Monday, June 25, 2012

Trieste, Italy

When we look back, we tend to forget the difficulties of travel and only remember the good parts.  Last week we had a long day as we traveled from Paris to Trieste.  The trip involved a shuttle to the airport, a flight to Venice, a bus ride to the train station, a train ride to Trieste, and finally another packed bus ride to the apartment we were staying.  Part of what made this so difficult was that our bags are very heavy since we didn't know when our household goods would arrive from Taiwan.  Though we had to lift those bags up four flights of stairs, we we're glad when we finally arrived at our destination.

It felt really good to be back in Italy.  On our first full day there we took a bus down to a nearby fishing village for a wonderful seafood lunch.  After walking around town for a while we were able to catch the ferry back to Trieste.  We then took a bus out to Castella Miramare passing by the throngs of Italian sun bathers.

For our next day we took in the surrounding countryside with it's distinctive karst rock formations.  On a hike along a road Napoleon had started we got wonderful views of the city and the sea.  After lunch we made our way to the world's largest tourist cave.  Called the Grotta Gigante it was so large and the temperature stayed so stable that they have place large pendulums to measure the movement of the Earth's crust.  That night we walked around town seeing the outside of the city's Roman castle and ruins, churches, and many twisting little streets.

On our last day in Trieste we went for drinks at the same cafe visited many times by James Joyce.  It was sad that we were going.  Partly because it meant we had to carry our heavy suitcases around again!  We had covered a lot of ground in and around Trieste, but I feel like we just scratched the surface.  Our schedule didn't provide us time to take a sailing course or eat locally-grown food at a family-run osmizza in the countryside.  We'll just have to save those for next time we're there.  We were on our way to Slovenia.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Taipei to Paris

I've come to accept over the years that travel and life away from home requires flexibility.  For instance, we had planned to stay an extra week in Kaohsiung to make sure we had plenty of time to pack, see friends, and relax.  Unfortunately, after much back and forth, the shipping company informed us that we had to have our boxes mostly packed by Monday and ready to be picked up on Wednesday.  That left us until Saturday when we left without our household goods.  An unusually wet week in Taiwan also meant that we spent much of that time inside.  At least we got to have a few more outings with friends.

It was great to finally get on the train and go to Taipei to start our trip.  On Sunday, with the rain finally letting up, we went out to Guandu to see a magnificent temple built on the side of a cliff.  It gave some great views of the city.  Even though the sun made it much hotter we went for a bike ride along the river as well.  We finished the day with a dinner of soup dumplings at Ding Tai Fung.  On Monday we made our way out to airport where we again had to be flexible.  Our bags were overweight at the counter so we had to move some stuff into our carry-on bags to meet the requirements.  Cramped in an airline seat for 12 hours required a different kind of flexibility.

Finally in Paris things started going smoothly again.  Arriving at 6:30 in the morning we were able to find the shuttle bus to our hotel and they let us check in without a problem.  After a delicious (though expensive) breakfast and a little nap we were ready to see Paris.  Having both been to Paris before we decided to get lunch at a cafe for some people watching and then take a walk along the river.  It was much cooler out than we were used to, and the diversity of people was fun to see.  After walking around for several hours and drinks at a bar for more people watching we decided to get some food at the store for dinner and breakfast the next day.  It was a long ride on the train back to our hotel as our fatigue caught up to us.  We waited in the wrong place for our shuttle bus forcing us to wait longer.  Then back at our hotel we had to deal with an urgent matter with our household goods shipment and also extra charges for our luggage on the next leg of our trip.

Tomorrow: Paris to Trieste - The difficulties of travel

Sunday, June 10, 2012

End of School Year

It has been a very busy past month as we've come to the end of the school year at KAS.  Erin has been doing a lot of grading and I have been preparing the IT office for next year's coordinator.  There have also been several heart-felt goodbyes and last moments.  These have included a birthday party at a place that specialized in shrimp, a strange commemoration for a teacher who has been teaching at KAS for 20 years, and breakfast and bowling today. 

It's certainly sad saying goodbye to many people.  We have worked with some exceptional people over the past two years and we will miss them.  At the same time we hope that we will see some of them again in the future.

For the next week we'll be packing and preparing to leave.  Moving is rarely fun, but we're going to try to experience a bit more of Taiwan this week as well.  We'll then spend two weeks in Europe before heading back to Colorado.  Expect to see more here soon.