Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bobbio, Verona, and Arco

I'm finally getting around to posting about the rest of my trip, so (hopefully) enjoy!
We were all sad to leave the Cinque Terre, but there was a lot of mainland Italy to see. Up next was Bobbio, where the big hit was a traditional 4-course Italian meal!

We stayed at an amazing little place that served food that they grew right on the property, and wine where the vineyard was less than 5 miles away.

It was an incredible 4 courses of deliciousness- antipasta (appetizer) was a meat and cheese platter with specific fare from the region, followed by another course of 2 different kinds of pasta and sauce, followed by the pasta (main course) of both duck and beef accompanied by a salad made fresh from garden veggies from 20 feet away.

I was full before the meat even came out, but it was so incredibly tasty that I had to keep going (I figured that I would hike it off the next week in the Alps).
Then we were told that dessert was going to be a choice of chocolate mousse or mango something-or-other.  Course 4.  Just in case we weren't full enough already.

I went with the (fresh) chocolate mousse, which of course went in my special dessert stomach.  Since the other one was beyond full, after all.
Needless to say, I didn't need to really eat the entire next day.
Luckily, there was a lot of other stuff to do- like check out more towns, including Verona (yes- THAT Verona- the one from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet!). :)

We checked out a castle on the drive to Verona- one surrounded by moats, water, and gorgeous views!

Kendra and I were pretty psyched about it, despite the 90+ degree heat. :)
Verona day had a little bit wilder weather.  We packed our raincoats and headed to check out the numerous burial sites, churches, and Shakespeare-esque attractions!

The very first church we visited had barely opened when we arrived to look around, but being early birds had perks.  A guy walked around us to the organ and began practicing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  With the early morning gloomy weather and the gigantic, incredibly ornate church, this was probably one of my favorite parts of the day.  Full organ concert in an almost-empty medieval church of one of the most recognizable pieces for organ ever composed??  Hard to beat that kind of concert and ambiance!

After getting mildly lost while it rained (as you can see, Kendra and I were super excited about it), we stopped at another church that had "4 star doors", as my dad kept reminding us.  They were pretty fantastic, not going to lie, but my favorite part was when my brother, Kendra, and I were talking about the stories behind the doors, and we had Kendra thoroughly convinced that one of the doors (from 1300) really had the story of the Lord of the Rings on it (including what we said was Gandolf, Smeagal, and the full Fellowship on one of the panes).  She truly thought we meant it.

The pic shows Kyle's face when we told her we were kidding, and she stated that she completely believed us.  Kyle couldn't believe we had her fooled... :)
One of the last things we saw was Juliet's house, including the courtyard, her bedroom, numerous costumes from past play productions, and of course...

going out on Juliet's balcony!
I was pretty excited to go out on to the actual Juliet Capulet balcony, and after we toured the rest of her house, Kendra and I made sure to drop some love letters in her mailbox asking her for love advice!

Super cheesy, I know, but as I'm a huge romantic, and I that thought it would be fun. :)
(To be fair, there's an entire movie based on the romanticized view of giving Juliet a letter, but there were waaaaay more people in the courtyard than the movie would have you believe...)
At the end of the week, we headed off to the mountains (be still, my heart)!

Arco was our last stop before heading in to the Italian Alps, and I not only met some local climbers, but I got a quick hike in to yet another castle (Italy is riddled with them).  The photo above is the view from our (delicious) lunch!)
In Arco itself, we hiked up to another castle...

where Kyle and Kendra were (of course) super cute!
Despite not really being able to climb in Arco, it was fantastic to see the mountains around me as we started into the Dolomites, and I filed the area away for future reference when I finally get back there to climb!

Gorgeous area!  Next up, the Italian Dolomites...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School & FO: Pangolin Cowl

I've wrapped up my first week back at school, and it feels both overwhelming and good at the same time.

Despite the fact that I had a weekend before school actually started, I still felt a little discombobulated jumping straight into classes full time Mon-Fri (hence the lack of posts).  Luckily, I have a 3-day weekend with Labor Day, and it's going to be full of knitting, organizing, and (hopefully) a pumpkin latte. :)
One thing I did get done this week was some blocking!

It turned nice and sunny mid-week, so I took advantage of it and spread both my sweater and a cowl out on the back porch.  I finished the Pangolin Cowl during my duty days last week, and it's been slipped into the secret Christmas knitting box for a special recipient (after some quick photos, of course)!

Pattern: Pangolin Cowl by Bobbi Intveld (link to Ravelry pattern page)
Yarn: Done Roving Yarns Frolicking Feet DK in Raspberry
Needles: Bamboo DNP size 7
Timeframe: April 17th-August 22nd

Worst Part: Probably that it took as long as it did.  I kept throwing it in to a drawer and doing other knitting.  Otherwise, this would have probably only taken a couple of weeks.
Best Part: That this yarn, which was originally meant to be used in a pair of mittens, had a pattern that works really well as a back up.  I think the recipient will really like it!

Besides the cowl, I finished another Christmas project today, and it's blocking on my back porch between the scattered showers lingering around.  Tomorrow I plan on sewing the buttons on my Ombre Cardigan, and possibly even casting on for another Christmas project.
This weekend, I'm determined to go from overwhelmed and disorganized to cleaning, finishing stuff up, and getting back on top of things.
YES- it's going to happen! :)

Monday, August 25, 2014


I flew back to the US on Wednesday in the late afternoon after staying up for almost 24 hours of travel time.  I was able to stay up until at least 8 pm on Wednesday night (and that was really pushing it) before zonking out.  Over the next couple of days, I would wake up really early (like, 4 am early) completely ready to go, and get tired by the time dinner rolled around.  The two days of work at school were weird, as everyone was yawning at 8 am while I was 3 hours past breakfast and my first cup of coffee.  I think I had more trouble adjusting to coming back to the US than I did going over to Europe, and my body has only just settled back in to a normal sleeping/eating pattern.
Over the weekend, I meant to catch up on blog posts.
I have all the pictures ready to go, all the big points I wanted to make outlined, and even links to places we went bookmarked on my computer.
And I just... didn't get to it.
Instead, I spent time with Scott (who I hadn't seen for almost a month between his trips and mine).  We cooked a couple of meals together, watched some dumb TV, and went on a few dates.  I snuggled my kittens.  I read a book.  I looked over my school stuff to make sure I was prepped for the beginning of school this week.  
Basically, I decided to be a little greedy and spend time with my own little family before things got busy again.
And it was amazing. :)
I kicked off my first day of classes today, and this week I plan on finishing all my Italy posts along with starting on all my fall projects.  There's lessons to plan, dance stuff to figure out, a house to deep clean, and even (gasp) Christmas knitting to line up.
But I have to admit, it was really nice to enjoy my last weekend of summer with Scott.  :)
Sometimes, it's good to have a slow and relaxing recovery weekend after a crazy, packed, breathtaking trip.

PS- And just in case you're wondering (because I know you are)...
The cardigan was finished somewhere over Quebec, with 2 hours to spare before I reached Minneapolis (and an entire flight to Duluth).  It'll be out in the sun on my back porch tomorrow, blocking. :)  It truly was my European trip knit, started the day I left and finished the day I got back (minus buttons and blocking, but I think it's okay to overlook that).  
Personally, I think that's pretty cool. :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vernazza and the Cinque Terre

All my flights to meet up with my parents went exactly as planned, and minus a small hitch where the hotel we made reservations at closed two weeks before we got there (like, bankrupt closed and completely shut down), everything was fantastic as the whole group met up!
My parents and I enjoyed an evening stroll and dinner in Parma (yes, the origin of REAL Parmesan cheese) before grabbing my brother Kyle and his girlfriend Kendra in the morning from the airport. We were on our way to the Cinque Terre!
We enjoyed a boat ride in to Vernazza, one of the 5 towns along the coast.
All the towns were picture perfect! Boating in took longer, but was well worth the time. Each of the towns we passed were gorgeous and way better than any of the pictures I've seen. By the time we pulled in, we were all excited to run around and check things out!
Vernazza in the evening!
First time I got to dip in to the Mediterranean Sea. Much more swimming followed!
What followed was days filled with hiking from town to town in the morning and afternoons, followed by swimming in the sea before happy hour and an amazing dinner every night.
We tried a different wine every night, then often hiked past the vineyard where the grapes were grown that next day.
The hikes were a ton of stairs up and down, and in the 90 degree heat, felt a little tougher than normal. It's okay- at night, we made sure to taste the local gelato. 
The Cinque Terre was incredible, and definitely one of the highlights of the trip. For sure. I liked staying in Vernazza, which was one of the smaller of the towns, yet big enough to still try new places to eat every night.
Pretty much a magical place. :)

Finishing Denmark

Internet has been pretty spotty throughout Italy, so I've mostly been updating my Instagram with a quick pic when I can. With my trip winding down, I realized how far behind I was, so I'll do a couple posts to catch up!
My last two days in Denmark were exactly what I wanted them to be- relaxing, seeing a couple more sights, and doing awesome friend stuff!
Heather and I had lots of coffee while we walked and shopped!
We went to the Aarhus art museum with the crazy rainbow walk on top and had our minds blown in some "inclusionary" art. 
Heather and Thomas treated me out on my last night- and boy do I mean treated!! Numerous courses, wine, and lots of laughs ensued. 
And to end my time in Denmark?
What else but eating cookie dough and watching New Girl together!? :)
Yaaaay Denmark!
Of course, since we didn't eat ALL the cookie dough, Thomas insisted on actually baking some cookies...
Where I was glad to give my emotional and dancing support!
Heather walked me to the bus station in the morning for one last sad goodbye...
Before I started on my way to Italy to meet up with the folks!
Oh, and sweater progress in Denmark?
Not too shabby! :)
Italy next!

Monday, August 4, 2014


I'm writing to you from the comfort of Aarhus, Denmark, in my friend Heather's apartment! It's been a supremely packed time so far here, full of both touristy stuff and hanging out with my long-distance friend! :) I spent my first two days in Aarhus with Heather and her husband Thomas, then Heather and I rode the train to Copenhagen for a girl's weekend! It's been amazing so far, and it's hard to believe I only have two days left in Denmark! 
Since I have to type this out on my phone, the entries are going to be a little shorter than normal and mostly picture-heavy, but I'll try to give a decent explanation as to what's going on and what I get up to :)
Heather initially picked me up after almost 20 hours of travel in Aalborg, where we took the train back to Aarhus. I was really loopy and really tired, but determined to stay awake to get my body quickly adjusted to Denmark time. It worked!
My first couple days in Aarhus was a mixture of both sightseeing and hanging out with Thomas and Heather and getting a taste of Danish life!
Inside the Aarhus Domkirken- or the city cathedral. One defining factor of Danish cathedrals is the white-wash walls; when the Danes converted from Catholicism to Lutheran, all the catholic frescoes were white-washed over!
Hanging out with some French dudes.
Heather and Thomas have been awesome at making me traditional Danish cuisine- especially desserts!
Checking out Aarhus University, where Thomas teaches!
Dinner on the canal is quite fantastic! And notice what we're dipping our fries in? That's a mix of mayo and sweet and sour sauce. Awkward, but actually kind of good. 
Gorgeous views along canals wherever you walk!
We also did some shopping and a Vikings museum, getting a little history lesson in!
On Saturday we jumped on an early train to Copenhagen for some great lady tourist-time!
Hanging out with Hans Christian Anderson, one of Denmark's well-known figures!
Heather and I: "We know him!"
The enormous Danish city center!
"Why hello, dashing sir"
The entrance to Tivoli Amusement Park, which is a big attraction in Copenhagen. It's a super cute old-school amusement park, lighting up at night!
Heather and I got stuck in a doorway during a brief 20-minute downpour. The weather in Denmark is schizophrenic...
The changing of the Danish guard!
Gotta have mini donuts in Tivoli!
All of their rides were old-school: Ferris wheel, Merry-go-round,  bumper cars, and the like. 
Lights were everywhere, though it was a little hard to see since the sun doesn't go down until like 10-10:30 pm since we're so close to the arctic circle. Still incredibly pretty!
We rounded out our evening listening to a big band performance in the Tivoli band shell. All the explanations were in Danish, but it was a great concert nonetheless!
Sunday began with a trip to the Assistens Kirkegard, or local cemetery where some of Denmark's more famous locals were buried, including HC Anderson, Soren Kierkegaard, and Niels Bohr.
It was the opposite of an American cemetery- we joined runners, people hanging out and drinking coffee, and ladies pushing prams with babies around!
It was gorgeous and cheerful, with well-groomed paths and well-tended graves. Quite a different vibe seeing people hanging out there. Apparently Americans associate cemeteries with ghost stories too much...
We then walked all over kingdom come to hit up the castles and big tourist sights:
Rosenborg Slot (Castle)
Christiansborg Royal Palace (Can you see how menacing ol' King Christian is sitting on his horse? Creeper!)
And the Nyhavn Canal! It was crazy hot out there and packed with tourists, so we walked the Canal and got out of there.  We headed to the Rundetaarn, which is the oldest working observatory in Europe!
It was cool cause it was a big steep walkway to the top so astronomy equipment could be wheeled up- lots of circles around to emerge:
At the top and above Copenhagen! 
The observatory telescope was set up, and I got to take a look at the sun throwing off some flares- SUPER cool!
We ended the day at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a big museum that housed lots of Danish painters and sculptors, as well as some works by the greats!
A really pretty Monet...
Vincent Van Gogh... 
And one of my favorites- Degas!! I was super excited to see in person my favorite sculpture:
"The Little Dancer", which was really big and really cool!

We dragged our sore feet back to the train and got in last night back to Aarhus.
Some showers to get clean and some cake for dinner helped with being quite tired after so much tourist-stuff!
Today is a little more relaxed- I did some laundry this morning, and we'll be shooting off soon to bike and get some coffee, mail postcards, etc. The weather is cool and threatening rain, so it's a perfect day to regroup and just hang out. Tomorrow we'll do the big Aarhus art museum, a Danish dinner out, and then I'll be packing to head to Italy on Wednesday to meet up with my parents! My next post may be from Italy :) I'll try to post a little more frequently so it's not so many pics all at once, but we'll see how that goes. ;)
Oh- and here's a glimpse of how the cardigan is doing, for those who are wondering:
Plane, train, and bus time means I'm already past the arm holes- Woowooo!!
Time for lunch- maybe an open-faced Danish sandwich? ;)