Sunday, June 8, 2008

There's no place like home

My trip back was a long one. It looked something like this:

7am: Wake up
8:00: Walk 1.5 miles to Termini with my luggage, take 45 minute train ride to Fiumicino airport
9:00: Wait for three and a half hours til plane leaves
9:30: Get sick of waiting and spend the 10 euros Mollie gave me - all the money I have left to my name (and remember, no credit cards!)
12:30pm: Board plane to London
12:35: Realize plane to London is flying into Gatwick, yet flight from London to Boston leaves Heathrow
12:36: Tell myself not to panic
1:55pm: Arrive in Gatwick
1:57: Start to panic
2:00: Tell my story to a large, obnoxious American in the line going through customs
2:02: Get really angry when he looks down at me, laughing, and says, "Haha! You will never make it to Heathrow on time."
2:10: Go to the exchange desk and ask for pounds for my $4
2:11: Get laughed at
2:12: Walk away with 1 pound, 87 pence
2:15: Attempt to obtain a ticket for the bus heading to Heathrow, despite the fact that I have 1 pound, 87 pence
2:30: Make my way up to "TravelCare", where a kind Irish woman lends me 19 pounds for the bus, and throws in a few pounds for food
3:25: Board the bus to Heathrow
3:30: Start talking to the interesting South African man sitting next to me, which makes the time fly by
4:45: Arrive at Heathrow early, accept 5 pounds from the nice South African man, which enables me to get a real meal
5:00: Check-in, find my gate, and wonder what I am going to do with the next 2.5 hours
6:00: Eat a delicious goat cheese, chutney sandwich by myself
7:35: Board the plane
7:55: Start complaining with the two Scottish guys next to me about the fact that we are still just sitting, because 3 passengers decided not to travel on that flight, and the crew can't find their bags under the plane
9:00pm: Watch "The Other Boleyn Girl" and cry my eyes out when Anne gets beheaded
11:00pm: Watch "Jumper" and nearly break my hair clip from all the anxiety it gives me
1:00am: Watch "The Bucket List"
2:45am: Fall asleep on the bench outside Logan waiting for Mark to come get me
4:00am Italy time - Got knocked over and punched and scratched by the girls =)
6:30am - Fall asleep in my own bed

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Number of gelati we eat in one day combined: 6
Number of gelati we ate over 18 days combined: 108
Number of pounds we have gained from eating 108 gelati: hmmmmm

Flavors Megan has tried:

Green Melon
Green Apple
Violet Flowers
Carmelized Fig and Ricotta Cheese
Pear and Mascarpone Cheese (#2)
Apricot and Mascarpone Cheese
Mint Chocolate Chip
Torta (Chocolate with Apricot)
Kinder Cereali
Kinder Chocolate
Nutella - (#1)
Mitica (Rocky Road) (#3)
Chocolate Peanut
Chocolate Hazelnut
Baci candy
Pink Grapefruit


Flavors Mollie has tried:

Chocolate Fondente


Such different sisters, and yet we haven't argued once!!!

Lessons from the Real World

I have experienced joy, bliss, comfort, friendship, compassion, love, and warmth in Italy. I have experienced sorrow, disappointment, pity, jealousy, frustration, and fatigue in Italy. One emotion that seemed to slip by the wayside, however, was anger. Until today.

Today was supposed to be our wine tour, the tour Shelle and Barry, our friends from the farm, recommended to us two weeks ago. It was the tour I have been looking forward to, the tour I built up in my mind as a quintessential Italian experience. I even had Mollie excited about it, which is a dynamic feat. We woke up early and made it to the station for the 9am train. Only it was cancelled due to a strike. Mollie and I played it cool and bought a bus ticket. Only it was late. We sweated out the bus, and when it finally arrived, breathed a sigh of relief. Only there was traffic. The bus made it to Firenze, our meeting point for the tour, with about 10 minutes to spare. Only the meeting point for the tour was two miles from the bus station. So, Forrest Gump style, we ran. We ran with a healed broken toe that hasn't been run on since February; we ran with three knees that hurt; we ran with two cameras, five bottles of water, a large bag of dried fruit, a banana, and a fist full of maps. We ran. And when we arrived at Ponte Alle Grazie 20 minutes late, we ran out of luck. The tour had left. Mollie, sensing my disappointment, offered me consolation such as, "Well, at least we saved 140 euro," and "Now you can see all those Michelangelo...things you wanted to see." But not even my zeal for Michelangelo could overcome the intense anger I felt at that moment.

"I don't care about Michelangelo anymore," I lamented. I began to feel myself unravel. The cool, calm, collected persona I had adopted over the past two weeks was suddenly giving way to a slightly hysterical, lesser version of self. I wanted to throw the cell phone in the Arno River, or start swearing, but all I managed to do was engage in some self-deprication, which included calling myself an ass. This was not one of my finer moments. BUT, I did not cry.

After about a half hour of vascillating between feeling sorry for myself, and reprimanding myself for not having the courage and sense to just let it go and start having a blast in Firenze (despite it being our THIRD day in a row there), I started to forget about the wine tour. Mollie and I leisurely explored the city, both of us in a decent amount of knee pain after our heroic 2 mile sprint through the crowded streets of Florence. We climbed up to the Piazza di Michelangelo, where a fantastic view awaited us. Mollie did the climb only because, in some small stroke of fortune for me, she thought there was gelato at the top. By the time I dispelled that myth, she knew there was little point in asking me to turn back. Then we ambled over to the Piazza della Signoria, browsed the Ponte Vecchio, listened to talented street performers, ate gelato 3 different times, and had a delicious pizza for lunch. I even had a glass of wine. =)

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Roma. I don't think I will be writing any more entries, but I do plan to transcribe portions of my journal entries, as well as insert a video with our pictures into the blog, so check back later for full details if you're interested!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I have convinced Mollie that a bike tour around Chianti, visiting several local wineries, will be an amazing experience. We're learning to compromise. I eat sugar 6 meals a day, and she agrees to walk/hike/bike a little more. I do all the communicating, she does all the money stuff. We're a pretty good team. We are both really looking forward to the tour, recommended by our friends Shelle and Barry from the farm, and it is supposed to be around 70 degrees tomorrow, so it should be a nice trip! These two Australian guys lead us on bikes, and we stop for lunch at a Tuscan family restaurant. I'd love to bring back some wine and olive oil, but I don't know how that is going to work with the bike...I may just have to drink the wine there and eat lots of bread dipped in olive oil. =)

Thursday morning we head to Rome, and will do some site seeing: Colosseum, Roman Forum etc. Friday, I will try to drag Piccola (the little one) out of bed, perhaps bribing her with gelato, around 6am so we can make it to Vatican City. Maybe we will visit the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in the evening. We're going to try to see Sex in the City late night if it's in English. And then, I'm outta here on Saturday morning. Tear...

Today in numbers...

Time Mollie woke up - 11:01am
Miles we walked to get to town - 4
Minutes the train was late - 35
Euros to see the David - 6.5
Wait to see the David - 1.5 hours
Number of pictures we took of David before getting yelled at in Italian - 4
Stairs Megan climbed alone (Mollie refused to pay to walk up stairs =P) to the top of the Duomo to see all of Firenze - 463
Number of people in the narrow stairwell stopping to catch their breath and consequently holding up everyone else - 1

Days left in Italia - 3

Monday, June 2, 2008


Today was amazing. Massimo took us to Volterra, about an hour drive from Pistoia. We almost turned back because it was raining, but we decided to go ahead, and I'm so glad we did. Today is a national holiday in Italy, so there was a huge parade in this ancient walled city on a hill with its stone streets. Everyone was in medieval dress, and carrying weapons, baskets of flowers, or flags. There was a drum corps, which of course brought tears to my eyes (which I opted not to release, as Mollie told me she would push me into a puddle if I did anything of the sort). But the coolest part? The two pure white horned cattle, weighing maybe 2 tons a piece , taking up the majority of the narrow street, coming straight at us, pulling a large cart. It was magical. Anyone seen The Last Unicorn? Basta. I took a video of the whole thing that I'll post when we get home.

We ate at a little cafe that had a bookstore/library theme going on. It was so cute. We had a huge plate of bruchette and cheese with jam and honey. I eat so slow here, because I hate when the meal is done. I might rename the website, The McGrory Girls' Carb Tour of Italia...

I'm out. Ciao belle!

waiting, waiting, waiting

Mollie and I have talked about what we've learned about ourselves since coming to Italy. In no particular order, Mollie says that she:

likes to vacation, but not travel and is OK with that, doesn't like smelly men, hates mountains and nudity, can go without hair appliances and high heels for a month, can't wait to see the dogs and sleep in her bed, enjoys bright happy colors and landscapes like Capri, and has a definite work hard, play hard mindset.

I, Megan:

feel more comfortable in my constant state of indecision, embracing it as a part of who I am; finally reconciled my LOVE for mountains and nature as different than, rather than inferior to someone who loves cities; love traveling, especially to green places; have oodles of patience for people under the age of 25, and very little for obnoxious adults; will not die if i eat all carbs, sugar, and dairy (and so far, will not gain weight or feel different, which shakes the foundation of everything I believe in...) and most importantly, I am far more resilient and laid back than I gave myself credit for. If you're interested in more details, feel free to ask when I get home. =)

And we both are totally crazy about animals of all kinds, which will be evident in the fact that there are an equal amount of pictures of random animals as there are of us and buildings-landscapes.

So yesterday, Mollie and I woke up early and got to the train station at 845am, only to find out that the train workers went on strike and all the trains were canceled until 1230. The other people at the train station looked like they were about to have a stroke. They complained, yelled, stormed off. But what did we do? We chilled. Waited. Talked. Laughed. Read. Then we took our train half way to the destination and had to wait for another one. So our 52 minute train ride ended up taking 5 hours. We had two choices: flip out at no one and raise our blood pressure, or just take it. And thus we are perfecting the art of living life, enjoying the moment, il dolce fa niente (the beauty of doing nothing). Stuff like this has happened too many times on our trip, so we refuse to let it ruin us. Let's see if this translates to the US...

Last night we had the most amazing meals. We had two huge plates of antipasti filled with grilled veggies, fresh cheese and meat, and delicious bread. Then, when we were full, they brought out the main course. Mollie had linguine and mussels that melted in her mouth, and I had spinach and ricotta gnodi with tomatoes. Our friend Massimo had lobster linguine. It was one of the best meals we have had, followed by the creamiest, most delicious gelato.

Today we're going to Volterra, which was the home base of the Etruscans, and has the most beautiful view in all of Tuscany. Tomorrow we hope to take a bike tour of the Chianti region, and my plan is to bring back some wine and olive oil, but I don't know how well that is going to work on a bike. I may just have to drink it all there. Again, I don't know how the bike part will fit into that either, but we'll manage.

Ciao for now!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tuscany Dreamin'

The rest of our vacation will be spent in Tuscany, split between a charming little town called Certaldo, and a hilltown called Pistoia. Both are about an hour outside of Firenze (Florence), and near Siena, Pisa, and a few hours from Rome. We'll do a few days in Rome next week before we both fly out too.

Yesterday, we spent a long time on the train....13 hours actually. Our trip to Matera was quick but worth it. The area is intriguing, sad, haunting, ancient.

Can't waste the day. Gotta run.

I miss Sora...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What day is today??

Using a public restroom: 1 euro
Buying Sue's tablecloth with the limoncello recipe: 4 euros
More bread and cheese for lunch: 6 euros
Paying someone to "drive" us down the hills of Capri because Mollie's knees hurt: 3 euros

Spending the day on the island of Capri: priceless =)

Fantastic day. I look like a little brown acorn. Maybe that's a bad analogy. But I'm as tan as I've ever been in the last twenty years. The sun was strong on Capri, the waves were high, and the water was crystal clear. We wanted to take a canoe to the Green Grotto, but the water was too rough, sadly. So instead, we laid on the beach for about 4 hours and gawked at the amount of butt cracks in Italy. It's really something.

On to Matera Italy tomorrow, where the Passion of the Christ was filmed. Probably won't write for awhile. Miss and love you all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today's highlights...

slept late
drove all through the amalfi coast - bellisimo!
ate fresh mozarella di buffale for lunch with bread
visited two beaches
saw Paestum, the best preserved Greek Temples

making pancakes for dinner for some Italian friends!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ciao from Salerno

Ciao! We are in Salerno, Italy. I haven't had time to write much, which is probably a good thing, right?! So here are the highlights...

--Four nights on an amazing organic farm in the mountains; waking up to a rooster crowing and the sun bathing the mountainside; meeting many new American, Australian, English, and Italian friends; improving my Italian daily; going on a 140 km/hr ride on the highway over Sora on a Ducati with a Fiat test driver; paragliding through the Abruzzi National Park; horse-backriding and almost dying because my horse thought it would be fun to be un pezzo di merda; learning fun words like pezzo di merda; ANNA!!, our new trilingual, beautiful translating friend; Mollie's willingness to scale a mountain despite her bronchitis; AMAZING pizza in Salerno; gelato three times a day; Pompeii; not eating any vegetables or meat (it's been all carbs, sugar, and dairy in the form of gelato); Italian men that love us just because we're American, despite looking like we crawled out of a sewer; Mollie's new nickname - "Stellina"; scoring a free sweet authentic Italian dinner at a little family restaurant 700 meters above sea level; organic wine; and I miss the farm terribly - it was like a little slice of heaven, and immediately felt like home (Mollie enjoyed relaxing but was getting a little stir-crazy after a few days)...

and the list goes on. I will write more later...maybe much later, but at least you have an idea of what we've been doing!!

We're going to the beach tomorrow and then cooking a pancake dinner for about 10 Italians that speak a little English, then to the island of Capri on Wednesday. We hope to head to Matera on Thursday, and Bari on Friday and Saturday. Perhaps Gubbio on Sunday, and then the rest of our time will be split between Rome and Firenze. Ciao belle!!

xoxo we miss and love you all! m&m

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ciao from Italia!

We're here!! I can't quite figure out the european keyboards, so please excuse my lack of proper punctuation. I didn't think I'd be posting this soon. In fact, I wanted to stay away from the computer for at least 24 hours but alas, not possible, since I had to reprint our itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances...

Mollie and I woke up at 11pm Boston time, which was really 5am Roma time, and got ready to fly to Rome, exhausted but excited. We got off the plane and quickly realized my italian wasn't quite as sharp as I wished. However, I did my best and we attempted to make our way to the train station that would lead us to the bus to Sora, the small village we're staying in for the next few days. We followed the directions I had to Sora, but apparently the internet *my source of information* has not updated the changes to the transportation system. So, a bit confused, Mollie and I took about 5 trains to various parts of the city, and finally ended up on a train back to our starting point. When at last headed in the right direction, I settled into my seat with a suspicion that my bag was lighter than when I had started. Sure enough, in the scuffle to get on the train, my entire wallet was stolen. It had my license, a large quantity of euros, credit cards, marriage certificate, birth certificate, itinerary with directions and important phone numbers, and more. We both took it really well though. I remained calm and think I can count the tears I shed on one hand. I'm in Italy, after all, and we're safe. Still, our entire day was spent trying to figure out how to remedy the situation. Mark and Evie were a huge help, especially considering we called them at 5am. Thank you!!!

We sorted things out, and miraculously, through a mix of Spanish, English, and Italian, we were back on track. We had a humorous three and a half hour train ride which included a very angry Italian man yelling at us because we bought the wrong tickets. Although I knew what he was saying, which was that we owed him $200! for a wrong ticket fee, I gave him my big sad eyes, and shook my American curls in a gesture of not understanding, hoping he would forgive us. A fellow passenger was able to translate our circumstance far more accurately than I ever could, and the conductor not only waived the fee, but found us a local who carried my bags to the connecting train to ensure that we got there safely and on time. Shortly after 6pm local time, we arrived in Sora. It's breathtaking. The tiny train station opened up to the smallest rotary I've ever seen, with a working fountain in the middle. The cobblestone streets are incredibly narrow, and the houses are tall and colorful. The village is set in a valley bordered by magnificent green mountains. And Frankie's pizza shop had the best pizza on the planet - $.25 a slice!! Maria, the owner of the farm, came to ferry us from the pizza shop to the farm. When we arrived at the farm, which sits near the top of one of the mountains, we were welcomed by some Australians, Hawaiians, a couple of spit fire Mid-Westerners, and a crackling fire. Maria immediately served us bread and wine with olive oil. Every single ingredient came from the farm. Heavenly. Mollie's still feeling sick, so she didn't partake in the wine, but I indulged and may be changing my mind about wine after all...

Dinner was homemade pasta with lentils and some kind of egg torte. It was all so good, and the company was fantastic - funny, intelligent, tolerant, curious. We all sat around the table and talked over a drawn out meal. At the end of the meal, one of the Australians, who prefers to be called Stephano, brought out Rambutan that he snuck into the country from Thailand, where he had just come from.

And so it goes. Tomorrow, if the weather lets up, we're going paragliding in Abruzzi National Park.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

All Our Bags Are Packed, We're A-Ready to Go...

Four fifteen in the morning is early. But we're ready. My oatmeal is cooking up as I type, I'm having a good hair day, Mollie is her usually grumpy early morning self, and I'm awake and excited. All good signs.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tomorrow, London!

We're heading out at 5am tomorrow, hoping to catch the 5:30am Logan Express. Our flight leaves at 8:55am. The only issue is a bit of a major passport is in my maiden name, and the tickets are in my married name. Most people would have thought about this - but apparently I am not most people. I made many frantic phone calls trying to remedy the situation, but to no avail. The lovely customer service representatives just told me to pray that the airlines will give me grace when they see my marriage certificate. So, either I will return tomorrow morning and write my third and final entry, or I will land safely in London, no more issues, at 8:55pm...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

T Minus 2!!

In just two days, we will be embarking on the longest, farthest travel adventure of our lives! Mollie and I leave for Italia on Tuesday morning, May 20th, at 8:55am. We'll arrive in London at 8:30pm that night. Maybe we'll go see the city...or maybe we'll crash on our heavenly bed at the Heathrow Westin. =) The following morning we leave for Rome at 7:30am and arrive at the Fiumicino Airport at 10:30am, and we'll head to Italy Farm Stay in the Abruzzi National Park

On our list of places to go:
island of Capri, Blue Grotto
Amalfi Coast - Salerno
Assisi, home of St. Francis
PIstoia, Toscana

Hopefully we'll have some time every few days to give some details about our adventures, so check back!!