Saturday, December 11, 2010

Amo I'Italia!!!

"Don't put off living to next week, next month, next year or next decade. 
The only time you're ever living is in the moment"

Last Thursday I left Lillehammer for a 4 day long weekend in Italy!  Italy was on the top of my "must see" lists so I was thrilled to have the chance to go this year.  There are five of us girlfriends/wives that are living overseas for the hockey season, who are all from Minnesota. All of our men played for the Gophers together, and we are living over seas in different countries.  Fallon (Mike Vanelli's fiance) lives in Stavanger Norway, Emma (Matt Demarchi's girlfriend) lives in Asiago Italy, Katie (Andy Sertich's wife) lives in Zagreb Croatia, and Katy (Danny Irmen's wife) lives in Bolzano Italy.  We chatted a few months ago about how cool it would be to meet somewhere for a girl's trip. We stayed in Bolzano with Katy and Danny and traveled  to Merano (a short drive from Bolzano) and to Venice (about a 3 hour drive from Bolzano).

I met up with Fallon in Munich, Germany on Thursday afternoon at around 2:30pm.  The plan was to meet Fallon outside of my gate and jump on the 2:50ish train to Bolzano which didn't give me much time to get off the plane and find Fallon but we thought we could do it so she bought the tickets. plane arrived about 10 min early which was great but instead of dropping us off at a gate we stopped in the middle of the runway and took a bus to the airport.  We were dropped off at the baggage claim instead of a I had no idea where I was supposed to meet Fallon!  We had borrowed a cell phone from one of the Swedish guys on the team and I thought I had programmed her phone number correctly but forgot to add the country code so the call wouldn't go through!!! By this time I was sweating and on the verge of tears contemplating if I should just jump on a plane back to Norway.  I found someone that looked like they worked in the airport and tried to see if they could help me make a call but he couldn't speak English, so I started roaming around. 

About 25 min later, I found the exit door.  When I walked through there was Fallon!  I ran up, hugged her, and asked if we missed the train...we did.  Before coming over to Europe, I had thought that train tickets were pretty cheap and also traveling throughout Europe.  Not as cheap as I thought!  The travel part is the most expensive (cabs, trains, flights).  So missing that train put us out about $150.  This story is getting a little long so I'll some up the rest of the travel.  After missing the train, we jumped into a cab to take us to another train station about 40 min away to hopefully make the 2nd leg of our trip.  After paying the cab driver 60 Euro ($85) and walking into the train station we found out he had dropped us off at the wrong station!  Fortunately, we were able to grab another train to Bolzano, but it didn't leave until 5:30pm.  So we had almost 2 hours in the train station.  We were more than ready for a big glass of Vino!

Fallon relaxing after a long day of travel...which was not yet over

After our vino break, we needed some dinner before jumping on the train.  Instead of grabbing a sandwhich or a piece of pizza we decided to go into the train station grocery store to see what we could find.  We ended up with a loaf of bakery bread, a brick of what looked to be wonderful italian cheese, deli salami, and a jar of 4 cheese pasta sauce.  It was delicious!!!!  We ate all the way to Bolzano.

Enough said...
I wasn't able to see the scenery much when we arrived in Bolzano because one, it was dark (10pm) and two, it was snowing!!!  I was suprised to see so much snow in Italy.  It was in the high 30's-low 40's while we were there, so it was pretty comfortable to walk around outside.  The next morning I was able to see how beautiful the land around Katy and Danny's house was.  They are surrounded by mountains and vineyards.  I can't imagine how gorgeous it would be in the Summer or Fall.
Driving through the "neighborhood"

View from their patio!
 It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a ride to Merano (about 20 min from Bolzano).  The town is really cute, built on a river and they had a Christmas Market that we wanted to check out.  We strolled around, did a little shopping, and enjoyed the Christmas spirit surrounding us!

I had to take a picture of the ladies taking pictures, tourists!
Walking down a decorated side street
After walking around a bit, we decided to sit down for a coffee (this took place mulitiple times a day).  We stopped in a cozy cafe and ordered expressos and cappuccinos and warmed up a bit before heading to dinner.
The girls!
 (from left to right: Emma, Jill, Chantel, Karla, Fallon, Katy, Me, Katie)

After coffee we went out on our search for some good Italian cuisine.  We stopped at a little restaurant down a side street that had pasta and pizza...perfect!  It was so strange to see the prices on the menu compared to Norway.  I could get a drink and a pasta or pizza for $10 instead of $40!  We all got a mixture of pasta and pizza.  I think everyone really enjoyed their food.  One of the differences between Norway and Italy that I noticed was when ordering food or talking to anyone Italian, you have to TRY and speak Italian to them even if it comes out wrong.  They like if you at least try...otherwise they pretend they can't understand you, when they really can.  In Norway, if you say "English?" they will automatically start speaking English happily.  In Italy...not so much.  They were pretty rude about it.  I guess I can understand that.

That night a few of the girls decided to go into downtown Bolzano to check out their Christmas market.  It was beautiful!  Much larger than Merano.  Tents were set up all over the place selling Gluvine, sausage, pastries, etc.  For those of you who don't know what Gluvine is it's a hot spiced wine.  You can get it in white or red wine.  I thought it was very good!  Some people think its a little strong.  The Gluvine was served in Bolzano Christmas mugs.  They design a new mug each year for Christmas and you pay an extra 2 Euro for the mug or you can return it and get your 2 Euro back. 
The center of the Christmas market, so pretty!

We had planned on going to Venice on Saturday but found out that the city was flooded, which apparently happens often, so instead we went and explored Bolzano in the daytime. The weather was great and there were a ton of people strolling around the city. 

On Sunday we left for our 2 1/2 hour drive to Venice.  It was a little overcast but the city wasn't under water so we were going! At this point a couple of the girls had left to head back to there own cities so there were only 5 of us.  The entire drive from Bolzano to Venice is all highway and we had a GPS which made it very easy.  We had left a little later than we had wanted (I forgot to put my contacts in, who does that!!!....Fallon forgot her camera, and the car didn't have any gas).  We got to Venice around 2pm, parked our car in a ramp and took a tram over to the city. Venice looks just like it does in movies and in pictures.  I felt like I was on a set of a movie the entire time. Narrow sidestreets, little waterside cafe's, gondolas, cobblestone, etc.  With the holidays approaching, the city was full of Christmas decorations and lights.  It was great!
Standing on one of the many bridges

For those of you that don't know, Venice is basically built on water so you don't see cars or taxis driving around.  Instead you take water taxis which are big boats that take people around the city.  I think we paid about 6 Euro to get to the other side of the city and you were able to use that ticket for up to an hour.  They have gondolas to ride but those are REALLY expensive.  The guy we asked said he charged 40-60 Euro per person!  We didn't end up taking the gondolas, but I took a picture.  You can also see the water taxi in the background.

We only had about 3 hours of day light left when we arrived in Venice but I'm happy we got to see the city at night. All the Christmas lights came on and the cafe's and restaurants were alive!

We stopped for some wine and cheese at a little restaurant down one of the million side alley's and relaxed a bit.  It felt so surreal to be sitting in Venice, Italy with a bunch of girlfriends drinking wine!  Venice was beautiful in the winter but I would love to see it in the summer months and hopefully with Gino next time.  Everyone has to visit Italy at some point in there life.  It was probably the country that felt the most "European" since I've been here.  Or at least what I have always thought Europe would feel like. 
Fallon and I had to leave the next morning for the airport in Munich so we left Venice at about 8pm for our drive home.  The trip was awesome!  I'm so happy I was able to meet up with all the girls. 
We will always have Italia!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful trip to see Italy and be with your friends. Missing the train in Germany sounds a little scary. Glad everything worked out. Your Mom and I are becoming seriously jealous of your European travels. Wish we were there with you. Enjoy every minute of it.

  2. Laura is sounds amazing. Travel you always learn a thing or two about public transportation. Especially in Europe LOL. I definately had an experience of going to the wrong train station. I love how they decorate the streets over there. It is soo cute. Balzano looks great and it sounds like you had a wonderful time with the girls. Venice is fabulous. I spent 28 hours there once and would love to go back there in the summer. Maybe this summer when I go to Greece. The pictures you took of Venice are fabulous. Keep enjoying your time. I say do as much as you can you will never regret it!

    Miss your fabulous self,


  3. Hey! Just found your blog in a round about way! My husband knows your husband ... SMALL world right? Anyway, we were in Italy last year. SO beautiful. I fell in love with Venice and Florence ... and made it to Bolzano once!