Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's been a month!?!?

Hope everyone had a safe and wonderful 4th of July!  We celebrated here in Italy pretty similarly to most Americans with a day on the lake, a BBQ and fireworks show.  A group of 5 of us headed to Lake Garda and rented a boat for the day.  We were hoping to water ski or go tubing but that requires a boating license, which is a bit of a process to obtain here in Italy.  Regardless, we had a great time exploring Italy’s largest lake and staying cool in the summer heat while speeding around the lake and dipping in the water.  Garda is a beautiful lake with shimmery blue green water…. there was a bit of a haze settled over the lake while we were there, but it lifted a bit and we got to see some interesting towns along the shore.  Nate and I had been to the lake before in May, to the town of Malcesine, but just did a walking tour of the lakeside town and castle.  It was fun to see other parts of the area from out on the lake and visit some of the small islands scattered throughout.  

Boating and Beer... Happy Guy

Island Oasis
After a hot day on the water we headed back to Vicenza, stopping first for some yummy Italian pizza to ease our hunger pains.  Wiped out, we passed out on the couch for a bit then BBQ’d up some brats before heading into town to watch fireworks.  The fireworks were launched from Monte Berico, a hill that overlooks all of Vicenza.  At the top there is beautiful church and Americans and Italians gathered on the steps to watch the show.  Nate and I agreed it was one of the best fireworks shows we’ve seen, lasting nearly a half hour with an outstanding finale.  The pictures we have don’t do it justice.
Monte Berico Church

In “travels news,” we’ve stayed pretty close to home this last month with the exception of a trip to Munich.  We had a great time literally eating our way through the city.  Nate got to have his first Doner Kebab with two Augustiner beers at the outdoor beer garden in the Virktualen Markt. ( I think it was a brief moment of perfection for him).  We stood in the Marienplatz and looked up at the Glockenspiel waiting to see the small dancers pop out on the hour. Apparently the clock is currently not running (or at least not while we were there) because we stood looking up at it a couple of times throughout the day with no luck. 
Standing in the Marienplatz

Hmmm.... staring at the Glockenspiel
Mmmmm.... Doners good

We had a great time playing a “Where’s Waldo” version of finding our name nearly everywhere we went.  We found the name Platz nearly everywhere we went and not just to denote town plazas or squares.  To Nate’s great excitement, the Hofbrauhaus is located on Platzl streetJ The day we arrived in Munich was beautiful and sunny and we had an excellent time strolling the Marienplatz, drinking beer, people watching, and snacking on the German fare.  We even found a Starbucks, which I know sounds terrible compared to the “excellent” espresso we get in Italy, but I have missed my skinny vanilla lattes.  I am not ashamed to admit that I had three during our stay in Munich…. And they were fabulous! 




When we finally headed back to our humble hotel room (about the size of a walk in closet) we became the victims of a substantial rain storm that continued into the next day and put a bit of a damper on our original plans to visit the English Gardens and WaWi  (a beautiful outdoor beer garden).  Despite the rain, we still went and toured the Olympic Park and the BMW museum.  The park is quite impressive with a large lake running through the middle. The stadium offers different tours with zip lines from the top of the roof, but due to rain we weren’t able to take the ride.  Nate thoroughly enjoyed dreaming his way through the BMW museum, sitting himself on several motorcycles and longingly touching the curves of the other cars we can only dream of driving one day.  Because the weather only seemed to be getting worse, we decided to call it a trip and head back to Vicenza where the weather was much drier.  It was a wonderful trip…. Nice to be back in Munich again where I have spent a good deal of time in the past.  We will definitely return to see some of the other outdoor places we didn’t make it to.  It’s only a 4-hour drive, so not too bad for a weekend getaway.
Olympic Park

In your dreams!

            Sticking closer to home, we’ve made some small trips to places like Nove (known for their ceramics) where you can shop in the factories that make the place settings and pottery pieces for places like Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Tiffany’s and many others.  The pieces are significantly less expensive than those sold in the retail stores…. I got a huge platter for 8 euro ($11) that would normally cost around $40-$50!  We’ve also spent more time in downtown Vicenza, enjoying the nightlife a bit more and finding some new restaurants. 
Nove Ceramic Factory

            Nate’s getting busier during the weeks.  He has made a couple trips up to Germany for work and we’ve had several Change of Command ceremonies and Hail and Farewell dinners.  We celebrated Nate’s July 7th birthday at one of these dinners following his first jump into Italy near Pisa (he earned his Italian wings!).  He has three more jumps this week and then he’ll be eligible for Jump Master School, which he is very excited about.
He didn't want cake... he wanted cupcakes.  He speaks I listen.

Nate's first Italian jump

            I am getting excited for a visit from my mom and sister in less than 2 weeks.  It will be nice to see some people from home and show them around Northern Italy before heading down to Florence for a few days.   I’m still working on getting a job here.  It’s tough since there is only the one hospital on post and as an American here on orders with my husband I am not allowed to work on the Italian economy.  Right now there is a hiring freeze on post, which makes it even more challenging.  So for now I am volunteering for the Red Cross which actually puts me in the clinic, so hopefully when a job does open up I will have the connections to get the position.
            That’s kind of the run down of the last month…. Been a while since the last post.  Summer has definitely kicked into full gear.  It’s really hot and humid and we get thunderstorms at night pretty frequently.  We enjoy going to the pool to cool off on days when we don’t travel.  Now that we’ve found how easy it is to rent a boat at Lake Garda I’m sure we’ll make it there again too. 
Hope everyone in the states is doing well!  We miss you all and think about the states often! Bon Giorno!