Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italia how I love thee!

Saturday February 6th, 2010

Today Emily (one of my roomies!) and I went with part of our school up to the mountains to an resort/town called Eben. We rode on the bus (for free! I love free things!) that goes to the mountains every day for free leaving at 8:30 am and coming back at 4pm. Can you tell that this is a winter sport country? lol. Emily and I plus four other lovely ladies from our school all decided to go Tabaggoning for the day, instead of skiing and breaking our necks!

We bought day lift tickets for only 26 Euro, and each sled trip cost 2 Euros! It was a surprisingly cheap day! We rode the lift up and it was amazingly beautiful and high up! And we were only on the lowest part of the mountain called Moos Alm part of the Altenmart.  Once we got to the top we had to find the sleighs on our own which took about 30 minutes because we had no clue where to find them and it took a while to communicate with the Austrian working in the pub (yes the pub halfway down the mountain where people stopped for breaks coming down!). We finally got the tabaggons and they were two seaters, wooden, with woven fabric seats! How classic! lol. We were told to cross the ski path (scary!) and go towards a parking lot. We did so and found the kid ski area - figuring that was what he meant we went down - being careful to dodge the fake animals set up as obstacles! It was fun coming down, but then a big Austrian woman told us it was the wrong place and to go up this street. So we drug our lovely sleighs up this road until we got to the parking lot again.

We sent our good German speaking people to go get directions. It ended up that we were suppose to go down the ROAD with our sleighs around blind curves where cars were traveling, and cliffs, and trees, with sleighs that have no turning mechanism! We chanced getting hit by cars and went for it! The trail was 3km long and a blast! We eventually learned to steer with our feet after we crashed into some snow banks! We traveled through woods, cute little farms, and landed right in a town after we went under a highway!

We got done and had no idea where we were. But I have come to learn this is Europe. NOTHING is easy or makes since. You go down a mountain and you would guess you would end near the resort. No. We were told to just leave our sleighs at the end of the road (hopefully it was the right road we left them at!). We eventually went into a hotel and asked for directions. After walking 35 minutes on a cross country skiing lane back to Eben we were at the resort again! Emily and I had lunch in a wonderful restaurant at the resort. Then we went down the mountain again, this time each on our own sleigh! It was so wonderfully fun!

Once we got back to our house we ate dinner then the three of us (now with Jane!) went out to one of the girls we go to school with's house where she was having everyone over. We rode the bus and at one of the stops two of the boys from our school got on. We rode, eventually realized we were lost (story of my life!) and asked the bus driver. He said to stay on and he would take us there, but then turned the bus off at the stop we were at and pulled out a newspaper.... so since we were already late and not sure if we would even make it we all popped open a beer on the bus. There is no open container law here. lol. Jane tried to open a bottle of wine to drink and it spewed everywhere... but it was so funny...yes we kinda cleaned it up. We started moving again, and were eventually told what stop to get off on. We got off even though it was not where the map showed us - we walked and figured out that the bus stop only stops at the place we needed when it was coming from the other direction! By the time we got there we didn't even get to get in the house because we had to catch the last bus back home! See what I mean Austria is just not easy!

Sunday February 7th, 2010

I slept in and then did homework for the day. I took some black and white film pictures for my photography class. I need to take some photos focusing on light, and of course Salzburg is always cloudy so the sun was not out, to help make great contrasts! Of course two hours after I was done the sun came out for the first time in days! I have also given up and become part of the trend of tucking in my pants into my boots. This sadly shows off that I have fur on my boots - I got these boots cause they looked normal if the pant was over the fur! lol. But after walking in all of the slush and rain and snow on the sidewalks this past week my pants are soaked to my knees by the time I get to school! So I have given in and have been much dryer!

Monday February 8th, 2010

Monday was a busy day filled with classes. In Understanding Austria we were already pop quizzed on the 9 Provinces of Austria and their capitals. Ugh. Glad I looked at them last minute on my walk to school! Then German class where we made a contract with our teacher that she would teach us the dirty/bad words in German if we taught her the ones in English. It is our "black market deal" because if our academic director knew she would not be happy! lol. So day one: "kotzen" you say it when something really pisses you off. lol. Then off to printmaking where our professor took us on a printmaking tour of his workshop (Wow, he had pretty much every machine imaginable!) and a history of it. We got to do some wood carving and some scratching into zinc and made a group print which was fun. Then we went up to a exhibit. Then I rushed back to economics because the classes over lap. I had to ask my art teacher if I could miss part of his studio time and make it up later and he said "I guess ... as long as you come back and explain that E.U. thing... I should probably understand that too." lol.

Tuesday February 9th, 2010

I had class and then a free museum field trip to Haus der Natur which is a block away from Salzburg College. I love this about Salzburg College. My tuition is not that much more than at home but I get so many field trips with expenses paid. We have gone to Germany for 5 days, we are going to Vienna for 4 days, Munich for 1, and then we get about 7 field trips around Salzburg and a end of the year vacation to Salzkammergut in Austria! It very much integrates travel and then we get a 2 1/2 week break to travel and do some practical school study of the countries we go to! Anyway back off my tangent we went to the Haus der Natur and it was one of the best nature museums I have ever been to! It had so many different topics from the Salz river to the Doppler method to African animals and Dinosaurs! It was very cool with an aquarium, and live reptile and snake exhibits! All of these 20 year olds were pushing their ways in front of the 4 year olds trying to see things! lol.

After this I had to go get an allergy shot. Dr. Kecht one of the two people that runs the school - and my Understanding Austria teacher WALKED me to my Dr. and made the appointment for me and checked me in. I couldn't believe that she would spend the time to do this with me but that is just how things at Salzburg College are done. They really do take care of you! :) But thank God she came cause I would have never found the place tucked in a small back ally way up the stairs in and down an outside hallway! And the receptionist only spoke German so Dr. Kecht was definitely a lifeline to check in! She left once I was checked in. I was amazed at the waiting room - it was decorated like a living room with curtains and pillows, with a kitchen table in the middle, and a bed to lie down in! It was weird. Also, whenever someone new comes into the room everyone says "Gruss Gott" which equates to "Greeting God" but is the standard hello. I got called back and the Dr. was very nice, but made me nervous when he took forever to read the directions sheet! He finally looked up and said "This is very different". I was like oh shit. I told him just give me .5 of the shot in my right arm ... hoping he would just trust me and do it. He did, and we clarified that it was mostly the container that the allergy serum was in that was different. He did a great job and then I headed back to Photography. We developed our film and learned about the history of photography.

Wednesday February 10th, 2010

Today I didn't have to go to school until noon! :) I had lunch a chicken, apple, pineapple curry meal. It was surprisingly very good. Bergita always makes homemade sunflower see bread, and homemade garlic bread which we all consume super fast every day! (for some reason bread is what all of us are craving all the time even at our host homes! We have no idea why!) We also always have a salad with a ginger kind of dressing that is great! We get excited when we have a spoon above our plates because that means desert! (lol. the spoons are like teaspoons. no joke!) Today it was a real banana puree in a bowl. Yum! Somedays it is cake, sometimes it is mixed fruit with a syrup over it. But always delicious! Then in the afternoon we all planned our weekends - I am going to Venice this weekend for Carnivale. I never realized how much work planning is, then off to Econ and home.

Thursday February 11th, 2010
No classes but walked to school, which we discovered that as a round trip from home is over 3 miles, to get Bergita's lunch! Then planned for Venice all day.

Friday February 12th, 2010
Started the morning with making sack lunches out of random things that we had in the fridge. We ended up with pasta in a grocery plastic bag, leftover goulash put into sandwiches, and cooked potatoes! Our host mom had told us to grab food out of the fridge, but somewhere along the line we all had a misunderstanding cause in the end she brought us amazing sack lunches for the whole weekend! They had to be like 7 pounds of food for each of us! No joke! We walked to school with our travel back packs and went to German. Once that was done, we left our snow boots in Austria and headed to warm Italy! We rode the bus to the train station - caught our first train ever - and we were off to Italy on our 8 hour train ride to Venice. The view was amazing going through the alps, seeing little Austrian mountain towns and Italian villages all along the way!

After a long way of traveling we ended up in Treviso, where our hotel was. We followed Google's directions for walking which said it was 8 minutes walking until we knew that we were lost and came to a central square and went into a book shop. I got my Italian book in there - "The Princess and the Frog". We asked the cashier where the hotel was and he was SO nice and helpful and called the place - we found out it was a 20 minute taxi ride away - so he ordered us a taxi. Good job Google. 8 minutes walking haha. So we thanked him and went to the taxi where we had to pay an unplanned $22 Euros for the ride, but we got to the hotel so that was what mattered.

We stayed at the La Marca and it was beautiful! We all took a hot shower for however long we wanted (Austrians use spring water and watch what they use like crazy!) and watched a little "Super Star" which is Germany's American Idol. First time we had watched T.V. since we got here! The show was horrible! They sing American songs in English and there was a guy singing a western song sitting atop of a mechanical bull, and none of them can sing! Our Simon would rip them apart!

Saturday February 13th, 2010
First day in Italy. BLISS!!! :) I can see how my mom is obsessed after she studied a summer here! We tried to catch the 8am train that we had planned on but, quickly realized that that was not a reality as we were all so tired. So we took a relaxing morning. I wore a dress and tights and was fine! We all miss the weather so much cause it is still snowing and bitter cold here! We ate breakfast in the hotel's restaurant and had rolls and jam and juice and fruit. They had a Rosie the Riveter poster and we all laughed! Then we discovered we could get to the train station for 1 euro on the bus that came right outside the hotel! Perfect. We got on the train and to Venice. It was so fun watching the city come into sight and all the water, even though it was still foggy.

We got out of the station and saw a beautiful canal, and a million people giving face painting! We bought each of each other a face painting by this super sweet lady who wore a flower in her hair and a tutu! We had a blast and then just wandered down the canal. It was so nice to be able to use some of the similar Spanish words I had learned! I never realized how much Spanish I now until my brain thinks foreign language when I try to find words in German and they come out in Spanish! By the time I came back I was like Thanks, Gracis, Danke...wait what?!

We bought masks to wear at a little side stand - mine is gold and pink with large pink feathers that remind me of Miss. Congeniality 2! Then we literally wandered around the city for 5 hours. :) We saw beautiful canals, a flee market, the artist's workshops (where I bought a high quality red velvet mask that will go in my house someday!) and lots of costumes! The tights I wore that day were apparently too large in the waist and kept slipping down! It was so awkward cause I had to keep pulling them up cause they would fall down to my knees! I definitely think I flashed some men inside a store when I fixed my tights - not knowing that there was a full window store behind me! Oh well! They have officially been put in the burn pile!

We worked our way to St. Marco's Piazza after much confusion on direction to watch the Best Costume Contest. It was to start at 3 but started at 4:30 - Definitely in Italy and not prompt Austria!!! But it was a great thing that we got there that early, cause we were 3 people away from the stage and there ended up being an entire square of people! The show was one of the most fabulous things I have ever seen! Italian fashion design was so extraordinary. It was a beautiful fashion show that had everything from rat costumes, to classic full porcelain masks with bright color dresses, to a lady as an airplane and a group as white jelly fish and black octopus! Our feet were tired, there were so many people right up against us, but we were so captivated for that hour we didn't notice it was like a trance, with upbeat bell tower music in the background! The show was also so beautiful because we had the St. Mark's Tower in the background of the models!

It was funny cause Jane (one of my two roomies that went me, the other was Emily) had bought a bottle of wine, and we didn't feel like drinking any. So all day she had been sippin' on it and when we were waiting for the show to start this Italian man started talking to her in Italian. We were laughing cause both sides knew we had no idea what he was telling her! He finally made an the only English sentence we think he knew... Finish the bottle. Lol. Eventually, Jane accidentally dropped the cork to the bottle in the crowd, so she had to finish it! The guy was also trying to convince her to grab and artichoke from the artichoke and yellow apple "trees". The veggie and fruit were stuck to Styrofoam tree shapes. There were even security guards so that nobody would touch them!! We then went to dinner at a cafeteria that was fabulous where I got white wine (in a juice box carton!) and a big bowl of fresh seafood pasta for only 7 Euros! Then we wandered back to the train station in the dark through ally ways that had blue and white lights draping over the walkway!

We had gotten back to Treviso by 9 pm because we heard the buses stopped at 10:30 pm. But we discovered that only one bus was still running and it wasn't ours! So we headed back to the train station to catch a cab. My cell phone didn't work and talked to me in German about something so we just waited until a taxi came to the taxi pick up area. It definitely is not like NY where taxi's just line up and wait, we waited 20 minutes for one to come, and then we had him call another taxi for us! (Random fact: In Austria it seems that there are a ton of female taxi drivers! Must be safer here or something!) We got to the hotel and crashed!

Sunday February 14th, 2010

We woke up, ate breakfast and headed to explore the town of Treviso for the morning. It was beautiful outside, similar to a cool morning in New Mexico. Just perfect! We took the bus into town and wandered around. We watched couples going for walks along the rivers, goats and ducks grazing in a park, and people riding their bikes with their families. It was nice to explore this town and get more of the family feeling of Italy. We found a 50% off store where I got a beautiful Italian bag that is black with leather purple flowers on it and green leaves that stick out from it - and the best part was it was only 30 Euros!! We couldn't have planned it better, as we wandered right into a square where young children and their parents were celebrating Carnivale! We all just watched the dressed up children throw confetti and having a marvelous time. It is kind of their Halloween we decided. It was just a simple, relaxing, family time for all of these Italians! They even had a classic Italian man entertaining that had a puppet monkey that was popular with the kids. It was so fun to watch - and all those kids are so beautiful!! We continued to explore trying to find a bus back to our hotel to check out and go to Venice for the afternoon. (I sadly lost my camera memory card from the day before when I switched to another card cause it was full!)

We couldn't find a bus station for our life, but it was ok it was sunny and we just walked. It is much nicer to be lost in Italy than cold, non-smiling Austria! We eventually found a stop we recognized, yet we couldn't read the schedule as it was in Italian so we guessed one was coming in 20 minutes and sat there and waited while laughing and talking. It arrived and I asked him if we could get to the hotel and he said yes. So we hopped on. He eventually pointed for us to get off and pointed to walk down this street...we were not dropped off at our usual bus stop. I think it was nice of him to take us a while and point us in the right direction! We walked down the street not recognizing anything. We saw fields, then a soccer field with a cement graffiti wall surrounding it, little houses with laundry hanging out the windows, and even a palm tree with goats and chickens under it! :) It was a long walk again not knowing if it was the right direction...but we wiggled our way back to our hotel just in time to check out and get our things to catch the last bus to town at 2pm! Wow were we lucky!

Then off to Venice. The town was a lot busier today and if was like a flood of people! But it was fun. Everyone was having such a good time, lots of laughs and smiles! Valentines Day in Venice! It was fun seeing all the couples together taking gondola rides, but Valentines day was definitely pushed aside by the concentration on Carnivale! We did lots of shopping on Sunday many of the stores had sales. We came to the conclusion that Italians are much better taking our money - we bought so much more than we had in Austria for the past weeks! I got a beautiful red scarf that I adore that has Persian prints on it and has a different design on each side, and Jane bought a coat and sunglasses that make her look chic. lol. We looked at many stores with exquisite masks, and beautiful glass from Milano. I loved seeing these African men selling knock off Coach bags on the streets and people coming up and being so excited to find a "Coach" for so cheap. It was entertaining to watch.

We had dinner at little Italian restaurant, Restaurante Pizzeria Pasqualigo that looked cute. We got in and I ordered pergutto (sp!) ravioli with a white cream sauce. We all loved our dinners and when the waiter came by to ask if we wanted desert I asked him what was the best. He told me that he was the best desert. Lol. Welcome to Italy. haha. We all got tiramisu. Then we got the bill and were shocked when we had a 8 euro tip included on top of a
"cover charge" of 5 euros. We call that the "American Charge". So we officially got ripped off by an Italian. Check. Then we waited on the steps of the train station waiting for the time our train would come. And guess what kind of music we listened to! Native Americans in full dress playing music!! :) lol. We travel so far to be back home. Then we went inside the station to get our bags from the baggage check. (A fabulous thing we discovered! Some trains stations have baggage check so you can leave your bags and go explore! It was only 4 euros for 5 hours!) We went into a heated warming room with seats - that smelled like elephants! eik! - and read some of "The Habsburgs" for our class on Monday. That didn't last long as we all started to talk again. I love these girls!

We decided to go look and wait for the train - and when we found it after asking a train man because the train's destination was not what was on our ticket it said it was going to Munich! We had learned in our Understanding Austria class that some trains break in half at some stops so be sure you get onto the right part of the train! So we kept asking the train people where our tickets were and they sent us to like the first car. As we got on it left like five minutes later SO glad we didn't miss it, as it left early! Ahh Italian trains! We found a cabin to ourselves and settled in. Nobody else was in there, but we didn't pay for the beds so when the female train ticket checker came by she got really upset they were down. She said "This is impossible!" lol. We were so scared she would come back we slept on the seats all night all crunched even though nobody came for those beds! We were woken up 3 times for passports (for Italy, Germany and Austria) and 2 times for our tickets - we barely slept. I have got to say hearing that knock on the cabin door and their yelling for tickets and passports while you are sleeping is like the scariest thing ever! You get up quick! It was funny cause once when the passport checker for Germany came Jane couldn't find hers, and the officer was like " You American too?" "Yes" "Oh ok." lol. Good security dude. It helps to be American sometimes. We had to switch trains once and discovered that the train was much slower than the one on our ticket had told us it was to be. We were suppose to be in Salzburg by 7am and we showed up at 9:20! We had class we couldn't miss at 10 so we rushed in the snow and cold to the bus and up to class. We were all so tired and I didn't get home until 8pm! It was so funny because Jane was so exhausted that she was talking passionately about some historical situation with workers, and said "They just wanted the workers to shut the F*** up!" Our teacher is the most strict in this class, Dr. Kecht, and the lady in charge of academics for the school! We all were scared for her after we burst into laughter! Between Dr. Kecht's expression and Jane's expression of pure shock that that came out of her mouth in front of Dr. Kecht - we were all rolling laughing. She was just about the only person that could have gotten away with that comment with Dr. Kecht!

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Capri by Courtney Tracy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Hi Courtney,

    Your travels to Venice during Carnivale remind me of an audio tape of a story which takes place in Venice during Carnivale - set to music by Vivaldi. Did anyone throw any perfumed eggs at you?


  2. No they didn't! :D I haven't heard of that! lol. :)