“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. ” ― G.K. Chesterton

Ciao,

It was a fast trip to Germany and back, based on our 36 hour timeline, but we hadn’t counted on close to eight hours of traffic. When you take that into account plus another seven or eight hours sleeping and then five more hours home, well, we barely saw München (Munich) at all. Luckily for us it wasn’t a sightseeing trip but more of a food trip. So, quick trip or not we accomplished our goals for the weekend.

We took off around eight Saturday morning after collecting R & C from their domicile. Then we hit the bar for some morning cappuccino and croissants (yes, it was apricot). Then the trip got real; real and full of Germans heading back to Germany after holiday. Lots and lots of Germans heading north. Google just kept adding on delays and traffic, it was a long line of red. We took some beautiful back roads and avoided other travelers until we no longer had a choice. When there are only so many passes through the Alps sooner or later all roads must converge. So into traffic we went.

Austria and Germany are pretty green (despite the lack of rain and heat wave they are having) It really does make you want to sing “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music”. I didn’t (and everyone was grateful) but I wanted to.

We stopped in Innsbruck for a late lunch and it was fantastic, everything I had been missing about German food. Sauerkraut, slices of pork and knodel (bread dumplings, kind of like a round ball of stuffing).

And beer! Of course!

After some food and a quick stretch of our legs we loaded back up for the final stretch into München. We finally checked into our hotel by five-ish and set out for the wilds of Altstadt München (old city). We walked and came to a Augustiner Beer hall, stopped for another beer, then headed on down the street. We went into a couple of churches (Italy is not the only one with beautiful churches though München tends to have more gothic structures *in my opinion*).

St. Michael’s church is built in a Renaissance style with a beautiful statue of the Saint, himself, standing watch from the back of the church.

The Frauenkirche is famous for its gothic architecture but more famous for the Devil’s Footprint. A black footprint set into a paving stone just inside the entrance of the church. The legend says this is where the devil was when he realized he had been duped by the builder/designer Jörg von Halsbach. He (the devil) thought that Halsbach had built the church with no windows. Depending on the legend the devil’s derision was based on the idea that he had compelled Halsbach to build the church with no windows for financial help or maybe he  thought it had no windows and was a worthless place of worship. Either way if you stand in the “Devil’s Footprint” you can see no side interior windows and for several hundred years you also could not see the front window because it was obscured by a large altar. The “Devil’s Footprint” is either a stamp of glee or anger depending on your interpretation of the story but either way it has been there since the completion of the church around 1525.

From there we found our way into the side of the Rathaus (town hall) and found a great restaurant for more German food. With everyone full and happy we moved on down and scoped out the Hofbrauhaus.

 

 

The Hofbrauhaus is restaurant commissioned in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V as part of the Royal Brewery. Despite its long history the interior reminds me of a Furr’s cafeteria, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furr%27s) a restaurant of questionable taste from my childhood. It was also hot and loud and just not over all appealing but that may because I am not 20 anymore.

Germany, unlike Italy, closes down early (by 22:00) and so we made our way back to our hotel for one more nightcap (I had water but it was like a nightcap because I was so tired). Our hotel was very nice and clean, slightly surprising as we walked past Hookah bars and several club erotica’s to get to it. Comfortable and cozy, lulled to sleep by my water nightcap I slept all to briefly before we got up Sunday to have breakfast.

Ah, Germany, the land where I don’t have to have filled croissants. I like my croissants perfectly flaky and I really like them plain, though I have accepted apricot marmalade in my croissants since moving to Italy I will never truly love them that way. Not only did I eat a croissant but I also ate a pretzel (another hard to get item in Italy). After breaking our fast we headed back to the Altstadt to watch the Glockenspiel. The clock tower in Marienplatz (one of the main squares) that plays/performs for the tourists a 2-3 times a day depending on the season. It consists of 32 life size figures that joust, dance or watch the proceedings in glee, this is all timed to the 43 bells that toll along with the performance. It lasts about 10-15 minutes, which is a long time to stand with your head cocked up at a strange angle.

After that was done we got back in our car and headed back to Innsbruck, where we just happened to find a Fish Festival. It was small and the day was hot but we were able to finish off our trip with Bratwurst on a roll, vegetable kabobs, beer, and ice cream.I could not have asked for a better finish to a German food weekend.

Now, we are just trying to recover from our quick jaunt and Will has somehow managed to catch a cold (in the middle of summer).

Not completely sure what the next weekend will hold but if it is exciting I am sure I will be writing about it.

Fino alla prossima (Until next time)

Ciao miei Amici

 

I don’t go crazy, I just go normal every now and then.

Ciao,

Some weeks I plan so much that Will questions his life with me, some weeks I plan so little I question my life with me.

This last week was one of those where I questioned my inner motives. I mean, sure it’s nice not to drive Will crazy with all the things I want to do, and yes the temperature has been hovering a little above and a little below 100 degrees (with disgusting amounts of humidity). But honestly, are those really reasons to not run all over creation? Apparently this last weekend the answer was yes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we didn’t stay home all weekend crashed on the couch watching movies (though Avengers Infinity Wars came out on video and I still haven’t seen it!) and eating bonbons but there were a lot less shenanigans than usual.

I did put my new composter together this last week, which I found exciting, though I know that might not be every person’s bag of Snickers. I have been wanting one forever and since I have decided to explore growing lavender and heirloom vegetables having a good compost supply seems like a smart move. Not for the lavender really, I have never read about a plant that likes such crappy soil and so few nutrients but produces such loveliness. In comparison to lavender roses and and orchids are like the prima donnas of the flower world. I can still manage to kill a few here and there (lavender but probably roses and orchids if I tried hard enough). The hot weather this summer led me to overwater and root rot two of my plants. It’s a personal problem thinking that since I need water my plants do too. Some like my daily drink, some not so much. Sorry little lavender plants.

The heirloom vegetables are a next spring project but I am already prepping for them.

Saturday we ran some errands and bought patio furniture. It’s exciting since we have this lovely patio that I have been “nesting” (Will’s word, not mine) in and about since we moved in. The furniture is the ones we had been looking at AND it was on sale. A happy coincidence since I would have paid full price for it. Now, if only the weather would cool down enough for me to have my morning coffee out there.

 

Sunday was pesto day.

I have never made pesto from scratch. I am not sure why this has never happened but this was my first foray into the basil-y world of pesto. In true Karyn fashion I overcompensated by buying 7 more basil plants. Now I have 8. To be truthful 3 of them were the basil “plants” you buy in the produce section but I stuck them in pots yesterday morning and they seem to be happy as pigs in mud. If they die I am not out too much since I used leftover pots and they were throwaways. If they live… well, fresh pesto all winter!!! A win-win if I ever saw one.

I also made fresh pasta, I think this might have been a first for me too but since I have an Italian grandmother I am not prepared to swear to that. Pasta is not hard to make but it is a very delicate balance between too  much moisture (makes it too sticky to roll out) and too dry, making it crumble when you try and roll/cut it.

It took a little practice but with Will’s help we got it done. Dinner Sunday night was chicken stuffed with parmesan and pesto, fresh pasta with more pesto sauce, and salad (of course). The verdict? I ate too much. It was a little too garlicky for me so I would cut that back some next time but overall not too bad considering I haven’t done a lot of from scratch cooking lately.

Next weekend is about eating German food. We are making a quick run up to Munich to have some schnitzel. (Seriously, Italian food is delicious but even this half Italian gets sick of pasta and pizza).

So I will leave you with this short look at my normal week (no major adventures involved). We have this Germany weekend and then two “not planned” weekends before we meet A & C in Firenze (Florence). I can’t wait to see them!!! So a couple more weeks until our fall takes off and gets all sorts of crazy!! Stay tuned!

Ciao miei Amici

The best laid plans of mice and Karyn

Ciao,

For those of you who know me this comment will not come as a surprise, for those of you who don’t know me it may not be all that surprising based on some of my posts.

I tend to be a planner.

I know, revolutionary, right?!

In fairness I am a lot more relaxed than I used to be. (I swear, it’ true) We are talking about a woman who used to have the children’s packing list, for any and all trips on an excel spreadsheet. The pantry was also on a spreadsheet. In fact, my whole house might have been on a spreadsheet…you will have to decide that on your own. I already know I am neurotic, I don’t need confirmation from outside sources.

However, in recent years I have moved away from the spreadsheets (believe what you will), now, I just make lists. Daily lists, weekly lists, lists for my lists, and (sometimes) even lists for my husband. But even more important than lists, spreadsheets, and plans is the fact that I get ideas. Ideas of how something is supposed to go, turnout, look, happen. Well, those ideas rarely pan out the way I have mentally set them up to pan out. (It is really why I write, I get to edit my ideas until the plan works out perfectly, life never does that)

Our fare un’escursione (hike) on Sunday was much like the best laid plans of mice and men. You might remember that we had planned to hike last weekend but Will ended up sick so we moved it to this weekend. The temperatures are in the 90’s and the humidity is trying to catch the temperature so it seemed like a great time to go to the mountains. According to several websites finding hiking locations should have been a breeze. The way that some of the websites made it sound you couldn’t go into the mountains without tripping over a trail or two dozen. The reality was that you couldn’t go into the mountains without tripping over several dozen Italians (like A LOT of Italians). After Scotland, where we would go a whole day without seeing anyone, this was not what I was hoping for. I believe that exercise (hiking, cycling, etc.) can be a shared experience but I choose who to share my experience with; dozens of Italians (or people in general) were not on the top of the sharing list.

The trip into the mountains should have taken an hour and a half tops, add an extra hour to that for holiday traffic, then add a wrong turn (No Google Maps is not always right) to the bottom of a gully and a decision to walk/hike the 2-ish miles to where the restaurant area was supposed to be.

There was no straightforward trail and we ended up traipsing through the woods (this part was actually no big deal and the most relaxing part of the whole “hike”). We ran into an Italian lady who was lost and spoke no real English, since I speak no real Italian we communicated in one word sentences. We got her to the road and then left her with a bottle of water and people to converse (ask directions) with in Italian. Good deed done for the day.

We were planning to eat at the restaurant (bad idea on my part) it was crowded and no tables were available. I hadn’t packed much food beyond a couple of Clif bars. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. Yes, I know I become hangry easily. Don’t worry, Will is still alive! And No, I won’t be making that mistake again.

Anyway, we decided to take a short trail that was on a sign post and set off into the Italian wilderness… haha after Scotland the wilderness was well tamed and marked by white stone pathways, that were ridiculously slick from condensation.

Oh, quick note here, not only was this area a restaurant but apparently people take their campers there. They also spread blankets all over the hillside and have siestas. It was not organized like German campgrounds, which are neat and orderly with planned activity areas, but there was no wilderness to the camping. Other than it was a free for all park wherever and set up stuff kind of wildness. I was overwhelmed by the unorganized chaos. (Maybe because I was hungry.)

Okay, back to the trail. If I admit that I was huffing and puffing it is just because we haven’t hiked since Scotland and I felt ill equipped (and too hangry) to be hiking. The trail scenery was actually pretty, (minus some excrement) and we came across this big cavern that had been fenced off. It went so deep we couldn’t see the bottom from the side we were standing on. The trail was also lushly green, heavy on the moss and all the rocks were slippery with condensation from the air. I know this since I slipped and fell on my butt.

What I did not expect (and quite frankly, was less than pleased about) was how many people felt the need to use the sides of the trail as their personal bathroom. Oh, don’t get me wrong, nature calls to me while I am out hiking too, and I also must answer its call. But I know how to bury my poop, a skill that does not seem readily available on the trails here about.

Yeah, I was a little disgusted by it, okay maybe more than a little.

Needless to say I was not having the hiking day of my life and we decided to head back to the car sooner than later. It did start to rain on us a little as we headed back, making me glad that we cut our excursion short. Plus I was really, really, hungry (this is a problem I will take great pains to fix in the future, honestly, don’t know what I was thinking.)

We made it home much quicker than we made it up there. So with a quick pb&j then some emergency pizza to follow we kicked back and watched My Cousin Vinny. It is possible that I should have made it a movie marathon day instead of a try to find a hiking trail day but without the less than exciting adventure how can you really love the great ones?

Until next week

Ciao miei Amici

I know I said I wasn’t going to Venezia in the summer but…

Ciao

I know I promised a month or two ago I was not going back to Venezia (Venice) until the hot, humid, sticky, sweaty tourist season had ended or until A & C showed up in September. Oh, what a liar I have become. I could say Venezia calls to me; it is true that I love the city with its winding canals and labyrinth streets. But the influx of people, heat, humidity, and body odor… I mean it’s hard to think of a worse combination this side of hell. Still, as C pointed out to me in our chat today, I have not only lied once about going to Venezia during the summer (thanks M & B, totally your fault) but now I can blame J & W too!

And blame them I will!!!

Now, B is one of Wills oldest high school friends and so exceptions have to be made for a friendship that has endured that long but J is just a cousin. I mean an eighteenth cousin, six times removed on the fourth quadrant of the second lateral of his fifth family (does blood even relate when that happens).

HAHA! I am kidding of course! They are cousins and since Will remembers J as a baby and she grew hearing stories of his misspent youth (holy moly, if my husband had a misspent youth before I came along he must be taking the middle years of our lives with a charging cry of ADVENTURES R US!!!) it was imperative that we meet up with J and her husband.

Now I am going to be completely blunt and honest, when my alarm went off at 6:30 this morning I did not like J & W at all! Not even a little bit, family or not, I am so not 20 anymore, a fact which my body was all too happy to remind me of this morning when I blearily opened one eye with a squint to see if Will loved me enough (despite his own exhaustion) to bring me coffee. I can honestly say that if there had not been coffee next to my bed I would have said the heck with it and closed my one eye back up tight and ignored the fact that my alarm was tapping out a staccato beat on my nightstand. Fortunately, or unfortunately (as my body keeps clearly reminding me despite the fact that I am feeding it a steady drip of caffeinated gold), there was coffee by my bedside and I dragged, I mean rolled, stumbled, and fell out of bed to begin this beautiful Tuesday!

J & W are lovely!! I had a wonderful evening with them in Venezia, we had dinner, introduced them to Prosecco, limoncello, Italian pizza, and gelato. Everything a person needs to survive in Italy. Oh, wait, we forgot the caprese salad and the Hugo’s. I guess they are going to have to figure those ones out on their own.

But let me backup for a quick minute. We live close to Venezia, and by close I mean an hour in the car or on a train provided there is no traffic. And as I am sure you know from other posts, or maybe reading, or maybe you are just smart, Venezia doesn’t have any cars on its islands. The trains and cars stop on the edge of the island, in the station or car parks respectively, and then all people must take water taxis, water buses, or their own two feet to get where they want to go. Another thing to note is that though Venezia’s square mileage (of the main islands) is not huge, it’s also not small. Think back to those picturesque canals and narrow streets, now you have to wind your way through and over or around. Google maps is so sweet about wanting to take you the quickest way to anywhere, sometimes that way is across the water. (FYI water buses are 20 euro for a day pass per person, doesn’t matter if you are taking one trip or ten.) So, after Google took us to a water bus stop (in the wrong direction) and then to San Marco square (I swear to you that’s not what we typed but Google, much like Apple, has a mind of its own) we finally made it to J & W’s hotel. (And only 30 minutes after we said we would be there). I tried to blame it on traffic, oh wait… yeah, no cars.

Did I mention the hot and sticky part? Yep, walked around in that “bowling for tourists” as my father puts it. (I am constantly amazed at how rude tourists can be, taking up the whole narrow street as they walk 3 or 4 abreast and even stopping in the middle of the walkway to decide where they are going or just to talk to each other. I mean seriously, other people are on vacation too *not us, of course, but other people, you know people we don’t know and our cousins too* )

So, now that I have made that short story long, we had a great evening and hope that J & W schedule another trip back and hang out with us a little more next time.

All of that happened last night and we did do a couple other things last week, nothing too exciting since it was hot, humid, and miserable. (Italy in the summer!!)

I learned how to run our elaborate sprinkler system, which requires an attachment to get the water to flow. We have well water in the back but without the sprinkler attachment we can’t water anything in the front without filling very large water containers.

My landlord only squirted water into my face twice while trying to show me how to use it. I thought that was an acceptable amount of times to be sprayed considering we can barely communicate outside of pantomime.

We also said goodbye to our 2000 Volkswagen Golf. It was no longer cost effective to fix it, so adios, the junkyard came and picked it up today. We didn’t go hiking due to a bad case of food poisoning from some olio picante, maybe this coming weekend. I began to harvest dried lavender buds, still not completely sure what I am doing with them.

Other than all that and our Monday night adventure with J & W it was a slow week. Until next week, which I fully expect to be even quieter than this week…

Ciao miei Amici

Asiago’s WWI Monument and Monte Zebio

Ciao,

Here it is, another week gone by and I could almost call it relaxing. I don’t think Will would necessarily agree and I am not sure I could or should ever go so far as to say relaxing and Karyn in the same sentence. A dozen things happening at once… squirrel… back to projects… that is really more my speed. Luckily, Will balances me out most of the time. It’s a good thing otherwise I might just explode one day from all the activity in my brain.

But I digress, this last weekend I got the idea to head up to Asiago and check out the World War I Memorial and then take a drive up to Monte Zebio. I didn’t quite know what I was getting us in to. Luckily, neither did Will or he might have had a different plan for the day. It was a good thing he didn’t because it was really neat.

We grabbed Will’s music friend “D” and headed up the very windy road to Asiago. (Yes, D, the one that plays guitars but is no longer allowed to pick the adventure plans! I am kidding, he finds some good adventures. No seriously, the whole Nove chicken thing came from him and now his wife if a proud owner of an anti-assassin chicken too!)

The road to Asiago has 14 hairpin turns and it is the one road that I see the most concentration and the least line crossing by Italians. (They are horribly distracted drivers). Once at the picturesque mountain town we hit up a cafe for dinner. It was overpriced (though Asiago is like a Telluride, and everything but cheese is over prices.) but the food was really good. I also got the idea for dinner tonight from the restaurant, chickpea burgers with thick slices of mozzarella on top, they should be tasty.

After lunch we headed to the World War I Memorial. It sits at the top of a hill (a short walk) overlooking the town. The hours are strictly kept and the area guarded and gated when not open. After reaching the top and walking around the outside (several different artillery weapons were set up outside) we headed inside. It was overwhelming, I had not known it was also a crypt and that the remains of over 50,000 Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers were interred there. The inside was quiet, a place of contemplation and reverence for those that had made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries. I was able to find five soldiers that I share a last name with (maiden not married), and after searching through rows of names and visiting the small museums displaying artifacts and pictures from the Great War we quietly left.

My next idea for the day was to drive up to Monte Zebio because I had read there were still remains of trenches up there. The distance between the two was less than 10 km (roughly 6 miles) but I had no idea what I was asking my poor little two wheel drive car (CHIPS for short) or Will to do. The road started out winding up what I will loosely called a paved track. The asphalt had caverns in it that could swallow half my car but it was still asphalt so paved it was. To say it actually got better when we hit the dirt is a small stretch but there was some improvement. Anyway after about 40 minutes of winding our way up this hill/mountain that really was only wide enough for one vehicle at a time we came to the bottom of the trenches of Monte Zebio. The area is owned or maintained by a rancher with a large herd of dairy cows, we had to do the cow patty jump and avoid all the way up the hill. Still their bells gave the mountaintop a riotous symphony that was scenically beautiful. When we made it part way up the grassy green, wild flower covered hill we took a left instead of a right and found a track of trenches that surprised us (actually the whole trench line of the hillside was surprisingly intact). Me, being me, ignored the wooden sign that read “Pericolo” (danger) and jumped right in to walk the trench line. Some places were dug out of solid rock, then that rock was used to fortify other areas, creating a trench line of sturdy rock that helped protect the inhabitants from attack.

In fact, the Italians held this ground for over 40 months. After viewing their fortifications it is something that can be easily believed. Though there was a devastating accident of landmines set off days too early by a lightning strike, killing over 120 soldiers the area was so well fortified that the Austria-Hungarian troops were forced to find another way into Italy through other mountain passes.

After climbing out of our first set of trenches (Will couldn’t resist the lure of traveling the trails for too long but D took the high ground as our guide) we move back to the right and found another complex set of trenches and fortifications that included tunnels and storage depots cut out of the rock.

We cut some of exploration short due to the time and some concerns about a storm heading across the mountain (2-wheel drive car, narrow dirt roads, just saying) and headed back down to the Vicenza valley with the intention of stopping at the best ever (in the Vicenza area) gelateria for some gelato. So yummy!!

Sunday was a yard work day for me and a guitar day for Will. I potted plants that had outgrown their current location and added a couple new plants, turmeric, mint, and shockingly another lavender plant, as well as some succulents. By the time I cleaned up it was hot and I was ready for a couple hours inside.

Then out of nowhere, bam, Monday happened, wth? Where does it come from? Monday is always sneaking in without any warning.

But here it is Tuesday and I am already planning a low key weekend to write about next week.

Until then

Ciao miei Amici