Friday, April 30, 2010


Ok, so we promised more posting yesterday. But we lied. It's 2am again so we'll give more detail on the train from Firenze (Florence) to the Cinque Terre tomorrow. Here are some pics. Details to follow.
Cam, Q, Tait, Sutton... and the rest, we miss you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wrapping up Milano

Ok, since we didn't get to bed until 2:30 am last night due to blogging of all things, I decided I'd take over the daily update and make it brief. We saw more old stuff and ate more yummy food, missed a few tram stops and went to the opera. The end.
Really, he just should have stopped, but noooo...

That's not going to due, so here are some more details. After breakfast at the hotel (it was good, but who includes coconut in cereal, c'mon?), we headed back to the Duomo for a tour inside and a hike to the top. Amazing marble building that took 500 years to build (no exaggeration). They must have hired CalTrans workers. The detail is ridiculous, and it was built to hold all 40,000 Milanese (which was the population when they started construction). There's a few old holy people entombed inside (again, not good with names and I figured it probably wouldn't come in too handy in the future).

In other fashion news, we didn't feel so lame today because we wore black. Plus there were at least 65% more tourists here today. And the east Europeans got nothing on us. Although we did have fun secretly snapping photos of fancy people we passed.

We then grabbed a quick tasty lunch which I can't name (best I can describe it is prosciutto and mozzarella fried in a doughnut). I'm sure they're super good for you... all foreign food is.

We have had luck while wandering in Milan. First, we smelled it. Then we saw the commotion out front. so we knew we had to go in. I should have taken a photo of the display before us. It was bee-you-tee-ful! So we ordered something to share and at it as we wandered on. Something baked in a donut that looks like a small calzone. . . i hope we meet again!

Next we waited to put our names on the list for the local opera. Day of the show they release some tickets in a lottery. They told us that the opera was a big deal here. Some dude named Placido Domingo (ok, sometimes I do remember a name or two) decided not to sing tonight, so we got some other guy who sings very loud. Placido is back on tomorrow night (I understand that he didn't want to compete with the football game tonight (Milano International, or something close to that was playing Madrid).

The La Scalla Opera House is one of the oldest most respected opera houses in the world. We were so lucky to get in, but when we got to our seats- 7 stories straight up, we realized why they were only 12 euro instead of 235 euro. We didn't care, it was an experience we won't forget. And since the tickets were so cheap you can't blame us for ducking out a little early - we were hungry and it wasn't even close to ending. (If you know how Simon Bocanegra ends, please advise!)

We thought we'd head back to the hotel for a nap before the opera, but it took us about an hour to get back during rush hour traffic, so we showered, changed and went right back to the opera house. We were up in the nosebleed seats, that you couldn't see very well from unless you stood up, but you could hear great. It was fun, but I don't see myself joining a fantasy opera league or hosting Monday night opera parties at our house anytime soon. We left the opera about 10pm, but still hadn't eaten dinner yet.

We did have more gelato earlier in the day. Just thought you'd like to know.

We wrapped up the night with dinner at some fun little restaurant off the beaten path. Kitty saw it when we were riding by on the Tram so we just jumped off at the next stop and walked back. There were only women eating in the restaurant. Turns out the football (soccer) match was a big deal and the guys were all at home or at the bars watching it. We about jumped out of our seats when the guys in the kitchen all started screaming, jumping around and dancing with each other part way through the meal. Turns out that Barcelona won 1-0, but because they didn't win by 2 goals or more, Milano gets to go to the championship. So they lost, but everyone was happy (we can still hear people driving by honking their horns in celebration and it's after midnight).

Mmmmm- more gnocchi, but no pulp of crab this time. Risotto Milanese, and Insalata Mista too. No pictures. We need to be more thoughtful bloggers and take more photos.

We did a much better job of ordering food tonight. Best meal we've had so far. We left stuffed, so we walked the last 6 blocks or so to our hotel.

Seriously tired, eyes burning, feet sore, can't think clearly. We love you girlies! be good for Grandma! We love her too. Do you have any questions for us? no- we haven't seen any kids as cute as you here.

That's about it for today, I need to sign out.

Ciao Ciao

The Washer.

The Loader

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Even Ash Clouds Can't Keep Us Away

Finally! it seems so surreal. I never thought I would be. . . . BLOGGING! (oh and i never thought I would make it to Italy too).

***Author's Note- Obviously we have no idea what we are doing with this blog. Uploading pictures was crazy. We seek tutoring! Molly help!

But here we are, sitting in our very small, clean, completely functional (except for the fact that my flat iron won't work with the electric converter) hotel room in Milan Italy. And we are blogging because we miss our girls and want to share this trip with them - and the rest of you can come along with us too.
Yep, already had to run around crazy streets, with lots of scooters who want to run you over, to look for some special converter for a flat iron. I guess flat irons are essential here or something.

(Just a little filler for those of you who didn't know, this trip almost didn't happen because of the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland, which cancelled our original flights. But we used the Secret and found a way to make it all work out. Our itinerary changed a little - we now had 2 red-eyes in a row- and we ate $ on a few hotel and museum reservations, but we made it to Italy. Nuff said)

I hate the Secret and did not use it and made it here just fine.

Suffered through a painful red-eye from SFO to JFK on the night of my birthday, April 25th. I was totally cool with that present. Spent the entire rain filled day exploring New York City because Ian had never been to NYC before. I don't know that he will have to go back now. We had one of the best breakfasts we've ever had at Balthazar's in SoHo (may have been my favorite part of NYC), walked through the financial district to the World Trade Center site. Walked to promenade to see the Statue of Liberty through the hazy mist. Took the subway to Times Square. Said NO to at least 45 offers to take a double-decker bus tour. Walked up Broadway to Central Park. Continued walking from 59th to 72nd just to catch a peek at John Lennon's building and entered Central Park through Strawberry Fields. Finally made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side and laughed when they told us it was closed. Decided Ian had seen enough and headed back to the airport so we could catch our flight to Milan. Did i mention it was raining the entire time?!

Did you notice how many times she mentioned walking. I was afraid of what she was going to do to me when we got to Italy... I didn't realize she'd run me ragged before we even left the states. Actually, I admit it was fun to see so much of the city in a short period of time. Kind of a fun challenge. I didn't see Jack Bauer running around or any CTU agents, so I felt pretty safe that we weren't there during one of the frequent 24-hour periods when NYC is going to imminently blow up.

This red eye was much better as we snagged an empty middle row and took turns sleeping horizontally for the 8 hour adventure. (Kitty took more turns than I did) As we were walking up the jet way to the airport i said to Ian, "We are walking into one of the most fashionable cities in the world and i am pretty sure i look about as scary as it can get." He gave me the once over, and although i can't quote him, he pretty much let me know that although he had seen worse, Babe, it's pretty bad. A quick trip to the restroom while Ian was exchanging some dollars for euros (exchanging isn't the right word, I gave away some dollars for a few euros... $60 = 28 euros), a few splashes of water, a well placed rubber band, some lip gloss, and ta-daa.....walking death straight from America!

An express train ride into Milan, a few minutes wandering lost with our bags (maybe we would totally suck at the Amazing Race ), finally flagging a taxi, we made it to our Albergo by 11AM Tuesday morning. Although we had planned to power though our tiredness in order to combat the jet lag, seeing a flat surface we could drool on changed those plans. We gave ourselves two hours, set and alarm, and decided one reason we really like our hotel - super dark, cave-like rooms with shutters, shades, and the three other things adorning the windows.

After we slept through the first two alarms we had set, we finally showered (note: washclothes, no. Shoeshine gloves, yes) and got out of our room 5 hours after entering it. We felt so clever as we hung with the locals waiting for one of the electric-trams that run all over this beautiful city. Then we felt really stupid as we totally missed our intended stop and just got off when almost everyone else did. Feeling stupid was an ongoing theme of the day as we jumbled all of our French and Spanish with the intended Italian, walked in circles, literally, and felt like country bumpkins in only a matter of minutes after walking through this very chic city.

I tried to talk in really bad French or Spanish where ever we went to make those countries look as bad as the US usually does. Travelling abroad really makes me want to speak other languages better. I'll put that at the end of the list right after yoga and pottery.
I must reemphasize how posh everyone looks here. Even the mom who is toting her 3 year old child on the back of her back is wearing heels and looks fabulous. All of the men, aged 12 to 89, are dressed like they just came out of a fashion mag. Ian even said he needed to buy a new pair of jeans so he didn't feel so self-conscious! If it weren't for us packing everything for this 2 week trip in our carry-ons we might have spent a good amount of time shopping.

It only took me a half-day in Milan to realize I'm a fashion idiot. Kitty says she's known it for quite some time. Tomorrow I'm going to wow them with flip-flops and socks.

After getting where we needed to be, we walked into the first place we came across that served food. Another stupid moment for us as we bumbled our order, but ended up with two delicious paninis, which we ate as we walked (in the right direction- for once) towards the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. We were headed to see if the church, which holds DaVinci's "The Last Supper" hoping they would honor the tickets i originally purchased, pre-volcano. We were feeling discouraged at the prospect of getting in because our good buddy Rick Steves said "reserve tickets for this several months in advance to see this masterpiece" or you are screwed! But since we were still using the Secret, and because we were all shining and clean and feeling great after eating, they totally ignored the SOLD OUT sign that greeted every other visitor that day and let us in. I think it might have had something to do with Ian and his teeth.

The old lady behind the desk in broken english (but better than my Italian) said I had nice teeth. Then she asked me if they were my own. I liked her for just a bit. I don't think it was as much that my teeth looked nice, but rather there was a British tour group right before us. But I mean that in a very nice, politically correct way.

"The Last Supper" was way better than I thought it would be. It is amazing to think about DaVinci working on that for 3 years, finally finishing in 1498. And it miraculously survived when the church was bombed in WWII. And of course Ian reminded me of all the DaVinci Code lore. It was very cool.

Note: A long time ago (I don't pay attention to dates or names on the tours), some monk cut off Jesus' feet in The Last Supper to make a bigger doorway below the painting. Can monk's get fired?

Finally, some Gelato (yet another jumbled moment "Gelato yummy gracias"). Walking through town, eating our treats, heading in the right direction - we were feeling pretty great. We walked the grounds of the huge Sforza Castle and into Milan's version of Central Park. Enjoyed more Italian lovers on lawns, park benches, large stones... you get the idea- like pigeons- they are everywhere. Walking aimlessly, we were really loving the beautiful weather and surroundings. We hopped on another tram and hoped we would end up somewhere in the Montenapoleone area. Missed out stop, again, but ended up walking down a beautiful car-free, high end shop lined street. Hey- we were where we wanted to be and didn't know it yet.

It's awesome that the weather turned out so nice. It was raining hard when we landed and I was totally sweating it since I accidentally "donated" Kitty's umbrella on the Subway in NYC.
We wandered on and somehow ended up at the Duomo, an insanely huge Cathedral in the middle of Milan. It is so out of place in the heart of the fashion, shopping district it took a while to adjust my imagination with this new reality. It is an amazing, mouth-gaping, unbelievable building. We are going back tomorrow to tour it and climb to the top of the Duomo's dome.

Time to wrap this way too loog post up. We then walked and walked in circles, totally no sense of direction until we sat down at Genora di Linda Pizzeria. Yet another odd language moment. I'll let Ian tell it all...

So the menu item we ordered translated into Gnocchi with pulp of crab instead of the Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and mushrooms we thought we were ordering. So close, but yet so far. PS- Kitty loves Gnocchi, HATES crab.

Then we walked to the correct tram, got off at the correct stop and found our way back to the correct hotel. And now even though it is 4:00 in the afternoon where our hearts were left (with our girlies) we are dead tired and will sleep hard in our cave tonight! Until tomorrow....

Umm, it's well into tomorrow .

Ciao Ciao

the Washer and the Loader