Don’t hate me.
Yes, yes, I know it’s been a while. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have life-changing experiences everyday. I mostly just go to school. Just like you. Except, you know, in a different language.
Although life-changing experiences do happen. ;)
SO. Let’s get going.
In Germany, or at least, in Baden-Württemburg, there are these mini vacations in the middle of the school year. About 4 or 5. There’s Herbstferien (Autumn), Weihnachtsferien (Christmas), Faschingsferien, Osterferien (Easter), and Pfingsten (I believe the translation is Pentecost?) You might think it’s a lot, but they only get a 6 week summer break, so really, it’s all the same.
Well the last two weeks were Osterferien and boy were they something.
The first week was ultimately normal. By normal, I mean I had nothing to do except be on the internet all day. I borrowed some DVDs from the local library though, and although I told myself I would have a movie marathon, I’ve really only watched one of the five movies I borrowed, until now. :D
I went into the city (by city, I mean Crailsheim, which isn’t much really) a few times. And I also hung out with the other exchange students one day. Gosh it’s so hard to plan things with them. Like, everybody has their own plans, and since we’re exchange students, our families were taking us places during the holidays. So we finally agreed on one day where most people were free, and we all just had lunch. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I don’t know, everytime we get to together, it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s always the best.
This all happened during the first week of the holidays. The second week, my family planned on taking us on a trip for one week. Seven days, in beautiful ITALIA. <3
We went up to this place called Lago di Garda (Gardasee auf Deutsch). It really beautiful there. It’s a whole bunch of mountains surrounding a big lake, and in good weather, it’s just awesome. We stayed in some apartment way up in the mountains. We arrived late night on Saturday after a looooooong drive. I usually don’t mind long car rides…much, but this time, there were three of us in the back seat and the smallest, meaning me, had to sit in the middle. So you can imagine how happy I was every time we took a break and got out of the car.
So we arrive late at night, and it’s freaking raining. Like hard. I mean, not as hard as in the Philippines, but hard enough. So we’re all “aw, this is bad luck.” and the manager of the place we were staying at said it was supposed to rain the whole week. I was pretty put out
after hearing this because I was sure my family was already deciding to leave early if it rained the whole week. So it’s late night, it’s
raining, it’s really cold, and there was no proper heating (not proper enough for the cold anyway) so we just ate dinner and went to bed. The next day we open the shutter and, to all our surprises, THERE WAS SUN. HUZZAH. And the place we were in was over looking the lake, and it was so gorgeous with the sun and the blue sky and stuff. So we were all happy with the good weather. Although the sun didn’t last long, it didn’t rain for most of the week either, so, I took what I could get.
We spent our first day, due to good weather conditions, climbing up mountains. There are a whole bunch of mountains surrounding Lago di Garda so we trekked up a few of them. there was a trail not far from where we were staying, so that’s where we went first. I don’t know the name of the mountain though, but I’m pretty sure we were in Limone or Tremosine or something like that. So we hiked up the mountain up ’til the peak, or what I think was the highest point. Either way, it was high, and a bit steep. I was not prepared for this really. I had brought winter boots and a pair of chucks. Nothing for hiking. But my shoes served me well on this trip.
The second day, we planned on going to Verona. :) If you’re not well-read when it comes to Shakespeare, Verona was where Romeo and Juliet was set.
“Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene
From ancient grudge we break to new mutiny
Where civil bloodmakes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed’s lovers take their life
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.”
Ring any bells? ;)
So we drove to Verona, which I find a beautiful city. It looks very Italian. There’s a roman amphitheatre called Arena di Verona which is big and beautiful and it looks a little bit like the Colosseum in Rome but not. What’s amazing about it is that it is very well preserved. It was built around the first century, and they still use it today for concerts and operas. They hold very large-scale operas, and I believe Romeo and Juliet is to be performed there sometime this year. I also believe Paul McCartney has a show there this year too. I don’t know how accurate (or important, really) this information is. :D
I also went to see Casa di Giulietta which is supposedly Juliet’s house, and it has a balcony and things. If any of you have watched the movie Letters to Juliet, there’s a scene where Amanda Seyfried discovers Juliet’s house in Verona and you see it’s empty and there are all these girls writing letters to Juliet and stuff. Yeah it doesn’t look like that at all. I mean, the place looks exactly like in the movie, only with hundreds of tourists. It’s a very tiny place for the amount of people going in it. I wanted to go inside the museum/house, but there was, of course, an entrance fee that I didn’t feel like paying. So I went around the “garden” with the hundreds of other tourists and I bought things in the souvenir shop and I watched people take pictures with the statue of Juliet, holding her boob. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why they were touching her boob. They even sold boob keychains in the souvenir shop. I finally googled it when I got back to Germany (and internet) and apparently, touching the right boob brings good luck in love. I didn’t do this (not that I could get through the japanese tour group lining up), so…. I might be cursed. #sad This is kind of weird though, when you think about it. Juliet was like.. 13 or 14.. :/
Annyyywayyy, there was also a market place where there were souvenir stalls and things like that, and it was very pretty. :) All in all, I like Verona. It’s a very pretty city, I think. Very Italian, I’d say.
The next day was a free day, so to speak. We went down the mountain to the a town called Riva del Garda which is a nice, tiny little town beside the lake. There are old colorful buildings and tiny shops (one shop had a blouse that cost about €100. Lord.. O_O) and families biking and walking their dog and kids playing on the playground and stuff. Very cute, and you’d never figure out that all the people walking there are actually not Italian, but rather other Europeans on vacation.
The next two days were more hiking days. AS you’ve probably already figured out, my host family like exploring mountains, my host dad in particular. The mountain we hiked up first had a stream going through it, and holy crap was the water clear. I’m not kidding. It was freaking crazy how clear it was. It looked so good and clean and fresh that it was sooooo tempting to swim in it, despite it’s freezing cold temperature. That’s the real Evian right there. It looked so good. :(
On the way up the mountain, we used the main road, up to the top (we went up so high, snow started appearing on the roads) where there was an old military base like thing, and there was a canyon. I was only wearing chucks, so I wasn’t prepared for the snow. Weirdly enough, my shoes held up and only the sides of my feet were wet. Even so, we decided not to go further into the snow, and went back
down. On the way down, however, instead of taking the long, zig-zaggy main road, we find a trail in between a few roads. So instead of twisting and turning, we kind of just went straight down, until the trail ended, then we took the main road again.
The second mountain was really an adventure. This happened the next day. I though we were going to do a tour of the villages surrounding the lake, but we ended up driving up to this mountain. and the almost top of the mountain, there was a church that we walked to. On the way up to the church, there were paintings depicting the mysteries of the rosary. Not complete, but I believe it had most of the Joyful Mysteries, then it kind of went to the Agony and the Scourging, then it kind of went straight to the Crucifixion and then the Glorious Mysteries. The church itself was really pretty. It had a painted dark blue ceiling with stars on it. I like stars.. :D
The church was on a mountain, but not at the very top. In fact, the trail to the very top, which we hiked up, was where the church put the stations of the cross. We were walking up and we would find these tiny little crosses with numbers on them. Some of them were missing though. Somewhere a long the way, there’s a viewing point where you can look down the mountain, and the reason is, the mountain we were climbing had one side which was almost vertical, not sloped. You could look down 700 meters. Kinda creepy. And also kinda cool :D So we get to the very top and at the very top, there’s the 14th cross, and a big gigantic cross.
Now, on the way down, my host dad decides to take a different path. We found a trail so we thought, okay this leads to the car, so we follow the trail (which goes through the trees, by the way), and there were signs and stuff, so we knew, for the most part, where were going, or where we wanted to go anyway. Somewhere down the road, the trail sort of forks..sort of. By ‘sort of, I mean’ the other path didn’t seem like it was used very often. But the sign that lead down the other, more normal looking path was in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go. So we litreally took the road less traveled by, and it has made all the difference. The trail was difficult and it went through trees and sometimes it didn’t even look like there was a trail anymore. True enough, at some point, the trail ended in the middle of a forest and we didn’t want to turn back around because we were too far and it was too hard. So we kind of just went down the mountain. If you can imagine driving through a mountain, surrounded by trees that slope upwards the mountain, we went through those trees. We kind of..made our own trail. And it was hard, but I felt kind of accomplished after that. :D And that was kind of enough adventure for the month.
The next, and unfortunately the last, day, we took a trip to the beautiful, romantic Venezia. :) Oh how I fell in love with this city. We set out early because we needed to take a train from a city an hour and a half away, and the train was at 9am. So we woke up at 6 and set out at 7. It was about a 3 hour train ride, which was good cause we all slept. The sad thing was, it was raining. THE WHOLE DAY. It didn’t rain at all the whole week and the day we decide to set out for Venice, it starts raining. But that didn’t dampen my spirits. I mean, c’mon. It’s Venice. So we’re on the train, and Venice is the last stop. For all you travellers out there, if you want to visit the Venice you’ve seen in movies and things, you get off at Venezia San Lucia, not Venezia Mestre. We thought we we got off at the wrong station at first, but then we walked out of the station, and there’s Canal Grande right in front. :) I honestly couldn’t help but smile. Of all the places I want to go to in Italy, Venice tops the list. I didn’t even care if it was raining the whole day. We spent most of the day walking to Piazza San Marco. If you go through the small roads and alleyways, it really takes a while. There are signs everywhere leading you in the right direction, but they take you through the side streets, which is kind of cool, because then you get to see all these tiny little shops and things hidden in the city. Venetian masks are sold everywhere but the best ones, the really authentic, handmade ones, you only see in specialty stores. And they are freaking expensive. But wow are they beautiful. I wanted to buy one so bad, but I didn’t have money and I know I’m going back there one day. We also passed by the Rialto bridge, which the famous bridge over looking Canal Grande and it’s very picturesque.
It looks exactly like you imagine it to be. Venice, you do not disappoint. I wasn’t even put out by the millions of (expected) tourists, and I have fun listening in and trying to guess where the were from (which I should really stop doing ’cause it’s creepy). We get to Piazza San Marco, and there’s this gigantic church, Basilica di San Marco. We didn’t go inside though because there were so many people, and I believe the entrance fee was kind of high. So explose the Piazza and it overlooks the sea and it’s really cool. Rain be damned. After exploring for a bit, we decided to walk back to the train station (through the small streets again) because my host sister was kind of sick and the train was scheduled to leave at like 5. Like I said, despite the rain and everything, Venice is Venice, und ich bin in Venedig verliebt.
The next day was going home day. But on the way home, we stopped by this tiny little town called Bolzano (Bozen auf Deutsch) which is a cute little town near the border of Austria and Italy. We stopped by to see this museum specially built for this guy called Ötzi. Ötzi is a 5000 year-old Iceman. I’m not kidding. A couple was
hiking somewhere in the mountains and they found a body. They thought someone was murdered. Well technically, Ötzi was believed to be murdered, only it took place about 5000 years ago, and the body was very well preserved by nature and ice. Including all his clothes and weaponry. You can actually see the body through a tiny little window. It’s kept in a cold cell, and all the articles are kept in see through chambers throughout the museum, with specific conditions to keep them preserved. It was kind of cool. Aside from the museum, the town was very cute. There was a road leading up to the museum full of interesting shops and I wanted to go shopping bad. It’s a quaint town with lots of people and cobblestone streets and they speak two languages and I want to go back there. :D :D
There’s so many things I want to go back to, and I know if I’m determined about it, I will. :)
But now I’m back in Germany, and back in school. The weather’s been pretty good so far, and I’m hoping it stays this way. I need spring to come and I need it to come now. All this cold and cloudiness is just downright depressing.
Whew. That was a long one. I’m hoping this makes up for one month of nothing, and I’m hoping you won’t have to wait another month for my next post. :)
Thanks for sticking with me, and i hope it wasn’t too long or boring.