I feel as though our blog is in a rut. The lack of comments confirms my suspicions. I am running out of adjectives and we just haven't run into any tragedies as of late that have been blog worthy. Well, unless you count the complete disregard for anything resembling a train schedule in Italy. But I suppose that was more of an inconvenience. Its not like we were in a rush to get anywhere. A near tragedy occurred while climbing over huge boulders on the breakwater from our Cinque Terre town, Manarola. I (Kristen) thought I sprained my ankle. Being the uncoordinated clutz that I am, I slipped on a rock and scraped up my knee, shin and hand. The ankle hurts much less now (whew). But a quick rinse with sea water cleaned the cuts right up and they now only hurt mildly.
So, yes, everything has been going wonderfully lately. The Cinque Terre was incredibly beautiful (honestly, someone send me a thesarus(sp?)(maybe a dictionary, too)). Five small fishing villages are strung together by a hiking trail and an(unreliable) train along the coast, south of Genova. The cliffs are jagged and the villages colourful.
As luck would have it, only the toughest, steepest, most narrow, sweat-inducing path was open while we were there. The next time I go anywhere it is going to be Saskatchewan. I can barely manage the stairmaster nevermind a steep hill of a narrow path in 30 degree weather! I must admit that the scenery was stunning. The villages looked even cooler when looked upon from above. We even walked right through an olive grove. The olives squished between my sandals and feet probably made enough olive oil for my own jar! Back at sea level, we saw schools of tropical fish loitering near the docks and breakwaters.
One of the best parts of our Cinque Terre visit was meeting up with a great Australian couple that we had met back in Switzerland. We ate gelato, discussed our travels and couchsurfing, sat out on the breakwater, swam in the Ligurian Sea, and tried to convince them to come to Canada (B&D: come to Canada!)
To really experience a culture, we have tried to become temporary locals rather than tourists. Sun-drenched Italy, though, presented us with a road block: Italians aren't fair-skinned (read:pasty) like us...they have olive coloured skin. We needed to pick out other, more imitateable visual characteristics to fit in. I (Jonathan, now) found that the best way to fit in (other than speaking Italian, which I don't) is to walk around with the buttons on my collared shirt undone dangerously close to my navel. Speaking very loudly and emotionally, while smoking cigarettes. With this, I have decided to not become a temporary local, and stick with being a tourist and outsider. Do I want to come back to Italy? Of course! To be better prepared, though, I want to study Italians in their element: what better place to do so than in Niagara Falls!
Commenting on the comments:
We should have started this a long time ago. To make up for lost time here are some long-awaited answers. The shoes and sandals (both Merrells) are great! I would recomment them to anyone. Our camera is a Kodak z612 (not a z650...oops). We (Kristen mostly) love it and are really impressed how it has held against the daily wear and tear. It takes a whole lot of pictures everyday! Italians, for the most part, have been great to us. It would definitely be a lot easier if we spoke Italian, however. So far, we love Italy, which is good, because we hear it gets even better as we go south. As for dogs and cats: they are everywhere! People bring their dogs everywhere they go; into grocery stores, on Rhine cruises, buses, trains, banks, internet cafes, restaurants...you name it, we've seen a dog there. Its funny too, because hardly any of them are on leashes! They must have some great dog tainers over here. They can be several feet from their owners and no one takes notice. The dogs just catch up at their leisure. The dogs also seem to be either (1)small, purse-sized ones, (2)Westies, or (3)huge and bear-sized. It is much the same with cats. The only difference is that they rarely seem to even have collars on. There are honetsly cats everywhere. They wander aimlessly, looking for attention or sprawl themselves in the middle of things (much the same as home). Each city also has at least a dozen community cats with their own shelters and food buckets. The cat/dog situation here is definitely unique...and something fun to photograph!