ROME: THE ETERNAL CITY
I have never met anyone who doesn’t love Rome. This is a city that was on our bucket list for a number of years. I knew we were in for a big adventure from the minute we arrived at the Fiumicino airport, hailed a cab with a daredevil driver and headed for Rome at a breakneck speed on the Autostrada. When my husband politely asked him if he could slow down a bit he replied, “This is how we drive here.” We both crossed ourselves and prayed.
View of Rome from the top of the Spanish Steps
Our hotel, the InterContinental De La Ville was centrally located at the top of the Spanish Steps. After climbing this steep incline a number of times we noticed a plaque nearby that said, “The English poet John Keats died here.” This prompted Peter to remark, “Of course, he did. These steps killed him.” Actually, he died of tuberculosis.
Rome has a unique La Dolce Vita (a good life) approach that attracts one at once. For example, I could never figure out when the elegant stores near our hotel on the Via Condotti were open. I kept saying, “How do they make any money?” What really caught my eye was the astounding bronze sculpture by Igor Mitoraj in front of Valentino’s atelier.
After seeing all the sights in Rome we took a one-day tour to Florence. On the way, we became friendly with a couple from Perth, Australia and when the bus stopped for lunch the four of us sat together. It was fun because we all jokingly agreed that we were eating the worst spaghetti and meatballs ever.
NEW ORLEANS: THE BIG EASY
This was a city I knew we would love even before we visited it. I think I was influenced by my favorite play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Perhaps, but even so, New Orleans is unlike any other city in the world.
Two distinctive features, aside from all the marvelous food, is the music that seems to waft through the air at every turn and the laissez-faire atmosphere of New Orleans.
We stayed at the Hilton Riverside and had a fantastic view of the Mississippi River. I never realized how incredibly busy this waterway is. Our dinner cruise on one of the paddlewheel riverboats was one of the highlights of our trip. It was also the first time I had eaten catfish and I was very wary. Thoughts of making out a last will and testament crossed my mind. No need. The almond-crusted catfish turned out to be one of the best things I’d ever eaten.
New Orleans: a paddlewheel riverboat on the Mississippi
And, of course, we had to visit Café du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets with powdered sugar. This is a famous eatery that is open 24 hours and only closes one day a year (Christmas). Be forewarned: the powdered sugar has a will of its own. At first one eats slowly, but then caution gets thrown to the wind: sugar goes on you, the table, the floor and even your shoes – as it does with everyone. And remember: New Orleans has the “Go-Cup.” You don’t know what that is? Check the web.
SAN FRANCISCO: THE CITY BY THE BAY
I lived on Nob Hill in San Francisco for a year before moving to New York and, like Rome and New Orleans, it has a distinctive character all its own. Its most obvious features are the hills one has to tackle by taking a cable car or by driving/walking.
And next to this is the weather, which is almost devoid of seasons. There’s no hot summer and winter seems to be mostly fog rolling in. I believe I wore a lightweight raincoat most of the time.
The Fountain of the Tortoises on Nob Hill in San Francisco
San Francisco had lots of fun spots when I lived there. One was a raucous Barbary Coast joint that was famous for its chef who used to come out periodically during the evening and sing When the Saints Come Marching In while carrying a tray up high and walking through the entire place. Everyone would join in and sing with him.
NEW YORK: THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
This city is often called The Greatest City in the World to the chagrin of many who don’t believe it is. Well, I do and here are my reasons: (1) You can get anything you want here, any type of food, clothing, you name it, (2) There are a million things to do – lots are free, others cost money.
Manhattan: When trees blossom in the spring
Is it really the city that never sleeps? Well, I recently discovered a hardware/lumber yard on the East Side at 29th Street that stays open 24 hours. Now, who in the world buys Sheetrock or a screwdriver at 3:00 am? A New Yorker, that’s who.
MAY WE SUGGEST…
You can live like us and order a super-comfortable layering top at 3:00 am just by sitting at your computer and hitting a few keys.
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