Friday, January 14, 2011


Trains. I love them, but sometimes they just take to long to get to where you want to go. I am sitting on my third train of the day right now, and I still have two more to take before I get to where I am going.

I left the house at 9 this morning, and I will not get to my new house in Tuscany until after 7 this evening.

After a wonderful time this christmas and new years, I am finally moving on to the next part of my trip.

I am now a volunteer.

For the next little while, I will be living with a family in Tuscany, and spending my time pruning olive trees. I am looking forward to it, and have actually hoped it would work out since before I left Canada.

But for right now I am on the train.

Before I get to much into talking about christmas, I would like to extend a warm thanks to all that have made my trip what it has been so far. Thank you so much for all you have done, and I hope to find a way to repay you in the future.

Ok, I want to take you back to christmas. The tree was up when we arrived back from Verona, and it had a few decorations on it already. It was not until the late evening of christmas eve, that it got decorated fully.

The way it works is this. The whole family pitches in, and all the real decorations come out. The tree is decorated in full, including real candles, gingerbread stars, and all sorts of other beautiful things.

After the tree is done, everyone exept the mom leaves for a walk. This takes about an hour, and in that time, Astrid has laid out all the presents, and some champagne, and lit all the candles on the tree.

Real candles on a christmas tree are really amazing.

After a song, sung all together, and a toast, it is present time. I am used to taking turns with one person opening a present at a time, but this christmas it was like a shark feeding frenzy, with paper a-flying, and everything.

Then there was dinner. It was truly amazing, with no less than four seperate drinking glasses at each place, all used for a different drink.

Many courses later, tummy stuffed, wine consumed, it was time to call it a night.

We have just left Verona. It is kinda gross out now. It was really nice most of the way here, but we went through a tunnel a while ago, and when we came out it was all cloudy and yicky.

Anyways, back to where I was.

The 25th is not a special day at all it seems, and nothing really special happened exept for more sumptous food.

New years was the next big event.

THere were a few cousins over, and after an afternoon of fun, and yet another truly astounding supper, we had to entertain ourselves until midnight.

We went sledding.

We went to this big gigantic pile of snow that the snow cats had made for the cross country skiiers, and first went down the part that is nice for the skiiers, but soon decided to go down the almost vertical sides.

It sounded like one of those ideas that sounds like a bad one, and then ends up even worse, but it actually worked out very well. The vertical drop, with a jump at the bottom was very fun, and only a little bit dangerous.

After returning to the house, and a short wait, it was time.

We all went outside, all with champagne, and waited for the countdown. It hit, and after clinking glasses and hugging everone, there were fireworks. They were pretty cool, but a minute later, a display started from the top of a nearby mountain that kinda dwarfed ours.

The craziest thing of the evening was this yelling we heard that sounded like it was coming from above. It turned out that it was. There was a guy who was in a paraglider circling around right at midnight. Kinda cool.

On the radio when we went inside was a waltz, and everyone grabbed somebody and waltzed in the new year. Very special.

I went to bed after a few hours, but the others went out to the bar down the road to continue the celebration.

A few days later, we went on our adventure to Firenze and Venezia.

I dont think I finished talking about Venice, but I think I will leave that for another day.

What I am not going to leave for another day is something that I saw yesterday. It was a hot air ballon festival.

Astrid and Poldi and two others went on a ride in the ballon. It wasnt just any ride either. They took of from Toblach - Dobbiaco, and headed over the alps towards, and in fact almost to Venice. They said it was truly amazing.

I was amazed just watching the balloons prepare, and leave. There were about ten I think, all lined up in a row.

When we arrived they were just pulling them off the trailers, and arranging the baskets.

Then they started testing the burners.

I watched and took pictures as their balloon was prepared. It was quite interesting.

After a long time of setting up the basket, it got tipped over so that the balloon could be attached and inflated.

First, there is a big fan that blows air into the balloon to fill it up. That takes a while, and during that time, there needs to be people holding a line that comes off the top of the balloon.

During this time, I got to go inside the ballon!

Very cool.

After it reaches the biggest it will get with the cold air, the burners are turned on, and the fan off. This is when it starts to get warm inside the balloon, and produce lift.

Eventually, it slowly tips up, and the passengers get in.

It takes quite a lot of time from this stage to heat the air up to the temperature it needs to be for the balloon to lift off, especially if it is a long trip with lots of weight.

Eventually thoug, the balloons started lifting off, and heading away with the wind.

I watched for a little longer, and took a few more pictures, before heading off to take the train back to the house.

I think it is getting grosser outside now if that is possible.

It is sad because after it stopped snowing this morning it was so nice.

Well I am going to stop typing now, as train seats really are not designed for it, and seem determined to make you remember that with every letter.

I am no longer sitting on the train, and I actually wrote that all yesterday, but thats ok.

Tuscany is amazing. I am living in a house built by the romans, on the side of a hill, with terraces filled by olive trees. It is amazing.

Will write more later.

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