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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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[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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Paris 2000 - First impressions of a novice tourist

Learning to travel at the age of 48


View First trip to Europe - France 2000 on littlesam1's travel map.

Bel Kaufman in her novel Up The Down Staircase tells the story of a young teacher's first year at an inner city school. The novel opens with the teacher in her first day with her home room class. She has planned to read them a brief essay she prepared on first impressions. In the hectic and chaotic first hour of teaching with a room full of unruly students doing their best to distract the new teacher she never gets the opportunity to share with them her thoughts on first impressions. Much like Sylvia Barrett in the novel I have unsuccessfully wanted to share a series of travel blogs on my first impressions of places I have visited. And much like Sylvia Barrett I have found myself distracted and never had the time to finish my thoughts on first impressions. I thought I would start out with my first travel experience in Europe, a trip to Paris. However my introduction here of the novel and memories of reading the adventures of Sylvia Barrett have already distracted me and unless I use some discipline I will never start this series on first impressions. I will just have to put Bel Kaufman, her creation Sylvia Barrett, the novel and the movie starring Sandy Dennis on the back burner and return to them some time in the future for another blog. So let me get focused and start this blog on first impressions with the words of the character Sylvia Barrett from the novel. "First impressions are very important"

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This photo is the best representation of my first impression of Paris. It was chilly, damp and rainy. The skies were overcast for three days. I took this photo from the top of the Arc De Triomphe. I did not have a digital camera so the photo was taken with film. After having the photos developed I had them also digitized on a disc. So they look faded and are of poor quality but they held all my memories of that visit. When I returned home and back to work this photo became my background on my home and work computer. I looked at it over and over and could never get over the thrill of seeing Paris for the first time. On bad days at work I looked at the photo and had an escape. After a long day I could return home and once again there was the photo. I joined a web site called Virtual Tourist not long after the trip. I had been bitten by the travel bug and was planning a second trip to Europe, this time to Italy. In my research photos from Virtual Tourist popped up so I decided to take a look at the site. . There was no Facebook at this time. Virtual Tourist became my very first social media web experience. This photo was my introductory photo on Virtual Tourist. And Paris was my first place I wrote about as a new Virtual Tourist member. Although Virtual Tourist has long since disappeared this photo remained on my page until the last day of that site. A chilly,damp, rainy day in the city of Lights.

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We booked a hotel on the internet which was a first for us. We basically went into Yahoo and searched on hotels in Paris. We found one that was affordable near Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It was named "Hotel Modern". I learned my first travel lesson with this hotel. Don't believe the name or what they say on their web page. If it's inexpensive there is a reason it's inexpensive.

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The room was not great. It was not even just OK. It was pretty nasty. But look at my face in the photo. I was so thrilled to be in Paris. The room did not ruin the experience. I learned my second travel lesson also from this hotel. You don't spend a lot of time in the room. So don't over pay and don't fret if it's not beautiful. The city awaits you. Get out and experience it.

I will never forget my first impression of Paris. It was magical and beautiful even on a rainy day. I had my first taste of true French Vanilla Ice Cream. It was the best ice cream I had ever tasted. I had a scoop every day. I had my first rump steak in peppercorn sauce, a taste I will never forget. I knew very little about wine before going to Paris. I drank very little wine and when I did drink wine it was usually White Zinfandel. So you can imagine my shock and delight when I had my first true French wines. I was surrounded with people speaking a foreign language. I remembered from high school how to say hello, good bye, thank you and Where is the library. I could also say I fell down in the street. So basically I spent four days saying hello, goodbye, or thank you as often as possible so I could feel like I was speaking the language I got to use my last phrase, I fell down in the street, on my second to visit to Paris in 2008. But that is another story for another blog.

Since that time I have traveled a lot. I have learned a lot. I now consider myself a seasoned traveler. I have been to many of the worlds great cities. But nothing compares to that first moment in Paris. I thought the magic might have been because it was my first trip overseas. I returned eight years later and was a bit concerned. I was afraid I would be let down this time. I thought it might be different the second time around. It might not as wonderful as my memory had made it. But I had nothing to worry about it. It wasn't me. It wasn't because it was my first time to be in Europe. It was magical because it was Paris. I took the photo below when I returned in 2008. It's the Eiffel Tower once again and taken from the top of the Arc de Triomphe once more. And it was still a chilly, gray, rainy day. And it's still Paris. And it's still my favorite city of all.

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My first visit was in 2000. I returned in 2008. It will soon be 2020 and the beginning of a new decade. I think it's time for another visit.

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Posted by littlesam1 06:55 Archived in France Tagged paris france eiffel_tower first_impressions 2000 virtual_tourist modern_hotel Comments (6)

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