Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blues From The Blues

The post-cruise depression hasn't lifted. I just want to be back on the boat, relaxing, dancing, gambling, drinking, and laughing with everyone. Everyone I've e-mailed feels the same way. The cruise line should seriously spring for therapy.
Luckily, this is going to be a good week at work. There was a big water break over the weekend, so I've got something to keep me busy all week. Or at least for the first half of the week. On Thursday, I'm going down to Bologna for a concert, and since next Monday is Labour Day, I'll have a five-day weekend. That's like therapy in itself.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Own Backyard

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
On Sunday, Mike and I decided to take a random hike on some trails between Budoia and Polcenigo. I can't believe I've lived here for over two years, and haven't trekked down these paths that are less than a mile from my house. It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon, and the hike put us both in a great mood. I took a few pictures, all with my new iPhone, and they turned out surprisingly well.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We took different trails going and coming, and somehow ended up in Santa Lucia, which isn't too far off, but it's definitely not where we thought we'd end up. Regardless, as we were walking back to my house, we passed a house that had tons of foliage in its front yard. The Italians are really big into horticulture, and it shows. This flower, in particular, stood out, resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. We stared at it forever, wondering what it was. The mystery was solved last night when Mike called me at 11:30 (!) to tell me, but I already forgot.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Biggest. Upgrade. Ever.

My phone has been acting up for the past few weeks, ever since I was on a dig in the rain and it got a little damp. It's not totally unusable, but it cuts out and the most inopportune times. And I'd hate to be stranded somewhere when all its buttons decide not to work.
As this also coincides with my contract renewal with Vodafone, I took this as a clear sign from God that I should pick up the iPhone 4. I know it's somewhat indulgent, but I'm a Mac Head, and some things are just worth splurging for. The waiting list was a mile long, and I'm lucky I walked in at the right time.
All the rumours I heard about reception issues are unfounded. It looks great, sounds great, and I'm very happy with it. (Unfortunately, I'm not too happy with Vodafone, who still have yet to turn on my 3G internet.) Another added bonus is that it's illegal to sell a locked phone in Italy, so even after I go back to the States, I can use it on any carrier I wish. Let's just hope I can take care of it that long.

Friday, August 27, 2010

On A Boat!

Departing Venice
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Cheyenne dropped off Scott and I at the port last Monday, and after picking up our room keys, we walked down the gangway and onto the ship. We were handed glasses of champagne, but we almost didn't notice because as we walked in, we stood in the middle of an amazing lobby that put any hotel to shame. It was insane. We could barely contain our excitement as we wandered from deck to deck, checking out the boat and finding our cabin. After getting settled, we headed to the top deck to meet everyone else as we sailed out of Venice.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After a night of meeting tons of people and hard drinking, we woke the next morning in Dubrovnik, Croatia. We spent the day hiking around the old city wall.

Cliff Jumping
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Most of our crew went back to the boat, but Scott and I decided we'd like to swim in the ocean. So after strolling through the city, we found a tiny doorway out to some cliffs and began jumping.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Wednesday, we woke up in Corfu, a Greek island with tons of Venetian influence. We took a tour of old forts, palaces, and monasteries; but really, the best part was when Scott and I went off on our own and hiked the town and went swimming.

Me & Scott
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The next day was spent at sea, but we weren't desperate for fun. The boat hosted tons of activities. The drinking and dancing continued, and before we knew it...

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
...we woke up in Istanbul. It's such a huge city, and it's really impressive that it has not only survived, but flourished through such a tumultuous history. We saw evidence of Christian and Muslim history and hiked around the Grand Bazaar, which reminded me a lot of Doha. We spent all night in Istanbul, and left the next afternoon to head back toward Greece.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Sunday morning, we woke up in Mykonos, a gorgeous Greek island scattered with whitewashed houses and surrounded by the clearest water I've ever seen.

Mykonos Lighthouse
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
None of us were really thrilled with any of the excursions the boat had been offering, so we decided to do our own thing. We rented a car and cruised around the island, looking for things most tourists don't see, and we totally succeeded. We also succeeded in burning up the clutch of our rental car, but the dealer didn't seem to mind.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
It was a late night in Mykonos, and the ship didn't leave until 4 AM because we had a really short trip to Santorini. Where Mykonos was mostly hills, Santorini was mostly cliffs. We rented a car again, driving all over the island trying to see the best beaches and get the best pictures.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Tuesday, we got off the boat for the last time in Athens. After checking into our hotel, we hiked around the city centre. In a way, Athens reminded me of Rome. We would just walk down the street and suddenly, we'd be standing in front of some ancient Greek ruins. I've heard people say they weren't impressed with Athens, but I thought it was a great city.

I realise this is totally the Cliff's Notes version of the cruise, and I could go on and on about how nice the boat and the food and the service was, but you've heard it all before. Greece has been at the top of my list of places to see even before I got to Europe, and it totally lived up to my expectations. The entire scrapbook of pictures I took can be seen here, but be warned, those pictures could never do justice to the beauty of the Greek islands. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it, on a cruise or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sea Legs

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm back home in Italy, with wobbly legs and a ton of laundry. The cruise was amazing, and Scott is the best travel companion ever. I have tons of gorgeous pictures to post and hope to get around to it this weekend. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My friend Mark flew in Monday night and he's staying with me all week. Even though I've had to work, we've had a good time checking out northern Italy in the evening, feasting on great food and wine. Yesterday, he took a day trip to Verona, and earlier this evening, we went to Alla Fontaniva, a restaurant Cheyenne introduced to me that's quickly becoming one of my favourites.
Tomorrow, Scott M. flies in and they check into their hotel in Venice. Then, Scott P. flies in Sunday morning. Why are so many of my Utah friends coming to Italy? Because on Monday, we board the Celebrity Equinox for an eight-day cruise to Croatia, Turkey, and Greece. We're all very excited, not just about seeing some beautiful countries, but also to have this time to relax and forget about work for a while. It's kind of a late birthday present to myself, and I'm going to indulge to the fullest.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Modern Man, Circa 2010

Me, circa 2010
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The past year seems to have flown by, even more so than normal, probably because I spent the better half of it in the desert. And even though I've met some great people, seen some amazing places, and learned a few things here and there, I don't really feel I've gained any wisdom, worldly or otherwise. In a way, I feel more bitter and short-tempered. Maybe it's a phase or possibly remnants of a post-deployment depression that never fully took hold. Either way, it's making me more direct with people, not wussing out on saying what I want or avoiding conflict. So is it a good thing? Am I becoming less spineless or more of an asshole? Have I always been this way and just now developing some self-realisation? Does anyone care? What's for dinner?

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Good Decisions and Bad

Chelsey & Cheyenne
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last night, I came home from work and wanted nothing but to lay on my couch, gorge myself on leftovers, and watch a movie. I had just started when Cheyenne called and said, "Curtis, you WILL come over." Who am I to argue?
So I met Cheyenne, Chelsey, and Mike in Sacile and we strolled around, stopping in random bars for a glass of wine. A lot of stores in Italy are having sales right now, so they're staying open extra late, and in between glasses of wine, we'd make our way into various boutiques to try on clothes. I should know by now that shopping while drinking is never a good idea, but in my defence, Cheyenne is a total enabler. It all culminated in two good purchases and one very, very bad one, which can be summarised in two words: Rainbow. Cardigan.

Dance Party
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We walked back to Cheyenne's place, stopping only to grab a pizza from an all-night pizzeria, and as soon as we got in the door, the music started thumping and we had one of the best mini-dance-parties ever. Thanks for demanding I come out, Chey. It was so much better than an evening by myself.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tour Guide

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
My friend Eric PCSd here this week from Korea, so I've been taking him house hunting and to various bars and restaurants. I love showing people around, and Eric is excited to be here.
Over dinner last night, we were talking about why some people don't like it here, something I'll never understand. My conclusion is that sometimes, when people arrive in Italy, they aren't properly introduced to the country, its beauty, its people, its heritage. And you can't really appreciate something without really getting to know it. Maybe that's why I like showing people around so much--so they can fall in love with Italy as much as I have.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Got the Neighbours Staring

Mike & Cheyenne
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Things have a way of getting strange at my house whenever Cheyenne is around. For instance, one night last week, she and Mike decided it would be best if they did a 45-minute yoga routine in my living room. They were pretty adamant about it, too.

Dance Party
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
And don't get me wrong--I love dance parties. Looooove them. Especially when I'm having a dinner party and I finish off a bottle of wine before anyone even arrives and then after everyone gets there we open three more bottles and after we eat an impromptu dance party erupts with Lady Gaga on the iPod and the windows wide open. Yep, love them.

Waka Waka
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
But I have to draw the line when someone puts on that damned Waka Waka song and things devolve into a conga line in my front yard. I love Shakira (particularly She Wolf), but I gotta draw the line somewhere.