Bolzano The Holiday – Some Hikes

Our holiday is three days in now and they have been wonderful! So far: two hikes, a picnic, a museum, a pool session, some ice cream, a lot of espressos, and not to forget some wining and dining.

For our hikes we have stayed in Bolzano up to now. (Tomorrow, we are taking a bus to Val Gardena for a new challenge.) Our first one was super cute. I had planned it meticulously in the previous weeks when the boyfriend was still at home and I was filling up my free time between the classes at summerschool with scouting for our holiday.

In the afternoon of our first day, we walked along the river to the Runkelstein Castle. Sadly it was already closed, but we admired the outside and marched on. We went up quite steeply between the vineyards and had some insane views of the city, but didn’t dilly dally for too long since we were on a tight schedule: we had sunset plans. A little bit before sunset, we arrived at our planned picnic destination: a viewpoint over the city, with bench, on the Oswald Promenade. The sun was slowly sinking behind the hills, battling heavy with the clouds for an impressive sunset. We opened a bottle of Lambrusco and got out the bread cheese salami ham for a picnic Alla Italiano. We watched the sky go dark and Bolzano go light as the lights in the city came on. When the first stars came out, we put on our head torches, packed up, and headed home (where we got to enjoy a well-timed lightning storm above the hills from our hotelroom window).

For the second hike we went to the other side of town, to the Haselburg Castle. Sadly, also closed! Note for self: check castle opening hours before you plan a hike. But nevertheless, the hike was totally worth it. Very different from our picnic one. The path was a lot more challenging, and the views more forresty and less vineyardsy. And which better way to celebrate our new achievement than to head straight for ice cream on the town square: raspberry and straciatella, don’t mind if I do!

For our third one, we’re heading to unexplored territory! The Mountains of Val Gardena! I’m so super excited, I’ve been training so hard for this in the gym… We haven’t really picked a hike yet but we’re hoping the tourist office on site will sort us out. Bring it on 😀

Advertisements

Bolzano Week 2 – Summer schools are hard work

It is now Thursday and I am quite ready for the summerschool to be over. As opposed to most people here, I don’t really take a lot of classes. I have two sessions in the morning this week, and nothing in the afternoon. But still it’s hard work. There are evening lectures that need attending, there are social obligations. You can never just relax an evening at home, since you have to go out every evening to find food and generally at least half of the evening is work talk.

Also, I’m sort of at that point again where really I can think of a-thousand-and-one things to do next at work. Revising what I saw in the lectures and seeing how it applies to my work, reading some material that sounds very relevant for my research, preparing a presentation for the conference I’m going to in September, and not to forget doing the actual research I was planning to do over summer. And rather than getting a move on, I tend to crash. Add to that the hot Italian temperatures and a sunstroke here and there, and I am very much ready for my holiday to start. But of course that won’t make the heavy work load disappear, sigh.

So I am now trying to get some stuff done in the library (only airconditioned place in town, Halleluja!) I figured I’d start with some small bits and bobs: making sure my new literature and notes are organised well so I know where to look for the info when I need it, making sure I understand everything I’m being taught, and trying to not forget all of the new info instantly. Hopefully tomorrow I can manage to tie up the rest of the loose ends and make a schedule for when I’m back at work, so my holiday can start properly! Because the second the boyfriend arrives on Saturday, it’ll be all hikes and trips and fun nights out 🙂

Bolzano day 4-6: A Little Bit of Everything, and Venice!

Bolzano has been treating me well. A little bit of work here, a little bit of tasty food there, a little bit of outdoor swimming, a little bit of park reading, a little bit of running and walking, a little bit of pub quizzing, and a lot more of espresso. Oh, and also one day in Venice!

Yesterday the summerschool organised a day trip to Venice. Or more specifically: they organised the transport to Venice. That meant three and a half hours on the bus, and another half hour on the boat. For about six hours there. I was a bit annoyed at myself for booking the trip, as I figured it wouldn’t be worth the long travel time. But boy was I wrong.

See, this is what people told me about Venice this time of year:

Too hot. It was hot indeed, but who the hell cares when it’s that stunning!

The canals smell. I didn’t smell anything out of place. Liars.

Italians go on holiday in August so everything is closed. Really? We didn’t have any trouble finding fun places to have a bite to eat. Like seriously, there is one, no even five, on every corner!

Too expensive. We were advised not to grab food or drinks next to the main attractions. Which we didn’t. Breakfast for 5 euros: a delicious piece of foccaccia with mortadella and brie and an espresso. Lunch for 13 euros: carpaccio with salad, ice tea, and an espresso (and airconditioning!). Gelato for 2,5 euros: two scoops of the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted! Seriously! You might not believe me, but holy cow that was good stuff! Expensive my ass.

Too many tourists. Fair enough, some places were super busy. I wouldn’t have wanted to queue up to go in the Palazzo Ducale on the San Marco square, and getting a photo spot on the Rialto bridge was a bit of a challenge, but Venice has so much more than the main tourist attractions! So many of the streets and squares we ended up on had no one there except for us, and at some points it even got scarily quiet.

So my conclusion: people are so wrong! Venice was absolutely A-MA-ZING! The architecture on the San Marco square was like nothing I had ever seen before, and it was big 😮 So very big! And who the hell cares about a mass of tourists when everyone is just there in collective amazement? Fair enough, there may be better seasons to go to Venice, but as day trips go, this was by far one of the best day trips I have ever done.

The water in the canals has this odd light greenish colour that kept surprising me. The view on every tiny little bridge was adorable. The houses are so colourful and the green shutters finish the picture perfectly. Venice has a-thousand-and-one sights to see, and we only checked maybe two off the list, but Venice is also a great city to get lost in. Left right left right left right… You can keep going and keep loving the sights. Alleys and little canals, wide shopping streets and the grand canal. A bustling city and quiet tucked away squares. Souvenirs and gelato. As diverse as the city might be, not a thing feels out of place.

For me, Venice has been added to the list of cities to go back to. I would absolutely love to learn about the history of the city, and just get lost day after day in this city like no others.

Unknown
This is Venice too. (You might expect a picture like any other from the San Marco square or the Gran Canal, but this is the Venice I fell in love with.)

Bolzano day 3 – Un Cafè Delicioso

So today was a little more work and a little less touristing, but still it’s been a good day so far. I got some nice work done, and also managed to relax with some decent company and of course excellent coffee. The espresso here, my oh my it is amazing.

Back home, there appears to be this new trend where asking an espresso equals asking the strongest coffee ever. But espresso doesn’t get better by making it stronger. It becomes pretty hard to drink even, the flavour is way too strong and after one sip, you are left with an incredibly bitter aftertaste that doesn’t go away for at least an hour. But of course, here they master the art of coffeebrewing perfectly. Not that I expected any differently.

The espressos are balancing perfectly on the line between a beautiful and proper coffee flavour and a decent caffeine kick-in-the-butt. It does take some getting used to how absolutely tiny they are. Imagine the tiniest coffee cup. And then don’t fill it even half way. That is what one calls a “shot” of espresso. (Which by the way is just called a coffee here, un caffè. No idea where that very Italian looking word espresso comes from!)

For tonight, I might go out to grab some tasty dinner and afterwards some of my colleagues here might just go down to the Irish pub for some pub quizzing. As you do when your in Italy… ?

Bolzano Day 2: My First Bolzano Hike, sort of

So yesterday was fun. I did do a fair bit of studying and I think I have a good idea of what’s going on in class, and for today’s class I didn’t really have much work because it’s a lot less relevant to what I’m doing, so no need to go the extra mile. I even managed to do some other work, well done me! That’s work sorted, yay.

I also went for a long walk with my roommate yesterday, just along the river. Turns out the river splits at some point. So when we crossed the river to walk back on the other side, this  appeared to be less ideal than anticipated. Not the nicest walk, but at least I got those legs moving. You see, I’ve been working super hard at the gym and gave myself this self-imposed challenge: when the boyfriend and I go hiking in the mountains (which will be in less than two weeks now, can’t wait!), I will be the first one at the top. But now the cheeky bastard has really upped his game at the gym as well so I totally have to step it up. Which I really did today. I stepped up, up the hill, and it was gorgeous.

I didn’t have too much time because I was going for this hike between classes, so I told myself: one hour in and then you have to turn back. I decided to tackle the Oswaldpromenade. (Some statistics for you: I walked 1h20, covered 5,9kms with a height difference of 150m.) It’s a lovely little path at the side of the centre going up one of the hills between all the vineyards. There were amazing views of the town centre and the mountains on the other side, and the level of the walk was the perfect little challenge for an in-between-important-stuff hike.

The path was perfectly accessible, not too steep, and relatively easy to navigate. At the end of the path (or maybe it wasn’t the end, but it was as far as time allowed me to go), there was a massive super fancy hotel, the Eberle Hotel, with an amazing view of the city and I bet it would be the ideal place for an evening cocktail (but my glass of wine in town this evening suited me just fine). The map told me the way back would just be road, but really it was quite fun! The road was super narrow, therefore, very cute. And insanely steep! It took me almost an hour to reach the top on the way in, and only 5 minutes to go down because it was simply so steep you just had to run down to make it easier on the knees. That was fun 🙂 The last part of the walk I went straight through the bustling town centre, shops and Italians eating ice cream everywhere. Back nicely in time for a shower and back to the lectures I went.

So far, this combo of work and holiday is going quite well. Bring on tomorrow!

Bolzano, Italy: Arrival

I am back on the road! Well, not really, I just went abroad for work, but I’ll take it 🙂 I’m currently at a summerschool in Bolzano, Italy. I’m taking one class this week and two next week, and of course I do have to do a lot of reading and studying after class but I’ll also have a fair amount of free time to just enjoy experiencing new things again. And then in two weeks time, the boyfriend is coming to meet me for one week of holiday 😀

Yesterday was a travel day, and a lot of people always say travel days are wasted days, but this one really wasn’t. I flew from Brussels to Munich (with Lufthansa, complete and utter luxury after only flying Ryanair for the last two years) and there I had to take a few trains to be on my way to Bolzano. Bolzano is located in the north-east of Italy, in South Tirol. I’ve been to Tirol before, and also to other parts of Italy, but this is something else. The final train ride went from Munich East to Bolzano, through Austria. That means: through the mountains! What a view, my oh my, I absolutely love the mountains and it has been way too long since we last saw each other. The whole four hours on the train, I just sat and enjoyed the view.

Right before Bolzano, there were a few longer tunnels and every time we came out one, I was scared the mountains were gonna be gone. You see, I didn’t really google anything about Bolzano so I had no idea what to expect. But when we finally arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. Indeed, the landscape did change, but definitely not for the worse.

There are hills and little mountains on all sides, covered in vineyards. The architecture is more Italian than Tiroler, which I really didn’t expect. And the vibe is too. My hotel is right in the centre, and as I went for a stroll to find a bite to eat before I going to bed last night, I found all these adorable streets with restaurants around every corner and a constant smell of truffle and garlic. Just the thought of it now when writing this is making me so hungry!

This morning, I went for an early run. Early as in a bit after 7, just about early enough for the sun to still be behind the mountains. I loved it. Seriously, I’m already in love with this town. It has charm. And mountains. And wine and food. What more do you want?

Unknown

I just finished my first class and it was super confusing so I should really get to work now, I might try to find a nice coffee bar where I will blend in with the furniture for the rest of the day. Until it goes a bit cooler. Then I  might go off exploring, me thinks!