Monday, July 25, 2016

July 19, Flying home with 4 teenage girls

After breakfast at the B&B Philippe came with the girls to pick me up and take us to the airport. 
We got through security pretty quickly and the girs enjoyed the free airport wifi while we waited to board the plane. 

We flew to Paris where we got our connection to LAX. 
Terry, Pam's dad, picked us up at the airport and drove us to Santa Barbara. 
Of course, we had to make a stop at In 'n' Out on our way home to introduce the french girls to American fast food. 

July 18, Good bye Italy....Hello France!

After a quick breakfast at the hotel I caught the hotel shuttle over to the airport for my flight to Bordeaux. I said goodbye to my mom and boarded the plane. Leaving Italy and my mother felt bittersweet. I was looking forward to seeing my family but at the same time notwanting  my trip to end. 
After a quick plane ride I was in Bordeaux with Bethany. 
I spent the afternoon swimming with the girls and then had dinner with both Missa's and Louise's  families. It was a very pleasant last day in France. 
After dinner Philippe took me to the B&B where I would stay the night. 

July 17, Panic and plane tickets

We woke up to the news that there had been a military coup in Turkey. This sent us into a panicked search to find my mother a new ticket home because she had been planning to travel on Turkish Air making an overnight layover stop in Istanbul. With the polical unrest this would no longer be possible because the flights had been cancelled and Turkish air is currently prohibited from entering US airspace. 
We arranged for a late checkout and had breakfast downstairs while we worked on travel arrangements. With help from my travel savvy sister-in-law Erin we found my mom a new flight that would go directly from Milan to New York where she would catch a plane to Los Angeles.  
That settled, we packed up and headed to the train station to catch the Malpensa Express and check in at our airport hotel which would be shuttling us to thd airport for our  respective flights. 
After the panic of the morning we had a relaxing afternoon reading by the pool before having delicious asparagus risotto for dinner at the hotel restaurant. 

July 16, Walking tour of Milan, Eataly, and making friends on the bus

We woke up early and had breakfast at the hostel before leaving to meet up with a walking tour of Milan.  
The tour group gathered by the beautiful Milan Duomo and we walked for 3 hours through the neighboring areas as our tour guide showed us points of interest such as a chapel decorated with bones and an intetesting piece of modern art scupture which stands in front of the stock market building making a statement. 

We stopped at a covered square with domed ceilings. If you stand on one corner and someone else stands in the corner diagonal to you then you can carry on a quiet conversation. It was pretty cool. 
After the walking tour we made our over to a food emporium that someone had told us about called Eataly. It was amazing! We were only held back from buying massive amounts of Italian food and cook books by the limited space we had left in our luggage. 
 They have barrels of wine where you can fill your own jug and you pay by the litre. It was so cheap!
We had seafood for lunch in their upstairs cafe. After lunch we went back to the hotel to have a little rest before going out for the evening. 
We had heard about a "Star Wars" themed bar so we set out to find it. Unfortunately however, the bar had closed down and we were led on a wild goose chase. 
The upside of the evening was that we met a young man on the bus named Francesco who is from Sicily. He is a student at the university in Milan and really a sweet boy.  He walked around with us keeping us company and helped us try to find the non-existant starwars bar. When we realized that our search was in vain Francesco helped us find a bar where we got something to eat and drank wine while we talked. I think he was glad for the opportunity to practice his english and we were glad for the company and to meat another Italian and hear about his culture. 

July 15, Making cheese with an artisan.

On Friday morning we had a quick breakfast at the hostel and then took a metro train to the stop where we were to meet the farmer who would take us to his farm and teach us to make cheese. 
Marco picked us up and drove us to his farm about 15 minutes away.
He took us past the fields where he grows rice and told us a little bit about his farm. 
 Marco took us into his cheese production room where he had a giant vat of freshly heated raw milk waiting.  He showed us how to break the solids gently into curds the size of a walnut and then we stir, stir, stirred while he heated it to 45 degrees celsius. 
Once the desired temperature had been reached we poured it into moulds which would catch the curds and let the whey drain away. 
After collecting all of the curds Marco strained the whey and returned it to the pot. He added citric acid and reheated the whey until additional solids formed which would become fresh ricotta. 
While the cheese set Marco gave us a tour of the farm and showed us the cow barn where there were adorable baby cows. 
We picked some fresh vegetables from the garden and went back to check on the cheese and make lunch. 
We made tadziki with just picked cucumbers and the farm's fresh yogurt. Marco made saffron risotto and served us several types of his cheese, including some of the fresh cheese we had just made. 
After making cheese we rushed over to the bus station to say a quick hello and goodbye to Julian, a young man that we had become aquainted with at the couchsurfing camp. 
We then went back to the hostel and rested a little before heading out to meet up with the Milan couchsurfing group to watch the sunset from the top of Mt Stella, an artificial hill with panoramic views. 
By the time we got back it was well after midnight....💤💤💤

July 14, Asissi to Milan

After breakfast at the agritourisimo villa in Asissi we paked up and took the rental car back to Foligno where we boarded a train to Florence where we caught our train to Milan. 
 The view from the train
We arrived in Milan and walked a few blocks from the train station to the hostel where we would spend 2 nights. Our hostel, The Ostello Bello Grande, is a fun, cool hipster hostel. We were given a cocktail to enjoy in the bar when we arrived and then there was a free apertivo buffet for dinner. After settling in at our room we went back to the bar to have more cocktails while a band played live music. 
Our room 
We enjoyed the hammocks on the rooftop terrace. 
They have a kitchen stocked with free food for guests. 
I really like the way the hostel is decorated.