Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend in Aosta!

Oh goodness...so much to catch up on...

Last week, Maggie and I bought tickets to go to Sweden. We are going in October and I am so excited! We found cheapish airplane tickets and now all we have to do is book a hostel. I was looking at 4 person hostel rooms, but now Maggie is trying to convince me to have us stay in the 12 person rooms...oh my gosh. I don't really know how I feel about this. Ok, that's a lie. I do know how I feel about this, but I have to weigh the benefit of not paying a lot for a hostel...with...my sanity??? Haha. Everything will work out though!

This past weekend, my study abroad program sponsored a trip to Aosta, a little town near the Alps. We had Friday off of classes so we left on Friday morning and it was a 2 hour bus ride to Aosta. Once we got there, they took us to the strangest museum about the Alps. It was the weirdest experience that I can't even describe. It just had so many weird exhibits and I couldn't even understand half of what the tour guide was saying, just because she was speaking so softly.

For lunch, they took us to eat a "typical meal" of Aosta at a restaurant. Unfortunately for me, this "typical meal" was deer and polenta. So instead of deer, they gave me a sample of their regional cheeses. One of them was really good, but the other smelled (and tasted) sooooooooooo bad, so I didn't eat it. For the first course they gave us some really good pasta. The second course was the deer/cheese and polenta specialty dish. For dessert they gave us this really delicious vanilla gelato with cut up fruit. And then they gave us coffee (well espresso...but they call that coffee here). Overall it was a pretty good meal although VERY overpriced. Especially since I didn't eat any of the deer...

After lunch we were able to settle into our hotel and wander around the town. I noticed when we were walking around that everyone had either a baby or a dog. A very interesting observation. Unfortunately for us, it was raining that afternoon so it wasn't all the fun trudging through the puddles. That evening, at the hotel, they provided us with a 3 course meal, which was also very good. We had a cheese risotto, a veggie omelet (which was nice since I hadn't had eggs since I have been here!), and creme caramel. I felt soooo full after that very rich day of eating.

The shower in the hotel was ridiculous. Actually it wasn't a shower because it didn't have a shower curtain, but I wasn't about to take a bath in that thing. So instead I had to hold the shower head while standing up, but the shower head was leaking all over the place so I ended up flooding the entire bathroom and the hallway in our room. Haha. Oh well.

On Saturday, we got a tour of the town of Aosta. There was this really interesting outdoor theatre that we got to visit, along with a lot of other historical buildings. It was a sort of interesting tour, but again lasted way to long and it was kind of cold, so some of my friends and I peaced around lunch time. We went to this really good falafel restaurant! It was strange, though, because they put the regular things in the pita with the falafel like tomato, lettuce, and yogurt sauce, but then they also had french fries. Granted, their french fries are far superior here than in the US so I guess they feel like they should add them to everything.

For dinner, the hotel provided us with a 3 course meal again! I didn't like it as much as the night before, but it was still pretty good. After dinner we went to a concert. I don't remember the name of the group, but they seemed popular and everyone seemed to know their songs...even though the concert was free. Maybe they were doing covers of songs. Who knows?

French/Italian Border on the top of Mont Blanc
On Sunday, they took us into the Alps. Unfortunately, I came unprepared and only had my ballet flats with me and didn't bring my heavy coat...so I just bundled up with all I had and prayed that my feet wouldn't fall off. We had to take three gondolas (no, not the boat, but a little glass box suspended on a wire) up to the top of Mont Blanc. It was really awesome because we were above the clouds and there was snow everywhere! I was so cold. But I did get to see the border between France and Italy, which was excellent! But between my low blood pressure and the thin mountain air, I almost passed out...so I went inside, sat down, and had a hot chocolate. Oh, a word about the hot chocolate: it is actually hot chocolate, not this watered-down crap that you get in the US, but like liquid pudding. Excellent. We had the option of hiking down the last leg of the descent from the mountain, but I decided against that considering my shoe choice, the cold, and the fact that I had just almost passed out. Once everyone got down from the mountain, we stopped for lunch and at this random castle and then returned to Milan. Overall, an excellent weekend!

Yesterday (Monday), we started our first day of classes! Although, I didn't really have anything new because I had already been taking the two classes I had yesterday (Italian and Music Performance Workshop) and the third class I was supposed to have (History of Italian Opera) was canceled this week. But speaking of Italian opera, my study abroad program bought some tickets for La Scala for us so I am going to go see L'elisir d'Amore at La Scala!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today (Tuesday), I had my first new class, which is an Italian Culture and Cuisine class. This class was so interesting! We will be learning about regional dishes around Italy and then we will be attending an Italian cooking school and will learn how to make some of these dishes! I am so excited!

This evening we went to a lecture on the different dialects of Italy. It was very interesting hearing how they evolved into what the language is today. After, they provided us with aperitivo. Then, after my metro ride, some woman comes up to me and asks me if I speak Italian. I say yes (ehhh...sort of a stretch...) and she noticed that I was talking on the phone in English and goes on to ask me if I will meet with her to help her learn English. She is taking an English course, but she is realizing that to really learn the language, you must speak with a native English speaker. So she is offering to pay me 15 euro per hour to talk with her in English. Not a bad gig...

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