Are you looking for an excellent Italian restaurant? Baci on Morena Blvd. has been around for a long time. There is a reason why this family-owned Italian restaurant is popular. First, it has excellent food, along with friendly owners and staff. Are the prices reasonable? Yes, they are. The vibe is Old World, with knowledgeable servers, good wines, and a relaxing ambiance.
This vignette perhaps captures the spirit of Baci. I met a friend for lunch there years ago, and on the way out, the owner stopped me at his table. He was tasting some wines presented by the wine rep from Napa Valley. Would I sample some? Of course, I would. After some tasty Italian wines, I headed north, a contented man.
Paranoia probably doesn’t create a pleasant vacation atmosphere, but some alertness makes sense, particularly when traveling in foreign countries. In less economically advantaged countries, one needs to be particularly careful. There are exceptions. We traveled in the wilds of northern Pakistan. Usually, crime was not a problem since the substantial Muslim influence there kept crime low. There were few prisoners in the regional prison when we were there.
In Europe, I have been cheated a few times by cab drivers and tollbooth collectors, and once, we had a cat burglar in our room at 4:00 AM. A group of itinerant women came at me in Milan, but I fended them off by swinging my backpack. In Lima, people chained their handbags and attaché cases to their chairs in restaurants and took off their watches when driving since thieves often reached into cars and took valuables from the arms of drivers and passengers. Here are a few common-sense tips.
Don’t wear expensive jewelry or carry Gucci bags, etc.
Try to blend in, though it is impossible to do so in certain countries.
Don’t park in isolated spots.
Don’t rent a high-end car. A friend had her rented Mercedes vandalized in Italy on the Autostrade when she and her husband stopped for a break.
Lock up or hide at least your valuables. The cat burglar got my wallet, though we were on the fourth floor. He walked along an 18-inch railing and went into 8 or 10 rooms.
Keep your eyes and ears open, and listen to your intuition. If some place or situation doesn’t feel safe, leave it.
Keep copies of all your documents in your luggage.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash. When he was a child in New York, Rob Schannon’s mother gave him mugger money. The muggers got the cash in his pockets, but the real money was in his shoes.
One advantage of staying at a sizeable hotel is using the concierge service. You can learn where and where not to go.
Know the customs and legal systems of the country you are visiting. Amanda Knox was naïve when she first went to Italy. She acted with the police as if she were in Seattle. In Dubai, a recent rape victim was sentenced to 18 months in prison after reporting the crime to the police. Only the intervention of government officials in Norway, her home country, and Dubai’s sensitivity to world opinion resulted in the eradication of her sentence.
Have you left ample time between connecting flights?
Have you considered upgrading to Business Class using miles?
Do friends and family have your itinerary?
Have you thought of breaking up long flights? For example, if you are flying to Paris from San Diego, consider staying a day or two in New York or Boston to make jet lag easier and reduce the burnout from flying 12 hours!
Have you thought of using trains and drivers instead of renting a car in Europe?
Have you thought of staying in hotels vs. Airbnbs that don’t have concierges?
Time may be endless but the piece of it a life is given, like the gift of a cherished old photograph, dims and dulls as the seasons race forward in an indifferent perpetuity. Having reached the age of 85, I have trouble remembering names, and the images of my experiences, once sharp and clear and full of color, are grey and cloudy and require hours of effort to pry them out of the disarray of detail that has now become my memory. And so, it was not surprising that I could not recognize the name, Stephan Jacobson when my caller identified himself.
It all began two weeks ago when Ellie, my young secretary, entered my study as I rested in my easy chair and handed me an envelope. “This is one,” she said in her slow, soft voice, “I think you’d best open yourself.”
Falling Leaves summer’s end, it’s the changing time, the spinning of the earth, the movement of planets: like the river, time flows on, carrying the fall leaves, shaping the crystals of winter, signaling the time for the snow to fall: days and nights, nights and days: time is a train, traveling to destinations near and far, to places unknown.
Retirement presents many challenges. It is an ending but also a beginning. Many are relieved that working life is over: others are anxious about what they will do. There are some universal issues around retirement, but the process varies from person to person.
Everyone has to design their own retirement plan. For some of us, this is easy, but for others, not so much. Here are some issues to think about as retirement approaches.
1. Think hard about what you like to do. Retirement doesn’t work well if you do what you think you should do. Sometimes, it is not easy to figure out and may take trial and error.
2. Work at retirement. Create structure. Don’t waste time.
3. Try to get good at things. Whether cooking, golfing, traveling, or gardening, study and improve. Being competent makes any endeavor more fun.
4. If you value relationships, get social. Take the initiative. Time is limited, and you have an opportunity. Don’t wait for your phone to ring. Reach out!
5. Retirement brings freedom. Don’t worry about what others think. The canvas is empty. Paint away.
6. If you want to try new things, do it now. Learn and grow.
7. Take some time to assess your past life and put it in perspective. Acceptance that you did the best you could brings peace and makes it easier to move on. Think of your working life as an athletic contest. The game was played. It is over, and you are free to move on to other endeavors.
8. Try to stay as healthy as possible. Illness compromises retirement.
9. As aging makes one activity difficult or impossible, move on to another activity. Find things that are fun and do them. If you can’t play tennis, play pickleball.
10. Remember that we can all keep growing and learning. You really can teach old dogs new tricks.
I tell everyone I won the lottery ONCE. The date was June 30, 2019; it was my official retirement date from 29 years of working at a middle school in a suburban town in Massachusetts . I was 65 and had planned for this day for many years. I retired when I planned to and was mentally and physically ready. Who knew that we would be facing a pandemic a mere nine months later? I won the lottery by leaving the profession when teaching was still in a regular school environment. I regularly check in with my colleagues, and I am unsure I can do what they are still doing two years later. So yes, I won a different kind of lottery!
I had nine months of traveling bliss following my retirement date. The next month while vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, I met a man through mutual friends who would eventually become my boyfriend. (That story may be another article! Ha!). After that were trips to Boston, Colorado, Disney World, San Diego, Arizona, and a repeat weekend in Boston; at that weekend getaway at a hotel, I learned about an outbreak of COVID-19 discovered at another nearby hotel. The convention at that hotel where I was staying was cut short, and you know the rest.
Here is a recipe for spicy Italian potatoes that are wonderful for dinner and then heated up in the morning and served with eggs and bacon.
Bake in the microwave the number of potatoes you need.
Sautee in a frying pan thinly sliced bell peppers and yellow onions.
Cook them in olive oil.
When the potatoes are ready, cut them up into bite-size pieces. Mix them up in a bowl and add the cooked peppers and onions. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, and seasoned salt. Add olive oil and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
Heat the mixture in a large frying pan when ready to serve.
Drive to the Lumberyard Center in Encinitas, having left another car in Del Mar on Highway 101. From Encinitas, walk south along the ocean. In 7.5 miles, you will reach your destination in Del Mar. Have lunch and bask in a job well done. The walk features excellent views, occasional dolphins, happy bikers and walkers, funky shops, and California sunshine.