Trip to Italy: Days 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

I never know what or how to write when I open up the New Post page here on this blog...but I guess I'll take a go at it again and start a trip report.

Before I get too far into it, I'll provide a quick summary for the ones with a short attention span. ;)

-Hailey did very well on the flights
-Italy is awesome and their train system works very well
-I stink at picking up new languages
-Pete wants me to schedule an appointment for ME when I call to schedule Hailey's hearing exam
-Hailey poops nice little round balls...convenient for reducing the amount of diaper changes
-Old things don't seem as impressive once you've seen 100's of their kind
-Two twin beds shoved together to make one bed makes lots of sense, the middle line is already defined!
-Babies are a rarity in Italy - or maybe the Italians just don't go outside with their babies? We only saw a couple Italian babies the entire time we were there, the rest were tourist babies
-Ergo baby for the win
-I wrote down everything we ate for the first 8 days...then it all started to blend together and pizza and gelato was all too common
-We made up for the missed gelato days (2 of them in our 16 days) by eating gelato twice the following day
-Pete and I both managed to lose some weight during our trip
-Pete might fly away with the wind
-We walked about an average of 6 miles a day (all but in the Cinque Terre - where we got to relax and decompress before flying home)
-I packed quite a few cold weather items that were just a waste of space in our bag
-I ended up wearing the same tank top almost every single day of the trip and learned how not to pack for a trip to Italy with a breastfeeding baby

Okay, that's all I have for that little section. On with the meat!

I guess it makes sense to start with day 1. So here you go, I give you:

Day 1 - Milan/Varenna

Hailey was awesome on the long flight over to Amsterdam (then Milano). She barely made a peep. We tried to sleep, but mostly played. We left Seattle at 12:55pm on Sunday and arrived to Milan at 11am Monday. It was a long day. The Amsterdam airport was so cool and modern...it made us want to visit there again someday to see if Amsterdam is as cool as its airport made it seem.

We took an hour long bus ride from the airport to the train station and then got on an hour long train ride to get to Varenna on Lake Como. The place we were staying (a converted orphanage) was a long walk from the train station, but determined not to spend money on frivolous things, we decided to walk there with our bags. The views were amazing!
This was the view from our room. The bell tower on the right is in the town...the train station is on the other side of town. We had a relaxing evening. We ate really good pizza in town and then returned to our room to find a bird in our room. We had a relaxing evening - until 3:30am that is. Hailey woke up and screamed the loudest she ever has and we couldn't seem to find a way to quiet her. A half hour later we were feeding her some banana and I was downing m&m's and nuts that my mom had sent along with us (thanks mom!). It turned out Hailey just didn't want to sleep. We played for a bit and eventually got her back to sleep.

Day 2 - Varenna/Fiumelatte River/Bellagio

We fit quite a bit into our 2nd day abroad. After our wonderful breakfast (the best we had in Italy - including breads, spreads, cheese, yogurt and cappuccino) we headed out to hike to the Fiumelatte river (the shortest river in Italy). Before we left on the hike we rode the funicular to the top of the hotel and explored. Here's a pic from up top.On our way to the trail we stumbled upon a cemetery. I was overwhelmed at how elaborate everything there was. SO much money spent on grave sites!! The picture doesn't do it justice - it seems to lose all charm...but just trust me, if you go to Varenna you need to visit the cemetery and you will see what I'm talking about. During our cemetery visit Pete and I had an interesting (mostly funny) discussion about what to do with his body when he dies (not that I want to think about that!).
We hiked to the river. It wasn't that far, but it was in the town next to Varenna and we got there by hiking the beautiful hillside. I began to regret packing mostly black clothes as it was so hot.

The river seems to just come pouring out of the hillside.
After our hike we took a ferry to Bellagio. We window shopped. There was a really well dressed man who had 3 policia guarding him as he walked the streets...everyone seemed excited to see him. We had no idea who he was and of course couldn't understand anything people were saying, so Pete just snuck a picture while we were sitting on the bench in the middle of the commotion.
We headed back to Varenna and found a spot for dinner. If there's one tip we would pass on to others traveling with a 7 month old, it's "take Cheerios". This is how we got through meals. Hailey was entertained with her cheerio eating and Pete and I got to have laid back meals. Okay, we couldn't linger quite as long as the Italians do...and we had to ask for the bill more than a few times...but it was usually late and we were toting a baby around...so I think we did ok.
Something strange happened to me shortly before leaving to Italy. I craved red sauce. I had never liked red sauce before. Suddenly I wanted spaghetti and lasagna - it was weird. I embraced my new found love while in Italy and enjoyed my spicy olive tomato pasta concoction as seen above. Note: when I ordered I really thought I would be getting macaroni and cheese (I had seen the table near us eating their meal and their mac n cheese looked to die for). Kari loaned me a great little Italian menu deciphering book, but we forgot it at the hotel that night and I was on my own. Thankfully I love olives and my meal was a pleasant surprise.

Hailey again had a 3am screaming fit. Our poor neighbors...

Day 3 - Venice

We hopped on the train and headed back to Milan and then to Venice.
Okay, that wasn't our train...but it was a train that was in Venice when we arrived. It was very fancy - the waiters we saw on it were carrying trays (imagine silver platters and waiters in tuxedos - it was something like that - like a movie, but real - I didn't know people these days could be so sophisticated!).

We arrived in Venice at 5:10pm. We found our room (down an alley with no view). We headed out on our hunt for dinner. Rick Steve's says to get lost in Venice...so we did. We ended up at this restaurant and only later realized what an amazing meal and price we had (best value on our trip). It was well outside the tourist track.
I love wine. This was the night I had a lesson about breastfeeding and enjoying a 1/2 liter of wine with a meal. Or maybe it was a lesson about taking a baby to Italy. Or just a note for next time. Here it is. If you love wine and you go to Italy - it would be best not to be breastfeeding. Hailey didn't like the wine as much as I did (I'd read previously that less than 2% makes it to breastmilk, which is why I allowed myself to indulge a bit - and I wasn't planning on feeding Hailey any time soon). I had fed Hailey the evening 'big feed' right before our food was delivered. The big feed is the one she usually takes before going to sleep for her 12 hour sleep. Well, she didn't feel like going to sleep for long after dinner and I fed her a little sooner than I'd anticipated. She had fallen asleep on Pete as we sat enjoying our long Italian meal...but she woke up when we left and eventually I fed her a little bit. She spit up a little bit after eating (she doesn't normally spit up). It wasn't like she was barfing, you could just tell that maybe drinking more than one glass of wine hadn't been the best choice for my baby. That was the first and last of my 1/2 liter experience. It was also the only place we ran into that served a 1/2 liter of wine/person as a standard. I tried to be Italian for the night I suppose...Hailey just wasn't quite playing along.

On the walk back to our room we got even more lost. We're talking...lost. We walked and walked, made wrong turns, walked some more. Hailey started screaming. She wasn't hungry. I tried to feed her anyway. It didn't work. It wasn't until later in the trip that we figured out that she had been teething quite a bit (she was pulling her ears). But we didn't realize what was wrong with her at the time. So she screamed and we walked. Pete and I both tried to cuddle her and calm her...nothing worked. So we just walked and tried to find our way back to our room. Another note for next time - maybe getting lost after 10pm in Venice with a baby isn't the best idea. It was late, she was tired. We were lost. She was screaming. We were in what seemed to be the quietest area of Venice. She was screaming. We were laughing. Laughing at the whole situation. We couldn't get her to calm down. This trip was the first time we'd had to figure out how to deal with a *difficult* child. Hailey is usually pretty mild tempered, but she was mad. Her teeth hurt and she was not happy to be out wandering around lost in Venice and she was probably ticked off that her parents couldn't understand what was wrong with her. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that she had a cold at the start of our trip. So...she just wasn't in the best condition I suppose (runny nose and all).
Here's a random picture we took of something we stumbled upon during our wandering.

After an hour of walking we finally found our way to Saint Mark's square (around 11pm according to the time stamp on our pictures). Hailey had calmed down by then and we were able to stand around and look at stuff (this was my first glimpse of tourist stuff in Venice). We listened to the wonderful bands playing and then easily found our room (just a few streets away from St. Mark's (in the non-tourist area) and had a decent night of sleep.

Day 4 - Venice

Not much noteworthy on this day. Hailey was drooling and snotting quite a bit...it all seemed to blend together on her face.
While the first time walk to our room had seemed quite boring and bland the evening before, we discovered that our room was right next to this bridge.
We walked and walked.
We were out all day. Walking, seeing, breathing, eating, seeing, walking.

Day 5 - Venice

We slept in until 10am and after Hailey got done with her Ray Charles impression, we finally left the room at noon.
This was our sightseeing day. We went to St. Mark's, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto, Accademia, La Salute church, and the Correr Museum. We got lost in Venice a few more times on this day. My overall impression is that Venice is quite dirty. It's packed with tourists and it wasn't half as romantic as I'd always imagined. Day 5 was the day I'd decided that everyone in Venice smokes - but now having been everywhere else we went, I've decided that most people in Italy smoke and it wasn't something to hold against Venice.
Next post: Florence & Siena