Monday, May 18, 2009

Italy Vacation (Day 6) – May 12, 2009

Today I woke up at a much more respectable time (won’t divulge what that actually was…), showered and headed downstairs to see what the plan for the day was. I had to catch a plane from Catania to Milan this afternoon, but other than that, we had no plans. When I got downstairs, MO was having a conversation with her friend DNA on the phone. When MO hung up, she informed me that we had agreed to drive DNA to Catania to go to her breast augmentation appointment with the Italian plastic surgeon. DNA needed (moral) support as well as a ride, since she kept talking herself out of it. I assured her I’d be ok with it and I would behave. Besides we had to go to Catania anyway to take me to the airport. And I thought today would be boring…

First we had to go wine shopping so I could replenish some of the wine I drank. I know she bad-mouthed some of her previous houseguests about freeloading and I will do whatever it takes to get a return invitation to vacation at MO and KO’s place. We had to hurry because of the 1pm reposo. We started at a grocery store called Famila and didn’t find anything to our liking before they shut down at 1. We hit up another store and found a few things for MO to drink. We bought some San Pellegrino orange soda as well for me to try at lunch. We drove past a super cool castle on the way home also.

We came back and had leftovers for lunch, some from the dinner MO cooked the first night and some from the Agriturismo (they usually don’t wrap things up to go in Italy, so this was a rare treat). I tried the San Pellegrino, but I still like Orangina better. I packed my stuff the return flight home and when DNA got to our house, we left for Catania. We only passed 5 or 6 umbrella girls this time – must have been a slow day for whorin’.

As we were driving into Catania, we hit major traffic. It’s a big city and our luck had run out. Then we saw the weirdest thing I think I’ve seen in a long time – three kids were riding a two-wheeled horse-drawn cart down the street at full tilt. They were whipping this horse for all it was worth, and it was flying – they literally were driving it like they stole it. On top of that, one of the wheels on the cart was really badly bent and looked ready to fall off. Weirdest thing ever. We dropped off DNA near the clinic and MO and I began our search for Aranchina (translates roughly as orange ball) – which MO explained was a deep-fried rice ball with stuff inside. You had me at “deep-fried,” MO.

MO’s foot was still recovering, although my legs were aching sooooo much less than the previous days. Even stairs didn’t bring me to tears this day. So we walked slowly from shop to shop near the water and MO asked if they had Aranchina. Each store would send us next door. They finally sent us next door and that happened to be a half mile walk. But we finally were able to score one!!!

And gelato as well – my favorite. Ananas (which is pineapple). We got it to go and went over by the water to do some snacking.

The orange ball is basically what MO described. Deep-fried rice ball with bits of cheese holding the rice together and then stuffed with things. In this case, it was marinara sauce and chunks of meat. It was delicious. One of the best snack foods I had the whole trip. Even MO told me it was the best one she ever had. Apparently, some of them are filled with gross things (which she suspiciously forgot to mention before we got it) or just not a lot of filling. This one had tons of filling and was packed with meat (twss).

MO had also never tried pineapple gelato and judging from the photos of her holding the cup, you’ll know how much she liked it (and how much I didn’t get to eat). Pineapple is the way to go, if you can find it.

Catania is kind of run-down in a lot of ways. Things aren’t very well kept-up. Notice the bench MO is sitting on and how many slats are missing and how low it is riding. It’s just got a lot of weathered features.

We walked along the water, which is a beautiful blue color (if you can look past the garbage that collects on the rocks above the water. We noticed there were an inordinate number of males sunning themselves and there was an inordinate amount of ball-playing. Yes, that IS what I mean. Weird area. No girls anywhere.

We walked back to our car to wait for DNA to return. While sitting there, we watched joggers, walkers, additional ball-handling skills, and cats making sweet cat love. I could have sat on this bench for hours. But it was only five minutes before DNA called and said she was on her way back and hopefully, we hadn’t left without her. Certainly not, with all the action we saw on that bench, we weren’t going anywhere. When DNA got back, we chatted about the clinic visit, and yes, I was tactful. I’m not a complete barbarian (despite my shaggy appearance). We flushed about 17 cats out from underneath MO’s car and headed to the airport. I was super bummed to call this leg of the trip short. I had a great time with MO. She’s a super gracious host and I look forward to the next time we can hang out. Hugs all around. I don’t even care that I only met DNA that day, she was really cool. And I wasn’t even creepy and ask for before and after shots. I’m so mature.

I grabbed a cannoli in the airport and a fanta to kill time until I could check in. I had also forgotten to grab a blood orange juice while I was in Siciliy – home of blood oranges. Oh well, next time. The cannoli tasted just like the one I got at the airport though – which was good, but MO thought they might be different. Still too much dessert for me.

No problems with security or check-in. I read on the plane until we arrived in Milan. I called my hotel when I arrived and they came and picked me up. I waited like 2 minutes for them. Hotel Cervo is the place to shack up if you fly into or out of Milan Malpensa. Really nice people and really close to the airport (which is like an hour outside of Milan). Super tiny room with just enough room for a single bed, a desk, and an armoire. I didn’t unpack anything, I just cashed out.

I’ll just throw in the final day here since it was all travel. I grabbed a quick shower and checked out. They even let me use the rest of my cash up and put the rest on my credit card. Some places won’t let you do that, but I didn’t want a bunch of Euros I couldn’t use hanging around. The room included a breakfast, so I capitalized on that. Low and behold, they had blood orange juice – SCORE!!! It was actually pretty good. Very smooth and not very acidic. I like it. And the breakfast was really large for an Italian breakfast. Normally, it’s just rolls and bread. This place had all kinds of meat and fruit and such. Really, you should stay here if you go to Milan.

And this was the first unusable restroom stall I found in Italy this trip – at the airport of all places. The last time I was in Italy, these were everywhere. I still don’t know how to use these restroom. I’m assuming the thingy in the corner is to flush it, but I don’t know where to aim, which way to face, where to put certain things, so I just held it. I’ll figure it out later.

The flights home were wretched, even though I had the window seat. I got delayed in NYC because Chicago was having weather. Then, got delayed in Chicago once we got there due to weather. I ended up getting back to Minneapolis about 2am – then got up for work at 6:30am. Not a good way to return back home.

All in all, a wonderful trip that I hope to repeat in the future. Nothing terrible happened, even though I couldn’t walk for some days. Great food, great friends, and great wine. What else could there have been to make it better.

Top 5 things about day 6
1. Aranchina
2. Children horse-racing in rush hour traffic
3. I could finally walk
4. Pineapple gelato
5. Breast augmentation support jokes (kept to myself because I have TACT)

Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd would have loved Aranchina
2. Last day of the trip and I already miss MO
3. Awful flight connections on the way home
4. Roving bands of cats
5. Ball-play is contagious

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