Day 6: Tuesday July 27th, 2004 Read Short Version View Photos

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

Today we were leaving at 8, so of course either my alarm didn't go off or I didn't hear it, but luckily Tyler came and pounded on my door at 7:20 or so. I had a breakfast of cantaloupe and a cherry jam-filled croissant then headed for the bus. We drove out to a little church and met our tour guide.

Thumbs Down: Annoying tour guides Now, it might have just been me, or the fact that this was the fifth straight day of constant touring, but our guide was just plain annoying. She uttered "ummmm" at a 1:3 ratio to actual words, in addition to boring us far beyond the call of duty. Oh, and we have the pleasure of having her for two more days after this. We eventually left this church and headed up to... you guessed it, another church. This one was at the top of a hill though, and we were told we had a 50 minute walk, then she changed her mind and it was a 20 minute walk. It was actually a 4 minute walk up the hill, and less than double that for the slowest of our group. We went inside and poked around, all the time ignoring the tour guide as most everyone else had done. We then came out, we got combinations of ice cream and water, and plodded back down the hill to the bus.

We took the donkey's butt route back to the freeway out of necessity, and headed for the fortress we were scheduled to go to. In the front of the bus there had apparently been much discussion and disagreement as to the rest of our day, as they were unhappy with the scheduled itinerary. The frontsies decided to skip the fortress tour and just stop for 10 minutes for pictures. Everyone seemed okay with the plan, so we drove right past the fortress.

Thumbs Down: Short lunch breaks We continued to Susa (sooza), where we were to have lunch and do more touring. We could hardly wait, so we were given an hour for lunch. The X-Men looked for a place to eat, and were excited to find a "Pizzeria Restaurante," however they didn't have pizza, so we walked a little more and found a crowded place with a good menu and got seated right away. I got ravioli in meat sauce, Tyler got spaghetti, Tori got lasagna and Jessie got gnocchi again. Everyone's was good except for the gnocchi, which was far too dense. We also ordered two pizzas, margherita and gorgonzola. While waiting for the pizzas to arrive, we kept eying the time, as our hour long lunch break was dwindling.

The margherita pizza arrived first so we dug into it. Jessie and I only had one piece each as we were waiting for the gorgonzola pizza... and we waited... and waited. After a bit we decided the pizza wasn't coming so we asked for our check, to which the waitress said some gibberish and walked off. We debated of the meaning: "ask your server," or "get the check and pay over there," or "go over there and make up what you had and then pay." The latter turned out to be the correct translation and we made Jessie go pay, much to her chagrin.

Bottom line: one hour to find a restaurant, order, eat, pay, then make it back to a meeting point in Italy is ridiculous and tour guides who suggest such a stunt should be shot upon making such a suggestion.

On the way out we saw some people from our group that were about halfway through with their meal and were blowing off the tour, which seemed like an excellent idea, however we had already paid and didn't want anybody to freak out. So we scooted back to the meeting area where about half our group had assembled. Now we were mad. As the half hour tour began, we decided to ditch it and go get more food.

Thumbs Up: Ditching boring tours First we going to get some real food, but realized the 20 or so remaining minutes we had wasn't going to cut it, so we found a gelateria instead, and we had a leisurely and tour-guide free walk back to the parking lot that was the site of an earlier flea market, and was still covered in trash and reeked of fish. We got back 15 minutes before the tour, which continued to aggravate us, but we were finishing our gelato and didn't have to listen to the guide, so the universe was temporarily in balance again.

As the bus got underway again, another coup was happening up front, and a liaison came back to ask our opinion on the rest of the afternoon. Our itinerary had us visiting the 2006 Winter Olympics site... in July, but we had the alternative to go to France and chill out (read "no guided tour") in a cool little town for a while. The choice seemed obvious to the back of the bus, and it was decided. We were warned we wouldn't get home until 9:30, but in addition to being annoying, our guide was also horrible at math.

Thumbs Up: We come from France We drove past a highlight of the trip, Murphy's Igloo Disco Pub (c'mon, with a name like that it HAS to be a highlight), and crossed into France and ended up in this old little city that had open drainage canals running down the center of each of the streets (all 6 or 7 of them). We made it our mission to find an excellent crepe, so we breezed past all the street-vendor crepe guys until we found a quaint little restaurant / creperie, and Jessie got to practice her French, ordering for us all. I had a banana crepe covered in dark chocolate which was by far the best at the table, Jessie had a lemon crepe, Tori had a boring butter and salt crepe, and Tyler had a honey and roasted almond crepe. Suddenly we were approaching our 45 minute free time limit, so we headed back to the bus, snagging some postcards along the way.

On the way back, I finished my book, "The Big U" by Neal Stephenson, which was then entered into the informal communal book exchange that we had going. The ride home was fairly uneventful except for when Tori decided to hang upside down in the bus, and later when my sunglasses broke. We got back to the hotel at 8, and dinner was moved up from who knows when to 8:30, which gave me enough time to go to my room and gather up supplies for after dinner, then we headed down to the hotel restaurant AGAIN. Mark, slowly being converted to the Dark Side, once again sat with us and Joyce filled the empty chair voluntarily. I had spaghetti with pesto sauce, and Tori and Joyce had some "antique" spiral pasta which wasn't bad. Everyone at our table got the veal scaloppini which wasn't bad, but not insanely great. Dessert was great with strawberry and vanilla bean ice cream with a gross cookie thing on top.

Thumbs Up: The Neo We hustled out of the restaurant and up to Jessie and Tori's room, where we proceeded to watch a Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode for the second time ("Dreams") then listened to good music for a little over an hour. Everyone was conking out so we left and I went back to my room and continued my private concert until I went to sleep. Bekki comes tomorrow so I can hardly wait for that.