About the Trip
I had a few trips planned to Italy and Greece over the next few months and needed to check out some hotels, churches, restaurants and organize a few walking tours.
I also needed to tour a cruise ship for a Greek cruise. I had read some poor reviews, but wanted to see for myself. The ship was fine, but it didn’t matter, the boat sank a few months later.
Being away from home is always hard. But this trip was even worse than usual. Since it was a reconnaissance trip, I wasn’t actually making any money, just doing research. Even though I knew it was a working trip, and I had a lot of work to do, I still felt like I was going on vacation without my family, something I did not want to do. I mean, it’s Europe and everyday is like a holiday in Europe. So, to keep myself in check mentally, I created a very strict schedule, literally down to the minute, of where I needed to be and how long I could be there. I had so much time to sample a few restaurants, I needed to check out this group of hotels before lunch, etc. Of course not everything worked out as I had planned, but it really helped me to feel like I was working and not vacationing.
Oh, and yes I tried to get my wife to come along. I begged even. But, she was much too busy with her own job to go gallivanting through Europe for two weeks.
I did schedule a good bit of shopping time too. Something I rarely get to do when I have a group. With Christmas coming up, and my wife and daughter back home, I had a lot of gifts to buy. Inside my rolling suitcase, I packed an additional soft convertible suitcase. Both were packed tight by the end of the trip.
Not so funny story: On my flight from Athens to London was Alexander Litvinenko. You may remember that he was the Russian who died of radiation poisoning. A few weeks after I arrived home, I was contacted by British Airways and told that the plane tested positive for radiation and that I may need to go to the doctor for a check up. A few weeks later they contacted me again to say that the levels were low enough and that there was no need to worry. And I thought I didn’t like flying before!
Day 1: Flight. Pisa picnic. Florence arrival.
Day 2: Fire alarm. Hotel change. No line at the Accademia.
Day 3: Busy day in Florence. Off to Siena.
Day 4: Big day in Siena. Train to Rome.
Day 5: The churches of Rome.
Day 6: Practicing walking.
Day 7: To Athens! First impressions.
Day 8: Meeting an old friend in Athens. Mass in Greek. A proposition.
Day 9: Piraeus. Final arrangements. To London.
November 1 – 11, 2006
Santuario di Santa Caterina (Siena)
Saint Peter’s Basilica (Rome)
Saint Dionysius (Athens)
Casa Santo Nome di Gesu (Florence)
Loggiato dei Serviti (Florence)
Hotel Chiusarelli (Siena)
Casa Fatima (Rome)
Hotel Plaka (Athens)
Some hotel near Victoria station (London)
Click here to view photos from this trip.