Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Non parle Italiano

I never realized how difficult it would be to travel in a place that doesn't speak English as it's native language.  It's a good thing I've been with Lauren so far, who is only a beginner but a lot better at speaking Italian than I am.  I feel as though I need a crash course...  However, I have learned a few phrases in order to get me by.  And thanks to Zeb, I have a book that is basically survival Italian.  I have learned now though; definitely try to learn a bit of the language before you get there!

Arrival into Torino was interesting.  Because the airport I was flying out of in London was a good hour and a half away from where I was staying in Greenwich, I had to get a Bed and Breakfast for the night before.  Unfortunately, it was just the bed that I got to enjoy since my flight was at 7:00 a.m.  This portion of the trip marked another first for me; taxi rides.  For me, the idea of essentially putting all control into the hands of a total stranger is far too frightening to even think about doing (also, it costs a lot more than a bus fare).  However, I had no choice.  As I took my deep breath and headed over the the line of taxis, I went to the one at the front of the line, thinking to myself that he seemed like he may be okay.  Thankfully, I was right.  He got me straight to where I needed to go with no side trips to the middle of nowhere in the woods.  

The B&B was so cute!  Just like a little English Cottage.  Because I have been staying with several people to a room and sharing bathrooms, I was so pleased to finally have a single quiet space to myself, even if it was just for a few hours.  There was a slight sigh of relief I could feel inside myself as I walked into that room.  I soaked up as much of this time as possible to be alone, taking time to let my mind go wherever it felt it needed, nothing to tell me to stop because someone else was in the room.  I needed this time to let it be okay that I was overwhelmed.

One of the things I noticed while in London was that the culture is one of drinking.  And not really drinking to get drunk, but more of sitting in a pub with your friends and/or family and having a few pints.  Because I lived on top of one, I enjoyed many times sitting down there visiting with people and building some excellent relationships.  I went into one that was across the road from this B&B and had the opportunity to bull-shit with a group of old men.  What a great time that was!  And this pub was old... 400 years old!  Tiny and with a fireplace as it's heater, it truly is what you would imagine an old pub would look like.

Once in Torino, Lauren and I had to figure out exactly what we were doing for our birthday, which was the next day.  We knew we wanted to meet up with a friend of mine who is stationed with the Air Force in Pisa, but I didn't have his phone number and the internet at her house wasn't working.  We knew he had her number, because I had given it to him before I got a phone for here, but no idea whether or not he would get a hold of us.  So we went to the train station and looked up a bunch of different places and how many euro's it would cost to get to each one.  We decided Pisa would be a good idea, since that's where Jason is at and thought if all else fails, we can just find a hostel when we get there.  We buy the ticket, run back to her place to get a weekend bag put together, purchase a pizza and a bottle of wine and away we go.  While my entire trip has been kind of like this, it hasn't been to this extent.  I did enjoy it though.  To have no plans whatsoever.. it's a pretty interesting way to go!

Thankfully, we did hear from Jason while we were on the train.  He picked us up from the station and we ended up spending the entire weekend staying at places all around.  A few nights were at the military base and a few others were at an apartment in Livorno.  Livorno is a beautiful place along the Mediteranian and the apartment was overlooking it so we had a great view.  We spent time in Florence, climbing to the top of the Duomo, which is a huge church in the middle of the city.  It's quite the hike, but the view is gorgeous.  Part of climbing to the top includes getting to be right underneath this beautiful ceiling that is basically a huge painting of biblical scenes.  It was amusing when we got to the top because I had not seen so many Americans in one spot until this building.  They were everywhere!  But, instead of thinking how wonderful it was, I got rather annoyed.  Americans really can be obnoxious in comparison to other European societies and you see it when they are side by side.  

Now I'm headed to the train station to get back to Torino.  I'll update more later!


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