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:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

enjoying Milan

Finally getting around to posting some pictures that I've taken while out and about in the city this school year. I'm really enjoying living in the city and being close to everything! The past two years in Opera were peaceful and quiet... but it's so nice to be in the city and able to get around more easily and so much faster.

There are many industrial buildings around my neighborhood. I found one that now houses a large leather purse outlet! Ummm yes, please! (I've bought a few so far... just a few...)  :P

Metro ridin'

Great piece of street art about a block from my apartment building.

An entire crew of teachers all ended up on the same tram heading home one night!

Just gorgeous. 

Santa Margherita and Portofino

Yesterday, Ali (a friend and co-worker) and I took a day-trip to Santa Margherita and Portofino. These are two small sea-side towns in Liguria and it takes just over two hours by train from Milan! I am really glad we went. The day was a bit overcast but I loved being by the water and it wasn't too cold to be out and about, enjoying the views.

Starting out in Santa Margherita:

We hopped on a local bus for a 15-minute ride to Portofino! Nice to see another town... and one with such a cute, picturesque harbor! We had a seafood lunch here and took a walk around.

Funny enough -- Ali and I both went to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY for our undergraduate degrees! She is two years younger than I am but we overlapped. She actually recognized me when we started working at ASM here in Milan. During our orientation week, she said I looked familiar and then we figured out that it's from Fisher! Funny... small world.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

enjoying the FOOD Italian-style

Mmmmmm the food and treats in Italy :D

I have about 3 months left in Italy... I'm going to miss breakfasts like this one!!!!

My mom will like this one! Focaccia bread with green olives!
This was my breakfast one day at school:

On a recent Sunday morning, I enjoyed a muffin and caffe latte with a book about careers:

Third-grade twins from China brought me a moon cake for the Chinese Lunar New Year!
This was reminiscent of my time in Vietnam when they also celebrated the New Year with moon cakes : )

Hoooooomade tiramisu by an Italian! Perfetto!
Our Help Desk Manager made tiramisu for a staff member's birthday:

I love walking through the markets here. The colorful fruits look great here: