BPC – Bad Personal Choices

Ciao a tutti,

I feel like it has been so long since I have talked to you all, and let’s be honest it has been over a year since you have been subjected to my witty repertoire and ridiculous ramblings. So, I thought while I was working on getting my blog pages up and running, I would start getting some posts up here and there so you can see what crazy stuff Will and I keep getting ourselves into.

Lake Garda

This last weekend was the last day of July (Friday) and the first day of August (Saturday); it was also one of the hottest weekends of the year, oh, and I finished the summer semester. So, it legit seemed like a good idea to do something fun. By fun I mean go to the mountains, camp in our friend’s garden, (a garden in Italy usually means more than a vegetable plot, think more like a backyard) and ride our touring bikes over the hills to Lake Garda. 

Really, the distance was only 13 kilometers (roughly 10 miles) as the crow flies, but there was a large hill between our starting point and ending point. But, Will and I are nothing if not adventurous, as you might know, if you keep up with my Instagram or Karyn’s Corner Facebook account, I’ll leave the links in case you need them.

We were ready! Will hadn’t been on his bike all summer, as for me, I had only been riding outside again for the last week. So, neither of us had been doing much riding at all. We knew the day was going to be hot; the weather gurus called for it to be the hottest day of the year. Later in the afternoon, I would completely agree with this assessment, but by that time, my point of view might have been slightly distorted by heat exhaustion and sweat. 

Villa overlooking the lake.

Did I mention it was going to be hot? I snort to myself as I ask that question because, at 8:30 in the morning, I had no idea what hot was. With 46 oz of water in our bottles (each) and high spirits, we headed down the hill and into the small town of Caprino to get ready to climb the more prominent hill in front of us. We were using a new app called Naviki, which I am really impressed with, but as many of you know, when learning to use new navigating apps, there may be a learning period. Ours was while climbing the first biggish hill. We got lost at least twice, but not big lost, only a half-mile here, a quarter-mile there. Getting stupid lost would come when we got to the lake. 

We got to the downhill part again, and it was then that I realized we might be in real trouble on our way back. The grade down in the last 500-foot drop was roughly 15-18%; I will not lie, I walked my bike down that gravelly trail. Touring bikes aren’t the lightest bikes, to begin with, not super heavy, definitely not road bike light. 

My bike tried to run away with me, but I knew what was happening on the downhill was nothing compared to the pig-rhino it was going to be on our way back. For those of you that don’t know, I named my touring bike the Baby Rhino because she is a pig-headed bitch when she wants to be. However, we made it down the hill, walking/riding, and finally to the lake. 

It was hot enough to ride into the water, we didn’t, but we should have.

Lake Garda is as beautiful as ever. We found a little bar and had cappuccino and croissants and then decided to explore. We found our way down to the water, and for those of you that don’t know, Lake Garda doesn’t really have sand beaches, they have rocks. They are rounded, well worn, but rocks nonetheless. Some places they are thin with packed dirt poking through and what may have, at one time, been some sort of cement holding it together, those days of cohesiveness are long since gone. We rode on these rocks. Between walls (usually leading to private property) or fences and sunbathers located close to the lake’s clear liquid. We came to a place where we couldn’t ride anymore and had to push our bikes, it was flat, but rocks are not the easiest thing to push your bike through. We will call this our first BPC (Bad Personal Choice). But we persevered because we were sure there had to be a path soon. They have been talking about a route around Garda for cyclists for years. 

This is not a bicycle path.

Spoiler, there was not a path; we were “big lost.” this time. After a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) of riding/pushing our bikes through these ridiculous rocks, we came to a place where there were no more rocks and no more pretend path, just lake, and we had bikes, not boats. Soooo, we turned around, I mean, really, what else were we going to do? The sun was hotter by this time, and the shade on the lakeside was non-existent, it was a balmy 98.6 degrees (37 celsius) on those rocks. At our first opportunity, we got off the rocks and rode our bikes back to the area we had stopped for morning cappuccino. I was starving. I had just pushed/rode my bike through rocks for 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) in almost 100-degree heat. So, onto BPC 2! I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, and Will ordered a bacon cheeseburger. They were as delicious as only a bacon cheeseburger in Europe can be after pushing your bike for 3 miles, which means they really weren’t, but we were starving. 

Watermelon Smash
Burger of Belly Doom
Was it worth it? The belly says no!

Back onto the bike, but heading the opposite direction. We pedaled leisurely down to Bardolino and found a place for gelato. BPC 3! It was mediocre gelato, definitely not worth it in hindsight. But there we were with our gelato and our bikes realizing that it was going to take us at least two hours to get home, so we decided to head back toward our mountain retreat, maybe grab a cool shower and relax in the shade. The temperature was a gorgeous 100-102 (37-38 celsius), and we had a hill to climb. 

Because the 18% grade wasn’t enough, Italy had to throw some cobbles into the mix.

Onward and upward. We weren’t taking the same route back because we weren’t leaving from the same pace we entered, we started slowly and mostly comfortably, touring bikes gear down pretty low. Then we came around a bend and realized that what we had come down was nothing compared to what we had to go back up. The burger and the gelato were having a war in my belly to be the first to evacuate, and the angle I was stooped over at to push my bike up the hill was guaranteeing that it wouldn’t take long for anything leaving my mouth to make it to the ground. I don’t know whether I am proud or sad to report that I managed not to throw up, but for whatever reason, all food stayed down. I really wish it hadn’t, but it did.

At one point, I stopped on the side of the road, sat down, and contemplated my life choices up to this moment. And you know what? No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t see how I being on the side of the road in the middle of Italy with my bike and a revolting belly full of burger and gelato as a bad thing. Sure, I had heat exhaustion, I had already drunk over 100 oz of water, and I had forgotten all the snacks I had bought that would have replaced salt levels and sugar levels in a safer manner than lousy gelato. But on the other side of that gravelly side of the road was my husband, the best damn adventure partner a person could have. I was on the road debating whether to vomit or not, but at least I would be vomiting in Italy, while not riding (at that particular moment) through some of the most gorgeous countryside known to man. And even though I had terrible gelato today, I knew where great gelato was. In all, it isn’t a bad life; in fact, it’s a wonderful life. And BPC aside, it was a great day. I love knowing that Will and I can still do crazy things and make the best of them, creating memories and stories to tell.

Best adventure partner ever!

The short side of this long story, have great adventures, while sometimes making bad personal choices and try your best not to settle for inferior gelato. Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise we have more adventures to come.

Karyn’s Corner Facebook

Karyns Corner Instagram

I am so Excited!!

A heart in the wall of the Piombi prison in Venezia (Venice).

Ciao a Tutti!

Will and hanging out at the top of St. Marks Basilica! Look how empty it is?!

I have missed all of you so much!

In fact, so much that even though I wasn’t planning on letting the cat out of the bag* yet, I just can’t help myself. I am working on getting the blog back up and running. It is going to be a while before it has full functionality – like, seriously, I want to do it right in a way that I think will make the most sense for all the quirkiness mixed with OCD parts of my brain. Plus, I want to make topics that I enjoy, and that you will enjoy, too!

So, practice a little patience with me over the next year, and it will end up being awesome!

*an excellent idiom that has deep roots of two potential origins – think pig in a poke or cat o’ nine-tails, but I digress

Who doesn’t love a little Blub Art! Many people know Blub is one of my favorites. We found this on in Venezia (Venice)

Taking a Break

Ciao a tutti,

I am sad to say that I will be taking a hiatus from my blogging duties on Karyn’s Corner. My reasons? Well, I would have to say life is crazy busy but not always with things I would put on a blog. I mean, how many times can I tell you about school work, dinner, and laundry. I am pretty sure those are my three mainstays right now.  

It is true that Will and I still go adventuring when we can, and I will be working to maintain my Facebook page Karyns Corner and my Instagram page karyns_corner. In fact, I am hoping to get pictures of Carnevale up this weekend from last weekend. We also have some friends coming into town in March and then family visiting in May so please keep your eyes on the lookout for any shenanigans that I may have engaged in, and probably drug Will with me.

I hope that at some point in the future I will be able to return to blogging more often, until that day

Ciao i miei amici 

 

Carnevale is Here!, Well, almost…

Ciao a Tutti

Do you love to dress up and pretend to be someone else? I do! I always have; dress up was my favorite game when I was a child, even more than playing with dolls I loved to pretend I was someone else.

Someone famous, someone that made things happen, someone beautiful and exciting. Well, I am not famous but I have spent my life making things happen (some good, some bad) and my husband tells me I am beautiful and I keep his life exciting so there you have it. Regardless of my life, which really is wonderful, I still like to play dress up. That’s what Renaissance fairs are about, and when we lived in Arizona we spent several months acting for a nonprofit on the streets of Tombstone.

It has always been a lot of fun to dress up and now we get to start a whole new kind of dressing up!

Carnevale!

The Venezia Carnevale happens once a year. Much like Mardis Gras in Louisana or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Yet in many ways Carnevale in Venezia is different.

All of them are precursors to Lent (the forty days before Easter, which is also a time in the church where the give up meat and other excesses). Usually, they are celebrated for two or three weeks culminating on Fat Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnevale may come from the Latin ‘Farewell to meat’ but don’t try a google translation of this it only comes back as ‘flesh farewell’, which is a bit odd.

It is said that Carnevale in Venezia traditionally began in 1162 to celebrate a victory of the Republic of Venice against the Patriarch of Aquileia. It enjoyed many years of popularity and festivities.

Masks are popular in Carnevale but have been both banned and allowed depending on historical times and rulers. One of the things masks have allowed is anonymity that could not be achieved without them. For one day (or several) peasants could be nobles and nobles could be anybody. Masks have certain significance also, many of them date back to the theater such as the Arlecchino (Harlequin), the Colombina, Pantalone, and the Zanni. Others like Volta are the classic white porcelain mask, the Medico Della Peste (the plague doctor), and the Bauta with no mouth but a triangular projected chin so the wearer doesn’t have to take off the mask to eat or drink. In the 18th century, it was common to wear a black velvet mask over one’s faces when visiting a gambling hall or another location of ill repute. In 1797 Carnevale was forbidden and the use of masks became against the law.

Our masks come from a beautiful lady, Giuse, who hand paints and decorates all the masks she sells. She has been known to make them to order if you have a particular costume but she has so many extraordinary masks that finding a unique one is never a problem. She is an artist with color and flair bringing about the best of Venetian masks for her customers.

In 1979 there was a push by the governing body in Venetia to bring culture and history back to the city and so Carnevale was reinstated. Today millions visit Venezia during the Carnevale time and the streets become so crowded that it is almost impossible to move.

To this spectacular event Will and I, with friends will be going for two different Saturdays, one in February and one in March. It is not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. The crush of humanity is almost awe-inspiring.  

Our costumes will not be the overly elegant of some that have worked on theirs for a year or more (no, in my usual order of idiocy I gave myself roughly a month, pretty typical for most of my harebrained schemes).

However, I am pretty pleased with my creation for the short time period I had. A couple pictures of my costume work in progress but for more you will have to wait until I actually go to Carnevale in a little over 2 weeks. Between now and then, well, school is eating a large chunk of my time and Will and I have a weekend in London planned (kind of an anniversary/valentines day, get out of the country trip if that makes sense).

 

In March I will be planning for one of my best friends to visit me and we will be taking a whirlwind trip of Italy (plus school work) and daily life as I know it here in Vicenza.

Check the Instagram feed or Karyns Corner of Facebook to see the London and Carnevale pictures. And until we meet again

Ciao miei Amici

A New Year and Too Much Stuff Happening

Ciao a Tutti,

Oh my goodness, so much going on. The holidays exploded all over my best-laid plans and took me on a roller coaster ride of fun, family, laughter, and love. (and a little flu but, hey, you gotta take the bad with the good.)

I am not complaining but just a little saddened that my time with my blog friends is going to be changing. Of course, I am also happy because I think in the long run the changes will all be for the better. Let me tell you about my plans for the future of Karyn’s Corner before I tell you about the last month.

I am trying to get a better handle on how social media works so I am able to utilize it in my blogging, Instagram, and various other media outlets. To that end, I will be releasing only one blog per month and working to release 

more Instagram posts. (If you don’t follow me on Instagram now is the time to jump on that bandwagon – you can find me @ karyns_corner) 

I know some of you keep up with the crazy life that Will and I have by the blog but I encourage you to check out the Instagram feed and also ‘like’ my ‘Karyns Corner’ page on facebook. And please, please, please be a little patient with me as I work to get this whole social media shebang up and running. January and February might be a little bumpy with school starting but I am hoping to have a handle on my posting by March. (Fingers crossed, I think the learning curve might be a little steep.)

So, what have I been up to the last month?

Probably the same as many of you, holidays, too much food, a little too much wine, not enough gelato (apparently 32 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold even for my love of gelato). Family, fun, laughter, oh and did I mention my parents came to stay with Will and me for a month.

First, let me say that even though I love my parents and my parents love me (and Will too) 28 days away from your own environment might be too long to endure. It’s a weird feeling when you are still semi-living out of a suitcase and don’t really have your own things or your own routine. That being said we had a really good time. Minus the fact that my mom brought us the flu and Will had to endure being dragged all over northern Italy sick. Thank goodness for farmacia’s (The Italian version of a pharmacy but better in many ways).

So a quick review of the last month and then please check out my Facebook page and Instagram for some more information and photos.

We started with a week in Firenze (Florence). My parents loved the old streets as much as I do. We visited the Gelateria Castellina, as many of you know I judge all other gelaterias by this spectacular gelato. It is about 30-40 minutes outside of Firenze, up in the hills, but so worth every minute for the taste of this gelato is amazing. Okay, so I could wax poetic about Gelateria Castellina for days but for the sake of word count let me move on.

The Firenze Duomo was as awe-inspiring as the first time I saw it. (Though I admit this is not my best photograph.) It will always bring mist to my eyes when I view it after an absence. I read a great book on the construction of the Dome and if anyone is interested I would highly recommend Ross Kings’s Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture. Though we did not climb the Dome this trip it is back on my ‘To Do Again’ list so I can look for some of Brunelleschi’s architecture in action. Will pointed out to my parents the safest spot in Firenze. There is a circle of marble on the ground commemorating the night of January 27, 1601, when the golden ball on top of the cupola was hit by lighting, detached, rolled down the dome and fell to hit the exact spot that the circle of marble now marks. Now, if you believe that lightning never strikes twice you know the safest spot in Firenze.

The holiday lights all over Firenze were ablaze and many of the shop windows were decorated in fun displays. We took a food tour with a group called ‘With Locals’ and our guide Christy was a great source of tasty information.

Will and I were also able to experience the Odeon Theater, a local old fashioned theater that plays the newest, hottest movies out – in the language they were filmed in- we saw Bohemian Rhapsody and I was very grateful to be able to see it in a giant theater, sitting in a plush golden chair.

Also, Firenze seems to have an agreement with Heidelberg, Germany and the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) was down in the Santa Croce Piazza. We like a good Weihnachtsmarkt and enjoyed the sights and smells of a mini German market.

Oh, and before we leave Firenze I need to do a quick shout out to one of our favorite restaurants in town Rooster Cafe on Via Porta Rossa. The food, the atmosphere, and the service are outstanding. Plus they have a house wine to die for. If you are in Firenze, even just for a night hit up Rooster Cafe for some tasty food.

After we came home to Vicenza we spent the days leading up to Christmas in a baking frenzy, fattigman, crispels, thumbprints, jammies, molasses spice, and chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies all made their appearance at our house.

Christmas came and went with a nice meal, presents from family near and far and a lot of love.

 

The day after Christmas we went to Venezia (Venice) to see the Moscow Ballet perform Swan Lake. It was magical, it took place in Teatro Goldoni, a theater built in 1622. Small but beautiful and pretty comfortable seats. Then it was a couple of days to prepare for a weekend in Milan.

 

Milan was hosting a Caravaggio exhibit in multimedia,

it was the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s life. He died in July of 1610 at age 38; he was a huge loss to the artistic community but his importance was lost and only rediscovered in the last century. The exhibit was amazing, audio and video while sitting in a room with large screens on three sides, immersing you in the life of Caravaggio. It was very, very well done. I may be a little biased since I am a huge Caravaggio fan but preferences are how things gain importance in our lives, so there you have it.

While in Milan my parents went to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, another painting worth seeing. (If you remember Will and I went to see it in October.) Then we all took a tour of the Casa degli Atellani where Leonardo’s personal vineyard was. It is an interesting house that has long times to the city and the Sforza family.

On our way home from Milan we stopped in Verona to take a tour of the Arena, get some gelato (of course) and my parents also went on a tour of nativities from all over the world.

Home once more we took a trip to Murano to see glass blowing in action, we also took a quick trip to Asiago to check outFort Corbin from World War I. Then back to Venice for another Leonardo Museum a quick view of San Marco Piazza and some shopping to round out my parents trip.

It was a long but delightful month and I am always happy when my family can visit me and I can share some of my life with them.

Now that the visit is over and school is about to start my life is going to undergo some shifts. There will still be adventures but probably more spread out and because of that and my commitment to school, I will, as I said earlier, be writing only once a month. But I am hoping to supplement that with my Instagram and Facebook. It’s going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Ciao miei amici