Thursday, July 7, 2011

old friends and shakespeare - the beginnings of italy - pavia and verona.

monday, 20 june 2011 - italy

the train ride into italy was glorious. so many snowy alp peaks!! it was exactly what i’d wanted to see. :) it was neat to see the evolution from german switzerland to italian switzerland to italy itself. we got to milan around 15h and took the next train to pavia, sean’s home for the semester. we arrived around 16h30 and it was a long walk to sean’s dorm, with my bags and the blazing heat. not the most pleasant stroll of my life. we stopped by the store to buy some (room temperature) drinks on the way, finally getting to the dorm around 17h. we sat around and tried to cool off for a bit (rather unsuccessful in a non-air-conditioned room) and then ventured out to find some pizza for dinner. we each got a margherita (that’s a cheese pizza for you non-italianos) from a place around the corner. 3 euro for a decent sized pizza – not bad at all!! we brought the pizzas back and at in the room while we watched ‘clue’ – which is a great movie! I had no idea, but i really liked it. around 21h30, it was gelato time. I got strawberry and lemon, which tasted exactly like strawberry lemonade (duh) and it was AWESOME. we walked around as night truly fell – the perfect time to eat gelato, according to sean, because the cold treat is still refreshing but it’s not going to melt in the glaring sunlight. perfect indeed. we walked all the way to the river and then made our way back, twisting and turning through all the little side streets. we got back and started a long rummy tournament, which ended up in a 510-510 tie. of course. our last course of action was the nightly mosquito hunt – sean’s kept a kill log throughout the semester, and it’s sitting around 65 right now. the room was pretty sweltering, but we eventually got to sleep.

tuesday, 21 june 2011

the first official day of summer and the longest day of the year! we went and shared a croissant from the breakfast vending machine downstairs and then sat around watching videos online and reading until lunch. sean took me to the caf for lunch, where we split one meal – gnocci, turkey, roast potatoes, bread, and a dessert! so much food! it was delicious, too. i met a few of his friends, and then we continued exploring the city. it was so hot! we saw the castle, sat by the river, and sweated off about 10 pounds before retreating indoors for a few hours. miraculously, the air conditioning unit was working – first time ever! we had some gloriously cool air for many hours – about noon until midnight. I did some planning for the rest of my trip in italy and then helped sean get his trip to france organized. we watched some colbert report and daily show once our planning was done.. the best video that we watched was an interview with one of my favourite human beings, jon stewart, talking to chris matthews of fox news sunday. you should watch the interview here. once it had cooled down enough outside, we went to sean’s ‘usual’ pizza place – where they know him and his regular order! the pizza was great – nice and crispy, saucy, and cheesy – typically thin. yum. we ate at sean’s favourite spot – the benches where he ‘likes to sit and watch children’ (creepy, much?). my friend and travel buddy rachel was coming to meet us in pavia tuesday night, so we headed over to the train station around 21h. we were there just in time to see everyone get off of her train.. except rachel. i figured she’d just missed the connection, so we decided to come back when the next train from milan arrived. except she didn’t get off that train either. the last train from milan arrived at 12h10, so we waited for it nervously.. and then, there she was! i actually didn’t see her get off, but i definitely heard her shriek my name! miraculously, after many trials and tribulations, she made it to pavia. we got her some food and then caught up for a while before going to bed. it was definitely tight quarters, but we got through it! :)

wednesday, 22 june 2011

a fairly easy-going travel day, if a bit too hot. we all woke up at various times and eventually left the dorm for good at 11h45. we stopped by the post office while sean got lunch and then popped by th e bacnk and the market on our way to the station. by the time we got there, we were pretty drenched in sweat after dragging our bags all over creation. rachel and i got our tickets to milan and said goodbye to sean before getting on our 13h25 train out of pavia. we transferred in milan and arrived in verona about 3 hours later. yes, fair verona of romeo and juliet fame! the transit to the hostel started out rough with some bus confusion, but a sweet woman showed us from the bus stop to the hostel, giving us tips about the city along the way. we climbed up the hill to the beautiful villa hostel, checked in, and layed down for an hour before dinner. we ate at the hostel, which ended being inexpensive but still great! after dinner, we went and got gelato and explored the city. the architecture is so beautiful and different! it made me really excited to see the other cities in italy. we made it back around 21h30 and took showers. there were three finnish girls in our dorm room, in addition to two german girls and a woman from quebec. my first real night in a hostel, and it was just fine!

thursday, 23 june 2011

we had a lovey day visiting verona. we ate our complimentary breakfast of two rolls and some mediocre tea and then headed out. our first stop was the office of tourism, where we got a map and itinerary from the information desk. we followed it around, seeing the roman arena, the main shopping street, and juliet’s house! the arena is awesome, in a big plaza with lots of cool architecture and loads of cafes . the inside of the arena is built out like a theatre, so there are still shows there! mainly operas and concerts, I think. juliet’s house wasn’t exactly what i was expecting (no huge mansion or garden pools!), but it was still very beautiful and the balcony was great! rachel was less impressed, i think. we walked through the same plaza from the night before, checking out all of the market booths, and then continued on to see the statue of dante and the tombs of the lords of verona. since we had to be out of the hostel until 17h, we just wandered aimlessly. i went in and visited the big church – it was awesome! so ornate and stoic. there were even ruins of one of the first christian churches there! very moving. after the church, we walked by the river for a while before going back to the big plaza for lunch. we each had a pizza and tried what appeared to be the most popular drink in all of italy – the bright orange spritz aperol. it was okay – white wine and aperol syrup with and orange slice. after lunch, we walked back to the arena plaza to go to the post office and eat gelato. i had mango – yum! i got my stamps and we decided to go back to the hostel a little early, even though the dorm was still closed for cleaning. I asked to go grab a few things, bringing down rachel’s computer, my book, and some snacks. we sat downstairs and used the wifi for a while. some guys from the program staying at the hostel talked to use for a little bit. around 16h30, we walked up the big hill behind the hostel and took in the beautiful panoramic view of the city. i read my book, occasionally looking out over the red tile roofs and winding streets. it’s such a romantic looking place. we headed back to the hostel around 17h30, so rachel could shower before dinner. i continued reading – dracula is a very engaging book! we eventualy left for dinner at 7. since we really had no idea where to eat, we just walked around looking at menus unti one struck our fancy. the place was packed! since it was ‘informal’, we shared a table with another party at first, but they left not long after we sat down. the restaurant was very charming, with all outdoor seating and hand-written menus on water-coloured parchment paper. really cool. i had the greatest lasagna of my life – it was outrageous. for dessert, i had a strawberry topped piece of cheesecake. seriously the best dinner ever. a german couple sat down with us during dessert, and we talked to them while we paid the bill. they told us about sardigna, a region in southern italy, which sounds incredible. it’s definitely on my list. they also gave us the name of a restaurant in florence. they were such a nice and ridiculously attractive couple. we left them to enjoy the rest of their meal and took a stroll around verona, stopping to sit on a bench as the sun set. we started heading back around 22h, with the crucial scoop of gelato on the way back. refreshing papaya, as a palate cleanser! the nighttime view of verona and the river was really breathtaking. it was one of those surreal “is this real life?” moments. we got back to the hostel and talked to some guys from colorado who had just arrived before packing up and going to bed.

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