day 16 (9/17)

we headed off to Perugia, which is in a region just below Tuscany and is about 5 hours from Milan. very pretty driving. going through Tuscany was mountainous but they provided tunnel after tunnel to get through the mountains as easily as was possible, it seemed. Perugia is a sister city to Grand Rapids so Paula had visited the sister city office in Grand Rapids who got us acquainted with the sister city office in Perugia. they set us up with an apartment for 5 nights and it’s located right in the city center (again, no cars allowed). this city is amazing as it sits on top of a hill just short of a mountain and the panoramic views are incredible. incredible. parking is at a premium but the person who rented us the apartment had private parking down the hill where our car was locked away. she had a small car so she loaded up our bags and me and we delivered things to the apartment (she has a pass to drive there) and then she went back to get Paula and the kids. i mentioned she had a small car . . . well, it was necessary as the roads to the apartment were incredibly small. my old Jeep could not have fit. not even close. the biggest vehicle you’ll see on these roads is a Mini Cooper. but, our apartment is right in the thick of things.

day 17 (9/18)

we headed up to the nearby Piazza (an outdoor square area where people hang out) and found a tour bus that provides tours of Perugia to get acquainted. it is actually a convertible mini bus so that it can fit. we were provided with headphones and we turned the dial to English and it gave us a guided tour as we drove. perfect little tour to learn the city better. we had lunch at a Ristaurante and then met up with Loretta — a woman from the local sister city office. she was Very helpful to us. she provided us with tips and tricks for staying in Perugia and she also helped Paula with the business she has to conduct here in Perugia. she also gave us maps and literature. i wasn’t feeling well so i went back to the apartment and took a nap while Paula and the kids headed to the museum of Archeology. they say it was awesome. afterwards, we all headed out to explore some more. JD bought some star wars figurines and he was content to sit in the Piazza and play with his characters on the steps of buildings, etc. Ellie played with him and Paula and i took turns exploring the city. i heard 2 girls speaking English and asked them about an Internet cafe. they weren’t sure but they were able to give me the login name and password for their university wireless network and told me to go to their Piazza to try it.

addendum, i took off after the kids went to bed but i was unable to locate the Piazza and i never did ask which university they attend — there are many here. doh. so asking people was futile. perhaps tomorrow night i’ll break down and buy some time at a cafe if i find one.

day 18 (9/19)

rain! Paula woke up early to head off and meet with teachers. the kids and i slept in. i felt much better today so the kids and i took off exploring again and tried to find the museum of Archeology. i let each kid lead the way since they’d been there, but the end result was that we walked in a very large circle up and down stairs. heh. ah well. we did find a cave area which was developed inside. it scared Ellie so she stayed close by my side. i’ll have to go back and take photos as it was a neat area. the kids were troopers in the rain, but we had rain gear so it wasn’t a big deal. after we gave up i bought a cappuccino for 1 Euro. the same drink at Starbucks would be $3. who needs Starbucks, eh?

after Paula’s meeting at the school, she walked back with Loretta from teh sister city office. she let Paula borrow and umbrella and also said that i could use the internet in her office, which is how this is now being posted. she also gave us some high definition poster photos of the city. like i said, she has been very, very helpful to us. well, it’s time for a late lunch. more to come . . .

okay, we had a decent lunch and the woman who served us grew up in Colorado near Aspen (Carbondale). we decided to take the mini metro, which is a small subway like car but it’s a single car instead of a train. we rode it to the end and then nearly back and we jumped off a stop short of completely returning. we then took escalators up the hill and walked part way to discover another part of town. we shopped a bit and i bought some English books for late at night when we have no internet and no television — i like staying up much later than everyone else so this is good. i also bought a 5 disc set of the best of Buddy Guy — less than 10 Euro — for the car. whew! for dinner, JD wanted a hot dog, which we found. Ellie got some sort of panini sandwhich and Paula opted for Middle Eastern food. i went to the Italian restuarant nearest to our apartment to try it. whoa! it was incredible. i decided to get the full 3 course meal. first came Penne pasta in a spicy red sauce. then i had a steak. and then the mixed vegetable salad arrived, and it was big. add some bread and olive oil, etc. and this was a real meal. all for 12 Euros. i will be taking the whole family back in a few days . . . and that’s because we have HUGE plans for tomorrow. stay tuned.

Check out the updated photos here.