Hi Friends and Family,

Welcome to our 2008 spring voyage, this time to Italy. Many of you have told us that you enjoyed 'following' us on our previous trips so depending on our availability of internet access, you can 'rome' with us by visiting this site from time to time. Unlike trips before, we are attempting a travel light approach, which means no laptop. This also means limited story telling time as I will be sharing computer time. I will try as much as possible to post pictures though so click above to go to the picture album. The album is password protected and the password is Roma. Also use the newspaper icon above to read the latest news about the trip since this page will not get updated once we leave.

An annual April trip has been a recent tradition lately as we have booked trips right after hockey season. This usually means that Myrna gets to spend her birthday in a 'foreign' place. Pebble Beach in 2006, Hawaii in 2007 and this year somewhere in Italy. Not sure yet where, since our second week is still in the planning but it looks like it will either be in Venice, Florence or Cinque Terre (pronounced Chinkwa Terray).

Why did we chose Italy? One, It's our first time there (although we drove through Northern Italy in 1991 on our way from Nice to Switzerland). Two, back in early February, I was surfing the web looking for cheap airfare to places that would be warmer* than here for the last 2 weeks of April and through British Airways found a very good price on tickets to Rome. Since they we basically non refundable, this made us prepare for a trip to Italy knowing only 2 things, we start in Rome and end in Rome, the rest would become the adventure. For many weeks, we didn't plan anything because of a pending Bell Canada strike which could have prevented us from going at all. It's really only been in the last 2 weeks that we have actually booked anything firm. So here is a basic outline of our trip as it stands one week before departure.

Firstly we leave at a strange time. Back when I booked the airfare, there was a fairly good chance that our final hockey game would be against the visiting Boston boys on Saturday April 12th. So  in case that would have happened we had to fly out on Sunday night (April 13) instead of Saturday. Result is that we leave late enough in the evening that I will not miss the last round of the Masters. So we arrive in Rome at around 4 pm on Monday afternoon. Our flight includes a layover in Heathrow's terminal 5, so wish us luck. If you haven't heard about terminal Chaos read it here. Now that we know about this, we will pack our carry-on very carefully.

Our first 3 nights will be in Rome. This is surely not enough time to spend in Rome but we are coming back to Rome for at least one other night. One of the highlights of our Rome trip is a visit to the underground excavations of St Peter's Basilica. The 'Scavi' tour as it is called, can only be done through advanced reservations and is limited to less than 200 people a day. Because of this limitation, not many people know about this tour. Fortunately, we bumped into Helen and Gerry Landry and they told us about it. We applied for two spots back in February and we got picked. April 16 at 13:30, we will be under the church exploring the catacombs and excavations. Here is the Vatican's web site description of the tour. You won't get to experience any of this as photography is strictly prohibited.

For the next three days (two nights), we embark on a whirlwind organized tour of the Southern Coast. This is a bus trip that includes visits to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri. On one of these days, I am even planning to rent my only car to drive down the Amalfi Coast road. We leave a 7:30 am on Thursday morning and get back to Rome at 9:30pm Saturday night. This is the first time we are attempting a bus tour, so we will report on whether we like this type of setup.

As of Saturday (one day before departure) we had not reserved yet for Sunday through Wednesday all we know is we are planning to be 3 nights in Cinque Terre where we will be doing a lot of hiking and walking. This will be our relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle. On Wednesday, Myrna's birthday, we will probably head for Venice, but are planning to stop in Bologna. Don't ask why but this will be our rest before spending the next 2 nights in Venice. We are confirmed for 2 nights (April 24-25) in Venice and we will spending our last day Florence before training back to Rome and the airport.  One day in Florence is really not enough but it will give us a little taste and probably enough incentive for repeat visit in the near future.

I have a feeling that in Cinque Terre we will be a little far from the internet so there might not be many updates during that time. Nevertheless, thanks for visiting and stay posted. Remember, use the newspaper icon above for the latest news.

* warmer - Although Italy will be a bit warmer than home, the long range outlook doesn't even look like it will ever to 20 degrees with single digit lows. There won't be snow on the ground at least.