The Travel
TWO YEARS TRAVELLING - 2010-04
Friday, May 7, 2010, 12:12 PM - USA

On May 6th, 2010 we celebrated two years travelling.
Maybe you are wondering if it is possible to live two years 24/7 in a row, together with an husband and a dog, in a tiny camper and don't die while trying it.
Even though you never even think about it, the answer is yes, I could, and it is a nice experience.

WINE TASTING CHEZ HANS

Day after day I am living with no rings, no make up, no skirt, no high heels: just two pants and four tee shirts. I am giving up all the luxuries and comforts that I could have, by living in the same place, and we leaved to explore the American continent
Today, to celebrate two years travelling, we worked on this website where you can see a lot of pictures, some maps and broaden other aspect of the trip we never show until now.
Hope you like it!

We spent April in Carmel by the sea, an enchanting little town on the Pacific Ocean, 100 miles south of San Francisco. It was a special time in which we lived at Hans Lehmann home, waiting for the Bambi to be fixed. For the really first day in five years, Bambi had a severe engine trouble.

CARMEL BY THE SEA - SAN CARLOS BORROMEO MISSION

There is much to say about Carmel. First of all the name belong from a Carmelite friar, and the Carmelite headquarter is in Rome. Then another friar, Junipero Serra built the San Carlos Mission in honour to San Carslo Borromeo, patron of Milan. So Paolo feels this place really close to him, as so do I, after a month lived almost as Carmel citizen, thank to Hans and thanks to the cold temperature, in which I fell fine.

BAMBI, CHARLIE AND PAOLO ON THE OCEAN AVENUE

Hans met us a morning late March when he was walking Tippy, his 12 y.o. dog, downtown on Ocean Avenue, and he stopped to say hello, to the Bambi and Charlie that took his attention.
He invited us to a photo exhibition Carmel. Our plan then was to reach San Francisco in the afternoon, so we say “thanks, no” to Hans, and say hello thinking we could not see him anymore, as happen with a lot of nice persons we meet, and then we lost suddenly as we start the engine.

HANS LEHMANN IN CARMEL.

Incredibly at the end of that day we were still in Carmel, and magically we met Hans again. You can call it good luck, faith or just a chance, but Hans passed by and invited us at his home to share some wine.

BAMBI IN THE CARMEL GARAGE

Reaching his neighbour was so complicated as walking in a labyrinth: turns after nd turns, uphill and downhill, cottages hided in the wood among the total dark of a town with no public lights just the light of the moon.
To go back to the Bambi wouldn’t be easy at all!
Arriving we found an adorable wood little house, and inside an eclectic garnishment that Hans will label funky.

HANS HOME IN CARMEL.

After the excellent wine from some California winery we had a wonderful candle light dinner. He was very VERY kind with us, and we were thanking him with joy.

HAVING DINNER

We had a quite long conversation then he told us to follow him: from the kitchen rear door we walked out in a garden plenty of tree and flowers, then up the wooden stairs he open a red door showing us a warm cute little bedroom, with a bathroom, a tv set, the heating and some books.

STANZA DEGLI OSPITI A CASA DI HANS

He wished us good night and he invited us to share breakfast the next morning.
It was like being in a sweet dream, in which Hans was the guardian angel came down in our weakest moment to help us. Unexpected, funny and simply perfect.

COLAZIONE A CASA DI HANS.

The day alter Hans drove us to the Carmel Garage to tow the car to Salinas, where we stayed all the day long, with the mechanics unable to start the Bambi.

BAMBI NAKED FACING PAT, THE MEHANIC.

Unfortunately Bambi was still dead, so we called Hans to please come for us.
That night we slept in the upstairs room again, offering Hans some cash for renting the room in case Bambi needed a week to be repaired.

OUR ROOM IN CARMEL

We had the deal and then Hans asked us what we do in case they take a month to fix the car. We bewildered look at each other and we just answer he was exaggerating the valuation but, another time he was in right for it took exactly a month for our Bambi to be ready.
As a matter of fact, during that same day, the very good mechanics of the West Coast Diesel Service in Salinas they understood the problem was a damaged sprocket that put out of timing the distribution chain. To fix it, they needed some spare parts from Italy so the things were going worse… it was Easter vacation time….
But thanks to the tremendous help of Andrea and Alessandro, from the Garage del Parco, we could get all the spare parts a cold sunny morning, by the FedEx that delivered it in 24 hours. Once took the pieces to Salinas, it took another week to ear the familiar, warm sound of the Bambi’s engine.

BAMBI IN THE WEST COAST DIESEL SERVICE

During this month Hans was an excellent host: we had a good deal renting the room, and he always lent his car. And it was a funny chaperon too, permitting us to visit places we never could done by ourselves and invited us in some exclusives and also interesting parties.

DRIVING PEBBLE BEACH WITH HANS CAR

In the morning and late in the afternoon, we walked Charlie and Tippy, Hans bitch, to the park, or to the beach.
Tippy and Charlie became friends and they had some good moments playing togheter and some bad ones, when the food was in between. Tippy is a glutton for everything that seems food è, but she is not bothering at all. She pass by, silently sniffing around, she also walk on leash with Charlie and she seems very happy when we walk her.

TIPPY AND CHARLIE WITH PAOLO ON THE CARMEL BEACH

Hans introduced us his friends and he showed us some pretty spots of Carmel and its surroundings.
He pushed me to participate in a Clothes Exchange meeting, only women allowed, organized by his lovely friends Deborah. Everyone was bringing bags full of out of fashion dresses to make the exchange.
Every corner of the house was plenty of shoes, handbags, hats, skirts, pants, shirts, waistcoats, and so on…

DEBORAH’S HOME.

Telling the truth, each lady was coming with a bag full of dresses and went away with an empty one, so it seemed to me that the reunion was just an excuse to have some wine together.
I came with no bags and I was the only one who left full of dresses: pullover, waistcoat, a silk shirt … everything so refined!

EMIKO IN A JAPANESE SILK SHIRT

Thanks to the generosity of my new Carmel friends, I could dress fancy during the whole month.

CLOTHING EXCHANGE REUNION

Hans Lehmann is also a writer. His first book is How to lose friends and other social graces, and his sense of humour remind me Oscar Wilde, still less poisonous.
Now is going for the second, titled “Santa Claus has an agent”. During the Christmas time, he is a professional Santa, in the big shopping centers with the red suit and the beard and all the stuffs. He also claim he is the real Santa Claus, but we don’t trust him. Write to Hans Lehmann.

On a raining afternoon he invited everyone for a tea, and there we met Freia, Deborah’s daughter.

DEBORAH AND FREIA.

We met also, Tom and Melissa, Sasha and Hellen and Lili, beautiful people who had some fun talking with me, trying to understand my bad English.

AFTERNOON TEA CHEZ HANS

In others reunion for tea, or dinner, we met many other friends: Silvana and Sam, Harriet and William, Nelika and Bob.

HANS AND HIS FRIEND NELIKA.

One night we went to Pacific Grove for three different art exhibitions, where friends of Hans were showing their paintings. We also had a walk in this beautiful little town of the Monterey Peninsula.

PACIFIC GROVE

PG has beautiful cottages and downtown you can see old wood buildings full of colours, which make this town delightful.

WOODEN BUILDING OF PACIFIC GROVE

Salinas, 20 miles East, where the Bambi was, is a bigger town. Salinas is in the middle of an intensely cropped agricultural landscape. In the fertile plain grows fruit, especially strawberry, and vegetable, like lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli, that I was told is the main California production. You see dozen of farmer workers picking up.

SALINAS STRAWBERRIES

Tuesday in PG is farmers market day. We went with Hans buying fruit, and vegetables and beautiful flowers, eventually reasonable prices.

BUYNG SOME FLOWERS AT THE FARMERS MARKET

At Salinas there is the John Steinbeck Center with almost everything related with the 1962 Nobel Prize writer, and author of East of Eden, Grapes of wrath and also… travels with Charley.
He was inspired by the economic and social reality of US at that time.

INSIDE STEINBECK’S ROCINANTE

Much before us he made a travel with is camper and his dog. His dog was called Charley. Our van is Bambi Rodante, his car was Rocinante, both they are green…and tiny, definitely!
The analogy doesn’t stop here. Anyway is really charming knowing of such a distinguished predecessor.

STEIBENCK TRAVEL

One Saturday morning we went in a Pacific Grove square for the Kiwani's pancake breakfast. For 5 dollars, we had big classic pancakes and maple syrup, along with spicy sausages. What they get is for charity.

OPEN AIR BREAKFAST IN PG

After the breakfast, we saw a true American Good Old Days Parade. The band, the sailors, the firemen…

MONTEREY GOOD OLD DAYS PARADE

People from the sidewalk was watching and clapping the show. Children were waiving flag and having lot of fun.

CHILDREN WAIVING FLAGS AT THE PARADE

Among many pearls, we knew what a Garage Sale is: a sale of used personal or household belongings, held in front the garage at the home of the seller. We saw books, furniture, paintings, dishes… used yet useful.

EMIKO BUYING AT A GARAGE SALE.

All the stuff is in working order and very cheap: from few cents to few dollars.
Hans says “a Garage Sale is the place you buy what you don’t need with money you don’t have”.
Actually he is right: it is very hard not to fall into temptation. For example, I bought 3 little unuseful paintings for 75 cents each!

GARAGE SALE A CARMEL

One afternoon we were Contemporary Art Museum of Monterey, to watch the Eva Lothar’s film “Street of the Sardines”. In this poetry-documental movie (it’s a Paolo’s definition), it is shown the story of Cannery row, the rise and fall of a generation who worked exploiting the fishing of sardines until there were no more fish in the ocean in front of Monterey.
Another day we were back to the Salinas Steinbeck Centre with Eva, to see some Chinese theatre. In that occasion we had Chinese food and California wine for free. Delicious!!

HANS WITH CHINA DRAGON

There also was the Carmel Mayor Election Day, and we attend his voting in the polling booth. Nobody ask him to show his ID. That is quite unusual, I suppose. But anyway, unusual things happen in Carmel. The same night we were invited at a Election party, where apparently anyone was concerning about the result. Drinking and talking, everyone was having a great time.

HANS IN THE POLLING BOOTH

When the Bambi was Reddy we said hello to Hans, to go to San Francisco, some 100 miles north Carmel.

BAMBI AT HANS HOUSE.

San Francisco in a sunny day is a beautiful town, no question about it. Its up and down hill and the different sights, its quite homogeneous architecture, with building in a 1910 look, and the Bay with the Alcatraz island in the middle and the Golden Gate in the background, is certainly something unique in the world.
Peculiar old cable cars are still moving along from the fisherman wharf to the old town are mixed with tourist and inhabitant, that for few pennies they skip a quite hard walk uphill.

SAN FRANCISCO

One night in SF we slept closet o the Golden Gate.
After two days walking around and taking pictures, we came back to Carmel.
Bambi works, but not as much as before: lose power uphill and in the morning is very hard to start so Paolo wants to go back to the mechanic.

PAOLO, CHARLIE AND THE GOLDEN GATE.

Back to Carmel, Hans booked a table in a restaurant that is open only on Monday night. The restaurant is hidden among the hills of Carmel Valley.
To get there, we drove almost an hour uphill, with a lot of turns. We ate stewed duck, and listen to live music.

LIVE MUSIC

We found this restaurant a truly peculiar place. Hans calls it funky!.

FUNKY RESTAURANT

Hans is the manager of the annual Rummage Sale, that takes place last weekend of April, and he invited me to work for the day with all the volunteers. We had to organize the clothes and all the other stuff people donated: first we had to make a selection of everything to be sold, then we classified and organized the items on the shelf and finally we fixed the prices.
2010 Rummage Sale Opening, was on April, 30 and the profit goes to charity.

BAMBI IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH OF CARMEL-RUMMAGE SALE

Hans assigned me the children section: a big room plenty of boxes, toys, books, shoes, and many, many colourful clothes. Each volunteer can buy 2 items before the opening. I choose a little white-blue dress for my niece Maia, recently born on may, 4th 2010. I paied only one dollar for it!!!!

ORGANIZING THE RUMMAGE SALE.

In another occasion Paolo helped Nancy, another friend of Hans, loading and unloading tons of food she gave to the poor. Nancy she does this every day, she is 92 and she drive a truck.
Remarkable!
All the people Hans introduced us was very kind with us.
Of course Hans is not the real Santa Claus, but yes, is our Beloved Guardian Angel.
I think we became good friends too.

I remember the night Deborah invited 10 friends for dinner.
Before eating, we all took each other by the hand and then Wayne said: “Thank you Lord for this table rich of meal, and thank you to let us share it with new friends. So much is what you are giving us, we wonder how we can do something for you… ... we are listening… …” After some seconds of precious silence, he followed: “..ok, certainly you will tell us something in our dream, while we`ll be sleeping”

DEBORAH DINNER WITH FRIENDS

We leave Carmel wishing to stay.
We completed April sleeping on the CA 1, at the Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. We slept in the Bambi, watching the Ocean from the hilltop.
The next morning, leaving the Hermitage a monk greeted us bowing his head and joining his hands, and he whispered to us: “someone told me it’s been a long time you are travelling … may the sun keep on shining on your path.”

OCEAN FROM CAMALDOLI HERMITAGE