Monday, December 16, 2013

NZ vs. Ireland!

Sometime over the summer (July-ish for Southern Hemispherers) E got in touch and asked if I wanted to go to NZ vs. Dublin. In November. No one can say she doesn't like her rugby! She sorted out tickets, I booked a flight, and we were ready! 
Four months early. 
But, November did eventually arrive and we made our merry way to Dublin to watch NZ crush Ireland. Which they didn't really do. We scraped a win in overtime having been losing for the entire game. 

Ignore the possessive apostrophe, we were still excited to be welcomed!

Kenny thankfully lent me a Kiwi shirt, and black and white eyeliner had our cheeks ready too!

Eleanor's cape. Sorry, flag. 

Ireland got way more fireworks than us, but the national anthems were still cool. Ireland seemed to have two which I'm still a little confused by. 

As I said, the game didn't look good for us for about 70 minutes. Eleanor struggled to deal with the stress. 

We founded some kindred spirits behind us who were also feeling the tension. 

P.S. Thanks to Peter for the accommodation once again, Kenny for the shirt, and Eleanor for the idea. Also thanks to the Irish for a brilliant game and a good spirit in the pubs afterwards!

Monday, December 9, 2013

In fair Verona...

I am yet again having computer issues, or rather a continuation of the last issue, so I haven't written anything for a while. I am also in the midst of exams - my first is tomorrow which is possibly why I have abruptly decided to start blogging again now! Procrastination can be surprisingly productive for every other little thing you should do. 

A while back (think Halloween) Peter came to visit. Milan is not my favourite city, so I didn't want to stay here, and I hadn't seen much of Italy, so we grabbed a train to Verona. 

 We checked out the Casa di Giulietta (Juliet's house), though didn't venture up to her very crowded balcony. Nerd Nina feels the need to point out that Verona isn't necessarily the home of Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare based the play on a story that had been around for a long time, but Verona was his own addition.
So the house is a tourist trap but it's still a nice touch. For anyone who's seen Letters to Juliet, there really is somewhere to post letters to Juliet but you don't put them in a wall. There's a nice little postbox perched handily in the courtyard.

Fabric mounted on the walls of this stairwell is covered with declarations of love. It's then stretched across frames and sold in the gift store. 

As you can see, the line for the balcony was sizable. 

 After Juliet's house we went wandering around Verona, popping up a small hill to see the local castle.

Some kind of tomb. Very ornate anyway. 
 In the main square there was a market so we had a look before visiting the Colosseum of Verona.

We grabbed some dinner (Peter got donkey!) and returned to Milan to next day. So just a quick 'day in Verona' post. Hopefully my computer chooses life and I can tell you about the rugby in Ireland soon!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Conquering Grigna and other stories from the North

As you may have noticed I've been a bit useless about exploring Italy - the country I'm actually living in. So yes, I suck. But. My sister came to visit and she wanted to head north to the mountains because she's all outdoorsy and substantially fitter than I am.

The first day she was here we covered the Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, Parco Sempione, Gelleria Vittorio Emanuele and all the basic touristy stuff you do in Milan.

The top of the Duomo - finally made it inside, and up. (They have a conservative dress code and in the warmer months my hems were always to short to allow me entry!)

Pacro Sempione

The next day we hired a car and got the hell out. 
We had a cute little Punto (feeling the Italian spirit) and we drove it along the side of Lake Como and up the mountain to Cainallo. This cut the tramp (hike) up the mountain down to about 3 hours instead of the usual 6-8 from Varenna. I strongly approved of this shortcut. 

From there it was just... up. Some of it got pretty rough and all of it was beautiful but I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

Once we reached the summit (2400m) we had lunch in Refugi Brioschi and wow was that a good decision. They served simple, hot and hearty food and it was delicious (possibly because it was slathered in butter)! I got some pumpkin gnochetti and Lucy went for pork and polenta. 

After we'd had our fill of both the view and the food we clambered back down and drove to Il Seicento - our hostel in Sernio, just outside of Tirano. We popped out for a pizza dinner then settled in to sleep. 

We heard the ringing of bells on our descent - it turned out to be a herd of goats! 

The evening before we had established that our hostel provided bikes. So that morning after breakfast we were out on the bikes, armed with raincoats. We cycled along the river and through the town. Lucy, proving to be inexhaustible wanted to cycle up one of the nearby hills (mountains) and follow a track she'd seen on maps going back in the direction of our hostel. 

I made it to the beginning of the track (so up the huge hill!) but was so tired I didn't think I could safely ride along the path, which was rough and narrow. So Lucy set off alone and I headed back down the hill in safety. I'd justify this more but yes, whatever, I'm not tough. Certainly not when it comes to hills!

Cycling past vineyards - seemed very Italian!

These little three-wheeled, one-person utes/pick-up trucks are all around Italy. I still get excited every time I see one!

We cycled to the Swiss border but didn't have our passports so didn't go through. So weird you can cycle across borders in Europe!

The fourth day it was time to return to Milan, which we did by way of Switzerland and the Bernina pass (I was excited by the slight inclusion of my name). We walked around Lake Poschiavo and went via St Moritz before driving down the west side of Como to Milan. Switzerland was incredibly picturesque and surprisingly Swiss considering it was only an hour or two from Italy. 

Lake Poschiavo

Bernina Pass

The Bernina Express and our little Punto


The last two days of Lucy's visit we spent exploring museums and Milan's Roman ruins, and tasting the goods on offer at various bakeries and aperitivos around the city. Italy really does do food well!

Le Colonne at the basilica of San Lorenzo

In the archaeological museum of Milan
So, I survived a week with my much fitter sister and even managed to get some photos of her!