Monday, October 22, 2012

Exploring A New Country

Has it really been a month since my last post???  Time is passing much faster with a baby in our lives!  This last month has been a complete blur. So much has gone on, I don't think I'll remember all of it, lucky for you:)  but here I go.

We're pretty settled and enjoying Alleghe and Italy as a whole.  The culture, people, food, sights, we can't complain too much.  Except for ooooonnnne thing, the late hockey games!!!!!  I was used to getting out of the house to watch Gino play in 2 or 3 games a week last year. But the games in Italy are late, well late for a 4 month old, 8:30pm.  I've taken Lily to 2 games. The first one, I brought the stroller, which is massive and too big for the tiny bleachers in the arena so I had to sit in the last row on the top and set the stroller behind me.  Lily was pretty good and if she was awake, she was quiet/calm.  But I felt so guilty for keeping her out until almost midnight!  I decided after that, I wasn't going to sit through all the games and the games I am able to attend, I will only stay for a period.  Big change from last season! (For those of you that don't know, those aren't ear muffs on her head, they're noise headphones to block the sound.  Alot of my hockey wife friends use them, but fans at the game had never heard or seen of them before).  I may have bundled her up a little too much that game... She was a big ball of sweat when we got home. oopsy!
Here's a little Hockey talk... There are 10 teams in the Italian A league, Milan 4 1/2 hrs, Valpellice 6 hrs, Fassa 45min, Asiago 2 hrs, Cortina 45 min, Pontebba 2 1/2 hrs, Bolzano 1 1/2 hrs, Renon 2 hrs, and Brunico 2 hrs. Alleghe is currently 7-5. 4th in the standings.  Gino tore a couple muscles in his groin a few weeks ago and has been out.  He rested it up and has now started rehab. He'll probably be back after the November break around the 15th.  If you'd like to follow Gino and the team this year. Here is the link to Pointstreak. 

The end of Sept and the beginning of Oct were beautiful.  I spent my days enjoying alot of walks along the river by our house and one crazy hike with a new friend, Francesca.  I had heard her and a few other girls talk about the hiking they do in the mountains and thought, how fun! I can totally do that.  How hard can a little hiking be? I hiked my fair share in Lillehammer and it was always pretty easy. This was a little different.  For one, the mountains here are insane.  Two, this was more like my version of rock climbing then a stroll through the woods on a nicely laid out path.  We were gone for about 4/5 hrs and were completely above the tree line.  I was breathing hard pretty much the entire time.  (that could be due to the fact that I haven't worked out in almost 8 months).  But when we got to the top, it was absolutley breathtaking, PUN INTENDED.  I had thought we would see a bunch of animals since we were in the "wild" but the only animal Francesca said she would most likely see would be a viper..yes a VIPER SNAKE! She didn't seem too worried about it.  Once we were at the top of the pass, there was a restaurant/motel where alot of hikers stop for food and possibly a nights stay.  I guess there are no roads that lead all the way up, so there's a helicopter pad where food is flown in for the season (Summer-end of Sept).  The person that working at the restaurant, stays for those few months and then hikes or gets flown back down at the end of the season. 
Looking down on Alleghe from Mount Civetta, over 3000 meters high, we weren't at the very top... 
Coldai Lake, right on the other side of the pass. You can see the little trail we followed.

 We were lucky enough to have my parents visit us again this year! They arrived on Oct 4th and stayed for a few weeks, traveling around Italy.  They of course were excited to see a new country, I mean who wouldn't want to see Italy!? But they were most excited to see Lily:).  I had been practicing my driving since we got here and felt comfortable enough for the 2 hour drive to Venice to pick them up at the airport.  Thankfully, one of the sweet girls here road with me and helped out with Lily...who by the way, had a complete meltdown about 10 min into the drive.  We had to pull over to calm her down and I even considered driving her back home to Gino and having him take her to his game.  I don't know what happened...she was fed and happy when we left the house and then BAM! she flipped.  I guess that's a baby for you.  We finally got her calm enough to continue driving and were about 45 min late in picking them up.  I did pretty well with the drive and managed not to wreck the car or harm any pedestrians.  I would say it was a success.
We drove into Belluno (45 min drive) the day after they arrived, to stock up on some groceries and show them the city a bit. We all enjoyed a few Spritz Aperols on a patio.  For those of you that aren't familiar Spritz Aperol, it's a very popular drink in the Veneto Italy region. It's made with Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), Aperol (orange flavored liquor) and a splash of soda water. 

Lily enjoying the view

The Sunday after they arrived, Gino had the day off, and my parents 35th wedding anniversary! So, we decided to make a day trip to Venice.  It was a comfortable 73 degrees!  Perfect for strolling around the city.  Im predicting a few more Venice trips this year, it's too easy of a drive and such a cool city to show visitors.  We got there right around 11 and decided to jump on a water taxi to enjoy the sites as we made our way to San Marco Square.  That's where you can find the church of St. Mark which dates back to the 1500's and also a variety of shops/restaurants and MANY touristy souvenir stands.
After looking around the Piazza for a while and stepping inside the church, it was time for lunch.  Try finding room on a patio in Venice spacious enough to fit a stroller on a beautiful Sunday afternoon...impossible.  I think we passed about 60 restaurants and finally settled on sitting in the back corner room of a restaurant which looked to me, like it was reserved for strollers.  We were one of about 5 families with strollers in this little room.  It had a Chucky Cheese feel to it.  The meal was actually tasty and of course we had to enjoy another Spritz.

After lunch we strolled the many canalled streets and arrived at the Rialto Bridge for a couple photos.
Don't be fooled...a ride can end up costing 200 Euro. It's a joke.  They can charge whatever they want. You can take a water taxi for 7 Euro and  basically get the same experience.  The gondoliers attend a school to perfect this craft, they make very good money.  Fun Fact: Up until 2010, there were only male gondoliers in Venice.

The Famous Rialto Bridge
As we were walking down some of the small streets, we stopped at a glass shop so my mom could browse.  When we all came out, Gino was holding Lily and she just let out a huge laugh! It was the first we had ever heard.  It was the biggest chuckle coming from such a little girl!  We were all screaming and laughing and must have been making a scene because a guy near us asked if he could take her picture, he thought she was a hoot! Such a special moment that I will forever remember on the streets of Venice. When I think of our trip, I'll probably remember that over anything we ever saw:)

We ended the day with a little night cap before our drive back to Alleghe.  There were 2 Canadian couples sitting next to us wondering how old Lily was. When we told them 3 months, they said that she'll probably see more in her first year than they will in their lifetime.  It took them 60 years to get to Venice.  Too bad she won't remember any of it! I didn't feel too bad for them, they were staying in Venice for 2 nights and then taking a 2 week Mediterranean cruise.  Sounds pretty amazing to me!

Lily was a sweetheart the entire day and we were so thankful she let us tour around without a hassle. We've found, in the last 2 months since we've been here, she actually sleeps and is much better when we are out and about then at home!  I think she's just so aware of her surroungings and loves to look around, she gets bored at home.  For all of you with kids and think you can't travel to Europe or Venice in particular, I was told by numerous people that Venice isn't stroller friendly...which it isn't.  But at the same time, I wouldn't have been able to carry her around in the Bjorn for 6 hours.  We've been there twice now this year with a stroller and as long as you have someone with you to help lift it up and down the bridges, your good!  We've learned that traveling is definitely different with a baby, but you can totally do it.  You just adjust your schedule a little and account for extra time and it can be just as enjoyable.  Our next big trip will be to Rome in a few weeks...I'll let you know if my opinion changes at all after that one. 

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  We loved spending it with you!
The week that followed was full of a few hockey games, hikes, the Agordo market, and driving to Cortina.  I have to mention the hike that my parents, Lily and I went on, because it actually had some history to it.  My parents found this trail, Serrai, in Sottoguda. It's an all natural gorge that was created by a strong earth quake and water erosion. We've been told to visit in the winter to see the frozen waterfalls that people will actually climb!  This area was used by soldiers in WWI  to transport weapons and other supplies through and also dug out caves in the side of the rock to hide gun powder etc.  The trail is in a little valley between the mountains and theres a creek that flows through the middle.  Its breathtaking! 
You can't go very far in Italy without seeing a shrine to Mary. They are scattered all along the mountain roadways and trails.  Most of the time, you'll see candles lit near them at night.

Caves built into the rock

Driving home from Cortina, you can see Lake Alleghe in the background
The following Sunday was Gino's Birthday!  Lily woke up early to give daddy a little gift.
We were debating on whether to drive to Verona or Lake Garda for the day.  They are both about a 3 hour drive from us.  Since my parents were going to be seeing Florence and Rome a few days after, we thought maybe doing another Italian city would just be too redundant, so we thought Lake Garda would be fun and different.  Lake Garda is very similar to Lake Como, but Garda happens to be alot closer to us.  I would love to someday see Como as well.  The weather called for pretty clear skies for the most part so we were good to go!  The drive to Lake Garda from Alleghe is really beautiful.  You go through sprawling vineyards and orchards through the valley and Bolzano.  We counted probably a dozen castles perched up on the hills.  That was neat for us, you don't see casltes everyday!

Lake Garda is about 30 miles long and ranges from 1-10 miles wide in some areas.  The first town we arrived in was Riva del Garda and unfortunatley, the weather was far from sunny:( I wasn't able to get a good picture but here's one I found on google so you can get an idea of how beautiful this area is.

 It was actually raining!  We hoped that by the time we arrived in Limone that the clouds would lift a bit.  Luckily they did! 

unfortunately you can't see the mountains too well in the background

Settling in at a restaurant over looking the water for yet another Spritz

We thought it was breathtaking and so quaint in the Fall, I can't imagine how amazing it would be in the Summer.  All the hotels that were built up on the mountain side had beautiful lagoon pools lined with palm trees.  I'm sorry Minnesota, but pools and water in general look better with a palm tree next to them, don't they?   I'm just glad we were able to see it before the snow hits...  If we had more time I would have loved to drive to the south end of the lake to Sirmone. Which I heard so many wonderful things about.  Instead of mountains, its more flat but beautiful water and again..castles!

Google Pic

The rest of the day was spent ejoying the cobble stone shopping streets of Limone and having Bruschetta and Spritz's next to an old Lemon plantation overlooking the water.  Turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. 

Alot went on this month but I think the highlight was spending 2 weeks with my parents exploring more of Italy and loving up Lily.  She is very lucky to have so many people in her life that love her and we feel lucky to be able to share our life in Europe with our families. 

Well, it's almost 2pm here and I have yet to brush my teeth or eat for the day, with that said, I'll leave you with a little video that will hopefully start your Monday off on a good note.  PS.  She doesn't quite get it just yet, and I think she enjoys sucking on the sides more than actually bouncing but we think it's cute. Ciao!




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