Sunday, February 18, 2007

italy -- lake como

finally, i have a little time to tell you about the last part of our italy trip! whew! we've been busy!

after venice, we took a couple of days to enjoy the picturesque lake como, in the italian alps. neither one of us really knew much of anything about lake como, so we really didn't know what to expect. we heard it was close to the alps, but even that didn't register with us. the whole time that we were looking forward to this part of our trip, we were both just hoping that the weather would be clear enough for us to be able to see the alps. i guess we were both just imagining that there was a lake, and then in the near distance there was a mountain. and since we arrived in the evening, we really didn't get a very good look at our surroundings as we rode the bumpy, narrow road on the hour-long bus ride between como and bellagio, where our hotel was located.

so imagine our surprise when we woke up the first morning to discover that lake como was not next to the mountains, but actually in the mountains! it's an alpine lake! truly in the alps! hooray hooray for mountains!

the mountains have always felt comforting to me. i feel safe. i feel embraced. literally. embraced. like a huge hug. it's a very tangible feeling for me. i feel sheltered by their shadows, by the rain and wind and sunshine that they bring, by the steadiness and predictability of their silhouettes and the feel of their stones. it was like coming home to be in the mountains, even though these specific peaks were in shapes and forms i had never seen before. but it didn't matter to me. i felt loved and protected.

we were there during the 2-week lull in the tourist season, when the resorts do their maintenance and cafes take a break and the locals get their town back for a little while. almost everything was closed -- all the little restaurants and boutiques -- but i was honestly glad for it. i think if those places would have been open it might have been a distraction for me. all i wanted to do was sit and look at the mountains in the sunshine, and if the shops would have been open i would have been busy buying souvenirs of the mountains, instead of actually interacting with them as i had hoped for.

i still get a peaceful feeling thinking of lake como. it's seriously the closest thing to paradise i've ever experienced: mountains, a lake, palm trees, italian food, sunshine. it makes me exhale.

our hotel la limonera. it was actually an apartment and it was only 70 euros a night!

we woke up to this view from our bedroom window

there was a lovely patio just that we sat on in the evening, watching the sun set and the stars come out. these are the views from that patio

scenes of bellagio:

lake como is shaped like a wishbone, with two long separate arms that extend from one northern branch. bellagio, where we stayed, was located at the peninsula that extended into all three parts of this wishbone-lake. here is adam in the morning standing at the northernmost tip of bellagio.

the sun was shining bright that day but because of the direction of bellagio,the village itself did not receive much sunlight. so we took the short ferry ride to next-door varenna, which faced south and was bright and sunny everywhere. this is us on the ferry.

the town of varenna, as seen from the ferry. like a fairytale!

i have a mary necklace that i take everywhere with me. whenever i'm near water, i always bless my necklace with that holy water. mary has been blessed by alaskan glaciers, russian rivers, fountains in catholic churches around the world, unexpected desert waterfalls, oceans, mountain streams, and now, water from lake como.

a pier in varenna:

drinking coffee at a cafe' in varenna. that's all i wanted to do. just sit, drink italian coffee, and look at the world. siiiiiiiiiiiigh.

the ferry ride back. this is the
peninsula of bellagio, with the town as seen from the ferry.

waiting for our bus back to the city of como, where we'd take a train to milan.

one more look before we leave.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

so many people in the neighborhood


you know you're beginning to be a fixture somewhere when you finally start running into people around town!

today at lunch, the sun was shining (!!!) so i sat outside under a tree in a square near the old church in downtown enschede. when around the corner, comes a woman who used to work at the call center with me! she was out on her lunch as well and we sat and chatted in the sunshine, a pleasant surprise for the both of us. then, on my way home, i ran into two of adam's colleagues. i had just gotten off the train in hengelo and was leaving the building when i saw adam's coworkers on their way to catch their trains home.


it means a lot to me that i am meeting people and bumping into them in my neighborhood. it makes me feel a little more at home here, and helps this place feel a little more familiar. when you see faces you know in the crowd, it seems not so foreign, you know?

adam's home now. gonna go eat some dinner with him. bye!

the ethics of computer games

he'd be so embarrassed if he found out i did this, but here's a link to watch adam's presentation on the ethics of computer games, at the conference in italy a few weeks ago.

i'm so proud of my long haired, soft spoken philosopher man. he's so smart!

NOTE: WE JUST GOT AN EMAIL ON 18 FEB STATING THAT THIS LINK HAS BEEN HACKED. our blog HASN'T been hacked... but the conference website has. does that mean your computer will be hacked if you click on this link too? i don't know, but i wanted to give you a heads up. it's probably all good, but for those of you who know more about computer hacking than i do, let me know if i should just remove this link altogether. thanks.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sunday, February 04, 2007

italy -- venice

when i was a little girl in north dakota, i would always dream about travelling. most little kids in america want to go see disneyland or hollywood or something like that... but not me. i've always wanted to go see places like the grand canyon and yellowstone and the sequoia trees in california. and for some reason, venice. i don't know how i got it in my head, but i have always just been completely fascinated by the idea of streets made out of water. and that you have to take a boat to go to the grocery store. and like, how do you go for a walk? do you just jump in your canoe outside your door because there aren't any sidewalks? how does that work? likewise, when adam was little he had this jigsaw puzzle that he'd always play with, with a picture of a gondolier on the grand canal in venice. he'd put it together and take it apart and put it together and take it apart again, until it became so used that the pieces were literally falling apart. there's something about this city that has always called to us, even before we knew each other.

so going to venice was quite literally a dream come true for the both of us. and we definitely soaked up every minute of it. some highlights: picnicking beneath the famous rialto bridge, walking the crooked, narrow streets, exploring san marco, standing atop the same tower that galileo first displayed his telescope, watching the sunset from a pier, and of course, riding a gondola.

here are way too many pictures of our time in what is possibly the most romantic, most magical city i've ever had the luck to visit:

the view from the front doors of the train station, and waiting for the water bus.

the view from our hotel room. that big tower is where galileo showed off his telescope for the first time. it's in san marco piazza, which is the heart of venice.

check it out! our hotel is on a canal! in the second picture it's the one that you're looking at directly, between the red striped poles.

the hotel restaurant. we ate there the first night, but for the next two evenings we ended up at a pizzeria around the corner, which was quieter and cheaper and had better food, but the ambiance was not quite as cute.

from the top of the tower at san marco's piazza. it was so windy, cold, and bright up there! too much sea mist for us to see the alps in the distance, though...

marco polo's house! no way! as seen from our gondola...

pictures from piazza de san marco, the heart of venice.

one bad idea: they sell these little bags of pigeon food, so that the pigeons can land on you. that sounds like fun to some people, but not me! all i could think about as i was watching these birds land in people's hair and roost on their arms was "well, that's a great way to catch lice." i think i'd be afraid that they'd crap in my hair or something. gross! the little kids seemed to like it though!

various canals

a couple of streets in venice

we took a gondola ride. sooooo expensive, but when we're old and gray, we're not going to remember how much money we spent on the gondola. we'll remember that we got to RIDE in a gondola in venice, one bright winter day. and thanks to my time in china, i learned how to haggle prices down -- we knocked an extra 40 euros off the price cuz i'm so crafty! yeah!

pictures from the famous rialto bridge. one day we just had a picnic next to the bridge and sunned our faces and just hung out for like two or three hours, doing nothing but watching the traffic on the grand canal... ahhhh...

sunset from the rialto bridge, day two

one evening we sat on a pier nearby our hotel and watched the sunset over the adriatic sea. yes, you read that right. amazing!

next stop... bellagio, on the shores of lake como!