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January 11th 2007
Published: January 13th 2007
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Hi Everyone Happy new year…

This diary entry is well overdue. The fact that people are writing to me saying “Bella when are you going to update your blog” means to me that it is really time to write and that some people are actually reading this blog and getting some enjoyment out of it.

Well December was an interesting month, as I reflect and read through my diary a lot happened in that month, some incredibly fantastic experiences and some damn bad and enlightening ones (well one anyways).

I will start by saying that in December and up until the first week in January I caught over 15 trains, several busses, 5 planes, a couple of car rides, a few taxis & yes and ambulance which all in all took me to and through six countries phew Im tired!

The last days in Genova

The last week of November in Genova was one of the most fun weeks I had in that city, mostly due to the fact that I met one cool Aussie chick Jess who was studying with me at school. She is 18 and from the gold coast and we spent so much time mucking about together in Genova.

Our highlights were, every afternoon after school going on chocolate runs where we would treat ourselves to some fabulous chocolates made in Genova. I think by the end of the week we had visited, ate and photographed our way around a dozen stores!

In addition to that we were also on the road to discovery to find the best aperitivo & cibo combo in Genova, (this is where you buy a drink and get a great food plate for free!). We think we found the best and happily drank our champagne cocktails, ate our cibo piate and also had our chocolate stash for desert!

I was also really blessed to be invited to Vicky (the girl I lived with) mums place for lunch. It is always a treat to be invited to an Italian families dinner table and I was treated to some great pizza, lovely wine, beautiful cortoletta (crumbed steak) followed by some lovely torta for dolce! The ride there and back on Vicky’s scooter was pretty fun too.

I also filled my last weeks in Genova getting a couple of rabies vaccinations(which were free…yippee), walking around the city taking some beautiful pictures, wandering the various markets with Vicky, and visiting all of my favourite stores (for the yummy foccacia, discovering gelati sandwiches, book stores and some of the other quirky stores I love etc).

I also got out quite a bit with Vicky among other things to her friends birthday party in a cheap neat pizza place in Ravecca where you can get a huge pizza for 5 euros (Salerno crew it was just as good as our pizza nights down South).

I finished up school after three or so months of studying and had got through to intermediate level Italian which I was really proud about, my last day the crew bought me a CD with heaps of Italian songs so I was really stoked and the CD has been on replay for the last month or so (just ask Andy who was well and truly over it by the time I left!!!).

The last weekend I was in Genova I decided that I would like to take a field trip to Florence as Vicky had been there the week before and raved about the markets so I thought I would take a three hour train down to Florence, look about, and buy some nice cheap scarf’s, beanies etc so I was equipped for the upcoming winter which just did not seem to be hitting Genova yet but I knew it was coming. Probably in hindsight a huge mission for a day (7 hours on the train there and back) but for some reason god wanted to teach me a lesson that day….

Scarf’s, beanies and some other trinkets, handbag, camera etc in hand as usual I was running late and heard my train announcement for my return ride so I started high-bolting it for the platform… and somehow I had a massive stack, fell over and had to be taken by ambulance (my medic Carlo was a laugh) to Florence hospital to get some scans only to be sent home with a very tight bandage, some liquid pain killer and the thought of facing the 3-4 hour train ride back to Genova alone and barely walking - not one of my finest hours.. yes there were some tears! (especially as I knew a sprain didn’t hurt and swell that much!)

Lucky, Jess, Vicky, Andy and the Dinsdale’s all came to my rescue in various stages of the injury and all seems getting back to normal now however I have to say the train trip back to France two days after the incident was pretty horrific with big bags, walking through the streets, subways of Genova to get to the station was a bit hectic but we made it and it was a big kiss goodbye to Vicky and Genova my home of the last three months.

Back to Provence, Aix En Provence my second home!

I arrived in Aix en Provence and really spent nearly all of December baring a few days with Andy in various parts of France. I truly love France and as I write this now am feeling a little bit France sick as everywhere I go I get reminded of France blah blah!

We did manage to take in a trip to Paris as Andy was going to the boat show to work and I had always wanted to go back to Paris with a good camera and spend a few days walking the streets taking shots.

Lesson 1: If you are in France and you book the TGV on line watch out, they are out to get you scam you blah blah…if you see the words IDTGV on your ticket, you are riding with a different company on the same train. Don’t do what I did and get on the wrong part of the train on the 3 hour non stop trip to Paris and have to buy another ticket (+85 euros for TGV - 85 euros Bellas bank account). I was seriously pissed but I guess another valuable travel lesson learned.

Anyways our time in Paris was lovely, between strolling taking pictures in the public gardens of Luxembourg and the one near the louve(forget!), strolling down Haussman Street, looking and marveling at all the food in Galleries Lafayette, walking by the Siene and looking at all the street vendors, going to my favourite church the Notre Dame, eating kebabs in the Latin Quarter I had time to visit the boat show and watch my man in action, go to a neat restaurant with the Hobie Crew, visit the Eiffel tower at night with my man(absolutely spectacular with the Christmas lights), go partying to the hottest party in town at some awesome nighclub that one of the sponsors of the boat show had hired out and catch up with so many hobie friends for the last time in a while.

Paris never disappoints and still ranks as one of my favourite cities, one paragraph will never do it justice so I hope that you like all of the pictures I post on my website. I could have filled a whole blog entry just on Paris alone.

Andy and I returned to Aix, for the rest of the week where I happily occupied my time shopping, making my Christmas cards and presents, doing two days of backing up my photos and sorting through them all to get 6000 down to 1000 to find some space on my laptop, cooking, drinking rose, trying unsuccessfully to concentrate on learning Spanish and just generally relaxing - something I am getting pretty good at now.

Party at the Dinsdale’s

In mid December we returned to the Dinsdale’s to prepare for Lisa’s 18thth birthday party, we had such a great night, it was so good to see Andy’s other siblings Anna and Robin who I had not seen for a while and to wish Robin a fond farewell to Australia where he was moving to start a new life with one of my besties Cara (long story but a gr8 ending for them). We danced, ate, drank a fair bit of some punch Lisa and Milla made and then spent the next day sleeping it off.

My ankle was still not getting any better, actually it was getting worse… (something about dancing, walking km’s in Paris etc on what I thought was just a sprain) so it was time for a second opinion, Andy and I trotted off to the hospital and I had lucked in seeing a really good ankle surgeon who told me that I had definitely broken 2 ligaments in my ankle (no I know why it was not getting any better….) and walked out of there in a few tears with a big long list of things I had to buy(including two bloody crutches) and strict instructions to go to physio for one month full on and no skiing….more tears!

Back to Aix with crutches!

I was really disappointed as I was supposed to depart the following day to go to spend a week in Milano with the Sicouri’s. I had to make a decision so that I could stay in the one place and get some care so I returned to Aix en Provence with Andy for another week (which was so nice anyways) for some good care!

Andy became my nurse and was so patient with me when I was walking on two crutches, depressed because I could not walk or do much, and taking me to those daily physio visits (I still recall the physio saying definitely don’t ski this new years….followed by outbreaks of tears from me….”how long had I been looking forward to skiing in Europe….more tears!” and poor Andy having to see the sad side of his girlfriends personality..). I did luck in to see a good physio who cared enough about me that after my second appointment he called Andy’s mobile and told him that I was not resting enough

Anyways with that week over and really not doing to much except putting my feet up or making the mission to go to the physio I was looking forward to Christmas which was like only a couple of days away.
Road Trip to Italy from the South of France

I rode with the Dinsdale’s (and all of the stuff, trailers etc) from Southern France all the way to Brescia in Italy. It was such a scenic drive along the French Riviera and also the Ligurian Coast, through the outskirts of Milan and on to Brescia, where the Dinsdale’s dropped me off and continued to Munich and where I met my train to Vicenza to see my family for Christmas.

I was truly looking forward to putting my Italian back in action after a month away and just generally relaxing to get my foot healed so I had some hope of walking without those stupid crutches which were such a nightmare!

Natale con mia famiglia in Asolo

My cousins met me at the train and the first word Michele my cousin said to me was “silly billy” che cosa fai???... Anyways it was all fun, and the first thing I noticed was how much my beautiful little nephew had grown up since my last visit in October and how his beautiful little smile was so captivating!

I had a nice time in Asolo with the family where the main themes of my time was eating (boy way to much I’m just getting back to my pre Christmas weight now)…drinking….and eating some more…..watching TV and sitting on the chair next to my second Aunt Pia who also could not walk that well because she had been in Hospital the week before I arrived.

Christmas included many big meals, and lots of visiting, I had a great day, and did not feel home sick which was nice, we had so much great food, good grappa, panetone, red wine, Pandoro, and gosh the list goes on but it was all good stuff. I can tell you when I get in a mode of eating I just want to keep eating, as the country Italian food is so bloody good!

I did manage to do a couple of things with my cousins, go walking (with my crutches) around Castelfranco, go to Pizza with them to their friends house, and drive around and do some visiting of other family members with Julie. It is always so nice to be in country Italy, smell the fresh air, see the frosting ground, taste the beautiful local foods and feel invigorated by the crisp winter temperatures and feel winter sun on my skin sitting on my favourite bench outside the house.
Arreverdeci Italia….a presto!

It was all to soon and it was time to say goodbye to Italy and take what felt like the 1 millionth train that month to Langen Am Alberg in Austria from Verona to celebrate New Years in Austria with Andy and the family.

I was kind of sad when I arrived in Brenner on the border of Austria and Italy thinking about my Italian experience coming to an end. I had so much fun in my home country and all I thought was how blessed I was to spend so much time there and learn my language, culture etc etc.

Capadano in Austria!

I arrived in Stuben a village (in the Langen Am Alberg ski area and about 1hr by train from Innsbruck) and the weather was unusually warm actually warmer than Asolo.

When Andy picked me up he said don’t worry Bella there is no snow for skiing anyways it is going to be shit…(made me feel happier about not being able to ski!!!).. I had bets on with my cousins whether it would snow in Asolo or in Stuben, I think it probably snowed in Asolo first as It was like -6 degrees in the mornings.

Anyways we went together to Daalas a town just down the road from Stuben where Andy and I were going to stay together. The house was affectionately named the “Schiess Haus” because it was out the back of a old shed and we kept thinking when we got there where in the hell are they taking us. Anyways the “Schiess Haus” was lovely, we had a great big room, all-wooden and old style our own big bathroom and beautiful views of the mountains etc. It was so good and we were so happy relaxing there together.

The first few days of the holiday everyone bar me braved the icy and shitty ski conditions, whilst I visited the ski resort towns of Lech and Zurs, did some shopping, and like usual walked around and took some cool photos.

NYE Traditions

New years was a really wonderful experience but it still hadn’t snowed so my dreams of a white Christmas and NY looked like a distant dream!

On NYE we took this massive cable car up to 2500 metres at Lech and had a really nice lunch and just chilled out in the sun (as it was a glorious day!!). I stayed up there for a bit, got some photos and then took the big cable car down the mountain feeling a bit sick to the stomach as I am so afraid of heights!

I have to say this NYE was probably the most civilised of all time as I was not at a Hobie regatta with all of my mates.

NYE started out with a few drinks in Milla and Johns room (Andy's parents), we had lucked in because on some music station on the TV they were showing a recorded concert of Elton John, so we listened and sang along together watching the show.

Also I was lucky enough to watch for the first time a “Dinner for 1” a short old film that always airs in Europe in NY, (find it download it whatever it is an absolute laugh). 8pm rolled around and we headed to a typical alpine restaurant for dinner. We had a beautiful typical meat fondue, some really nice wine, some laughs etc.

We wound up dinner about 11.30pm. We also did a couple of Austrian traditions which was kind of cool where we would melt a piece of metal in a spoon then throw it into the water and whatever shape it formed was the meaning of our new year. Well Andy and I did one together and ours turned into a Gondola (think Venice gondolas) apparently that means love! We all got these marsepanne pigs as well which are supposed to mean good luck. We kept our selves entertained playing with them over dinner putting them into various precarious positions!!!

After dinner it was all on, apparently what happens in Austria and this side of the world that everyone lets of fire crackers in the street - I mean everyone about 200 people in our small village were letting off fire crackers in the street it was really cool to do that, with a small terrace bar and other hotels all facing in the main road with everyone cheering etc. We wound that up after going through about 100 crackers at about 1.30am and then headed for the pub (the only one in town).... to finish up the rest of the night.

Still not able to dance a lot Andy danced with his sister Lisa and his parents and their german/austrian friends. We wound up at about 5am...caught the taxi back home to the “Scheiss Haus” and slept for a few hours.

I have to say waking up new years morning with it snowing was such a magical experience. There was so much snow, about 1M had fallen from when we went to bed that morning until the mid afternoon. We had no car so we were stuck in our little house and tucked into the great cookies that owner of the house where we stayed had made us as a New years gift.

That night we finally got the wheels back and we joined the family for a trip to Zurs for a beautiful fireworks display on NY night. This was spectacular if you can imagine the snow softly falling, and the beautiful white mountains as a backdrop with amazing fireworks going off perfectly synchronized to Mozart and Bach (yes we were in Austria) it was truly a night to remember.

The rest of the holiday was great, we had some challenges getting to and from places and Andy having to put on the chains on and off the car so we decided to move hotels luckily we did because we would have been snowed in at the “Schiess Haus”.

Our new hotel was right in Stuben and we had also a nice time there also. I took in massages for my ankle in a near hotel, hot chocolates and newspapers in Lech (a gr8 place to people watch) while the guys skied etc.

I was kinda getting a bit bored and was lucky enough that one of Milla’s friends in Stuben knew a physio who said definitely go skiing cause he thought my ankle was better.

So am pleased to say I spent my last day in Europe skiing in St Anton with the big group of people we skied with, got down the hills ok, with no damage and finally got the taste of being able to ski in Austria - and yes it is good.

However the parties afterwards in the Krazy Kangarauh and also the Moosewirt pubs in Stuben watching those huge revolving lights, a guy carrying about 30 pints of beer on a tray and dancing in my ski books to some crazy Austrian(Eisbar song ring a bell anyone!!) and German songs was an unbeatable way to spend my final night in Austria. We also had the added bonus of having to ski from where the bus dropped us off back to the village of Stuben, after way to many beers, in the dark. A fun and eerie and interesting experience!

The next morning Andy and I awoke at about 4am as that was the time my train was leaving to take me to Germany to get my flight to London. I have to say this was one of the hardest days of my life. Leaving my man for several months, officially knowing my days in Europe were over, putting my backpack on for the first time and feeling like a real backpacker and all the emotions that went with it and plus the longest ever journey to finally get to NYC 24 hours later after I left from Stuben. (3 trains, 2 planes, & 1 extremely long bus ride from Stansted to Heathrow and finally a NYC taxicab to Laura’s place), boy was I glad when me head hit the pillow!

Anyways enough for now my next update will be full of stories from NYC, and time spent in LA with my bestie Nadine and other Hobie friends in Southern California and also my first week or so in Costa Rica.

I leave for the jungle on Wednesday with my backpack, mosquito net, camera, hiking boots and sleeping bag for what will be one of the best experiences of my life. - Cant wait (see you there crew!!).

Lots of love and
auguri per il nuovo anno!

Bella xx

PS for all my European mates new and old (you know who you are) thanks for making my time in Europe so special…..

Additional photos below
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15th January 2007

Hey angel, I requon this is one of your best blog stories in the history of BellaIsSailing Blog!! He he!! Love you my angel Andy****
18th January 2007

Love the blog!
Happy New Year Bella. Hope 2007 is the best ever!

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