A Travellerspoint blog

VENEZIA!!!!

Venice, the love of my life.

sunny 43 °C

I was very scared to go to Venice all by myself because I really just wasn't sure what exactly to expect. I was scared of going to the hostel alone, and I was very scared to be alone in a city that Fabrizio and Silvia told me I was definitely going to get lost in, especially when I'm not fluent in the language.
The drive to the train station in Mezare was beautiful, I saw a couple old castles and Erica and Johnny were very nice to me, they talked to me a lot during the ride. They also said that when I go to Florence I can stay with them so I don't have to spend money on a hostel, which is such a nice gesture! I got to Venice from a short train ride, and was absolutely overwhelmed with how beautiful it was from the second I walked out of the doors. I have wanted to go to Venice my entire life, this was definitely something that I crossed off my bucket list and I can't wait to go back one day. As soon as I got there I went straight into looking for my hostel, I had decent directions but I thought I was a little lost so I stopped to take a couple pictures of this church and I went and sat down on the steps of it, and then I realized that I was in the Piazza where my hostel was. When I got there I was actually nervous, I was scared I was going to be awkward walking in, but after about 15 minutes of me sitting on the stairs psyching myself up to go into the hostel I finally did. It's pretty ghetto, to say the least. As soon as you walk in you have to walk through a gross basement type storage place and then go up some stairs into the main area of the hostel. I went into the common room and checked in and the guy who works there told me there was 3 other girls also from Calgary staying in the same room as me. I couldn't believe it, I was so shocked, what a small world. I went on the internet on my ipod while I was waiting for the beds in my room to be put back up (they take them down every morning and store them, and I'll explain why later) and had a pretty good conversation with a girl who was from Ontario so I immediately felt pretty comfortable. After the beds were all up I went in and chose a bed then the girls from Calgary showed up. They were pretty shocked to hear that I was from Calgary and it was nice because we kind of all bonded over a little hometown pride, their names are Christine, Priya and Kim. Two of them went to a private school (maybe Calgary academy? I don't remember!) and the other one went to St. Mary's I think. We all played some cards together, then ate some dinner and there was a festival in Venice this weekend called St. Patron's day so we went and drank and watched some fireworks together, it was really nice.
The next day I went to St. Marks square and toured the Doge's palace which was amazing, it was unreal so beautiful, and the jail that is attached to it, where Casanova was once a prisoner. I learned a lot about what Napoleon and the french did when they tried to come in and take over Venice one time, it was really interesting, I really like history so I was incredibly interested in everything that was in this place, there really wasn't a room I thought was boring. Actually, thats not true, I didn't like the armory area because I don't really care about weapons, all the swords look the same, as do the bow and arrows so I left that area pretty quickly. I was excited to see Henry IV armour but it's out on loan to a museum in Florence until November so that was a bit of a let down. After I was done in the Doge's palace I went into the basilica of that square and I was amazed, of course. It's huge and gorgeous. First of all walking in I had to pay 2 euro to buy these big red pieces of a mix of fabric and paper to put around my shoulders so they weren't exposed because of my tanktop I was wearing, and around my legs because I was wearing shorts. I remember when I was in either Singapore or Bali and we went to visit temples we had to do this kind of thing but I didn't know that it mattered to Catholics, too. There is also an area called "the treasury" that you have to pay 3 euro to go into, and I'm pretty happy that I did because that was also really cool. It had bones of past Doge's who died, which was slightly creepy but at the same time it was really neat to see that. Then there was another area that you had to pay 2 euro to see where there was this huge gold piece of art, and I don't really know what it was because I was too cheap to spend another 2 euro to get the headset that explains everything about it, but there was a woman who prayed to it so I think it was very significant!! I don't mean to sound like I'm uninterested in what this piece was, it was beautiful but I think I will wikipedia it and see what its significance is. I walked around the church a little bit more and got to a prayer area and I went and prayed and lit a candle and sat and watched all the people pray. There was a family teaching their 4 or 5 year old son to pray and it was really cute, I don't think the boy understood at all what he was doing!! After I was leaving the prayer area and there was holy water and I didn't touch it but a lot of people were putting it on themselves, but I didn't know what to do with it so I didn't bother. Then I walked around and took a picture of a confessional and got scolded by a nun because your not supposed to take pictures in there!! After I was done in the basilica I went into the store of the basilica and was going to buy a rosary for my car but they were so expensive there it was unreal, but people were going after them like it was their job! By this time it was like 5 pm so I decided to go and grab some lunch and head back to the hostel and have a bit of a rest because I was so tired from being on my feet all day, and of course I don't think to put on shoes that are actually comfortable. I wore my gladiator sandals that have no support so my back and knees were sore, I sound like I'm 90 years old but it's hard being on stone floors for like 8 hours!! I didn't go out that night because I was so tired, I just had dinner and hung out a bit and went to sleep!!
The next day I woke up early and went to the Gugenheim museum. I had a bit of a different idea in my head of what it was going to be then what it actually was. There was a few pieces by Picasso which was pretty cool, (and I sneaked pictures) and a whole room of Jackson Pollack art, but for the most part I didn't really enjoy the art that was there. There were so many people there who would like stare at a piece for about 20 minutes and talk about the deep meaning the artist was trying to capture. Oh my god, it was so funny sometimes hearing the things these obviously rich, snotty couples would say about the art. Then these 2 obviously gay guys, Taylor and Ben were talking about a piece of art and were saying the weirdest things about it, and I kind of looked at them or something and they looked at me and they laughed and said that they were joking and they were pissed they spent money to get into the gallery, which is incredibly over rated, so they just wandered around and made fun of the art. I don't remember what I said to that but they heard my accent and asked where I was from, and I told them, and they're from San Francisco (which almost didn't surprise me because thats the gay capital of the world) and I told them I wasn't really into the art that was there either, so I ended up just walking around with them. They did annoy me a bit because they made fun of it a little too much almost, but for the most part it was pretty funny. There was a piece called "what wine does to me" and it was literally scribbles on a large white piece of paper. Taylor, The more effeminate of the two gays burst out laughing and said thats what wine does to him too, but the way he said it made me cry laughing, it was just so funny. After we were done in the main part of the gallery they invited me to go and have lunch with them and I did, but on the way out of the gallery area of the museum you walk through a court yard and there was a Yoko Ono wish tree. I was expecting the boys to write Sarcastic wishes or something because they just didn't really seem to take much seriously but they wrote a couple nice wishes and I was a little touched. Taylor's just said "Freedom" and I didn't ask but I'm assuming it has something to do with freedom of sexual preference, or freedom for him to marry who he wants. Ben's was something about equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, I don't remember exactly what his words were but it was worded really maturely, something like "I wish for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people to not have basic human rights suppressed." They asked about my wish and I explained the reasoning behind it, and took a really nice artsy picture so that will end up on facebook as soon as I have internet access! Lunch was pretty nice, we just sat and talked about A LOT of things, they were really open with me so I wasn't afraid to ask some semi personal questions, I really enjoyed myself. The two of them have known each other since they were born, their mum's are best friends too, they aren't a couple, they have never hooked up, they are 24 now and have been saving up for this trip for a year. They didn't came out to each other when they were like 16 or 17, but even though a lot of people knew they were gay they didn't come out to their parents until they were around 20. I'm sure their parents had some idea they were gay though because they're both stereotypical, slightly over the top. Brad picked up the tab too from which was so nice, I tried really hard to pay my portion, or at least put some money in but he wouldn't let me. After lunch we had to go separate directions but said a little good bye and exchanged info and gave hugs. They were headed to Milan and I had to go back to my hostel and grab my stuff and go to Verona. When I got to the train station I went into the office to see when the next train I could take was and it was in like 5 minutes and it was a train that was to Milan. I was sure that the two guys were long gone because it took me about 2 hours to grab my stuff and go to the train station and there are frequent trains to Milan so I ran to the platform where the train was and started walking to a car that was in the middle and then someone called my name, and it was Taylor!! So I went and sat in the car with them, even though it was "first class" and hung out with them for another little bit on my way to Verona! I'm so surprised how quickly we all connected but it was pretty sweet, and I really hope that somewhere down the road our lives cross again! Hands down two of the most inviting people I have ever met!

The only thing to complain about on my trip to Venice was the hostel. It was only 48 euro total for the two nights that I stayed so because it was so cheap in a place like Venice I really wasn't expecting much. There was no hot water, the whole time I was there. One night a girl who was staying there asked the manager guy why there wasn't any hot water, and he was like "the boiler must have turned off, but I really don't want to go down and light it again." He obviously hadn't showered in the three days that I was there, and he never changed his clothes so I think because he didn't need warm water to shower he just didn't care. I didn't really mind the cold showers because it was so hot there that it was was refreshing most of the time but a couple times when I showered I would hop in, get wet, get out of the shower to warm up a bit, put shampoo and stuff in, and then get back in the cold water really quickly and repeat this until I was done showering. There was also only 2 showers for the 40 people who were staying there so the line moved incredibly slowly in the morning when waiting to shower. We also had a lockout every morning starting at 10. So we had to pack up our stuff have our luggage in the luggage area by 10am or get bitched at by the not so nice girl who worked there. Everyday they took the old bunkbeds down and put them away. They claimed this was because they were doing maintenance, but I never saw any maintenance being done the whole time I was there. They also said this was so they could clean better but it was always pretty dirty. They also had a problem with bed bugs (as a lot of hostels do) but I don't think they were doing much to solve this problem either!! One girl said she heard a rumor that they took the beds down everyday because there is a law in Italy about how many beds can be in a room at one time, and if there is over a certain amount then the place is considered a brothel!! So by Italian law I may have slept in a brothel for a couple nights. yuck. It was so hot and humid in Venice and there was no air conditioning in the hostel so it was so uncomfortable to sleep the first night, especially because there was 12 girls in a small room and one window. There was a big thunderstorm the first night and the window was open and so the doors of the room were slamming, it was so scary, so they closed the window in the room which just made it hotter, it was so bad. The second night I had a fan right beside my bed which was amazing, and I got a pretty good sleep. The hostel did have a free dinner with sangria every night as well as free wifi so that kind of made up for the bad stuff. The only thing that really bothered me was the bed bugs but I don't think I have any bed bug bites, and as soon as I got back to Fulgaria I had a hot shower and scrubbed my body so that none of them would end up in my bed here!!

I love Venice, and I really hope to go back one day. It's definitely one of the most amazing places I have ever been, and something crossed off my bucket list. I learned a lot about myself too that trip because when I came to Italy I didn't want to travel to any other places by myself and stay in a hostel alone, but it's really not as bad as I expected, and it's quite common for people to travel alone. I also like being able to do what I want to do and not have to make compromises or do things that I don't want to do just because I'm with someone. It really pushed me to come out of my shell a bit more. Everything is a learning experience here.

Posted by kendahlc 14:08 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

July 16 2010

itaaaliaaaa

27 °C

I have 18 minutes before my computer dies so I think I will write a quick entry before I go away for the weekend!!

I was walking down to the pub where I go on the internet totally not paying attention and a peacock did it's stupid screamy noise and I got scared and I fell and scraped my knees up, no one saw me bail, thank god, but I had to continue my walk with blood dripping down my legs. I successfully walked through the downtown with A LOT of stares and I made it to the pub where my favorite bartender ever let me clean my scrapes and gave me some bandaids. He gave me this product that I have seen everywhere in Italy which is basically chlorine. I don't know how I feel about the fact I cleaned wounds with chlorine, but maybe my next blog entry after Venice will be that I had to get my legs amputated. Wouldn't that be fun.

I don't know why there are peacocks in Fulgaria, but there is a little farm type thing that has chickens, mountain goats, and peacocks. I already hated them because one chased me on my grade 10 science trip to the zoo, another reason I have recently decided that I don't like them is because they are so loud they wake me up at 4 in the morning doing their stupid peacock call. Now I hate them even more because I sustained an injury because a peacock scared me.

Life here is strange.
I'm off to Venice, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer in Calgary! :)
Ciao!

Posted by kendahlc 06:47 Comments (0)

July 15 2010

even more alps!

July 15 2010
moore allppssss

Today was pretty uneventful. Silvia and her mother got here so there is now 9 people in this house. It's a little bit crowded and there is something going on in every corner of the house but it's nice, it's fun.

We went to a "lake" in a town that is close to here and it's a glacier run off lake. It's tiny, probably just twice the size of the pond in carburn park, but very very deep! There is a diving board and I attempted to teach Irene how to dive, which was very unsuccessful because she didn't want to go head first. I went into the water really awkwardly one time though and my back is sore, so hopefully it is good tomorrow because were going on a hike bright and early in the morning. It felt really good to dive again! I haven't dove off a diving board in a long time so it was sweet. There were some people there my age that could speak english and Irene told them where I am from and what I am doing here and they were pretty interested in me, asked me a lot of questions about Canada.

We came home and had dinner and it was these German ball things that were spectacular. It was also EXTREMELY nice to have a meal that wasn't pasta for once. After dinner I played with Jackamo and Irene some more and the game they are now quite fond of is pretty much using me as a punching bag, and tackling me. Irene also likes to try and pull down my pants, or pull my boobs out of my shirt, which is awkward to say the least. I think her and Jackamo made a plan that he would tie up my hands and she would try to pull off some of my clothes but when I caught onto this I went into the house.

After I put the kids to bed and washed the dishes Silvia and I were talking and she suggested that I go to Venice for a couple days. Erica and Johnny and the kids are leaving saturday afternoon to go to a place near Venice so they'll be able to drop me off. I'm pretty skeptical about going alone but I think it will be nice to get away from everyone for a couple of days and do my own thing. I think if I don't take this opportunity I could really, really regret it. Venice is a place that I have wanted to go all my life, and just because I have to go alone doesn't mean I shouldn't go. I just need to work out how much everything is going to cost because I don't have money really, so hopefully I'll get paid and be able to work this all out! We looked at the train schedule tonight already and it only costs 10 euro so hopefully I'll find a decently cheap hostel.

I need to get to bed, and there really isn't anything else left to write about for now.
Buonanotte
ciaaao

Posted by kendahlc 03:22 Comments (0)

more alps!!

July 14 2010

sunny 26 °C

July 14 2010
more alps!
I'm very happy about the fact that I decided to bring my computer to the alps with me. Even though I don't have internet access I will still be able to write everyday and should, hopefully, be able to get back on track with my daily writing.
Today was very uneventful. I didn't wake up until 10, even though I set my alarm for 9 on my cell phone and it didn't go off. I felt weird because I got up and went downstairs to have a shower and Fabrizio asked if I wanted to go with him, Johnny and the kids and I decided not to because my legs are super sore from the hike we did yesterday. So basically I spent the whole day reading my book. I read about 150 pages today, so far, I can't put my book down and fully intend on reading more as soon as I'm done writing this. Erica also decided to stay home and she cooked a spectacular lunch, and I was worried that it would be awkward because her english is pretty bad but it wasn't at all and we had a mixed conversation of Italian and English. After lunch I did all the dishes and then continued reading.
The group that went hiking didn't get home until about 4 and when they got home I hung out with them a bit and had a beer and talked. The next door neighbors have 3 daughters and the youngest one who is like 14 I think came over and her, Jackamo, Irene and I played soccer. I'm pretty sure that I'm probably the worst soccer player eve. Back in Calgary I get made fun of because I can't kick a ball, but I also get made fun of in Italy too, not just by everyone here today, but back in Pisa as well. We played soccer for a couple of hours and it was actually really fun. At one point Jackamo went to throw the ball back in and he smoked Irene in the face and now she has a bit of a fat lip. Initially I started laughing then she started bawling and I felt so bad, she gave me one of the meanest looks I have ever received from a kid.
After dinner we really didn't do a lot, just hung out and played with the kids a little bit more. Johnny and I climbed the cherry tree and picked out a ton more cherries from the higher part of the tree. They are so good, I'm addicted! My hands are stained from the cherry juice, as well as the kids hands!
I just put Irene and Jackamo to bed, read them a story and now I'm here writing this. This is the shortest, probably the most boring entry I have written and it's only taken me about 15 minutes when it usually takes me about an hour. But I really need to try and finish the book I'm reading before bed because Silvia arrives tomorrow and I know that she will leave me with no time to read!!
ciao ciao

Posted by kendahlc 03:21 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

THE ALPS!!

sunny 25 °C

First few days of the Alps
July 11 - 13
We are in a beautiful town called Fulgaria, about 70km from the Austria-Italy Border.
The drive here was unreal, I was expecting something boring and not a lot of scenery but we drove through Bologna, a major Italian town; Verona, where Romeo and Juliet lived and the movie 'letter's to Juliet' was based; through some passes in the mountains that had a 10km long tunnel (actually a lot of tunnels, I stopped counting at 33); and a lot of other things. One major difference driving between cities in Italy and cities in Canada is that in Italy you never really notice that your leaving different cities because there isn't really areas where there isn't buildings along the highways, thats because it's incredibly crowded in Italy. Fabrizio told me that there is about 100 million people living in Italy, and Italy could fit inside of Alberta in terms of land space. Can you imagine 100 million people living in Alberta? We'd be awefully crowded, so I guess with that in mind you can understand how crowded it is here, and if you thought that traffic was bad in Calgary you actually have no idea what a traffic jam is until you have been in Italy, it's horrendous.
We stopped in a town close to Fulgaria to visit a couple of Fabrizio's aunts. We only ended up seeing one because the other is physically ill and was sleeping, but the one I did meet was so nice. Her and I had a conversation about thunderstorms (in Italian) and how nice it would be for them to come in and cool off her town, the temperature there was 37˚ which is abnormally high for the area so there were volunteers staying with the elderly to make sure no one was getting sick from the heat. After we left that town we started on a very winding road that leads up to Fulgaria. The sign at the bottom said that it was 12km to Fulgaria, and in those 12km we rose 1000m in Altitude so needless to say the road was incredibly steep, and this area gets a lot of snow during winter so I couldn't even imagine how it is to drive on when it's icy! People in Italy still very commonly use snow chains during the winter though so that probably makes it a lot easier.
Shortly after we got here the other family that is staying with us this week showed up and, like everyone else I have met so far, they are very nice! They have a son aged 4 name Jackamo and a daughter aged 2 named Marta. I LOVE Marta. I could play with her all day, she is adorable and so happy, and she is going to be so pretty when she gets older, I can tell already! The parents, Erica and Johnny, speak english but not very well, but that is good for my Italian so I don't mind at all.
The first night after dinner Fabrizio and I went to a pub and watched the final world cup game. The pub wasn't very busy but the people who were there were so rowdy. This part of Italy used to be Austria so a lot of the people who live here have some type of German heritage so most people were cheering for the Netherlands. I was cheering for Spain and the bartender (who spoke very good English) was too so it was us and 2 other younger guys who were actually happy at the result, the rest of the people were VERY angry! I went home a little bit tipsy because I got a couple free beer and I had a lot of fun watching that game so it was a pretty good night!
The next day everyone except for me went hiking in the morning, I decided to stay home because I didn't think the wether was going to be good and I didn't feel like hiking in the rain. In the morning it wasn't raining so I went and did a whole bunch of gardening. I made the gardens look so much better it's unreal and I'm quite proud of myself! I wish I took before and after pictures. When we got here the lawn was about 2 feet high because no one had been out here yet this spring to cut it, so the first night I took all the kids to a park and Johnny and Fabrizio cut about half of it which took them 3 hours because there was so much. The grass started growing in the flower beds so I cleaned it all up, it took about 2 hours and I had the biggest pile of 2 foot long grass just from the flower bed it was amazing. I also aerated the dirt and pulled out all the weeds and now it looks spectacular!! Right as I decided I was finished it started to rain a bit so I went inside and read, and after about an hour everyone was home, soaking wet. It rained for a couple hours, and had some pretty intense thunder and lightening for a bit then it cleared up completely and there was blue sky and heat. We went downtown when it was all clear and walked around down there for a bit, nothing exciting, I really like the architecture here though, it's very swiss.
When we came home and they were cooking dinner I played hide and go seek with the kids for probably about an hour and Marta would help me count and look for everyone, she loved it.
Today (July 13) we went for a hike! We took the chair lift up a ski hill then did a 2 km pretty much straight up hill hike to this fortress from the first world war and it was amazing. People used to be able to walk through it but as it's almost 100 years old it's blocked off so you shouldn't be able to enter it anymore because it's basically starting to fall apart. There are these huge window openings though that you can climb into and then through into the hallways. I went in and I was so scared, there is one area where there is stairs and they have put metal grates over it so that when tourists were allowed to walk through it you could still use the stairs but now most of the original cement has pretty much decayed and it's hardly holding up the newer metal grates so it was terrifying to walk on, I was so scared that it was going to fall apart while I was walking on it. After we were done up there we walked back down to the area where you get off the chair lift and we sat there for about 2 hours and luckily I brought my book so I read about 70 pages. We walked down the mountain instead of taking the chair lift down and I was happy that it was all downhill but it was so steep that it was hard to walk down and my legs feel like they're going to be sore tomorrow.
At dinner everyone usually bugs me because by Italian standards I don't eat a lot (even though I'm always so full when I'm done eating) and tonight Erica said "Did you come to Italy to diet?" and I said no, that I wasn't dieting by Canadian standards and this led to a huge conversation about foods we eat in Canada, and especially about portion size. The portions here are unreal! So big that when I first got to Italy the first few days I felt like I was going to get sick after dinner, but now I know how to say I'm full, I just have to deal with all the jokes about "how little I eat". They also eat a full meal, but even though there is so much food it's all VERY healthy things. There's usually a few courses to the meals along with something for desert, usually gelato or fruit. When we eat pizza in Canada usually I would share with other people, here everyone orders their own and more often then not they finish it all. I can't finish one of the pizza's here to save my life so usually someone else at the table ends up eating the rest. Before I came my cousins boyfriend told me I was going to gain 20 pounds because I was going to eat so much, and even though I feel like I'm eating a lot here I'm happy to say I've lost 10 pounds since being in Italy!! :).
After dinner we didn't really do much, Johnny and I picked a ton of cherries from the cherry tree in the back yard and I played with the kids for a bit, then I put the kids to bed, and now I'm sitting here writing this! I brought my computer to Folgaria so that I can write when I get a chance so that when I get back to Pisa and have internet access again I can just copy and paste these entries to my blog instead of being very behind again! I think SIlvia and her mum arrive here tomorrow so hopefully I don't start enjoying myself less because I go back to being bossed around more.
I need to get to sleep though!
Goooodnightt

Posted by kendahlc 03:20 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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