Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thinking of my trips to Europe

1st - junior high trip with my Sepulveda Junior High magnet Spanish class.  We didn't go to Spain though, which is kind of funny!  We visited London, Paris, Heidelberg, Nice, Lucerne, Pisa and Florence.  We flew the Pan Am Clipper 747 through JFK.  My first extended trip away from home.  I was pretty freaked out.  I loved my meals at McDonald's and Hard Rock Cafe.  My mom saved my postcards and I was very homesick. How things have changed!

2nd - quick trip to London to visit Young Steve who was doing a rotation there during med school.  I saw T-Dawg there and my good friend Bob Mostart joined from Los Angeles.  We had a great time partying in London.  Flew on United 777 from EWR.  The airfare was something super cheap like $300 r/t in the days following 9/11.

3rd - trip with friends from Columbia Business School - Wil Ward and Atsushi Hashimoto.  Maki, a girl I met at Gaspanic Roppongi joined part way through the trip.  3 week trip with stops in Amsterdam (loved it), Brussels, Roma (amazing!), Florence, Venice (not my favorite place), Cinque Terre (blew my mind) and Barcelona (Wil loved the topless beach).

4th - trip with Dave Ritchay.  We started in Munich, Germany.  Was totally blown away by the beer!  We did a great side trip to Salzburg, Austria.  Austria is gorgeous and Salzburg is a beautiful city.  We then flew to Prague.  More amazing beer.  Prague is a spectacular city.  A bit touristy but a must visit place.

5th - trip to Edinburgh, Scotland with RBS.  This was during the glory days of my career at RBS.  Super cool of them to fly the lev fin team to Scotland.  Edinburgh was a great city.  I didn't get to see enough of it though.  I did eat hagis.  Very tasty!  I flew to Paris to visit my good friend Mike Capilouto for a few days.  We had a blast.  Paris is so gorgeous.  It is definitely the city of lights.  Mike and I drained several bottles of good Burgundy.  He took me to some great bistros and also to the Chinatown where we enjoyed some great Pho.  I still recall the incredibly beautiful Vietnamese lady eating with a very lucky Frenchman.

6th - trip with Dave Ritchay to Italia.  This was one spectacular visit.  Started in Capri which blew me away.  I can't wait to go back again.  Stayed in Sorrento which is an awesome home base.  Day tripped to Naples (pizza!), Pompei (the Romans knew how to party!) and Amalfi Coast (gorgeous).  We ended our trip with an amazing day in Roma.  Our lunch and especially our dinner were spectacular meals.  Lunch at Armando al Parthenon and dinner at Da Felice in Testaccio.  The cacio e pepe at Da Felice lived up to the hype and the tiramisu was also incredible.  "How are the onions?" Will live on forever in the lore of that trip!

7th - Spain!  Loved the trip.  Madrid is pulsing with energy at night.  Love it!  Next trip I hope to see a Real Madrid match and a bullfight. 

8th - trip with Dave Ritchay and Eric Michels.  We started in Roma.  After a few days of eating and drinking, rented a car and visited Orvieto, Montalcino, Siena, Florence and the Cinque Terre.  The wine visits were totally awesome and of course the food was out of this world.  We dodged a bullet on our way back as the disaster that struck the Cinque Terre happened a few hours after we departed.  We wouldn't know for days about the horrible natural disaster that struck a little piece of paradise tucked away on the Italian coast.

9th - quick trip across the pond to London.  I stayed over the weekend and had some great food and wine with my friend Cheryl Mills.  The weather was utterly fantastic in London - warm and sunny.  I felt like I was back home in LA with the exception of it getting dark at 9:45pm and the sun being fully up at 4am.  I covered a ton of ground and visited Chelsea's home at Stamford Bridge.

10th - wine visits in the Piemonte region with Dave Ritchay and Eric Michels.  We stayed in the beautiful town of La Morra and had several memorable meals and wine visits including Vietti, Bartolo Mascarello, Giuseppe Mascarello, Giuseppe  Rinaldi and Elio Grasso.  Dave and I then spent two days in Milano, largely eating Osso Buco and risotto Milanese.

11th - quick one week visit to Paris

12th - Portugal

13th - Burgundy

14th - Basque Country (Spain/France), Madrid

Missing Spain

I miss my adventures in Spain.  I hope to return again for perhaps an extended weekend in Madrid if I can find a good fare.  I miss the tapas and the wine.  I'll probably take my Spanish class first before going back to Spain though.  I had some much fun trying to communicate with the locals.   I was a total snob when it came to restaurants giving me English menus.  I want the menu in Spanish!

My 7th trip to Europe was a blast.  It seems the older I get the more I appreciate Europe and its amazing history and culture.  I hope to have the opportunity to make several more visits to the continent.   If I am lucky, I'd love to live and work in Europe for a year or two.