Ok, so I haven't updated in over a month... I'm sorry, I haven't even been that busy, but blogging hasn't really been first and foremost on my list of things to do... but today is catch-up day so here we go!
The most exciting thing I did last month was take a week and go to Italy with my host family. You see, they don't celebrate Halloween in NL, but apparently make up for it by giving us a week off in mid-October. I feel that this is a pretty good trade-off. So anyway, I took my herfstvacantie in Italy, because Paula and Henri are amazing people who in addition to feeding me and letting me live with them also bring me along on vacation.
We left on friday the 16th, and drove (and drove and drove) over the German border, which takes all of ten minutes, and then down into the German area of Ulm, where we spent the night in a little village inn.
In the morning, we ate our usual breakfast of bread rolls and various toppings (meat, cheese, jam, ....hagelslagen) and drove off once more. We soon crossed into Austria, where I annoyed more than one non-english speaking cashier and paula accidentally knocked over souvenier schnapps. We make an awesome team!
Austria, I must say, is beautiful. It reminded me of home a little, because of the pine trees and the mountainous terrain that I've been missing in the Netherlands. We kept on through a winding pass that took us through the Alps, where it began to snow. Luckily not too badly, otherwise Henri would have had a lot of trouble, but enough to look like the snow forest in the Nutcracker... Homer people know what I mean. Seriously, it looked like we were driving past the snow scene. So, so pretty.
That afternoon, we crossed the border into Italy. It was really kind of quaint stopping in a little town there and seeing that all the street signs, posters, and flyers were both in German and Italian. These Europeans make me hate myself sometimes, for knowing rudimentary Spanish and (so far) toddler's Dutch. Henri speaks fluent Dutch, English, French and German. Americans are pathetically behind here.
Our house in Italy amazed me. 350 years old, stone and wood, shutters on the windows. It was settled on a small orchard of apple, chestnut, olive and pomegranate trees, high up in the hills above Vicenza, surrounded by huge vineyards. That evening, while waiting for Angeline and her family, we sat by the wood stove, drank wine from the nearby winery and roasted chestnuts over the fire. peaceful and amazing.
We spent the next week exploring the surrounding area. Padova on Sunday, Monselice on Monday, Venice on Tuesday, Verona on Wednsday, Vicenza on Thursday, and Venice again Friday.
Of all the places we went, Venice will stay with me the most. I was amazed by the whole city, ancient and rising out or the sea. It was almost like Atlantis. We wandered around in St. Marco's Basilica for hours: the huge vaulted ceilings mosaiced in gold, and the artwork and marble statues were incredible. I never felt more surrounded by that omnescient something than when I stood there in the cathedral.
way more photos on my facebook, here's a few:St. Mark's