January 13, 2006

Of New Year's Travel

waiting at the gate
After a car ride, three flights, two trains, one more drive, nineteen hours and four countries later, I made it to my new home in Italy. Europe is so civilized. The gate connectors at the Zurich airport are shiny glass and steel and if ordering a cup of coffee in the waiting area, you are served in a bona fide ceramic mug. The Munich airport was super sleek with flat screen monitors, beautiful seating, and directed signage, not to mention, floors so clean you could eat off of them (or at least extend the two-second rule). I hopped on a train to Roma Termini, on to Chiusi, where my sweet landlady picked me up for the drive to the medieval town of Monteleone. Everything went smoothly.

My first day in Italy, I woke at 6 a.m. to the sound of a flushing toilet from the next door neighbors. It took me a couple of hours to fall back asleep, and to try not to wake up every quarter hour to the loud ring of church bells. By the time I was prepared to leave the house, the only grocer in town was closed for the day. I stepped beyond the old city walls to the caffe' in the new part of town, filled with a dozen older italian men, who appeared a little surprised to see a Vietnamese girl walk in, but smiled at me with their kind eyes. After an order of espresso, I attempted to speak with Claudia, who was super friendly and the only person I had seen so far who looked under 50. The restaurants were closed, too, so I headed back home, where I discovered that I couldn't turn the electricity back on (I had turned it off, as instructed, on the way out in case of electrical storms blowing out everything). Well, I better cook myself something to eat before it gets dark, I thought. I turned on the gas stove, to discover that the pilots are lit electrically (who invented this, and why?). After a search for matches, I got going with anything I found in the cupboards, thankfully some dried pasta, fresh garlic, and canned tomatoes from which I made a sauce with spices I could find. Soon after I was in touch with the previous tenants, who were extremely helpful in getting the electric back on and my landlady stopped by and got the internet up and running. It was a little rough, but nothing terrible, and everyone's friendliness is certainly encouraging.

I find myself painfully shy about speaking Italian, but I did manage to speak a bit with Claudia, and was invited to Daria's birthday dinner for Saturday night where her artist friends (one is a critic for a paper in Rome) will join us. Looking forward to the days ahead, and hoping I'll meet plenty more people.

P.S. A few photos posted on flickr with more to come.

No comments: