Ciao a tutti…(Hello Everyone)!
It’s that time of year again where I start documenting my adventures so everyone is able to follow my crazy life! Keeping a blog not only gives my readers a chance to see and experience the things I am doing, but it’s also a great way for me to keep track of all the chapters in my life. It gives me a way to look back on my accomplishments as well as the amazing opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to partake in!
It has been quite some time since my last update (I was in Austria to be exact) so it may take me a few entries to get my writing touch back…however, I have to start somewhere!!
For those of you who are unaware, I am currently in Bolzano, Italy, playing hockey for the Bolzano Eagles (EVB84)! The city of Bolzano is the capital of the province-South Tyrol and is located in northern Italy. The people here in Bolzano speak Italian, German (because it was once part of Austria) and “some” English as well.
In the days leading up to my departure for Bolzano, I was able to squeeze in a few last- minute adventures with some friends before packing it up for another winter across the Atlantic Ocean. Last year I left at the beginning of August and was unable to enjoy my favorite season, Fall. This year I left on September 20th so my last weekend in Vermont was spent enjoying the cool, crisp weather of the Green Mountains!! I spent my Saturday morning outside in the sunshine reminiscing about my high school days as a Laker, watching and supporting both the field hockey team and the girl’s soccer team (victories all around)! My high school days seemed like they would last forever. It was a moment in time where I was content and didn’t want anything else. My friends and teammates surrounded me so I didn’t need or want anything more…I wanted high school as my past, present and future. When the time came where I couldn’t have it as my present and future I realized that nothing lasts forever. Now that I look back I realize it is just another great chapter in the “Book of Life”! A few words of the wise to my high school readers-enjoy it while it lasts, don’t be afraid to let it go, butalways re-visit the pages you created that are now simply memories to look back on!
Enough with the sappy stuff! So, after the visit down memory lane I decided to go apple picking with Becky-Sue, Kurr$, Err-ka and Ry-guy! We went to Chapin’s Orchard in Essex, VT. The whole day resembled what the Fall season is to me. We started out with a hayride through the orchard, followed by some apple picking. After strolling through the apple-filled trees and filling our bags to the top, we went back to the barn and enjoyed some hot apple cider and some delicious cider donuts! On top of that we ended our adventure by picking out some pumpkins.
Kari, Erica, Ryan and I walking through the orchard (photo credit to Becky-sue)!
The day ended with some friends and family coming to the house to have a nice “departure” dinner. We enjoyed each other’s company, good food and a nice bonfire with some fireworks to bring a great day to a close. Thanks to the Carney’s, the Morrison’s (Jmoll), the Clark’s, Phil & Kait, Brit & Newts (Snoopy) and of course my wonderful parents and baby brother for a great night!
On Sunday I went to North Ramp Aviation in South Burlington, Vermont for a one hour, learn to fly and scenic tour from the sky! I brought along my friends Molly (PIC) and Katie to share the experience with me (believe me it was an experience to say the least)! The way it worked was I actually got to be the pilot for the trip (so I sat in the pilot’s seat) and the instructor sat in the co-pilot seat and “helped” me out! I’ll admit he did most of the flying BUT I like to tell myself I could do it alone if I had to!!
I spent all day Monday saying goodbye to people and it was Monday night before I knew it…and no I hadn’t packed yet! I’m always procrastinating until the very last second but at least this year I didn’t wait until the morning I was leaving! (Hey, you try and decide what to pack for 7 months and then come talk to me)!! I had the pleasure to spend my last night with Kale, Crit-man, Philip, Kait and Alysia who came to the house to say their last goodbyes (Becky-sue was there too). After they left I finally got around to packing and got to bed around 2:00am.
I received a wake up call from my sister and “her” dog, Peyton, on Tuesday morning who came to the house to give me one last hug before I left…I then said bye to Papa C, Philip, Becks, Bauer and Burton and was off to the airport shortly after with Mama K. It’s always hard to say goodbye but I will say it was definitely much easier this time around.
When I checked in at the airport, the lady working for Delta was able to send my bags from Burlington, straight through to Italy so I wouldn’t have to pick them up in New York and re-check them (like I had to last year). I was so grateful for this because it was a major pain in the butt to find my way through JFK from terminal 2 to terminal 8 while carrying my backpack and pushing a duffle bag, two large luggage bags, my hockey bag and a stick bag! Granted I didn’t have nearly as much stuff this year but I think you feel my pain and understand why I was so relieved after seeing the picture from last year!
The flight from BTV-JFK was quick and easy and I was lucky enough to have the whole row to myself (which is always a plus). When I landed I had about a five-hour layover in JFK to kill. Instead of taking my sweet time to get to where I needed to go, I decided to get everything done sooner than later just in case I ran into any problems. So, I switched terminals (to the international terminal) checked myself in, got through security, grabbed some food and settled down at my gate for a nice long wait! The flight was delayed about an hour but we finally boarded around 6:00pm. At that time I was preparing myself for a very long flight! I got one last look at NYC before I was up in the clouds again crossing the Atlantic and waiting to touchdown at the Dusseldorf International Airport in Germany.
Since my flight from the States was delayed, I got into Dusseldorf late and had to hurry to my connection flight to Verona, Italy. I got through security and made it to my gate with about ten minutes to spare. I had just enough time for a bathroom break and then I boarded yet another plane!
This was a very short flight only lasting about an hour. With the flight being so short, we were able to fly at a very low elevation. For those of you who are not so good with geography I will help you out and inform you that Germany and Italy are separated by the Alps! Lucky me, it was a perfectly clear day and we literally flew right over them. It was a breathtaking view to say the least…Have a look for yourself!!
It was just past 9:30am on Wednesday morning when I touched down in Verona, Italy! Not getting too much sleep on the planes, I was pretty tired but the day was just beginning. I was one of the first people to arrive at the luggage carousel so I figured I would get a cart for all of my belongings. Retrieving a cart in Europe is much different than the States. Instead of paying $5.00 dollars or some crazy amount, in order to get one in Europe you must insert a 50-cent Euro coin in the handle of the cart to unlock it. When you are finished using it you attach the lock again to another cart and pull out the coin (so essentially it is free to use as long as you have the right coin to unlock it). Realizing that I only had Euro bills and no coins, I asked someone for change. The first words I spoke in Italy were unfortunately, “Excuse me, do you speak English”? I’m not very proud of it but I got what I needed!
After getting my cart, I stood at the start of the carousel and the very first bag on the belt was mine! My stick bag came out first and this was an unbelievable feeling to know that my stuff had in fact arrived! A few minutes later out popped my hockey bag. Everything was perfect until I noticed I was the only one left standing there waiting for luggage…the bag with all my clothes was not on the belt! An officer approached me and didn’t speak English. I “tried” telling him I was missing one more bag by using my hands and holding up the number one followed by pointing to my bags (I figured Italians talk with their hands so a little sign language might help)! He apparently understood what I meant and preceded to page someone over his radio. They responded with what I thought was, “there are more bags to come (obviously in Italian) but this is what I interpreted from the officers hand motions and broken English! My heart leapt back out of my stomach and I figured my bag was just so heavy that it didn’t make it on the belt for some reason. My hopes were soon crushed when the officer smiled at me and said, “Finito”! He waved his hand and motioned for me to follow him. My Italian comprehension at this point was slim to none, but this I understood. At that point all I really wanted to do was cry but at the same time all I could do was smile and laugh because something like that would happen to me! The officer brought me to the lost luggage window and I waited there for someone to assist me. The lady behind the glass window asked me what my bag looked like, the color and the size and then asked me for an address where I would be staying. Not knowing anything at all, I told her I was meeting people at the airport and they could tell her everything. I gathered up my belongings and walked through the security doors where my “pick-up” people were waiting for me. Two teammates of mine, Giulia (my roommate) and Beatrix met me at the airport with the vice president of the Bolzano Eagles Hockey Club, Manfred. I explained to them that my bag did not arrive and that the lady at the lost luggage window was waiting for us because she needed some more information. After giving her all the information she needed no one had any idea where my bag was. Since there was nothing to do but wait for them to call, we left the airport and headed for Bolzano.
I had to go three days without my bag until it arrived late Friday night. Luckily for me I packed my toothbrush, an extra shirt, some socks and a pair of shorts in my carry on bag so I did have a few things but I can definitely say that I showered more than usual in those first three days!
I have finally settled down in my new home with my roommate, Giulia. We live in an apartment building owned by a hotel in Bolzano. There is a heated indoor and outdoor pool, a fitness room as well as a spa (spoiled I know)! It is in a quiet area surrounded by mountains and I am privileged to be able to call it my home.
I have been to a handful of practices so far that have all gone great. The first couple of times on the ice I had to get my legs back up and running but I think by the first game I will be all set to go! Our team skates with the U20 Men’s team to get a more challenging and faster tempo practice in the one-hour time slot that we have. The rink is located up a mountain road and is essentially an outdoor rink with only a roof and partial walls. It is much different than what we have at home, which makes it a great experience for me. At the first few practices the rink was filled with thick fog because the temperature outside was so warm. It was so bad that you could barely see 20ft in front of you! It was tough to get used to but it only makes you better! There is another rink next to the one I’ve been skating on that doesn’t have a roof. This is only frozen in the winter so for now we use it as a warm-up area and play soccer. It takes me back to recess in grade school because we use an old, tattered, torn up soccer ball and play on a cement surface. It’s a lot of fun and everyone makes the best of it! On a side note: our games start in a week so I will be sure to keep you all posted on how those turn out!
The very first restaurant I went to was called Kampill, which seems to be a team favorite! It is a very casual, easy-going setting and has somewhat of a fast food type of feel but only because your food comes within minutes of ordering it. When you think of fast food you think of McDonalds or Taco Bell but believe me this is nothing like that! There is a room filled with wooden tables and benches to sit and eat at or there is a bar that you can sit at that looks somewhat like a burger joint. They also have booths and high tables that you can sit around. But my favorite is the over-sized barrels that they turned into mini rooms for private parties. My first time at Kampill we sat in a barrel (botte) and I ordered spaghetti caprese which is spaghetti with sauce, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella balls…perfetto! I have also had the pizza there which is very delicious as well.
I thought I was an Italian but I found out quickly that I couldn’t even spin my spaghetti the correct way! I am learning quickly how to be a true Italian-American starting with spinning my pasta without a spoon…apparently that is the way the German’s do it (I must of picked up that habit in Austria)! Each time I eat spaghetti I get better and better at it. I end up with less and less loose ends on my fork each and every bite. Soon enough I will be a pro at it which means I’m headed in the right direction to start being known as the ITALIAN-American and not just the American!
I have been here just under two weeks now and I’ve wasted no time to start learning the language. Giulia started teaching me the very first day I arrived and has already told me I have killed the Italian language! She writes Italian in a small journal for me and we call it, “The New, New Testament”! It is my Bible that I must read everyday so I can learn the language! I think it would really help if I knew how to roll my R’s when I speak so I don’t sound so much like a foreigner! My pronunciation is terrible but my hope and my guess is that I will pick it up faster than I predicted because Giulia is a very strict teacher and makes sure I study everyday! Practice makes perfect and with someone there always quizzing me and correcting me there is no reason I shouldn’t be speaking fluent Italian, or at the very least understanding what people are saying, in the near future. (Might I just add that your idea of the near future is most likely totally different than mine!! I might be a little over generous with that phrase at this moment in time)!
Since my internet is a little slow it has taken me awhile to upload all the pictures to my blog. While I wait, I have been adding a few things here and there so I decided to add in a picture of my first exam. I take 3 exams per week and a final exam at the end of each month…if this is the case I will know Italian in no time!! My first exam went pretty well. I scored an 8-/10 which I consider to be very good and according to Giulia, a 6 is a passing score. I know it looks like a lot of red marks on the exam BUT most of my mistakes were spelling errors- I swear knew the material!!
Not only is Giulia my Italian teacher but she has also been my tour guide thus far. Like I said before I have only been here for a short period of time and already I have done and seen so many new things. The first place we visited is called, “Castel Flavon-Haselburg”. It is a castle in the mountains that has been turned into a restaurant (like many of the castles here). We drove up the mountain road (which is about as wide as one car) and at the top we were given a great view of Bolzano, some vineyards and a small pond! We couldn’t go inside the castle because there was a German wedding taking place. Nevertheless it was still very nice to see.
Our next trip was to Giulia’s hometown, Merano. Merano is surrounded by mountains that stand as tall as 11,000 ft high and is mostly known for its spa resorts within the town. There are also many vineyards to produce their own wine, as well as apple orchards in which they export the produce all throughout Europe.
We drove up a mountain road for a view of the city and we were yet again given a great view. We left the mountain and headed for the center of town. There, we walked around and ate some chestnuts or castagne (in Italian) while taking in the beautiful scenery (the castagne are the same as the “marone” I had in Austria).
When we were finished exploring the center of Merano we went back to Giulia’s house (casa) to meet her family and her three dogs. Her siblings (1 brother & 1 sister) were unfortunately not home but I was able to meet them both a few days later. On top of meeting her family I was able to experience and enjoy a true Italian meal! We ate a delicious home-cooked meal made by Giulia’s mom with the help of her father. It is the Italian way to have dinner as a family, at the table in the kitchen and not in separate rooms watching TV! During my “departure dinner” we all sat at the table but its rare anymore that you find the family together for dinner every night in the States…especially all sitting at one table. Her parents were very nice…I just wish I could speak Italian so I could have had a conversation with them. Her mom did bring out an Italian-English dictionary and said a few things to me, which I thought was very nice of her to do!
The next place we visited was Castel Roncolo. Just like “Castel Flavon” this castle was also turned into a restaurant as well as a museum. In order to get to the castle you must park down below in a parking lot and then walk up a cobblestone pathway. It amazed me to see that we were the youngest two there and the average age was probably sixty years old. We went for lunch and I enjoyed a nice serving of spaghetti so I could practice spinning it on my fork!!
I will admit that I did eat at McDonald’s BUT only once so far since I’ve been here! It is right around the corner from my apartment so I would say eating there once so far is a great accomplishment! Like in Austria, the McDonald’s here are very different then they are at home. They definitely have a more classy touch with a slightly different menu. They also have the McCafe section where they serve pastries and coffee. There are some McCafe’s in the States but they are not nearly as common as they are here in Europe.
I know this is a long entry so for those of you reading right now who are procrastinating from your work…cough Britney Hayes cough : ) I promise I only have a few more adventures to write about!
Giulia and I took a trip to the nearby Lake Caldaro (lago di Caldaro) so I could see it. In order to get to the lake we had to enter in through a resort. There was a restaurant, lawn space and docks filled with people. It is a free for all and you lay wherever there is space in order to relax and bake in the sun. We weren’t expecting this setting so we weren’t necessarily dressed for the occasion but we had a great time! We rented a pedal/paddle boat (I think they are the same thing) and went all over the lake so I could take some pictures…Hope you enjoy them!
The road that led us to the lake was called “Wine Street” or “strada del Vino” because it goes for miles and miles and is surrounded by vineyards on both sides. You can also usually smell the grapes when you drive on some of the roads that are so close to the vineyards (strada del Vino being one of them).
My last adventure that I will write about is my trip up the mountain road to the top of the town, Cornedo. Giulia and I drove to just about the top of the mountain (where the town is located) to get a view of the city of Bolzano, the surrounding cities/towns and the other mountains! It was an amazing site to see and the pictures are great…but I’m sorry to say that the pictures don’t even do it justice as to what I saw.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to get to this point. I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope that my writing was able to draw you in as if you were here with me experiencing everything for yourself…and that the pictures tie it all together to really tell the story!! I guess if you made it this far reading, something must be keeping your attention! I will make sure to keep everyone posted on how things are going and I will try to update my blog every few weeks or so! With the time it takes to upload pictures it might be a little longer between posts now but I’ll do my best!!
Until Next Time…
Mantenere la fede! (ktf)
P.s. Whatever you are…be a good one!