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A Slow Travel Holiday Letter

Today I posted an edited version of our Christmas newsletter. They do seem to get longer, but this year included two trips to Italy! Reading back on the poem really strikes me as how important this community has become to me.

I have made so many new friends, some still virtual, some of whom I have met, and continue to look forward to meeting! Though I have learned so much about travel, and found out about places in Italy I might not have ever know to visit, it is the daily banter on the boards, and the GTGs I love! In a little over a year, I have met too many to list, and have formed friendships with Kathy, Leslie, Diana, Kathy, Gail, Jane, Sheena, Terry, Judy, Marcia, Nancy, and so many more! I have gotten to hang out with Pauline and Steve, Shannon, Mods Colleen and Chris, Wendy and Rob, and in February, I will get to meet Krista, Marian, and reconnect with Eden and Kathy at the Paso Robles GTG!

This summer in Italy, we hope to see Jane, Ken and Casey, meet the Dusis in Montalcino, see Diva (Judy) if she is in Florence, meet Barb and Art, and see Judith in Umbria! What a fabulous experience!

Here is the ST version of our Holiday Greeting:

Happy Holidays Slow Talkers!
My Slow Travel Holiday Card:
(excerpts from my Holiday Newsletter)

It’s that time of the year for our annual letter;
Here’s another that rhymes, they get longer, not better!
During 2006, we were blessed once again,
With good health and good friends, and a trip now and then.
Back in March, Brad and I took a weekend retreat,
Where our first group of friends from Slow Travel we’d meet.
Cooking class for fresh pasta we both took in Sonoma,
From Chef Judy, the “Diva”, oh ,the taste and aroma!
Sipping wine, then some shopping, with cool, rainy weather,
But we met some great folks at our first get-together!

On the 18th of May, I flew cross the Atlantic;
I started in Palm Springs, and ended at Gatwick.
Just a brief stop in London, where I spent the night;
Then met my friend Ida for our short Pisa flight.
Ida’s village, named Vico, is tiny and sweet;
Aunts and uncles and cousins of hers I did meet.
Local towns we explored, and the food was so good;
I managed some shopping, was there doubt that I would?
We went down to Pienza, at ‘L Olmo we stayed;
We stopped at St.Antimo, in Montalcino we played.
The following week, practicing Italiano,
I shopped the whole day, back in San Gimignano!
I really missed Brad for these two weeks away;
On my Italy cell phone we spoke twice a day.
Travel without him was stressful, I think ;
If you want some more details, you can copy this link:
Trip Report
A big thank you to Ida, her home she did share;
I’m glad I was able to visit her there.

The summer flew by as we lounged by the pool;
The weather was hot, so we tried to stay cool.
To a Slow Travel picnic, I am so glad I went;
Such a fun afternoon under redwoods we spent!
Friends, old and new, meeting Steve and Pauline;
Sharing great travel stories about places we’ve seen.
What a wonderful visit with good friends I had!
But I was way past due for some travel with Brad!

In Vancouver, Washington, we both did appear,
For our week with the Wolf’s that we take every year.
The weather was perfect, around 80 degrees;
And at night on the patio, a lovely cool breeze.
Cannon Beach for two nights was a part of the deal;
We relaxed by the sea and had wonderful meals.
Did some shopping in Portland, lovely dinners each night;
A nice bead store, some naps, the whole trip was just right!
Only two weeks to wait ‘til the first of September;
This year’s trip to Italy we’ll always remember.

We flew into Milan, had a quick cappuccino,
And in less than 2 hours, Brad drove to Torino.
Our hotel was quite charming, we walked everywhere;
Nice piazzas, great food, we were one happy pair!
We had fun at the market, then stopped for some wine;
In the cinema museo, with its’ views we spent time.
It’s a wonderful city, we’d love to come back,
But our weekend flew quickly, it was time to repack.

We drove on through Piemonte, every hilltown had towers.
We arrived at our B&B with a bouquet of flowers.
We met Micha, Diana, and Max, all of the Baurs;
Got acquainted, like old friends, sat talking for hours.
Our first night we enjoyed a great meal with our hosts;
Several bottles of wine allowed multiple toasts!

Our guest room was amazing, all the comforts of home,
In a picturebook setting, lots of places to roam.
We took daytrips to Asti, Barolo and Bra;
Lots of photos we took of the places we saw.
We wandered the streets by the sea in Camogli;
We ate wonderful pastas, some like ravioli.
Barbaresco, Nieve, La Morra, Mombaruzzo;
The vineyards were gorgeous, we drank vino with gusto!
Every day we set out, did whatever we’d please.
We might stop for gelato, or some wine with more cheese.
Our home base was so magical, we loved puppy Max;
It’s the most perfect place to explore or relax!

The Baurs arranged a wine tasting, perfetto,
At an organic winery with the greatest Dolcetto!
We topped off our stay with an “endless food” meal;
And a pot that I made on Diana’s pottery wheel!
Seven days was just right, and with tearful good-byes,
We drove off to Bologna under clear, sunny skies.
Bologna, we found was a wonderful city;
We explored several neighborhoods, all of them pretty.
The food was incredible, the shopping divine;
We continued to have such a delightful time!
In Ferarra, a castle, complete with a moat;
And the fashions I bought really “floated my boat”!
Ravenna’s mosaics were stunning to see;
We’re so glad we discovered this part of Italy!
Our whole 18-day trip, we had wonderful weather;
But the best part for us was just being together.
Perfect Piemonte and Bella Bologna Trip Report

All vacations must end, we flew back to L.A.
Reality is hard, when it’s more work than play!
I needed an outlet, something big I could plan;
So the Slow Travel party preparations began.
Let me try to explain what’s this group means to me.
It is not just a website where we talk “Italy.”
These people all “get it”, the passion we share;
It is quite a community, people who care.
I am now quite a “regular” part of the crowd;
Posting daily on travel or food, I am proud.
There’s a book club, a chat room, and oh ,so much more:
Slow Photos, Slow Talk and…well, you get the score!

So back to this party, I planned and I shopped;
I painted, and decorated, I was “over the top”!
I made nametags and placecards, I cooked and I froze.
I had prizes and gimmicks, it was fun, goodness knows!
Appetizers,and pasta, dinner, and wine,
Prosecco, dessert, chairs and tables to dine.
Entertaining we love, Brad helped out with the rest.
We even had our very own “Mystery Guest”!
I then wrote new words to old songs just for kicks;
An idea came to life, and the birth of “Slowchicks”.
I needed backup singers, every fool needs her pals;
And soon I had four funny, fabulous gals!
Kathy, Diana, and Kathy and Gail;
Choreographed to the smallest detail!

The “BIG weekend” arrived, and on Friday we all met.
For dinner at Tommy Bahama’s, we were set,
‘Til our Mystery Guest’s plans changed, when she missed her flight! Gail arrived from Atlanta, she was such a delight!
We went back to the airport,‘cause the guests couldn’t wait;
They waited for “Mystery” at our house until late!
We got back at 11, with “Mystery” in tow;
Chris and Sheena won prizes, guessing Kathy (Kaydee), you know.
On Saturday, last minute details were done,
And at 3:30 guests started joining the fun!
We ate appetizers, and had a great time.
We laughed and we drank our Prosecco and wine.
By 6:30, we rounded up all of “the team”;
And the Slowchicks emerged in their scarves, blue and green.
The first number brought lots of laughter and joy;
Pauline captured it all with her new video toy.
A quick “costume change”, and the Slowchicks returned;
All the cameras were flashing, the applause was well-earned!
We had dinner and games, and dessert, and more wine;
We all agreed we’d had a very good time!
We’re all looking forward to meeting again;
It doesn’t much matter where we’ll go or when.
We just know that Slow Travelers as a group are quite hearty;
And seem to be ready to plan the next party!
A whole year away, a BIG ST weekend we're planning,
The Great Gathering in Savannah will be quite enchanting!

Thanksgiving, to Oakland, we flew on Southwest;
With no cooking for Palma, just a happy houseguest!
At 8 a.m. Friday, we rode in on BART;
To join shoppers at Bloomie’s, we must do our part.
Met my friend, Joy, at Nordstrom, shopped some more, took a break; By noon on my third pair of shoes my feet did ache!
We met all the others at Kuletto’s for wine;
This is such a tradition, it’s now Christmastime!
Crate & Barrel, then Neiman, a latte, then Gumps;
How do these women walk all day in pumps?
“Charge and ship” all the ornaments, then Union Square;
At the St. Francis we gathered, all meeting up there.
We had cocktails and rested, they lit the big tree;
It was really a wonderful day there for me!
We took off in three taxis, to North Beach we went,
And our Italian dinner was quite an event.
Saturday, Ferry Building market and shops;
A bakery, a deli, the cheese store was tops!
A quite special evening on Saturday night,
With dinner at Boulevard, a “foodie” delight!

Back at home it was time to put up wreaths and lights,
To sit by the fire and write cards at night.
Five trees shining brightly with baubles and balls;
I made lots of goodies as Brad decked the halls.
We look forward to sharing good food and good wine,
With those that we love during holiday time.
After Christmas, more guests will arrive at our door,
For some laughter and cheer, and I’m sure a lot more.
Now the gifts are all wrapped, and the baking is done.
The tables are set for some holiday fun.
The cookies are iced, and the candles are lit;
We think back on the year, take a moment to sit.
Entertaining and travel are the things we love best;
Throughout 2006, with both we were blessed.
Again, it is time to reflect on the reason,
As we gather to celebrate this holy season.
Whether it's Chanukah, or Christmas you do,
May this season be wonderful and happy for you!

We have fabulous plans for this upcoming year;
And we hope to see all of our friends, far and near.
Buon Natale, good health, love, and joy we wish you.
And may all of your ‘07 wishes come true!

Palma and Brad

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