Tuesday, December 31, 2013

28th December – The Opera Singer @ Verona

Left Ortesei with Erin, Gavin, Carri and Jo who are all flying to London from Verona. Julie and I are staying for a few days as it’s the first time for Julie here.

Side-bar – Connection Reflections

Looking back on our “White Xmas” its intriguing to reflect on how much our connections, both people and places, influence and shape our life experiences. How our social networks evolve through surprising and sometimes coincidental connection of intrigue. I’m always fascinated by such connections…we’ve all had our 6 degrees of separation moments, that make life interesting. Here are some of ours from this trip.

 Thirty two years ago Julie and I made our first trip to Europe for a skiing white Xmas in a small Austrian town called St. Ulrich …. Interestingly Ortesei also goes by that same German name.
We were a little younger than our own children are now. That trip took us through Japan to London and then to Austria for our 2 week skiing over Xmas and New Year. We had extended family with us, my cousin Debbie and her then boyfriend, Danny and Julie’s sister Kerrie and husband David. We met one couple on that trip, Beau and Janice, who were from the same town as us. Eventually our children became good friends at university. After that we travelled through Italy for the first time. With Debbie  and Danny we stopped in Milan to visit with Gary’s (from Gary & Lyn), sister Lynnie and her then husband Giovanni. This visit was memorable for a number of reasons. Firstly while we were there Gary rang with the news of his first born son David (from David & Theresa) who was with us on this trip.  We had first met Giovanni at their wedding in Sydney but we still recall the pleasure and relief of being met by a native speaking Italian at Milan station after several weeks of struggling with European languages, and now being guided around by a local.

We will be meeting with Giovanni later in this trip so I will talk more about our connections through Giovanni then. It is suffice to say however that without our connections to Giovanni it is doubtful that I would be writing this post from Italy today.

Well back to the present.  We survived the taxi ride down from Ortesei. I think the taxi driver must have been a giant slalom skier in a previous occupation, as that’s what it felt like as he descended the snow and ice covered roads down from the mountains to Verona Airport. There were several hours before their flight so Gavin, Erin and Carri came into Verona with us for a quick look around and lunch. Jo decided to catch up on some work and also conveniently mind the bags. No doubt Jo  needed to earn a few extra dollars after her expensive trip over. Felt a little sorry for Jo …. she really didn’t even get to extend her emerging snowboarding skills that much in the short time available after her late arrival. But we loved having her with us as our families are close and we would normally meet over Xmas at home. We will be meeting with her parents Geoff and Noelene later on this trip.

I had visited Verona last year and Erin, with Will had a stop over visit on the way over. Today however was a fine day and the winter holiday crowds were out in force. I was pleased to see the ‘baby in the pram’ busker was still on the same corner near the Arena and still as popular as ever.
This guy is a real hit with the crowds in Verona. Last year I managed to get some video of the act.
This year I managed to get him packing up for the day. He wasn't a cute baby and it doesn't get any better!
We steered away from the main tourist areas to look for somewhere nice for Erin, Gavin and Carri’s last Italian meal for this trip. We lucked into this Michelin star restaurant that Erin declared provided with her best meal on the trip (a big call given our experiences to date).  Julie and Erin ate Gnocchi with horse meat (….there is a big market for failed race horses in Italy). The atmosphere reminded us of the cosy family run Italian restaurants at home where the owner would often come out and serenade the diners with Opera songs. Low and behold that is exactly what happened here! … but of course we are in Verona so why were we surprised! On top of that the complimentary plate of after dinner sweets was present to us to Carri with the “just for you princess” by the charming waiter (don’t you hate that! These Italian men really know how to turn on the charm and make us Aussie blokes look bad….poor Gav).

Princess Carri....she did share a few....
So a great end to an Italian sojourn for Erin, Gavin and Carri…we were again feeling sorry for Jo as we left her at the airport with her airport Panini and a bunch of bags….lucky Jo has a great sense of humour!

Social Network Update

New and old connections

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