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            We rolled our bags to the Rialto bridge, caught the traghetti (boat) that took us right to the rail station.  We got on the train at 3:30 and after getting the bags on board I ran back and got some pizza slices and a sandwich to take with me.  We took off exactly at 4 on schedule and now I had the time to call Tania to let her know when we would arrive.  Uh Oh - can't find the phone.  Now I am really in the dumps that after guarding and protecting his phone for three months traveling all over Iberia, I lose his phone on the 2nd to last day.  We arrived in Milano at 7 PM and I immediately use my 10,000 lire phone card in an open phone booth to call Tania.  I also called the Hotel to see if they would look for the phone.  After 10 minutes I called them back and they had found it where I thought I had left it and told me they would mail it to Dimitrii's home address.  While I was doing this there was an old woman trying to use the phone I was on even though there were others that were unoccupied.  I thought this was strange and she must be a little crazy until after I had walked away and realized I had forgotten to retrieve my card from the phone.  Knowing I still had at least 8000 lire on it I immediately raced back to the phone but it was GONE!  Boy, she was fast.  We went out front to catch a cab and watched the police billyclub a guy who looked like he deserved it.  We were happy to get going.  It took 45 minutes to get to Arese and we were happy to be back with Tania.  She prepared dinner for us again and while Marcia continued her packing job I tried to send out Chapter 49 and Chapter 50 and the photos but AOL Anywhere was so slow I finally gave up and went to bed at 4 AM.

I woke at 8:15 on this the 100th day of the trip - we leave tomorrow.  We found out that Fritz picked up the BMW and then came back the next day to get his car that he had left and woke Dimitrii and Tania real early in the AM for what reason we still are not sure.  After packing some more, Tania had arranged for Mario to pick us up and take us to the famous designer, Cerrutti's warehouse store (at 8 Via G. Di Vittorio) where Dima had taken me in '97.  He drove us there and I bought three nice sports jackets for under $200 apiece which is incredible for high design Italian clothes.  By 12:30 we headed out for the downtown area of Piazza San Babila, not far from the Duomo.  Mario, Marcia and I had pizza at Spizzico in the Autogrill and then Mario went off by himself while we took a walk up the famous shopping street called Montenapaleone.  I was looking for the Paul & Shark Italian men's store to see if they had this jacket I saw in Venezia in my size.  We found the store but they didn't have my size either.  We then went for a cappuccino in this ritzy place called Cova.  When we came out Mario was waiting for us and he took us to Piazza Cardusio near La Scala to our Italian bank, Credito Italiano.  We went in looking for the lady we knew but she was off and the other lady helped us close our account that we opened in '97.  We did this because it was in lire and everything will be Euros after March 2002.  As usual with Italian stuff, it took us hours to get this simple thing accomplished.  By 3:45 Mario was driving us back to Arese and when we got there the house was locked and I climbed the fence but couldn't find any way to get into the house.  I left the jackets in the garage, reclimbed the fence and we headed over to the Gran Cafe.  On the way, I noticed for the first time a building that looked like a sports spa and went in and sure enough they had treadmills.  I asked if I could use one because it was getting pretty cold out to be running in the street.  After the owner found a guy who could translate, he told me I could use one tonight.  We went to the cafe for a cappuccino and since we had no cell phones I went to use my telephone card but the only phone booth in the area was broken.  Finally the waiter let me use his cell phone and we reached Tania who said she would come and pick us up.  Tania arrived at 5:15 with Anastasia and took us to the house.  I did some email and sent Chapter 49.  Dimitrii was in Barcelona and was flying to Milano tonight to go to dinner with us on our last night at the same Sardinian restaurant he took us to back in July.  I walked back over to the spa called the Forum and changed and used the treadmill for my run.  When I finished I had two beers in their bar and was that refreshing.  I walked back and Dimitrii called to tell us that because of the new fog rules at Malpensa airport (instituted after the plane crash at nearby Lanate airport in September), the heavy fog in Milano was keeping his plane from leaving Barcelona.  At this point I realized it wasn't in the cards for Dima to get back in time.  So Tania, Marcia and I drove to Osteria Caneva and had a wonderful dinner as we had had last time.  For the desired hangover I wanted in the morning it was tough getting all that beer and wine down along with limoncellos.  We drove back to Arese and I finished my packing and went to bed at 3 AM.

Waking up was horrible especially at 6:15 AM.  I was a total zombie as I loaded all our bags into Mario's taxi.  We said good-bye to Tania and Mario drove the 45 minute drive to the Malpensa and the fog was still thick from last night.  It was hectic when we arrived because I wasn't sure they were letting planes leave.  Mario got some carts for us and we headed in to a terribly crowded place looking for the 1st class Alitalia line.  As we waited in the long line the departure time of our flight went from the original 10:45 to 11:30 and than back to 10:45.  When it was finally our turn, the lady gave us some trouble for all the bags we had and told us the three suit bags had to be made into one by wrapping in plastic.  I hauled them over to the guy with the machine on the other side of the airport building and he wrapped them into one for 10,000 lire.  When I got back they took all our bags, finally.  We still didn't know if we were really leaving because the fog never lifted.  We went through security and of course I had to empty every pocket with all the gadgets I carry with me.  I can't believe people go through this horror on a routine basis.  I kept thinking that I'm never doing this again.  We finally got over to the line where you get on the plane and I hear a woman call my name.  It was Dr. Nancy Eugenio who I know from the County Medical Association.  She was there with a tour group going back home.  As I'm talking to her a man taps me on the shoulder calling my name.  He is a waiter at Georgio's Ristorante that we frequent often in the canyon near Santa Monica.  Dimitrii says its the best Italian restaurant we have taken him to.  I took one Klonopin and finally they let us on the plane.  As I get to my seat I see the front-page of USA Today with a picture of Bin Laden and headlines that he is threatening American tourists in Europe.  All this and the heavy fog made it easy to pop my 2nd Klonopin and 18 mg of Melatonin.  We rolled down the runway and for some reason I can't fall asleep until the plane is in the air.  Once we were up, I readily fell soundly asleep and only woke 7 hours later.  I looked around, took another Klonopin and conked out for the next 6 hours.  I watched the radar map as we landed at LAX and was grateful to be back on the ground.  On the customs card I filled in $2500 as the total of what we were bringing in but the guy at the checkpoint changed it to $25 because he said they were understaffed.  When we got to the final checkpoint they asked us how come the value was so low and Marcia volunteered what the last guy did.  So she changed it back and sent me to the cashier to pay the $68 customs charge.  They never looked at our bags at all and we were free to go.  As we pushed our two carts full of all our bags up the ramp I looked up and there was my granddaughter (now 15 months) yelling "BahPah" and holding her arms out for me.  What a way to arrive home.  Jeff and Rebecca were there as well as Kristin and Kevin.  It was wonderful to be home.

It was great getting in my Corvette and driving down to Diedrich's for a cappuccino.  I was in the office for two days and then got on the train (48 hours) to New Orleans for the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting.  Marcia arrived on Sunday and we enjoyed 4 days of being in the French Quarter before the meeting started and it gets all hectic.  I found my favorite cappuccino place and caught up on these diarios (photo).  It was great having dinner at our favorite place K-Paul's for Marcia's birthday with Dimitrii and Irene who had flown here for the meeting.  (Dimitrii informed me that he did receive his phone in the mail from the hotel in Venezia.) Then I took the train home and got off in Palm Springs at 4:30 AM and took a $60 cab ride to the La Quinta Resort for the California Medical Association Leadership Conference.  Marcia arrived on Saturday and Sunday we drove home to finally end this very long time away from home.  It is very very nice to be home.

 

KJH                                                               Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #57 

Santa Monica, CA, USA

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

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SENT: 11-23-01

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