Here I sit by gate H3 at Fiumancino Airport waiting for flight BA 551.  I am just minutes away from boarding the first leg of my return journey to Heathrow Airport in London.  I have quite a wait there.  Thats ok as there is a lot to do and see nowadays.  Gone are the days of luke warm tea poured by a somewhat disinterested 50 something lady of questionable hygiene.  In days gone by the most you could expect is that she may ask you if you want her to pour milk in it for you.  God forbid that you would be trusted to pour your own milk.

Heathrow used to be an airport where the sights, sounds and smells would be enough to put you off ever leaving your couch let alone travel across the world.  Pleasantly London’s busiest airport has morphed into a veritable cornucopia of food, beverage and shopping options.  Gone are the pathetic single slice ham on white bread sandwiches and hello to Pret A’ Manger.

I have mixed emotions about today.  It has been a long time away from family that I dearly miss but I have also thoroughly enjoyed 98% of my time over the last three weeks.  Of course there are going to be highlights or lowlights anytime you experience as many places as we have.

From the first week in Rome at Claudio’s lovely apartment in Aurelia to our adventures in the North of England and the Scottish Borders we saw and experienced as much as we could.  Upon our return to the continent, we kicked it off by spending way too long at the Thrifty Car Rental counter (lowlight) in Rome but I t turned out to be worth the wait as it was there that we were given the key to our new Fiat 500 in “bianco”.  Not so long afterwards we named him Anthony.

Anthony took us on a journey that included: Siena, Pisa, Genoa, San Remo, San Tropez, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice, Pertuis, the Luberon (in all its glory), Gap, Grenoble, Geneva, Zermatt, Milan, Florence, Cortona and finally back to Rome.

We paid dozens of tolls to drive Anthony on both French and Italian highways.  We felt some reprieve from that highway robbery (pardon the pun) in Switzerland.  Thank you Swiss people for being clean and tidy and exact and punctual and clean and exact and punctual and tidy.  When possible we have really enjoyed the B roads and can only continue to endorse taking them as much as you can and whenever you can.

We have paid dearly to eat as of course the pound and the euro are still kicking the crap out of Trudeau’s dollar.  We have scarfed tons of grocery store fresh baked pizza.  Many of my pizza choices were accompanied by a portion of anchovies in chilli olive oil.  We have lived and eaten as close to the locals as possible wherever and whenever we could.  Of course there was that one day of indiscretion in Monaco when both Starbucks and McShit took our hard earned Euros.  What are you gonna do.  Desperate times call for etc etc.

Our most expensive meal, even though it was good but simple fair was at the Brown Cow Pub in Zermatt. Our best meal is a tuff call.  Nonni’s in Lourmarin or the most stunning hotel I have ever visited in Cortona.  The Relais Villa Petrischio is exceptional in setting, service, experience and value.  If you Google this place I think you will be suitably impressed.  We had a gourmet 3 course meal with a wonderful accompanying vino rosso.  The primi platti was a local charcuterie board that was followed by two spectacular in presentation and flavour pasta dishes.  This entire experience was presented in a 360 degree glass structure overlooking Tuscany in all its glory.  We both walked out with a bill just under 60.00 Euros. I don’t want to forget about our experience at Nonni’s as that was first class as well. I am boarding now.  Must fly, I will rejoin you in London.

Back again, seated at Rhubarb.  Rhubarb is self described as a very British restaurant in terminal 3 at Heathrow.  I have perused the very British menu to find that the first three options are chicken tikka masala, chilli con carne and smashed avocado on toast.  I guess it has been a really long time since I lived here.  I kept reading down the menu to find a full English breakfast option that has turned out to be wonderful.  Not what I expected at the time I ordered.  This restaurant is a fine example of how Britain’s membership in the EU is a good thing.

The plethora of young energetic eastern european staff are multi lingual, very attentive and well turned out.  I will refer you back to where I started this diatribe with my memories of the Heathrow tea lady with dirty fingernails of old.  Times do change for the better.  I hope Brexit doesn’t screw this up.  But it probably will.

I have 5 more hours to kill here today.  Its not going to be easy.  There is only so much perfume immersion overkill one can endure as you shuffle through the numerous duty free shops.  Bottom line is its time to set sail for the west coast of Canada and a return to work.  I can’t wait to be reunited with everyone at home and look forward to seeing them at YVR.

Thanks for following along over the last few weeks, where to next?


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