And fall flat on your face. Or atleast I think I did.
Back in August my son and I took a trip to Vancouver. The girls were in Europe for a good month and given my work situation I could not join them. My son also spent time in Europe with some friends so he had a good summer of travel. I needed to feel like I had a vacation so at a moment’s notice we decided on Vancouver. My main motivation was that I wanted to see some friends I hadn’t seen person to person since our teenage years. Mind you, I did cross paths with my friend back in our mid/late twenties in downtown Montreal but his sister I hadn’t seen in forever. I was both excited and anxiety filled because… me.
After numerous discussions with myself I finally sent my friend a message only once we got to Vancouver.. Essentially our first full day there. Given I just sprang this on him I was fully prepared to accept if we couldn’t get together. Luckily that was not the case and we set a date to get together.
We planned to meet at his sister’s house so that we could go over to their moms who lived close by as I absolutely wanted to see her.
This is where things start to spiral down due to ….me… I just don’t get it. In the end I think I am my worst enemy.
For the most part my nerves got the best of me. And when I get nervous I also start to stutter. It’s interesting. I have had many people over the years, including colleagues (my boss specifically) compliment me on my writing skills… unfortunately that does not translate to when I speak. Sometimes. I always say that I am not eloquent when I speak.
I also over analyze and that always makes things worse and unnecessary.
So let’s analyze, shall we? 😆
Leading up to the meet I was stressing over the fact I could not remember their mom’s name. Literally beside myself with anxiety… and so I stuttered through asking what her name is.
When we got to their moms I sat on a chair and immediately realized and felt something was wrong with the chair. It moved like it was going to break apart. So a normal human being would have said something.. Me? Mr. over analyze things, felt like I didn’t want to embarrass the mom and decided to stay seated and move as little as possible while praying to the gods that I was mistaken… but as time went on there were subtle indications I was not wrong. And then the moment happened; the chair collapsed under me. Thankfully, I guess, my ninja like reflexes kicked in and I was able to grab onto the table and so didn’t flat out fall completely to the floor. Still an embarrassing moment.
After I switched chairs we caught up a little and things were going great. At one point I was asked if I’d ever retire to Italy. I could have made the answer somewhat simple but instead I brought up the fact we bought property there at the onset of covid. It bothers me so much because it can certainly come across as showing off. And really that is not who I am.
Fast forward to the restaurant.
We order drinks and soon after the waitress comes paper and pen in hand and says something. She was at the far end and admittedly I didn’t hear what she said so assumed. My response was clearly wrong because she walked away and that caused some laughter.
Would it have been so hard to just stay quiet or ask the waitress to repeat herself? Serenity now.
The catching up we did at the restaurant was so good. I could have spent hours and hours with them… unfortunately it was a weekday and unlike my son and I they had work the next day. So how could I end the night without another blunder? 🤔
I decided that I would pick up the tab. The reason was all but innocent. Here I am sitting with friends I hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t give them a heads up I’d be in their neighborhood. Yet they made the time for my son and I when they could have said no and I would have understood. I was very grateful for that. Simply put, it was my way of saying thank you and nothing more. Honestly, I don’t know that I could have found the words to properly express how I was feeling. Yet because of how my brain works all I could think about after the fact and AGAIN was ‘what if they thought I was showing off?’. My brain.
You know that expression… you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. I feel I failed. I hope I am wrong. I’ve had moments since where I thought of reaching out and explaining but knowing my luck I would just make things worse and unnecessarily awkward.
The week in Vancouver was too short so it’s definitely not a one and done. I would like to return with the whole family once I can compile a massive amount of $$$ 😋.. Beautiful city but wowsa. Another get together with my friends is definitely in the cards and hopefully I can do better this time around.
I thought by writing down my misadventures it would be cathartic… but to this day and months later I am angry at myself and writing it down has not really helped. 😆
Today is our first day back to reality. On a very last minute decision we decided to take a trip to Italy… mainly to surprise my mom who has been there since July. I had originally planned to chronicle/post each day in Italy but it didn’t work out that way. I got caught up in the moment and our days were very long so it made it difficult to do so.
We didn’t immediately go visit my mom.. instead we worked our way there by starting our trip in Sorrento… Our trek in Italy was Sorrento-Capri-Positano-Amalfie-Calabria(Malvito)-Rome-Firenze.. We covered alot of territory in what turned out to be not enough days! We certainly did the planes, trains, automobiles, boat, bus, walk thing!
Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Amalfie
We began our trip in Sorrento.. in those 2.5 days we also trekked out to Capri (by boat) and Positano and Amalfie in a private guided tour. It’s alot to cover and we only spent a few hours in Positano and Amalfie..That last day we drove 3.5 hours to southern Italy (Calabria) where my mom is staying with family. The driving in Italy is cray cray.. i did have a rental but used the car minimally. The guide we had for the Positano/Amalfie drive was young and good but even as good a driver as he was, i did see my life flash before my eyes a few times during the drive! lol.
This is the view from our hotel in Sorrento. Spectacular!
A few photos from Capri and Amalfie.. Just incredibly beautiful!!!
… photos from Amalfie…
photos from Capri…
.. some photos from Positano…
Our drive down to Calabria was pretty uneventful. Malvito is a small town where my mom and dad grew up.. it’s hillside.. pretty amazing. The hospitality is southern style (translation= awesome). My family is awesome. My cousin, Modestina took us in and was a great hostess. We were treated like dignitaries. Food and company was simply phenomenal! I should mention my mom was completely shocked to see us. Her reaction when we pulled into the driveway was priceless.. At first, she actually didn’t recognize us and then i guess when it started to register who we were her facial reaction was just too funny!
The dog in the last picture says it all.. that’s how i felt like while being in Malvito. I love the country side.. i was in heaven! Yup those cats are true Italians! No, fries didn’t mistakenly fall on that pizza!
I could go on and on about how beautiful Malvito is but i won’t or this post will just be too long. While in Malvito i did make use of the car to get around and let me tell you it was an adventure with my wife.. She is way too nervous. As i mentioned the driving is crazy and when you have very narrow roads that are in fact two way roads it makes for some interesting driving.. especially hillside.. She was a bundle of nerves! The fact we didn’t get into an accident was mainly in part to my prowess as a driver ;). Her reactions made for some really comical moments!
I should mention that the one and only time i was in Italy was back in 1984 when i was 13. Most of it was spent in Malvito. I don’t remember much but it was fun reminiscing with my family.
It would be terrible of me not to show some pictures of the beaches (guardia and cetraro) in Calabria.. so…
Some fruits on my aunt’s land..
We spent 3 days in Rome where we did an insane amount of walking. I dropped off the rental car at the airport in Calabria where we took a plane back to Rome. Rome is big and it’s pretty hectic! It was a good thing not having the car. We did a lot of sight seeing which of course included the Vatican.
We took a guided English tour of the Vatican and surrounding area. The tour guide we had was very knowledgeable with a big personality and kept us entertained. We were handed units with ear buds to wear so we could hear him well. This did help as the group was big and there are alot of tours going on at the same time and so it’s their way of making sure everyone gets to hear what the guide has to say. The fun part of the tour happened because Sylvio our tour guide didn’t know that he had Italians (us) in his group … so at times he’d break into Italian with the folks working at the Vatican (and other tour guides) and let’s just say his language and commentary was very colorful.. Some of the stuff he said was funny…some derogatory..and some downright cringe worthy! Mena and I had some good laughs and we made sure not to give ourselves up as Italian so we could continue to enjoy his antics! The other eventful moment that happened in Rome was courtesy of my wife.. at the time it was plenty funny but after it sunk in, well… it could have turned out much worse for her. As she did plenty of times during our trip she was mesmerized by everything around her and one evening she crossed the street while looking one way and was almost trampled by a horse/carriage coming from the other way!! Luckily my yell alerted her and thanks to her quick feet she managed to escape using what we have now dubbed “the Mena shuffle”. You had to be there! Priceless.
The Trevi Fountain in Rome.
Although we flew out of Rome we ended our trip in Firenze..basically we trained it to and from Rome… Firenze is a beautiful and much smaller experience then Rome. Still very touristy but yet felt more manageable/relaxed. In my opinion, we did too much shopping and not enough sight seeing. But hey that’s just me.. the girls may not agree with me.
I opted not to buy a prepaid simcard for the trip.. instead i decided to WIFI it along the way.. The first few days had me regretting that decision but in the end it was a good thing as it got me to be disconnected for a while. I only caught up on my social media at the end of each day. In general the WIFI at hotels and airport was good. Any “free” public WIFI not so much as it worked very poorly (or not at all) OR you had to take too many steps or give a local phone # to get going.
All in all the trip was unbelievable. The food was great everywhere.. We ate ALOT!!! so i am thankful we did alot of walking as well. Gelato is a big deal in Italy and prior leaving for Italy we were told that we had to have our share and i will say that the best i had was in Firenze. I took advantage and also had my share of panna cotta as well (everywhere i could).. i love that dessert!
If i had to choose one word to describe Italy it’s “personality”. Italy itself has personality but so do the people. They’re out there. They’re larger than life. They make sure they are noticed. They are very personable and polite.
Heat ranking: Firenze was the hottest followed by Calabria, Sorrento and last Rome.