The Final Leg
Actually when you look at this entire trip I can only say this is the final leg of my first adventure overseas since retirement. There are actually 3 more planned this year east bound and three west bound with numerous trips in-between.
Surprisingly enough the Rome marathon went rather well. They never are flawless but after pulling my calf in Tokyo three weeks prior I really thought my marathon days were behind me.
A lot of cold baths, Numerous having my feet over my head and keeping active did the trick. I know I said Rice is the way to go with R standing for rest but for some reason my body responded better by staying active. The marathon itself was the not the best. Cold rain most of the day and running on all the cobble stone streets really took a toll on my feet. My calf was a bit tight at the start but no pain at all. As time went on things got better by the mile. It was a bit strange the comparison between Tokyo and Rome. In Tokyo where it was a well organized and there was plenty of support, by contrast, Rome had mass confusion all the way thru and the people watching us run did not seem to care at all. I guess they were all more interested to get into one of the many museum or cathedrals along the way.
I did have a flash back during the race to an idea I had a year ago as I was preparing for my retirement. You hear all the time where the retiree gets a part time job or starts a business but I actually had come up with a running application that would describe what you are running by during the marathon. I scrapped the idea since it seemed to much like work and as you can see I really don’t have time for that. I must admit as we were running by all the famous places I thought, what a great idea if I could hear something about these places as opposed to my feet hitting the cobble stones.
The day after the marathon a group of us took a bus trip to our next destination, Florence with a guide and on the way stopped off at the best wine tasting experience ever, called Osteria. It first started off with a tour of where the wine was kept and a full description of the three wines we would be tasting. The owner started us off with some bruschetta and the youngest of the three wines. This was not the typical pour of a few drops. This was at least half a glass and if you finished before the next wine was presented he kept pouring. The food came out in waves and seemed to be endless. We moved on to the next vintage until we got to the Reserve that had been sitting up waiting for us for at least 6 years. The meal include some of their own Pasta that is made right there. The same pouring style held true but we finally met our match when out came the desert wine and the Biscotti. Dip for 20 seconds then eat. Of course it all came to an end at the cash register where everyone left with at least two bottles of the Reserve, of course. The final leg of the bus trip was very quite as we all slumped into our seats and took a well deserved nap.
The next day a few of us took a train trip out to The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the walk up the stairs was well worth the 18 euros. It actually was not that bad and the views from the top were breath taking. Or maybe it was the climb up the stairs that took my breath away. Everyone was taking pictures of them holding the tower up but I decided to take a selfie where I pretended I was using my head. All along the streets of Italy there were men every few feet selling selfie sticks if it was sunny and umbrella and ponchos if it was raining. I decided to be a smart ass and told them that I did not need a selfie stick since I had such long arms.
Two things I learned about Florence that I did not know was that they are famous for their T bone steaks and wild bore. Not going to eat anything with wild in its name but had to try one of the smaller T Bone steaks. Needless to say when it arrived and was the size of my plate I was happy that I went for the junior size and also decided to handle this like a marathon. One step or in the case one bite at a time. It was fantastic and if that was not bad enough I had to top it off with some gelato.
Turns out we stayed at the same hotel we used during one of the John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield running events. 3 1/2 years ago we took the running cruise concept to land and ran all over Venice. Imagine a 100 of us running around all the famous Statues and thru the Tuscan mountain sides. The hotel Plaza Lucchesi was be updated somewhat but the church bells every 15 minutes were a great reminder of time gone by. When they say location, location, location while selling a house the same goes true from this hotel you are a mere few blocks from the major square of Florence.
Presently in the middle of the Atlantic ocean with 2000 miles to go and now starting to look forward to the next trips on the horizon. After arriving in ATL it will be a quick trip to the 5 by 5 storage unit near the airport to switch the clothes for the next week. Stop by the UPS store to get all the mail over the last 36 days and then to the hotel to modify the bags. Off to RNO to meet up with the kids and drive over to Lake Tahoe for my niece wedding. After a few days there on to Denver to meet up with our Marathon Tour guide, who lives in Boulder, for dinner and back to ATL. Next day Belize for a week then Boise for my third marathon in three months.
Really looking forward to Belize. I have heard so much about it and there are a lot of ex pats that are now calling it home. That might be a bit off for me since I am really having a ball seeing the world on my terms. Dates and places keep making the 2016 list so I know I will be at this for at least two years before I look seriously for a place to live. I had originally thought 7-10 but I will have to get my cash burn rate down a bit. It is not at all like being at home. Everywhere you go on these trips has an admission charge or a per glass charge if you know what I mean. The per day cash burn average is not far off from making this long term and the difference in prices varies a lot. The most expense part of course is the airfare.
I do highly recommend a company called Airtreks.com. I am sure there are plenty of them out there and I have only tried this company but they do a great job when it comes to price and customer service. I send Sarah an email of where I want to go and if there are at least 4 legs outside the USA they can work a great deal for you. They have all your frequent flyer numbers and then send you an email with the price and what airlines you would be using. You then schedule a phone call to firm it up and after 15 minutes of going over all the departure and arrival times you then pay for your trip on line. You can even split the cost over several credit cards if need be. When all done they set you up with your own website and it will then have all your flights booked with them in one place. They alert you to any schedule changes and the personal website then reflects the new itinerary. Needless to say I have booked all my flights with them and they even include post departure insurance. In other words if something happens after your trip starts you are covered.
Pre departure insurance is a different story and I have been using roamright.com. The prices are great and you can buy as you go. In other words when you buy your airline tickets you buy insurance to cover that and as you add on to the trip with other items you then buy insurance to cover that cost. They also cover you once the trip starts so you get double the coverage but I did find out if you pull your calf while running a marathon they will not cover the Doctor bills. The Airtreks insurance does not have a, “race or speed event” exclusion. I did not have to use either so all is good.
The next trip over seas is the middle of May where I will run the Great Wall of China 1/2 marathon and then the Copenhagen full marathon the following week. After that spend a week touring Amsterdam and will be venturing away from my Marriott friends and will be staying in a an apartment thru homeaway.com. I must admit Marriott does a great job and even better overseas but it was a bit weird when I was checking in and they asked me about my stay at city prior.
The people you meet while touring on your own or when joining the Marathon Tours group is great. Marathon Tours is another company that truly believe in customer service and have taken 7 trips with them over the years, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Bermuda, Berlin, Tokyo and Rome. Also have 6 more planned this year with a few more tentative for 2016.
No words of wisdom to leave you with but I am working on a so called poem titled, Retirement which I hope to post in a week. My daughter, Mariah is doing so editing for me right now.