Sunday, June 12, 2016

Watercolors, Flamingos, and a Castle

I spent today exploring new areas of Milan. I read an article a while back about some fun, hidden places in the city. Today, I went to three of those.

Taking the 24 tram to the Crochetta stop, I walked to Giardini della Guastalla. This is a public garden/park area. It was very nice and peaceful. A number of people were enjoying the sunny day but it wasn't crowded.

From the park, I walked to (what the article called) the Milan Watercolors. There is a small street called Via Abramo Lincoln and the houses on either side of the short street are each painted a different color. It was a lovely and peaceful street but also very green with many trees. It was hard to see the houses and impossible to get a picture really showing all of the colors. I enjoyed walking down the street and trying to picture the colors coming more alive in the winter season.

My last planned stop was to see some flamingos! (Not plastic ones.) I wasn't sure if this would really happen or not... but it did! And I saw a castle on the way : )  That was a fun surprise. The large, ornate building stopped me in my tracks (and that says a lot, considering I was on my way to see flamingos). There was a plaque that showed the building is Palazzo Berri-Meregalli and was built in the early 1900's.

The flamingos were all out and enjoying the gorgeous day! If you go to Villa Invernizzi on Via Cappuccini, you are able to peak through the gate and into the yard. There is a small pond in the middle of a lovely yard. Four flamingos were enjoying a one-legged lap in the pond, while about 8 or so others were in the yard... some eating and the rest just hanging out.

Fun day!

This is one side of the castle: Palazzo Berri-Meregalli

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Italian Emergency Room

First -- I'm fine.

Second -- I had an interesting experience going to the emergency room for the first time... and in Italy, no less!

Last Thursday at work, my laptop fell on my foot... sideways, so that not only did do I have a nasty bruise but it also sliced me a bit. Definitely not the smartest moment of my day -- placing the laptop hanging half off a shelving cart.

Upon the fall, my stomach turned from the pain and it took me breath away for a few moments.

The entire area that was hit turned white, while the rest of my foot turned red.

A minute or so later, the swelling and bruising began.

I went to get ice and then thought about how many bones are in a foot. Ugh. I really hoped I hadn't fractured a bone. That was all that was on my mind from then on.

I taught an 80-minute period sitting in a chair and icing my foot most of the time. Then went back to the nurse and we agreed that I should get an x-ray just to be sure that there were no fractures.

The lovely middle school secretary drove me to a hospital south of the city and so my first experience to an emergency room began.

I was put into a wheelchair while I waited to be checked in. About 30 minutes later, I was checked in and given a wristband. I was then sent to sit and wait in the area that was supposedly for foot/ankle injuries. Everyone was limping around.

After waiting a little under an hour, the doctor saw me. He poked and prodded my foot and we spoke a mixture of Italian, Spanish, and English -- turned out he's from Madrid.

I was then sent back to the chairs to sit and wait to be called for an x-ray.

After another hour or so, they took a few x-rays and then it was back to the waiting chairs.

The process is actually very well set up. There's a television screen that displays how many people are waiting, how many are in the process, and even the level of emergency (3 different color-coded levels) for each. The estimated wait time is updated now and then as well. Maybe this is how it's done in the States too, not sure since I've (thankfully!) never been.

After about 20 or 30 minutes, I was called into another room, where the doctor was. His first words to me as he looked at the x-rays were that there were NO fractures! My response to this: "Perfetto!"

He poked and prodded a bit more and then said that I should ice it and take ibuprofen for the next couple days.

I was off!

...Well... I made that sound really easy. Along the way, there were many little things to figure out as I bumbled my way through figuring out how a hospital works in Italy. Leaving, I was to pick up documents from the "front window" as I understood it. This took me a while to find... but I did it!

Here are pictures of my foot on Day 1 and Day 2:

The saga continues...

Since the injury happened at work, there was documentation from the hospital to give to school. When I handed that all in Friday morning, the HR Manager saw that the documentation said I was to be out of work for one week -- through June 2nd. The paperwork was all in Italian and I hadn't even tried to read it but the doctor never even mentioned this to me! The doctor had simply said ice and ibuprofen.

So... I was kicked out of school and have been home since. It's actually been a gift of time, especially at this time of the year and so much going on in my personal life as I prepare to move back home.

Thankfully, I can walk on my foot alright. It's been tender and sore but is feeling better and better. The bruise is now more yellow/green, which I take to be a good sign. Since I've been home, I have been able to keep it elevated as much as possible.

I had a check-up appointment with my doctor yesterday. This was so that the documentation process can be closed. Hilariously... she read through the papers and never once looked at my foot! I had loosely tied sneakers on and they never came off. She wrote a note and said that should be sufficient.

Overall, I'm fine. It was a silly accident that gave me an interesting experience in Italy towards the end of my time here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Jesolo Trophy Gymnastics Competition

I love love love the gymnastics competition in Jesolo! I'll be sad to miss this once I'm back in the States. The arena is small and intimate... I'm so close to the best gymnastics from four countries -- including the United States!

Ali Raisman and Gabby Douglas were both present this year again (like last year) -- they were on the 2012 Olympic team in London. Both girls are shown in the photo below, where the girls are lining up to present themselves to the judges before competing on the balance beam:

Gabby on bars:

Ali about to go on beam:

There were also a number of "throwback" people present that were really fun to see!

Marta Karolyi is the national team coordinator (and in charge of choosing the US Olympic team) -- this will be her last year, as she plans to retire after the 2016 Summer Olympics:
Above -- Marta is talking to Ragan Smith -- a newcomer to the senior level this year and doing really, really well! Look up a video of her floor routine -- it's adorable and the choreography is awesome.

Kim Zmeskal is coaching and has a couple girls from her gym that are on the U.S. national team. She was part of the 1992 Olympic team and also World Champion! (This is her below, center... looking over her shoulder.)

Shannon Miller's coach, Steve Nunno is back and coaching a girl  who is new to the national team: Emily Gaskins.

Jesolo Gymnastics Competition - around town

One of my favorite weekends of the year -- the Jesolo gymnastics competition!!

I made the trip to Lido di Jesolo again this year. It is west of Venice on a strip of beach and is filled with hotels for the summer months. Going in March, the entire place is pretty much shut down and quiet.

The annual gymnastics meet is a big deal. It is the first international meet that the gymnasts prepare to have their full routines ready for. And then this year it's even bigger since it's an Olympic year!! The U.S. girls attend this competition -- there are 4 countries each year. United States, Italy, France, and Brazil were included this year for the senior girls.

A friend and co-worker of mine came with me this time! It was fun to have a friend to go with and we even found some nice restaurants (that were actually open, too) for dinner in the evening. We each had a full apartment to stay in, too! Haha... being low season, the costs are lower and it can be a bit difficult to find a place to stay that's open this time of year.

Below are pictures from around town:

Treasure hunting:

Enjoying a walk on the beach  : )

Heath, going into his apartment with a box full of fresh cookies and biscuits from a bakery! These made for the perfect snack during the competition.  : )

Enjoying a walk along the beach to get to the arena:

Hahaha -- a mannequin meeting in the off season:

There were young girls all over town for the gymnastics meet. In between the junior competition (under 15 years old) in the morning and the seniors in the afternoon, many girls were playing around and doing gymnastics tricks on the beach. These two girls below were impressive!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

only in Italy - the taxi bell

I find the picture above really funny. This was taken just outside the Santa Margherita train station -- a small station that in Liguria, on the seaside.

There is a nice taxi sign with the number to call (the white sign on the left) -- and then this open yellow box right next to it... with the same number to call but handwritten. Inside the box is the best part -- and most perplexing.

There is a phone hooked up to the wall and a bell. The bell is like the one that hangs in the library at school where I work, which rings to begin and end each class period.

I'm not sure what this is all about or if he's really old fashioned. This is the first time I've noticed something like this -- and when I did notice it, I had to take a photo.

Only in Italy!   : )

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Duomo di Milano

Milan's cathedral, or Duomo, is truly magnificent! (I've blogged about it before with photos... and I'm going to do it again, ha!)

A fun fact from the Wikipedia page (linked above): Milan's cathedral is the fifth largest in the world! -- and the largest in Italy.

Not from the Wikipedia page... but told to me by Clara, the lady that runs the Cooking in Milan classes: the famous bronze Madonnina (Mother Mary) statue atop the cathedral has always been the tallest point in all of Milan. Today, there are two modern buildings in the city that are taller... and they each have a mini Madonnina on top, in respect to the Cathedral's! The only way the OK was granted to construct each building that tall, was if a mini Mary statue was put on top. I love that. I really like how Italy sticks to tradition out of respect for... well... tradition.

Spring is here!

One weekend in the Fall, the duomo's piazza is covered with white paper and people can create public art by writing and/or drawing. Lots of fun. I like when cities create fun communities like this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

back on the bike!

I'm SO happy to be riding my bicycle to and from school again! That is one piece that I've missed from when I lived in Opera. I haven't ridden to work since being in the city this school year because there has been construction along the way and I'd have to be on a busy road for part of the ride. Now that the bike path (shown in the first picture below) is complete, I am absolutely loving the ride!

The ride is about 5 miles each way and takes me less than 25 minutes. It's faster than taking the bus! I miss my reading time on the bus but am enjoying the exercise and the ride even more. Because I'm on the path and don't have to worry about traffic, I listen to music along the way too. It's just a very enjoyable way to start and end each work day.

(There has been one day so far that I've forgotten to pack my work outfit! Ha! I ended up in leggings and my jacket all day. Thankfully, they actually looked like a decent outfit together.)

Some days are foggy... super foggy...

Last Saturday morning I rode past school and out to Opera to go to the morning market! I was hoping to pick up some curtain material for my mom but they don't have the specific style anymore. I still enjoyed the ride to and from... 

The past couple of weeks have been fabulous with the trees blooming... and poppies along the way too!

The set of four pictures below is from my ride from school to IKEA on a Saturday after keeping score at a basketball tournament. I took a bit of a detour to go by an abbey in Chiaravalle called Santa Maria di Rovegnano. It's gorgeous!

Mostly recently -- just this past Thursday, the two pictures below show the difference in weather between my ride to work in the morning and my ride home in the afternoon (not everyday is like this... but sometimes!) --

It's not often that I'm gifted with the lovely view of the mountains... not many days are clear enough to see them. ...But then a day comes along that is clear and the mountains are amazing! A picture really doesn't do it justice.

Funny enough -- I've been seeing the same people on the bike path each morning. As I'm heading to school they are heading into the city, presumably to work. We are on the same morning schedule. There's one man that bikes past me in the morning... and in the afternoon! Haha. Last week I smiled and waved a couple times -- it's funny to see each other every day to and from work.

When I rode the bus each day it was kind of the same thing -- seeing many of the same faces. There's a difference though, being on the bike path instead of public transport. It's ok to be more friendly and wave, acknowledging that we see each other every day.

A photo from a usual morning on the bus to work a month ago or so: