Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Four weeks in!

I realise it's been a few weeks since I last wrote my blog, and I'm happy to announce that I have not in fact dropped off the planet, I've just been a little bit otherwise occupied.

(A little bit)

 Piazza Maggiore

I guess I am now fully settled in! As of tomorrow I'll have been here four weeks and on Friday it'll be exactly a month - and as you so often hear about these sort of things, oh my how fast it has gone. Well, fast and slow at the same time - it feels a) as if I just arrived yesterday, and b) that I've been here for years. I think that four weeks here has definitely gone quicker than my first four weeks of my au pairing job did, which is interesting but I guess just down to doing more on my own etc - this one is all my own adventure.

I do not have too much to fill you in on - I have been going to lectures, not eating much pizza, drinking a lot of tea and wandering around the city: in truth, much of what I'd been doing if I were in Bangor for uni, actually! The main difference (bar the language thingy, ya know...) is probably the glorious weather here - it's October, like mid-October, and it sometimes still reaches 26 or so degrees at the hottest point of the day. How wonderful! you are probably thinking - but oh no no. I do not do consecutive days of unbearable humidity and burning sunshine! Add stuffy bus rides and murderous hoards of mosquitoes (out of interest I have just looked up the collective noun for plurals of mosquitoes - it's a scourge) and you may understand better why I am pining for true autumnal weather (although Bangor you can keep your gale force winds). Having said that, a few times it has rained and when I say rained I mean bucketed it down. My landlord has said that Bologna is like London/the UK in general - it rains a lot! Home from home, eh...

There have been a few special things happen though. Some of the highlights of the last few weeks can be summed up in the form of tandem nights and meeting people from pretty much everywhere, finding turtles in the pond of the Giardini Margherita, cool wine bars, a tortellini festival, seeing Piazza Maggiore in the rain late at night, receiving Dairy Milk chocolate in the post from Mum, actually understanding my lectures and realising that I know my way around the city quite well.

 From the tortellini festival - tortellini in a mushroom cream sauce. Bliss.

LOOK AT THESE GUYS. I got SO excited when I found them.
(Now that I look at them again, they might be tortoises, but I've been telling everyone they're turtles...hope no one reads this now...)

Last time I did write, I said I'd been feeling very lonely on my birthday (wow ok I turned 21 three weeks ago today...) and yes sometimes I still do feel a little lonely - but I've put it down to missing my friends and family back home/off on their own year abroads (years abroad?), and not to do with having less of a social life over here (possibly also a good thing, my social life since starting at Bangor two years ago has rocketed sky high). However, I hope no one is worrying about me back over there in good ol' Blighty, for I am doing better now! I have had and will have more social occasions, and I'm looking forward to making and receiving visits to/from friends in the run up to Christmas.

And speaking of visits, I've had one this weekend! Mum arrived on Thursday evening having flown in from Manchester. My first visitor was also the last person to see me off to my flight from England, and it was lovely to see her! She arrived around 8pm, and since we were both quite hungry by the time we got back to the city center via the aerobus (the town to airport bus, so useful) we headed straight for a cool-looking Asian restaurant I'd found not too far from where all the students hang out here. As well as a restaurant, the place featured an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet (on a conveyor belt like at Yo Sushi etc) and I've been keen to try it - all I can say is that we definitely got way more than our money's worth (and at €18 each, that's a lot of sushi) and I think we tried nearly everything that came around on the belt! It was absolutely brilliant and I'll definitely be heading back there again as soon as I can!

When we eventually got back to the apartment after a short bus ride, Mum unpacked and laid out all the things she'd brought for me from England - I'd asked for a few things that I'd forgotten or been unable to bring with me three weeks previously like my onesie, umbrella, film camera, a pair of shoes, the next Game of Thrones book....and she'd also brought me what seems a tonne and a half of chocolate, some Percy Pigs, jaffa cakes and crumpets and a few other treats - British bliss! Thanks, Mum!

Not to mention TEA - yay!!

We spent Friday in the center of Bologna - I got to play tour guide and point out some interesting bits and bobs that I knew about. Unsurprisingly Mum loved the city, as it is incredible! There were some firsts for me too though, like the open-top bus tour we took with the 'City redbus' - it took us through the center to see places like Piazza Maggiore and the two towers, and then too us further afield, to places like San Michele in Bosco, which I believe is an old monastery and there's now a hospital located next to it too. It is right on the top of one of the hills not far from where I have my lectures and the views that are offered from up there are absolutely stunning! Another thing I'll definitely be doing again, or if not the tour itself I at least know where to go to reach it.

The view from the top! 

'Tour bus selfie'- the headphones for the descriptive audio guide, not us being antisocial!

After our tour we explored the Quadrilatero - an area of Bologna that consists of amazing shops and stalls on old cobbled streets, selling vegetables, fish, meats, pasta, wine...everything! I'd wanted to find this are so I'm quite glad we did. We sat outside a nice bar on high stools at little (well not little) tables made of old barrels, and opted for glasses of prosecco and a plate of braesola and soft cheese to accompany cheesy bread - lovely!

After another wander through some charming streets we stopped at a nice place for dinner,o n a tucked away street that turned out to be next to two very cool bars (which, again, I'd like to go back to). We ended up picking two dishes from the starters menu and sharing them, after which we headed back home, feeling absolutely shattered!

Saturday was spent much the same way, although we got up later and went to my local supermarket to get some food for the evening before heading into the city again. We bought some coffee so that we could make it in the apartment, and planned to have the regional specialty for dinner - tortellini. We picked a variety that were triangle-shaped and stuffed with roast vegetables, which we ate with a mushroom sauce (which I made and was very pleased with!) and followed with bread, cheese and hams. Derishous.

In the city we went to a nice gelateria I'd been to the weekend before, looked in some nice shops and stopped for some cool cocktails (Caiprinha, I think? Rum, mint, lime, sugar, mmm) on the way back home where we cooked up the aforementioned feast. Then it was an early night, because on Sunday we getting up horribly early to catch a train to Florence....and the tale of our adventures there shall have to wait for my next blog post, as they shall make this already long post somewhat more lengthy.

Hopefully you won't be waiting too long for said tale...

...more to follow, ciao for now!


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