Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

My Doctor Should Be A . . .

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. . .stand-up comic.

When I told him I was shrinking,

he told me

I should learn to be a little patient.

Holiday Travel No Picnic

My tablemate said he saved a couple hundred dollars by heading home for the holidays today instead of waiting a couple of days.

You might think about traveling on the holiday ‑‑ Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day – if you plan flying anywhere this festive season. Airliners are less cramped on those days. Crunching crowds can be expected throughout the Thanksgiving ‑ New Year’s holiday season at train and bus terminals and on highways and city streets as well as airports.

If you’re flying, also consider flights early in the day to avoid the ripple effect that builds up as more and more flights are disrupted, delayed or canceled as the day goes on. And get to the airport early. The closer to flight time you arrive, the greater are your chances of being bumped because airlines tend to overbook most flights.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 20, 2022 at 2:00 am

Posted in Humor / Quote, Travel

Tagged with ,

An Inmate . . .

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. . . who’s moving to colder climes

said he’s going to try some cross-country skiing,

I suggested he pick a small country.

Traveling Alone Has its Own Trip

Travel can lose much of its attraction after losing your life-long partner that shared the sites and sights you encountered around the globe over the years. And many suddenly-singles don’t relish the thought of returning to a favorite voyage or villa without the person they enjoyed it with over the years.

This is at a time when, for the first time in their lives, they probably can travel to wherever they choose to and stay as long as they wish.

Most can recall chatting with a solo traveler or two over the years. One long-time friend has flown to several countries and cities without any reservations and rents a room or apartment for several weeks to soak in the culture and cuisine of the land.

If you don’t feel like going it alone, you can book tours for ski trips, museum visits, cooking schools, national parks and almost anything you can envision.

Some of the bumps on the traveling-alone road include finding time to go off on your own during the tour you’ve booked with a group, how to avoid paying the single supplement charged by hotels and cruise ships, as well as getting along with room-mates on the trip.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 30, 2022 at 2:00 am

A Lot Of Aridzonans . . .

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. . .must be poor

because I’ve noticed

very few of them can afford

turn signals on their vehicles.

Pack for Delays

If you do decide to travel by air during the upcoming holidays, take only a carry on so you can be nimble when one or more of your flights are delayed or cancelled. You can almost count on that because the major carriers are canceling flights willy-nilly, blaming it on staff shortages and weather.

Pack a toothbrush, extra underwear and all your medications, which you can swallow by using the reusable water bottle you’ve taken with you. It’s still pandemic time in many parts of the globe so squeeze in several face masks and tuck in a comfortable blanket.

A portable charger will be handy to keep your phone working, and cleaning products, such as hand and face wipes, will help refresh you should you be stuck in an airport all night.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 20, 2022 at 2:00 am

A Lesson You Learn . . .

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. . . as you slip into your senior years is

it’s really really good to wake up and pee

and really really much better

than peeing and then waking up

Getting There is Getting Rougher —

and You Suffer

After several years of covering the airline industry as a business writer for a daily metropolitan newspaper, working for an airline company for a handful of years, and a million or so miles on commercial airlines, my view of airline companies has not changed.

They do not view you as a welcome passenger they can whisk off to exotic lands and happy holidays. You are simply a vacant seat if you’re not on one of their aircraft. They may make apologetic announcements when they delay or cancel your flight, but they really aren’t sorry.

The unfortunate part is that bad customer behavior is inflicted upon the airline staffers who do care – flight attendants and gate agents.

Ever see how the baggage handlers handle your luggage?  Ever hear pilots discuss the uncomfortable conditions they cause when they decide to delay or cancel your flight? Ever stumble upon a sympathetic ticket agent willing to give you a refund when your flight is canceled?

Nothing’s really changed as airlines moan and groan about the sudden onrush of travelers and staff shortages because they can’t rehire personnel fast enough after the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown. More than one out of four flights is either cancelled or delayed for a planeload of reasons – backups in the system, staff shortages, weather, mechanical problems, runway crowding, pick a problem.

You have to prepare for discomfort as well as delays if you intend to fly somewhere on a commercial airliner. This is after putting up with TSA frisking at the airport that you arrived at three hours before takeoff time before you even get on an airplane. Then there’s taxi time and gate-waiting time and on and on and on.

On board, you pay for a pillow and blanket. Don’t even think about getting a snack. Pack your own lunch at home and take an empty plastic bottle so you can fill it at an airport fountain before taking flight.

More than 900 flights are cancelled every day, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

That may sound like a lot, but let’s look at the daily picture. The FAA handles more than 45,000 flights every day taking almost 3 million passengers into and out of the more than 9,500 airports U.S. airports – 14,500 are small private airports. There are as many as some 5,400 aircraft buzzing overhead at any given time.

There are bound to be problems. So you have to prepare for the worst when you embark on a trip to the airport to board an airplane.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 21, 2022 at 3:00 am

Take Comfort When Flying

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Travel time is returning with a slew of new conditions to take into consideration, especially on lengthy trips.

The pent-up yen to get away and go faraway that was nurtured during the COVID-19 lockups and quarantines makes it more important than ever to pre-plan and prepare for your journey.

Along with preparing piles of clothing, medications and travel aids, one of your early steps should be a plan to make your flight to and from your destinations comfortable.

First of all, things have changed since before the pandemic closed down the globe. Including air travel.

A simple but significant change is that passengers no longer can count on getting a pillow, eye mask, blanket, or other comfort items once they board their aircraft.

So you have to pack your own.

That means going shopping for an effective and comfortable face mask that’s still required on most flights. Several types are available, many with a supply of disposable filters to protect you from invasive bacteria while you’re away.

To help you sleep, you’ll have to take your own pillow, blanket, eye shades and whatever else you think you’ll need.

Dressing right can help. Wear loose comfortable clothing. A light sweater works well and you can pack a light scarf or shawl keep you comfortable. A toque will serve you well as a nightcap.

A hoodie wraps you up snugly, too.

There no assurance you’ll have access to a headset so you might want to plan your own entertainment with movies or games on a lap-top. Your own headset can also blank out annoying sounds, such as a grumbling jet engine just outside the window or a crying baby in the seat behind you.

Packing small, easy-to-get-to, non-sticky snacks will make the jaunt more palatable while easing your hunger pains.

If you can’t afford flying First Class, you might check on the price of an upgrade to a seat with extra leg room.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

March 18, 2022 at 3:00 am

Pandemic Packing

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There are so many of rules and regulations affecting travel these days, you have to make sure you don’t get quarantined during your journey. There’s more to be concerned about than the COVID -19 coronavirus.

face mask vector png - Clip Art Library

Diseases that have been conquered here still run free in many other parts of the world.

Travelers can protect themselves by taking some extra care when packing medications for their trip.

Malaria still is a threat because it’s transmitted by mosquitoes. Travelers should pack mosquito repellant and avoid areas where the insects thrive. Mosquitos also spread yellow fever and some countries require proof of vaccination before allowing travelers entry.

There is no known protection against West Nile virus, Dengue fever and a few other similar possibly-fatal disorders spread by mosquitos so the only protection is to avoid areas where these creatures breed.

Hepatitis A & B still are perils that you can be shielded from by three immunizations. A vaccination can protect you from meningitis and a booster shot can ward off polio if you’ve been immunized earlier.

Before leaving on any trip, have a chat with your primary care physician to protect yourself on your travels.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 2, 2022 at 3:00 am

I Bought an Air Canada . . .

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. . . Phoenix-Toronto roundtrip ticket Jan. 30, 2020 — almost two years ago.

As the world knows, all Air Canada flights were cancelled when COVID-19 landed. After much shrugging-it-off and Canadian government haggling, I received an email last April (that I printed out) telling me I was going to get a refund for what I paid for the ticket, which was more than $1,000. I received my travel insurance refund many months ago.

I’ve called Air Canada several times and finally got to a person yesterday. She wasn’t in customer service but was delightfully helpful and patient and, after getting my ticket number and case number and ticket purchase date and some other stuff, got a third person on the line and tennis-talked with them and me.

I was finally told, “You’re still in the system. You’ll be getting an email when you’re refund is processed.”

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 10, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Canada, Travel

Tagged with ,

Italy’s Heart Beats in Umbria

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PANICALE, Umbria — Umbria is comfortable perched in the shade — not the shadow, the shade — of its more renowned neighbor, Tuscany.

While the Etruscans fashioned a culture that became identified as Florentine, Umbria wove its history through such hillside towns as Assisi, Gubbio, Orvieto, Perugia, Spello and Todi, all within an hour from this castle-cum-village plunked atop a hill midway between Rome and Florence.

Umbria wraps around most of Lake Trasimeno, the fourth largest lake on the peninsula, on the edge of the Pisa-Florence-Sienna triangle. Hills quilted with chestnut, oak, olive and grape roll away from its shores and house dozens of villages.

Panicale is also called the Balcony of Lake Trasimeno because of its panoramic view of the lake.

It also offers a peek into both medieval and modern living. Piazza Umberto I is built around the town’s 500-year-old fountain and is the town’s living room.

Newlyweds have wedding photos taken here. Locals begin and end their days here over espresso and wine. They stop gossiping only to stand up for crucifix-led funeral processions chanting the Pater Noster (Our Father) on their way down from the massive 1,000-year-old Umbrian gothic Church of St. Michael the Archangel that dominates the town.

Most of their city shopping in the Tuscany town of Arezzo, less than an hour north. Sometimes they shop in the capital and commercial hub of Umbria, Perugia, just 30 minutes away.

On a hillside within viewing distance from Perugia is Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, the founder of the religious order that established the string of 21 missions forming the backbone of California.

His remains are housed in the basilica named after him, as are those of St. Clair entombed in the church named after her at the opposite end of town. Both churches are decorated with heart-stirring frescoes, which are everywhere — inside and outside buildings in every community throughout the region.

A small church in Panicale (the town once had seven) houses a famous fresco – The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. It was painted in 1505 by Piero di Cristoforo Vanucci, known as Il Perugino, whose most famous pupil was Raphael.

There’s a bit of local history story attached to this painting.

On each side of this landmark Renaissance work are two small groups of faceless bystanders watching Roman soldiers fire arrows into the martyr’s body. To make a fresco, the painter puts in the colors while the plaster is still wet. The people in these groups were the patrons of the painting and Il Perugino found out they weren’t going to finish paying him, so he painted their faces after the plaster dried. That’s why they have no faces now.

Il Perugino was summoned by Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 to paint a portion of the Sistine Chapel. His “Charge to Peter” is still on view in the Vatican.

This artistic bent has filtered down to artisans. It’s evident everywhere but you can see it clearly just an hour away in Deruta, the ceramic capital of central Italy. Its shops offer baked and glazed clay in all shapes, sizes, designs and colors.

Gubbio, tucked into Umbria’s northeastern corner at the foot of the Apennines, gives you a look at what medieval life looked like. People still live in 1,000-year-old houses and work in 1,000-year-old workshops. And they attend outdoor productions at a 2,000-year-old 15,000-seat open-air Roman theater.

You can drive here, of course, but trains are best for taking you into the heart of Italy’s major cities.

Taking to the road is not the nightmare some would lead you to believe. Motorists tend to tailgate but all you have to do is get out of the way. There are many roadside pull-over areas to let drivers get by. They’ll even give you a beep-beep “thank you” as they pass.

Rather than drive, we walked four kilometers (about 2 1/2 miles) to the neighboring village of Paciano for lunch. And that’s another part of what fun things to experience besides the heart and history of Italy– the cuisine.

The food merits a story in itself — local pastas, regional salamis, veal, gelato, wild boar, roast rabbit, truffles, guinea fowl, fresh produce and salads, piquant olive oil, wine without additives, the list is endless.

A Yorkshire resident who visits Umbria regularly, said it all: “You just can’t find bad food here.”

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 6, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Italy

Tagged with , , , ,

Air Canada Sent me a Note …

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… several months ago telling me how much they owe me for cancelling my round trip flight to Toronto.

And they still owe me.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 6, 2021 at 5:24 am

Roman Festival Brightens Umbrian Hillside

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“Why not drop around on Sunday,” Riccardo suggested, “We’ll have a few artichokes.”

The retired Alitalia pilot was our landlord when we arrived in Panicale, a medieval central-Italy castle-town. He and his wife, Mariolina, were friends when we left.

This fortress overlooks Lake Trasemino, the peninsula’s fourth largest lake, to the north, the manicured Tuscan countryside to the west, and the rolling Umbrian hills to the south and east. This body of water still soaks some 25,000 thousand Roman soldiers drowned here by Hannibal more than 2,000 years ago.

Our landlords opted out of big-city living in Rome several years ago and occupied our spacious apartment while they built a picture-book home in a hill-clinging olive grove just below the town’s centuries-old walls.

“I bought this apartment because when I look out that (living room) window, that’s Umbria,” he said.

The Umbria you see is the reddish-yellow brick-and-rock front of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel (one of seven churches in this village) leaning on a restaurant by an archway that frames the main piazza with its 500-year-old fountain and bars, hair salons, stationery and gift shops, and small groups of standing and sitting locals sorting out the various problems of the day.

We knew we were in for something special as we approached the lane sloping into their farmyard. It was like breaking into an opera.

About three dozen people wearing the full array of bright yellows, reds, greens – pick a color – were milling about chittering, chattering, and chanting in that Italian sing song from which arias emerge. The accompaniment was provided by Riccardo’s tractor as it hauled dead olive branches to a pile resembling a titanic tumbleweed.

“You don’t work, you don’t eat,” was Mariolina’s mandate.

Our immediate chore was to gather mint leaves off the plant stems and chop the stocks off the artichokes – shopping-cart-sized mounds of them. Then the mint leaves were minced with garlic and olive oil. The artichoke are given a good slam on the ground to soften them so their hearts centers can be opened up and crammed with the mint-leave-garlic-oil mixture.

Through all this, you had to balance wine with oil-soaked bread, cheese, fresh fava beans, and more wine before the fire is ready.

It was at this point that Mariolina explained these artichoke afternoons are a traditional Roman ritual because the plant originates in the region south of the capital.

The giant pile of shrubbery is burned and the ashes raked into a flat lava-like bed of coals.

Then you have to tuck your artichoke into the coals to cook. You only get to eat the one you cooked.

Again, the operatic metaphor arose as each person displayed a distinctive dance pirouetting around the blistering mound. It takes about 45 minutes for the artichokes to cook in this manner, which gave everyone time to sample more wine with the sausages and pork barbecued on a fire fed with larger chunks of trimmed olive wood.

Then flowed the desserts, all of them home-made.

This operatic event marked the end of our five week stay that included jaunts to the nearby cities and towns that dot our imaginations and the Italian landscape – Assisi, Siena, Orvieto, Cortona, Spello, Perugia, all within an hour’s drive of here – and Rome, Florence, and Pisa, each a couple of hours away.

But we also took a harder look out our window. There it was Panicale. Umbria. Italy.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 4, 2021 at 5:00 am