"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finally, I can speak!

Wow…still no wifi!! Not sure yet If I’m going to post all of these at the same time or give you time to read each one a day apart…hmm. I *paid* for internet yesterday in an Italian computer café (weird) just so I could log onto Facebook and let people know I was alive, but other than that….nada.

So, INNSBRUCK WAS AMAZING!!!! First of all, DRIVING through on the way to Innsbruck was phenomenal, we were all on the one side of the bus taking pictures through the windows because just the view was fascinating. We have (or at least most of us) have seen snow before, lots of times. But there is just something jaw-dropping as seeing snow covered Mountain Alps. In May.  These mountains are just so..powerful, so alive. They speak to us as we drive through, tell us stories about nature. But it gets better.

Innsbruck, the town we stopped in for a couple hours to have lunch, was right next to this gorgeous mountain range. We ate lunch outside (it was PERFECT weather) and from my lunch table, I could see the whole town of Innsbruck and the magnificent mountain range encasing the whole town in the back. I can’t even really describe it. As soon as I am able to show pictures, I will input pictures into these blogs. But honestly I don’t even think a picture would describe it enough. Just the air to breathe was fresh, invigorating. Enlightening.

Our exact restaurant for lunch....I sat under one of those umbrellas. Perfection!

View from sitting down...

Sitting there, It felt like I was in a scene of the movie “Inception”. Particuarly thinking of the lunch scene where Leo takes Ellen to the dreamworld, and they are in some (probably European) city having lunch. Everyone in the background is just so happy, cheerful, there is a serene atmostphere that you can tell is just not real. That’s how lunch in Innsbruck felt. I felt like if I could create my own dreamworld, this would be it. I was waiting for someone to wake me up and I’d still be in Munich.

But unfortunately we had to get (practically dragged) back onto the bus and we were all still taking pictures like crazy through the windows- we couldn’t get enough.

Then, we set on our way to Italy. Just the thought of it made me so excited- I was jumping around inside my heart because I couldn’t wait to SEE Italy. I mean all the countries so far have been AMAZING, but Italy was second on my list on “Must see” right after London. So, it was exciting. Crossing the border alone was fascinating, we saw people parachuting off the Alps, as high as the clouds. My tour guide announces, “To the right you can see people bungee jumping off the bridge we will be travelling over”.  It was just all too surreal.

Lol. Nothing but italian vineyards!

Just one of 82,239,293,222 castles we passed. It began to become a "Normal" thing.


At last we pulled into our Italian hotel. What an experience!

We didn’t actually stay in Venice, but a hotel about a 20 minute ferry ride away from Venice, and a 2 hour drive. Our tour guide “prepped” us for the hotel experience we were about to have and this is what we got:

“These hotels were all mostly built in the 80s. Everything is much smaller, much less space than what you are all used to. The shower is in a wet room- meaning you leave your clothes outside and the shower is not in its own stall- No, In fact its right above the toilet. You sit on the toilet and, well, you know. Just shower. And the whole bathroom gets wet and drains through a hole in the floor. No elevators, no internet, no air conditioning. And oh- Italy has a known “Spiderman” who mostly spends time in Venice, but has been known to make his (or their) presence known in our island. What this guy (or group) does is literally climb walls (with tools?) and can climb into hotel balconies and enter your room and loot whatever they can. Meaning, don’t leave your balcony door open for extra air at night.” She also warned us that Venice, our destrination for the whole next day, was the place we had to be careful of pickpockets the most, in all our cities so far and to be yet. Pickpockets are getting more and more skilled and creative and even somebody that just bumps into you may be able to snatch something. And obviously, they head right for the tourists who are so awestruck and taking pictures, that they aren’t religiously watching their belongings.

So with all that exciting news, the bus was generally pretty upset, lots of moans and groans. However, all I could think was, We can live for two nights with these new changes. We are acting so…American. So although the amenities weren’t top notch, I was excited for the experience of being in a hotel…in Italy. And it certainly was an experience! I don’t have much else to say about the hotel, beause all of what she warned us about was true. It was very small, but still pretty cool. Regardless of everything, we were in ITALY!!

After check in, we went to dinner, the beach and shopping on our island.

Dinner was….amazing. I kept changing my mind over whether or not to get Italian food, that I missed so much. Everyone else was getting pizza, and I wanted it so badly. I saw a chicken meal on the menu that I would have been alright eating with no risks, but I wanted the pizza so much I was willing to take a risk. I thought, maybe since its real Italian food it won’t cause me to be as nauseous? Real Italian pizza. I thought, even if it causes me hell, I can now say I ate pizza in Italy. I took 5 lactaids (probably overkill but better safe than sorry).  After dinner I felt alright! Woo, I made it through! I took a couple bites of the real pizza but then also ate most of it without the cheese by scraping it off.

Then I locked myself in the bathroom. Which, had nothing whatsoever to do with being sick, but it was JUST as embarrassing. Other girls that visited the bathroom told us that they locked themselves in, but I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard. Well, it was. I officially hate all Italian doors. The lock was the type where you literally lock the door after you, with an actual key. And then spin it back to unlock it. Well, I have trouble with keys. I don’t even really like using keys in America, but at least I can. But this key/lock and I were not exactly getting along. I tried everything, but to no avail. I started panicking, thoughts starting getting less logical and it was going on ten minutes. I couldn’t believe that I actually managed to lock myself in an Italian bathroom and I HAD THE KEY. Eventually, I heard someone on the outside, speaking in Italian. I told him in Spanish that I spoke English, and I didn’t have to tell him I was locked in because I’m pretty sure he got that much just by the fact that I was constantly trying to open the lock. He kept giving simple (Italian) directions and due to the fact that I couldn’t think clearly, I wasn’t getting any of it. I kept trying different combinations of letting go, pushing, pulling, twisting, turning, spinning, jumping, praying, but nothing worked. Finally I heard a woman voice say, “I get key!” So she left and I kept playing with it. AND I GOT IT. WTF. She finally gets her key and then I finally get it on my own. Figures. They seriously need directions on that door. Then she came back with my key, and I’m all there like a silly American with a stupid sheepish sorry look on my face, washing her hands and all I could say was ‘Lo siento” in Spanish. And Thank you. From then on I decided not to take on ANY more Italian doors (despite the fact that I ALSO locked myself in my hotel bathroom door but it turned out to just be  a button you had to press in).

After dinner, we went to the BEACH! WE WERE ON A BEACH IN ITALY! A BEACH! The sand was PERFECT, it was the softest sand I had ever EVER walked on, and the water was so much warmer than it is this time in New York. I personally didn’t go swimming due to my fear of the ocean, but it was an experience all the same. I got some GREAT pictures of the beach during sunset time.

Shopping after that was interesting. The shopping streets after 9 turn into pedestrian only streets and even around 11, the streets were packed with families, babies, kids, elderly, tourists, all sorts of people shopping. All kinds of lively shops, too. Marts, expensive clothing, shoes, not expensive clothing, souveniers, etc. I have absolutely no fashion sense at all, but it was fun looking at all the Italian clothes that were all high fashion, and dreaming about one day having enough money to be able to walk down an Italian street and just buy shoes I thought were nice, or a gorgeous shirt, “just because” rather than sticking automatically to the clearance rack. All of the girls on this trip are all very….stylin’. Even just down to their flip flops, they have the most intricate and pretty flip flops, and I have Adidas. But, Adidas are comfy and I don’t have any blisters, so woo!

Back at the hotel, I started to immediately regret trying the pizza. All of the sudden I was standing there and it just all set in at once. But it wasn’t the dairy, that was covered I was pretty sure, with 5 lactaid. It was the tomatoes, which I can’t do anything about. Except regret. I took all my anti-nausea medicines and prayed to at least get some sleep through the impending serious doom. Despite having a lot more to do before lights out- all I could do was lay still on my bed without moving a muscle. If I did move a muscle, I probably would have not have had any friends any more due to showing them the pizza I ate earlier on a floor I’m sure.

Aside from all that negative news, I do have something positive to end with:

I AM SO HAPPY TO FINALLY BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE IN A COUNTRY. IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE. I never thought that four years of Spanish ever paid off. I mean, I speak it *sometimes* at work, but only minimally. But I couldn’t believe how much was all flooding back when I needed it most, in Italy. Granted, they don’t speak Spanish, they speak Italian, but I figured they were all more likely to understand Spanish than English. And I was right. Through all my funny attempts to communicate in Spanish, they all understood very well. It was amazing. Even just knowing the basic grammar and how Spanish is supposed to work, and some basic vocabulary is enough to get by. And words I thought I forgot, suddenly came back. I was literally pulling them from the back of my mind, as it took a couple seconds to remember. So cool! I feel like I could get by in Spain or Italy, or Mexico. My only weakness is not being able to understand what everyone else is speaking. It just is too fast for me and too much slang and no clear articulation, and its hard to remember the whole sentence someone just said and then piece together what you know in your mind. I can read Spanish well, speak enough to get by, and write enough, but not listen. So I need to work on that.

Well, tomorrow is a jam packed full day in Venice, Italy!! So exciting :D  Goodnight!

~A Writer in a Nurse’s Body

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