OUR SIXTH DOLL EUROPEAN DOLL TOUR
Pat and I are on another Doll/Culture/History Tour of Italy and Germany with Lynn Murray’s TLC Doll Tours. We’ve just completed our first week with a report.
We started with our flights being delayed for two days due to rainstorms in New York. We finally left Savannah 24 later and missed our flight to Rome in NY. Fortunately Delta got us on another flight—but our bags never made it.
We doubted the Italian system of tracking these bags but they finally were delivered to the Hotel Quinale on Monday night at 10:30 pm. With Rome being one of the fashion cities of the world, we were able to buy a few items to keep us well dressed with clean clothes for the two days we waited.
Our tour group is made up of about 2/3’s repeat customers, who we have travelled with before and 1/3rd. new ones; a total of 35. We have eight Australians, some Canadians and most are from America. All are doll collectors with amazing knowledge of dolls, doll auctions, doll doctoring and doll values. In addition, they are, for the most part, personable and bright people, willing to share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of us.
Our first meal together was Monday evening. Pat and I had arrived earlier but many flew in that day. I sat with a ball of fire lady named Valarie from the Seattle area, Robin from Charlotte, Susan from Virginia, Marie from Canada and another lady from Ohio. Pat sat with another group. Our meal was salmon; good—but not as great as the fresh salmon we’d had with daughter Tina in Seattle.
On Tuesday, May 8, we had our first visit was the Vatican. No dolls here and what an amazing place. Pat and I had never been here and there must have been 15,000 people from all over the world walking through the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and Vatican Museum. Ellen was our wonderful tour guide and she’s undoubtedly studied her Italian history and was fantastic in keeping us moving and interested in the entire place. We all had instruments that enabled us to hear her rendition—making it very understandable. We did lose a couple of people from our group but found them as the tour ended. It’s amazing what an attraction religion is in this world.
We found a nice clean restaurant outside the Vatican gates and Pat and I taxied back to our hotel for naps. We’d done a lot of walking among huge crowds of people and were glad to be by ourselves. Dinner together after drinks in the outside garden.
Wednesday we visited the Coliseum. I had seen it before on a business trip with Larry Paolilli and with more huge crowds; we were there only a brief time and headed back for a pleasant lunch at a disappointing modern art museum that a taxi driver suggested. Pat noticed an exhibit called “Body Parts” that she’d read about, so we decided to see it. It was an extensive marvelous display of bodies showing all functions that make our amazing bodies work. It was an Italian exhibit that has gone all over the world—and we loved it.
Next day we were off on the bus to Pompeii where, on a hot spring day, we saw the ruins of 89AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted with ash devastating this city. The Italians have reconstructed it showing what it must have looked like after the eruption. Nancy was our guide but it was hot and walking on the large cobblestones was difficult for all of us.
We stayed at the lousy NH Hotel in Naples that evening. I broke my wonderful adaptor converting the 220 volts to 110 but was able to get another one around the corner in the city. Lynn had warned us against walking in Naples, especially after dark, as this is one of the cities the refugees from Africa come to—and these people are desperate.
I’m writing this on the bus from Naples to Florence, where we are just arriving. The hotel Astoria is the best yet and I remember coming to this beautiful city circa 1985 to a needlework show. We’re scheduled to see lots of museums and artful attractions.
We’ve been in Italy a week and it’s growing on us. More later!