come. For me though, I thank God for seatbelts, without one I am sure that I would have hit the roof on a couple occasions. When we landed in Rome we realized why turbulence had been so bad, we had been flying in the middle of a thunderstorm, lightening was coming out of the clouds, and the rain was pouring down harder then I’ve seen it in quite some time.

We waited an hour to retrieve our bags, and when we got them, they were soaked as were our items inside. Unfortunately hanging them to dry in our hotel room wasn’t an option, as our room had its own unique water situation. Pulling back the blankets on our beds, and resting our head on our pillows it was evident that our tiny and very European room was poorly insulated. Everything was damp to the touch, and the five days that we spent in Rome didn’t help the situation, because it rained every day we were there.
We had left Moscow late in the afternoon and hadn’t eaten since about two, our flight, which served nothing more than a snack (a sandwich), meant that after waiting for our luggage and arriving at the hotel half an hour away from the airport meant that we were very hungry. It was already nine in the evening and not wanting to venture far, especially with Anthony after such a long journey left us with two options across the street from our hotel room, fast food ( a pizza place), or a restaurant (Mexican). Being as hungry as we were and still excited to be out, we opted for the very authentic Mexican restaurant. We ate nachos, something I haven’t had since leaving overseas, and the most amazing Mexican cuisine I’ve had to date, polished it off with a tiny couple pieces of Mexican pastry (one of many pastries that were to come in the next few days), and what came of the coffee that we ordered (espresso, promptly sipped, swallowed and pushed aside by Ron, and promptly sipped, SPIT and pushed aside by myself). Strike one on Italian coffee.
Our first morning in Rome didn’t prove to leave me with a great first impression of Italians as a guide from one the tours we booked ran up to me as I was entering the taxi we had ordered to get to the tour meeting spot yelling at me for calling a cab, and telling me that he couldn’t take me because I had ordered a taxi, and that I would have to pay the taxi driver. He kept going off on me until I quickly shut him up. My mouth has always pretty much told it like it is so I explained to him that we, number one, did not order driver service from the agency that morning because we arrived in Rome to late the previous night and didn’t know they were coming for us, and that two, he didn’t need to be such an asshole.
No matter what big city you go to, you will surely find a homeless person or two, or someone in need on the street begging for money. The majority of these people we found in Rome were people trying to earn an honest living show casing their talents by juggling, singing, or playing some sort of instrument. There are the regular street beggars who lay within the tourist areas outside of souvenir shops and give you their jolted and sad face, and we grateful for what we have and feeling bad for one such lady who appeared to be very ill, laying down and fidgeting, dropped some change into her cup. It was no more than a minute later when a man started giving notice to the crowd of bystanders that the lady who appeared old and fragile was a fraud, pointing at her and threatening her to leave and stop fooling the people. It was seconds later when our “poor, old, and fragile” lady was up on her feet running after this man, waving her arms around and yelling at him to get away. We had been had....the experienced tourist and traveller that Ron was let his heart get in the way. My heart turned cold after that, and unless you were earning your money, you didn’t get mine.
In short, Ron says that Russian women are hotter than Italian women I say Italian men are hotter though. The fast sport motorcycles, the leather jackets, the little bit of scruff, all makes for one hot man. Ron can keep is tight jeans, cheap makeup and hooker boots. LOL
Leave it to Robbie to find some kind of useless information to add to the topic. One hundred and seventeen trucks, that was the number of trucks that we’d seen with LED lights lit up in them with such things as names, hearts, stars, and crosses. At first I didn’t believe him, and then after he’d reach 70 I had to join in the search, I’d noticed a couple lights but couldn’t make up what they had said. Patience availed though, and with practice I picked out at least 20 of my own. I fell asleep after 104 though, tired of the game, Robbie continued on, and got tired at 117. This is something that in all my years driving I had never seen before, maybe another European thing?
So I can’t just leave it on a bad note, that wouldn’t be like me, I have to say the best part of the trip was the dinner out we had with the boys one night at an authentic Italian restaurant. We had been to a few, but this one by far stands out way ahead of the rest because everything was perfect. I’m a real foodie, I admit it, I am in love with food. Italy was a big disappointment for its food for the most part. There was one night however that we all had the most amazing Italian meal ever, Ravioli, complete with appetizers, and dessert, best tiramisu I’ve ever had, and Ron and I polished it all off with the most amazing bottle of red, that’s right red wine ever. It was so good, that we bought two to bring home with us. I certainly savoured my fair share of wine while on vacation, not passing up an opportunity to have a glass or two, or sometimes more with lunch and dinner. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.