Three bittersweet farewells in one day

Hard as it is to accept, our trip is really coming to an end. We’ve seen amazing sites on two separate land masses, have spoken a foreign tongue, have walked until our feet are swollen, have seen an active volcano, amazing antiquities, beautiful people, and churches galore. For those gentlemen who may be wondering, the Italian men this year are wearing skinny jeans (blue or black), a button-down shirt untucked with the sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm, stylish leather shoes in multiple colors, and often, a sport jacket. They look great.


Farewell to Carla and Les

Best Western San Donato Bologna
We start the day by seeing Carla and Les off on their trip to Rome. We give instructions, write out lists of useful Italian words, give unnecessary advice, and try to max out the time we have left together. The men spend fifteen minutes grilling the two women behind the front desk at the hotel (“where are you from?” “how long have you been here?” “where are your parents?”), while Carla and Liz try to pretend like we’re not with them. Les is sporting his new man purse. Finally, the driver arrives in what looks like a prison transport van, confirms that they are taking the train to Rome, we hug, and they speed off in the rain. Best Western San Danato – Bologna


Goodbye to our wonderful hotel

Bologna Friday
It’s raining, our feet hurt, and it’s time to pack. So we spend our day enjoying all of the amenities of the Hotel San Donato. This is really a spectacular place to stay, so we take pictures of the commons areas, the view from the tiny outdoor bar, the skyline from our room, and the small details. We don’t want to forget it. For dinner, we walk a few feet out the front door to the outdoor bar and have an early pizza. We are eating at 4 p.m., which is a totally unacceptable time for dinner in Italy, so the only other diners are three goofy ladies from Orlando, who are trying to speak what sounds like Spanglish to the waiter, a table full of American geezers, and a few local men who are just killing time. Bedtime will be early so we can get up early and head for home.


A traditional salute to a retiring captain

Dave LaGrange
Mike loves the fact that the Bologna airport is named after Guglielmo Marconi, a  Bologna favorite son and the inventor of the radio. Departure is uneventful, and we are on our way to Munich. We make our connection, and as our 777 taxis away from the gate, we move through a traditional fire-hose salute for our captain, Dave LaGrange, who is about to take us up on his last flight before retiring after 37 years with United Airlines. During the flight, his crew makes an announcement to tell us about his career, during which he has flown the 727, the 737, the Airbus, and the 777. When we land in Chicago, the fire trucks are there to greet us and Captain LaGrange with a spectacular and moving arch of water from the firetrucks on either side of the taxiway. The landing is butter smooth, and the passengers applaud. As we leave, we stop to shake the captain’s hand and to thank him. A fitting and emotional end to a wonderful journey.

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Three Bittersweet Farewells In One Day

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