Arrivederci, Europa (See you later)

I’m jumping ahead to today as we wait to go to Malpensa airport after two days in Busto Arsizio, just north of Milan. Another day, I will catch up on Borneo and Qatar. My tablet app does not let me organize the photos well, hence captions at the heading.

Even a village has coffee shops and pastries dreamt in heaven.

Over the last four years, our travels have centered around Lugano and Milano. Many times we flew info Malpensa (MXP) and zipped up to Sorengo and Paradiso to visit Daughter at Uni. Now, she is in Perth, Western Australia, and we complete one more trip to tie up a few loose ends. Our stay in Busto Arsizio brims with memories and nostalgia.

Busto Arsizio was the textile center for Milan during the industrial revolution. The museum has many original machines of the 1880’s and 1890’s.

A typical village square with lanes leading to all sorts of interesting shops.

RTW01 1980-81

In 1980, my company, NCR Comten, sent me to NCR Japan for software support of the first installations of our Networking Communications Processor.  Recently, a reply to my comment in Cook the Beans blog reminded me of that trip and my visit to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia on the island of Borneo in 1981.  This was one episode of that first trip aRound The World (RTW). This brings me back to the original idea of this blog to reflect on journeys and paths that brought me here.

I saved the diaries of my travels during those times for many years.  With our moving on, I wrote up some summaries and highlights and saved on Google Drive.  Much of the information written was technical notes and contacts.  Certain parts of that fourteen month trip are very vivid; other parts are just a mesh of several trips through the same areas.  My notes suggest I left Minnesota around 1 October 1980 and returned to my parents home for Thanksgiving in late November 1981.  Unfortunately, only a few blurry pictures and some scraps of mementos remain from that trip.  The many transitions of life and work resulted in a box or two purloined in various archives and the dumpsters of life, later to be left for collection at the side of the road.

Collecting and Collating digital searches, memories, and artifacts for this post reminded me of several amazing coincidences and connections that played out over the years.

First, a link to the itinerary contains a few notes gleaned from my diaries.  It’s a placeholder for my memory as details begin to fade.  The experience was so new and fresh, I never expected the frustrations trying to remember details today.

Itinerary RTW 1980-81


Here is the list of cities I visited in approximate order.

St. Paul, MN; Tokyo, Japan; Nikko, Japan; Yokohama, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; Kamikura, Japan; Busan, Korea; Seoul, Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; Hongkong; Macao; Manila, Philippines; Batangas, Philippines; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei; Singapore; Melaka, Malaysia; Georgetown and Penang, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand; Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar); Rome, Italy; London, UK; Paris, France; Milan, Italy; Belfort, France; Bitche, France; Basel, Switzerland; Mont Saint-Michel, France; Cherbourg, France; Windom, MN

Three artifacts:

Three meetings:

The hardware tech assigned to NCR Japan was Sanford “Charlie” Brown.  After Japan, we worked together in South America, New Zealand, and SE Asia. Our paths still cross.  He taught me how to wirewrap.

In a Singapore hostel shared breakfast table with sisters Bea and Ev from France.  Years later they would pick me up from Luxembourg airport after spending ten days crossing the Soviet Union.

Anura Guruge at ICI UK.  He sent me to consult in Paris and Milan on a remote printer problem.  Some years later, I would find and read his first book, SNA Theory and Practice, in the NCR Japan technical library.  Some years after that, I would work with Lisa Lindgren an associate of Guruge’s consultancy.

Three things learned

Don’t be surprised.  Different cultures, different languages, different circumstances all have their ways of dealing with the situation of the moment.  Some of these will be completely different to what you might find usual.  Observe and Appreciate.

Grammar and Language: “Order word not necessary is.” Along with: “Verbs not necessary.”

In those days, I could live in Melaka, Malaysia for U$S 3 / day.  Knowing that, I only worked for fun from then on. I always knew that I did not have to put up with a bad job after that.

Here is the full map thanks to Google:


In the years that followed, I circumnavigated (both westward and eastward) the earth many times providing onsite computer networking support.  There were some trips to South America and to Africa.  The type of technical career I did no longer exists.  In the past years, we have deviated from the original route more and more as we have free time to venture to different countries.  Here is my TripAdvisor Map:


Stops Along the Way

After reuniting with Wife’s family in Tapah, Malaysia, we began what has turned out to be an epic journey in less than four weeks.  I hope a timeline helps me make some sense out of this.

Feb 14-16 Petaling Jaya, a suburban district to Kuala Lumpur.  Wife and I met up with her brother, David, and her sister, Vicki, visiting from Sydney.

Feb 17-21 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.  A short side trip before our return flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Feb 23-Mar 1 Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy. Met up with Daughter and classmate on their way to and from Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria. This must be our favorite airport as we most often post from the airport’s Art exhibits.  We stayed in the city of Ferno which borders on the actual MXP runways allowing us an afternoon walk of plane spotting.

Mar 2-6 San Diego.  We flew into LAX, Los Angeles for a drive down the coast to visit Brother George and wife Gloria.  A chance to celebrate her birthday and his final chemo sessions.

Mar 7 Los Angeles. Travel Inventory Day. Last sunny day.

Leaving the cloudless skies
Mar 8-11 Seattle. Home (sort of).

Mar 12 Vancouver, Canada. Lucky we planned to relax and recuperate as it was the wettest, cloudiest March on record.  Our apartment was in Metrotown section of Burnaby city, just east of Vancouver.

The day without rain
Here’s the whole map courtesy of Google in case you are curious.  For simplicity, not all flights are shown.




San Marino: Quirky Republic

The Republic of San Marino is the world’s smallest republic. Neither is it a member of the European Union nor does it belong to the Eurozone.  Yet, it is entirely surrounded by the European Union (Italy) and uses the Euro as its currency (as Montenegro and Monaco do).  Since staying in Andorra and in Monaco years ago, I have wanted to visit this fun little bit of history.

I enjoyed hiking and walking all over the old city perched high on a mountain peak. I ventured down into some of the lower districts knowing there would be a precarious climb up  snowy, icy paths.  It was interesting in Winter.

Come Spring with all the plants blooming and more activities open, it is a destination to keep in mind. I’m in a tourist info mood.  I used public transport taking a direct train from Milan to Rimini.  This city lies on the Adriatic Coast, a few stops beyond Bologna.  With more time, there is a beach to explore and some interesting historical walls and buildings.  From Rimini, there is the Bonelli Bus every hour and fifteen minutes to San Marino.  On Sunday it was right on time.  I waited at the stop up the street from the Burger King across from the train station.  The last stop is the P1 Parking Lot with a public elevator to the main street of the old city of San Marino.

Here are some of my photos

Rome wasn’t walked in a day

But it was walked in two.

From Addis Ababa we flew to Rome for a two day stopover before heading to Eastern Europe.  The plan was to rest the first day, and explore the second.  Our flight left a little late at 00:50, the early morning of March 12.  By 7:00 in the morning, we were through customs and immigration at Rome Fiumicino, Leonardo da Vinci Airport.  We were able to check into the B&B Green Home and get a nice nap.  At noon, we woke up refreshed to take on Rome.  We took a suburban train from the Parco Leonardo stop just 10 minutes walk.  With one change we were walking to Vatican City and St. Peter’s square.  Then, we walked and walked and walked until we reached a train station that took us straight home.  We saw many of the sights that make Rome famous, but every little street was like a film set.  There were hard choices deciding which route to take as every little alley looked interesting. The photos posted here represent some of the “must sees” and a few obscure venues.


The next day we set out a plan to walk through different areas cutting our first day route in the middle.


Reblog of the Case for Bad Coffee

A friend of mine shared the article below on LinkedIn. As my blog and facebook account attests, I have drunk many cups of coffee and tea in many different shops and many different locales around the world.

The Case For Bad Coffee

The author captures many of my opinions about instant, regular, and hand-crafted coffees. A cup of instant coffee with a little sugar and powdered creamer on a long bus ride across Turkey made for a nice pick-me-up. The article also captures the complex economics of whether coffee house local roasted fair trade single origin espresso is worth the difference in price from a cup-o-joe served in a paper cup from a coffee urn at a charity benefit? In Korea, I frequently received an electronic pager when ordering coffee to alert me when to pick up my order. The coffee was good, but I still ponder was it worth the wait.

I like my coffee hot and black. In reality, it does not have to be that hot or that strong. Here are a few photos as evidence.


A cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and blazing Internet connections.
A cup of coffee, a cup of tea, and blazing Internet connections.
Coffee was a big part of this trip.
Coffee was a big part of this trip.

IMG_6298 IMG_0127-0

c_in_b (version 2)

I’m c_in_b (chained in the basement) no more.  My display name now refers to the preferred morning drink in Triestino, c(apo) in b.  I have referred to this in other posts not realizing the perfect solution to my display name dilemma sat right in front of me on the table.

Capo in B (pronounced “bee”) is an abbreviation for a small cappuccino served in a faceted glass called a “bicchiere.”

My gravatar is updated from this picture taken at the Caffè San Marco.

I posted another beautiful example previously:

Capo in B at Bar alla Transalpino, Trieste

For reference, this was my gravatar previously, sitting in the basement in Edina, MN, drinking South American mate with a bombilla:


Wireless / Rootless in Trieste

I use an iPad for my meanderings around the city. Four weeks ago I went to a mobile shop and obtained a pay as you go mini sim using the WIND service. TIM is the other service. It is operated by Telecom Italia (Mobile). The promotion for 6 GB for 15 € (U$S 20) was too good to pass up. It allowed tethering to Wife’s ipad and to the laptop in emergency. At 3G speed, not easy to use up a Gigabyte quickly. Outside on the street, in parks, and in buses, reception is excellent. Inside the apartment is another story. This is an old building with thick walls.

From our lower floor, this is a view of my wireless access. Sometimes the iPad needs to be held just right to get connectivity. Those sessions remind me of the old days adjusting indoor TV antennas. It adds another dimension to life here.

It makes it easy to get out to see the city. A brisk 20 minute walk from our central location takes us to most of the important areas.

A. The Pirona bakery and coffee shop frequented by James Joyce.
B. The train station and bus terminal. See my day in Koper or getting things done.
C. Pedestrian street XX Setembre.
D. Grand canal, an Antonio Church, our dentist.
E. Piazza Unita with beautiful views at dusk of the sea and the turn of the century buildings.
F. San Giusto Castle where I have taken many panoramic views.
G. Engelman Garden for some contemplation time.

I might touch all of these in a single day. Maybe, I will start with

un capo in b

at the Pirona:


How did we decide to come to Trieste? What called us here? We are reading Jan Morris’ Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. It does not provide any answers. Instead, it leads us to some interesting questions and some interesting personalities. Not only James Joyce looked for inspiration here, so did Sir Richard Burton (the explorer). Mahler, Freud, Casanova, all spent some time here.

Cloudy Days

After almost three weeks of sunny days starting in Marseille, France, one begins to believe that they will never end.  On arriving last Wednesday in Trieste at 22:00 from Lugano, our illusions were chastened.  We got off the local bus at our stop in a torrential thunderstorm; streets were rivers, and wind whipped umbrellas.  After two days of taking it easy, we decided to adventure out to Muggia, a small city east along the coast from Trieste.  We used our raincoats, at one point, walking in storm with thunder and lightning.  Then, the sun would come out, we had cappuccino and latte macchiato, and dried off.


Rainy Medieval Day
Rainy Medieval Day

This is a good metaphor for the journey.  A few days ago we had a little adventure seeking out a dentist.  The two suggestions we had were either on vacation or distant, complicated journeys.  On purchasing an oral analgesic at a apothecary, we asked in our Italian-English mix if they had a suggestion for a dental clinic.  Kindly, they went about arranging an immediate appointment. 

This reminds me of the film we watched on Condor airlines from Minneapolis to Frankfurt, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It was fitting for the start of our trip.  My takeaway is: “Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end. “








I am not big on pictures of holy places.  One can be cathedral’ed out in Europe.  The central one in Muggia was simple with clear lines of architecture, unusual for a 750 year old structure.  Even on this cloudy day it felt light and airy.  Some of the great structures of France and the Baltics have a damp oppressive feeling.

Port and Industrial area seen from Muggia, TS
Port and Industrial area seen from Muggia, TS

I conclude this post with another panorama of Trieste, showing the working port and industrial area.

Two Weeks in Trieste

It is now just over two weeks since we arrived in the Stazione Centrale on the first warm day of the season.  It appears the real summer weather began on our arrival.  The last few days saw thunderstorms and the hot humid air changing to brisk sea breezes.  We are learning more about the city through walks and taking care of the day to day chores.

Trieste looking north towards Dolomites with Castle Miramare (white spot on right)
Trieste looking north towards Dolomites with Castle Miramare (white spot on right)


Here are yachts reflected in the bay after the Saturday rains.  It has not been all walks and vistas either.


Streets down to the bay
Streets down to the bay
Recharging razor batteries
Recharging razor batteries





My initial impression was that Trieste was quite flat.  From our central location, we get plenty of aerobic exercise.  Definitely better to head out in the morning during the hot days.

There have been technical adventures too.  My solar energy interest continues and I am staying clean shaven.  No more mustache with freshly charged batteries.  Our kitchen only gets sun from nine to ten.


Beyond this, the PC crashed in windows requiring a complete rebuild from the recovery partition.  The worry about choosing the wrong option and losing everything raises the anxiety level.  Over three days, I re-installed apps and verified the recovery.  It looks like nothing was lost.  Nearly everything exists in some form in some network cloud somewhere.  It was nice to not have to recreate from those sources.  Connectivity like the sun is a bit limited by our interior location.

The websites I have found the most useful are those for transportation:

Trieste Buses

Italian Railroads

Switching between the Italian and English pages helps with my vocabulary building.

Ciao amici.

Getting Things Done – Redux

The redux in the title refers the resurgence of times past.  Last Tuesday, we caught the early train out of Trieste for Milano.  This is both a trial run for next week to Lugano and a visit to the Swiss Consulate.  As the light shown over the bay, I thought back to the younger days catching early trains, spending hours watching the scenery pass like an endless film.

There was the excitement of being on the road and the intensity of a schedule to meet.  The consulate hours are from 10:00 to noon.  We arrived after almost five hours, but less than ten minutes late.  With a brisk walk, we arrived with 30 minutes to spare.

As common with bureaucracy, another form was required and another photograph.  The staff allowed us to complete the form and return at 14:00 with the photo.  Lucky we scheduled the whole afternoon for this activity.

A ten minute walk to the Metropolitan station (all those M’s on google maps are not MacDonalds) brought us to a self service photo id kiosk.  Five Euros later we had eight photos and 90 minutes for lunch.  Outside the station we found a Subway.  I thought, “No, I don’t want American fast food sandwiches.”  What a surprise, il restaurante Subway, is a typical business lunch spot.  Wife had pizza.  Daughter and I had Milanesas (what else is there in Milan), a breaded veal cutlet.  As we ate, we noticed staff from the consulate also came there to eat.  This atmosphere of the colleagues going for lunch everyday reflected my experience from thirty years before.

Radio Monte Carlo
RMC Studios

Then, looking over at the table next to us, I noticed lanyards with RMC.  Looking carefully but trying not to stare, I observed that these youngsters were staff from Radio Monte Carlo.  Last winter when Daughter knew she was going to Lugano, I would frequently tune my iPad internet radio to Radio Monte Carlo for their mix of contemporary English and Italian music.  After lunch, we relaxed at the fountain in front of the station.

Before boarding the train back, we found the best bistro in Milano Centrale station.  Next week we are going back.  With everything complete we were home around 22:00.  Just like the old days.