A Travellerspoint blog

Transitions in life while visiting Copenhagen in 2005

Visiting Rosenbourg Sloss, making new friends and ending an old relationship

View Scandinavia trip April 2005 on littlesam1's travel map.


I visited Copenhagen in May of 2005. 2005 was an unusual year for me. My ex partner and I were into the tenth year of our relationship and it was a rocky year. I think we both realized things were changing in our relationship but we were not sure where it was headed. We were both holding onto something that we knew was slowly coming apart. We traveled to Copenhagen together but spent very little time together in the city. He had a business conference he was attending. I was part of an internet travel group called Virtual Tourist at the time. I was planning to meet a group of friends from the site who lived in the Copenhagen area. I had not met them in person but was looking forward to meeting them for the first time. This was to be my first of many times meeting Virtual Tourist friends while traveling. He was not overly interested in meeting my online friends. So between his business conference and my spending time meeting new friends we spent very little time together. We did have some good times on the trip. We spent several days in Norway and enjoyed ourselves. But for most of the time in Copenhagen we saw very little of each other. It was truly a time of transition. Our relationship did not endure the rest of the year. Looking back in hindsight I can see it all starting to end here in Copenhagen. This photo of me in front of the Rosenborg Schloss is the perfect memory from the experience. It's just me standing alone in front of a beautiful palace having my photo taken by a complete stranger. And although beautiful the photo is flawed. The person taking the photo blurred the photo and cut off the very top of the palace towers. At a glance all looks good but close up you can see the problems. Just like my relationship with my ex partner at a glance all looked good but close up you could see the problems.

Before our visit ended I took my ex back to see the castle. My photo of the Rosenborg Sloss came out much better than the one taken of me by a stranger. It was perfectly cropped. It was in focus. The color was beautiful. And there is no one in the photo. It was empty just like our relationship. It's just the palace by itself. Coincidence? I don't know. But looking back all these years later I can see the symbolic difference in the two photos.


Internet friendships are real. And they can endure. Jon. Claus, and Charlotta with her family and me. Copenhagen 2005

I enjoyed.my time meeting new friends from the internet in Copenhagen. My buddy Claus became a life long friend. I still see him on occasion when I travel and when are in the same city. We have great times together and have shared many experiences over a drink. I also met my friend Jon. We are still internet friends and have met several times again while traveling also. And I met a delightful lady named Charlotta. Charlotta and I are still friends on Facebook and chat on occasion. Of course Virtual Tourist has long since disappeared. But we are all still friends and still keep in contact. The friendships have endured. The relationship with my ex partner ended. It's been my gain. All of the conversations we shared on Virtual Tourist have been deleted. Our photos are gone. But our experiences will live on. There were a lot of stories shared between friends on Virtual Tourist. And there are even more stories I have shared with friends on Facebook. But this is the first time I have shared this one. My friends I met that day had no idea my life was in transition. But to this day I am glad they were there and helped me cross that bridge.


Internet friendships are real. And they can endure. Jon. Claus, and Charlotta with her family and me. Copenhagen 2005

Posted by littlesam1 21:01 Archived in Denmark Tagged palaces norway denmark copenhagen relationships beginnings endings virtual_tourist rosenbourg_sloss online_friendsips Comments (9)

The Battle of the Taxi Drivers - Chicago

Meeting the new Big Jim Walker in Chicago

View The Bad Bad Leroy Brown Trip - Chicago June 2018 on littlesam1's travel map.


You don't tug on Super Man's cape.

You don't spit into the wind

You don't mess around with that old Lone Ranger

And you don't mess around with Jim.

When I travel music is always a part of my experience. I either hear a new song that stays in my memory with the trip or I have an old song in my head when I arrive and that becomes my personal sound track. I first started to notice my habit of creating a sound track for a vacation when I took my first trip to Europe in 1999. I went to France and was very excited about finally seeing Paris and Marseille. While there every single day I heard the song Sex Bomb by Tom Jones. It was playing on radios in taxi's. It was playing in hotel lobbies. It was playing in restaurants. There was no escaping the song. To this day when I look at my photos from that vacation I think of that song. I bought a copy of a CD with the song on it during our layover in London on that trip.

Of course in Thailand I had the song One Night In Bangkok in my background sound track when I was in Bangkok. When we moved on the Phuket I had the James Bond them from Man With The Golden Gun in my head because that is where part of the movie was filmed. I had a slight problem when I traveled to Bratislava and Vienna with music. I had Gladys Knight in my head singing License To Kill from the James Bond film everyday. When I returned home and watched the movie I realized I had the wrong Timothy Dalton Bond movie in mind. The one set in Vienna and Bratislava was The Living Daylights. But it was for the best. The theme by A-Ha is a lame theme and License To Kill fit the holiday much better anyway. While my daughter Katie and I were in Nashville last November the song was Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes by George Jones. There was so much country music history in the city it just seemed appropriate.

In the early 1970's to me Jim Croce was "the man." I loved his music. From his sad love songs to his humorous story songs they all resonated with me. When he died I felt as if I had lost friend. But thanks to old vinyl, CD's and Alexa his music is still with me. So when I visited Chicago in June 2018 I had his Bad Bad Leroy Brown song playing in my head for most of the trip. However at the conclusion of the three day trip the sound track changed a little. I did meet a man that I had best beware of just like Leroy Brown. But he was taught a lesson just like Big Jim Walker from You Don't Mess Around With Jim.

We stayed at the beautiful Swissotel on Wacker Drive in Chicago. It was a luxury hotel in a beautiful high rise. We usually don't stay at over the top luxury hotels but this was a business trip for Mark and his convention was centered at the hotel. We were on the 37th floor with a beautiful view of the Chicago River below us.


The Swissotel in Chicago


View from the 37th floor of the Swissotel

There was a doorman at the front of the hotel and a line of taxi's parked in front of the hotel. When you need a taxi the doorman signals the first taxi in line to drive up and pick you up. It's very convenient and easy for both the customer and the taxi driver. First taxi in line gets the next passenger. As we were preparing to go to the airport for our journey home we had thought about using Uber but decided to use the taxi's in front of the hotel for the convenience. However when we walked out with out luggage there had been a minor car accident in the parking area and the doorman was dealing with the minor fender bender. As we stood there looking around a taxi driver walked up to us and said to us "I am the next in line. Let me help you with your luggage. We followed him closely as we were not sure if he really was a legitimate taxi driver or not. We kept one hand on our luggage. We get to the curb and he picks up our luggage and puts it into his trunk. Before he can close the hood of the trunk two other taxi drivers rush towards us yelling "Don't go with him. Not honest. Not honest. Don't trust him." I immediately asked what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong and to ignore the other two men. Then one of the men grabbed our luggage out of trunk and started to walk towards their taxi. He in turn grabbed it back and threw it into his trunk again. We were getting a little concerned by this point. The other two taxi drivers told us he had not waited in line but saw us coming out with our luggage and moved in front of the taxi's that were already in line. And they kept yelling "Don't trust him." By this point I did not trust him. So I went to take my luggage out of his trunk. He told me "NO. You are my customer. I am taking you to the airport." I said politely as possible that I chose to go with the taxi driver in the front of the line. When he blocked me a second time from taking my luggage out of the trunk the two other taxi drives stepped forward and took it out for me. Now here is where Big Jim Walker from the Jim Croce song comes into play. He thought he was big Jim. And he was a big man. He shoved the other taxi drive into the street. When he did this the second taxi driver raised his fist and they both started yelling at each other. But Big Jim was about to learn a lesson. The three taxi drivers in line all worked together. One took my luggage to their taxi. The other two held the first taxi driver back from bothering us. As we drove away our driver yelled out of his window "If you are still here when I get back I will f*ck you up!" So just like Big Jim Walker in the song this man was taught a lesson. And it gave us a great travel story to share. I just wish we had made a video.

There is always a lesson to be learned from a situation like this. Ours was:
Next time - Take Uber.

(When I returned home and started editing my photos I could hear Jim Croce singing in the background. He's Bad Bad Leroy Brown and You Don't Mess Around With Jim.)

Posted by littlesam1 12:02 Archived in USA Tagged chicago taxis fights uber bad_bad_leroy_brown you_don't_mess_around_with_jim jim_croce taxi_drivers Comments (7)

Pirelli Tower Plane Crash, Milan and Me

Impressions on the Pirelli Tower - From two very different perspectives

View Italy 2002 on littlesam1's travel map.


Pirreli Tower - March 2019

I have a very unique relationship with the Pirelli Tower in Milan. It's important to me for several unique reasons that are important only unto me. But even without my own skewed opinions it is a remarkable structure in it's own rite. The construction of the tower started in 1955 I was three years old so it had no significance to me at that time or to my family. I doubt my parents ever heard of the tower in their lifetime. It was designed by a group of architects headed by Gio Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi. Ponti was a designer and an architect. He created things ranging from coffee machines and chairs to houses and churches. Nervi is considered one of the greatest engineers of his time who specialized in concrete structures. Their combined knowledge and creativity led to the creation of a truly innovative skyscraper.

The most striking aspect of the tower's design is it's slender shape. With Nervi's technical knowledge it allowed Ponti to design a tower with a very narrow base. It is supported by concrete piers that decrease in size as the reach up to the top of the building. The tower rises up from it's small base to a height of 417 feet. Before it's completion there was no building ever in Milan that rose taller. At it's completion it was the tallest building in not only Milan but also all of Italy. Today in Milan alone there are many towers that are taller but for it's time it was a massive achievement.

So why is this tower significant to me? I was planning a visit to Milan in 2002. It would be my first trip to Italy. At that time the Internet was still relatively new to me and I was having fun "surfing the web" and learning all kinds of new things that I never had access to studying before. I was trying to do some research on Milan for the trip. In 2002 there were not many true social websites. But I did find a little Internet site named Virtual Tourist while researching Milan. And one of the first things I read about was the Pirelli Tower. I joined the web site and became a member of Virtual Tourist, loving referred to by it's members as VT. I had no idea at the time though that I would have my own personal story to share about the Pirelli Tower and something I could write about on this new fascinating web page. My introduction to VT was one of the turning points in my life. I met many wonderful people from all over the world never realizing that one day many of them would also become personal friends that I would come to know face to face. Virtual Tourist closed it's web site a few years ago. It's time had passed on and other communities like Facebook and Trip Adviser had taken it's place. But the friends have remained. And I still see many of these friends from time to time on a regular basis. So the Pirelli Tower has a very important emotional memory for me connecting me to that unique communities of travelers and good friends.

I was flying to Milan from Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. It was my first time to fly from Dulles. It was in April 2002. Six months after the horrific attacks in the United States on 9/11. As I was sitting in the lounge area waiting to board the plane the TV monitor had a breaking news update. The announcer asked is this another 9/11? The Pirelli Tower in Milan has just been struck by an airplane. Everyone in the lounge went silent and stared at the TV. I had cold chills watching the news footage. It did look like a terrorist attack. And we were flying right into that city. Nightmares of the aftermath of 9/11 hit me and I was trying to decide if I really wanted to go ahead and fly into Milan on this trip. After lots of talking and thinking and soul searching my traveling companion and I decided we were going to go ahead and fly to Milan if the airport stayed open. But we were nervous.


Pirelli Tower after 2002 air plane crash. I took the photo on our arrival three days later

The Pirelli Tower sits directly next to Milan's Central Station, it's main train station. So when we arrived we would we be taking the train to that station from the airport and we would see the tower upon our arrival. When we did arrive we had a flight to Venice planned, We would be changing planes in Milan and headed to Venice for three days before eventually staying in Milan. There was much talk and speculation about the plane crash we when arrived at the airport in Milan. But neither of us spoke Italian so we did not know what all was being said. We did come to understand no one was sure yet what exactly had happened. It was still less than 24 hours since the crash.

While in Venice the more of the story started to be unraveled. On April 18, 2002 a Rockwell Commander 112 single engine airplane registered in Switzerland had hit the building. The aircraft was scheduled to fly from Magadino Airport in Switzerland to Milan. The plane was piloted by 65 year old Luigi Fasulo. As the plane flew over Milan the pilot radioed to the control tower at Linate airport in Milan that there was a problem with the retractable landing gear. The tower began arranging an emergency landing. There was a mix up in communications from the tower. The pilot's radio went off with another aircraft saying "No, they told you to land, not me!" Minutes later the small plane hit the Pirelli tower. Glass and debris littered the area and immediate surrounding. Shop windows nearby broke from the vibrations. The pilot and two lawyers inside the tower were killed. All total between thirty and forty people were taken to the hospital with moderate injuries. The nearby Central Train Station, the metro and Linate airport were shut down. We were flying on to Venice from Malpaso Airport in Milan so there were no delays or cancellations when we arrived later that day.

Three days later when we returned from Venice we walked out of Milan's central station and still saw debris and glass on the street. There was an active clean up still going on when we arrived.


My photo of the Pirelli Tower three days after the crash in 2002

When we came home I wrote my tip on Virtual Tourist about seeing the Pirelli Tower after the crash. I must have made it sound like I was an expert on Milan and the tower. A few years later "G" who managed the VT web site wrote to me after reading my Milan story and asked me to be the page editor for Milan. I knew very little about Milan other than my four day visit so I have no idea why I even accepted the offer to be an editor. But I did tag and organize photos for him. VT and my written story are long gone. But the tower and my memories of the day remain. I was very excited to return to Milan in March 2019. And very interested to see the building again after it's restoration.


Larry at Pirelli Tower - March 2019

Posted by littlesam1 13:52 Archived in Italy Tagged venice italy airports milan virtual_tourist pirelli_tower plane_crash Comments (4)

Don't Trip Over That Mountain - Hiking while in Zurich

Exploring the trail at Uetilberg and enjoying the views and lunch at Uto Klum above Zurich.

View Virtual Tourist Meeting - Germany and Switzerland - May 2017 on littlesam1's travel map.


[center]View of the Alps surrounding Uetlberg Switzerland

If you have read any of my blogs or if you follow me on Facebook you probably already know that I love Switzerland. You will probably also know that I have a tendency to trip or fall when I am on a vacation. I've tripped in Paris. I've broken my ankle in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I broke my camera falling over a sand dune in Ocean City, Maryland. I don't consider myself clumsy. As a matter of fact I think I am quite agile. So after three visits to Switzerland it was just a matter of time before I tripped over a mountain.

We visited Zurich, Switzerland in 2017. I was excited. I had first visited Zurich in 2003 several years before I had met Mark. I fell in love with Zurich. While there I took the train up to the top of Zurich's only mountain Uetilberg. I had read there was an easy hiking trail there with a beautiful view of Zurich below. There was also a famous restaurant at the top of the trail name the Uto Kulm. Before out trip in 2017 I had told Mark all about Uetilberg and Uto Klum so he too was looking forward to going there. Our trip to Zurich was part of one of our Virtual Tourist travel group meetings. Most of our friends in the group had planned a day trip out of Zurich. We decided instead of taking the planned bus tour we would take the day to hike the trail at Uetilberg and convinced our sister from across the pond, Gillian, to go with us.


Mark and Gillian on the trail to the top of Uetilberg

It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect for the hike. It was not a long trail and was an easy hike. There are other more aggressive trails from the bottom of the mountain that can be taken, but we took the train to the Uetilberg station and walked from there instead. As you can see I am usually behind Mark and Gillian when we go somewhere taking photos of everything. I have many photos of Mark's back in cities, trails, and beaches and quite a few of Gillian also.

In the photo of Gillian and Mark walking you will notice some unusual deer like sculptures with lights on their antlers lining the trail. I became fascinated with them on my first visit to Uetilberg in 2003. During our brief train ride up the mountain I think I must have told Gillian and Mark about them too many times and about how excited I was to see them again. The sculptures are odd and unusual and that's probably why I like them so much.

Your subheading here...


Bruno Weber was a Swiss artist and architect. From 1991 to 2003 Weber was responsible for the sculptural decorations on Uetilberg mountain leading up to the Uto Klum. The decorations include the fantasy deer street lamps and the park benches on the summit.


Larry on Bruno Weber bench 2003 - Uetilberg

Mark, Gillian and I had fun arguing about what the sculptures were supposed to represent. I said moose. Mark and Gillian said they were deer. We decided they were Dermoose's. When we returned home my internet research proved that I was wrong. They are fantasy deer and not moose. But to me they will always be a moose. Art is how you interpret it.

After hiking the trail we found ourselves on top of Uetilberg where I had promised Gillian and Mark a beautiful view and a glass of wine at Uto Klum.


And there is the view I had promised them. You can see all Zurich from the top of the mountain and you don't need a drone for the photographs.


Uto Klum - 4 star restaurant and hotel on the top of Uetilberg

Then to keep my last promise we had a wonderful lunch and that glass of wine at Uto Klum. It is a beautiful 4 star restaurant with a beautiful view of the Alps behind it and Lake Zurich and the city below it.


Wine with a view - Uto Klum on the top of Uetilberg above Zurich

We took some time to climb the tower on the summit also. There is a small fee to climb the tower but it is worth the cost for the view.


Larry climbing the tower at Uetilberg

After lunch it was time to start our decline and follow the trail back to the train station. The trail is not too steep. But still I took my time and was cautious. With my history of tripping while on holiday I did not want to take any chances. We laughed at the deer/moose sculptures once more on the way back down. And we reached the bottom of the trail without incidence. There were some small steps at the end of the trail which should not have been an issue for any sane agile person. But we are talking about me here. I reached the very last small step and turned around to say something to Gillian and Mark and it happened. The very last step and down I go. I ripped the knees out of my pants I was wearing and cut and bruised my knees. Gillian went into the train station to get some wet paper towels and Mark helped my put the wet towels on my sore knees and helped stop the bleeding. So I spent my last two days in Zurich limping and grumbling about my knees hurting. But the good part was that I had a great story to share with the other Virtural Tourist friends at dinne r that night. We went out for fondue at a very nice restaurant in Zurich and I got to share the story of me tripping over the mountain in Uetilberg.



Mark and I are traveling with Gillian in November 2019 to Hawaii. I am requesting she bring bubble wrap for me so she and Mark can wrap me up for protection.

da353030-b864-11e9-9835-6f8d3a03d1f8.jpg d8b10130-b864-11e9-8a28-f1fdc4841ca7.JPG

Larry with Bruno Weber Fantasy Deer 2003 - 2017

Posted by littlesam1 09:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged wine switzerland zurich falling tripping virtual_tourist uetilberg uto_klum bruno_weber Comments (7)

Memories from 8th Grade Art History to Rome in 2016

Enjoying Rome in 2016 with the eyes of an 8th grade student from 1965

View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.


Surrounded by art in The Vatican Museum - Rome 2016

My father could sketch a little. My cousin Junior, his nephew, was an artist who did beautiful water color landscapes. My brother's daughter Amanda draws beautiful portraits. My sister could draw a little. My ex wife drew very well. My daughter Katie is an excellent artist. The Sampson's had artistic genes. MY MOTHER COULD NOT DRAW. She had absolutely no talent at all for drawing. My Aunt Louise, my mother's sister, could not draw. My mother's mother, my beloved /grandmother had no artistic talent at all. The Roth's could not draw. My name may be Sampson but the lack of artistic ability is pure Roth. I can not draw anything. Even my stick men look like a five year old drew them.

My two nightmares in school were gym and art class. I could not catch a soft ball or throw a football. I was raised in a holiness church and I can you now I experienced sanctification praying to the Holy Spirit to keep that softball away from me in the outfield. Whoever said you can't pray in school never stood next to me in gym class. Had it rained every time I prayed for rain on gym day my home town would have been washed down the Chesapeake Bay many years ago. My junior high and high school gym teachers were good men. They never made fun of me or made me feel inadequate. Although I already felt that way they never encouraged it. I always was graded a B in gym class. Years later I talked with one of my gym teachers and asked him why he always gave me a B. Obviously I was not a B student. He told me "You always came to class. You wore your gym suit and you took a shower. And you never gave me a problem."


My 8th grade octapus aka a camera on a tripod

My seventh grade art teacher was never so kind. She knew I had no artistic ability. She knew her assignments were way beyond anything I could do. And she never gave me a break. She assigned us paper mache animals. We had to use coat hangers, newspaper and wheat paste to create animals. I was in a panic. Other students were already molding the shapes of horses and dogs and even fish. I decided an octopus would be easy. I took four coat hangers and a ball of newspaper and formed my octopus. Of course an octopus has eight tentacles and mine only had four. But I knew I could never mange bending eight arms into place. My teacher never corrected me until I was finished and we had to present our projects to the class. When I presented mine she asked "What is that?" I said an octopus. She said it has four legs and looks like a camera on a tripod. I just wanted to crawl under the table and hide. Another time she assigned us to make mosaics. We had to draw a picture and color it with pieces of construction paper mosaic style. Once again I was in panic mode. I could never draw a picture much less color it with pieces of colored paper mosaic style. I ended up drawing a big head much like the heads on my stick figures. I gave it a large head of hair that flipped up on the ends. I was making That Girl which was a current hit TV series back in the those days. When she was grading the finished project once again I was asked "What is this?" I said "That Girl". She told me "That is not any girl I have ever seen." I have a feeling if my gym teacher had been there he would have understood exactly who it was and why I made it and would have graded me his usual B.

My eighth grade art teacher was the best. She knew not all of us were talented but she assigned projects we could at least try to work on with some success. She also taught us about art history. She taught us about the appreciation of art not just the creation of it. We were a small rural school. Going to Baltimore City was a big journey for most people in my home town. Mrs. Smith, the art teacher took us on a field trip to Baltimore to see The Agony and The Ecstasy, the movie about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. I was fascinated with the movie. I learned about the great artists of the period and got to see their masterpieces. And this little gay boy also got to see Charlton Heston in a toga through most of the movie. I was spellbound. So there I sat watching every stoke of his hand and every movement of Charlton Heston recreating this great Michelangelo's masterpiece. We were in the huge and beautiful Mayfair Theater in Baltimore. Everything about this experience spoke to the little boy from Havre de Grace, Maryland. Sadly now the Mayfair Theater sits in a shambles in the inner city of Baltimore. I have taken photos of it on several occasions still remembering the school field trip.


I made my first visit to Rome in July 2016 fifty years after junior high school art class. The appreciation for classic art that I learned from Mrs. Smith has remained with me all of these years. When I travel. I want to experience the food and the art from the location I am visiting. So Rome as a dream come true. From the wine, to the pasta, to the Bernini angels I overdosed in Roman culture. The highlight was on my last day in Rome when I finally go to see the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's masterpiece. The room was crowded. People were standing shoulder to shoulder with no room to move. But I didn't mind the crowds. I was back at the Mayfair Theater and twelve years old again. I could see how Michelangelo created the scaffolding and climbed to the top of chapel exhausted to finish the finger tip of God touching Adam. There were signs posted saying no photography. But there were people snapping cell phone photos all around me. I didn't want a cell phone photo though. I wanted a real photo for this special moment. So I worked my way to the center of the room and lifted my camera up, with no flash, to take my photo.


My photo from the Sistine Chapel - July 2016

I had my moment. Actually only a second. I was tapped on my shoulder by a security guard and was told no photos allowed. I explained I did not use a flash. He said very abruptly "Turn it off." When he left I turned quickly to sneak a photo of the back wall which had Michelangelo's The Last Judgment. As I snapped the photo the guard returned and said to me "Turn off NOW." So I did. And I departed the chapel after having a very special moment with the arts. I can't help but feel my seventh grade art teachers spirit was guiding that guard to me just to harass me once more. But my eight grade art teacher was there also standing next to me smiling.


Michelangelo's Final Judgement in the Sistine Chapel

Posted by littlesam1 06:24 Archived in Italy Tagged art italy rome michelangelo sistine_chapel the_vatican the_final_judgement school_memories the_agony_and_the_ecstasy charleton_heston mayfair_theater_baltimore_maryl Comments (5)

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