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


Chris said...

Ah technology! The girls and I are hanging on your every word, be it blog or text. They keep asking where you are, what you're doing, and what time it is. You are missed. Now that Quincee and Taitum aren't worrying about your flight safety, they're back in their bunks (yes, the first night you were away there were 3 of us in your bed) Keep having fun and we'll enjoy the travels vicariously. We love you.

Molly said...

Love it! So you guys would be the ones on the Amazing Race we'd be yelling at saying "You went the wrong way, idiots! How did you miss that sign?" :)

I'm pretty sure all Americans look like slobs in Europe. Hey Tyler--remember when I convinced you to buy clothes in Barcelona so you could be super cool with the euro-style? And then we went to the wrong dance club and you realized you were wearing the same clothes as all the gay guys? That was awesome.

They cut off Jesus' feet? That is so not nice.

Let us know how you like climbing to the top of the Duomo's duomo. :)

(PS--When you upload photos, make sure they are centered, not left or right orientation. I have yet to figure out how to keep them from getting all messed up unless they are centered.)

Michelle said...

Ah, Italia! Hooray that you are there. All is finally right with the world. I'm loving being on a Carter BLOG, big step :-). Manga manga manga more panini and gelato for me. Happy Bday! I was thinking about you hoping you were airborne on your big day. So glad it all worked out. Ciao bella!

Ashley C. said...

Ha, I love the dueling commentary! Bring me some gelato!

JoMama said...

How does one “[e]njoy…Italian lovers on lawns, park benches, [and ] large stones”? Sounds really, really fun.

robynnwalter said...

Fantastic! Loving this blog and the "he said, she said" vibe. I also want a teensy tiny bite of your gelato, Kitty. Mind bringing some back with you?! Look forward to hearing more of your travels (especially the food)!

David said...

Looks like you guys are having an amazing yet exausting time. Are you going to Venice? I hope so. I would love to see pictures from there. Maybe you'll get Ian to serenade you. Love ya both. ps are Italians the stinky europeans?????
Just curious

Tyler said...

The commentary is fun. Keep it up. It's also fun reliving Italy through you guys. Reminds me that Ashley and I need to get back there. We loved it, and miss it.

Kitty, I can't believe you're blogging. Thought you turned your nose up at that type of thing.

Marian Vance said...

Oh, the tour of Italy I've always wanted and was foolish enough to cancel in 1955, for a longer stay in Paris! Oh la la! I haven't regretted it until now, but look forward to seeing Venice in Nov. quelle chance! Love the commentary, love you two, and will soon be loving your gals.
toujours l'amour

Marian Vance said...

p.s. I sent the blog info to the entire family as requested. smile!

Munns Photography said...

wow! You guys are popular already. Maybe you should make this a new hobby. Trips, blogging, everyone reading....eventually get advertisements that pay for the trip. Great idea?!

Fun to read about your adventures. We are so jealous! Keep it up! We'll keep reading and laughing.