Things from the first 100 days

Since we have left there are quite a few things that we have learned along the way.  Sure.. I have been sharing pictures on Facebook and Instagram and putting some interesting tidbits on these along the way.  BUT there is only so much that a picture can convey and share of these emotional happy moments, as captured by a picture.

Here’s some things about our first 100 days in words:

  1. A delay in a flight or train really isn’t a big deal when you don’t have anywhere you really need to be.
  2. Making dumplings is a form of ART – alas eating them is just pure pleasure.
  3. You do not magically pick up a language by hiding in your rented apartment or hotel room because you are too scared to talk to people.
  4. You do not always need to be suspicious of people – unless you are in Napoli (sorry to the Napoletane).
  5. Orange is the new black as far as shower curtains go in one apartment we rented in Lisbon.
  6. We are not meant to ride scooters in Italy.
  7. Patience can be developed – it requires a change in your attitude about life.
  8. Not getting up for work everyday is like having a life of Saturdays.
  9. You really need to know how to squat if you want to use a public toilet
  10. Traveling REALLY is a privilege.
  11. Wake up early – honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in
  12. Not always wearing a Canadian flag can be a good thing – you won’t stand out as a tourist when walking through a park where people are shooting drugs into their veins
  13. Eat local food – it’s often the best quality and the best price.
  14. Sometimes you have to embrace anarchy.
  15. Sunshine, no matter what the temperature outside, makes people happy.
  16. If anyone goes out of their way to help you at train station, they most likely are doing it for their own benefit not yours.
  17. Pack your own pillow – there’s a lot of shitty beds and pillows you will sleep on.
  18. You can actually visit too many churches.
  19. Pack less stuff. Trade Less stuff to have more experiences.
  20. You can judge a place by how good it’s public transport in the form of local buses are.
  21. Portuguese people are really friendly.
  22. Drink local wine & beer.
  23. Find a farmer’s market to buy your food.
  24. No one really gives a shit about Donald Trump as President too much, outside the USA.
  25. Pack a small umbrella – it does rain at the most inopportune moments.
  26. You really do learn a lot about your relationships when you are away for over 3 months.
  27. The world is a lot more interesting with people of varying interests and beliefs.
  28. We don’t miss the PVR and the TV.
  29. Making new friends is fun but so is appreciating the friends you have at home.
  30. Some of the lessons Dave and I have learned cannot be shared in black and white, they were experienced.
  31. Human capacity for happiness is often quite flexible.
  32. The best part of a country or culture is sometimes also the worst part.
  33. Uncertainty can be a good thing – it helps you evolve.
  34. Language barriers are easily overcome with a bit of charades.
  35. Travel, like life, is personal.
  36. You can gain perspective on certain things you thought mattered.
  37. You end up with some pretty cool stories to tell.

It’s been a Grant-Adventure the First 100 days

The Wine Bus Tour?? – Count Us In!

No matter the nationality, the one language humanity has in common is Food (& Wine)

And thus begins my story of Gaetano Petrillo

Being a reader of financial and economic magazines – the ones I love the most are the free ones in British Airway lounge – which is how I came upon Gaetano.   I always  start a magazine from the back  and this time that’s where I found the article that made me say: ‘oh wow we’re meeting this guy’.  I cannot even tell you which magazine it was, I only know that it was an unlikely place for one page article on Food and Wine in Campania Italy.

My search started with knowing that I needed to find “” – so me and my friend, Mr. Google got started on the search.  You would think easy peasy right?  I was given the exact website to go to?  Well, not so fast my friend.  It just wasn’t an active website (at the time), which caused me to try to locate him via other Mr. Google searches.  And this is what I found:

Alright I was HOOKED – his charismatic gestures, eyebrows smiling for the filming, his “spritzer” at the end along with his wonderful words “but ah thees night I don’t work because I’m drinking and when I am drinking I don’t work”.   Now… because of Gaetano video & the Wine Bus, it seemed like a natural thing to add to our ‘to do list’ – since Napoli was where we wanted to go to see Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. So to anyone who’s every played Mario Cart on the Nintendo – I shall use Mario’s phrase “Let’s-go”!

I eventually sourced Gaetano and his wine bus tour through Facebook and voila we were off with a date and time, which meant it was our last wonderful thing to do before leaving Napoli.

About the Wine Bus Tour.  His service is a 10 out of 10.  We were picked up and right away he hooks us into his WiFi so that we can stay connected during the tour – which was great for posting fun pictures on Facebook.  We travel for just over an hour into the wine region of Campania in Italy.   The conversation is easy as well as interesting – because the happy, easy going person I found on Youtube video is even better in person.

Our first winery was Antico Castello Winery.  We were greeted by Francesco and shown the production and explained the history, grape varietal and all methods used in their final product we love so much – WINE!   Here’s a link to their winery and wines:

Dave and I also met Chiara – Francesco’s sister.  Together they are the winery.  Their love and passion for all things wine is best tasted in the most delicious wine (I think) they make called Taurasi.

As part of The Wine Bus Tour – I had asked Gaetano to organise lunch knowing we would be ‘tasting’ wine.  Let me explain how wine tasting is done with this fabulous tour.  First off it’s wine drinking!  No tasting and spitting out, I mean a lot of work, time and effort went into making that wine.  Second the family at Antico Castello – including Mom, a retired doctor, made us lunch! So food and wine! Now that’s a combination I can live with!  “Mamma’s Tiramisu” was the lovely finishing tasting to the food and Dave said that if his Mother could cook like this we may not have been married!  (hahaha said the Wife!)

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We ended the morning into the early afternoon with some wine purchased and shipped to Poland (Sorry friends in Canada wine is duty free within the EU); a couple of Italian kisses and wine for Christmas dinner!


ROUND 2 Winery was off to Sella delle Spine and guess what?  MORE WINE and MORE FOOD!  The owner is Luigi Caggiano – better known as Gino.  He also grows the wine of the region – grape that is the Taurasi wine.   How can we resist drinking – not tasting – such wonderful wine, accompanied by the food that Gino served us (& made).

Here’s the link to his website and vineyard (seems to be only in Italian though):

We enjoyed the village that his wine tasting room was in and we had the place to ourselves, along with Gaetano.

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Once we had tasted – ummm drank – the wonderful wines that Gino produces at Sella delle Spine, we were off to his winery and family home.   It was a beautiful day, in the late fall afternoon to visit his vineyard.  The tour of his production facility was nice but the beauty of his location was the draw!

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Now back to my story of Gaetano Petrillo….

Sometimes in life you look for one thing and you discover that you are given something else.

What I mean is that we found Gaetano &  because of our love and interest in Wine & Food.  What the universe gave us was a kind, thoughtful, gregarious, happy man that we will stay in touch with.  He will be welcome to our home, family & friends in Vancouver.  He’s a friend to bring home.  Gaetano has the “gioia di vivere” (the French use joie de vivre).   It’s infectious and why anyone travelling to see Pompeii or Mount Vesuvius on their bucket list really needs to add his tour:


THANK YOU Gaetano for an amazing day and sharing your local love of all things Campania!


Why we’ll be talking about Napoli long after we have visited

Napoli is like your mad Auntie at a wedding. Everyone avoids her but boy does she have some interesting stories to tell!

I put this place onto our list for travelling and scheduled us for 9 nights to stay.  After all, we are trying to travel in a manner that is meant to allow us to really get to know a city and to appreciate it’s culture and people.   We realised within 5 days that this crazy Aunty called Naples is beyond mad!

Choosing to travel for 10 months – you must keep an open mind.  What you find charming and cool can also become uncool and irritating and nothing could be more true for us here than THAT.   When we first roamed the streets we liked the constant buzz of energy.  The scooters zipping 10 centimetres past you or beeping for you to move out of their way.  The guy riding a scooter, delivering a tray of coffee in one hand whilst somehow managing to smoke a cigarette.  Another a passenger on a scooter holding a 6 foot closet door.  A woman tucking her 2 year old without a helmut on in front of her and off she rode.  ALL that was a mere 2 minutes on the street.

This ‘charm’ as you first see it – actually becomes less charming as the days go on.  You step over dog shit everywhere and watch people move around in a ‘frantic’ pace.  You begin you realise that this frantic pace of life is at the core of Napoli.  People are so busy working and moving around to get laundry done, groceries, fixing the scooters, recycling furniture, selling produce….

You forget to find the beauty in this city, that can be and should be charming.  You start to scowl walking down the street. Not because you mean to be that type of person.  But let’s face it, no one else smiles at you and if they do, they’re picking your pocket!   So you start to put your head down and move from one place to another at the same frantic level as the people living in this city without smiling, not feeling happy or even looking happy.

We came here because no one will bring to you the beauty of Mount Vesuvius or Pompeii.  To shared these places with Dave, slipping my hand into his and standing in Pompeii at sunset – we had to come to Napoli find that. Exploring history and standing in a site that you read about in a book in school – or in Dave’s case wrote a book report on in Grade 6 – again it was because of being here.

Yet we are walking around not being our true self.  Sometimes when a place starts to change you and not in positive ways, it’s time to move on.

So…. we are off to Malta early.  Although we booked another Airbnb in Valletta,  it wasn’t free earlier.  That’s a good thing as we are going to stay at a small farm house/inn and go walking in the sunshine on the cliffs of Dingli – nature and ocean – grounding ourselves to be the polite Canadians again.