Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dear Diary,

Dear Diary,

I have been focusing my blogging on my findings in wine regions and I thought I would do a Dear Diary entry with some venting. You know, to give a personal touch to the blog:)

My first answer if anyone were to ask me, 'how's it going?' would be - I'm tired!!!! I think it was towards the end of my time in Alsace I was starting to feel the mental drain of travel and fatigue followed. I thought back to how long I have been living out of a suitcase and it has been since June 3rd. Shocker and no wonder I'm drained! I went to visit my friends in Zurich for 5 nights and I think I went outside their house a total of 3 times and never for longer than 3 or 4 hours. It was still busy with laundry, blogging, helping to earn my keep around the house, the kids and just spending time with everyone.

What has been the most stressful part of my journey is renting manual cars. Grrrrr...(that's a noise that I make with the clutch, haha). I have rented cars in Alsace and now in NE Italy. There is no other option to get around so I have to deal with it. In Alsace it caused me so much stress I would dream about driving some nights and wake up with a neck so stiff it hurt to turn my head. One day I thought I killed the battery and the nice man at Hugel winery was arranging for me to get a jump from one of the employees cars. Turns out the steering wheel was locked and I just had to giggle it a little. Embarrasment! Another time in needed a 'knight in shining automobile skills armour' when I was looking for my hotel in Colmar. I was relieved to see the hotel sign so I turned into the first right which lead into a parking garage with a gate at the bottom. The problem? The gate didn't open AND I was stuck on an 80% slope and panicked at the thought of going in reverse and rolling forward into the gate. I took a deep breath and gave it a shot - then I stalled. I got out, went into the hotel lobby where there were 3 couples waiting and a 4th couple came in behind me. I'm sure I had an anxious look on my face. I decided to put myself in the middle of the lobby and ask "does anyone speak English?" No response other than the others looking at me like I was crazy...hum. So I talked directly to the couple that came in behind me. He did speak English and I explained that I just needs some help with my car. The girlfriend gave the nod to release him. Long story short, he successfully drove the car in reverse up the slope after 2 tries himself! Phew!!!

After getting some down time in Zurich I took an early morning train to Milan which takes 4 hours. This is amazing; on a Sunday in Zurich they have a train going to Milan every 2 hours. I arrive in Milan and take the shuttle bus to the airport to pick up my next rental car, manual of course. This one has a GPS...but only in Italian...from Zurich to my destination in the heart of the Dolomite mountains, it took me 11 hours. On the Autostrada heading north I found myself in a corridor of the Alps which are magnificent! Then it was time to head west to Marilleva and then got a glimpse into Alpine driving. Stress!!! My advice, go slow, pull over for others to pass and DON'T look over the guard rail! This day rattled me. My hotel ended up being much farther away from where I thought (due to the roads) and had to re-plan my week. The reason I chose this location is it is right in the middle of the 2 wine regions I wanted to visit: Valtellina and Trentino Alto-Adige. After my long travel day I parked the car, did some computer work and took a challenging 4 hour hike (some photos below). It's all working out in the end, and I have successfully managed a terrifying 2+ hour drive to the Valtellina wine region and back, west of where I'm staying.

A number of people have been asking how my beau Chis is doing in London. Right now he is doing fantastic, but that wasn't always the case. He started his job in the kitchen at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay a few weeks ago. After 3 days of working 16-18 hours a day he was ready to vacate. He gave notice and the chef asked him to stay and offered time off when I came to visit. So, he decided to stay. To sum up, after 2 weeks of his deteriorating health, not thinking clearly from lack of sleep and the terms that were agreed upon were not fulfilled, he walked. He always had a back up plan in mind and that is working as a freelance chef. He made the call to a company on Monday and he was working the very next day. The beauty is he has his own schedule and can work as much as he wants. London is a hub of events, entertainment and it never stops. There is no shortage of work and so far (I know it's only been 2 days) he is loving it!

As far as jobs for myself in London go, I have applied as a Footman (butler in training) at Buckingham Palace and I have a PR firm that works with wine events sending my resume out for me. While I was in Zurich I had the time to fill out my UK Visa application. I got to the end and they asked for $1,300 US just to process it!!! Heck no! So I'm rethinking what I will do. I'm only planning on being there a year so I'm hoping I can find a way to be self employed. I am consulting my tax advisor aka, Dad (wink;). But if Buckingham did call back I would drop the coin in a heart beat. I have images of working a Coronation banquet in my head, LOL. When I am in London next week a classmate of mine will be in town for 2 tasting events and he is hoping to get me in with him. My resume will be in hand along with my networking skills:)

Thank you for listening to my Dear Diary entry. Below is a photo of me while I write this. The Dolomites really are incredible and I'm thankful I got to see them. In conclusion, I'm safe, healthy but I worry of scurvy as there only seems to be cheese, bresola and speck to eat....but not to worry, I found a salad today.

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