INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 9) “La Dolce Gaeta!”

Si, I realize that the term is “la dolce vita,” but today we are making port in the lovely town of Gaeta, Italy.  (“The Jewel of the Lazio Region”)  No problemo, let’s proceed.  This charming seaside port was founded in the 4th century B.C.  The town itself is positioned high atop a cliff, which gave the Romans a birds-eye view of marauding invaders, and more importantly, the arrival of any Carnival Cruise ships.  Like other outposts, Gaeta was continually invaded by Gothic, Lombard, and Saracen powers.  Fortunately, none of the invaders packed properly, so they were forced to return home for clean underwear.

In today’s world, Gaeta functions as a fishing village and a much-desired port of call for the burgeoning cruise industry.  High above the water sits a charming “old town,” and further up looms the Aurunci Mountains.  (From this vantage point you can actually see Naples.)  Notice I said “Naples,” NOT “nipples.”  (No nude bathing allowed!)  I only digress into sexual discourse (Notice I said “discourse,” not you-know-what!) because of the romantic vibes of this lovely port.

These “romantic vibes” were highlighted by a charming coincidence aboard ship.  Two of our dear shipmates (John & Helga) fell madly in love in Gaeta during their youth, and they returned to reminisce about a very special time in their lives.  Despite their obvious class and refinement, they kept making out in the ship tender and on land.  (The authorities had trouble separating them until I recommended a splash of olive oil.)

Gaeta has a number of lovely churches, and one of the best is the Capella d’Oro.  (Golden Chapel)  Another charming structure is the Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity at Montagna Spaccata.  If peace is not your thing, you can visit the mausoleum of Lucius Plancus, the military mastermind who served with Julie Caesar.  Lucius (who had a gorgeous sister named Lucious) stood next to Emperor Julie when he crossed the Rubicon.  (I understand there was no going back.)

After satisfying our intellectual curiosity (which took 3 minutes) the wife and I walked along the Bay of Gaeta and dipped our toes into the water.  The main beach was actually quite nice, and stretches for about two miles, most of it along golden sands and expensive villas.  If you’re into volleyball, you might want to visit San Vito beach, which was filled with young athletes.  (This is also a good spot to observe thong-clad maidens… so I’ve been told.)

By the way, did you know that they now have an Italian airline that flies out of Genoa?  It’s called Genitalia.  (I also have a joke about “Florence,” but I’ll save it for another post.)

So what else is new?  Nothing.  Just kidding, I’ve been quite busy working on my new history book.  Due to popular demand (my mother) I am writing a book about the life and tragic death of William McKinley.  My tentative title is “GONE BEFORE GLORY.”  I picked this title because McKinley was assassinated before he could accomplish great things.  If you enjoyed THE SECOND MOURNING and/or TURBULENT TIMES, you will love this book.  The true story of his life and death is absolutely fascinating.

Well, time for breakfast.  Sometimes I hate to get up in the morning.  It keeps me awake the rest of the day.  To be perfectly honest, I can be lazy.  I don’t even walk in my sleep.  (I use Uber)  Some interviewer once asked me how long I’ve been out of work.  I told him to check my birth certificate!  Hey, I’m starting to sound like Rodney Dangerfield!

If you get a moment, check out my travel photos!  Have a wonderful week!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff














INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 8) “Spontaneity Takes Planning”

Buongiorno!  Today it is my pleasure to welcome you to lovely Sorrento, the Jewel of the Amalfi Coast.  (Another jewel!)  They call this area a coast, because that’s all you do… coast.  OMG, what a relaxing place to park one’s fedora!  The gorgeous town of Sorrento is built upon the Tufa Terrace, a limestone cliff that overlooks the Bay of Naples.  The town dates back to around 400 BC, and was founded by the Phoenicians.  (Who might be related to the Venetians or their medically advanced cousins, the Physicians.)  In any case, it fell into Roman hands during the 1st century BC, prospering until around 79 AD, when there was a slight eruption of some kind near a place called Pompeii.  (Sooner or later I have to use my lava lamp joke!)

By the way, our ship dropped anchor VERY close to Mt. Vesuvius, which is the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe.  (Lucky me)  From here it is an easy trip to the ruins of Pompeii or Herculaneum, which are both fascinating.  If one wishes to keep “coasting,” they could also go to Capri and visit the famous Blue Grotto.  (Or the poorer spot called the Blue Ghetto)  Capri was once used as a weekend retreat for the Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and their active Senate colleague, Stimulus.

For those of you who like to keep count, Mt. Vesuvius has had major eruptions in 1631, 1794, 1906, 1929, and 1944.  During those times, La Dolce Vita became La Leaving Pronto.  Despite the (semi) frequent eruptions, Sorrento was invaded and/or occupied by the Goths, Byzantines, and Normans.  (That guy Norman really got around.)  The Amalfi Peninsula finally became part of Italy in 1860 — just in time to became a tourist mecca.

So what makes this area so special?  Well, for one thing, it’s perched upon the Tyrrhenian Sea, a lovely body of water.  And speaking of bodies…  Naples is the birthplace of Sophia Loren.  Naples is also the birthplace of pizza.  Those wonderful folks have given the world two hot dishes!  Other notable attractions include a host of churches, museums, and high-end shops.  This is the place to come if you’re looking for embroidered works or wood-inlaid boxes.

As a former master diver and certified water baby, I made a bee line for Via Marina Grande (below the cliffs) and rented a boat for the day.  The wife and I loaded up on some life-saving essentials (wine, cheese, and bread) and set out for a lengthy boat ride to Positano.  Naturally, we never reached our destination.  Why?  Because our captain (me) kept stopping in every little bay on the coast.  After we dropped anchor, I went for a swim, which took some time.  (The hard part was climbing back into the boat without spilling any Chianti.)

If there’s any prettier place on earth than the Amalfi Coast, I haven’t seen it.  The combination of tall limestone cliffs, crystal clear water, and that heavenly Italian sun are simply mind-boggling.  (Even without wine!)  And speaking of wine, we returned to Sorrento before it got dark and joined some lovely folks for dinner at a place called La Basilica Ristorante.  As the name implies, the restaurant is adjacent to a beautiful old church.  Mama mia, what pasta!

Before I close today, I’d like to wish all of my Jewish blog followers a most Happy Hanukkah.  If you wish to assure a spot in heaven, you might want to purchase 8 copies of my new book, TURBULENT TIMES.  (One copy for each night of Hanukkah.)  As you know, I have friends in high places, and I would be more than willing to put in a good word for you.  (My Christian blog followers can skip purgatory for 6 books!)  Think about it.  That’s all I’m asking.

Finally, like many of you, I was very saddened to learn about the passing of our former President, George H.W. Bush.  I had some minor dealings with the Bush family during my early days in Texas, and I will always think of them fondly.  As an amateur historian, I can almost guarantee that history will judge Mr. Bush in a very good light.  R.I.P. Mr. President… and thank you for your service.

Well, if you have absolutely nothing else to do, you can scroll down and take a peek at my photographs of Sorrento.  (There are several nude shots.)  Just kidding, I forgot to pack my telescopic lens!  (No jokes, please!)

Have a wonderful and safe week!  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff




In order to assist with the metabolic digestive process of my loyal blog followers, I shall dispense with this week’s blog post.

Please join me next Sunday for another thrilling travel adventure…


Gobble, gobble, and love to all…

Doc Yanoff




INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 7) “Go West Young Man!”

I don’t know if Horace Greeley ever sailed across the Ionian Sea, but he was right about heading west.  We left Greece late at night and sailed to lovely Taormina, Sicily, “the Jewel of the Ionian Coast.”  Taormina was made famous by Jay and the Americans, who sang about the place back in 1965.  Of course, I might be confusing the Taormina with “Cara Mia,” but you get the point.  (OK, that was a bit of a stretch!)  Anyway, the town is quite charming, and it attracts many celebrities.  (I got Sicily Tyson’s autograph.)

The town is right beside Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest volcano, which is still quite active.  (I will skip the jokes about “Lava lamps” and “going with the flow.”)  The observant German writer, Goethe, once said, “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”  Rather a bold statement, but mostly true.

The area was actually settled way back in 4,000 B.C., but none of the original inhabitants are still alive.  Once pasta was perfected, the place was invaded by the Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, and Saracens.  (Hey, what the hell happened to the Venetians?  They finally missed a place!)  In recent history, 1860 to be exact, Garibaldi established the island’s alliance with mainland Italy.  Most historians (myself included) peg the founding of Taormina in 358 B.C.  Everything was relatively peaceful (if you liked your relatives) until 902 A.D., which is when those damn Saracens invaded and leveled the existing town.  (They had anger issues, and too much free time.)

Nowadays, Taormina attracts the equally destructive cruise ship crowd, but is still home to a number of well-known writers and artists.  I’ve never lived there, but a guy named D. H. Lawrence spent 3 years in the town.  (1920-1923)  The best part of the town is the incredible view (hundreds of feet above sea level) which overlooks the Ionian Sea and the ancient village of Naxos.  (A Greek enclave that has some impressive ruins.)  During our visit, we rented some beach chairs and umbrellas and spent the afternoon swimming, eating, and drinking.  (What else is new?)  All in all a great stop, and very intoxicating, if you know what I mean!

So what else is new?  Well, my lecture and book-signing in Dripping Springs was quite pleasant and well-attended.  I held court at the Treaty Oak Distilling Company (Another “intoxicating” place!) which produces some very good adult beverages.  The distillery occupies about 30 acres of the Texas Hill Country, and they give tours (and sell samples) of their products.  (Bourbon, whiskey, gin, and vodka!)

Just up the road is another complex that produces alcoholic cider, which is definitely an acquired taste.  (Cider does not “appeal” to me, which might be the “core” of the problem.)  All right, enough apple jokes.  In case you’re interested, I was peddling my two history books, THE SECOND MOURNING and TURBULENT TIMES.  Sales were brisk, and so was the weather.  Next time we go indoors!

Well, my friends, I must leave you now.  I am off to a barbecue and beer festival in Bastrop, Texas.  (Just outside of Austin)  I hope you have a wonderful and happy week, and we shall meet again next Sunday…..  in Sorrento!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff



INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 6) “Going For The Gold!”

I know what you’re thinking… there he goes again, writing about Adam Gold and those clever mystery novels.  Well, you’re wrong.  I’m referring to gold as in gold medals.  (i.e., the Olympic Games)  I used to refer to our sweet ship as the S.S. Minnow, but now that we’re in Greece, I’m calling it the S.S. Minoan.  Today we are anchored off the coast of Katakolon, which lies in the western part of the Peloponnese Peninsula.  In about an hour (after we digest those stuffed grape leaves) we are off to OLYMPIA, the site of the Olympic Games!  The ruins at this particular location are very well preserved, and I’m not talking about those older folks on the Tauck Tour bus.

Olympia is where the present-day Greeks light the Olympic torch (viewed by billions on T.V.) and it is quite fascinating.  I met a Greek chick who is still carrying a torch for one of the athletes she met during the last games.  Must be hard to become an “old flame.”  In any case, this was truly a great visit, and due to my previous archaeological experience (and a modest bribe) I got to help out with a current excavation project.  (Photos attached at bottom!)

One of the best preserved sites was the Olympic stadium, which held about 40,000 spectators and a few hundred hot dog vendors.  (Actually, they were serving Gyros.)  Men AND women participated in the games, (the sporting contests, that is) but the women had to be married.  Why?  Because all of the athletes were naked!  (Seriously)  One of the photos below shows the bath tubs that the athletes used to soak their  weary muscles.  Notice how small the tubs are?  These ancient athletes were slightly over five feet tall.  (This figure does not include any type of “shrinkage.”)

In case you’re wondering, the entire olympic site used to be dominated by the temple of Zeus, with the temple of Hera nearby.  (Both sustained serious earthquake damage over the centuries, plus some vandalism by various ruffians.) According to Greek mythology, Pelops, the king of Peloponnese, was the founder of the Olympic Games.  However, the stadium I previously mentioned, has not been used since 393 AD.  (For those of you who do not have an archaeology background, allow me to explain that BC means “Before Christ,” and that AD means “After Dat.”)

I felt a little guilty when I left the Olympic site.  I thought about the amazing athletes who spent countless hours perfecting their bodies, lifting weights, and training for marathons… and there I was, back on ship, trying to lasso the television remote with my phone charger.  Pathetic.  I run my mouth a lot, but that’s about it.  (I thought growing older would take longer!)

So what else is new?  Well, last week we celebrated Dr. Max Talbott’s 39th birthday.  (Max is my former neighbor and cousin.)  Instead of going to Taco Bell (my suggestion) we all drove out to the Steiner Ranch Steak House for a wonderful meat-fest and a concert by the Bellamy Brothers!  Fortunately, Max and his lovely wife, Barbara, were paying.  (I left my wallet home again… by accident.) The food, music, and company were great, and we wish Cousin Max many, many more years of happiness and good health.  Max was tempted to start going to the gym again, but I told him to grab a beer, sit down on the couch, and just wait until the feeling passed.  Good advice, eh?

Incidentally, speaking of books (What??) I am happy to report that among the best-selling books at this year’s Texas Book Festival, were two brilliant history books written by yours truly.  Copies of TURBULENT TIMES and THE SECOND MOURNING flew off the shelves.  (during strong winds)  At other times, my reps just sold the books.  In any case, both books were quite popular with the attendees, and if you did not find an autographed copy, just drop me a note and we will arrange something.  (CHRISTMAS is right around the corner, and these books would make fabulous gifts!)  The royalties would also help me pay for my upcoming trip to the Caribbean, which is vital for my continued mental health!

Next week’s blog post will take us to Sicily, so stay tuned!  By the way, our first stop in Sicily was under Mt. Aetna, which is currently sliding into the sea!  (No kidding.)  Check out the volcano article on CNN or YouTube.  Quite amazing.  I’m glad I left when I did, but I forgot to buy a lava lamp.  Maybe next time.

Have a safe and prosperous week… and don’t forget to vote for me!

Love to all,

Doc Yanoff



INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 5) “It’s Greek To Me.”

Tradition tells us that the Greek island of Corfu is the island where Ulysses was washed ashore.  My question is this:  What the hell was General Grant doing in the Ionian Sea?  I thought he was in the Army, not the Navy.  Oh well, I guess he was welcomed with open arms.  After all, the island of Corfu has been invaded (and occupied) by the Romans, Normans, Sicilians, Venetians, (there they are again!) Turks, French, Russians, and the British.  Oops, I forgot the Italians and Germans.  All of these foreign influences have made the island quite interesting, which is why some folks call Corfu “The Jewel of the Ionian Sea.”  (Lots of jewels in this part of the world!)

Of course, like most islands, Corfu has an “old town,” filled with new souvenirs that are mostly authentic fakes.  Way up top, sits the Old Fort, built by those damn Venetians, who apparently never stayed home.  The big “cash crops” are sponges and ceramics bearing Greek god images.  (i.e., Hercules,Achilles, and me.)  The best dishes, in case you go, are Sofrito  (veal with garlic and vinegar),  Bourdetto (white fish), and Kalamarakia (fried squid).

Our party did a tour of Old Town and then drove across the island to one of the famous beaches.  The beach was lovely, but the water was a bit chilly.  By the way, if someone says “Corfu,” don’t say “God bless you.”  (They didn’t sneeze)  All in all, this was a fun stop, and one of those small islands that few tourists get to see.  (You’ll note that Corfu is on the WESTERN side of Greece, which gets a lot less traffic than the Mediterranean side.)

As usual, the best part of the voyage was meeting some of our fellow shipmates, and on this occasion we really hit the jackpot.  Two days before we landed on Corfu, we met Miss Helga and Dr. John, a fantastic couple from Naples, Florida.  Helga is a beautiful and talented former interior designer, originally from Cape Cod.  (Personally, I’ve never seen a cod wearing a cape, but I guess it’s possible.)  Her hubby, Dr. John was an imminent heart physician, now retired.  The four of us (and a few interlopers) shared many joyful moments, and as you might imagine, we spent a great deal of time drinking and laughing.  As they say, the best ship is friendship!

Speaking of great friends, I would like to thank the lovely and talented Princess of Portugal (and her husband, Baron Lee) for hosting a spectacular feast last night at their villa in Round Rock.  The Princess made the MOST delicious version of coconut chicken curry that I ever tasted.  (along with Indian vegetable pies, great wine, and the BEST port I’ve had in a long time!)  Thanks also to Countess Connie, who brought the port all the way from Portugal, via France to the USA.  (Gluttony is such a great vice.  Sloth is nice, too.)

By the way, I just read that the creator of autocorrect passed away.  Restaurant in peace.

So what else is new?  Well, my Internet went down this past week and I had to spend some time with the family.  They seem like good people.

The Texas Book Festival is here in Austin this weekend, and I’ve been quite busy signing autographs, conducting lectures, and asking rich-looking women for their phone numbers.  (For research purposes!)  The rain has finally stopped, and our weather is sunny and warm.  This should help book sales, although after Texas lost to Oklahoma State last night, the natives will be depressed.  If you’re downtown this weekend, look for me, and if we see each other, please ask for my autograph in a very loud voice.  (That damn Stephen King is sitting next to me, and he thinks he’s hot stuff.)  Thanks.

Well, I must run.  My fans will be disappointed if I show up, I mean, don’t show up in a timely fashion.  I shall leave you with this departing thought:  Despite the old saying, “Don’t take your troubles to bed,” some wives still sleep with their husbands!  (Just saying)

Have a safe and sweet week.  Love to all,

Doc Yanoff



INNOCENCE ABROAD. (Chapter 4) “Debbie Does Dubrovnik!”

Yikes, that sounds like the title of a porn movie!  Don’t get your hopes up.  (Or anything else.)  Debbie was the name of our tour guide, and had she not incurred a minor bicycle injury, I’m sure she would have met us at the pier.  However, since Dangerous Deb did not show up, we toured Dubrovnik on our own.  Well, almost on our own.  We were lucky to meet a charming and intelligent couple of Brits, whose names are Roy and Carol.  These nice folks now live in Thailand, so we decided to “Thai one on” with them!  Smart move on our part.  Roy was kind enough to rent a boat, so we puttered along the lovely shores of Croatia and saw some memorable terrain.  We spent most of the morning laughing and getting thrown out of churches, and a great time was had by all.  (I shall post their photos, the one used by Interpol, at the end of this blog.)

Dubrovnik is a spot I have been to once or twice before, and I always enjoy visiting this historic city.  (Which, of course, bills itself as “The Jewel of the Adriatic.”)  Believe it or not, the city is also called “Little Venice,” but since I’ve already made some disparaging remarks about the Venetians, I shall let that one pass.  (Euros are NOT used here!)

Just for the record, Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, which currently has a population of about 4.5 million people.  (and 7.9 million goats)  The most interesting part of Dubrovnik is a place called “old town,” which by strange coincidence, is an old town.  (Established in the 7th century.)  The Croats, having no access to the Internet, built a wall around the city, making it difficult for tourists to avoid exercise.  (Lots of steps)  Of course, there weren’t many tourists during the 90s, when those pesky Serbs started dropping bombs in the countryside.  Fortunately, the city remained unscathed, and it is now quite popular with the jet set.  (and the cruise set, and the driving set, and the walking set!)

Nevertheless, I would certainly recommend a visit, and would also suggest that you rent a boat and see the magnificent coastline.  Dubrovnik is actually on the UNESCO World Heritage List, so they must be doing something right.  Incidentally, they actually offer a yoga class in one of the ancient castles in old town.  (I haven’t tried yoga, but I have bent over to pick up my keys, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it.)  While I was waiting for the wife to finish her class, several Croats came up to me and asked for directions.  Sometimes I wonder what happened to the people who asked me for directions.  Just saying.

So what else is new?  Well, as you might have read in the NYT or the Washington Post, my history book, TURBULENT TIMES, just won another literary award.  Last Friday I received the Gold Medal for the 2018 “Outstanding History Book of the Year” from the IAN.  (Independent Author Network)  This marks the 10th award that the book has received, and as you can imagine, I am quite pleased.  (And a little astonished)  My sincere thanks to all of the wonderful judges at the IAN.

Well, I’d like to stay and chat, but it’s time for a bowl of corn flakes.  You know, it’s 2018.  You’d think that cereal boxes would have ziplocks by now.  My wife went to exercise class, so I have to serve myself this morning.  Which reminds me…  sometimes, even after all these years, I wake up in the morning, look over at my wife and think:  God, is she lucky!  (Just saying)

I do hope that you and yours have a safe and joyful week.  We shall chat again next Sunday, when yours truly will be highlighting a remarkable day in Corfu, Greece.  (“The Jewel of the Mediterranean”)  Until then, love to all,

— Doc Yanoff   (The Jewel of Austin!)