Monday, April 15, 2013

Hello again, and a gelato update

Hi guys, I'm back! and still not sufficiently made of gelato, but more on that later.  I trust you all had a wonderful two weeks more than sufficiently made of knitting, but if not, do tell what you did instead.  (also: delighted to hear what you knit.)

Since I got home on Friday afternoon, friends have been asking me how the trip was, and in spite of views like this around practically every corner...

... the most succinct way to answer is:


It was awesome and full of Wow moments, but 'exhausting' is the biggest takeaway right now, because my little holiday in Italy was not one of those 'go on your own at a relaxed pace that suits your needs at the time' sort of thing.  (Actually, none of my holidays are like that, because I am always trying to fit in so many things, but this was something else again.)

Instead, I was on an organized tour for I think about 300 people, maybe more? So we pretty much Went from 7am to 11pm most days.  Up a lot of cobblestone hills, I might add, and not nearly enough past lightning-speed purveyors of gelato.

The backstory, which you may find too boring not to skip:

There is a choir in town that sings sacred music, which I quite like, and they do it extremely well, which I like very much indeed.  My dad and his brothers were all in it growing up, and he sang in choirs and at weddings and funerals for the rest of his life on the strength of the training it gave him.  A friend from high school told me that listening to this choir every week is what got him through his university years.  And I know and love several people in it today as well, so overall, the choir is prominent on my radar.

Last year, a plan was made for the choir to tour in Italy, and friends and family were invited to come along as companions, so Pete and I decided to join in. While the choir did group sightseeing and rehearsed and sang concerts, the companions were to do group sightseeing and not eat enough gelato and attend said concerts.

There is never enough ice cream

All the months I prepared for this trip, I told myself I would have gelato every day.  I was true to my promise for the first day:

My first Italian gelato!  I bought it in Florence from a super pretty gelato shop after a catnap at the hotel and a quick look at the map I set up before leaving home (this, while other people on the tour dropped their bags and dashed for the Uffizi Gallery, which was not on the itinerary otherwise.  Priorities.)  I can't remember what either of these flavours were - mango and strawberry, maybe? - but I do know they tasted fantastic in spite of major jet lag.  I ate them leaning on the wall of a bridge and looking at the Ponte Vecchio, because life is good.

After that though, the gelato part of the tour kind of went downhill.  There just wasn't time to have it most days, and one evening when we got back late to our hotel I was reduced to buying some from the corner shop which was not at all special and turned out to have RAISINS in it.  Somebody pointed out later that a country growing as many grapes as Italy does is bound to find uses for raisins, but I still think that's cheating.  I mean honestly: who puts healthy stuff in ice cream?

On top of time constraints, the weather got really warm and my gelato would start to melt before I could get my camera out, so I couldn't always get pictures.  This was my third superhappy gelato (the raisin gelato was my second overall gelato and not remotely happy), bought in Tivoli after a quick tour of the gardens at the Villa d'Este:

I can say with confidence that this one was chocolate and strawberry.  Did you want to see a picture of the gardens, too?  Here's one, which for some reason does not show off what a brilliantly sunny day it was...

... and I'll show you some others in a few days.  I noticed looking at other people's cameras: it's impossible to take a bad picture in Italy.  Still, the Villa d'Este is pretty spectacular and there were rather a lot of fountains begging to have their pictures taken.

Post-holiday Q and A

I'm going to guess at some questions, but if you have more, ask them and I'll answer in future Italy posts.

Q: Are you going to go on and on about Italy every day now that you're back?

A: Hopefully not.  I took some pretty gorgeous pictures I think you might like, and it may be a few days before I recover enough to have any new knitting to talk about.  Bear with me.

Q: Speaking of knitting: did you?

A: Shockingly: no.  I moved my knitting around in my suitcase several times, but hello: 16-hour days?  I didn't get much chance... except on the bus, which was not tempting because if you could bear to give up the stunning views from our panoramic windows, bus time was nap time.

Q: What about crocheting on the plane?

A: My giant hook got through security with not so much as a glance: I slipped it top-down through the holder for pens in my purse, and put a pen in the slot next to it, and nobody said a word.  It pretty much stayed there though - I couldn't get at my yarn on the way over, and on the way back, I did a tiny amount, ripped it out to fix it, did the same tiny amount and ripped it out again, got a bit farther and gave up.  The airline was running movies to make up for me not being able to crochet neatly, so it wasn't too bad.

Q: And how were you on the plane?

A: Amazingly: totally fine.  You know I did a ton of work to make it possible to fly anxiety-free without serious medication and/or alcohol, and I wasn't sure it was going to be enough especially after I tried flying to Chicago and was a lot more of a mess than I'd like, but I did more work after that and this time was a piece of cake.  Even though it was three flights, long traveling days, a fair bit of turbulence plus one superscary landing, and weird-ish seating.  I feel pretty safe saying that I'm cured.

Q: Well done you, but seriously? 12 days without any knitting?  How are you still alive?

A: I'm not entirely sure, and actually, it's now 14 days because owing to unpacking and laundry and sorting and stuff, I haven't done any since I got back either and may not even have a chance today.  I wonder whether my survival is a mystery that could be solved by modern science?

Q: I doubt it.  How were those concerts, anyway?

A: Just WOW.  That choir - well, they break up into several distinct choirs over the course of a performance - is fabulous, and in spite of the fact that they had to be way more exhausted than we companions, it didn't show at all.  Each venue (which included St. Peter's, both the Basilica and the Square) was beautiful with acoustics that enhanced their voices in amazing ways. Also, one of the smaller choirs was singing some particularly lovely pieces that made all of us well up, in a good way. 

In conclusion

I had a great time, yet I'm so glad to be back home in the land of enough handknit socks.  Comfy-ness rules!

Ready for the rest of your day now?  I know I am, and not least because my body clock is still six hours ahead of my wristwatch and I have a lot to do before I start to wilt again.  See you tomorrow, and in the meantime, take care and knit fast!


Leslie said...

Welcome back! Easy knitting until the jet lag goes away. I always find that when I return home all I want to do is sleep!

justmeandtwo said...

HipHipHooray! for you conquering flying (esp. transoceanic). You rock!

Oh, and Welcome Back!

UmmRania said...

Welcome back, I am looking forward to your posts. Sounds like you had an amazing but tiring time.