A Travellerspoint blog

Bologna: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

Art, Food, Language, Friends

Well it is hard to believe that after nearly 10 months in Bologna our time here has come to an end. It certainly is sad to leave a city that we have come to know so well, and we will miss many of the aspects of life here - especially food, wine, friends, bike riding, language, art, quick trips to towns, cities and countries.

This blog is about photos. We would like to thank all our international friends who have made us feel so welcome here and have made our time a most memorable experience.

Children's Friends and School

The children have made many friends especially at the International School.
Their friends are truly an international group. Swedish, Italian/American, American, Italian, English/Italian, Brazilian/American and Mexican/Italian.
The last week of school was a bit like the last weeks of school in Australia (without the need to buy Christmas presents). Some of the activities we had in the last few weeks were: school concert; shared birthday party for Gabi and Nat; catch up in the park; drinks on the terrace; final gelati in Piazza Cavour.

kidsonroof

kidsonroof


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One of the songs from the school concert.

Our Friends

Dan and I have also made some terrific international friends and we have enjoyed many social occasions together.

friendsontheroof

friendsontheroof

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Dowds

Dowds


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Dowds2

Food and Coffee

Life in Bologna could not commence until we had enjoyed our coffee and brioche. This always took place after we had dropped the children at school. One of my favourite coffee places was Gamberini - the coffee and the brioches were fantastic and it was fortunate that I was riding my bike on a daily basis. My favourite was a brioche con crema - no asking for skim milk, soy cafes here! At the cost of about $3.00 Australian who could resist.

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favcafe


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Art and Italian

Many people have asked me what I would do all day once the children were at school. Well it is amazing how quickly the days can pass when one is not working. After 'prende un caffe' I would attend art class on Wednesday mornings - this class was run by Antonio a local Italian. The class was mostly Italians and there were some extremely talented artists in the group. The other activity I enjoyed was twice weekly private Italian lessons. One class was a group of four Katie - American, Jane - Australian and Perry - German. This class was conducted by the lovely Guilianna who was incredibly patient with our halting Italian. In addition to this weekly class Katie and I also meet with Marieangela who left Bologna for Australia when she was twenty and has now returned for a period of time to help her mother. Katie and I loved our conversation classes as there was always plenty of laughter.

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Bologna Sights

After living in Bologna for nearly 10 months I realised that I hadn't been much of a tourist in my own city so I spent the last few weeks quickly taking a few tourist shots.

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snowinbologna

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Bike Rides

Finally one of the highlights was having bikes in Bologna. These were our cars. Every morning we could take the children to school and then pick them up in the afternoon. Although there are very few bike paths most people ride on the road or through the piazza. One of my favourite times was riding my bike through the piazza after the school drop. I was very sad to have to sell my bike when we left Bologna.

Posted by happellfamily12 07:52 Archived in Italy Tagged bologna Comments (0)

Comrades 2013

a fascinating country, a famous race, and a great cause ...

youngsters showing a bit more flexibility than the old bloke!

youngsters showing a bit more flexibility than the old bloke!


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Just a quick post for those of you that I haven't managed to contact regarding a race that I'm competing in - Comrades in South Africa.

It is one of the world's most famous ultra-marathons, and along with the enormous challenge of trying to complete the event, I'm also raising funds for my favourite charity Medecins Sans Frontieres.

More information on the race, including my training, can be found at:
http://comrades2013.travellerspoint.com/

If you would like to go straight to the donation page, please click here:
https://give.everydayhero.com/au/dan-happell

Many thanks, and all the best,

Dan
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Posted by happellfamily12 13:38 Archived in South Africa Tagged marathon durban ultra pietermaritzburg comrades Comments (0)

Quattro Citta, Tre Paesi in Quattro Giorni

Venice, Vienna, Bratislava (Slovakia), and Bergamo

sunny 27 °C

It's not a bad life when you can have dinner in Venice, arrive in Vienna for breakfast, have lunch in Bratislava and finish off with dinner in Bergamo. This was how we spent our recent long weekend (yes, the school does have never-ending holidays).

The kids had been desperate to catch an overnight train; so after undertaking some financial investigation Dan discovered that the cheapest overnight train was from Venice to Vienna (the added plus was that it was operated by OBB Austria, not the locals!). Departing after school on Wednesday, we just made the Bologna/Venice train - fortunately arriving at 6pm. The weather was beautiful, and a far cry from the last time we were here with the grannies ('acqua alta' and 6 degree temperatures). A walk through the streets, pizza, beer for me (Dan not drinking due to training - such dedication) and a few photos later and we were ready to board the overnight train.

Venice

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The kids were giddy with excitement and we soon settled into our little carriage. The beds were narrow and Dan and I were assigned to the top bunks - sleeping in missionary position was a must as one small roll could see one dropping over the edge. The children certainly slept better then us, but it was still a fun experience and waking up to breakfast in Vienna was great fun.

Overnight Train
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Our accommodation was not available until 2pm, so leaving our bags we filled in the time with a morning coffee, a play in a local park, and walks through Vienna's pristine and beautiful streets (with the song 'Vienna' buzzing in our heads - see below). A visit to the Prater (amusement park) for rides and an excellent Wiener Schnitzel. A little rest after lunch, a clean-up and some free time for Dan, and we were then ready to search out a place for dinner (ending up in the charming pedestrian-only Spittelberggasse).

Vienna Day 1 - Amusement Park, Gardens & Dinner

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Feeling well-rested the following morning, we ventured out to see the Spanish horses undertake training in the Hofburg Palace. The Spanish Riding School is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses. The school puts on performances in classical dressage. However these performances are very expensive and booked out months in advance, so seeing the training is a cheaper option at 50 euro for the family. Overall this was a disappointing experience (no photos allowed) - even though we were in a beautiful arena the horses just trotted around and around, and the most exciting part for the kids was when the horse did a poo. Not sure if we had a dud day or dud horses. Refuelling with coffee and a biscuit we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and tranquility in the nearby Volksgarten.

Vienna Day 2 - Gardens and Hofburg Palace

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We then boarded the local underground for a trip to the Schönbrunn Palace. This palace was the Habsburg dynasty's summer residence and the Hofburg palace was their principal winter residence. This palace is also surrounded by magnificent gardens, and contains the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Vienna Zoo) - one of the oldest zoos in the world - and it is here where we spent lunch and the afternoon. One of the highlights was definitely the seal show, where one of the (biggest) sea lions leaps into the air to grab the fish, and splashes down wetting all the unsuspecting tourists below. Some of the children thought this was terrific fun as they were drenched in fishy water; a lovely cool shower on a 27 degree day. Dinner again alfresco, with a refreshing beer for me and lemonade for Dan.

Tiergarten Schönbrunn

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Our time in Vienna ended too quickly, and we certainly could have had a few more days here to cover off many of the fabulous attractions. We completed the morning with a coffee and beautiful apple pastries before catching a train for Bratislava (still singing Oh Vienna). Our time in Bratislava was short but sweet, and lunch was the first port of call (spicy chicken, beef goulash, chicken schnitzel) in a beautiful street next to St Michael's Gate. After lunch we walked the streets of the old town, saw the magnificent Danube River, and climbed the hill to the Castle of Bratislava. Finishing our tour at the brand new Bratislava airport for our last (fortunately) Ryanair flight to Bergamo.

Bratislava

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Bergamo for dinner and a half-day of exploration the following day. The weather was certainly cooler and rain dampened our spirits a bit. However, what a beautiful town. The town has two parts - citta bassa (lower town) and citta alta (upper town). The citta alta is the old town and you can reach the top by taking a Funicular which rattles up the rocky face. After exploring the town - which incorporates medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture - we enjoyed a traditional dinner of mixed meats (rabbit, chicken, pork) and polenta. On Sunday we spent half a day once again exploring the old town, coffee and brioches, Piazza Vecchia, climbed the Torre del Campanone, and finally La Rocca (an old fortress with excellent views of the town). Topping off the day with a slice of Pizza we trundled back to catch the train home to Bologna.

All in all a fantastic quattro giorni.

Bergamo

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Posted by happellfamily12 01:36 Archived in Austria Tagged venice vienna bergamo bratislava. Comments (0)

Pascua en Mallorca

Rafa's refuge and Skase's last stand

sunny 20 °C

Taking the punt that Easter would bring some better weather - at least to more southern climes - we booked a week on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Lisa suggested that perhaps we could party on with the young 'uns at neighbouring Ibiza, but I knocked that one on the head after she took three days to recover from a 40th birthday party in London!

A straightforward Ryanair flight (100 mins give or take) plonked us down at Palma de Mallorca Airport, and when we emerged from gate 87 (of 99), it reinforced just how significant tourism is to this Balearic island. As a comparison, Bologna Airport - servicing a population of 400,000 - only has 19 boarding gates. Anyway, expat taxi driver Adrian shuttled us across to the east coast of the island (55 kms), and dropped us at our resort Club Pollentia. It turned out to be a really nice, well-run establishment with excellent staff, and predominantly German and British guests. It has also gained a positive reputation amongst the (amateur) cycling fraternity, so every morning after breakfast there was a sea of lycra out the front as group after group of pretty fit 25-55 year olds set off for some serious peddling (this was slightly disconcerting as we headed back to the breakfast buffet for our second serve of pancakes).

LPH out the front of Club Pollentia (sporting the new haircut)

LPH out the front of Club Pollentia (sporting the new haircut)


the common sight of (pretty fit) cyclists whizzing past the resort - Port de Pollenca in the background

the common sight of (pretty fit) cyclists whizzing past the resort - Port de Pollenca in the background

The resort had a lovely pool out the back (that was freezing), but thankfully also a spa pool which was heated that the kids loved. It was here that we met a family from Northern Ireland who turned out to be good fun, and all five girls got on famously. They were travelling on the 'all inclusive' package, so Anthony kindly shouted drinks on a couple of days from 11:30am onwards!

pool party - clockwise: Nat, Megan, Gabi, Mir (Anna out of picture)

pool party - clockwise: Nat, Megan, Gabi, Mir (Anna out of picture)


Mir and Gabi became good mates

Mir and Gabi became good mates


Irish eyes are smiling! Anthony and Ann were entertaining company

Irish eyes are smiling! Anthony and Ann were entertaining company

Club Pollentia was located a few kilometres from Port de Pollenca (to the west) and Alcudia (to the east). We ventured into Port de Pollenca one evening for a stroll and dinner, and enjoyed the laid-back vibe. An Englishwoman at the resort mentioned that (Sir) Bradley Wiggins has an apartment in town, and uses it as a training base; seems to be an effective strategy with victory in last year's Tour De France. The conversation was interesting because it transpired that she had won a silver medal behind Kathy Watt at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.

Port de Pollenca ... pre-dinner play

Port de Pollenca ... pre-dinner play


Port de Pollenca ... La Balada del Agua del Mar - a mouthful but worth tracking down

Port de Pollenca ... La Balada del Agua del Mar - a mouthful but worth tracking down

We had all planned to make a day trip to the capital Palma de Mallorca, but Gabi was a bit off-colour, so Nat and I jumped on the local bus and headed back west to take a peek. Outside of the centre Palma is a bit of a sprawling mess - a great shame given the lovely bay - but the centro has plenty of treats including the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma. After a couple of hours spent wandering and having lunch, we then caught another bus just out of town to see the Palma Aquarium, then reversed the journey to arrive back at the resort in time for dinner.

street theatre in Palma - this time the guitar playing puppet

street theatre in Palma - this time the guitar playing puppet


Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma

Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma


no seals in sight, so Nat was lucky to get Sammy face-painted

no seals in sight, so Nat was lucky to get Sammy face-painted


whoever coined the phrase 'toothy grin' was right on the money!

whoever coined the phrase 'toothy grin' was right on the money!


that glass thick enough Nat?

that glass thick enough Nat?


posted this for the delicious irony ... no doubt it is a thriving practice

posted this for the delicious irony ... no doubt it is a thriving practice

The last couple of days were relaxing affairs, with an evening visit to delightful Alcudia (as opposed to the soulless Port de Alcudia), and an afternoon spent at Cala de Sant Vicenc. CdSV - around 15 mins from Pollenca - is one of those beautiful little coves you occasionally stumble across in the Mediterranean, and subsequently dream of buying a seaside apartment and opening a gelateria or taverna ...

Plaza de la Constitucion in the Roman town of Alcudia

Plaza de la Constitucion in the Roman town of Alcudia


paella at last! Bistro 1909 didn't disappoint

paella at last! Bistro 1909 didn't disappoint


Cala de Sant Vicenc ... slice of aquatic heaven

Cala de Sant Vicenc ... slice of aquatic heaven


Lisa Penelope with sun and caffe = contentment

Lisa Penelope with sun and caffe = contentment


little wonder Rafa Nadal still calls Mallorca home

little wonder Rafa Nadal still calls Mallorca home

Whilst under no illusion that Mallorca would be as feral as any other popular Mediterranean coastal destination in July and August, it was lovely to experience it at a quieter time with some pleasant weather to boot.
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Posted by happellfamily12 04:11 Archived in Spain Tagged mallorca palma balearic pollenca alcudia Comments (0)

Touring Torino

PIEMONTE'S PRIDE & JOY

all seasons in one day 12 °C

A weekend in Turin. Why? I can hear you ask. Industrial, congested, characterless, accurately lampooned in "The Italian Job" (the original movie that is). Right? Nope, wrong. Since the 2006 Winter Olympics, and more recently the 150th anniversary of Italia's unification in 2011, Turin, or Torino, has had a successful facelift, and is now a bella citta well worth a visit.

Whisking the kids out of school a bit early on Friday afternoon, we rushed to catch our favoured Italotreno, which got us there in a tick over 2 hours - pretty good for a 334 kilometre trip including two stops in Milano. Our hotel accommodation was right near Porta Susa station (a spanking new station gradually replacing Porta Nuova), so the sometimes precarious initial transfer in a new city was easy on this occasion. Unpacked the bags, and then a stroll into the centro for dinner. We (I) somehow conspired to muck-up the directions to the recommended pizzeria, but we ended up at another place in town which was pumping with locals, and served up some decent Napoli-style pizza.

Piazza San Carlo - the ever popular bubble man (tucked away on the left)

Piazza San Carlo - the ever popular bubble man (tucked away on the left)


Piazza San Carlo - Nat got the nod to trial the latest bubble gadget!

Piazza San Carlo - Nat got the nod to trial the latest bubble gadget!


the girls had a crack at the fencing exhibit (Italy has a strong tradition in this Olympic sport)

the girls had a crack at the fencing exhibit (Italy has a strong tradition in this Olympic sport)

Saturday was a beautiful day weatherwise, and we took full advantage with a lot of walking and general sightseeing. Cappuccini and to-die-for pastries in the gorgeous Caffe Mulassano was the right start, and this fortified us for the fascinating, and extensive Museo Egizio - an amazing collection of Egyptian treasures unrivalled outside of Cairo so they say. After an unusual lunch of toasted waffles with prosciutto and cream cheese (a northern Piemonte specialty), we had a peek at Palazzo Reale and the Galleria Sabauda, which houses art collected by the Savoys; Torino's most historically important family. It was then down to the Po River via Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of many incredibly impressive piazzas in this city. We eventually ended up in the sprawling Parco del Valentino, where the kids enjoyed a well deserved play.

Museo Egizio - impressive from go to whoa

Museo Egizio - impressive from go to whoa


Museo Egizio - a light of other days?

Museo Egizio - a light of other days?


Museo Egizio - these three characters look strangely familiar ...

Museo Egizio - these three characters look strangely familiar ...


Why Pepino? Allegedly the first place (in 1937) to think of dipping ice cream on a stick into chocolate!

Why Pepino? Allegedly the first place (in 1937) to think of dipping ice cream on a stick into chocolate!

Sunday was (almost literally) the polar opposite on the weather front, so we scaled back our plans and decided to cover just two major sites. Mole Antonelliana is Turin's most recognisable symbol, and extends 85 metres up - a journey that can be covered in a groovy glass lift that goes right up the middle of the building. An even bigger highlight however was the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, which is located inside the tower. It gives you a comprehensive yet fun look into the history of cinema, and is very cleverly pieced together.

Mole Antonelliana - bit hard to get a proper perspective, but that is the lift ascending to the rooftop

Mole Antonelliana - bit hard to get a proper perspective, but that is the lift ascending to the rooftop


Museo Nz del Cinema - ignore the hammy acting for a minute, and you might recognise some Alien props

Museo Nz del Cinema - ignore the hammy acting for a minute, and you might recognise some Alien props


Museo Nz del Cinema - a scary enough prop from an Italian sci fi flick I forget ...

Museo Nz del Cinema - a scary enough prop from an Italian sci fi flick I forget ...

We then scurried off to find a metro station as the weather deteriorated, and after a few twists & turns, ended up at the extensive Eataly supermarket. The slow food movement was started in Piemonte by some journalists that were dismayed by the encroachment of fast food into the Italian lifestyle. It didn't take long to gather momentum, and is now a very strong force for the promotion of locally grown produce, slow cooking, and slow eating! Eataly is a Turin supermarket that is closely affiliated with the movement, and supports local growers. It was an interesting place to visit - full of locals, and stacked to the gunnels with great produce. We had some enjoyable pasta for lunch, and then headed back to the hotel to pack for the train.

Eataly - dreary suburb on a dreary day, but worth the trip

Eataly - dreary suburb on a dreary day, but worth the trip


Eataly - the regulation photo of the regulation glowing pomodori!

Eataly - the regulation photo of the regulation glowing pomodori!


Eataly - gelati ... the third national passion after football and religion

Eataly - gelati ... the third national passion after football and religion


Nat earns the final say by somehow managing to look larger than a car (fiat cinquecento?)

Nat earns the final say by somehow managing to look larger than a car (fiat cinquecento?)

We all had a lovely couple of days in Torino, and Lisa and I thought it compared favourably with Bologna as a destination for people who might want to live in a non-touristic, but beautiful and significant city in Italy. And I didn't even get around to mentioning Juventus ...!
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Posted by happellfamily12 15:49 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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