When Jay and I started to take pictures of the artichokes (they had long stems!), this nice vendor started to laugh at us. Then she laughed with us as we explained that negli stati uniti you don’t find artichokes with such long stems. I remembered that there is a special seasonal green found in Rome in late October/early November called puntarelle. So I asked. “Certo,” she said and pointed out the curly washed and cut greens in the tub to the right, all ready to eat in a salad. Purtroppo, I told her, we’re on a boat with no kitchen to use. Too bad, too, because look at those beautiful local zucchini (with flowers attached!) that could be had for one euro a kilo!
December 13, 2018
One morning, I was drinking coffee, reading a book on deck, and a man who didn’t seem to be an American walked by. I said hello, he answered, and when I detected an accent, I asked him in Spanish where he was from. Because I spoke some Spanish, Wladimir joined me and started talking a mile a minute. A friendship was born. He said no one else on the ship spoke Spanish and that he spoke no English. When I told him I’d seen a woman with very short hair speaking Spanish, he said, “That’s my wife.” Ingrid spoke some English, and with the Spanish that Jay and I speak, we all managed and had a great time. They’re from Venezuela, both anesthesiologists. She’s afraid of cats but has a pit bull terrier that doesn’t like to leave their patio. You learn interesting things about fascinating and friendly people you meet on a cruise. And I sure hope these two remain in our lives. (Sadly, I seem to have misplaced their email addresses.)
December 12, 2018
Rome? Athens? Carthage? Nope, it’s Croatia. Pula, to be more precise, the site of some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Europe outside of Rome. Here’s a view of the outstanding amphitheater, smack dab in the center of town, traffic circling, just like in the Eternal Città. The structure is still used for concerts and, in summer, for film screenings. Nearby stands the remarkable Temple of Augustus, the steps of which were casually providing shaded seating for some coffee-drinking shoppers when we walked by.
December 11, 2018
December 10, 2018
Oh, those French. Their approach to the basic food groups is so, well, basic. Milk, butter, eggs. Nothing wrong with that. Or with the wine seen through this shop window in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The Special K? Maybe not such a great idea. But then again, the French adore Jerry Lewis, something I’ve never been able to understand.
December 9, 2018
Who hasn’t had a bad experience trying to eat a decent meal or even a decent snack in an airport? Yes, things have improved somewhat in the more cosmopolitan hubs, but really.... Last year, leaving Rome’s Fiumicino airport, we opted for lunch at the newly opened outlet of chic Obikà, famed for its selections of fresh mozzarella. Disaster. Not the food, the service. We had allowed two hours for lunch and wound up helping the inattentive waiter figure out the bill at the register and then racing to our flight. This time, a good choice. Tapas. Lizarran: “Basque” fast food, nothing too fancy. No wait staff involved. We selected our pinchos (potato/ham croquette, tortilla española, chorizo, etc.), paid, sat down and ate. (When Jay ordered a beer and opted for large over small, it appeared on our check as “1 Feel Good.”)
December 8, 2018
Art. Rhythm. Community. All three come together in this barrio in the suburbs of Habana, not far from the heavily guarded compound where Fidel lives. The dream and creation of artist José Fuster and his neighbors, it’s an eye-opening wonder these few square blocks where people have pulled together to decorate their homes, their fences, walls, sidewalks with bits of mosaic. Imagine living in this world. Jarring. Harmonious.