Do You Enjoy Travel Stories?
This website chronicles our trip around the world in 2006. It has lots of photos, videos and stories. We invite you to come in, relax and enjoy the scenery.
~Lee and Sachi LeFever
Early on the trip, I got an email from a person calling himself JFG and saying that he was working on a new project related to travel and was a fan of TwinF. Further, he said that if we were ever near the French-Swiss border to let him know – that we had a place to stay.
Over the last couple of days we took him up on his offer and spent a couple of days with him, Jean François Groff, his wife wonderful Masumi and their sons August and James (and lovable dog Yu). Coincidentally, we were married on the exact same day and the women of both couples are Japanese (Sachi being half).
Apart from staying in a charming French house in the French Alps and eating delicious food with the family, I got a chance to geek out with someone who I learned is a true Internet pioneer. In short, JF was a member of Tim Berners Lee’s team at CERN that originated the World Wide Web that we all use today. He was there at the very, very beginning when Tim worked at the office beside his. Today he is the CTO of Netvibes – a handy web site that brings together all sorts of information from the web in one place. So, it was a pleasure to speak geek with someone who has seen it all happen and is into exciting things now.
Apart from the geeking out, our time with them also made us a bit envious. Not because of their house or cars or anything material. We were envious because they have a warm and lively home – something that we have been without for 328 days now. Seeing their everyday life made us miss home a bit more and look forward to our arrival by the end of the year.
We owe the Groffs a big thanks for their hospitality and hope we can return the favor in
Here are some photos from a walk we took just outside their home in Savoie…
This was shot from their front porch...
These are from the charming town of Annecy, France...
We saw a lot on the latter part of our road trip in Italy, but moving around so fast it's hard to say too much. Luckily photos say more than we can (some say up to 1000 words!) So, here goes... Italy in photos.
We can't talk about the Italy trip without mentioning our silver companion: An Alfa Romeo 147 without which little would be possible.
Oh the places we would go. After Rome we headed to the west coast and to Lucca and Vernazza which is part of Cinque Terre. Lucca, like so many small medieval places, oozes charm...
From there, it was off to Vernazza, a tiny coastal village whose main focus now is tourism - lots of it.
Vernazza led us through an area called Carrera where they pull huge chunks of marble out of the mountains.
We got a piece of statuario marble in the shape of a cheese slicer - which is why we needed to use the Itailian Post Office.
And the drive back to Milan took us through Rapallo...
And we can't mention Italy without a nod to a woman we met on the train to Switzerland. She spoke Italian, French and Spanish, but hardly a word of English. Yet, she charmed us with her Itialian gesticulations. I bet she lives to be a hundred and five.
There are people in this world that use computers and the Internet for unbelievably worthless means. They set their computers to visit sites like TwinF and automatically generate 100s comments like this jewel:
As you can tell, they are complete nonsense and do not even serve the usual spam purpose of advertising - the link goes no where. I awoke yesterday to find about 100 new spam comments. Today it was about 600 - too many for me to manage, especially as we travel.
The site has a spam blocker that works well, but these comments are inconsistent so the blocker can't establish what is spam and what is not. Unfortunately I have no choice but to turn off anonymous comments. This means that, for now, you must be logged into TwinF to leave comments. I hate it, but this is the only choice until we get some things worked out.
I'm not a violent person my any means, but I really, really want one wish - and that is to punch a comment spammer right in the face one really good time. That would make me feel a little better.
I never thought about it during the first day there, but
We were wandering and visibly excited (I’m sure) to be experiencing one of the most atmospheric cities on the trip.
These cities are not practical for cars and thankfully, there were few. It’s rare to see a car parked within the walls and only regulated commercial cars run about consistently. This makes the cities very pedestrian-friendly and protective of their 12th century buildings.
After a day of wandering, Sachi mentioned that if you looked at the city’s appearance from a modern perspective,
I soon realized that
Plaster crumbles and paint fades. Stone pavement covers nearly the whole surface as life finds a foothold among windowsills.
Rusted horse ties, broken street lights and powerful doors adorn a city preserved.
The city leaves us both comparing the ways in which historical cities and sites are managed.
Compare this to many of
Rome was a highlight of the whole trip, not because of the ancient sights or the delicious food, but because of the people – specifically Robin Good and his brother Giovanni, who knows a *lot* about the city. As promised, they scooped us with their motorbikes and showed us their Rome – the Rome that doesn’t appear in many guidebooks. I had one of the best sandwiches in my life at a place that Robin has visited since he was a kid. Warm focaccia bread came from heavan I swear.
I wish we could see every city from the back of a motorcycle driven by a local. The video hopefully captures a little of the feeling. I love my conversation with Giovanni about Ducati Motorcycles. It's de MOST!
Music: Devotchka: Charlotte Mittnacht
Sending packages home is how we manage to stay light, and usually it is not a problem. China, Vietnam and many other unexpected places make it a smooth, albeit paperwork laden, operation.
In Italy, where some things are so well designed and easy, the postal system seems to be a mess - at least for the traveler.
We needed to send home about 10 lbs of items and, as usual, found the post office near the train station in Milan. After waiting for 20 minutes, they could only sell us an oversized yellow box and the basic direction of another post office where we could send it. So, with our backpacks and a giant yellow box, we walked to the other station and waited again. It looked bad. There were 6 windows all blocked by glass - no place to pass over a big box. With a help of a very friendly Italian guy, we finally communicated that we wanted to send the box to America. At this point, she looked at us like we requested an express package to the moon. Neither post office was set up for sending packages - only items that could be slid under the glass sneeze guard. I wonder how Italians send a package?
When she asked about the contents of our giant yellow box, my translator communicated that one item was pasta. She shook her head and had to look up if it was OK to send pasta to the US. I just wanted to say "We're in Italy right? Is pasta a protected item here? Is the US concerned about ecological effects foreign pasta? C'mon"
After a lot of talking in Italian, it became clear that our 10lbs of goods would cost USD 90 and about 500 dollars of pure hassle. Our translator left us with solace by saying that even for Italians, the post office is always an adventure. Fortunately for them though, they don't have to schlep around 10 extra pounds wherever they go when it doesn't work out. Maybe it'll be easier in France.
All gelato is not made equal. Its hard to tell until that first lick - when it desolves and leaves a sweet silky smooth taste in your mouth. You can feel the love when it's real. Today I met my new favorite - pine nut ice cream. I'm still feelin the love.
In fact, we're both feeling a lot of love in Italy. Florence, Rome, Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca and tomorrow Cinque Terre - its all so amazingly rich. Culture, art, food, architecture, people, cars, colors, smells - the Italians do it differently and we like it - a lot.
Unfortunately we haven't made time for uploading pics and videos, but they are coming soon. Until then, enjoy Halloween and remember to vote in a week (if your in the US)! We totally dropped the ball for absentee ballots.
I'm not so sure this costume would go over too well in the US. That is unless you wanted to go as a Ku Klux Klansmen, which is surely one of the worst costume ideas ever.