Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bella Italia, Part Three

Here is the final installation of pictures from my Italy trip.

As you saw in the last two posts (here and here), we visited quite a few places in Italy during our tour. We saved the best for last, though. On our last day, we went to the town of Sorrento and then to the Isle of Capri.

Alright...let's get on with the show.

Here's a view of Sorrento, looking up from the docks. We were getting ready to board a ferry, after having spent only an hour or so in the town.

And a view as we sped away...

It was such a beautiful day, but the wind was a bit chilly.

A first glimpse of Capri. I have been enchanted by the Isle of Capri since I was a little girl. I played the glockenspiel in a marching band (yes, I did - band geek) and "Isle of Capri" was one of our songs.

After we got to Capri, we boarded another boat to take a tour around the island. It was about this time that my camera battery died. I have a few pictures from one of the chaperones, but I'm still waiting for the others. I'll share what I can.

Many rich and/or famous people own villas on Capri (who do they think they are?).

We didn't see the famed Blue Grotto, but these rocks are kind of cool. Our little boat went right through that hole!

We took the funicular up to Anacapri - the town at the top of the island and visited the gardens. The scenery from up there was exquisite.

We had lunch (I had mussels and clams), poked around in the very expensive stores (Prada, etc.) and not so expensive souvenir shops, had a gelato (or two - who's counting?), then headed back down to meet the rest of the group by the docks.

There was a rocky little beach, perfect for a few quick photos. I was very much in love with giallo (yellow) this whole trip and came home with three yellow scarves and a yellow shirt, plus a dress and another top with yellow in the pattern (all bought in Florence). Our tour director, Claudia, called me the Giallo Girl.

I also bought the cute little shoes I'm wearing on this trip - I got them in Rome.

We took the ferry over to Naples where we met up with our bus. Along the way we stopped for a farewell dinner. The kids had loads of fun goofing off and singing along to YMCA and we met another group from Edmonton at the restaurant.

Before we departed for our hotel, we had a little ceremony and made a presentation to Claudia and to our bus driver, Andrea. Somebody has a picture of him somewhere, but like I said, I don't have everyone's photos yet and my camera battery was dead that day.

Here's Claudia hamming it up with Tom, our drama teacher. He loved every second of it.

The next morning, we had to say goodbye to Claudia at the airport. There were lots of hugs and even a few tears. Claudia hugged every single person! Some twice. You can see from this picture how much the kids loved her.

It was tough to leave. I know some of the kids were eager to get home but, honestly, I could have spent another week or so there (without them haha), especially considering the mess I came home to...

As I mentioned in this post, our bathroom (our only bathroom) was to be renovated while I was gone. It wasn't even close to finished and I ended up spending two nights in hotels last week. It's still not done - going into week 3 - and there are some problems that need to be fixed. It seems that every room in the house is turned upside down: bathroom stuff in the spare room and sewing room, tools in the computer room, holes in the ceilings of the kitchen and dining room where leaks occurred, and a fine layer of dust on everything.

I haven't touched my sewing machine in weeks and it doesn't look like I'll be working on any projects in the next few days either, at least until this mess is cleared up and our house is back to normal.

Work has also been crazy busy, although it might slow down this week.

Thank goodness I have such wonderful memories of Bella Italia to keep me going. I hope you've enjoyed the photos and stories!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Bella Italia, Part Two

Want to see more of our trip? Great! Here's the second installment of photos from bella Italia.

Okay, so we're still in Rome. After our visit to the Vatican, we spent some time around the Trevi Fountain and had more shopping time (another pair of shoes for me). One of our chaperones actually lost his wallet at the Trevi Fountain - he was pick-pocketed! I would have been traumatized but he was so positive about it and just looked upon the experience as a lesson learned.

 We also went to the Spanish Steps.

Later on, we attended cooking school where we learned to make fettuccine, ravioli, two kinds of sauces, and rice balls.

The girl in the red coat is our tour director, Claudia. She was such a sweetheart. She didn't cook, but she helped with "quality control".

Our culinary creations were being judged by the hotel staff, including the chef!

And, believe it or not, my team won!

Upon return to the hotel that night, we discovered that one of the hotel rooms had been broken into and items were stolen from two of the girls. It could have been a very negative turning point for the trip, but we had such a great group of students (not to mention our wonderful tour director). The girls whose items were stolen were very upset at first, but soon decided not to spoil the rest of their trip with worry over the situation and they put their best faces forward to enjoy the remaining days. It was amazing to see how everyone stuck together and did their best to comfort the girls.

Here's our Claudia the next day, pretending to drive the bus. She can't drive at all...luckily our bus driver was excellent.

Our students attended a painting class.

I briefly considered participating in the class but I'm not so good with a paintbrush so we chose instead to take advantage of the hotel's WiFi (free with purchase of cappuccino!) and I spent a couple of hours on Skype with the OnlyChild.

Our next excursion was to Pompeii, which is an awesome place.

Group photo in the theatre!

And then an impromptu performance of a song from The Evil Dead by a couple of our very talented students.

Tres amici (three friends).

Frozen in time (teeth intact).

And then on to Sorrento (another of my favourite places). The scenery is so gorgeous!

We went down to the beach by our hotel. Yes, our hotel was right on the beach!

Sunset over the Bay of Naples.

And I'll finish off today's installation with supper.

Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans).

Eggplant - delicious!

We ordered something special too - a plate (or two) of seafood. Heavenly!

There are a few more...but I'll wait until tomorrow to post. Ciao!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Bella Italia

Finally! Now that things have calmed down somewhat at work and home (and the four-day weekend certainly helped), I have a few minutes to post some pictures of my wonderful trip to Italy. Are you ready for photo overload?

Our trip took us through the airport in Frankfurt, where there are pretzel and sausage stands everywhere. No, I did not succumb to the temptation (but I should have taken a picture).

When we arrived in Rome, all tired and disheveled, it was early afternoon. In order to adapt to the time change, we resisted going to the hotel for a shower and a nap. Instead, we spent some time around the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. I introduced the students to some of the best gelato they'll ever have at Blue Ice. We made a return visit a few days later.

Here is a view from inside the Pantheon.

The next day, we visited the Colisseum. Perfect spot for a group photo!

While we were waiting inside, we spotted this amorous couple. They were undeterred by the kids' hooting and picture-taking. That's Amore, indeed!

The inside of the Colisseum is so very cool. There is nothing like it!

We also had a tour through the Forum. This stuff never gets old for me (no pun intended...). I love the history and the stories.

In the afternoon, we had lunch at Gladiator School just outside of Rome.

Then the kids (and a couple of teachers) geared up for some training.

Followed by a fight to the death (well, not really).

We ladies were just interested in having our picture taken with the very charismatic Marco.

The next day took us to Assisi, which in my opinion has one of the best views of the countryside.

Dragons singing karaoke?

Then we went to Florence. This is one of my top 5 favourite cities in the world (yes, I have such a list).

There was some kind of "new year's" celebration going on.

And I found a pig. I'm always on the lookout for pigs (such as here).

Here I am with my amazing group on the Ponte Vecchio. We divided the students up among the chaperones for check-ins and passport control. This is why I can only count to seven in Italian...just kidding.

And the chaperones on the Ponte Vecchio.

I met a new friend, too. 

We attended a fresco workshop.

The kids loved it. Look how engrossed they are in their works of art.

Obviously, the adults enjoyed the activity too. I'm quite proud of my creation.

We went back to Florence the next day (we actually changed our itinerary a bit so we could have some free time there...I might have twisted a few arms to do that.)

Breakfast - cornetto e nutella!

Supper - pizza!

We did more than paint and eat in Florence. We shopped! I packed so inappropriately for this trip that I pretty much had to buy a new wardrobe while I was there. I know...poor me! The weather forecast called for clouds and rain and, indeed, up until a couple of days before we arrived, it was quite chilly there. Not so during our visit. Sunshine and temperatures in the 20s Celsius (high 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit). It was great, but it did necessitate a few short-sleeved tops, a couple of dresses and (ahem) three new pairs of shoes.

Okay, moving on...

We went back to Rome and visited the Vatican. I didn't take many pictures this time (probably because I have tons of Vatican pics from the last two trips), but I did capture this beauty:

And, of course, we took another group photo. I kind of got cut off here (on the far left) so you can't really see the new shirt I bought in Florence *wink wink*

Alright, that's enough for today. There are tons more but I'll save some for tomorrow. Thanks for making it this far.