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May 2008 Archives

Italy Diary, No. 2

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11:10 a.m. May 21

The Grand Hotel Santa Lucia in Naples is a regal place to stay. The 96-room hotel was built in 1906 with a dramatic view of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvio in the distance.
I arrived at the hotel after a journey that encompassed a 9-hour flight from Chicago to Rome and then a 35 minute flight south to Naples. After such a long day of travel I like to stretch out in the bath tub.
I crumbled into the tiny white tub at the hotel. Directly to my right was one of those European bidets. Heard about 'em, never used 'em.
A good blogger is honest.
And I have to admit my eyesight isn't what it used to be. I need reading glasses to check out menus and to type this blog. But I don't wear glasses in the bathtub.
Without paying much attention I reached over to pick up the clear plastic bottle of "shampoo " that was sitting on the bidet. The liquid was as gold as honey. I rubbed the gel deep into my scalp. Such a sweet smell.
Two days later I examined the bottle closely in the beautiful sunlight.

The bottle read "Intimate Cleanser."
Man, that's assbackwards!

Italy Diary, No. 1

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5 a.m. May 18, over Venice, Italy---

Sometimes you look beneath what has been discarded.
A travel story took me to Naples and yesterday morning I wound up speaking to a group of journalism students at the University of Naples, located in a former monastery. I was part of a small group of American and Canadian travel writers and the students wondered about our impression of their city. With a metropolitan area population of roughly 3 million, Naples sizes up nicely with Chicago. But the cliffs, the bay and even the thing they call the Egg Castle (the 2,000-year-old Alcatraz-like fortress on an island ) reminded me of San Francisco. And I love San Francisco.
I liked Naples just fine........

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.

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