I've Seen You in Marbella
October 22, 2005
We left the condo around 9:30 this morning while the moon was just setting and took a taxi to the airport in Faro to pick up a rental car. We drove east out of Portugal and into Spain, passing through Sevilla and Malaga before arriving in Marbella on the Spanish Mediterranean. The drive took about 4 1/2 hours and honestly was pretty boring. We saw more olive trees than we thought grew on the entire earth! Guess Spanish olive oil is a big industry.
We arrived at Marriott's Playa Andaluza resort on the Costa del Sol - our room is very nice with a huge terrace and a small kitchenette area (with refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee pot). The resort is still under construction, so our direct view isn't the greatest, but the view off to the side is of the beach and is quite pretty.
There is an internet connection (free!) in the room, so I was able to send off a few emails to LRG. Work completed, we set off to explore the town and to have some dinner. We found a supermarket just about a mile up the road and got stocked with water and other refreshments. We also found an Irish pub - just what we were in the mood for - something simple for dinner.
It was nearly 8:30 when we got back to our room and once again, we went into planning mode. After additional research, we settled on an Alitalia flight out of Lisbon into Rome leaving on Tuesday, the 25th. We purchased round-trip tickets as the one-way fare was about $700 more expensive (each!) - I will never understand airfare pricing structures! Needless to say, we have no plan to use the return portion of the ticket. That accomplished, we called it a night.
The sky is so incredibly blue and cloudless - it makes us just want to sit right here and enjoy it. And that is pretty much what we did. There is a small market in the resort, so we went there for a few things for breakfast - cereal, milk, bread and juice - which we enjoyed on our terrace. I cleaned up the dishes and we headed down to the beach, where we snagged two lounge chairs and people-watched for quite a while.
The resort isn't fully booked at this time of the year, but it is still fairly busy. Mostly families with preschool-age children. There was a really large group of about 5 families (possibly German) on the beach. One of their baby boys (probably about 2 years old) was running all over the place naked. He had a tan line, so obviously he kept his shorts on some of the time. He walked over to the two chairs that were beside ours and decided that he needed to pee. The occupants of the chairs (mother and daughter) were sitting in the sand, building sand castles, in front of their chairs. Nobody knew what to say - it was really very funny!
After we were sufficiently baked by the sun, we had showers and headed out for dinner. This won't surprise any of you, but we chose an Italian restaurant and sat outside for an absolutely lovely meal. It was nearly 11:00 when we returned to our room and we just crashed!
October 24, 2005 and October 25, 2005
Two travel days in a row! On Monday morning, we checked out of the beach resort in Marbella and headed on down the road once again. We decided on a southern route this time, driving past Gibraltar (it was really interesting to see all of the ships coming through the Strait), Algeciras and Jerez de la Frontera before passing Sevilla once again and heading due west to Faro. We had to stop at Avis at the airport in Faro to change the drop-off location for the rental car to Lisbon. After Faro, we hit the road to Lisbon. All in all, we covered about 800 kilometers in 8 hours.
This morning (Tuesday), we woke up to an absolute blanket of fog in Lisbon - you couldn't see beyond the balcony rail in our room. Fortunately, the fog had lifted quite a bit when we left the Marriott at 10:00. Our flight was scheduled to leave Lisbon at 12:30 - we were about 20 minutes late in leaving (we expected even more of a delay because of the morning fog) and consequently, we were about 20 minutes late in arriving in Rome. After waiting nearly 40 minutes for our bags, Alitalia indicated that they had "lost" about half of the baggage from our flight. They were certain that the bags had left Portugal and they believed they were somewhere on the ground in Rome, but they hadn't determined exactly where. About 10 minutes later, the bags were found and we left the airport without further delay. We caught a taxi to our hotel (another Marriott!) near the Spanish Steps. It's a fairly nice hotel, but another very expensive property - once again, we have cashed in points for our 4-night stay (rack rates start at $550 a night) - and frankly, it's not that nice! But, we have bought ourselves a couple of days to find a self-catering apartment. I fired off a bunch of emails about rental prospects the other night and have now received responses from all of them, so tomorrow, we have to narrow our selection and get something booked. I also have to start to make my arrangements to return to Stamford for the arbitration hearing. It is looking like tomorrow will be a full day!
We slept in this morning until after 9:00 and had breakfast in the hotel (included with our room). After breakfast, we went out for a stroll - first to the Fontana di Trevi, which was completely overrun with throngs of tourists and then to the Pantheon, which was also quite busy. Despite the crowds, it was a perfect day in Rome with blue skies and temperature in the 70's. Unfortunately, I had quite a bit of work to do for LRG, so we had to cut our sightseeing short and head back to the hotel - at least we will be here for another 2 weeks, so there should be plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the Roman fall weather.
We encountered some excitement as we were coming around the Trevi Fountain. This is predominantly a pedestrian area but just about a block ahead of us, we saw the Polizia (police) about to scream around the corner with their lights flashing. Mark very quickly pulled me to the sidewalk and the police car screeched to a halt so fast that you could smell the hot brakes and melted rubber of the tires. The driver of the car literally erupted from his seat and was down the street in a flash after a suspect. About 30-40 feet down the sidewalk, the officer apprehended the individual and had him on the ground at gun point in an instant. The arresting officer was joined by 2 undercover officers (one looked like a tourist and the other looked like a student) who had obviously been giving chase on foot. As far as we could tell, the suspect was a young 20-ish man, who was not armed. He was "cuffed", put into the police car and driven away.
The rest of our afternoon paled by comparison to this incident. For dinner, we found a great restaurant closeby that we had eaten at when we were here several years ago. It was just as nice as we remembered. After dinner, we stopped at a cafe and I had a gelato - yummy! A perfect way to end the day.
October 27, 2005 and October 28, 2005
I worked again this morning while Markus went out in search of an internet cafe for me to send email to LRG. In his travels, he found one just down the Via Veneto, so that is where we headed. We were there for about 90 minutes and really worked up an appetite - we found a really nice restaurant just up the road with "al fresco" dining and gave it a try. It was excellent and very reasonable. The people that sat beside us were from Brighton in the U.K. (mother and 13-year-old son) and we talked to them for quite a while. They had previously lived in China and New Zealand and had traveled fairly extensively. We had a really nice chat!
On Friday morning, we skipped breakfast downstairs in favor of a coffee and pastry at a local shop. Then, we took a stroll through some of the smaller roads leading off of the Via Veneto. We discovered several small markets and shops that were very interesting. I spent the balance of the day working - not very exciting. As I'm sure you can tell, the pressure is starting to mount as the hearing gets closer and closer.