Ciao belle! We have arrived in Italy. Last night, we took a train to Girona, in Spain, which is a smaller city north of Barcelona. Girona is a much quieter, but equally impressive place. Ryanair, a low-cost European airline flies out of Girona, so we found a couchsurfing host to have us before our flight to Torino, and after our flight home from Sicilia. Her name is Alicia. She was so kind and accomodating. We had a great time. She had some amazing cherries as a snack when we arrived, (yay for fruit!!) and took us to pinxos ('pinches'). Pinxos are little snacks on small pieces of baguette, like smoked salmon with vegetables, parrots' eggs and peppers (yes, I had that one), red peppers stuffed with tuna, and my favorite -- anchovies with lots of other little goodies. The restaurant was not touristy at all, was cheap, and offered delicious food. Alicia's friend Esteban, who just happens to want to be a writer!, came along as well. Later, we met up with a few more friends, and watched some traditional Catalan dancing in the piazza.
When we arrived back to Alicia's apartment, we had the typical couchsurfing exchange with her and her roommate, Laia, about politics in America. =) Most of our conversations were true Spanglish! Mark did great trying to explain complicated ideas in Spanish, and I picked up on the non-verbal cues when it looked like the girls had no idea what we were talking about. We have been a good team.
We'll be heading back to Alicia's in a few weeks, on our way back to Barcelona from Sicilia so we'll spend some more time with her, Esteban, and Laia then. There will be a third couchsurfer then as well. We're looking forward to more time with them. During our final stay in Girona, we plan to head to the nearby town of Figueres, the hometown of Salvador Dali, where there is a Dali museum.
The least fun part of our time in Girona was waking up in the middle of the night. The plane departed at 6:30am, so we had to wake up at 4:30am!! Needless to say, neither of us were too excited about that. We're now enjoying a leisurely day in Torino, checking email, eating pizza (Mark says he has died and gone to heaven) and sampling all of the gelato we can find. We are saving the mecca of gelato for this afternoon though -- Grom. It was highly recommended to us when we went to an Italian gelateria in Spain, and the two locations in NYC have created quite a buzz. I will keep you posted.
We like Torino, but are looking forward to our time in Aosta and Switzerland as well. We take a two hour train to Fede's place in Aosta at 5pm. Tomorrow, we are hiking the Italian alps and sleeping in a little hut for the night with Fede and her friends! She does not speak much English, and I doubt her friends do either, so my Italian will really be tested.
OK -- I think they are going to charge us a lot for this internet time so gotta jet! Hope everyone is well. xo