An english girl who after six months in the french mountains, has left for Italia, the beautiful country. My thoughts on leaving life as I know it and beyond! Join me as I embark on a life with lots of adventure and a lack of heels!!!!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Lovely Lake Garda

  From the grandeur of Milan to the awe inspiring Lake Garda. After our 3 nights in Milan we picked up our hire car and headed over to our next destination Lake Garda, the Italians drive like maniacs on the motorways, thank god we have decided to train it the rest of the way!!!!!

  So here we are, a hilltop apartment looking out over the stunning vistas of Lake Garda. A great little apartment reached by a heart racingly narrow steep road full of blind bends and crazy drivers!!! But the view is something else, mirror-like stillness of the azure blue lake, a backdrop of densely forested snow capped mountains, Riviera style villa’s and old palaces, imposing churches clinging to the hillsides and all with beautiful blooms, blossoms, lemon trees and pine trees all around. Bellisamo!  A very strange thing though, it is clearly a lake but it smells like the sea and it just makes you feel like you are in the Mediteranean, just one of the classier places!  And it is hot! +30 most days so far, although we have had a couple of cracking thunder storms of an evening, our balcony is the perfect place to watch from! And there was fresh snow on the mountain tops the other day!! (That is just bloody typical eh, no snow in the Alps for six months, 30 degrees everyday here in the lakes and snow!!! I am not even going there.)
  We have decided to make our way to the Italian lakes to see what the job situation might bring, this is where the biggest concentration of English speaking tourists are to be found outside of the cities, and seeing as we (more accurately, I) only speak a handful of Italian words this sounded like a plan of sorts. We have two weeks here to suss out what happens on the work front and to travel all around, Verona, Venice, Bergamo are all but a short drive away. So we’ll see.

  We have spent a few days driving around to the surrounding lake front towns, all as pretty as a picture, all with the most amazing lakeside settings and mostly all full of pensioners!!!! Some more so than others, Lirmone was stunning but everyone was grey haired, limping and had their 40 year old  ‘holiday clothes’ on, and all on a coach trip, but on the other hand there was Salo which is much more chic and had more of a cosmopolitan feel about it, oh and some gorgeous shops and cool lake front café’s to watch and be watched!  We have gone from one extreme to the other, from being nearly the oldest people in Val to the youngest ones here at the lakes!

  Oh and on a really annoying note, we have no internet connection once again, so all these blogs are copy & paste numbers going out scheduled when I can get to a sodding wi-fi spot, (virtually unheard of what with the septuagenarian’s being the main stay of guests!!!)

  Better get back to that view! Ciao!


Breast Rubbing in Verona

  One of the (many) great things about Italy is that all these fabulous places are so close together. One of the reasons we chose to base ourselves at Lake Garda was not only for the work potential but also for its proximity to many other places.

  So with that in mind and a car at our disposal we headed out of the lake area 2 hours down the road to Verona. The home of Shakespear’s Romeo & Juliette and the famous Roman Arena.

   Having been to a few wonderful places already over the years our expectations of famous Italian cities are maybe a little high but that is because everywhere to date has been incredible.

  Now Verona certainly was very lovely and the Roman Arena ever so impressive, and had it been opera season we would have gone but that does not start for another couple of weeks. Being in there made you realise just how magical a night at the opera in a roman amphitheatre must be (not that by any stretch of the imagination are we opera buffs or anything). But there was just something that Mr and I both felt about the whole place and we just cannot put our finger on it. Maybe it just lacked a little of the magic that Venice and Rome seem to have, I don’t know. Maybe it is just that it’s fame is due to a fictional tale, you can actually visit Juliette’s tomb although she never actually lived. Hmm?  Seems strange that. It was also swarming with tourists (mostly our German friends) and it just felt a little over touristy I think. Not quite Italian enough I suppose, maybe it just did’nt have the required fa la bella figura we have come to expect!!!

  But we went to Juliettes balcony, which was very pretty and watched hopeful love torn teenagers rubbing the right breast of her bronze statue, apparently it is meant bring luck in love, hmmm? I reckon the little buggers just wanted a grope.

  We wandered the ancient cobbled streets and I gazed lovingly at yet more beautiful shop windows!!! And soaked up the atmosphere over espresso. Can’t really complain eh? Beats a day at the office.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

ahhhh milano!!

  So after a particularly stressful check in at Heathrow’s T5 we finally made it out of the country. I will explain. Mr is diabetic and as he is also a man this means I constantly check that he has all of his appropriate medical supplies about his person on a daily basis. After being dropped off an hour earlier than needed at the airport I had just purchased a couple of coffees and was planning to sit and enjoy 5 minutes peace when I casually asked if Mr had picked up his injection. His normal “yesss of course I have” then a cloud of dread descended over his face and a “oh fuck… my insulin”.  He had left six months worth of his life saving drug in the fridge at our friend’s house an hour away. Fortunately though one of our friends had been on night shift and as it was nearing lunch time we thought he would be awakening soonish, so after a couple of frantic phone calls he was hot footing it to Heathrow in the nick of time with the said drugs and we breathed a huge sigh of relief, then got through airport security with 50 minutes to spare before departure.  Crisis averted.

    The second stress of the day came when we reached our hotel. After a surprisingly easy journey halfway across the city with our luggage on the Milan underground, we had walked, dragging our bloody heavy cases for 15 minutes in the early evening sweltering heat only be told they had changed our reservation to another hotel. 20 minutes back the way we had just come!!!! Aghhhh.  Then upon check-in at the other hotel we were told it was only for 2 nights not 3. But we got it all sorted in the end. In all the years and all of the places we have ever travelled to we have never had such a nightmare day to get from A to B. Oh and the hotel happened to be in an area popular with trans-gender/transvestite Asian prostitutes!! (One looked about 50, he just had ladies clothes on and a long red wig, no attempt to look like a woman apart from that at all, hilarious! I don’t know what is more worrying, them or the people that pick them up???)

    But it was all to be worth it. Milan was stunning. Not what I was expecting at all. It was calm, beautiful, clean and much more grand than I had ever imagined. The city centre is filled to bursting with jaw dropping architecture and the city’s cathedral and surrounding piazza was one of the most incredible sights I have ever set my eyes on, I actually could not stop a “wow” escaping my lips as we entered the square from the underground, all lit up for the evening, it was an amazing sight.

    I had always envisaged Milan to be a bit like London, busy, congested, dirty, chaotic and hard work but it did not feel like that at all. It was elegant and relaxed and oh so stylish. Around every corner was a plethora of cool bars, uber trendy restaurants and old style marble clad café’s. All full to the rafters with people to match. The people and the place were turned out in their very finest and it was a pleasure to be immersed in all of its splendour.

   And that brings me neatly on to the more important aspects of the city, the fashion and the shops! Oh my!  The shops were every bit as sumptuous as you would expect, set in beautiful old baroque buildings in cobbled streets, ivy tumbling down from their balconies and the windows full of the most incredible things. Shoes dazzling like jewels, stunning arrays of bags and don’t even get me started on the clothes. Sigh………… 

   And then there were the beautiful people. Dressed impeccably and oh so chic.  There is only one way to put it, the Italians have got style. Bucket loads. Although I would’nt fancy trying to get to the mirror to get ready with an Italian man in the vicinity!!!! One of the rules they live by is fa la bella figura  (to cut a fine figure) and they take it very seriously, I think it is as important to make sure they look the part as it is to breathe!! Being from the vainer side of the spectrum myself, I find this brilliant!!! Mr thinks it is ridiculous. But it is lovely to dress up, put on some heels and not have anyone bat an eyelid, although they will look just to check out what everyone looks like! Posing and people watching is a compulsory past time here.

    Then of course there is apertivo, I have mentioned this before on a trip to Turin. It is a genius thing, between 6-9pm almost every bar will have their aperitivo time. Every drink is the same price (€6-€10), second drink is cheaper though, and you get to help yourself to a mountain of fresh, delicious Italian anti-pasti, breads, cheeses and pasta etc. So with when in Rome (or Milan) and all that, it would have been rude not to partake, it is also a very budget friendly way of eating out. Mr and I went to one particularly funky bar and for €30 (for us both) we had a cocktail and a glass of wine each plus basically a 2 course meal in fabulous surroundings. They even do nibbles and drinks in style!

    So all in all I loved Milan, I would go back in a heartbeat (although some lottery winnings would help on the shopping front!) and even Mr could’nt complain about this city, my love affair with Italy has been reignited once again.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Destination Italy

  So what is the plan now??? Well for certain we will not be spending another winter in the mountains and we certainly not be living in France at any point, that much we do know. We loved it and were incredibly lucky to be able to do it in the first place but we both felt it was not for us in the long run (or my sanity in the short term!!) and that is why we went in the first place, to try it one for size and see if we liked it before making any permanent decisions or before making any financial commitments.  Life is for living and right now I feel we are doing just that, going where we can and doing what we want to do, luckily Mr generally agrees with what ‘we’ want to do!!!

  As I am writing this I am sitting on a balcony high above Lake Garda in Italy, the air around me is warm and scented with jasmine blossom and the lights from the villages across the water are twinkling as the evening darkens. Life is good.

   So here we are in Italia, we flew into Milan last Wednesday, the 18th on a one-way flight ticket. All we had booked were 3 nights in a Milan hotel, a hire car booked for 2 weeks on leaving Milan, an apartment in Lake Garda till the 4th of June and a lonely planet guide to Italy. Oh and my very heavy luggage!!! (Possibly the heaviest ‘capsule’ wardrobe ever dragged on the Milan underground!) After that it is in the hands of the gods as they say here.

  Our plan is to travel around this beautiful country for as long as our funds will allow and try to pick up some work along the way somewhere. Where? Who knows? Doing what? God knows. And when? Whenever we can. Italy is notoriously difficult for anyone who is not Italian, is virtually impossible for anyone who does not speak Italian, let alone anyone who is both non-Italian and speaks none of the language. Should be interesting!

   I’ve got dark hair and heels, surely that must count for something????????

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Milan Photo's

                                          Beautiful Milan

The incredible cathedral

The most amazing shopping centre on earth!

Piazza Duomo

Via Spiga, stunning shopping!

Did you know there were canals in Milan???

homeward bound

  Well where to begin. Apologies first off for lack of blogging, I have been insanely busy since our last week in Val and although it is only actually 3 and a half weeks since we left it feels like a lifetime ago. I think by the time the end came it felt like we were both ready to leave, it really was a great experience but not one to be repeated, we are just too old for all that!!

  So after a week of non-stop parties and packing we set off early back home to England on Tuesday 3rd may, motored through France and then crossed the channel back to good old Blighty by nightfall (Mr felt it right that we return to England by boat, the white cliffs of Dover and all that, I did’nt really care but the ferry was half the price of the tunnel so that meant more shopping money!!!!). A very thoughtful friend was waiting for us at our temporary home with the essentials of beer, wine, shower gel, toothpaste, bread and milk and a pair of strong arms to help Mr unload our much-lighter-than-on-the-way-there carload. We had managed to off-load some (a load of) useless stuff we took to people that were staying on for the summer, so that meant that I could actually see out of the rear window on the way home, which had not been the case on the way out there!!!

  We were very lucky to have been left a lovely empty house to sit by some friends who were holidaying whilst we were back so that solved the issue of where to stay while we were back in the UK for two weeks.  And fortunately they arrived back a few days before we were due to set off again so that meant we got to catch up with them too!

   The two weeks flew by in a frenzy of catch-ups, meals and shopping (I was in heaven), and meals and more meeting up with Lil’ sis, friends and family oh and some more shopping and eating!!!!!!! All that healthy eating and exercise in Val went right out of the window. I was back to square one by the end of the fortnight! But it was lovely to meet up with my Lil‘ sis and all my girlies and of course all the little ones too, my how they have grown!!! We had some wonderful evenings and one particularly fun lunch into drinks into more drinks day/night. It was great to feel like a human being again, all dressed up with my favourite girls! Not a single moment wasted with boring man chat.

  We also had the unfavourable task of unpacking/re-packing/packing away. Bloody nightmare. Six months ago it was a task condensing my 3 bedroomed house worth’s of belongings into a carload, this time it was just a case load (    23kgs!!!!! ) and a hand-luggage bag as we were due to fly on to Italy after our two weeks in the UK.

   Travelling light to land of fashion and style is not easy, especially when you have no idea what you will be doing or where you will be let alone how long for!!  But you know I am a trooper and I think I managed to pack the largest capsule wardrobe ever been known, my bag was 23.3kg at check in and my hand luggage was only about 8kg’s, so for me I would say that is good going!!!!!

   Next stop Milano!