Friday, March 4, 2011

Been a While!!

First of all I want to say that I do know that it has been a long time since I have posted. It is not because I no longer feel the need to or have suddenly changed my mind about having a blog, it is because I realized that here I am, in Italy, on a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life, haveing experiences that I will never again have, and instead of sitting and obbsessivly writing about them, I may as well let them wash over me, go out and enjoy, not sit at my computer all evening writing a post every day. I will try to make the posts a  little bit more frequent than they have been, but It is only because I am haveing such an amazing adventure that I am not writing about it as much as I was.

Anyways, back to what you came here to read, about my adventures in the land of the italians.

Since my last post, much has changed, I am no longer in lovely Pescia, nor even the great region of Toscana any more. In fact, I have left the italian main land all together and taken a 10 hour ferry ride to the island of Sardegna.

That was just a teaser though, as I am going to start where I left off last time, in Pescia, pruning trees, creating waterworks, exploring Toscana.

Spring starts in tuscany way before it does back home. In fact back home it is still snowing on occasion, and the flowers wont even think about coming to see the light of day for at least another month.

Not so here. From when I arrived in the middle of January, the daffodills were just bursting to bloom, and a week or two later they did. By the time I left, they were in full bloom everywhere, with crocuses, lillies, and all sorts of wonderful other pretty things mixed in. On the other sided of the valley, where the sun falls in the morning, the cherry trees are in full flower.

I was really getting down to business in the pruning department, pruning between 20 and 30 trees a day. The last few weeks there, I spent pruning, with a few little odd jobs thrown in here and there.

One of the weekends, Simon and I decided to go to Pisa, as it was only an hour or so away.

I have heard from various people that Pisa is kinda boring, and that there is not much to see. Well, I would say that I would have to agree. I mean it was raining a little, and a bit chilly, but still, all that there really was is this tower they didnt plan out very well, and the big cathedral next to it. The cathedral was really cool looking, all white.

Here are some pictures of the tower.

What I actually found more interesting was looking at all the people doing exactly the same pose, holding up the tower.

I also really liked the grass that surrounds the whole area, It is probably the largest area of manicured grass I have seen in europe so far. It was awesome grass, very long and dense, but still beautifully green.

After looking at the tower for a few minutes we went and had some pizza.

Walking back to the station, we passed the river for the second time, and I thought that it looked almost surreal with the weather of that day.

Back to Pescia.

One bright sunny day, I wandered right up to the very top terrace, and climbed the tallest tree. Here are the results of that expedition, looking out across and down the valley.

On my way down I stopped to take a few shots of the terraces, just because it was a nice day.

I continued walking down to where I had done my water project earlier in my stay, now in full functional mode.

Here it its with water crossing over the aquaduct bridge thing.

And here is the result a few hundred feet away and down.

Right next to the bottom where it fills up a barrel is the greenhouse.

Some other random things I wanted to share are these, home made olive oil, and spicy olive oil, potatoes sleeping on a bed, and a funny sign on someones driveway.

The last weekend before I left, it was Simons birthday. We lit up a couple of fires, one in a firepit just outside the house, and the other in the pizza oven. The pizza oven get so hot it is incredible. You stuff it full of brush, and then light it, keeping it stuffed full for about a half hour, then you let it burn down to embers. It is crazy hot. The bricks glow red hot, and your arm hair singes if you put it within about 3 feet of the opening.

Here are some pictures of the raging inferno beforehand, and the glowing embers a little later.

Once the embers have burnt down to the right temperature, you sweep them all to one side, and then stick the pizzas in on the other side. The first lot cooked in about 5 minutes each, and the second took about 15 minutes.

It was awesome.

The next weekend it was finally time to leave this lovely place, and as much as I wanted to stay, it was time for me to go and experience life in another part of the country.

At this time, I want to thank Sue and Chris and the boys for a wonderful wonderful stay. I enjoyed my time so much.

Thank you.

Here is their website that has some more pictures on it of different times of year.

I left Pescia the same way I arrived, from the train station. This time however, instead of  heading back towards Firenze, inland, I was heading towards Pisa, and the sea. I got on the train at about 2 in the afternoon on saturday, and popped of a short trip to Lucca, then a transfer there to Pisa, and finally, a transfer in Pisa Centrale to Livorno. I arrived sometime around 3.30 in the afternoon to the port city.

The train station is a fair ways frm the port however, but, since I had until 9 that night to find the ferry terminal, I headed of on foot. I got to the port about an hour later.

I didnt take many pictures in the port, as my camera was all out of batteries. I ended up walking about 7.5 km up one way, then all the way back around another way before I finally found the terminal.

It is much different than the terminals I am used to back in Canada, but eventually I managed to find my way in, get a ticket and get settled in to wait. I did pop over and take a picture of the ferry that would be taking me through the night and across the sea to Sardegna beforehand though.

Moby Wonder, a huge cruise ferry, decorated inside and out, as with all the Moby Line ships with the Looney Toones characters.

Eventually the time came to board, and eventually to leave the port.

Here we are leaving the port at just aftern 9pm.

The port of Livorno is quite squishy for large ferries, and there were a lot of S turns before getting underway in a proper sense, and leaving our pilot boat behind.

I stayed out on deck until all I could see of Livorno was the lighthouse blinking away.

Everthing else was dark.

I spent a while just wandering around the ship, but eventually settled down in a corridor near the front. The ship was nearly empty as this time of year there are few tourist making the crossing.

On the ferry, if you do not have a cabin, you just pick a spot and spread out, and go to sleep.

I set up my sleeping mat and sleeping bag and at around midnight drifted off for a refreshing 4 hour nap.

I woke up early and watched some "The Good Life" on my computer, then had a coffee and a brioche, and walked around a little more. Pretty soon it was starting to get light out, and I headed out to the top deck.

Other people were starting to filter up, mainly for a smoke it seemed, but as the coastline appeared I snapped this very grainy first look at Sardegna.

After a bit of a dance with another ferry that was just arriving, we slipped into the port through the very narrow entrance channel to Olbia, and eventually arrived at the dock.

We tied up, then got off.

I asked if there were any busses headed to the station, but they were not leaving for another 15 minutes, and as I had a train to catch, I headed off on foot.

Walking away, I snapped this picture of Moby Wonder.

The port of Olbia is stuck way out on the end of a causeway in the bay, waaay out.

I made it to the end about 2 km away, and quickly found the station, bought a ticket, hear the conductor whistle last call, ran madly across the tracks and jumped on just as the doors were closing.

Much more exiting than calmly arriving on the bus that pulled up just as we were leaving.

The train was a small one, almost empty on a sunday morning, and I found the conducter as I had not validated my ticket. She stamped it and I settled in for another 2ish hour journey.

The landscape of Sardegna is unlike any I have ever seen. If I were to try and describe it, it would be like the afican savanah, mixed with the scottish highlands, with a little bit of southern tuscany thrown in just to be different.

Here are some really bad photos taken out of the train window as we were whizzing along.

As the island of sardegna is not nearly as densly poputalted as the mainland, the train system is not nearly as developed. There are only a few main lines that run up and down the island, so I got off in Macomer, the closest station to my destination, Bosa.

As it was sunday, there were not very many busses, so I waited until about noon in the bus station.

Finally the bus came, and it was time to take the 30 some odd kilometer journey to the sea.

The bus went up out of the valley that Macomer is located in, onto a very flat rocky plain. The number of man hours that have gone into building stone walls is just phenomenal, they run on for kilometer after kilometer.

Eventually, the bus with only 3 passengers started the descent into Bosa, and I was treated to my first view of this idylic looking town.

As it turns out, the place I am staying is right near that spot on the road so I walked up there, and took a photo of the scene.

I am once again living in an olive grove with a lovely english family.

My home for my stay here is a lovely litte caravan set up in the grove. The landscape around here, and the plants are so different, lots of cactus and all sorts of flowers that I have never seen before.

I have been helping with all sorts of things like painting in the studio downtown, and moving out of another house.

Here are some pictures from just walking around this evening.

Today was a crazy day. It was the beginning of carnivale, a crazy celebration whos tradition runs deep in this town.

Everyone dresses up, everyone, young and old, and takes place in a parade that winds its way around the town.

There are flags up everywhere, and singing danceing, loud music. The floats are aweseome, and the whole atmosphere is just brilliant.

Here are some assorted pictures of the first event of carnival.

All in all, I am having an amazing time.

This island is so different from the rest of italy that I have seen so far. It reminds me a lot of mexico in fact.

It is amazing, and I will be sad when I have to leave when that time comes.

I will try to make my posts a little more frequent than what I have been doing, but no promises!