A Breathtaking Glimpse Into a Medieval City
We left early in the morning on Saturday, Easter Eve. Driving on the Autostrada is fine, but then it is necessary to take some secondary roads. The road conditions are ok. And the scenery is wonderful no matter where you drive in Italy. I stopped for lunch at a little family owned ristorante. No one speaks English here, but I do know some Italian so “tutto era buono”, “everything was good.”
She gets the key, and grabs another umbrella, since it is still raining, and we walk across the street to the building that will be home for the night. I found out later that the building had collapsed over the years and was rebuilt using original material from the old structure.
We unpack, and are amazed at the room. Concrete base for the bed, windows overlooking the piazza, a bathroom with stone sinks and shower, and a window that penetrates the wall that has to be at least 12” thick with a piece of glass on the outside edge. The door is obviously original, and the keys are the largest room keys I have ever seen. I tell my wife to make herself comfortable and I head out to shoot some photos.
I go to the room, get my wife, and tell her of my find. Her clothing is still wet, so basically she wears her pajamas to dinner. We open the door to the restaurant and find they are not open yet, they are still setting up for the night. We ask if we can wait, and they are agreeable. We sit and enjoy the view of this old restaurant, and I notice photos of Rick Steves on the walls of the place. He obviously had dinner here too when he visited this town. We at pasta, what else, some sausage, and drank lots of wine. If you have not been to Italy, the wine is plentiful. By the glass or by the bottle is very inexpensive. And all local. Salute.
Diner is over and we make our way back to the room. By now it is dark outside. We have a small light in our room. I turn on the light and I decide to use a hair dryer to help dry out my shoes, which by now are soaked. Not long after turning it on, I trip a breaker and all the power is now off. I have to call the owner who begins to give me instructions on where the breaker box is and that I should go and reset the breaker. What a way to start the night. I do find the panel and reset the breaker. I then go back to my room and settle in for the night.
Next thing I know, church bells are ringing. I remember that the church is just across the piazza and it is Easter Morning. The bells are ringing to signify the resurrection of Christ. I also notice that the sun is finally out. I then try to use the coffee maker in our room which for some reason, either I can’ figure out or does not work. So I tell my wife, I am going out to shoot more photos in daylight, and I will find us some coffee. Little did I know, finding coffee was not going to be easy.
After walking the same streets as the night before, I find a shop keeper setting up for the day, and ask if I can get a cup of coffee. He tells me he is not a coffee shop but come back in 10-15 min and he will see what he can do. I walk through town a bit more, taking more photos, and then go back. He is ready to make me coffee and has the girl that works for him brew it for us in her coffee maker.
I bring the coffee to my wife and then we finish packing. We then begin the long trip down the ramp to the parking lot. At least the sun is shining this time, and the view of the valley is amazing. There are even people out heading up the ramp to go to Sunday services at the church. We find the car, put our bags in, and take one last look at this historical town. This was not a 5 star hotel stay, but I will never forget the experience here in Civita Di Bognoregio.
There were problems with the room, but that makes for wonderful memories. Now it’s off to Pompeii and then the Amalfi Coast.
NOTE: If you are truly a travel lover... Skyscanner is a great way to find the cheapest trips almost anywhere in the world! Don't have a destination in mind but want to see whats "out there" for cheap airfare? Just enter the airport you are leaving FROM and leave the destination and dates OPEN. Skyscanner will show you the cheapest flights for the next 3-4 months. We recently flew (2 people) from Orlando to New Orleans for $200 total for both of us. Another tip... compare round trip to simply one way flights each way... we used two airlines and saved the most that way.
My current dog is Jake, my BFF and soulmate, and he travels with me almost everywhere. Jake is an enthusiastic Labrador/Rhodesian love sponge who instantly bonded with me at Seattle Humane in August 2015. Since adopting each other, Jake and I have worked on basic commands, and he has blossomed into a well behaved, model traveler.
The good news is, if you have the will to travel with or transport your pet by air, there’s a way! The options available to you depend on several factors, such as the costs you are willing to pay, the personality, training and size of your pet, and whether you meet federal guidelines involving physiological, psychological, or emotional disabilities.
Your pet can fly with one or more of these options: as (1) a carry-on pet, (2) checked baggage or cargo, or (3) a service dog or emotional support animal (ESA). CLICK HERE to see the costs and conditions involved in each of these three categories on the major airlines in the continental US. Service dogs and ESAs ride free on all airlines.
Carry On Pets...
If your pet is a small dog or cat, you have the most options when it comes to air travel. That’s because all airlines allow in-cabin travel with a small dog or cat in a carrier for a small fee of between $95 and $125 on one-way travel in the continental US. To qualify for carry-on, your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably inside a carrier no larger than 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide, and must remain in the carrier underneath the seat in front of you for the full duration of your flight. Southwest sells a soft-sided carry-on carrier that you can purchase online or at the ticket counter for $58. Many carriers have breed restrictions and require advance arrangements, so be sure to research the individual circumstances applicable to your pet and airline when planning your travel.
Alaska Airlines has the simplest policies and least expensive fees, and will allow you to check any size dog as baggage in a carrier for $100. Southwest does not allow animals to travel as cargo or checked luggage. American charges $200 for pets to ride as checked baggage. United’s PetSafe air cargo program charges for pet transportation based on weight, with rates as high as $699 for extra-large dogs to US destinations. Delta appears to charge the highest rates, with fares of more than $1000 to some destinations. As of the date of this article, Delta quoted me $592 to ship an 80 pound dog in an extra-large carrier from Spokane to New York’s JFK airport. All airlines except Alaska require advance arrangements for this service.
Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals
What’s the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal? You need to know because airlines will ask which you are claiming if you show up to the ticket counter with a dog on a leash. The most important thing to know is that the right to travel with a service dog or ESA applies to the human rather than the animal. Applicable U.S. laws (Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act, and Air Carrier Access Act) do not require either type of animal to be registered or certified. These laws entitle both service dogs and ESAs to fly in the cabin of an aircraft at no additional charge, and also to reside in housing that otherwise prohibits pets, without breed restrictions.
Service animals are restricted to dogs, and in rare cases, miniature horses (I’ve never heard of anyone attempting to travel with a service horse, so we’ll refer to service animals as service dogs). There are no species or breed restrictions for ESAs, and I’ve heard stories of people on aircraft with emotional support ducks, cats and miniature pigs, in addition to dogs.
A service dog is trained to assist an Individual with a disability that substantially limits the individual’s ability to perform a major life activity without assistance. For example, my sister has Type 1 diabetes and needs to travel with a service dog that can smell when her blood sugar is out of balance. I have a friend with epilepsy who has a dog that can sense when he is about to have a seizure. (more)
Dining on the Road – Budget ideas
Ninja Level 1 (out of 5)
Cost: $ to $$
One of the great things about traveling today is the number of travel-friendly phone APPS like “Around Me” that allow you to find businesses within your current area. This allows the passenger to browse as you drive down the road. I use the APP to easily find ways to eat well, but on a budget.
I think one of the most fun parts of travel is finding the “Mom & Pop” eateries... like the “HomeFront Cafe” in Altamont, New York (just outside Albany), a charming country diner with patriotic and war memorabilia, including photos and memorials of locals who served our country. It was one of those places you could picture becoming your regular place, and it had an vintage “soda shop and ice cream bar” that is open in the warmer seasons.
One of the pleasures of locally owned, rather than chain, restaurants is that you often find the food to be unusually good, less expensive, and you get to experience the “flavor” of the local area, rather than a homogeneous “cookie cutter” ambiance that doesn't change with geography. Eating in a local place is a great way to get a feel for the community. Why not sit at the bar so you can chat with the locals?
I love meeting locals when traveling... and some are just a delight. In Kentucky my boyfriend and I sat next to an African American gentleman who was a regular at the diner. His name was Clay and he worked at a local non-profit helping men with drug and alcohol problems get back on their feet. He recommended we try the “Hot Brown” which is a Kentucky favorite consisting of Turkey and Bacon, sometimes with Ham as well, and served as an open faced sandwich with either a Mornay sauce or Cheddar Cheese. We did, and their version was a little different than my Mom used to make but very, very good. This diner had drinks, my boyfriend had a beer and I had a couple of cocktails. When we went to pay our bill however, we found that Clay had already picked up our check. So, not only did we have a delightful dinner companion to chat with, but we had that as a pleasant surprise!
Now “Diners” can vary in quality from state to state. In New Jersey and Michigan, a diner is often like a 4 or 5 star restaurant but with a more casual atmosphere and much lower prices. In fact New Jersey is famous for it's highly rated diners... like the Americana Diner in East Windsor, a delightful treat that made getting a bit lost totally worth it. The Americana serves cuisine best described as “international' in it's range, including curry flavors, Mexican, Italian, Asian, french, Greek and, of course, American!
In other states “Diners” might be slightly grimy places with little more than hamburgers and chicken soup on the menu. Frankly, I don't care which type of place it is, I still prefer being able to relax and get waited on (while enjoying the local ambiance) rather than grabbing a predictable (and generally unhealthy) meal in a fast food joint that looks the same as the one around the corner from our house. Often, you spend the same amount of money, so why not do something different and enjoy one of the pleasures of travel?
Ever been traveling and wanted a meal late at night but there were no options other than the normal fast food joints off the highway? Now here is something you might not even think of... Check the internet for local hospitals! This is something I picked up on while caring for sick relatives over the years... hospital cafeterias are often open very late, and some even have a limited selection 24/7. They generally have some “home cooking style” hot meals like meatloaf, chicken, fish and pasta, salad bars, a wide beverage selection and even desserts. Another plus... pricing! Hospital cafeterias are designed to service both employees and visitors of patients, so generally speaking, they are a low budget option for dining. Most of the time hospitals are located within a few miles of the major highways as well... so just look on your phone APP, then check the website for the hospital to see what their cafeteria hours are. Once I had a great meal at a hospital that served full meals till 1:30 AM.
Most of the time when we are traveling by road we take a couple of coolers with us. This saves us a bunch of money and allows us to snack healthier while driving. Before leaving I make up a bunch of hard boiled eggs, a few sandwiches, sometimes some cold chicken and salads. Throw in a half gallon of milk or tea, some yogurt, blocks of cheese, fig or fruit spreads and crackers and you're good to go, Finding a scenic spot for a picnic is usually pretty easy.
Now that's at the beginning of the trip. On the return, we often don't have much of a kitchen for preparing, but we can restock the cooler from a local grocery store. Additionally having a cooler allows us, when we eat in a restaurant, to have a place to put leftovers. Sometimes, if we are driving through more remote areas, I'll even order another meal to-go, something I know will keep in the cooler well that we can have up the road or the next day.
When we go on trips where we will be in the same spot for a week or two, we try to find places to stay that have somewhat of a kitchen in the room. This cuts down on the number of (more expensive) restaurant meals. You'd be surprised what you can do even in a room with only a microwave and mini fridge. I don't use microwaves for cooking though (only for heating water), so we also bring our trusty CrockPot (slow cooker). I've made delicious lasagna, pot roast and other hot meals right in the room. Like pasta? Cook the sauce in the CrockPot and heat water to boiling in the microwave, pull it out and drop in Angel Hair. It's thin enough it only has to sit in the hot water for a few minutes to be ready.
You can easily bake potatoes in a CrockPot and, if you get an elevated rack for your slow cooker you can bake chicken or meatloaf as well. Just use Google to find great recipes perfect for hotel room “dinner and movie” nights!
For packing, I throw our condiments, salt, pepper and spices, in the CrockPot, along with some of our own silverware and knives for prep. Into a tote goes a couple of plates and bowls, a larger serving bowl for prep, a roll of paper towels, crackers, nuts and other snack items. You can take along a complete kitchen “outfit” in no more than two tote bags.
My final “Road Tip” is this... don't pass up the chance to stop at those roadside stands.. in the Southern USA the boiled peanuts are a delightful snack and, all across the country, you can find some amazing BBQ, crabs, boiled shrimp, jerk chicken, empanadas, tacos and more. If you're not hungry when you come across them... stop anyway and throw something in that cooler!
Author: Sue Copening