Went to Italy!
Teddy has already posted, but I thought I'd put my two cents in (it is my blog, after all).
The one flight per day from Stansted to Bologna on RyanAir is at 6:30am. So that was fun. I drove down to Stansted and stayed the night at the Radisson Blu, and the deal I had included parking, which was helpful.
And then, after my 4:30am wakeup call (and complete lack of organisation with my 100ml toiletries, bah!), and an extremely crowded Stansted, I got on the plane. It was my first time taking a non-transatlantic flight in years and years, and my first time on RyanAir. It wasn't as bad as I had feared...we'll leave it at that.
Fair warning, there are a zillion pictures in this post, so most of it will be continued after the jump, below.
As Stansted had been SO crowded, my plan of "pick up a yummy egg mcmuffin and hash browns" was utterly foiled. I did manage to grab a banana from the hotel, but I was ravenous by the time we arrived in Bologna.
The coffee-fueled Italians had an espresso bar right after the immigration desk. An espresso and a chocolate croissant? Why yes, I will!
This was actually the SECOND espresso & croissant of the morning, provided by my very excellent brother, who thought I looked like I could use perking up.
Apologies in advance for the complete lack of information about what we did and where it was - I had moved into my flat 2 days before and was not my normal uber-organised self. I managed to get on the plane with my passport, money and some clothes, and I am considering that a roaring success.
Beautiful church no.1:
The main square in Bologna, with the famously racy statue:
The skies were like this the entire time. It was about 18 degrees C and sunny, so we were in shirtsleeves, while the Italians were all in long down coats. Mad.
More, after the jump!
We decided to climb the taller one, since I'm afraid of heights and have asthma. I made it up with only two puffs on the inhaler and minimal drama.
The Due Siblings:
The views were totally worth it!
Eep! The view down through a hole in the floor. Elf and Safety need not apply.
We went All The Way UP!
Very beautiful church no.2:
And a silly house on stilts.
The courtyard in front of Santo Stefano:
The vegetable market:
And, long-awaited LUNCH!
I was so zonked by that point that we went back to the hotel and took naps. Mostly because the Italians don't eat dinner until silly-o-clock (usually around 8 or 9) and I had been awake since 3:30am Italian time.
Then we went for another walk, right at the golden hour. Gorgeous.
We wanted to have drinks in our room, so went out to find a bottle of wine and some cheese. We found a great deli and bought some lovely wine, but their meats and cheeses were only eat-in. My brother offered to go cheese-hunting, and so we met him back at the hotel. Um. He couldn't find cheese (!?) so he stopped at McDonald's and bought a 9-piece chicken nugget box. CLASSY. But, surprisingly delicious and went very well with the red wine. Who knew?!
After a very tasty, if slightly snooty, dinner at Diana (now I understand what gnocchi are supposed to be like!), we had gelato. Since, you know, we were in Italy.
The next day, Venice. Train strike meant that we spent WAAAY more time than we wanted to on the trains (2 hours there, 4 hours home), but the city was very beautiful. Slightly soulless (nobody actually LIVES there and the whole city is crumbling), but extremely interesting.
Followed by our best meal of the trip: dinner at Franco Rossi.
This was the post-dessert cookie platter:
We were very full (and had been given roses, which smelled wonderful):
The next day, my brother and his girlfriend headed back to NY, and I stayed and toured around by myself for the day.
Back to visit Santo Stefano properly:
And eat hipster pizza:
Phew. That's a lot of pictures. There are more on Flickr if you're not bored yet!
Overall, it was a really nice trip!