Amazing Race 12 Recap 7, finally

With Survivor: China taking the place of Amazing Race December 16, it threw off our coverage. It’s a who’s on first type of story, partly complicated by my Kentucky trip to a funeral and Christmas. Here’s my recap of what happened in episode 7. My apologies for not getting this out there sooner, but I’m following the adage, better late than never.

It also seems like the Amazing Race folks are having a time getting their Web site in order. I looked and looked, but only found one photo from this episode posted. Instead, I’m going to point you towards web clips of the various incidents, and a smattering of other visuals. The web clips are on the Amazing Race Web site under “Videos.” To get to this page, click on Videos, then web clips, then Episode 7.

If I were on the Amazing Race, this leg of this dash around the world would have given me the feeling of hitting pay dirt. Considering how much the teams ooohed and ahhed over the beauty of Croatia in episode 6, anything else could have been a real let down–not so Italy.

Florence, Rome and Bologna were part of the itinerary depending on the route the teams took to Empoli, the site of the Road Block. Oh, how I love Italy, and Florence is my favorite. Sure, it’s a tourist hot spot, but there’s a reason. I’ve been there three times, and each time was superb. Do not miss the statue of David. I repeat. Do not miss the statue of David

Getting to Empoli was filled with some interesting–and surprising turns of events. Teams that haven’t had much trouble in the past experienced a truth about travel. If you’re on the road long enough, one day can be downright lousy–and you might find yourself doing things you never thought possible. The beginning of the episode was fairly smooth sailing, literally, for most teams–although, I have to say, these early morning departures would do me in. Ron and Christiana departed Dubrovnik, Croatia by bus at 2 a.m. for Split to catch the ferry for Ancona, Italy to in route to Florence.

Since Don and Nick managed to catch up with the other teams for this journey across the Adriatic Sea, and they didn’t leave the Pit Stop until 7:06, I’m wondering about the advantage of leaving so darned early like Ron and Christiana did. I realize that the idea is to get a head start before everyone else, but doesn’ t it seem that when teams leave so early it doesn’t do much good most of the time?

Not taking a chance, though, is probably the best strategy since teams don’t know what to expect at each juncture. This holds true for most travel. Whenever I leave late, I tend to get lost or can’t find a place to stay. When I leave earlier, the traffic is lighter and there’s the notion that I can stop somewhere for a sit down lunch. However, check out the video “A Perfect Day in Split”. There’s something to be said for a more leisurely pace. While TK and Rachel and Nate and Jen waited for their ferry departure, they spent time swimming in the Adriatic. This footage of Nate and Jen frolicking about shows just how those awful road fights can end up behind you.

For an extra look at the ferry ride and some authentic travel experience, check out “Ron’s Makeshift Bed”. You have to hand it to Christina. She has a knack for not letting her dad get so totally on her nerves. Ron’s talk about wanting to sleep on the hard floor deck as opposed to being with the other passengers inside on comfy cushions (Christina’s desire) makes total sense. It may seem like he’s a nut, but he knows what he’s talking about in a way. I loved when he mentioned the soothing vibration. He’s one determined guy when it comes to wanting to be right. From the map, you can see ferries from Croatia to Italy take many routes. Click map for options.

This section brought back my own memories of leaving Skopelos, Greece on a 9 p.m. ferry (or thereabouts) in order to catch a 2. a.m. train (or thereabouts) for Athens in order catch another train for the coast where the ferry to Brindisi, Italy was docked. When we took the ferry to Greece, we hung out with other folks inside, but on the way back, we stayed on the deck, tucked out of the traffic. I was too tired to interact and be in a crowd.

The ferry ride was the lull before the real push once they arrive in Italy. Then it was a race through the parking lot to locate their cars for the drive through this region of Tuscany to Empoli. Now, the real fun for the viewers began. Considering the drive was in the dark, that must have been hell for anyone with a night vision problem. Rachel’s description of what it’s like to be in a car at 4:30 in the morning after the choice to swim instead of sleep in “A Long Night of Driving” was another I’ve been there experience. It’s the dilemma of wanting to see as much as possible and hoping your body will cooperate. Not so much in her case. She’s struggling to stay awake and presents some staying awake tips. Slap your face is one of them. There should be a prize for this couple at being the best at getting along no matter what. I’d like to see where they are in 25 years.

This was also the point in Amazing Race 12 for the teams’ families to be brought in via Blackberries. Nick and Don’s family member’s messages in “Nick and Don’s Family” give a terrific look at why Grandpa is the way he is and why these two don’t get ruffled all that much. Here’s one quote.”that sweet, shy, senile grandpa of yours.” Hah!

Here’s the scoop about driving to Empoli. If you go straight to Florence you’ll get there first (Nate & Jen) because going through Bologna is a longer route and you might end up in a traffic jam (Ron & Christina, Kynt & Vyxsin and Nick & Don), and if you go through Rome, you might have such a great time eating lunch in Ancona that you forget the clue and have to go back to get it. (TK & Rachel)

In Empoli, one team member had to search for the word Vinci while soaring above Tuscany in an ultralight. Now, that would be sweet indeed. Some enjoyed the view, while others became frustrated at not seeing what they needed. Ron was back to putting Christina down. Because TK couldn’t find Vinci until having to refuel the ultralight and trying again, they fell behind to last place.

Don and Nick skipped the ultralight and took the Fast Forward that led to a task that certainly tests ones desire to win a million dollars. I’m not sure what I would have done. The duo ended up in a tattoo parlor getting FF tattooed on their arm. FF=Fast Forward. I may have asked if the tattoo artist could have prettied it up with a butterfly or something. I also wonder if Amazing Race would foot the bill to have it taken off at the end of the game.

Just think about what this would be like for the rest of your life explaining that the FF does not stand for french fries, or whatever else people might imagine. Here’s some tips in case you decide to get your own tattoo in Italy. The Fast Forward meant they could skip the town of Vinci and head to the Pit Stop at Boboli Gardens in Florence. I would be bummed out in a way to not have the chance to go to Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci. Here teams chose between two tasks. One was to learn a flag routine at the Piazza Guido Masi.

The other was to build a crane based on Leonardo da Vinci’s design in order to lift a boulder to read the clue on the bottom. With crane building not being their forte, Vyxsin and Kynt decided to drive to the flag routine option which lead to getting lost and an emotional meltdown. As Vyxsin sped them along, Kynt threatened to jump out of the car and drive instead. Oh, yes, I know that scene. I have lived it in some form or another. Particularly when Kynt had trouble getting the car to shift after he took over and Vyxsin sniped at him. Who hasn’t said, “Just shut up for once today,” like Kynt did. The moral of this story is, stay where you are and do what’s in front of you. When driving through towns you don’t know, getting lost is always an option.

TK and Rachel also had their share of car troubles when a flat tire put them behind once more. They are too nice for such turmoil. But, their flat tire didn’t stop them from ending up in Florence in 4th place with Vyxsin and Kynt close behind. Grandpa Don and Nate’s tattoos earned them a five-night trip for two to Cancun where I expect they will recount their tattoo story.

Since this was a non-elimination episode, stay tuned for this Sunday when we find out what Vyxsin and Kynt have to do for their Speed Bump to stay in the race. Even though Vyxsin and Kynt did have a squabble, in the clip “Vyxsin’s Bad Day” they demonstrate that people can recover from a meltdown and all can be well again.

This photo of a tattoo taken in Florence, Italy says it all. In essense: “Everything happens for a reason.”

What’s in your pack, Kynt and Vyxsin?

For all of those who have been following the Amazing Race recaps, here’s something interesting. I was recently reading In Touch Magazine (shut up! I only read it on the treadmill … swear.) and they had a little article on Kynt and Vyxsin, the goth team in the race. More specifically, they took a look into their packs to see what they brought. Here’s what they found:

  • A flat iron (“My best friend in life”, say Kynt)
  • A hairdryer
  • Fake eyelashes
  • Two hot pink cowboy hats
  • Cotton candy body spray (because nothing says Gothic like cotton candy body spray … !? )
  • Over 25 CoverGirl pressed-powder compacts
  • Four pairs of his-and-her fishnet stockings (really? only four ?)
  • Silver and pink glitter
  • SPF 50 sunscreen so they can remain ghastly pale
  • A compass

Well, we may mock but their collection of belongings are obviously suiting them quite well since they’re still in the game. And doing quite well, I might add.

Amazing Race 12, episode 6 recap

Here we are again, starting out this time in Vilnius, Lithuania. Karma really caught up to the blondes last week when they were eliminated after leading to the demise of Lorena and Jason. Will the same fate await Jen and Nate, the couple who can’t stop shrieking at one another? Only time will tell.

So, onto the recap. TK and Rachel came in first last time, so they were the first to leave — To Dubrovnik, Croatia! Dubrovnik has been on my list of must-see places so I am oh-so-jealous, but at least I get to experience it vicariously. When they arrived at the airport, TK and Rachel found Internet right away and waved Kynt and Vyxsin over. I thought this was a nice thing to do, and TK and Rachel talked about how their laid-back style isn’t a tactic — they are really like that. I believe it.

Once the rest of the teams arrived at the airport, it became a war of line-ups — TK and Rachel lined up in front of one ticket office, while Kynt and Vyxsin ended up at another. Other teams lined up behind TK and Rachel, but then most went over to join the goths — a move that they ended up regretting because TK and Rachel and Nick and Donald ended up on the first flight out. But in a stroke of bad luck, the first flight out ended up being delayed to the two teams ended up missing their connector flight in Prague. My heart totally sunk for them.

Another stroke of bad luck? Azaria and Hendekea ended up getting booked into business class on their flight out of Lithuania. According to the rules, they’re only allowed to take economy. They tried to change it at the last minute but since the flight was leaving in 10 minutes, they were out of luck. Bummer.

Here’s something that got me thinking: Christina and Ronald got ahead by calling and reserving tickets on the first flight before they left their hotel. Once they arrived at the airport, they gave the phone number to Azaria and Hendekea, saying that they were the only other team they trusted. If I was in this race, I don’t think they’d be the team I trusted — they seem like the type who would do anything to get ahead, hard feelings be darned. My trusted team would be TK and Rachel — they seem like the type who would play fair, regardless of whether it cost them the race. What do you think?

Once in Croatia, Ronald and Christina were in first. Their first task was to fit a rock into a damaged wall, then they headed to the Fort of St Lawrence, where they had to take a zipline-type thing across the harbour. Once again, I was so jealous — it looked like a blast. Hmph.

So once at the Fort of St. Lawrence, teams have a choice between doing a task that is low on physical exertion but takes some brains (navigating the city) (I would so have rocked this since I have a killer sense of direction); or a task that requires little thought but lots of physical exertion (rowing around the city in a traditional fishing boat, complete with skinny little oars.) Ronald and Christina, who were in first, chose the physical task, which I thought was odd because of the whole hernia thing. In any case, they still beat second-place team Nate and Jen, so I guess it worked for them.

Speaking of Nate and Jen, here’s a recap of their interaction this episode: fight fight fight fight shriek I hate you fight fight yell fight scream fight. You get the point. There was a funny little scene where Ronald and Christina were talking about how important the team relationship is to the game, and then it cut to Jen telling Nate that she hates him with a passion. Okayyyyy, then. For me, they’re the couple I love to hate — they provide some great drama to the show, but I always let out a squeal of delight when they experience some sort of setback.

The pit stop was the stone cross on the outskirts of the city. After the rowing adventures, Ronald and Christina and Jen and Nate were fighting for a taxi simultaneously. The taxi driver refused to take Jen and Nate because they were a bit wet from the boat, but he took Christina and Ronald. Which, of course, led to Jen having a breakdown — not just about the game but about her relationship with Nate. She even went on to say that she didn’t know if they would be together after the show. I can’t say I blame her though — I don’t know if I could be with a man who called it Dubrovneeeak either. When they arrived at the pit stop, even Phil couldn’t keep quiet — he remarked on their lack of affection when they shared a handshake rather than a hug. Yikes.

Ronald and Christina made it to the pit stop first and won a catamaran. Jen and Nate came in second and–get this– had to go back because they took an illegal form of transportation (I guess it wasn’t a real taxi?) So Kynt and Vyxsin got second place in their matching hot pink cowboy hats, while Jen and Nate ended up with third place. As Ronald and Christina were claiming first, TK and Rachel seemed to just be arriving in Croatia, followed by Donald and Nick and Azaria and Hendekea. TK and Rachel claimed fourth place after mastering all of the tasks.

The last five minutes were wrought with suspense — Azaria and Hendekea were right on the tail of Donald and Nick. Then the taxi encountered a traffic jam and I screamed at the TV. But after the traffic jam was fixed, it was apparent that Nick and Donald were going to make it in under the wire, and Phil had to break the news to our favourite over-achievers, Azaria and Hendekea, that they were being eliminated. To be honest, I wasn’t really sad to see them go, but I was surprised — they were certainly one of the strongest teams.

But it was Dubrovnik that was the real star of this show — every team commented that it was the most beautiful place they’d visited. I’ve heard this before and it’s only heightened my desire to go. Next summer? Anyone?

(All photos from the Amazing Race’s official website)

Amazing Race Season 12, Episode 4 recap

This episode starts off where we left off last week – in Burkina Faso. The first task has teams hiking to see a local man who presents them with a chicken that they must catch, bag and tote around all day long. They then headed to a town called Bouda Pelletenga in a taxi — Azaria and Hendekea were in first but a bathroom break allowed Nate and Jen and TK and Rachel to catch up, much to Azaria’s chagrin. The blonds decide to name their chicken Phil after the host, who they call ‘cute.’ (Woo woo)

The task that followed was a choice between panning for gold and dancing for a panel of judges. Most teams chose dancing, unfortunately for the viewers. Jen and Nate did an especially awful dance – she was ok, but he did little more than jump on the spot, so they got a 10-minute penalty, as did Ronald and Christina. But the dance that I thought was the worst was the one by the blonds – their’s looked more like a stripper dance than a traditional African one. But it worked – the judges passed them. The best dance? I loved Kynt’s creative moves.

Then teams headed to a nearby market, but only after passing a U-Turn. Every team passed up the opportunity to screw another team over except for Shana and Jennifer – they chose to delay Jason and Lorena, so the unlucky couple had to do both the gold panning and the dancing to get their next clue. This was not a very popular move and I said a few colorful words to them through my TV screen because I really like Lorena and Jason and was rooting for them to catch up after last week’s bad luck. TK and Rachel saw the blondes put up the U-turn and let them know they didn’t think much of the decision. I get that it’s a game and you’ve gotta do what you gotta do, but it just seemed like a catty move. What do you think?

The next task had one team member carting a bunch of stuff (including a goat!) to a market where they had to deliver it. The hard part was finding the place to deliver the stuff, and several teams fell behind doing this, including the blondes and TK and Rachel. I was secretly hoping the blondes wouldn’t make it back and would be eliminated but no such luck – they made it to the pit stop and were still in the race. Lorena and Jason put up a good fight but ended up being the ones to go home. Boo. They took it well, though, and I found myself tearing up just a bit when Jason consoled Lorena, telling her that they’re already rich because they have each other, among other cheesy but sweet things.

As for who came in First? Not surprisingly, Azaria and Hendekea took the top spot and won themselves some Yamaha motor scooters. Jen and Nate came in second and Jen ventured back into her toddler years by throwing a wee temper tantrum — apparently, it’s *her* turn to come in first for once, and it’s not fair that the engineers get to take the top spot again. Um, hello? It’s a race?

All in all, it was a bit of a boring episode if you ask me, but maybe that’s because I was a bit peeved that Lorena and Jason were sent home.

According to the previews, next week will have the blondes fighting and in a potential car accident. Is it karma coming back to get them? Stay tuned.

(All photos from CBS)

The Amazing Race 12, Episode 2 recap

It’s Episode 2 of season 12 of The Amazing Race and the show starts out with teams starting to leave at (ugh) 12am. Their mission? To get to Amsterdam as quickly as possible. First we watched them as they drove to the Shannon airport, and I got a good laugh at the two blonds, Shanna and Jennifer — first they commented on how difficult the race is because, like, oh my god, they haven’t been able to get a manicure. Then the one driving couldn’t figure out how to turn on her highbeams, so she had to hold down the lever the whole time because it was obviously busted. “Unless I’m an idiot …“, she says. Um, no comment. Also, on the way to the airport, Donald and Nick (Grandpa and Grandson) got a flat tire. Poor guys.

Once the teams made it to the airport, all but Mariana and Julia made it onto the first flight to Dublin. From there, six teams made it onto the flight to Amsterdam, with Ronald and Christina and Nick and Donald vying to make it on standby. Both were at side-by-side ticket booths and while Ronald made sure to be polite, Nick didn’t extend the same courtesy and was a bit crass. But it paid off — Nick and Donald made it onto the flight, but the ended up getting a *very* stern talking to from Ronald. Ouch. But the moral of the story? Rude works.

A word about Ronald. He was hard to watch this week, if you ask me — he was constantly lecturing or criticizing his daughter when he could have been doing something productive like, um, I don’t know, the task at hand? I think it was mentioned that he is in sales and I can see that — he doesn’t seem to ever stop talking. He describes himself as optimistic with real truth flavour, but I would call him nitpicky. However, I loved his shirt — it read ‘Who’s your daddy.

Once they got to Amsterdam, the groups headed to a bridge (didn’t catch the name of it) and encountered a detour. They got to chose between rigging complicated knots and hoisting furniture up to a fourth-floor window of a Dutch house, or combing through thousands of bikes to find two with specific colours, then riding them to the next clue. It was pretty well divided — half the teams chose the furniture and half chose the bikes. Shanna, one half of team blond, did a pretty impressive job on the rope-rigging and furniture hoisting, I must say, as did Vyxsin (I’ve noticed that she usually does the physical work on team Goth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — just sayin’ … )

After they completed this task, they headed to a rural area where they encountered a roadblock. One team member had to pole vault across a muddy bog to retrieve the next clue. This was by far my favourite part of the show — it was like watching some Japanese blooper reel, since so many people fell into the muddy water. I got the most satisfaction out of seeing Jennifer of Jennifer and Nathan fall butt-first into the canal on her first try — her constant banshee-like shrieking at Nate is really starting to get on my nerves. I felt bad for Grandpa Donald because he had such a hard time with it, but he did provide some comic relief by stripping down to his ginch. Kynt was very hesitant to vault across the pond — afraid to ruin his makeup or muddy his fishnet arm thingies, hmmm?

Next up, teams had to ride to the pit stop, Durgerdam. Well, to be precise, one team member peddled and one rode in a big bin in front. Vyxsin, of course, did the peddling, until she got fed up and insisted Kynt do it. Jennifer and Nate’s ride was, as expected, filled with more shrieking, interlaced with dirty talk about other teams — she called Shanna a ‘little b***h’ for being a better pole vaulter.

Lorena and Jason made it first and each won themselves a speedbike. Jennifer and Nate were second, followed by Jennifer and Shanna in third and Kynt and Vyxsin in fourth. Kate and Pat were last, and though they weren’t my favourites, I felt kind of sad for them because they were one of the only teams this episode that seemed to be getting along and enjoying the journey.

All in all, I was thoroughly entertained by this episode — there was a great balance between drama and comedy. Your thoughts?

(All photos from The Amazing Race Official Website)