Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Back in BO

A month at home flew by.  I didn't even have a chance to say I was bored, and that's saying something when you live in Wayland, Massachusetts! Many tears at the airport, but luckily the 50 degree sunshine weather in Bologna upon my arrival turned my frowns upside down. It was mid afternoon Friday and I had Saturday and Sunday to prepare for my final oral exam. I took a vow to take on nap, one stroll through my beautiful Bologna and then it was diligent work, no fun, the rest of the weekend... which paid off because I passed my Baldini exam! Woot!


For the rest of the week I wandered aimlessly around Bologna.  I shopped all the sales.  Found a new favorite supermarket, La PAM (it's a shame its 25minutes from my home). I was determined a way to find Suzanne in Val Thorens, France. And continued my running habits. I also planned to go to Ferrara to visit Whitney on my second weekend back. Let's just say, I wouldn't be getting bored in Bologna anytime soon!

Ready to make my plans for Val Thorens solid, I ran to the station one morning to buy the tickets.  I waited in a 20 minute line, freezing, only to find that yes, I almost forgot for a second... I'm in Italy... so naturally the Bologna train station can't sell me a ticket for a train leaving from Torino, and in Torino they can't sell me the ticket for my connecting train from Chambery to Moutiers.  I could purchase all of the tickets online, but the option of an electronic ticket is not there, so they would need to mail me the tickets taking 4-7 business days, and with my departure date 7 days away, I frankly just didn't want to trust Italian post... What a HEADACHE! After I got over the insanity of the European train system, I had to adapt to not having this trip planned to a T, instead I'd hop on the first train and hope there would be enough time and tickets for me to make it all the way to Val Thorens!

My weekend in Ferrara with Whitney was a blast.  Minus a few minor details... I arrived in Ferrara in the pouring rain and made my way to the address she had given me.  The town was already beautiful in the rain, but you could tell it was a much smaller city than any I had studied in so I gave props to Whitney and the other girls who chose Ferrara to better their Italian and have the real Italian education experience!  When I arrived I got my stuff settled, then we headed out toward the main piazza to grab a coffee, which I was craving. She took me to a gorgeous bar right near the castle and standing at the banca with our drinks, she recounted her first week and a half's experiences abroad. When we finished, we left to head back and catch up with her roommate (who was still sleeping when I arrived at 11), and to make plans for the rest of the day.  Upset 1. Stopping by the door to collect our umbrellas we left in the umbrella stand, I realize my umbrella is no where to be seen.  Pouring rain... and now someone has stolen my umbrella! Great! That turned my mood a little...

pasticcio ferrarese
Wet for the rest of the day, Whitney, Dani (whit's roommate) and I had a wonderful lunch at wonderful osteria right next to the castle, Hostaria Savonarola.  The bread was fantastic, we couldn't help but finish the basket (which is rare cause generally the bread is very bland and unsalted at restaurants and I don't like it!).  I had tortellini in brodo... also fantastic and the perfect lunch for a rainy, wet day. At 2, we headed to the front of Castello Estense to meet the other two girls from Midd in Ferrara, and we went to tour and have fun in the grand rooms and in the dungeons of the castle (out of the rain!).  Tired and sick of the rain, we returned back to the apartment to watch a movie before we got ready to go to Aperitivo, Dinner and a Bar.  For aperitivo we went to a very cute place that had extremely economical drinks... 3 euro for Prosecco w/ the Buffet (only focaccia, but still!).  From there we trekked through the rain to find a restaurant we had searched on TripAdvisor before we left. At Osteria degli Angeli, we were very content to find the cavernous dining room to be blasting the heat.  I ordered un pasticcio ferrarese, not quite certain of what I ordered, but insistent on trying the typical food of Ferrara, and I was pleasantly surprised to received a puff pastry stuffed with ziti in a creamy sauce and topped with a delicious balsamic glaze.  We enjoyed our dinner, taking our sweet Italian time, then headed to find some quality Ferrarese nightlife!  Unfortunately we didn't have much success in the pouring rain, but we managed to enjoy ourselves plenty!

Sunday morning, we woke up casually around 9:30 and headed to the station to enjoy a day at Carnevale a Venezia!  The day would consist of me playing with my new SLR, stopping for a drink every 2 hours, and just taking in the view of Venice during Carnevale.  Thousands of people crowded the tiny Venetian alley ways and bridges.  Hundreds of people in full out costumes, and many (like us) with a little Venetian face painting! We concluded a great, but tiring day by a quick 30 minutes in Piazza San Marco at the open discoteca, and by nearly sprinting back through Venice to make the last train to Ferrara at 7:45pm. Success! Arriving back in Ferrara I was too tired to make the extra journey back to Bologna, so I stayed the night, unfortunately missing the Superbowl :(  and was back to Bologna the following morning.  Agenda for the week would be get organized, receive my final grade from the first semester and be on my way to Torino and then France!

Wednesday finally came around.  I was all packed in the morning, headed into my faculty to verbalize my final grade with Ricciardi, returned home, then headed to the train station to get to Torino and spend the night with Serena and Gaetano.  It was lovely to see Serena, Gaetano and Cristina (Gaetano's Girlfriend) even if it was just for a very short time.  I arrived at 8:15pm, we headed to Serena's to have a lovely meal, ending with a few various liquors, then I was out of Torino by 6am the following morning. Short, but sweet. By 10:30am I was passing the Italian/French border, and by 11:00 I was in Chambery trying to figure out how to buy the ticket for the next train to Moutiers Salins Bridges Les Bains. Wahoo! Almost there! Chambery --> Moutiers, Moutiers --> Val Thorens! I was there by 1:30! Driving up a very steep, winding and snowy road, snow covered mountain tops and ski lifts buzzing everywhere around me! It was unbelievable.  Suzanne was waiting for me at the bus stop when I arrived, and we walked the few hundred feet down to Club Med and only receiving one dirty look, successfully got me to their hotel room. Relax time...

Suzanne explained to me the plan.  I was just to integrate myself into their group, as a friend visiting from Italy.  She gave me a Club Med wristband that they had acquired an extra of after claiming one was lost, and I was good to go! Free food and booze all day, every day! No complaints! We spent the afternoon sipping on mulled wine with the rest of the hotel who just got back from the slopes.  They had food and drinks for the rest of the evening and put on a show before dinner.  Dinner had endless amounts of food and endless amounts of table wine... not a half bad start! Dancing into the night we had a blast, made some friends, and were in bed by 2 in hopes of having a full day of skiing the following day.

Friday we woke up, had breakfast and were on the slopes by 9:30.  We're pretty good!  I was able to borrow a pass from a member of Suzanne's ski group who had been injured earlier that week, so yes, more free things!  I got my lime green rented skis and we were off to ski the French Alps!  Truly amazing.  So much powder!  We skied the majority of the day, going in for lunch at the hotel and it was just amazing.  The views of the surrounding mountains were surreal.  You could see the lines of where people had skied off piste ( or off the slope) slicing across the freshly powdered mountain faces. We went slightly off piste a few times throughout the day, and not once did we go on the same chair lift or down the same slope.  I'm telling you... these mountains were HUGE and covered in so many trails and lifts its unimaginable!  I was able to enjoy two more fun evenings with Suzanne and her dad, and another full day of purely fantastic skiing. But then unfortunately it was abruptly back to reality.  Back to Bologna, and back to classes... It had been quite some time!  At least I was comforted by the fact that Suzanne fell in love with Val Thorens so I know she'll be back giving me another excuse to share her love for skiing in the alps once again!

With that in mind... let classes begin! Woof...