Tuesday, June 9, 2009

40 degrees, 80 percent humidity is happiness

Sadly there remains only 8 days left of my time in Bologna. And as far as my reputation as a blogger, I realize that I hardly rank novice...but what did you expect from someone without a camera?! The thing is though, amongst all of the people who I met this year, I imagine well over 5000 photos exist with potential Full-of-Bologna voyeur ability. And therefore over the next few weeks I will work to put up some of those photos so that those who are still interested (I cant imagine anyone however...) can be satisfied...

So for those who do not know, my parents finally came to visit me! We spent about 2 weeks together all over northern italy. It was great to have such familiarity around me, and they brought me allergy medicine which was highly gratified. There are many photos, but I have access only to those from Marta...my parents stayed for much more time, and hopefully they can send me those so I can document the rest of their trip. For now: the road trip.





And some hairy creeper

went by car, making frequent stops to eat and drink, for a weekend getaway of wine-tasting, beach bumming, and coastal sight-seeing.

mom in piemonte

Dad in piemonte

Cinque Terre

Picnic where dad tried to open a bottle of wine with a tree...it works, but he was unsuccessful on this attempt

Dad showing off rock sediment lines

Mom genuinly interested in dad's explaination

Hip Hip for wine!


Friday, May 15, 2009

The rat bit the cork of the king of russia

So for those of you who did not know I spent the last week in Malta. This (because most people don't know anything about it) is a small island country which is part of the European Union and lies south of Sicily. It is inhabited by Maltese and English speaking people, and has 7000 years of history (in fact they advertise that their monuments date further back than Stonehenge...).

So I set out with my Português pal Marta early last Thursday morning to take a 3 hour train ride to Pisa (i got really cheap airfare from there).

Here is Marta in a train in a tunnel:Here is Marta in a train outside a tunnel:
Here is James waiting for a connecting train, recently attacked by one of those fighting italian rose bushes, they are fierce:

Once we arrived in Malta, we got our rental car, a beautiful PICANTO and discovered that the Maltese drive on the wrong side of the road, and all the cars are manual. It was quite fun for the first few days stalling in front of cars and on hills, but by the end I was a studly master at it...here I am pimped out
So there are 3 Islands in Malta: the main one, Gozo, and Comino. The main was over turistified, and had few beaches. Here is a look at some of the things we saw on the main one:

After I had a very nice icecream, the likes of which I can never remember being allowed to enjoy as a small youth...and then here is a picture of the awesome buses that we didnt have to ride due to our PICANTO!

And here is a look at the Maltese language, which is 50% arabic, mixed with all of the 7000 years of influence: french italian english...

To get from island to island it is necessary to take a ferry, which costs very little.

Gozo was much more our taste: less tourists, more nature, more beaches, and it reminded me of Final Fantasy IX and Lord of the Rings because of the situations of all the little villages on the island communicate with towers and it had a very magical feel to it...there was a capital fortress called Victoria from which you could see all of the island, and we read in the guide book that in medieval times everyone was forced to sleep inside the walls of this town to be protected from pirates...yay pirates!

And for the next few days we beach bummed it up and sought out cool reefs and found salt mines and drank, check out the bottle of wine we set in the water to cool, check out the water, check me diggin in the sand, check out Valletta (capital of Malta, to which we took the ferry back just to visit), check out flowers, check out empty beaches...there are so many good ones of clear beaches, dancing dorks, and flowers, but heres a taste:

For three of the seven nights that we were there, I was able to obtain an amazing appartment only for ten euros per night! 2 bed 2 bath, completely stocked kitchen, 2 balconys overlooking the sea...It was truely epic, check it:

Then for a day we went to the third island in Malta, called Comino, which only has one hotel, and one pig farm...the beaches were outstanding though:

Then I did the unthinkable, I entered the social-cyber realm! Not as extreme as facebook or myspace, but couchsurfing! With couchsurfing you create an account with pictures and info and then you host people at your house or you are hosted at others houses for free! So we found a 40 year old guy named Mario who was the most generous individual i have ever met. He has been hosting travelers since 1982 (at least thats when he started to keep a guest book), and has had a total of 22 people stay at his house in one night. When we were there there was also a Polish couchsurfer guy named Martin, who prepared us a traditional polish meal with potatoes, oil, and meat...good good.

The trip made me realize i need to get a job so that i may continue doing trips like this in the future...hah.