Verona, 22 till 23 June 2005
Verona greeted me with bustling cars and lively streets. Totally ignorant of Italy's system concerning bus fares I jumped onto the bus and got out a couple of coins to pay for a ticket. The bus driver explained with his few words of English, that I should have bought that at a tobacco shop. Nevertheless he kindly waved me to sit down and dropped me off at the nearest station to the youth hostel. I was really grateful for this kindness.
The youth hostel was a little walk uphill. Situated in a quiet area it was a ut was put up in a former palazzo with a huge garden overlooking the old town below. I got a bunk in the large but very basic women's dorm. A group of Southern German ladies entered shortly after I had chosen my space. They were in town for same reason as I: watching Verdi's "Aida" at the Arena di Verona.
As I arrived just in time dinner I set down in the dining hall. I introducing myself to the people at my table and took a bite of my spaghetties. The conversation was lively. An Asian woman my age had bought a ticket for the Verona Festival for the next day too and we decided to spend the next day together. In the evening I explored Verona's old town. Of course I had to see Guiliettas house. Thousands of letters were pinned with gum onto the walls of the patio. People crowded to take their photos at Guiliettas statue. The museum inside was comperatively empty. I continued to Guilietta's grave, buying delicious Italian ice-cream on my way. I passed the Arena in the town center and after having been at the obligatory sights I simply strolled through the side streets and alleys to enjoy the atmosphere. I ended up in a tavern enjoying a glass of whine on their balcony. Watching Adige River leasurly flowing by I felt ages away from everyday's life in Germany. Hard to believe I had only arrived the day before. I ordered another glass. Mosquitoes were dancing around my ears, but I couldn't be bothered on this mild evening. I was at peace with the world around me.
Next morning I met my companion for the day at the breakfast table.
We were early as we planned to go to the Lago di Garda for the day. We cought a long distance bus downtown and went to Malcesine at the north east end of the lake. Our first action was find a café at the lake front to sip some capucchino while watching the water and the people strolling along the promenade. Then we got up and strolled through the little town, exploring shop windows and postcard racks. An ice-cream parlour caught our interest. A moment later we opened the door and entered. Oh my God, why does Italian gelato always look so tempting? My mouth was watering within seconds after my eyes had spotted watermelon among the assorted ice-creams. The shop owner increased the effect by describing how she was going to the market herself and only buying melons and fruits that had a truly ripe smell. She would never take anything to which her nose had said no. Each of us took three sorts because we simply had to try them out.
Being well equipped with the most delicious treat in the world, we headed for cable car to Monte Baldo. As we were not equipped for a mountain tour and furthermore had to be back in Verona in time for the opera, we took the easy way up the mountain. The peaks of Monte Baldo are more than 2000 metres high. No trees block the view across the Garda Lake and up there I got my first real impression of the Italian Alpes. Up at that hight we could enjoy the bright sunshine without withering away in the midday heat. We did not do much walking though a couple of trails were winding their way from the cable car station into the distance. After we had gone to all the view points, we simply set down in the grass. It was wonderful to do nothing.
After an hour we returned to Malcesine. I stopped at a bakery to buy a Dulce for way back, but I have to admit that stuff was simply to dry and sweet for my taste.
In the early evening we arrived in Verona. There was still enough time to stop for some Pizza, but afterwards we headed straight for the Arena. We had unumbered seats on the stone steps in two different sections. Yet the ticket inspectors were kind and let us go into the same section.
We searched a place high up as there is more air circulation. Then we digged our pillows out of our back packs and watched an endless stream of people starting to fill the auditorium. Two hours were left till the opera should start, but we didn't get bored. There was so much to see. We admired the breathtaking stage, the architecture, the hustle and bustle of human beings, the vendors selling ice-cream, pillows, beverages. Meanwhile the sun lowered and we could admire a gorgeous sunset from our "eagle nest". Night fell in and a full moon rose above the stage. Half an hour before the opera should start the audience with numbered seats at the arena's bottom started to appear. The the first tones of the overture rose to the sky and hushed the voices. A night at the Verona Festival is unforgettable.
The following day I had to return to Venice. The train staff was on strike. However a reduced number of trains should be going, so I took the first that should go in the morning. I was positively surprised that it was leaving punctually to the changed "strike time-table", which provided me with another half day in Venice. I decided to take boat trip to Burano Island and that proved to be a splendid choice for the village on the island is a place where houses are painted in bright happy colours that make your soul laugh. Shops were selling postcards and lace clothes. I had always found lace old fashioned till I went through these shops. Skirts and dresses beautifully dyeed and adorned with elaborate lace work stirred a longing I never had for clothes before. A feeling of wanting to have one of them just to be able to open my cupboard and have a look at the beauty. I am hardly ever wearing skirts so in the end common sense won the better of me, but still....there is nothing wrong with dreaming.
After much too short time I had to catch the ferry boat back to Venice to get to the airport in time. At that time I was still blissfully unaware that I would be boarding the worst flight I have had up to now. The way across the Alps was spiced with a thunderstorm and air holes. But that was just the appetizer. A storm was building up in Hamburg. We were the last plane alowed to land that afternoon. The air holes during the landing were so bad that I was more than one time lifted a couple of centimetres from my seat. It was like a roller coaster ride. When we finally touched the ground the plane rolled on with high speed. The pilot but managed to stop the plane on the last metres of the airfield. I still wonder that I had not been sick. Probably I was so concentrated on keeping a tight grip of the arm rests that I had no time to think of anything else. But you might bet that I was relieved when I finally entered the terminal and even more happy when I found my aunt, uncle and sister waiting at the exit to pick me up. That was a sweet surprise. The teatime we had afterwards did a good job to calm my nerves.