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Tue. 13 September (French time)

Sort of slept just now maybe two hours; it's about 6 A.M. (11 P.M. in Chicago) — Continuing with my account of yesterday.

Got to the airport and my check-in without the slightest problem, and then an hour and a half waiting time; I went scrounging for a decent restaurant: there was none in the International Terminal so I went to Terminal 3 where I know there is one, but they've stuck it on the other side of security, and I would have had to go thru security twice — with my computer — so I gave up on it; rather oddly I found instead, on the public side, a sort of local dive, a soda counter and greasy spoon (not one of these concessionlike places) that had seats and was rather friendly, so plunked myself down and had a bacon cheeseburger and a black cowº: hardly a way to lose weight, but the last chance to have something typically American in what was an American setting after all, down to the large black plastic spider that the waitresses suddenly released from the ceiling by a system of theretofore invisible guitar strings . . .

A rather odd trio sat down beside me (didn't scare me away tho'): woman heavily made up, bleached white straight hair, very tan, jewelry to match; man, maybe 48‑50 with very pretty muscles and overly aware of it, actually wearing a strap-type undershirt advertising apparently itself ("Muscle-In, the real thing") and shorts of course, hair beautifully done, again just a touch too much, and possibly dyed or streaked — legs not in fact as muscular as mine, and somewhat epicene for all their leanness, possibly shaved or something done to them: withal, red like a boiled shrimp on the back and across the chest (sidewise as I was from him at the counter you could see his nipples and an admittedly nice muscular chest, but also moles and patches of melanomas I think starting — all in all, if I ever get to where I could look like that, I shouldn't quite. . . .1

Anyhow, wandered into my gate area, looked around quite intentionally thinking I'd recognize someone on the French flight, I often do; this time it was Carolyn Martin: surprise to us both since each of us thought the other was already gone. She's in Paris for a week trying to bail some conference next week out of an organizational disaster — her associate, Cynthia Garrett, rather pretty younger woman, with her.

The flight itself was as all transatlantic flights were, except for some reason I slept rather less, maybe only 2½ hours. I started being careful again about what I ate; no alcohol, of course; scarf around the throat and pastilles to fight incipient sore throat. My seat neighbor was a 20‑year‑old violist (but no hickie), her mother Scots her father German, who spoke close to flawless unaccented English; the steward had a definite tendency to flirt with me, brush fingertips, chat me up more than anyone else; although I was unshaven and generally look like hell — maybe he likes 'em rough.

Just before landing, I inquired about getting [. . .]'s envelope to her, i.e., could I get out of the customs area, etc. I was also worried that she not be there and then what, so Carolyn suggested she take [. . .]'s Paris address and phone and if I couldn't meet up with Joan, she'd call her & connect herself: I accepted. As it turns out, I spotted her thru the exit doors while I was still inside, so thanked Carolyn, crossed customs and delivered my envelope: [. . .] was very happy and kissed me.

Of course the normal thing to have done at CDG was to stay inside the customs zone and just change planes; here I had to find my flight to Rome, I did, after some wandering around and asking people.

There was time to sit, have a couple of croissants, buy newspapers (pointless, it turned out, since they're provided free on the other side of the gates), and even on impulse a rather pleasant cologne in the dutyfree shops; on the other side, I fell quickly into conversation with this guy and his either sister I think or girlfriend returning home to Italy (Rome) from 20 days vacation in Canada plus the Adirondack State Park, NY. He spoke English and she French at about the same level as my Italian, quite enough to chat comfortably. Unbelievably, he was a trained ice skating instructor, although not doing that currently. There are several rinks around, but apparently none actually in, Rome: at Marino and Mentana were the two they mentioned by name. They knew nothing about Perugia.

So now I'm on the flight to Rome; up here of c. it's sunny, but a floor of solid clean fluffy white westwards almost as far as the eye can stretch means nasty weather or at least overcast over pretty much all of France.

So, noting that the Pope looks very old and tired on both videocasts and newspaper pictures, noting that we're due to arrive at Fiumicino in under an hour, and finally that I don't seem too tired (just a little twinge in the back of the left thigh) — yet — I've finally caught up again with my diary . . .


Rome, Hotel Valle, via Cavour 134, 5:35 P.M.

Now to backtrack, partly by way of keeping myself to a normal local bedtime.

Uneventful landing, with much weaving in and out over the W coastline of Italy, I looked for the hexagonal basin of Ostia Anticaº but couldn't spot it — luggage showed up instantly, customs was a walkthru. I took a train to Termini from the airport. They only leave hourly and I got there towards the end of the wait, so all the seats in the compartment were taken, I was fool enough to stand in the unairconditioned end corridor, which was sweltering, until I realized about ⅔ of the 40‑minute trip thru that I was much cooler if I stood inside the compartment.

Off at Termini then walked my luggage down the via Cavour. Unprepossessing exterior, fairly pleasant interior, no 'good' rooms at all left, but mine was fine, only felt by the management to be 'bad' because it's an inner room with no window; on the contrary, no noise, no light at night, I think it's great.

I immediately took a shower, washed my hair, shaved, brushed teeth, changed; then, despite very fuzzy thinking due to jetlag and many ins and outs, found a nearby computer store, got an Italian power cord for the battery charger — which works, it's charging now. To do this had to change money first at 1450₤/$, which is 8%, quite bad — but I have a bit of Italian cash; I immediately splurged on a leather key case, ½ the price of the Brooks Brothers one of cloth and leather that was shot in 6 months.a Prices seem to be the same as in the States (at 1600₤) for just about everything, with much lower prices in leather, silk ties incredibly cheap, and a few other things (urban transport among them).

Santa Maria Maggiore's got a facelift since I saw her in 1967, she's all white —

I spent a fair amount of time on the phone tracking down the skating rink in Marino: several calls to directory assistance without knowing the name of the rink, called gyms and sports centers, finally tracked it down, talked with them, got the schedule, also advice on how to get there (train, the Velletri line to Sa Maria delle Mole,º the rink is right near the station); there is a 7‑day schedule of a number of 1½ h sessions with ½ h resurfacing breaks between, my worry will be to get back to Todi in the evening, which is complicated and long; I'm considering a licenceless velo-Solex if such a thing exists.


A few minutes of rapidfire TV. I understand almost everything. But it's past 6 and it's time to sleep, and I hope I'll wake up around my usual hour tomorrow.


Note in the Diary:

1 their little girl, perfectly normal- (and unathletic-) looking —


Later Note for the Web:

a This one lasted 21 months before the stitching gave out; the leather is still good, unlike the material of the Brooks Brothers item.


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Page updated: 14 Oct 06