Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hanging with the locals

Trieste was a nice little town on the coast where we mainly walked around the streets and sat for some gelato (I have had so much gelato!). The next day, Tuesday 10-27, Peter drove us to Venice to pick up Chris's girlfriend, Yoana, from the airport. Yoana is from Bulgaria and I'm glad that she has been traveling with us, it's been great! After picking her up we headed to Padova, "The city of the saints," where Peter's friends live. Padova of course had beautiful streets and architecture. We walked around, saw their City Hall and the different city squares. You could definitely tell this was a college town... in one of the main squares, recent graduates were celebrating with friends. In the northeast of Italy, friends of the graduate plan the party, where they dress up the graduate and take them into the square. Also, they write about the life of the graduate on a huge poster, which they need to recite in the square. It was hilarious walking through the town and seeing numerous people dressed up, walking with their entourage. Later that night we visited Prato Della Valle, the largest square in Europe. In the square were statues of various Philosophers, fountains and lots of open space.

We spent the night in Padova, then took the train to Venice the next morning. Venezia was beautiful, made up of canals, homes, shops and boats. Yoana had a list of things to see, which included San Marco Square, the Basilica of San Marco, prisoners bridge, and different churches. The Basilica of San Marco was incredible. All the ceiling was gold mosaic and even the floor had different mosaic-like patterns. We hung out in the square, found our way around the narrow streets and did a bit of shopping. We even got to take a gondola ride! ... even if it was 50 cents for 30 seconds across the canal. After an eventful day of trying to get in as much Venezia as possible, we took a ferry ride back to the train station and headed back to Padova.

Peter had to get home for a couple days, so his friends generously offered up their home to us. After Venice, we went to a city square where all the college students (hundreds) just hang out at night. We met tons of people and had a great time.

The next day we had planned to visit Austria, however, since Peter was at home we decided to visit Verona. Verona is known for being the setting of the play, Romeo and Juliet (well, the setting in the movie). Needless to say, we visited the houses of Romeo and Juliet. Verona was a lot easier to get around in than Venice, especially since we had a map. We also saw a Roman amphitheater, palazzo's, the Castle of S. Pietro, the Church of S. Anastasia and a Roman theater. We hurried a bit through Verona since we got there at 3:30 pm, but relaxed and took it all in once we got to the top of a hill overlooking the city.

After visiting Verona, and not having plans for the next day, we decided to visit our wonderful Venezia again. This time we took our time wandering the streets and ended up again in San Marco Square. We went through the Basilica again then hung with pigeons. We had some crackers in our hands and let the pigeons sit on us and eat the crumbs. And in that square, pigeons are very well-fed. Took some good pictures!

We have been so lucky with our experiences, both touristy and non-touristy. We have hung with the locals, having a better idea what life is like in Italy (northeastern). So far we have learned a few words in Italian and gotten many kisses on the cheeks. Tomorrow we head to Florence for two days, then to Rome. Chris's cousin is currently in Florence and she is showing us around the city. Also in Rome, my friend Amber is studying, and we will meet up with her
too! This has been perfect timing to visit Europe, having some of our friends to visit.

Today is Halloween! Although, Europeans don't really celebrate Halloween like we do in the states. Sad to miss it! However, I will be dressed as a vagabond.

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