Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"It's hard to be a meerkat by yourself," or how I got to four countries in one day

Ah, so much to recount, I could be typing forever. But who knows if it would all be read. I'll give it a try anyways. We left Saturday morning on the train and arrived in Innsbruck around 12:30. It's only two and a half hours north of us, so close! When we got there, we realized we were totally screwed, seeing as we speak a grand total of ten words of German. It really made us appreciate how comfortable we are with italian, because we didn't know how to ask even the simplest of questions! Apparently, though, everyone speaks english. Well, not everyone, but lots of people. I'd heard that of the European countries, Italy has the fewest people that speak english, and it seems to be true. Also, their accents are really good. The girl I worked with on Friday, after hearing me speak english with some Germans, said to me, wow, your accent is so great. Germans can get it, but for some reason Italians can't. This also seems to be true.

Anyways, our ghetto hostel (we didn't know it was ghetto at the time, but it turned out to be) was closed until 5, so we had to lug around our luggage all day, which wouldn't have been so bad, except I brought several books to get some work done (which I, of course, did not open once all weekend). So we got some food (the restaurant had a menu in english and italian, thank God) and then meandered around Innsbruck killing time til 5. It's really pretty! It was cold though. It made us appreciate Trento weather! That night it snowed as we were walking around, which sucks. I mean, mid-March, people. =) Anyways, Sunday we did the tourist thing in Innsbruck. We got this thing called the Innsbruck Card, which meant we could ride the tourist bus and the regular busses and get into all the tourist things all day. It was really cool. The bus takes you by most of the big tourist things, and we got to see the castle, and take a cable car waaaay up the mountain. We met some canadian guys who were there to ski, and they must be nuts, because you're like a million miles up and go super vertical down the hill. And I of course exaggerate not. But the view was super cool. We got stuck a few times without the bus because it's the off season, it only comes once an hour, and I swear he would leave early. We got stuck at the castle once and then we got stuck in the morning before we could catch the first one, but that was our fault because we were late. We managed to go straight instead of turn right on one street, which we'd walked like a million times already, and we went totally around the city instead of to where we meant to go. Lord knows how this happens. But it was cool.

We killed time going up the torre civica and that was really cool, but there were a lot of stairs. Even for a foothill person, a lot of stairs. But Innsbruck was really pretty, we had an awesome time. There was a store that sold painted egg shells for easter, and there were thousands of them there. This time I'm not exaggerating; it was incredible. Some of them were so beautiful, too. My friend Katie and I each got one (but cheaper ones); I'm going to use mine as a Christmas ornament. They made it back to Trento in one piece, hopefully they'll make it back to the States ok, too. We didn't get to see so much stuff, though, because there just wasn't time. But I really liked Innsbruck and would definitely reccomend it. =) Oh yeah, and on the tourist bus, we totally saw a guy who looked just like Brad Pitt. Again, not exaggerating here. All three of us were like, OMG! He looked just like BP when he grew the beard. If he hadn't been speaking German, I would have thought he was seriously BP incognito. Of course, he could have been him speaking German, I suppose I don't really know. I tried to surreptitiously take a picture, just to prove it to people, but not only did his girlfriend totally know what I was doing, but I didn't get the picture, either. You'll just have to take my word for it. I have witnesses!

That night we needed to catch the train to Feldkirch, on the Austria-Liechtenstein border, but we missed it by like ten minutes. The next one was in two hours, so we ate dinner and called the hostel, trying to beg them to wait for us to arrive. He said he'd stay til 11:30. We finally got on the train, and of course it left 20 minutes late! Which wouldn't be such a problem except of course we needed every minute possible. We finally pulled into Feldkirch at like 10:45...but the last bus to Liechtenstein left at 10. Yeah. So then we tried to use the computer thing in the station to book a room in Feldkirch, but it didn't work! It was til we touched the screen, then nothing. So at this point my friend Katie starts going nuts and says we can just sleep in the train station, it's probably safe. And, if it's not safe, we can just be like meerkats and take turns on guard. Which of course cracks me up. We go to a taxi driver (who spoke a little english) and asked him to take us to a cheap hotel, and as we're going we ask him how much it would take him to drive us to the hostel in Liechtenstein. 30 euros. So we call the hostel guy and he says he'll wait until 11:45 for us, and we get our taxi driver to drive us to another country. We finally made it, the hostel was so pretty and a million times nicer than the one in Innsbruck, and just about empty, too.

The next day we went to downtown Liechtenstein and looked at some of the sights...but it turns out there's not much to do in Liechtenstein. We couldn't even go to the castle because the prince and his family still live there! So it's closed to the public. Our hostel guy said he sees him walking around town all the time, and his grandkids all go to the regular schools. BTW, if you are ever going to Liechtenstein, definitely stay at that hostel. Anyways, we decided to take the bus into Buchs, Switzerland, because it's only like 10-15 minutes. We went there and walked to the smallest town in all of Switzerland, only 34 houses! It's medieval, really neat. The castle was closed because it was out of season/Monday, though. Oh well. Oh yeah, that's part of the reason there wasn't much to do in Liechtenstein, the museums were closed because it was Monday. So we spent a couple of hours in Switzerland, then went back to Liechtenstein. The waitress we had there didn't speak english, and she said, "too bad you don't speak italian," in Italian, and we were like, hey, we do! So we got to use our Italian skills in Liechtenstein...random. =) Oh, the people there were so polite--if we were anywhere even near the crosswalk, the cars totally stopped for us. Every time. We left in the afternoon, got back to Feldkirch around 6:15 (which looked really pretty from the bus) and then took a 7:20 train to Innsbruck. Then we had two hours to kill in Innsbruck before our train left to take us to Trento, but this guy in one of the food places was so damn rude. I wanted to kick him. Finally we got out of there at 11, and we half-slept on the train back, and we arrived in Trento at like 1:30. So glad I live near the train station =)

Overall it was a very fun trip, I'm so glad I went. Not only did I finally get to go to Liechtenstein, but I also really appreciate how much Trento feels like home, and Italian comfortable. Let's see, some random things: At the castle on Friday, at work, one of the older women who works there kept asking me where I was from. She was guessing Cuban and Brazilian and all that, but I told her the USA. And then she asked me, you're American American? To which I of course responded, what is American American? I think she was baffled that I wasn't blonde and pale or something. And the guy I worked with, he started looking up pictures of San Diego to see what it looked like, and it made me miss home. It also made me realize I don't explore my city nearly enough! So this summer I am totally playing tourist in my own cities. There is so much in SD and the bay area that I haven't seen or haven't seen in years and years. That night I managed to burn my hand on the oven, like on the hot burner part. I thought I could squeeze my hand in the tight space, but apparently I was wrong. I got some stuff to put on it so hopefully it won't scar. I guess life figured that the one from when I was eight had faded almost totally, so I needed a new one. Argh.

Today I have my very last lecture...woo!! I'm very excited about that. But worried cause that means I have less than a week to study for my finals. But I really shouldn't worry so much about it because not only does it theoretically not matter what I get since I have already gotten into grad school (or so people assure me), but if I really mess up I can do the exam again! What a system. But I really don't want to do that, I just want it to be done with and good. Means this weekend there won't be anymore fun travelling, but that's ok, the weekend after that, spring break starts, and I get to go to Sicily! Ah, it better be warm. I am going swimming either way, though, I've decided. I'd just rather not get hypothermia if I can avoid it.

I put up the pics from the trip, divided by city of course, at photos.yahoo.com/berkeleybunny. Some of the pics are just things I found funny, like a car with the sticker "long car" on the back, that was like as big as my pinkie toe. And other random funny stuff like that. But you have to go through like all the pics of the city too, cause they're all mixed up together. I also added a couple of pics under my apartment, just of the rest of the rooms, nothing too exciting.

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