Monday, February 13, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 1.5

Where did we leave off? Oh, that's right. I had survived my first RyanAir flight without having to pay any "fecking fees" and was on my way to Milan, Italy...
If you're just joining the party, I recommend reading the previous entry first :)

Milano! (December 5th-7th 2012)

By the time I landed and took the bus from Bergamo (location of RyanAir's "Milan" airport) and found my slightly-more-expensive-but-DEFinitely-worth-it hostel called Ostello Bello, it was already dark, and I was late for dinner with a fellow auxiliar friend who happened to have similar puente plans (She also has an amazing blog and talks about a lot of the same places I went on my trip here).
The Duomo at my first night in Milan
Afterwards, I returned to the hostel and made a few new friends at the bar (yes, the hostel had a bar)... two guys (one from Brazil, the other from Seattle) who had met each other earlier that night and were burning the midnight oil like myself. In the midst of (quite a few) drinks-- including my first glass of grappa-- the three of us decided to spend the following day touring the city together.

The next day, however, before touring, I had to keep my 9:30am appointment with Signore da Vinci and his Last Supper. It was somewhat saddening to find out how poorly it was treated throughout history... and sometimes even intentionally... but through dirt, flooding and bombings, an echo of what da Vinci originally painted remains, and it is truly breathtaking. No pictures were allowed, but here's a better image than the one previously posted:
Note at the bottom how someone decided "Hey! Let's put a door here." :(
Regardless, it's still amazing. [source]

With that done, Seattle, Brazil and I hit the beautiful streets of Milan! 
No idea why Elvis was there, but it was an excuse for a jumping sequence, and a great way to kick off the day. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Long Lost Puente: Part 1

Once upon a time, in the lesser-known land of Calahorra, there was a puente in honor of Saint Nicholas. And on this puente, the wandering teaching assistant Cate was graced with almost a fortnight of completely uninterrupted holiday time. As if this weren't luck enough, Cate's birthday happened to fall right in the middle of it all. Excited at the prospect of such glorious free time, she made her plans, bought some plane tickets, and then, was off on her grand birthday adventure! This is the story of the first part of her journey.

Parli italiano? Zaragoza, or Getting to Italy (December 5, 2011)

In a word, no... but that didn't stop me from trying in my first destination. Where did I go? To the fashion mecca of Italia: Milan! Or as the Italian call it, Milano! Before I get to Milano though, I need to tell you how I got there.

Enter the biggest city in Aragón and 5th biggest city in Spain: Zaragoza! 
La Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Zaragoza, España
Zaragoza also happens to be the closest city to Logroño (about 1.5-2 hours by bus) with a functional airport (I say functional because technically, Logroño has an airport... that I've never heard of being used). Anyway, most importantly, Zaragoza is a hub for RyanAir, that infamous but oh-so-cheap discount European airline. 

At 9:00 am, I caught the bus to Zaragoza-- literally... I kind of mistakenly thought my ticket was for 9:30. Thank God I was up early and happened to glance at it in time. Phew! Anyway, my flight out wasn't until after 4 in the afternoon, but I hadn't been there before, so I thought I'd allow some time to get my bearings and walk around a bit. After arriving, I headed for the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, "the second most-visited pilgrimage destination in Spain," and lo and behold, I discovered a festival, complete with wise men, a Christmas market, and CAMELS!
Say hello to my camel friend! (Thank you, kind lady who took this for me!)
Also, see the baby behind mama camel?