Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pre-Italy

Pre-Arrival

We booked this trip to Italy through Groupon with visiting four cities together since February. I just finished a crazy holiday season of buyouts and private parties at DW. I needed something to look forward to. I knew I was going to be working at least six months straight after we opened our doors. But It turned out to be over seven months. I needed to reward myself.

Courtney came into my life as one of my servers around my birthday last year. She's young, fun, adventurous and we get along great. I remember my first time getting to know her better than just being a server of mine. I was working in what we call the PDR (private dining room) and she sat on the same leather couch to hang out during her break. I asked a bit about her, where she's from, her family and where she's worked before. Soon after, she and Rachel and I made up Team Dirty Water for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in San Francisco, and then we also met up for a birthday beer crawl for the co-owner of The Mujicians Brewing Company, the folks that will be brewing company.  That day, I got exposed to her Energizer bunny energy at 8 am and how the girl can hang! She was scheduled to work that night after a day of drinking, so on our way to our last bar, she picked up clothes for work and a great piece of jewelry at the Embarcadero Center. I was impressed. She didn't even have to try the clothes on!



Since then, we've gotten closer as friends and I have no filter, which I love. I can be myself with her. We've done country concerts, partied in Vegas, wine tasted in Paso Robles and had many drunken nights. We are now at the midpoint of our flight to Rome. It's going to be a great trip.

Concord, Ca - Luke Bryan concert
At XS in Las Vegas, NV with David Guetta

Wine tasting in Paso Robles, CA
Our trip started on Wednesday at 4:30 pm when she arrived at my front door with a huge smile on her face and a black luggage to match. We called an Uber and that was the driver's second day of being an Uber driver. Very friendly but damn her driving made me a little sick. It was just not smooth. Court was excited and talking with her while I was basically silent and couldn't wait to get out of that car. I bought Dramamine for the train rides in between cities. Wish me luck.

We arrived at the Southwest terminal and checked in. I was warning her not to pack too much but as I put my luggage on the scale, mine was two pounds heavier than hers and barely made it under the 50 lb maximum. Otherwise I would have paid $75. I ate my words. She had the lighter bag.

But, she did get stopped at the security gate and they had to inspect her carry on. What was included in that carry on? Thirteen pounds of make up! Nice strategic move, Court Court.

We were a few hours early and I passed up a Jamba Juice for some grape juice. A whole bottle as a matter of fact. A French Pinot Noir that was $68 plus a $12 corkage fee! Say what? So many silly rules at the airport. If I could have brought a bottle from home. This would have been a great occasion to crack one of those babies open.

I spy a Stella & Dot wallet
We had the cheese and charcuterie plate which took forever but they were apologetic. We offered our assistance in the kitchen. 'We're industry!' No go.

I passed out on the plane and landed in LA. The pilot was what felt like speeding on the tarmac. Or, perhaps it was wine making me believe that. We got our bags and I called the Ramada to let them know we were ready and to send the shuttle. They connected me to the driver and he asked me which terminal I was at. Like the monitors not displaying which bags from which flights were going to come down which carousel, we couldn't really tell what terminal we were at and he hung up on me. Ugh. Not a fan of LA. If he waited one more second and wasn't so rude, I wouldn't have to call back, get transferred and tell him where we were. Where in reality, it didn't matter which terminal we were at. He had to stop at each terminal any way. Sorry, but he got no tip from me.


We got to the hotel, checked in, we were hungry and peeked our head into the Oscar's Restaurant and Bar. It was dead and though the sign says they're open til 11 pm, the guy at the front desk said they sometimes close at 10 pm if it's not busy. And it was a ghost town. Court confirmed that they would stay open and we went up to drop off our massive  luggage.

The elevator ride up to the second floor came with flickering lights like we were in The Ring. The door to our room opened out, not in, and the room was dark, not prepped for our arrival. We dropped off our stuff and I didn't want to eat downstairs and looked on Yelp as to what was nearby. I really should have Yelped that hotel but it was the cheapest in the area and it was only for one night. We can rough it, right? We went to dine at Flights, a sports bar .2 miles away.

Court let the server know that we weren't going to dine at the restaurant downstairs and he could close up if he wanted to. He kind of followed us to the front door of the hotel saying he stayed open for us. We said thanks but we're good and that we're going to the sports bar. 'Oh, I'll be right there.' Uhm, no, thank you. That was not an invitation for you to join us. Good grief.

After 10 pm in Hawthorne and here we are walking under an overpass to get to Flights. Not the brightest idea but we were hungry. The spot was near empty but the service was friendly. They had a good amount of beers on tap and typical bar food. I had an Angry Orchard. I didn't want a heavy beer. Court had a raspberry saison. She had the meaty quesadilla, shared the Carne Asada Fries and I had the buffalo wings and a side salad with balsamic. The carne asada was the best I've ever tasted. My wings were delish and cooked well like I asked and the balsamic dressing was pretty good too. We watched spots jeopardy and some hockey.





Then we had to walk back under that dark underpass. Nearby there was a dark tunnel entrance for a train. I couldn't help but think of The Walking Dead. Creepy. Almost as creepy as the elevator in our hotel. Then it was bed time.

I slept in until 8 am. Court was awake at 6 and too excited to go back to sleep. I needed to work out and like the great customer service the hotel had, no one picked up at the front desk to ask if there was a gym on site. There certainly wasn't any info in the room! So we ended up doing a BodyRock HIIT workout in the room. Without a yoga mat, we pulled the blanket and sheet off the bed and laid it out in the floor. Who knows what was on that carpet.

Court hasn't done any of the BodyRock videos but the last time we worked out together, I incorporated some of the moves and used the 45 seconds on and 10 seconds rest with cardio moves in between strength moves. We got some sweat out. Court told Lisa, the Trainer, that she hates her.


I got some work in, got ready for this 12-hour flight and packed to leave that hotel. We are supposed to stay there on our return but I'm going to change that. It's pretty bad. Thankfully the shuttle driver was actually nice. He got a tip.

We checked in, got rid of our luggage and headed to security. There were puppies sniffing every body out and very friendly TSA agents. I was told I was super fine in Spanish. Gracias, Senor! We also didn't have to take off our shoes, I didn't have to pull out my laptop and place in a separate bin, and I didn't have to take my hat off. I started to go thru the metal detector with my arms up and the guy said I didn't have to, 'it wasn't a stick up.'  Court and I were of course joking and being silly. That same guy said that he wanted to go where we were going, because we were just too energetic. 'We're going to Italy! Andiamo!'

Then we needed to eat. We were drawn to a place with Champagne and Caviar. Of course we would be! But we passed. Next door was Chaya. We had really good rolls at the one in San Francisco but this menu had standard rolls. We like the more unique rolls. We stopped at the xxxx to get breakfast. I had the egg scramble with smoked salmon and capers, plus fruit because I can't live without it, but it also came with sliced tomatoes and wheat toast. Court had the challah French toast. I ate everything except the crust and the capers that we're on crack. They were big and salty.... Go ahead and say it: that's what she said.




A gent also from the Bay Area but now lives in LA as a film editor was on his way to China was sitting across from us. He ordered a breakfast sandwich and as he bit into it, the yolk exploded all over his arm. He laughed, we laughed and we had a convo. Meeting so many people during traveling is great.

We then browsed thru the designer shops but I was not about to buy anything in LA. I'm saving my shopping damage to be done in Milan. We both brought an extra bag for it. I predict it will mostly be shoes.

I then worked again, picked up some snacks and water for the long ride and we went to have a drink. This time it was a glass ofCava. I couldn't finish it. Chugging bubbles is not fun. My tummy wasn't happy with me after what did go down.


Then it was time to get settled in our seats. I watched Superman v. Batman first. Holy yummy cast. Ben Affleck and the guy from The Tudors and the new Wonder Woman! I can't wait for that WW movie to come out. Then I watched X-Men Apocalypse. Pretty good. Always enjoyed those movies. This was with Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne and Sansa from The Game of Thrones. Love it.

We are flying over the Atlantic right now and have 4.5 hours to go. My butt is numb, I can't sleep and the girl next to me keeps bumping me. Upgrade me!!!

Next stop: Rome!

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