Friday, February 24, 2012

First day in Italy!

And, a very long day was had by all!  We arose at some crazy, dark, quiet hour to walk through the hushed streets to catch the bus to the airport...then plane, bus, train, train, train and finally bus and another walk...arriving at our hotel about 13 hours after we left!

here we are at the wonderful little "buffet" (which is not a buffet in the american sense of the word at's a little cafe/restaurant) at the Bergamo train station.  Our first experience with the Italian language, Italian coffee, Italian waiters and delicious Italian food (yes, at the cafe at the train station).  I love Italy.

Our travels all went well in spite of three minor hiccups.  1) I forgot to bring with me the credit card that I used to purchase the train tickets which was required to actually get our tickets from the self service machine.  2) I gave both Josie and I heart attacks because I thought we had gotten on the wrong high-speed train just after it started moving at high speed...fortunately we were on the right train, but I think even Josie has more grey hair after that one.  3) Our train from Mestre (near Venice) to Trieste was delayed for about 2 hours because a freight train broke down on the tracks ahead of us...the problem was that Umberto's family was meeting us at the train station in Trieste, but we had no way to call them because our phones didn't work and we didn't have their phone number anyway (all of our contact with them had been through email and facebook).  

I'll continue with the story of the train delay because it's kind of's a pic of the station where we sat for two hours...pretty exciting, huh?  yeah, that's what we thought too.  So, we were feeling like we'd been sitting at this one station just a little too long and everyone is beginning to look around wondering what's going on when the conductor comes over the loudspeaker and makes a long announcement in Italian that we totally don't understand.  After he's done, I hear a man with a strong Indian accent speaking on a cell phone in English explaining that we've been delayed, but I don't catch the whole conversation (is unabashed eavesdropping acceptable in this situation?).  Josie and I decide that it's perfectly reasonable for me to wander through the train car looking for an Indian I did.  

In the end, we made friends with this wonderful man who was on his way to visit his Italian wife's  family and was happy to interpret what was going on for us.  He works for the Boy Scouts International in Geneva.  We shared some food, stories and laughs about train travel and before we knew it the broken-down freight train was slowly chugging past us and we were on our way.

Of course, when we arrived in Trieste, we couldn't find Umberto and his family, even though we must have walked right by strange!  After several laps around the train station and a great deal of agonizing over taking a taxi vs. a bus, I finally mustered the nerve to head into the Tabac shop to buy bus tickets and ask after where our bus would be.  Once again...people are so nice!  We got our tickets, found the bus, and the hotel and were greeted by the most amazing Serbian host!  A couple of shots of Serbian whiskey later, we were checked into our huge pink room...
A very nice Serbian couple with two adorable little kids owns/runs Affitacamera Loukas in the heart of Trieste.  We could see the sea from our window which also looked straight into the windows of the modern art museum (I am in heaven).  Our host doesn't really speak english, but he's so very nice and very eager to share his serbian "scotch" (as he calls it) with me.  He and his wife (who arrived later and does speak a little more english) renovated this amazing apartment themselves. The wood floor is from the 1700s and they did a wonderful job preserving the character of the building, but making it a very comfortable modern space with huge rooms and bathrooms!  

Umberto's family found us and we all went out for a wonderful pizza dinner.  Our first dinner in Italy!  did I mention...I love Italy.  

While we were in Bergamo...after sorting out our train tickets (waiting in a very long slow line and trying to explain in my non-Italian that I forgot my credit card, but have the email receipt for my reservation...the train-ticket attendant grumbled voraciously, but printed out our tickets without even asking for ID!!  seriously.), and having our fantastic first Italian lunch we walked around a little bit in Bergamo...
the yellow building is the McDonalds!  

Lots of bicycles...and a little bike shop booth

this was a pretty wild sculpture...check out the creature in the middle climbing the walls

the happy harlequin...he's happy we're in Italy too!

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