crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Friday, April 24, 2009

Crystal's Crapers

This is what I accidentally typed in when trying to access my blog on Riccardo's computer today. Oops.

Then I thought that for some posts, it might be quite apt.


Oh yeah, all well here. Had a great Section 2 Final Assessment for my Uni today. Just 3049527937 Final Assessments to go!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Four Days

It's been four days since we got back from Italy. I had so many plans for when we returned: pre-planning for work, marking, finishing painting the house, tackling the now-overgrown lawn, etc. etc. etc. I can't really say that I've managed any of that. Well, I've done the marking (which took about an hour) and I painted a little (which took like two hours) but, yeah. Lazy. There are just two-and-a-half days till I go back to work and I'm not ready. Waaah!

ANYWAY, in other news: Riccardo started a blog. It's slightly less frou-frou than my own, which to many would be a GOOD thing, so I can highly recommend it.

Tonight we're meeting a couple friends at our favourite restaurant, Mt. Fuji. Very excited to see everyone. Tomorrow we're renting a POWER SAW to chop down our garden - several trees are severly overgrown and are taking over the lawn!

That's all the excitement happening here.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Nobody has anything nice to say about Milan. They were all willing to go, because I wanted to see it, but it was clear that no one was very keen on actually seeing the city. And all I could think to visit was the fashion district; since we can't afford anything there anyway, it would have been a 10-minute looksee and done. I scratched that plan and asked the family to take me to Lake Garda instead.

Garda is the largest lake in Italy, and though I'm told you can see the other side on clear days, it looked like an ocean that day, with no mountainscape in sight due to the mist. I assumed visiting the lake would involve some pebble-throwing and a nature stroll. In fact, it was much more than that!

Mamma, Pappa and Riki took me to Sermione, a small tourist town at the end of a magical peninsula into the Gardasee. It was lovely. You enter the town through a tiny road over a bridge, which used to be the drawbridge for the still-standing fortress. Immediately you're faced with narrow streets (with very few cars) and quaint old buildings. Lots of jewellery shops and gelato vendors to poke around.

At the far tip of the peninsula is teh Roman Museum and an ancient Roman Villa. Amazing. Though it's been used for numerous purposes over the centuries, the framework for the enormous villa still stands in all its opulent wonder. I honestly cannot think of a better location for a very rich man to build a very big house!

Truly a much more favourable alternative for a day-trip to Milano!



Venice is breathtaking. Beyond words. Within the first half-hour of being there I was in tears because I was so overwhelmed. It really was a dream-come-true.

We went to Venice on Thursday, so it wasn't yet crammed with Easter visitors; it was still busy, however. There are tons of shops, most of which feature Carnivale masks - beautiful! Of course we had to get some masks, which did make it home in one piece, thankfully. The city was remarkably clean, particularly surprising considering the warnings I'd received to the contrary. There are no vehicles allowed in Venice, so it was entirely boats and pedestrians and everything was very accessible. We crossed at least 28 bridges!

We stumbled upon an international second-hand bookstore, which was lucky because Riccardo has been hurting for some German-language reads lately. From the friendly shop owner we also learned about a fantastic, less-touristy pizzaria where we ate a delicious lunch.

Did we ride a gondola? YES!!! It was just 60 Euros for half-an-hour, but well worth it. We got to see the backside of the city, and to enjoy a truly memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience. To Riccardo's relief, we were not serenaded.

In the afternoon our journey finally led us to San Marco Square and the oceanside boardwalk. The Adriatic Sea was calm, but didn't look overly clean. Until the air misted up, the view of the island opposite Venice was gorgeous. We enjoyed (9 euro) cappucinos along the ocean and laughed at the African purse vendors who kept having to pack up shop and run whenever they spotted the polizia! Speaking of that, did you know that both the police and the ambulance travel by boat in Venice? Weird!


    • At 6:44 PM, Blogger Tressa said…

      Venice looks amazing, I would have cried too I'm sure;) I am so glad you got to see all these things and had fantastic tour guides!

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Viva Italia!

We've just returned from our Easter trip to northern Italy. What a fantastic time! This blog will focus on the family end of the trip, which was the whole point, after all!

While in Italy we stayed with Riccardo's sister and her boyfriend, Sylvia and Michele. They rent a beautiful apartment on the mountainside overlooking Brescia; it's actually located in a village just outside Brescia, called Bovezzo. It is not far from Riccardo's zio and zia's (uncle and aunt) apartment as well as his cousin, Alessandra's place.

Riki's parents picked us up from Milan Malpensa airport and after making the hour-and-a-half drive to Brescia, we visited Zio and Zia's place. My first impressions of Italy were that the modern architecture was very much like that in Germany. Also, that the roads are questionable: every motorway requires payment - very expensive - and city roads are pothole ridden. I loved, however, the contrast of new and old buildings and how tastefully Italian people remodel old homes. Best first impression: cappucino and pasticcerie (pastries)!

The family took me on a walking tour of Brescia. We started with the Castello, an extremely old fortress at the top of a hill with views of the whole city. Amazing! From there, I was lead through the city centre, where I enjoyed a wine spritzer in a beautiful piazza and exploring the fabulous roman remains of Brixia, the 2000 year old ancestor of Brescia.

We attended two special meals out during my time in Italy. Since much of this side of the family couldn't make it to our wedding in Canada, we treated everyone to a pizza dinner on Saturday evening. It was an opportunity to meet Riccardo's WHOLE family, including his zio Valentino and his new fiance, Umbretta, as well as Riki's three cousins and their families. Little Deborah, who is just one-year-old, insisted on quite a lot of attention, but she didn't manage to outshine her older sister, Jessica (6), who attempted to teach me Italian all evening! Riccardo looked oh-so cute with the children!

The core nine of us attended a special Easter lunch the following afternoon. Rather than making a large home-cooked meal that takes days in preparation and clean-up, it's fairly common for Italian families to get together for a fancy restaurant meal. Our restaurant was a former Italian hillside villa, and was absolutely breathtaking. The lunch consisted of course after course of succulent food and glass after glass of delicious local vino. By the end of it, most of us were a little tipsy, all of us were full to the gills and we had been there for nearly five hours!

Of course I did manage a couple trips outside Brescia, but the info on those will follow in a subsequent post. I cannot wait until next Easter when we plan to return to Italy!


    • At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Riki said…

      Now you know how my second home-country looks and feels like.

      It is really not hard to love the place whole-heartedly, hey?

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