Thirty five years ago, I visited Italy for a month. Trattorias all over the place. A not too pricey Italian restaurant. Good food.

This trip I discovered restaurants called trattorias are a thing of the past. I saw a total of two in my travels through Milan, Novara, and Courmayeur.

The former trattorias have been relabeled/renamed. Ristorante is one. The other Ristorante and Pizzeria.

Pizza definitely has come into its own. Restaurants serve a whole pizza. That is the only way a pizza can be ordered. One to a person. The customers eat them up. Every morsel. Italians leave nothing on the plate. I ate at a Ristorante and Pizzeria tonight. actually called E.T.’s Ristorante and Pizzeria. While I was enjoying a pasta dish at my table, the couple at the one next to me each devoured a whole pizza. All done with white tablecloth and napkins.

Carmelo and his brothers came to Key West many years ago. They opened La Trattoria on Duval Street. They made the restaurant a fantastic success. Then sold it. If Carmelo and his brothers were opening a new Italian restaurant today, no question in my mind they would call it a Ristorante.

Wi fi has been a problem throughout my travels in Italy and France. Very few establishments have wi fi available to customers. Whereas in Greece, wi fi was available all over the place.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon sitting at an outdoor café in Courmayer. I enjoyed the ambiance and view. I came to the conclusion that the men of Courmayeur have trophy wives or trophy girl friends.

I have fallen behind in posting photos. Tomorrow comes the deluge.

I mentioned the beggars I saw in Athens. Thought they were the worst ever. Several have written and said in effect they had seen beggars in the United States. Even in Key West. What in effect was the big deal?

I took the comments to heart together with what my eyes had seen on the streets of Athens. There is substantial difference between “begging” in the United States and begging in Greece. A world of difference. Ergo, I have to dispute those who disagree with me. No problem in not agreeing with me. A problem exists however if a person disagrees without having first hand knowledge of the facts.

If a person has not seen with their own eyes the beggars on the streets of Athens, such persons are in no position to dispute my observation. Not because you were not there. Rather because you do not know what you are talking about.

I say such with all due respect. It’s the lawyer in me.

Let me help the situation a bit. I decided to write an extensive article on the issue. I titled it The Beggars of Athens. It will appear in this week’s KONK Life as my column of the week. The issue will be published thursday. Dig it up on the internet and read it. I guarantee you will find it revealing.

If you still disagree with me after reading the article, so be it. We have a legitimate difference of opinion regardless of how the opinion was arrived at.

Go to Select the edition you wish to read. Leaf through it to find my article.

In 48 hours, I will be sleeping in my bed in Key West. I am ready to return. I miss family and friends big time.

Enjoy your day!


I am presently in Courmayeur, Italy. Yesterday, I decided to go to Chamonix, France. Mont Blanc was in the way.

No big deal. Around 1960, Italy and France built a tunnel under Mont Blanc connecting the two cities and two nations. Travelers were able to save 60-100 miles as a result.

The tunnel took eight years to construct.

It is a little over seven miles long. Only 28 feet wide. A few inches over fourteen feet high. Two lanes, one each way.

Additional lanes are needed. However construction costs are prohibitive and have prevented the construction.

There was a major fire in the tunnel in 1999. Thirty nine people killed. Amongst other things, the ventilation system did not work properly. Instead of sucking the toxic fire fumes out, it drove them back into the tunnel.

Everything purportedly fixed now and it is not supposed to happen again.

I went through the tunnel several times last year. I went through it twice yesterday. Once each way.

Traffic entering the tunnel from both sides is controlled. When the toll is paid, vehicles are not permitted to immediately take off. There is a time factor between each vehicle. About two minutes.

Cars are not permitted to piggy back or get close in any way. Each vehicle must remain at least 500 feet behind the one in front. All through the tunnel, there are blue blinking lights on each side measuring the 500 foot distance for drivers.

Speed is controlled. Fifty to 70 km per hour.

The traffic control is so efficient that when there is going to be a delay, blinking signs miles away announce the delay and how long. I got stuck in a 90 minute delay on the way back to Italy. The traffic was backed up on the French side 3 miles. When I say backed up, it means no movement. The motor is turned off and you sit for 10-20 minutes. Then on again to move forward a few car lengths.

It was not a bad situation. People get out of their cars and talk with each other. I enjoyed the company of my neighbors. Precisely 90 minutes after I entered the 3 mile span, I was in the tunnel.

The delay in itself was an experience. Expected and accepted. Nothing anyone could do about it anyhow.

Other than the tunnel delay, yesterday was basically unexciting. McDonalds was the big event for me. After McDonalds, my plans got screwed up. I intended to go up in a cable car or train over the top of Mont Blanc. A WOW I assumed. However, it started raining. Pouring. The end of trips up and down for the day. I was disappointed. The experience would have been unique.

I was back in my chalet early. Read. Not a bad situation. I was able to sit on the terrace. The one facing Mont Blanc. Each time I looked up, there was the glacier topped peak. A sight to behold.

To my friend Don, a message. If Don is still up north at his camp, someone please bring my message to his attention. The message: Don, I am out of cigarettes!

The honeymoon is over come this wednesday. I will be back in Key West wednesday evening.

Enjoy your day!



Met some interesting folks at the Chart Room last night.

John and Coleen from Nashville. John is the head of Country Programing for Sirius. The conversation was excellent. Nice people. Hope I run into them again this week.

John had one drawback. He was respectful. He kept calling me SIR. I hate it!

Chatted a while with Larry and Robin. Both retired. Live in Bradenton in northern florida. Larry described the community as the old town. I have never been there.

Larry wore a full brimmed white hat. Had attached to it what appeared to be a for real police badge. It was better. Upon close inspection, I discovered it read Brothel Inspector. A good job if you can get it!

My day yesterday started with a visit to the heart doctor. Two separate visits for two different problems. His office set me up with back to back appointments.

You will recall that two weeks ago I had an echocardiogram. It indicated perhaps a problem Another test was scheduled. A CAT scan. I received the CAT scan results yesterday. There is a problem. A new one. Do not worry about it, I was told.

I stopped worrying at that moment. However, I was worried the whole time from the echocardiogram till I received the results of the CAT scan yesterday.

It’s amazing! Those instances when I have been concerned regarding a medical result which could be bad, the mental strain has been heavy. I live under a black cloud. Then as yesterday, when the news is good, I walk out of the doctor’s office building and notice…..The sun is shinning brighter!

May it always shine brighter!

Since I had dodged the bullet, I decided I was entitled to a treat. Eating foods I normally avoid.

It was to Harpoon Harry’s. Ham and eggs with fried potatoes and whole wheat toast and butter.

I wiped the plate clean. Tasted so good.

I like Harpoon Harry’s. It has a 1950s diner flavor. Serves diner food. Hearty! Help always polite, always friendly. Customers primarily local.

Harpoon Harry’s best feature is its eggs. Fresh tasting! The only way I can describe them.

Then took a long walk around the seaport area. Extra long. I wanted to be sure I had the stamina/endurance. Did good! Moved around at a fast clip.

I told you about my friend Nini yesterday. A tractor fell on him while he was cutting the grass on a golf course he owns in Italy. The initial medical report to me was a broken back. Later, I learned he has fractures to both hips, a pelvic fracture and some broken vertebrae. They had to bring in a crane to lift the tractor off him.

He will survive. However mending will be long.

Nini and his wife Germana are good people. The golf course is a side business for them.

Northern Italy is the largest supplier of rice in Europe. I never knew that before I knew them. As far as the eye can see, there are rice paddies. The ground is flat and well nurtured by natural springs below the ground. Rice needs constant flooding to grow. No problem in the Novara area.

Nini took me for a ride to see his property. He is one the larger rice growers in the area. Mile after mile of flooded fields on both sides of the road. He and Germana owned it all.

One piece of his land was hilly. Not good for growing rice. He decided to construct a golf course. It was there the tractor tipped over and ended on top of him.

It is tuesday again! The days move swiftly. Tonight at 9, Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Blog talk radio. A fast moving half hour. Watch on your computer.

I plan on opening with global warming and the Catholic Church. Two separate items. Followed perhaps by a little Bangladesh. Global warming may sound uninteresting. It will not be this evening when I talk about the northeast coast of the U.S. being in danger of a tsunami. From New Jersey to Maine.

Sounds crazy. It is not!

I occasionally make a factual mistake in the blog. One or more of you always catch it and remind me. I am happy to receive your comments.

Yesterday, I feel I got one over those of you who are critical and keep me on my toes. I wrote of Hemingway and The Old Man And The Sea. I said Hemingway received the Pulitzer Price for the book in 1933. I was off by 20 years. It was 1953. A typo. The book was written in 1951 and published in 1952.

I discovered the error on my own!

Enjoy your day!






We have a mix today. Italy, Key West, Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Bangladesh.

Today is La Festa del Lavoro in Italy. Labor Day. Actually it is Labor Day in most of Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America. Only the United States and Canada celebrate Labor Day in September.

A big time national holiday in Italy. Very few work. Rome annually has a concert this day in the Piazza San Giovanni. More than 500,000 will attend.

I visited the Piazza more than 30 years ago when I was visiting Italy with the family. My whole family. Wife, 3 of my 4 children, and my parents. The Piazza is a huge open space surrounded with medieval buildings. Beautiful! Magnificent!

The day celebrates International Workers Day. Sounds a bit socialistic or Communistic. For that and other reasons, Mussolini did away with the holiday when Fascism ruled Italy. It was only after World War II that the holiday returned. It has been an Italian holiday since 1890, except for the Mussolini years.

Let me stay with Italy for a moment.

Italy has a new Prime Minister. Latte. It is questionable how long he will last. Berlusconi’s party made it possible for Latte to become Prime Minister. However, Berlusconi has made it clear that unless Latte pushes through the return to the citizens of the additional real property taxes paid in 2012, that Latte will be yesterday’s news. He will call for a confidence vote and Berlusconi’s party will not support Latte. Latte cannot survive under that circumstance.

My day yesterday started with a CAT scan at the hospital. A quickie. Took all of 5 minutes.

Then headed over to the Yacht Club for lunch. Enjoyed a very delicious crab cake and read the newspapers while seated at a corner of the bar.

Spent the afternoon fine tuning last night’s blog talk radio show. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou.

Following previous shows, some complained my voice was scratchy or cutting out. I contacted the Blog Talk people. They said try a land line. I had been using bluetooth and my cell phone.

Several telephoned after the show to tell me the voice was perfect. No scratching or cutting out. I am glad the problem is behind me. I am learning that it is always something with TV, internet, and radio shows. For real. Nothing runs perfect. Nor consistently.

I talked about money last night. Labeled the topics rip offs. Where our tax dollars are being misspent, where money is being misspent.

I talked about Karzai and Con Edison in that regard.

It was reported Karazi has been receiving bags of money every month for 10 years from us.

Regarding Con Edison, after failing to effectively resolve the Sandy hurricane problems and shutting out 8,000 employess during salary/benefit negotiations last year, Con Edison’s Board gave hefty bonuses to top echelon execs for a job well done. Con Edison’s Board Chairman and President received a total of $7.4 million in compensation. At a time when Con Edioson is seeking permission to increase its rates an additional $400 million a year.

I also talked about a hearing scheduled by the government in Washington, D.C. Seven former Congresspersons have been appointed to a committee. The purpose of the committee is to study contacts made by extra terrestrial beings. Yes, you understand correctly. Creatures from outer space who may have communicated and/or visited the United States.

The hearings are limited to 5 days. They are being held at the National Press Club. The former Congresspersons are each to receive receive $20,000 plus expenses. Before these hearings are concluded and a report filed, I bet total monies exceed $300,000.

What a waste! Especially in poor economic times.

I also spent some time telling/exposing the Social Security story as I see it. No one gives it to us straight. We are getting ripped off in more ways than one.

Bangladesh and the 300 plus dead from a building failure was also discussed. Shades of the sweat shops of the 1920s and 1930s in the United States.

These issues will also be discussed on my friday tv/internet show. They are too good to let go.

Lisa took Jake to the vet yesterday. One of his back paws and part of his foot were swollen. Jake favors the leg. Vet said it probably is a broken toe. As with humans, nothing to do. If he still favors it next week, Jake is to be brought back to be x-rayed.

The Smokin’ Tuna Songwriters Festival begins today in Key West. The 18th year for this event. Country and western vocal and composing celebrities world wide participate. They come to
Key West in droves. There will be music the next several days morning , noon and night. In bars and show rooms and on the streets. Some will hang out on street corners and play.

Enjoy your day!




The weather is spectacular! 87 degrees yesterday. Not a cloud in the sky yesterday or this morning. No humidity.

The north is suffering. It is cold! Below freezing. I remember those days well.

Tomorrow morning my TV debut. Last week does not count. I was only on for 4 minutes. The audio went dead. I start anew tomorrow.

The Key West Lou Legal Hour will be both televised and available via internet. Scheduled time first. Ten in the morning my time. Comcast Channel 87 for TV viewing throughout the Florida Keys. The internet showing is available world wide.

There will be many United States’ viewers. In addition, people will be watching from 35-40 different countries on the internet.

Interesting topics. It has been a crazy week world wide. Topics will include the fiscal cliff, Los Angeles voting to require porn movie makers with in the City to wear condoms, Bernie Fine avoiding the bullet, an abuse of power story involving a 3 year old, a woman masturbating in a Florida Starbucks, Romney’s claim that Obama bought the election, secession, European demonstrations which have gone unreported, the Battle of Guadalcanal, Birds Eye Peas, Wendy’s, a bad Irish pregnancy/hospital situation, and more.

Join me! I guarantee you will enjoy!

I had a dermatologist visit yesterday. There was a small growth on my back. I wanted it removed. The doctor found 3 other bad things to deal with. All four were cut out. No big deal. A shot of pain killer. A slice. A band aid.

I do not know what it is. In recent years, every time I have a medical procedure, no matter how small, I get tired afterwards. Yesterday was no different. I crashed on the bed for a few hours.

Before getting tired tired, I headed over to Blossoms for lunch. Blossoms first line of business is not sandwiches. It is feed for animals. You sit with large bags of various feeds nearby. Only in Key West!

I had an interesting experience driving home.

When I purchased my Key West home 14 years ago, my island (Key Haven) was loaded with raccoons. Not rabid ones, fortunately. On the maps, my island of Key Haven was and still is listed as Racoon Key. That in and of itself tells you how many raccoons were here.

I have not seen a racoon in several years. Not even one. In their place, I have seen many iguanas. Did the iguanas chase out the raccoons? I do not know. What I do know is that iguanas are a pain in the ass! They are all over, eat your planted flowers and shrubbery, and shit all over the place. If in the pool, the pool has to be drained and cleaned before refilling.

Because of construction, I take side streets to avoid the traffic jams. I was on one of those Key West side streets yesterday. All of a sudden, there was an iguana in the road in front of me. Right in the middle. A big one. About three feet.

I slowed and beeped my horn. I stopped and beeped my horn. The iguana was completely oblivious to me. I finally got out of the car and walked in front of the iguana. About 5 feet away.

The iguana still did not move. I clapped my hands hard. No movement. I moved towards the iguana. Nothing.

I stood there looking at him. The iguana finally looked up at me. Our eyes met. He proceeded forward and walked around me.

I wonder how it will be when the pythons are here in large numbers. One thing is sure,  I will not get out of my car!

Before collapsing into bed, I published an article on Amazon Kindle: Is A Fertilized Egg A Person????? Another way of asking whether life begins at conception. A today political issue dealing with birth control, contraception, and abortion.

There were major demonstrations in Greece, Italy and Portugal yesterday. All about the euro, austerity and Germany. 70,000 persons in Rome alone. Damage and injury.

There has been little reported by our media concerning these demonstrations. Why?

Interestingly, youth make up the majority of protestors. Recent college graduates and persons in the 20-30 age bracket. The group that cannot get jobs. To place the situation in perspective, unemployment in Italy is pushing 35 per cent. Look how hard it is in the Unite States with unemployment hovering around 8 per cent. Keep in mind also that the Egyptian revolution of two years ago was driven by recent college grads who could not find employment.

What am I saying? Trying to say? I am not sure. However, it bothers me that there appears to be a concerted effort to keep the American public unaware of the demonstrations.

Romney’s comments yesterday to the effect that Obama bought the election drives home a point that I understood while the campaigning was going on. Romney just does not get it!

Enjoy your day!




Syracuse fans who visit Key West! There is a new place for watching Syracuse basketball. John Lukas’ Big Ten Pub. Located on lower Caroline Street.

You have previously joined me at the Sports Bar on Green street. It is no more. Closed. In the meantime, John Lukas opened a new  sports bar. Fortune shined on us. The place is terrific!

The season has started. San Diego State is behind us. I stopped in to see John last night at his sports bar. I made the deal for the season. There will always be at least one TV set aside for Syracuse viewing. The same one. We have our own corner, tables and chairs. It matters not whether pro foot ball or other sports are playing. Syracuse basketball will be available! Guaranteed!

The food is good, also. Extra good.

We need a Syracuse flag. I told John  I would get one. The flag we had at the other bar was supposed to be returned to me. Never got it.

You will like John. He is a gracious host.

My yesterday started with a hair cut at Lori’s Blown Away. I was surprised when I walked in. Lori was finishing up Lisa. A pleasure to run into my daughter. I asked how Ally did after I left the day before. Lisa said she redid everything per my instructions. Ally was thrilled with the result. A good grandfather am I!

I had Lori trim my beard a bit. Not much. Under the chin and neck. I had more hair on my neck than on my chin.

I researched and read till late afternoon. I had a 4 o’clock appointment at the Comcast TV studio. Jenna and I fine tuned the physical portion of the show. The dark/night background is gone. A light orange replaces it. Chairs were changed, etc. Crystal the engineer and owner Rick helped.

Everything should work properly this friday. I consider  friday my first show. Four minutes last week was not enough to qualify. We are doing a run through this afternoon to make sure everything is A-OK.

The show….. The Key West Lou Legal Hour. Ten in the morning my time friday. Available on television in the Keys on Comcast Channel 87. Available world wide via the internet.

I stopped at the gas station on US 1 and Key Haven. A Sheriff’s car sitting there. Out jumped Matt Dowling. Matt is an old friend I see not enough. He is obviously a deputy. We were both glad to have run into each other.

The Chart Room was interesting. JJ bartending. The only other customer besides me for a while was Dan. I met Dan last night for the first time.

Dan is manager at the Sunset Pier Bar.

The three of us chatted. Dan’s wife is Sheila. Sheila is the bartender at the Hot Tin Roof. I told Dan how I once judged a high heels contest at Vino’s. Sheila was in it. Very high heeled red shoes. He recalled. Says she has never worn them since. We decided women buy a lot of clothes they rarely use.

Some how the conversation got around to Cape Cod. JJ spent his wedding night at the Chatham Bar Inn. I stayed at the Inn once or twice a summer for several years. A great place.

We chatted about another Dan. The Dan presently the manager of Hogsbreath. Formerly manager of the Yacht Club. I shared that Dan was once the manager of the Impudent Oyster in Chatham.

A small world.

Then it was to John Lukas’ sports bar. While there, I watched the first half of the Michigan State/Kansas basketball game.

I finished watching the game at Don’s Place. A close game. Michigan State won. Terrific basketball! Unusual this early in the season.

An Italian friend emailed  and told me that Italy would have a demonstration today. I was told the papers were not even reporting it for fear the demonstration would get out of hand.

Italy is six hours ahead of us time wise. The demonstration has already occurred as I write this blog. Thousands of people. No reported injuries or damage.

Turns out several countries demonstrated yesterday. Greece, Spain and Portugal included. The people of each country are sick of the austerity programs being imposed on them. They have had two years of austerity already.

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel visited Italy monday. She was not welcome. The Italians are beginning to dislike Germany as the Greeks do. Germany is the banker.

If it were not so serious, it would be a joke. Germany is never going to collect all the dollars it loaned. Did Germany pay back the heavy reparations following World War I? Of course not. There is only so much that can be done in spite of promises made.

I have an appointment to see a dermatologist later this morning. I  developed a growth on my back. It is going to be cut out. Ouch!

Enjoy your day!


DAY 42

The honeymoon is over!

I return to Key West tomorrow. Monday, not Tuesday as I thought. Fortunately, Lisa picked up on my error. She Skyped me yesterday to tell me I was going to have missed my plane if I left Tuesday.

On a trip as I have experienced, days of the week and dates get screwed up. Intermingle. Are not important.

As a result of which, a person can miss a return flight home!

My today – Sunday – now changes. No Milan. No Leonardo Da Vinci. Instead rest and packing.

I am in Novara. Drove here from Camogli yesterday afternoon. A two hour drive. Thruways all the way.

Strange traffic for a summer Saturday afternoon. None. Just me and a few other cars.

It is the cost of gas and high road tolls here in Italy.

The other vehicles on the road all passed me at 125 miles per hour. Crazy!

The clothesline saga continues. Eevry town and hamlet I drove by…..there they were! Clothes hanging ouside windows and on front porches. Even here in Novara, a classy city.

Lisa Skyped me in the afterfnoon. Fortunately. Otherwise, I would have missed my plane tomorrow. Got to see and chat with the grandkids and son in law Corey. I could tell I am really missed. A nice feeling.

Last night was another birthday dinner. My Morrocan friend Miriam cooked for me. And several others as well. A dinner party.

We started with a good champagne. During dinner, Beefeater was substituted for me. A thoughtful gesture.

Pickies to begin. Too many to describe. All good.

Then humus. Not the kind you buy in the supermarket and scoop onto a plate. Miriam made the humus from scratrch. Ground the checi beans herself.

The entre was spiedini. Small pieces of beef on a stick. Miriam also prepared some sort of wheat dish mixed with very tiny pieces of tomato and covered with just enough oil.

There was a touch of Lebanese to the meal.

Miriam exceeded herself with the birthday cake. Made by her from scratch, also. A cheesecake covered with blueberries and gelato. Of course on top 77 candles. One big 70 years old one and 7 tiny one year ones.

Everyone sang Happy Birthday! Just like in the U.S.

I was pleased with it all. My special thanks to Miriam.

Today I have to get ready for tomorrow. I will leave Novara about 6 in the morning. I have a one hour drive to the Milan airport. Then many hours in the air till I set down in Key West just after 9 in the evening.

Enjoy your Sunday!

DAY 38

Good bye Courmier and Chamonix!

Hello Camogli!

I had a three hour drive to get to Camogli yesterday. It took four. Construction. Two of three lanes closed. For 20 miles.

I have been vacationing too long. It seems I have acquired patience. It did not bother me. Plus, I had the Alps on each side of me. Great viewing at all times.

Castles accompanied me the whole way. Even as I got close to Camogli. Whereas I said yesterday they were about a mile apart, they seemed even closer during the drive. The castles are exciting to see. All different. Except for location. Each on top of a steep hill. Churches also, of course.

After viewing so many castles and being aware of the fighting that went on between them over the years, I do not know how Garibaldi got the various kings to join in and create one nation in 1861. An accomplishment!

Clotheslines were with me also the whole trip. Even now in Camogli. Greece and Italy are loaded with them. It seems to be the only way to dry clothes in those countries. Clotheslines between windows and on balconies and terraces. Sometimes merely a rope between two windows.

I have been of the impression that there are no dryers because of the electrical problem. I have been asking the natives. They tell me no. It is because they prefer their clothes to be sun dried. I do not buy it. But…

Even million euro/dollar apartments hang their wet clothes out.

I suspect that if someone could invest a dryer that needed little or no electricity, Italians would run to buy them.

An interesting experience occurred on one of the thruways I was driving. Italian gas stops have restaurants and stores just as in the U.S. Not Mac Donald types. Better wholesome food. And anything else you can consider buying.

I had an ice cream. I was waiting in line to pay for it. A middle aged woman in a black dress was in front of me. She had made a 51 euro buy. A big buy for such a store. She told the girl behind the counter she had just became aware she had to feed the whole family in the evening.

The woman paid the 51 euros with three 20s. The girl checked out the bills. They use a machine to do it in Italy. No crossing with a marker.

The girl said the bills were no good. The woman got upset. I just got them from the bank, she said. She pulled out a large bunch of 20s. Tried to pay two more times. None of the bills good. Finally the woman paid with genuine Italian money.

Outside were two tough devious looking men watching the whole proceeding. She went out to them and the whole three got in a car and drove away.

The girl behind the counter spoke English. That is the reason I am able to relate this story. She explained it all to me afterwards.

Parking sucks in Camogli. The condominium I am using is located on the water. There is no parking on the water. Nor for a couple of blocks behind the rows of waterfront buildings. I had to park far far away. Then drag and roll my suitcase up and down little hills. Additionally Camogli is all steps. Reminded me of Rome. I had to carry the bag up the steps.

I find it amazing. Each time I am confronted by steps, they go up. Never down.

I am getting stronger. Six weeks ago I would have died. After all the hilly walking I have done this trip, my body is getting accustomed to it.

Every place I have visited has had a different flavor. As does Camogli. It is the Italy as I thought it would be. Old medieval buildings, steps, people chattering incessantly and loudly.

The buildings are medieval. Each more than a thousand years old. Along the waterfront, which by the way is the Mediterranean, they are six stories high. The first floor consists of stores and restaurants. Second through sixth floors apartments. No elevators in any of the buildings. Steep narrow staircases in each.

In the U.S. the higher the floor, generally the more expensive. Not in Camogli. Because of the lack of elevators, the higher up you go, the cheaper the apartment.

Of course, no air conditioning in any of these buildings. Open windows and fans instead.

Camogli is on the western side of Italy. Significantly above Rome. Immediately next to Portofino. There is a mountain on the sea shore separating Camogli and Portofino. It is called Mount Portofino.

Last night I ate in Camogli rather than run over to Portofino. I was tired from the drive. From what I am told, Camogli and Portofino are the same. Perhaps Portofino later today.

I had dinner at a sea side cafe around 11. Too late, I know. However, I was hungry.

I selected the cafe because there were white tablecloths and what turned out to be real silver and china glasses.

I was not disappointed. I had one terrific meal! The entre was lamb encased in ground pecan nuts . It was served on top of a bevy of cooked fruits and vegetables mixed. The key was the taste. There was an oil which appeared to keep the pecans attached to the lamb. Whatever, it was delicious. One of the finest meals I have ever enjoyed.

Greece was cheap dollarwise. Italy is expensive. Like 3-4 times.

I was tired after dinner. A bit bloated. It was after midnight. The area was still bustling. I went immediately to bed.

Enjoy your day!

DAYS 36 and 37

I am back!

It is a question mark each day whether I will return. I failed to bring my computer with me. I am at the whim of internet stores and friendly people. One thing I know for a fact. Everyone in Italy is using old and sick machines. Each day is a task and a surprise.

I have been sleeping in Courmier the last three nights. Driving back and forth to Chamonix each day. The Alps are always before me. From the moment I rise to the time I go to bed. They are there on the drive to Chamonix and back. The mountains dominate the scene.

I would be remiss if I failed to make some additional comments regarding Mont Blanc. Remember it is 11 peaks on top of an already big mountain.

Mont Blanc defies description. I guess that is why I am back trying to tell you more about it. Words do not adequately tell you what the eyes see.

The mountain is high and tall. It stands defiantly. Speaks quietly. Says…..Don’t screw with me!

Impossible to see all 11 peaks at one time. Clouds up high. Block the view.

Trees cover the lower range of Mont Blanc. Pine. All the way up to a certain level. Then nothing but bare rock. Someone told me pines will not grow above 2,000 feet. The bare land is formidable. Then comes the peaks. Not just the very top. The top for a considerable distance downward.

When I arrived, some of the peaks had valleys of glaciers. Ice. One day later all the peaks were covered with snow. A significant dusting. Impressive.

Many waterfalls. They are streams running down the sides of the mountain. All over. Some a foot wide. Others up to 20 feet. Beautiful. They run in and out of the woods. You see it, then you do not. All of a sudden the stream reappears again.

The thinner streams were not running yesterday. They were frozen. Yesterday at this time (11 am) the temperature was 29 degrees F. At the same time 24 hours later it is 50 degrees F.

The waterfalls are attributable to two factors. The first is the melting glaciers. The other is that the mountain top is loaded with natural springs and wells. Below ground. They seep their way upward and add to the glacier spill off.

Yesterday morning, I had a unique experience. When I opened the door to the balcony starring at Mont Blanc, I saw a number of clouds. Some were below my eye level. Others at my eye level. Others above my eye level. All set against the green pines of Mont Blanc. A wow!

Last night when driving back to Courmier, I had another experience. Though one I have had before. Fog. Big time. There were occasions I could not see at all. Bad.

Moving on from Mont Blanc, let me share two food experiences I had yesterday.

The first was in Chamonix at lunch time. I went into a big restaurant at the main corners of Chamonix. Where all the world walks by. It was too cold to eat outside, however.

The menu was in total French. No English sub titles as I had become accustomed to elsewhere on this trip. I saw what appeared to be the word sausages. I have been eating many sausages this trip. All different. All good.

I ordered sausage. Pointed to it on the menu to the waitress. My mistake was not asking her to spell out exactly what I was ordering. Assuming she spoke English. I do not know. I found whereas many Greeks and Italians have at least a smarthering of English, the French seem to be above a second language.

I was served two boiled hot dogs and french fries. Not big fat hot dogs. Not long ones. Two regular sized.

I looked at them for a few minutes. And then decided, oh well! My mistake. Eat them.

I called the waitress over. Asked for ketchup and mustard. The least I could do was dress the meal up. She looked at me in shock. I knew what was coming…..We do not serve ketchup and mustard! We are French!

I quietly ate my boiled hot dogs and fries.

Dinner last night got screwed up, also. I was at what might best be described as a good neighborhood restaurant. It had been so described to me. I was told to be sure to eat polenta. It is the favored dish in this Alpian village.

There were only six entres on the menu. Each served with polenta. The only thing I recognized was chicken catecetore. I asked what polenta was. No screwing around this meal. Lunch was bad enough.

The waiter provided a polenta description. It was crushed corn. All mashed together with what I could not understand. He told me it was everyone’s favorite. Had me look at the other tables. Each had this heaping large dish of yellow stuff on their table. He further told me Christopher Columbus introduced polenta into this country. There was no corn in Europe prior to Columbus. He brought it to the old world from the new world.

I did not like the polenta. I was told to bury it in the tomato sauce. That is the way it is supposed to be eaten. I did. Better, but still not my dish.

The polenta alone cost me 12 euros. About $16 American money. Not worth it.

I am absolutely impressed with Italian roads and bridges. All appear in tip top shape. The Italians have also recently constructed a speed train from Milan to I know not where. A new road was built near the railway tracks. The road had to have 72 bridges. So the trains could pass underneath.

Italian roads and bridges are well maintained. There is a reason for it. At some point a law was passed that whoever built or constructed a road, received a contract to maintain the road for 30 years. The money for maintenance comes from tolls. The contractor charges the tolls. The contractor keeps the money and makes repairs as need.

A good deal for the contractor! Positive cash flow!

The Italians using the roads are not very happy about the 30 year thing however. The tolls are expensive. My two hour drive from Novara to Courmier had cost me 25 euros one way. The Italians are an adept society. Their way around the burdensome toll is to drive back roads. They know all the bye ways.

I think the Italian way of building and maintaining roads and bridges is worthy of investigation. Gets the job done! The job we are not and have not been doing for years. Our roadways and bridges are a disgrace. Forget maintenance. A pot hole per family. The cost is not a tax to be imposed. It is paid daily by the users of the roads and bridges.

It is probably a screw job either way. However, worth exploring.

A few words about Chamonix. Lovely! gorgeous! Exciting! People all over. Summer and winter. Great pedestrian walk ways. Terrific high scale stores. No tee shirt vendors. Very European. I sat several times having a coffee at an outdoor cafe and watched the world go by. It was the world. The whole world. Every nationality walking the streets.

I got to Chamonix through a tunnel. A nine mile tunnel. The Italians and French built it. Runs right under one of the Alp mountains. Cool!

Somewhere in the back of my mind comes a recollection of Mary Shelley and this area. I did not have the time to research it. Forgive me if I am wrong.

Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein’s Wife. A best seller at the time. She lived here in the Coumier area. Courmier was to have provided the background for the book.

Recall that her story took place in a castle. Castles all over the place here. Recall also the fog. Fog frequent here. Recall further the fog I drove through last night. The fog was thick enough not only for Frankenstein, but also Dracula and Wolfman.

Later today, I am driving to the Portofino area. The Italian Riviera. A three hour drive.

I will be staying in Camogli, a town immediately next door to Portofino.

The trip should be interesting. It is summer time and the area should be flourishing.

Enough for today. I am going to be thrown out this internet store. It closes from noon to 3 each day. In Chamonix, all the stores closed from 1 to 3. Siesta time.

Enjoy your day!



I survived today. I finally fell asleep this afternoon for four hours.

I am sitting at the computer in the library of the apartment I am a guest at. It is a library as you would imagine from days gone by. Two walls of books floor to ceiling. Furniture galore. The room is not small. Furniture all antiques. The desk I am working at is the strangest I have ever seen. Strange only because new to my eyes. Different. Long, tall, wide, fancy heavy wood. A poor description, but the best I can do.  Old prints and paintings adorning the walls.

It is Wednesday evening. Normally, I would be doing this blog in the morning. However, I must be up and out of here at 8 in the morning in order to get to the plane timely. I am not going out tonight. Too tired. So nothing will be missed by doing the blog at this time.

I hope to sleep tonight. Last night and this morning were disasters. I even took a pill this morning. I forget the name. It is what is taken in the United States to reduce swelling. It also induces sleep. It did not help me.

I lunched in at the apartment. The housekeeper took pity on me. She prepared a light lunch for me. She cooked a fish. A whole fish. Actually microwaved it. In oil. The fish is native to the Mediterranean Sea. I do not know its name. The name unimportant. The fish delicious! She served me the fish and a fish knife. She said you know how to clean of course. I smiled and said, no. What would I know about deboning a fish and otherwise preparing it for consumption! She tought it cute that I was so inept.

I followed up the fish with a bowl of fresh strawberries.

When I was walking the streets of downtown Novara yesterday, I saw a chocolate shop. There were many. This one a Lindt. A Swiss company. The store had small thin hollow Easter bunnies. I love them! Bought one. Ate it as part of my lunch.

A couple of months ago, I read an article on Yahoo re chocolate producers. Lindt was listed as #1. The best chocolate in the world! I had asked Lisa to get me one for Easter. She still buys her father candy for Easter. She could not find Lindt in Key West. 

I have spent a lot of time in bed the past 36 hours. Not necessaringly sleeping. Trying to sleep. The mattress is wonderful. Hard. I love a hard mattress. This one the hardest I have ever slept on.

I inquired how so hard. The mattress is stuffed with sheep wool. Stuffed till the enclosure is at the breaking point. The covering holding the sheep wool was thicker than an American mattress and box spring combined. Big time comfortable! Even the pillows were so stuffed.

The mattress and pillows were not as down filled. The one I am sleeping on the rock of Gibralta!

I mentioned the other day my acoustical theory about how pedestrians avoid cars. I was wrong. As far as I myself was concerned. Five times yesterday I almost got hit. I never heard the cars coming. Someone had to pull me aside each time. My theory needs adapting to I guess.

I am anxious to share with you my cherry and strawberry experience.

At dinner the first night, fresh cherries and strawberries were served. A huge bowl of each. Both looked anemic.

The cherries were small. The red coloring dull. Most yellowed.

A large bowl of water was set in the middle of the table. Spaghetti bowl size.

One of the guests had picked the cherries that afternoon. He took his ladder and climbed a tree to pick them. A bushel full.

I noticed everyone was picking up a handful of cherries and dipping their hand full in the water. Hand and cherries combined. Why, I asked. To clean the cherries was the response.

Although the cherries did not look appetizing, when in Roman do as the Romans do. I did. The cherries were the most delicious I have ever eaten

The strawberries looked anemic also. Small. Dull red. White in spots. Sweet! I asked if any sweetener was added. The host looked at me as it insulted. I explained why the query.

I shop at Publix in Key West. The cherries are huge and a deep purple. The strawberries fat and robust. No comparison between the taste of the fruit purchased in Key West and that eaten at the dinner party. The artificial additives to American fruit adds to its appearance, not taste. Whereas the natural fruit served in Novara with no artificial additives had a fantastically superior taste.

The weather is consistent. Hot by day, cold by night. Notice the use of the word cold as opposed to cool. From humidity in the afternoon to three blankets at night. The weather is much like that found in our Adirondack mountains in the summer. Think Old Forge. The only way to avoid the three blankets is to have body heat next to you which, unfortunately, I do not.

I will be in Athens tomorrow night. Another world I am told. I have been advised to be prepared to dance syrtachi and bouzouki. I am sure I have not spelled them correctly. My mind is already filled with Greek music. I can envision tomorrow evening and its pleasures.

So much for today. My next blog will report on my first day and evening in Greece. As much as some of you may not be able to wait to read it, I cannot wait to experience it.

Enjoy your day!