Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back to Vancouver - October 26, 2010

We took the water taxi to the airport and weighed our luggage. We were allowed 23 kg each and we both registered at about 20 kg. I feel like I failed. I should have shopped more! We grabbed lunch before the flight. I passed the salad and it occurred to me that I should probably have one for lunch. Nah, why start now? You don’t make friends with insalate… so pizza and Peroni it is. Thank god for my clean-up crew because if I ate more than half of each meal, I’d be more than doughy by now! I wonder who’s gained more weight - me and Kelly or the dogs. Grandpa likes to share – first his toast in the morning, then there’s the orange break, lunch and dinner. And don’t forget that Dad’s dog will whack the cupboard anytime she’d like a biscuit. Can’t wait to pick up Murphy & Dakota tonight. I’ve had doggie withdrawal and haven’t seen many cats since Sorrento. Absolutely no cats in Venice, but there were quite a few little dogs.
We’re now sitting in Heathrow waiting for our nine hour flight home. Kelly finally saw his Ferrari – here in the Heathrow airport. The conclusion to our honeymoon is here. We’ve had a great time in Italy and enjoyed each place we visited. Rome for the amazing ruins – something that’s 50 years old in Vancouver is considered old so to see the Colosseum standing and in pretty decent shape, just amazing. We walked through a lot of Rome, took the subway and enjoyed the people watching. Sorrento was a complete change. Such a beautiful area – Positano, Capri and Sorrento. Very different culture here – laid back, no crazy (well, less crazy) drivers and wonderful food. We had some of our best meals in the area. Not to mention the authentic version of the cannoli (which I will now have to learn to make to keep Kelly happy). It took almost a day to get to Montalcino in the Tuscany region. Beautiful, just beautiful. The rolling hills, variations in the field colours – browns, greens, reds – and the Cyprus trees are stunning. We saw a couple of Tuscan towns as well as a few wineries. I could have spent more time exploring some of the wineries but we can do that next time. Montalcino itself was a unique hill town and we truly had superb, homemade fresh pasta there. Our cooking class was fun and now I can’t wait to make pasta! One day in Florence lead to some culture as well as more walking. I can’t say we were enamoured with Florence, but it was interesting to visit, albeit just for a day. And then we ended in Venice. The weather didn’t cooperate but we still walked around as much as we could in the rain and walking on the raised platforms amongst thousands of our fellow tourists. 20,000 people commute into Venice ever day so the water transit is always busy. Venice is certainly how it’s described and worth a visit, but I’m not sure we’ll return anytime soon.
Some of our final observations about Italy:
-          There are no Ferraris in Italy.
-          The cheese – fab-u-lous and cheap.
-          Graffiti is everywhere and it seems to be done by the locals. I find that so disrespectful.
-          I was surprised that not knowing Italian wasn’t an issue in most places. I really must commend the people in the restaurants and shops for learning English, I know it’s not an easy language. Although, you don’t want to throw in any slang as they look at you like you’ve just shot a lemon out of your nose (and the lemons are large in Sorrento).
-          I found the streets crowded and the locals pushy – it was like being in Montreal. No “mi scusi”, just push your way through. I gave up saying “I’m sorry” after being bumped into 100 times and instead, put out my pointy elbows. That will give you a mi scusi.
-          Don’t bring your North American flat iron to Italy – it isn’t happy being converted to a different voltage, and it will rebel by scorching your hair.
-          Prego must mean more than “thank you” since they say it as soon as they put your plate down and before you get a chance to say Grazie. Seems more like “here you go” as well as “thank you”.
-          You can generally drink beer in the streets while wandering around. Va bene!
-          Scooters actually have different traffic rules than vehicles. They’re allowed to drive in between the cars, ignore traffic signals and cut off anyone they like. It’s surprising you don’t see more flattened scooters on the road.
-          The commuter trains are, uh, interesting. If you’re looking to see the native culture, try traveling via the Circumvesuviana.
-          Venice really is sinking, and the towers are leaning. They’re busy trying to reinforce San Marco with titanium bars under the clock tower.
-          You can’t order vegetables with your dinner. Insalate, but no vegetables. I was craving something dark green, but to no avail.
-          Everyone told us not to bother with bottled wine, just order the house wine. Well, we didn’t have a good bottle of house wine anywhere so we started to order bottles after a few misses. Nothing expensive, other than our dinner at Il Buco.
-          A lot of the restaurants serve frozen meat that they reheat – and it’s tough and chewy (veal and pork mostly).
-          There’s no free WiFi in Italy. We never found any public WiFi and the only time we had free Internet was at the hotel in Sorrento and the B&B in Montalcino. Although in both places, you could only use it in the main room downstairs since the walls are a foot thick.
-          We never had a clock or alarm in any hotel room. I wonder why – theft? or time just doesn’t matter.
-          We didn’t see any obvious prostitution, drug dealing or even a tattoo shop. Very un-Vancouverish. The only real crime we saw were the dudes pushing the fake LV bags in Rome and Venice.
-          The bottles of wine say 750 ml but I think the Italian metric system is different than ours. Surely, the bottles were smaller as the wine went down a lot quicker.
-          Bring a long, black hair and put it in your meal. It’s a great way to get a free meal…  J

And lastly, travel with someone you love, like I did. It makes even the most mundane things fun and an adventure.

Until our next trip, ciao.

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