About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

41st Birthday

Its my birthday today.  41 seems more daunting than 40 ever did.  Oh, well.

Brandon decided he would plan my day. We would spend the day in Como.

We woke up early and got ready for the day.  Our intention was to arrive in Como mid morning.  Reality was a bit different.  First off, we walked out to the bus stop and just missed it.  It was a whole 10 minutes earlier than the timetable showed.  We had to wait for 25 minutes to catch the next bus. 

There was so much rush hour traffic and construction that we made it to the train station with only minutes to spare.  Unfortunately we had a 'Catch 22.'  If we got on the train without a ticket we could be fined e50.  If we stopped to buy a ticket we might miss the train.  We opted to buy the ticket, e4.20 and jogged out on the platform as the train was leaving.  Now we had an hour to kill before the next train, so we bought some drinks and sat on the platform watching all the trains go by.  We counted about 25 in one hour.

Our train was 25 minutes late, very unusual.  We finally arrived in Como around 11:20am.  Once there we made our way toward the old city, stopping at a sculpture to take a picture.  No memory card!  This is the second time I have left the memory card in my laptop.  I decided to buy a new memory card if we spotted and electronics store as we made our way through town.  I found a photography store and bought a 4GB card for e12. 

Interesting architecture. All that detail is painted on the walls.

We made our way to the funiculare and rode it up to Brunate for some nice clear views of the lake and Switzerland in the distance.  Brandon's next plan was for us to have lunch at the top, so we stopped in a cafe and had sandwiches. 

We decided to ride back down the mountain and get some gelato for dessert.  Brandon enjoyed some limone and I enjoyed some bacio while we sat on the waterfront.

Next destination, the hobby shop.  We walked through the old city and found the hobby shop.  We've been there on other Como trips.  It is mosty a diecast car shop, but they have a small selection of nice trains.  The store was closed for lunch, so we walked over to the waterfront park to wait until it opened again at 3pm.
We took some pictures of ourselves at the old steam locomotive, Brandon played at the playground and we wandered around the Italian Resistence Memorial before heading back to the hobby shop.  I actually found some cool kits and trains once I had a chance to poke around the nooks of the shop.  I ended up making a list of some items I would like to get and plan to do some research on a few things before I head back to make a few purchases.

Brandon on the steps of the Italian Resistence Memorial.
After the train shop we wandered through a toy store for Brandon, checking out the latest from Legos.
Brandon in good hands.
It was time to return to the train station.  We arrived about 20 minutes before our train departure and waited on the platform.  An older gentleman, whom we met on the train to Como, sat down beside us and we talked while waiting for the train.  We had a very nice chat.  It was the best and longest conversation I have had in Italian since we have been here.  It was a confidence boost for me since I still don't feel like I can hold a conversation yet. 

We caught the train and it went pretty smoothly until we were about 15 minutes from Monza.  The conductor came through (no conductor came through on our way to Como) and checked tickets.  We had our ticket, but it hadn't been validated.  Apparently, when you buy tickets for trains without assigned seats, you must get it validated by a machine on the platform.  I did not know this and it is a e50 fine to have an unvalidated ticket.  The older Italian gentleman tried to plead a case for me, but the conductor wasn't going for it.  He told me that the man in front of us had just received a find and it wouldn't be fair for him to not give me one too.  I told him I didn't have enough money, so he asked for my passport and took down my information.  I guess I will see if I get a fine in the mail.  Katrina doesn't think so.  She's not sure that its worth their trouble to track us down via passport since it doesn't have our Italian address.  She thinks he just wrote down some info to make the other passenger think he was not letting us off the hook.  I hope she is right...time will tell.
Brandon and I arrived home around 6pm and started dinner when Katrina texted me she was leaving work.  I made salmon with pesto sauce and some steamed veggies.  Katrina showed up at the door with a gelato cake from our favorite neighborhood gelattaria.  What a surprise! 
We had a great dinner with a great dessert.  I want to thank Brandon for a great day and wonderful handmade birthday card.  I want to thank Katrina for a great handmade birthday card and for the cake.  It was a great birthday.  I also want to thank everyone who sent birthday wishes.  I appreciate it. 

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