I could have drawn this out, city post by city post, but instead here is a big ole mash up of the travels we took the past couple of months. We always knew that the best part of living in Italy, besides actually living in Italy, would be being so close to the rest of Europe. Indeed, that is why we wanted to live in Europe. So it was pretty cool to have the families come stay and then get to jump countries with them to check out somewhere new.
I got to travel more than a little extra than Matt, win one for unemployment! But in total we/I got to go to: Budapest, Avignon, Gordes, Nice, Pompeii, Caserta, Cassino, Florence, Cinque Terre, Innsbruck, Fussen, Neuschwanstein Castle, Venice, Burano, Split, Dubrovnik, Mostar, Naples and Rome. Um, bragging much? Love you Europe!
A definite highlight was returning to Budapest (I’m going to do the unthinkable and claim this as my favourite city, and I’m too much of a terrible decision maker to ever pick favourites) and finally learning the official name of the ‘Hungarian puff pastry’ deliciousness sold at New Zealand festivals. Langos has to be one of the most delicious fried eats out there.
My sister and I also got to eat like Julia Roberts when we unintentionally hit up the pizzeria where one of the Eat, Pray, Love scenes was filmed. Best pizza. Even better was getting to queue jump the crowd of people outside by ordering our pizza to go, even if we did sit on a filthy curb to eat it. Also, doughnuts: who knew they were so good in Napoli?
I had a homesick for home moment in the war cemetery in Cassino. We found the New Zealand section just as a small group were starting a memorial at one of the graves. They started singing Te Aroha, the unexpectedness of it took me by surprise and nearly made me cry.
And another thinking of home moment – comparing the between-town walks we did in Cinque Terre where at narrow points we stopped to let people coming from the other direction pass and strategically overtook big groups person by person, with a much longer walk we did on Great Barrier Island, where we stayed this past New Years. Similar terrain, similar brilliant sea views, but on small, isolated Barrier the only other people we saw all day were our other group when met in the middle to exchange keys for the cars parked at either end.
So that was close to two months of family visits and holidays. Not a bad way to end our first Italian summer.