Tuesday, September 20, 2016


we are all back in the United States of America.  

a little tired from our vacation.

going through re-entry.

for me today that has been ...

·         sleeping in your own bed

·         sleeping alone, without two other guys snoring in the same room

·         making myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich

·         reading the  Los Angeles Times over breakfast

·         having some cottage cheese

·         going to an American supermarket

·         turning on my phone for the first time in three weeks

·         beginning to reconnect over the phone with  my family and friends

·         washing and drying my clothes

·         taking a nap in the afternoon

·         watching TV for the first time in weeks

·         listening to some Motown music from the Art of Sax

all good. 

it is good to be home again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Roman gladiators were special in their day -- that being between 100 BC and 200 AD.

to some, gladiators were uncivilized brutes, armored barbarians, treacherous and degenerate. 

to others, they were the rock stars of their day, the star athletes of their day, entertainers, celebrities and even sex symbols.

as reported "the gladiators won massive fame among the lower classes. Their portraits graced the walls of many public places; children played with gladiator action figures made of clay; and the most successful fighters even endorsed products just like the top athletes of today. They were also renowned for their ability to make Roman women swoon. Graffiti from Pompeii describes one fighter who “catches the girls at night in his net” and another who is “the delight of all the girls.” Many women wore hairpins and other jewelry dipped in gladiator blood, and some even mixed gladiator sweat—then considered an aphrodisiac—into facial creams and other cosmetics."

with this as background, and being in Rome, the Tuscan Trio could not resist doing a couple of things.

first and foremost, visiting the Colisseum, the place where the gladiators performed.   they performed three times during the day.  the morning was focused on wild animals.  noon time was for executions.  and then the afternoon focused on hand to hand combat between the gladiators.

second, we went to Gladiator School this morning.  the outcome of which was graduation from the only gladiator school still in existence (at least to our knowledge).   we received honorary Roman citizenship.    and, perhaps most importantly, we received our gladiator names. 

PJ, for example, is known as Maximus as a gladiator.  Tom is known as Bacchus.  Yours truly is known as Augustus. 

the point that needs clarification is why do we have an interest in being trained as a gladiator in today's world.

first, we are assuming that gladiators, regardless of their previous reputation, can do good in this world.  what once was seen as brutal, bloody and barbaric, can somehow be turned around  to be gladiators who are gifted, giving and generous.

second, as you are aware, we have become enthralled with the concept of the Renaissance man.   in history, one of the key components of a Renaissance man was his capability in war -- specifically, hand to hand combat.  
we realize that this is not quite like other components of a Renaissance man -- for example, being able to sculpt, or to read Latin, or to cook sumptuous Italian dishes.  Nevertheless, we believe that having  gladiator training cannot be anything but helpful in our effort to become Renaissance men.
who knows, in this day and age, when gladiator training may come in handy.
and, one thing is for sure, very few men have been trained as gladiators. 

The Tuscan Trio

our three week odyssey to Italy is about over.  today is our last day in Rome, and then we catch airplanes to return to the States, to the west coast, and to reality.

this trip has had an impact on each of us.  more about that later.

but, first, we need to figure out how to refer to the three of us.  as PJ, our marketing advisor, would say... we need to identify and establish our brand.

we have thought about this quite a bit, and, after much discussion, have decided to call ourselves The Tuscan Trio.

why this moniker?  Trio is obvious.  there are three of us. 

we feel that Tuscan reflects two ideas, two thoughts, two approaches to life.  one, the laid back, take it easy, reflective attitude to life that we have attempted to adopt. 

but, secondly, it suggests in some small way the concept of the Renaissance man.  we have reflected at length of what it means to be a Renaissance man.  we have been inspired to be Renaissance men.  but more about this in a subsequent blog.

you will be pleased to know that we did not select The Italian Stallions, but that was a very close second in the balloting.

St. Peter's Square in front of St. Peter's in Vatican City

Saturday, September 17, 2016

first dibs.. continued

for those of you who have read the previous blog entitled "first dibs" I have some additional information.

I neglected to include pictures of the "bed" that yours truly ended up with in Vernazza in Cinque Terre.

this is what can happen when you get third choice in the selection of beds.

my "bed" was a rollaway cot.  as you can see it did not have the strength to hold me. the picture below tells the tale that I crashed right through it. 

they fixed the "bed" for me, and the exact same thing happened again.

so, the solution to this problem was to place the "mattress" on the floor.  see picture below.

I just want the record to show the sacrifices that I have endured for the team of PJ and Tom and yours truly.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Peterson Sunshine Tours (PST)

some of you may not be aware that I have had a travel and tour company for many years. 

Peterson Sunshine Tours has been focused on two markets to date.  one, is the upper end destination golf market.  the other is adventure travel with your progeny.

for years PST has organized golf trips to either Bandon Dunes in southwest Oregon in the United States or to Great Britain, usually Ireland and Scotland.   these are small group, eight person trips usually lasting a week or so.

for years PST has organized adventure travel trips to the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, South Africa, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, India, the Philippines, New Zealand, Alaska, Mexico, the British Virgin Islands on a sailboat, the Bahamas, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Egypt, Jordan, Canada and others.  in addition, PST has been to numerous locations in the continental United States.

to date, the PST trips have been very limited in number -- just one or two each year.  in addition the golf trips have been limited to close male friends.  the adventure travel trips have been limited to my family, kids and close relatives.

however, that may be about to change.  

after this trip to Italy, PST may be adding a third market.  namely, those who want to experience life on the Mediterranean Sea and its ports of call, whether it be in Italy, Spain, southern France, Slovenia, the Adriatic coast,  Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Malta and other islands. 

these trips would be again very exclusive, limited to friends and family. they would occur in the summer and shoulder months (sometime between May and October).  each trip would be limited to up to four people, maybe six at the most.  why?

because the lodging for the trip will be aboard a vessel with limited bed availability.  PST will have a yacht in the Mediterranean.   the yacht may be a power boat, but more likely a sailboat or motorsailor.  it will be approximately 45 to 50 feet in length.  it will have between two and three staterooms aboard.

the experience will be sailing from port to port along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.  spending time in each port, exploring the culture, history and people of each country.   

some will be able to pick up the PST yacht in Barcelona, others in Marseille, still others in Genoa.  while some will pick up the PST yacht in Rome or Venice.  the idea being that you spend a week or two on the yacht and then when you get off the boat, others come on board and enjoy the next week or two.

the idea is to experience the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle.  most of the time will not be spent sailing, but rather in port or anchored in wonderful spots like Positano, where we just spent the last four days.  instead of having to make lodging arrangements every evening, the PST yacht on the languid waters of the Mediterranean Sea is your Bed and Breakfast, your VRBO, your Airbnb.

but I have not mentioned the number one ingredient that will make such a journey so special -- that being the service provided on board the PST yacht. 

in addition to your skipper who will be yours truly, the Executive Chef will be none other than PJ.  as you all know from reading this blog, PJ has received his culinary training in Italy, specifically in Tuscany.  he brings a broad smile and a warm heart to the task of ensuring that each guest has their gastronomical needs met.  and met with a local flourish.  while most of the dinner meals with be on shore, in eating establishments, PJ will be making the arrangements, ensuring exquisite culinary experiences.

the second part of service will be provided by Dr. Tom.  he will be responsible for any and all safety and emergency issues. 
in addition, in each port of call your crew will provide options for daily activities.  Dr. Tom, for example, who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, will be leading hikes throughout the trip.  PJ will be providing guidance on local watering holes and other gastronomical delights.

your crew -- PJ, Dr. Tom and I -- see our job as helping you to relax and enjoy. 

your responsibilities will be to lend a hand in some way.  could be assisting PJ in providing breakfast each day.  could be swabbing the decks each day. 

in addition, each of you will be responsible for your own travel arrangements to the port of call where you will join the PST yacht and from the port of call where you will end your Mediterranean experience.

there will be a charge for your week or two aboard the PST yacht, but rest assured that it will be reasonable.

what do you think?  we are anxious to get your feedback.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

1375 steps

Positano Italy is built on very steep terrain that sharply drops into the Mediterranean Sea.

the pictures below give you some idea. 


a wonderfully laid back relaxed community of about 4,000 year round residents.  as of the beginning of November the town pretty much shuts down for the winter and reopens in April. 

during the summer and the shoulder months of the year it is a playground for many as its allure seems to know no end.

however, the history of Positano is very much different than today's playground for the well to do and others who seek out a break from the day to day fast moving world that we live in. Positano has been through times when it was poor, and times when it was well off.
what does one do in Positano.  relax. 
there is no movie theater, no soccer field, no gyms to work out in, no golf courses, no pickleball courts, no performing arts theater, no concert hall. 

all there is to do is hang out.  take in the spectacular views of the Mediterranean  Amalfi  coastline.  spread out on the pebbly, non sandy beaches.  take an occasional dip in the refreshing blue waters of the Mediterranean.  eat.  eat and eat.  most of the restaurants and eateries have fantastic views.  and there is some shopping.  they are known for their clothing, especially linen clothing.  also ceramics and made to fit sandals are popular. 
there is only one street in town, and that is a very windy, circuitous, one way only, narrow route that has numerous switchbacks and hairpin turns.   it also serves as the path for many walkers.  yet, there are no sidewalks.  so the narrow road is shared by foot traffic and auto traffic.  

the biggest challenge in Positano is getting to and from where ever you are to where ever you want to go.  the only real option is to walk.  taking a car makes no sense.  not only is the one road crazy but there is no place to park.  some of the locals use vespa scooters. 
yet, even walking presents a challenge in Positano.  the topography is almost straight up and down.  the homes and hotels are built into the sides of the cliffs that drop into the sea. 

the answer is STAIRS.  yes, there are stairs everywhere.  stairs with steps.  with many steps. 
my guess is that the number of steps from the beach to the top of the town is over 3,000.  what I can tell you is the number of steps from the beach, which is the center part of the town, to where we are staying  is 1,375.   that is the equivalent of climbing at least 30 stories. 

what makes this number so sure in my mind is that any time that you want to do anything -- say, go to the beach, go shopping, eat a meal -- you must walk down or up to get there.  
these stairs are all made of stone.  they weave in between homes and structures.  they sometimes have hand rails, sometimes don't.

the stone steps are uneven.  some rise 6 inches, others rise 11 inches.  you have to pay attention to every step. .
to give you an idea of what this can mean in a day.  yesterday we kept track of the steps that we took. 

let me set the stage for you.  we did "nothing" yesterday.   all we did was go to the beach, eat some lunch, lay out on the beach, come back to our apartment, take a two hour walking tour, eat dinner and return to our apartment for sleep. 
and yet, we walked 15,679 steps!!  we climbed the equivalent of 46 stories or floors.  we walked (or more accurately, stepped) over 8 miles. 

and almost every step is either a step up or a step down.  hardly any are on flat surfaces.

believe me, our legs at the end of the day were very much aware of these statistics.  they were screaming at us. 

so, the irony is that to stay in Positano, this laid back relaxing community by the sea and to partake in the relaxed environment and ambiance, one has to step up or step down at least 1,375 steps every time one leaves or returns to the apartment.
I am very aware that there will be some of you reading this that will not be shedding tears for PJ, Tom and myself as we try to "negotiate" Positano.  

however, I wanted to make sure that you were aware that we are putting out at least a modicum of effort to be able to enjoy the Positano, Amalfi coast experience.

one thing is for sure.  we are getting our steps in every day.


linen shirts

the three of us are not into shopping.  i mean, we are really not into shopping. 

it offers no appeal  whatsoever to any of us.  in fact, we hate shopping.  and we are not good at shopping.

having said all that, we have found something that we all like -- namely, linen shirts.

and we found them in Positano. 

a little background is in order.  we did not go shopping to find them.  no, we had "emergencies" that required that we purchase a shirt of some type.  these so called emergencies were in one instance caused by a sudden rain shower, leaving yours truly shivering in his shirt, wanting to get something that was dry and warm.  in Dr Tom's case, he was at the beach, and did not want to walk many steps up the steep hill to get a shirt for dinner, so he needed something that he could wear into the quality restaurant for dinner.

in both cases the nearest store carried linen clothes.   primarily linen clothes for women.  beautiful dresses and blouses. 

Positano is famous for its linen clothes. 

it turns out that in the far back corner of these stores, there are men's linen shirts.  in desparation, we purchase a shirt each. 

guess what?  we love them!!!

they are so comfortable, and so cool looking. 

i don't want to say that this shirt alone puts us in the jet set, but pretty close. 

take a look at these pictures.  try to focus on the shirts and not the physiques of the two men.


bottom line, we have learned something new.

we are still against shopping.  we don't do it.  we don't like it.

BUT, we do like linen shirts!!