Monday, October 19, 2009

Arrivederci Italia! Second try.

On my last night in Italy, I was given 30 minutes of computer time from my airport hotel and spent most of the time composing this post but alas, all erased. So I am home now after a day of grueling travel. My pictures are now on my computer and I will add them to my blog. Teri, my companion, took even more and will send me a CD and I will add some of hers as I can tell by viewing her camera, are better. This will be a slow process so if you are interested in pictures, check backwards on my blog. We saw plenty of beauty and tried to document it as much as possible. This of course, is impossible as the beauty can not be captured particularly on our train ride through the Alps in Switzerland. It's hard to take pictures zipping along in a train through the windows not that we didn't try. As we didn't have access all the time to a computer, my blogs were spotty but I did take plenty of notes on the train or early in the morning while Teri slept. Also the blogs I did write need to be edited due to Italian keyboards being different and I had no time to reread them so they are fairly crude.

So much happened to us both in what we saw and felt. Of course what our journeys really were beyond the sights we saw were different though our minds sometimes worked so much alike it was scary. At one point when we shared a train compartment with a French speaking Swiss couple and we both felt compelled to show off what French we knew by repeating a Jean Fontaine poem we learned, in my case, at age 13. (Maitre Courbeau sur une arbre perche, tenait en son bec une fromage...)at the exact same moment. We had no idea that either of us knew this poem and it wasn't in the textbook. We did go to school in neighboring towns and it was possible that our French teachers shared notes but still..the fact we both remembered at that moment was very remarkable. As for understanding French, I recommend going to the French speaking Swiss side if you want to understand the language as they speak much more slowly than in Paris giving you a chance to understand.

As for showing off, many times Italian kids would come up to us to show off their English skills usually by counting. The very young Italian kids would be puzzled by our speaking like toddlers..Shouldn't adults know everything especially how to speak?

So this trip was how I write, starting somewhere but then heading off in another direction. I could have planned it more thoroughly but it felt right to just take off in a particular direction based on how we felt at the time. Fortunately Teri was copacetic. For her take on this, click on her name in my followers, and Goddessy Odessy comes up.

The day before we left, we tried to plan at least the first night in Stresa. We really wanted to stay high in the hills at this place called the " Lo scoiattolo e le noce" run by Massimo, the squirrel and his sons, presumably the nuts. The website said that Massimo and his sons, pictured-very cute-would attend to our every need if I was reading this right. Sounded very promising. We called them the 'squirrel boys'. Alas, they didn't return my carefully written (in Italian)requests. Teri even tried to call them while we were there to visit their squirrel perch but they wouldn't answer the phone. Bad squirrel boys! I did get a reply from one of the back-up places but it sounded like we were out of luck there too. I put their reply in Google translator and got out 'we are sorry but we are a suit.' Al completo means full and il completo is a suit. Bad google translator. But the message was clear, no luck there either. We hadn't heard from several places (probably because they were getting our e-mails in the middle of the night) when we were going to leave so I wrote out possible replies in Italian, put them in my draft folder, gave Steve my password (note to self: must change password) with instructions to call us if I heard from any of them and for him to send an already written response (as he can't write in Italian). A minute before we were to leave, I checked my e-mail one more time and Signora Dallina came through at the Stresa B e B. I clicked on my prewritten note that we are confirming the reservation and off we went. However, I had maps of all the possible B&Bs we could stay at and didn't note carefully which one was actually Signora Dallina's. Bad Sue! So sorry Teri! Mi dispiace! I had remembered that the special Stresa bus would drop us off a block away from Sig. Dallina but no thanks to KLM not having a person to do the final security check on the plane and then the computer that controlled the navigation was out (and we need that, folks), our flight from Amsterdam to Milan was quite late so we missed the good bus. The next one would come in 3 hours. Merde! (just like the French but pronounced in 2 syllables) Back up plan. Get to the Gallarrate train station by local commuter bus that only airport personnel seemed to take (yet none of them could tell me where it was but could be something lost in translation). We found it after walking around in a daze for an hour (we were very tired). To get to Stresa, we would have to switch in Arona (not clear from the ticket but a helpful conductor warned us). All was well but it turned out the train station was a half mile away in the dark and pouring rain that got all my maps wet and illegible. And then we finally found what I thought was the right place and it was another back-up B&B. Due to its silly name, the locals couldn't help us find it (starting the who's on first schtick Italian style). Up and down the steep deeply cobbled- rollaway wheel destroying streets in the rain and we are so so tired. Finally, Teri stayed with the bags and I could run unencumbered by luggage and I found the name on a lit mailbox in 8 point type. But inside, the place was a dream, with its polished granite hallways and pergo floors in the room with original art on the walls. Signora Dallina was as sweet as could be letting us send home an e-mail to the hubbies and letting us see her handiwork as an interior designer in her personal space. She was a tall thin blonde,very attractive and stylishly dressed. She never offered us her first name however as our later hosts Esther and Lia did who were actually older. So things work out for the best as our hero Candide kept repeating. Finding the squirrel boys' mountain perch in the rain would have been impossible and then we would have to go back and forth to the sights instead of everything being 2 minutes away. We asked to stay another night and considered a third but then so much of Italy and Switzerland remained to be seen.

To be continued..

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