Lago Iseo

Again I am going to start out with a confession – WTF is Italy doing to me?!  Going to church, giving confessions, crying….this place is magical I tell you!  Actually, for the first two days I decided that Lake Iseo sucked arse, mostly because it rained non-stop during that time.  This little sunshine kitty does not like cloudy days and it certainly does shade my bright and cheery outlook on life (right…) with thunderstorm-sized clouds.  At a point when I started contemplating ending my trip early and just coming home, I finally decided it might be a good idea to check the weather to see how long the storms would really last (as in life, they never last long).  This is when I found out that two of the villages I visited in Cinque Terre had washed into the sea from all of the rain and I decided to stop bitching about anything (thanks, Mom, for being one step ahead of me on all of the news and crap!).

By Day 2, the rain had stopped long enough that I could get out of the frickin’ cold ass hotel and go buy some sweaters.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is the cutest place I have ever seen which it is run by an Old Italian Grandmother and her kids – she even prepares your café lattes in the morning and turns the bed down at night (first jail cell I have stayed in on my budget to do that!), but they only turn the heat on once during the morning hours.  I thought the first day that the heat was broken, then I figured out the family was just being cheap, so I love them but I also think they are jerks at the same time (kind of like most people do about their families).  Now I that I have a few sweaters, I am warmer and happier, but I need to find a post office to mail back the summer stuff that I didn’t get to wear because it wasn’t warm enough anyway.

Finally on Day 3 the clouds broke, the sun came out and my mood lifted with the flood of Vitamin D.  Hallelujah!  Of course, I was supposed to check out of my hotel and head somewhere.  To where, I hadn’t quite figured out yet, so I decided it was good to stay one more day, enjoy the lake and then come up with a plan.  I got on the tourist taxi over to the large island, Monte Isola where I hiked much of the afternoon.  There was a point when I almost slid off the side of the hill (it had been raining you know, and the Italians really don’t give much thought to stabilizing their hiking trails – if your dumbass is going to be out hiking then you risk falling off the mountain, so be it) that I thought maybe this wasn’t the brightest of ideas, being in the middle of nowheres-ville Italy with no ID and no one really knowing where I was to fall off the side of the damn hill.  So, I turned around and ended up on a different route that went up through the mountain rather along the side of it (of course, it was way too logical to just stop hiking at this point, plus my body needed to move after 3 days of sitting inside to hide from cold and rain!).

When I got to a place where the trees broke to reveal a gorgeous panoramic view of the island and lake, I stopped to catch my breath and take a picture.  At this point, I asked out loud “Where am I going anyway?” then turned around to see a picnic table……seriously!  “I guess I am going to have lunch”, I thought, so I sat down and enjoyed the picnic I had packed for myself that morning and hung out with the dog that came to beg for half of my sandwich (she did not get it, but I did offer her a piece of apple, which she refused.  I guess not all dogs like fruit and veggies like mine – losers).

Thank goodness my dumbass was I the Scouts because I was able to find my way back down the mountain. After taking the tourist taxi back to Iseo, I had a wonderful dinner of seafood risotto.  I know that all of you picky eaters will be grossed out, so you don’t have to look at the picture because there are seafood parts in the seafood risotto, and they were DE-li-cious!

High Fashion=High Heels and Fuuuuuhh-Gleeee

I think I have come to that age in life where you just don’t care about being “cool” anymore.  I catch myself saying things like “damn kids” and “the younger generation” and I am not that old!  This causes me to worry about how I will behave when I am 80+ (assuming I make it to that age)…..probably worse than my grandfather, who was, in the kindest of ways, a cantankerous old fart.  Possibly the “high fashion” styles really are just that f-ugly (f***in’ ugly).

Either way, I don’t get it, nor would I be caught dead in something like this….


Considering this guy is much older than me, I am going to go with the latter and hope that I will behave better than my grandfather did when he observed things in the world that didn’t make any sense (those of you that know me are shaking your head right now, I just know it….I love you anyway).  The rumor about Italian women is true, though, they are impeccably dressed and gorgeous.  Even when they aren’t gorgeous they are just beautiful.  Oh and they do indeed wear heels EVERYWHERE they go (as I saw on my hike through Cinque Terre).  Here again, I have moved past the point in my life where an outfit like this would be an acceptable selection for a Sunday afternoon in the piazza….

She rocked it, however, so more power to you, sister!  I just look at that and think “oh my back, my neck – my neck and my back!” (if you haven’t seen Friday yet, get out from under your rock, get high and rent that s**t, yo!)  I wonder if the people here dress so well because the city itself looks like crap-O-la – like Berlin, leftovers from the Communist regime are apparent with the abundant usage of gray paint and boring industrial architecture.

Obviously, I am a bit sassier than yesterday’s post.  I haven’t slept well in several days and I get a little on the crab-ass, walkin’ sideways side – good thing no one has to deal with me but me huh?  I took the train to Lago Iseo yesterday which is an about an hour and a half train ride from Milan.  It is one of the largest, maybe the largest, lakes in Europe and it is quite beautiful.  I have not been able to enjoy it much because it is quite cold and rainy.  I warmed myself with some zuppa (soup) for dinner last night at a restaurant just across the bay from my hotel.  I was going to order water to drink and when the waitress asked, “vini dell cassa o rosso” was flying out of my mouth.  (Now, who said that?!)

I was hoping to hike around the island set on the middle of the lake today, but alas they are calling for more than 2” of rain this afternoon, so I am going to go trade in my hiking shoes for some flippers.  Sun should be out tomorrow, and I will be back to my picture-taking- whore-like ways then.  Until then, I will be hiding in a café drinking too many lattes, working on homework, and writing (hmmmmm…..maybe this is why I don’t  sleep…interesting….)


The Last Supper or BUST!

I have to start out today’s post with a confession of sorts (seeing as how I am in the land of oober religious crap and all).  The last few days have worn me down.  I had been moving so much through the first half of my trip, sitting for several days in Santorini was both welcomingly restorative and paradoxically irritating. Being in a place that was so remote can give the soul space to breathe and move, but can also make you feel completely land locked at the same time.  I realized that I spend way too much time thinking about people that piss me off versus the people in my life that I love and care for.  I have a new game now to catch myself ruminating about a-holes, then gently remind myself to wonder about how one of you are doing or where you are or worry if everything is okay in your lives instead.  I also realized that I have no fear about my present moment circumstances, yet total fear surrounding stories and bulls**t conversations I make up in my head.  Of course, I have a lot of time these days to keep myself company and the stories I can make up are definitely interesting, but they have worn out their welcome.

There was a certain liberation that came with this realization and then a sense of impending doom followed shortly thereafter.  Having no fear has its good and its bad parts.  Lack of fear is what propelled me to take this little adventure in the first place, but then I landed me smack dab in the middle of the riots in Athens (causing my poor parents a tremendous amount of angst – sorry!).  This led to my awareness that I have spent most of this journey riding on faith – THIS is faith – that things will work out when I get to wherever I am going and I don’t really need to know much more than where I am right now (and possibly 3-feet in front of me).  The past few days I have just trusted that I would make it from Santorini to Athens to Milan, that at some point I would get there, and I did. Much of the trip, I have booked train tickets 5-minutes before I leave the station, or a hotel an hour before I arrive, with little concern as to the outcome because it will be the same regardless – I will get there, I will find somewhere to stay, I will probably get lost looking for my hotel, have to back track, and then eventually find it – “no problem” (This the #1 most heard phrase thus far in all of Europe….no coincidence I think).

Today was no different, then, in my “helter-skelter, I am just gonna wing it” plan.  After arriving at my hotel yesterday evening, I realized that I should probably think about getting a ticket for the Cenacolo Vinciano Museum in order to view Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper because it was really the only reason that I flew into this ugly ass city.  (Why is it that the Fashion Capital of the World looks like it was plucked straight from the USSR circa 1982 and slammed into Northern Italy?) I asked the gentlemen at the front desk about getting tickets, and they said it was sold out until November. WTF?!  I am not sitting in Milan until November!  (first no Acropolis and now no Last Supper?! Maybe my luck had turned after all….POOP I say!)  They gave me the phone number of a tour company that I could call to see if they had any spots left on their city tour which included a ticket to view the Last Supper.  After I got to my room, I tried to call the number a few times, but no answer.  “No problem” I told myself, I decided I would get up early this morning and head over to the Museum ticket office (45 minutes away by subway) to see if anyone either cancelled or no showed.  I didn’t have anything else better to do, so why not, right?!

So, I woke up nice and early… 9am….ate breakfast in the shitty cafeteria of the hotel, then jumped on the subway to Cenacolo.  When I walked into the ticket office, posted there was a big sign “No Tickets. No Cancellations.”  I pretended that I was illiterate and walked up to the desk to ask about tickets anyway. Sometimes, playing dumb has its advantages; I must remind myself of this.  The man behind the desk said ONE ticket was available but only for 12:15pm (it was now 10:52am) – SOLD, Senorge!  I purchased the ticket then ran gleefully back outside and once around the Piazza with the all of the other little kids.  I was so, so grateful to be able to see the artwork that I started crying (of course) and I hadn’t even seen the damn painting yet!  After my lap around the square, I immediately walked into the church that houses the Monastery where the painting was done, caught the end of mass (where we say my FAVORITE part), said a big thank you to the Universe, and then went across the street for a cappuccino while I waited (like I really needed any caffeine, but whatever).

At high Noon, I left the café and crossed back over to the Museum to stand in the queue in order to see this legendary piece of work.  You would have thought I was waiting to see the Rolling Stones as giddy as I was standing there, well bouncing around from foot-to-foot is more like it.  At 12:15pm, the man came in the room to scan our tickets – only 25 people are allowed into the room where the painting was done at a time.  Then, you all get corralled into another smaller glass room where the doors shut behind you.  It’s all very Mission Impossible like when the next set of doors open and the entire group of people is herded from one room to the next and again the doors shut behind you.  From there we waited forever until the final set of doors opened and we were now free to view the LAST SUPPER!!!!  Wow, wow, W-O-W!  I ran right up to the front of the room and just stood in awe, then said (with my best five-year-old outside voice possible) “There is no WAY that is John! Definitely Mary – the figure is way too feminine to be a dude!”  To which everyone started at me like I had the bubonic plague – probably because they didn’t speak English (at least that is what I am going with).

It amazing how fragile the painting is, the paint fades rather quickly – hence the need for all of the rules.  There was no way I was going to sneak a picture of this one, so the best I can show you is the picture of the work that is hung in the hallway on the way out of the viewing area.  Da Vinci experimented with a new technique when he painted the Last Supper for Duke Ludovico Sforza, which allowed him to work slowly and paint over things as needed, but it also made the painting very fragile to the elements.  It has been
restored something like 17 times, the last one being in 1999.  On the south end of the room is another painting of the Crucifixion, but it gets little air time next to the great master and goes by pretty much unobserved at the opposite end of the hall.  (Poor guy who painted it – who ever that was).

The fifteen minutes we were allotted to view the artwork sailed by and before I knew it I was back out in the plaza and in the direction of downtown to tour the Duomo di Milano, Castello Sforzesco and another monument to the Great Vittorio Emanuele. The Duomo is the 2nd largest church in Italy (next to the Vatican – since it was the capital at one time) and you can walk on the ROOF!  That was awesome – and totally fun to see all of the people who are afraid of heights freak out (if you know you are afraid of heights, WHY would you go up on a giant roof with no safety harnesses or railings and crap?).  After seeing the interior of the Basilica, I was conned out of another 4-euros to go to the basement and see the Baptistery that was constructed in the 4th century – along with the original church. It was kiiind of cool, but not as cool as the Last Supper – and that only cost 6.50 – damn Catholics are scam artists I tell you!

The Castello was nice, mostly because it had a huge park behind it where many people were out enjoying the beautiful fall weather here.  It is kind of nice to be in a place that actually has a fall season for more than two weeks, where the leaves slowly change from green to vibrant shades of orange, yellow, deep purples and reds.  The smell of roasted chestnuts from the street vendors is everywhere. And people are bundled up as if it were mid-winter.  It is 60-degrees people – that is shorts weather in Colorado!  But, it gave me a good reason to go tour the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele – which is not quite as cool as the monument in Rome, I have to say, but they do like their fashion here in Milan, so instead of a big monument, there are big name designers that you can buy all of kinds of over-priced crap from….Prada is outside my travel budget and over my pay grade, so I decided it was time to head back towards the hotel.  I stopped for dinner along the way, but forgot to take pics of it…so I won’t tell you what wonderful things I had to eat.  HA!

I now sit here in my hotel, in the middle of the Indian neighborhood in Milan, Italy, full from eating too much spaghetti with clam sauce and oodles of olio (oh damn it slipped out sorry!), thinking of the wonders of the day as I listen to the Latin Music that is bumpin’ up from the Chinese wedding taking place in the Reception Hall downstairs.  Isn’t globalization grand?!