Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We have shutters on all the doors and windows, which serve the purpose to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in winter. It is very dark when you come downstairs in the morning with all the shutters closed. I opened up the back door and shutter and turn around to find another of the alien-looking bugs in the corner where the wall meets the ceiling of the stairs. Frozen in horror, I stared at the ugly, striped bug not quite sure what to do. I didn't want to go off to get my broom-weapon and have it scamper off.
Running to retrieve the broom, I squatted and killed it. Just to be extra sure, I smashed the paper towel I picked it up in with my foot. Now, off to Google what this monstrosity might be!
It is the common house centipede, or Scutigera coleptrata, and apparently likes to hunt and feast on spiders and roaches. I haven't really seen any other bugs besides the flies and mosquitoes that come in every time I open my shutters, so the centipedes must be doing their job.
Either way, I don't want any of these creepy crawlies in my house. Tim betting be coming home with a big can of bug spray today. For now, I am craning my neck on the lookout for these on the walls, ceiling, and floors.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
We continued on our way to San Marco. From the Rialto, the canal doubles back on itself along a stretch known the La Volta (the bend) and then it widens out. You are, of course, winding back through the labyrinth of tall building and narrow alleyways coming upon tiny canals. At these tiny bridges, stairs often lead down to elaborate gondolas moored in the waterway.
Finally the narrow alleys open up to the Piazza San Marco. Walking around to face the facade of the Basilica San Marco, you are enchanted by architectural and decorative styles of the East and the West. Directly above the main entrance are copies of the famous bronze horses brought from Constantinople in 1204. The original horses were removed for preservation and can be seen in the museum on the 2nd floor of the basilica.
Like many churches in Italy, you must be properly attired otherwise may be turned away. Women's shoulder should be covered and skirts must reach the knee. There is also no photography allowed in the cathedral. Looping around the cathedral, we admired the dome, mosaics, and the Pala d'Oro. The Pala d'Oro is the most valuable treasure of San Marco. It was originally commissioned in Byzantium in AD 976 and consists of 250 enamel paintings on gold foil and is embellished with pearls, rubies, sapphires, and amethysts.
We then made our way up to the 2nd floor where mosaics and the original bronze horses are on display in the Museo Marciano. Here you can also see a view over the inside of the basilica and then wander around the balcony for views over Piazza San Marco and the pier.
Leaving San Marco, we headed down the pier which is lined with gelatarias and shops. We walked all the way to the Campo Arsenale (Italian Navy zone) and looped back around to the pier. From here we headed in the opposite direction toward the Accademia. Tired and ready to head back, we again followed the signs "Per Ferrovia" toward the ferries and train station.
Back up and over the Rialto then many more bridges and finally collapsing on the train to take us back to Pordenone I made a mental note to invest in one of those massaging foot baths! Even though it was 90 degrees, it was a spectacular day in Venezia!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Towel on my head, or what Tim refers to as my turban, and some clothes thrown on, I began the hunt for the elusive breaker which is not conveniently located in the house like in America. Oh no, I am outside with my turban and all trying to decipher which box is gas and which is electric and even more importantly, which box belongs to my house. Finally just taking a chance and flipping a break, I chose right since the electricity was restored.
Experimenting, I have determined I can wash laundry while running 2 AC units, heating my flat iron, and blow drying my air.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
We were literally within a 1/4 mile of our house, it was really dark, I was tired at this point, and Tim was asleep in the backseat. Suddenly a man in dark clothes (their uniforms are a dark navy) just walks calmly out into the middle of the road. I realized in just the nick of time that he held out his lollipop (picture a white stick with a red circle on top) to slam on the breaks. You must stop for these lollipops otherwise the other Carabinieri officer holding the M16 is authorized to shoot at you. I pulled off the road and into the small gas station as requested. My heart was pumping in my chest as I gathered my stateside driver's license, my international license, the insurance, and registration. All my documents in order, he went off to his car to check my credentials. After what felt like an eternity, the officer handed everything back over and told me to have a good night. "Grazie, signori!" Yep, thank you very much for giving me a stroke!
With our palettes satisfied, we made the short walk back to the Roman Ampitheater. The Ampitheater was started during the reign of Emperor Augustus (31BC-14AD), enlarged under Emperor Claudius 54AD-56AD) and finally completed under the Flavius rule (69-96AD). It's the sixth largest amphitheatre in the world with space for 22,000 spectators. The Ampitheater was set up with chairs and a movie screen for the town annual Pula Film Festival, which was going on. We wandered around the giant Ampitheater and then underneath, where many ancient artifacts of pottery were strewn about.
We were then ready to hit the beach! A few kilometers down the coast, we began following signs for a Shark Diving School and ended up at Koral Beach in Medulin. I picked up an awesome beach blanket for 100 kuna (the Croatian currency) at one of the many stands lining the beach and was set to scope out my speck of sand among the packed beach goers. We wandered down a little farther to a spit of smooth, flat rocks where many were staking their prime piece of beach real estate and settled in. Tim was immediately checking out the water temperature in the Adriatic whereas I wanted to soak up some rays and people watch before braving the sea. Finally wanting to take a dip in the Adriatic, I braved the rocky shore barefoot (next time I am totally bringing my water shoes) and waded in. You could wade out with water only up to your knees quite a bit before it dropped off. Basking in the sun, we had a relaxing nap. Before heading off for the day, we of course needed gelato! I had the kiwi and Tim had a banana split.
Happy after a fabulous day in Croatia, we began the drive back home. We breezed right through border control this time but hit some traffic leaving Slovenia to cross into Trieste. Instead of sitting in traffic, we decided to take a short drive into the city center of Koper, Slovenia. What a great stop this was as we came upon quite the evening scene! There was a small orchestra playing near the waterfront and other performers down the marina walkway. Even in the evening, the beach area was still packed and people were enjoying libations at any one of the many outdoor bars.
After checking out the scene for a bit, we found a great snack cafe to get dinner. The doner kebab and insalta hit the spot! Almost ready to hit the road for home, I sipped a cafe latte as we watched the last remnants of the sun dip into the sea. It was truly a picturesque end to a day filled with stunning sights.
We decided to have dinner before leaving Austria and stopped in Villach at a restaurant called Josef. Muddling through pointing to the menu and making hand gestures (guess we better learn some German phrases), we were pleasantly surprised when my veal cordon blue and salad arrived along with Tim's mixed meat plate and garlic bread. Josef's was one of the best meals we have had since living in Europe and it was the perfect way to end a rainy, yet wonderful day in Austria.
Monday, July 13, 2009
June 30th: Still have not heard from Home Fuels to set up the appointment. Tomorrow is move-in day. We go to Home Fuels to find out what's up. The first lady says "Oh, you know the Italians. Everything is domani, domani (tomorrow, tomorrow)!" Then another lady recognizes our name and actually goes to check on the status. Whoops. Gas has been on since June 23rd and no one from Home Fuels bothered to let us know.
Tim meets the plumber at the house and we have hot water. No cold showers for me!
July 1st: Ah, nice hot water!
July 2nd: Enjoyed a nice hot shower after organizing what we do have in the house.
July 3rd: WTF?! Why did I only have hot water to barely get my hair shampooed? Quickly finish shower while shivering.
July 4th: Nice hot shower! Yesterday must have been a fluke.
July 5th: What the hell? I only get a hot shower every other day?
July 6th: Nope, hot water is not every other day otherwise my shower would be hot today. And my landlords are on holiday in Spain.
July 7th: Hot water is remains elusive. Take cold shower and then tinker with hot water heater. Crossing my fingers for hot water tomorrow!
July 8th: Tim claims to have had hot shower. I did not have a hot shower. Very annoyed and also mastering the art of quickly showering while avoiding cold water streaming down me unless absolutely necessary.
July 10th: I have now had cold showers for a week. This is crap.
July 12th: See neighbor Chris and ask about hot water. He comes over and tries to help but after an hour of trying to release the pressure, ect. he says we are going to have to talk to the landlords. Spot landlords returning from trip to Spain! Quickly run outside and complain about broken hot water heater.
July 13th: Plumber comes. Doesn't speak any English. Use translator to tell him it is broken. He spends 4 hours replacing something or other then tells me ciao! Ah, enjoy nice hot shower.