Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Weekend in Madesimo

Can you believe it's Christmas next week?! I certainly can't! I've no clue how this semester, my first in Italy, has gone soo incredibly fast!

What's better yet is that on Saturday I will be coming home to the UK! I'm so excited to see everyone and take a nice little break from life in Bologna - my main plans include cuddling the dogs and eating about 67 mince pies...

...But whilst last Christmas I wasn't feeling particularly festive until I actually got out of Bangor (I guess maybe the job I had in retail was killing my Christmas spirit), this year I'm already there. Though surely it's partly because of Bologna looking so dashing in all of it's Christmas lights, I think it's also got a lot to do with the fact that I've just spent the weekend playing in the snow!

That's right, I've been skiing! And on a trip organised by an Erasmus organisation, no less. I've done a couple of Erasmus group trips already but I think that this has been my favourite yet.

Before I left, I was a teeny weeny bit worried about the trip. I mean, I didn't actually know anyone going, and this left me with the (unwelcome) niggly doubt that I wasn't going to get on with anyone and end up spending the weekend alone. This wasn't the case at all - I was expecting there to be way more of us but in the end there were actually only about 20, including the guys who'd organised it all, and we all got on really well, so that was good!

We left Bologna about 3.15am and arrived in Madesimo at some point after 9am (I slept through most of the journey and was a little disoriented when we arrived so forgive me if that's wrong) (actually that's not true, I was awake for the last half hour or so just looking at the mountains - covered in snow and so beautiful, and it reminded me so much of my time in the mountains in the summer). Once we'd sorted out rooms (I was paired with an Italian gal Margherita), and then the ski gear (I'd forgotten how heavy ski bots are!!!), and then had a bite of breakfast, it was time to hit the slopes!

Admittedly, I thought skiing again was going to be easy. I'd been on a school trip wayyy back in like 2007 I think, and then had a couple of trips to indoor slopes since then, and I'd been pretty good at it so I hadn't put much thought to it until I got to the top of the slope and suddenly turned into a complete chicken! I just couldn't remember how to turn or move at all and I panicked, so I got maybe 10 metres down before I struggled out of the skis and hiked back up again!! Luckily for me, my lovely roomie gave me a mini-lesson on how to ski again and slowly but surely I manned up and went for it. I mean, I still sucked and had to go down pretty slowly (and soo many falls), but by Sunday I was actually doing alright again! And after lunch at a rifugio (maybe you remember I talked about eating at these in the mountains in the summer? It's literally a 'refuge', so somewhere you can take a break and get some food), the skiing continued until nearly 4pm by which point we were knackered. Luckily dinner wasn't until 7.30pm so we had plenty of time to chill out/shower/nap, which is just what we did.

Both dinners (so Friday and Saturday night) we had at the hotel, Hotel Arlecchino, were seriously good! It included Antipasti (but you could also get something from the salad bar too), first course, second course and pudding. My favourite courses included Pizzoccheri alla valtellinese (like short pieces of tagliatelle (with spots on!) in the 'Valtellinese' style which meant cheese and potatoes, yum yum) and Tagliatelle al Ragu (so all pasta, of course!). The service was really good too.

Saturday was probably my best day of skiing - I barely fell or crashed, and I wasn't as tired as I would be by Sunday! Unfortunately through the weekend the weather worsened - while Friday had been glorious bright sunshine and air, it snowed a bit that night and a thick fog set in for the rest of the weekend, which meant that some of the slopes were closed by Saturday morning. It wasn't all bad though - I quite enjoyed the sort of spooky atmosphere given off by the fog! It made ascending on the lifts quite interesting..

The view from our room - the fog setting in!

The hotel had a little bar/disco area downstairs so that was where we headed on Saturday night. Safe to say it was an err...interesting night. I don't know, the music was terrible and the age range was a bit too wide, and I think most of us agreed that we'd had more fun playing UNO in the one of the rooms earlier on. But we had a bit of a dance so that was quite fun anyway.


* So cool, me

And then suddenly it was Sunday! We had to be packed up before we went out to ski, and after that was done we went up into the fog again. By now, everything was seriously achey (and I was getting sick AGAIN so unfair) so it was slow going to begin with for me. We packed in a good few hours (and I a good crash - I managed to cause a pile up having crashed into a guy skiing, but then one of the guys on the trip stopped, took off his skis and started to climb back up the slope to grab the ski pole I'd lost, only for another skier to come bombing down the hill and crash into him! Ouch) before getting lunch at another rifugio, which also eaten at on Saturday. After we'd eaten a few of us opted for a hot Bombardino. According to the internet, it's made of eggnog, brandy, and traditionally a local spirit as well - ours were topped with whipped cream and chocolate powder, and delicious!


Shortly after which we were bundled onto the bus to start the journey home - including our stop I think it took about 6 hours!! Unfortunately by the time I got home I wasn't sleepy (I slept on the bus for a bit again), so it ended up being a bit of a late again, which hasn't helped my flu....urgh fingers crossed it goes away by the weekend huh!!

So basically the weekend consisted of skiing, sleeping and eating! It was a really good one and I'm so glad I went, even if I'm still aching today...

...Ciao for now!


* photos taken by another member of the group!

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