April 20, 2019
I just came home from my first vacation. Really, I am a little confused by the concept. I thought vacations were the time to relax, get away from it all, sit by the pool or on a beach and drink those colorful drinks with umbrellas. And where were the little poodles in their bikinis soaking up the sun? But obviously, Jim and Maree don't understand the concept because that is not what my vacation to Sorrento was all about. Instead, it was a marathon of movement by foot, by train, by bus, by boat and by the car. And I hate cars, trains, buses and boats.
We started out on a cloudy Sunday morning driving through the mountains through one tunnel then the next and then a longer tunnel and more tunnels where finally we arrived near Perugia and headed for the autostrada toward Naples. Jim had the GPS, but she was nothing but an annoyance with that incomprehensible British accent and inconceivable bastardization of every Italian place name. We knew how we wanted to go to Rome, it was the fastest way. But she had her mind set on taking us down the coast, an extra 100 kilometers, and she wouldn't relent. For the first ninety minutes, she kept trying to get us to turn around and go back. She even told us to make a u turn in a tunnel. Well, without her help, everything was going fine until we arrived near Naples and the Google directions said to follow the signs for Castellamare di Stabia. By this point in time, the GPS agreed. Maree, being rather literal saw one sign, and we followed it. But then there was a second sign to Castellamare di Stabia, and the GPS said to turn right and follow the second sign. Maree seeing the sign agreed with the GPS. So we took the right turn and ended up in the town where we turned around, but there was not an entrance back to the highway. So eventually we ended up going back through the toll booth in the wrong direction, taking an exit where there was no entrance to get back on, and riding through the worn out streets of Naples in a neighborhood where I know if we parked the car it wouldn't be there when we got back or at least parts of it would be gone. I did enjoy looking at all of the graffiti on the walls there though. Some of those Napolitani are pretty creative. Well, by this time, Jim and Maree were confused and bickering about whose fault it was that we ended up in this weird and somewhat scary place. Maree hates to be lost or even a little bit off of the track. Jim on the other hand likes to wander, but he didn't like wandering around this place. Neither did I. Eventually, we found an entrance back to the right highway, and we were on our way again to Sorrento passing through the same toll booth for the third time.
We continued now just following the signs and started the very windy trip around the mountains, through the tunnels, and finally into the stopped traffic of Sorrento. I was now feeling kind of sick, and eventually, those treats I had when we stopped for a potty break ended up in Maree's lap. Fortunately, she was prepared with a towel covering her lap, so no one freaked out. After being taken on a very circuitous route by the GPS, we finally found our hotel, parked our car in their parking lot, and left it there for the duration of our trip - until of course, we were going back home.
We spent days walking the streets of Sorrento. I think my feet are still sore. I have never done so much walking. Well, actually, I don't do much walking on the leash. I pull and try to run as fast as I can to get to the next destination which might be any doorway that is open. All of that pulling makes me cough. I sound like a giant pig snorting and people give me strange looks. They should try being walked on a leash and see how they like it.
But Maree couldn't be happy just walking the streets of Sorrento, so we got up early on Tuesday morning, took the long walk to the bus station, and boarded a bus to Positano. It seemed to take forever to get through the traffic of Sorrento, and then we began the trip through the never ending curves of a very narrow road overlooking the sea. Of course, we didn't see much of it because the bus was stuffed like a can of sardines with people in the isles bumping into Jim who had the aisle seat every time we went careening around a turn. Finally, we were in Positano, well, sort of in Positano, but the bus doesn't actually take you down to the town center. It stops up top, so now there was the interminable walk down hill. Maree had found a restaurant she wanted to go to, and the restaurant was way down the mountain. We walked and walked and walked. It wasn't easy because the road was very narrow and there were no sidewalks. I kept trying to walk in the middle of the road, so it was a constant struggle of wills - Maree vs. me as we went down the hill. When we arrived at the hotel where the restaurant was, we were told they closed the restaurant for a couple of days. So now, we had to find another place for lunch. They recommended a place just up the street with beautiful views, and we climbed back up the road to the restaurant. The food was not bad, the prosecco was drinkable, and I enjoyed lots of treats and the view. After lunch, we continued the walk down the hill to the town center and the beach. I continued to battle Maree and the leash the entire way while cars came whooshing past at speed.
Now, I hear Positano is a big tourist attraction, but, really, I don't get it. The beach is small with small black pebbles not nice white sand like our beach in Senigallia. And nothing is flat until you get there. I guess the view of the houses and other buildings built into the hillside is pretty awesome though. We spent the day walking around and I kept on the lookout for other four legged friends, but there weren't many there. It was probably because there was no grass anywhere. How can a dog live in a place without grass? There was grass in Sorrento, but it was all behind little fences so my kind couldn't go on it. I just don't get the point in that. That meant that all of the dogs I saw there, and there were a lot of them, had to use the little poles along the street and from the smell of them, they used them quite often. When it was time to leave Positano, Jim and Maree decided they didn't want to walk all the way back up the hill, so instead we took a boat ride back to Sorrento. Did I say I hate boats? I had never been on one before, but I hope to never be on one again.
All of this vacation was getting to me, so I decided to go on a hunger strike. I stopped eating my food. I kept eating treats though. Who can resist treats? And Maree had the restaurant make me a steak dinner which I enjoyed. But dog food. Who eats dog food on vacation? People don't eat the same thing they eat at home on vacation, so why should I? I want the taste of Sorrento not the taste of can. Sometimes I think people are very dumb. They just don't understand about being a dog. You see, we are the superior species, and as such, we expect to be treated with a degree of deference and catered to. Sometimes we just have to make a point, and I did make a point. I was on strike. Mentally I was carrying around signs saying "NO MORE DOG FOOD." "NO MORE TRAINS,BUSES AND BOATS." "REAL FOOD FOR REAL DOGS."
Well, my strike was not working so well because two days later, I was on the train. Did I say I hate trains? We got off the train at Pompeii to see the ruins. Because we heard it was so big and easy to get lost, we signed up for a tour. Well, about fifteen minutes into our two hour tour, the tour guide left us in the dust. We were following her and then suddenly there were about four other large tour groups coming toward us and merging into our group. We couldn't see the red umbrella. It disappeared from view. We thought we saw a member of our group entering a building, so we went to check it out, but it wasn't our group. By this time, we had been parted from our group for so long, we knew we would never find them. So we were on our own. I didn't mind because there were lots of little lizards that I could chase at my leisure, and I could go where I wanted. So now, I was Dino the Magnificent archeologist uncovering the lizards of Pompeii. They were much more exciting than all of the dead stuff. I also met two of the dogs of Pompeii. They were big and dirty but friendly. I liked Pompeii more than Positano because the lizard hunt was the most fun part of this vacation. But we were lost in Pompeii trying to read the map full of street names which never appeared on the streets. Finally, Jim figured out how to navigate with the map, and we found our way out of the park after our self guided tour. Pompeii was a pretty amazing place. I can't believe that people actually dug all of this stuff up. I think it was a job for the dogs.
The next morning we got packed and headed home. I wasn't looking forward to the six hour car ride. Fortunately, we didn't get lost, and even though it took us ninety minutes to get out of the Sorrento traffic and we ran into some construction and stop and go traffic in Umbria, I didn't get sick. When we finally pulled up to the house, I truly understood the expression, "There's no place like home," and I was ready to click my heels three times. I sure hope there aren't any more vacations in my near future.
Back Home at Last,
Your Pal, Dino
April 1, 2019
Happy April fool's day. Well, it was April fool's day here as I wrote this, but it wasn't yet April 1st in California. I am still confused about how this time thing works. But apparently, I live in your future. And I didn't even need a time machine. Really, though, I don't even like the car, and so I don't think I would ever want to try a time machine.
It was another beautiful day in Poggio San Marcello. Maree planted flowers in pots on the patio over the weekend, so the yard will look nice when people come to see the house this week. It took her a while to decide what to plant because she had to find plants that wouldn't poison me since I eat every green thing I see, and I like to eat flowers too. Well, she picked some basil, rosemary, sage and impatiens plants. I am not interested in those herb things. They all smell. But the flowers are nice. I am trying to restrain my appetite though since I know she worked so hard planting everything. So far I have only stolen two of the flowers, but I can't promise that more won't go missing.
We spent time at the beach again on Sunday. It was so pretty and warm and I had a nice walk -- well, not really walk because I never walk when I am on the leash. I just pull as hard as I can while Maree tries to keep up with me and the harness chokes me. I sound like a dying pig as I pull Maree along, and people all give us weird looks. I do have a brain, but sometimes I guess I don't use it. It was very thirsty business pulling Maree across the arid desert, and we finally stopped to get me a drink of water at a restaurant on the sand.
For me, Saturday here was a better day than Sunday, however. I was the great explorer, Dino the Magnificent, looking for signs of long extinct species. I ran out the front door, nose to the ground, and was hot on the trail. I saw something hiding under the rocks and running for cover under the lavender bushes. I was in hot pursuit. Wait a minute, if they are extinct, how could I see so many of them? Oh, well, no time to worry about such small details. I ran up the road, and through the fields. I could hear Maree's voice in the far distance calling my name. But, I was a great explorer, and no one calls a great explorer home until he has completed his mission. So, I just ignored her and wandered further and further away from the house through the olive grove and the fields clothed in small daisies. I liked the smell of spring. The soft grasses under my feet. The pale green leaves on the trees. But mostly, I liked the scent I was following. It was everywhere. It surrounded me. I was euphoric. But I was out of luck.
I was having so much fun trying to catch those little lizardy things, but they eluded me. Time passed as I wandered through the fields and our neighbors' yards. Jim and Maree were getting worried because I ran further and further away, but they knew if they pursued me I would just keep running. That is my favorite game, after all, running away whenever they try to capture me. So, they kept calling me and I kept ignoring them. I am not deaf, but I am not the kind of dog that grovels at their master's feet. In my house, I am the master, or at least I think I am. Well, anyway, after about an hour of pursuing my quarry, I was hot and thirsty. I didn't know being an explorer was such hot, dry work. So I finally ran back in the house for a quick drink of water. That was my mistake because Maree and Jim were quicker. The minute I set foot in the kitchen, I heard the door slam shut. I was trapped. I guess Dino the Magnificent had returned home from his great adventure, and he didn't even bring back a trophy. Oh, well, next time I'll be sure to bring one of those lizards back as a memento instead of a tick.
I did make another new discovery earlier in the week though. I heard Maree ask Jim, "What hasn't Dino eaten?" Well, that was a challenge, so I had to find something new. I was upstairs in Jim's office with Maree who was trying to reset the router for the computer. When she turned around I was gone. She knows that is not a good sign, so she followed me down the stairs where I was, of course, chewing on something. She traded a treat for what was in my mouth, but it was a little too late. I had already eaten the Sim card for the dongle that provides our internet connection. I wonder if that's why I've been hearing voices? They are in Italian though, so I don't know what they are saying. Well, all things come to pass they say, and I sure hope this does too, and that is no April fool's joke.
Jim, Maree and I will be off to Sorrento in two weeks. I know it will be an adventure Who knows what things I might discover in Pompeii, but I am already worried about that long car ride. And then, there is the stroller. I almost forgot about the stroller. I heard Maree tell Jim she bought one for me, so they won't have to carry me through all of the buildings in Pompeii. And maybe if I am in a stroller they can go inside museums too. What is a stroller anyway? Is it like a car? Maybe I can just eat it and be done with it. But I guess I won't know until Amazon delivers it.
Wishing all of my friends a beautiful April and Buona Pasqua from Italy. Until my next adventure,
Dino the Magnificent
I am Maree, the voice of Dino - or at least I am the one who does the typing. For more information about me and my life in Italy, you can follow me at theproseccoproject.com.