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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Hairdryer's behind the Chainsaw: Birthdays, Touring and So On

Our first full day in the Veneto and the sun shone -- sunny Italy once again living up to it's reputation! Andrew joined us as we at our breakfast of cake, cheese, ham, tea/coffee and juice, beautifully and charmingly presented by our charming Italian host. Since we had left them the evening before, Andrew and Carla had had a nasty shock. Upon going to car that morning, Carla discovered that thieves had tried to break into the vehicle and had broken the steering wheel from the steering column of her little, adorable car. She was suitably traumatized, this being her first car and she was emotionally attached to it and all the memories it had for her.

It turned out to have been somewhat our fault for upon our arrival the evening before there had been a lot of confusion when we arrived. This due to the fact that we had requested that the food we had brought with us from France we had removed from our own car to make use of her freezer and fridge. With all the bags and it was all too easy to forget to lock up properly. Fortunately, friends and relations were able to get the steering wheel re-assembled to the steering column within a few days at a fraction of the cost initially anticipated and so it worked out with a minimum of fuss ... but all the same was an unfortunate incident. It also underlined the fact that this lovely apartment block in what seemed like a quiet and safe neighborhood, was nevertheless prone to constant surveillance by scoundrals!

Not half a block from our hotel is the motorway heading to the Dolomites and many lovely picturesque villages so Andrew was eager to show us some of the sites. The area reminded us a great deal of parts of Austria and Germany and indeed there were many cars and tourists from those countries in the various towns we visited. Our first stop was an alpine village where Andy was hoping we would have lunch. As luck would have it, the venue was closed on that day and we had to make do with admiring the scenery: a lake and glorious mountains -- not a difficult task!

We continued up the road close to the border with Austria, past one stunning view after
another. This is the downside of such beautiful areas. Soon the oohs and ahhs become redundant murmurs insufficient to describe the exquisitness before our eyes. And so we twisted and turned and wound our way up and up and arrived at the nexted hoped for luncheon destination! Alas! Alack! More of the chosen restaurants were closed that day. But we did find a reasonable restaurant/pizzeria -- and much more Germanic it was than Italian. But the cuisine sufficed for lunch and we enjoyed our food and the ambience of the place well enough.

The birthday evening began with Mother and Son meeting Carla at a wine bar in Conegliano center for a yummy glass of prosecco. It was reasonably warm, pleasant enough to sit outside with our drinks and nice to be able to have some mother/son time, too.
Andrew had decided the venue for his party was to be a Bavarian Beer place in Conegliano -- especially since it did half-price beer on Tuesdays! Good thinking Andy! Unfortunately, for the pocketbooks of many of us, this Tuesday coincided with the beginning of Octoberfest and the special deal was off! In any even, the beer flowed and the party was a great success. Andrew's students arrived en forte, along with Carla's parents and even friends newly made while picking grapes that summer. A short video of Andrew having to conjugate Italian verbs -- some of them very rude -- is above. But a longer version can be seen here on You Tube. In the picture you can see a number of shot glasses, there in preparation for the opening of birthday packages that turned out all to be several parts of the whole. In order for Andrew to open one he had to conjugate an Italian verb in the chosen tense! If he made a mistake he had to down a shot. Needless, to say there is a lot of that evening that he does not remember. Before the end Wise Parents decided that they would confiscate and/or hide several!

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