Thursday, April 26, 2012

Venice on my mind . . .

Alright, here comes the second half of our adventures this weekend!

After our night in Bolzano, we woke up and wandered around the city until we found a cafe for breakfast. Cappucinos and chocolate brioche is the best way to start the day! After breakfast we hopped on a bus and headed toward the center of town. Before WWI, Bolzano was part of the Austro-Hungarian county of Tyrol, but was annexed by Italy at the end of the war. Because of this, the city has a very Austrian/German feel to it and many of its inhabitants speak German instead of Italian. We walked (Nate crutched) around the city for awhile, got some snacks for our train ride, got a bratwurst for lunch, and then headed to the train station to begin our journey to Venice!

Boys waiting for the bus

The Bolzano Cathedral

Me & the hubby

Jordan enjoying his bratwurst!

Eric & Nate - Nate really wanted to do the 'foot pop' for his picture

Our train ride from Bolzano to Venice was 4 hours. We stopped halfway through in Verona to trade trains. Nate was a serious champ during this entire weekend! The train stations have lots of stairs, and to get to the different 'terminals' for your train, you have to go up and down the many stairs. Needless to say, he was happy to just be able to sit for awhile on the train! Jordan and Nate had never been on a train before, so the entire ride they kept talking about how much fun it was and how much they loved it! Too cute! Here we are during the ride!

When we got to Venice . . . it was raining haha. No big deal though, we just picked up our bags and used Eric's GPS on his iphone to trek to our hostel! After being lost for quite some time, we finally found it! An unmarked door in a back alley . . . that's not shady at all! Turns out, it was actually quite nice inside, and we were the only four people staying there so the place was ours! After resting for a little bit, we decided to roam around the city and see what we could see! We took a water taxi and visited St. Mark's square, and then walked around a little bit more.

Eric had found a review of a restaurant online which was very close to our hostel so we decided to try and find it for dinner.  When we walked into the restaurant and asked them for a table for four, they replied with "It is impossible". Here in Italy, if someone can't do something, this is always their response which really cracks me up. Since we weren't going to be able to sit down, we stood at the bar and had wine and fried meat balls. Both were very delicious! When a table of people stood up to leave, Eric asked the owners of the restaurant again if we could sit at their table and this time they said yes! Guess it wasn't so impossible after all :) We enjoyed a nice little dinner and then decided it was time to head home! The next morning, Eric, Jordan, and I decided to go get breakfast at a local cafe while Nate took a nap . . . he said taking a shower had really tuckered him out so he needed to rest for a bit haha. After breakfast we picked up our things and Nate and trekked back to the train station in the rain. We snapped a few pics before we headed out!

I realize I'm doing 'the eyebrow thing', but it was raining pretty hard and i was trying to keep it out of my eye :)

Of course we couldn't leave Venice without a little bit of drama . . .
We purchased our train tickets and went to platform 9 to get on our train. We had great seats and nobody was on our train! We were so looking forward to our ride home because we thought we might get to spread out and have our train car all to ourselves! Until . . . Jordan noticed that the sign outside our train didn't have anything posted on it, and we grew weary of there not being another soul on our train. Eric went to check the board again while we picked up our bags and headed off the train. Turns out our train was two platforms over, and it was pulling out of the station as we all rounded the corner. Normally this would not be an issue, but since we had a plane to catch in Verona, we became a little worried. We ended up having to buy new tickets for the fast train (our old tickets counted toward our new ticket so they weren't that expensive), and arrived in Verona 20 minutes after our original train arrived. A $20 cab ride later and we were at the airport headed back home to our dear sweet Catania. We had so much fun and we are really excited for our next adventure this weekend! Jordan has a game in Regio Emilia and then I have a flag football tournament in Ferrara! Can't wait!

Missing Texas dearly,


Elephants vs. Giants

Hey y'all!
Long time no post! It's been an absolutely crazy week and a half for us! First and foremost, we accompanied our friend Nate to the hospital on Monday to find out that he stretched his LCL and completely tore his ACL. He's out for the season and he will have to have surgery to repair his ligaments. To say that he and all of us were upset is an understatement. The team has been great about everything for him  . . . a knee brace, crutches, cases of drinks, and most importantly, lots of love! Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers for Nate! We appreciate them and I know he does too!

Alright, on to the game! We woke up at 4:30 on Sunday morning, made breakfast and coffee, finished packing, skyped our parents quickly, and headed to the airport! Our flight left on time (a miracle!), and while I slept the entire plane ride, Jordan enjoyed his Steve Jobs book! Once at the airport, we all hopped on a bus and enjoyed a 3 hour bus ride from Venice up to Bolzano. Bolzano is the northernmost city in Italy so as you can imagine, the scenery, climate, and buildings are very different than what we see down in Catania! Unfortunately for us, it rained the entire bus trip, and even into the beginning of the game. It was also quite cold - we could see the snow capped mountains in the distance! So crazy! Luckily for us, it was still absolutely gorgeous! The stadium has a great field surface (astroturf), a scoreboard, and it's nestled at the foot of the mountains surrounding it!

Before the game started, the team huddled up, and when they broke, they chanted 'PISTOLERO' for Nate who was sitting in the stands with his torn ACL, watching the game with me. Many of the players also wrote the number 1 (Nate's number) on their tape or arms to let him know that they were playing for him - seriously sweet, and really a symbol of how wonderful the members of the elephants are!  The first half of the game was a bit of a struggle! Since everything was wet, it made it very difficult to catch/hold on to the ball. The elephants went into the locker room at halftime trailing the giants 13 - 19. I would like to note that the two touchdowns that were on the scoreboard at this time were scored by my hubby! He had an excellent first half :)
After halftime, the elephants came out with a vengeance and ended up winning by a touchdown! Jordan went on to score one more touchdown, and he also kicked off for the elephants in the second half. This game was not without it's drama, however. 7 members of the elephants were hurt during the course of the game . . . Dario - torn ACL, Christian- torn ACL, Claudio - concussion, Pepe - ankle, Ciba - shoulder, and Renalto & Cipolla (I can't remember exactly what happened to them . . . too many injuries!!) Whew . . . what a crazy game! I'm happy that Jordan and Eric made it out unscathed!

After the game, the four of us headed to a pizzeria right down the street to hang out with some of the Giants players. Eric played for the Bolzano Giants 2 years ago (he won the superbowl with them!), so he had lots of friends on the team. The Giants also played the game with only two Americans because their quarterback had his jaw broken in 4 places in a previous game! Ouch! The two remaining American players were friends of Jordan & Nate's - they met while playing for Team USA in Austria this past summer! All of this allowed us to have an awesome time at the pizzeria, relaxing, laughing, and eating with old and new friends! After the pizzeria we followed the American players to a bar around the corner. It was really neat inside, but it was 'Latino night' so they weren't really playing our style of music haha. After about an hour, we were all really tired so we decided to call it a night and head back to our place for the night - one of Eric's former teammates was nice enough to let us stay at his apartment!

All of the Americans

Team USA friends - Nate, H2, Joran, & Tommy

 I'll save the rest of our adventures this weekend for the next blog post! Miss you all!

Ciao, Ciao

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A victory . . . prayers needed


That's right folks, the elephants have defeated the Parma Panthers . . . one of the best teams in the league. We're in the running for the Superbowl, people! The game today was great! Great weather, great playing, and great friends to share the experience with. Unfortunately, our American friend, Nate was hurt in the first play of the game. He has his knee wrapped and he's very worried that he's torn  his ACL. He is going to the doctor tomorrow, and since we are his Sicilian family, we will go with him. We are hoping and praying that it is a minor injury, and we would appreciate prayers from all of you! If he is hurt very badly, it's possibly that the team could send him home and bring in another import. Since he is our family and we love him so much, we would be devastated if this happened. We would love for everyone to keep our Nate in their thoughts and prayers tonight and in the coming days! We love you much and we're happy to have another victory under our belts!

Love you all and miss you much! Go Elephants!

Ciao, ciao

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Buon Compleanno Corrado!

I love a good birthday party! I especially love a birthday party when it's taking place in Siracusa, Sicily! Since Easter was on Sunday, almost everybody in Catania/Sicily had Monday off. Corrado is one of the players on the football team and he invited us (along with the rest of the team!) to his birthday party at a hotel/resort in Siracusa. We all piled into the car (our car! so it was quite a tight squeeze for 5 of us!) and headed south! The weather was absolutely beautiful and we could not wait to get to the party. When we showed up to the place that we thought we were supposed to be . . . we discovered that we were actually 1 km away from the real party! We piled back into the car, drove a little ways, and found the official party site! It was an incredible place complete with a huge pool and a sand volleyball court! One of the players had told us the night before that we should wear 'beach attire' to the party because we might get in the water. Because it was a little bit chilly on Monday we wore our 'beach attire', but we put on a few extra layers to keep warm. When we walked into the party, we were so happy that we had done this! It was a huge room full of lots of round tables and pretty much everybody on the team (please note that nobody was wearing 'beach attire'). Some of the members of the young elephants team donned chef hats and were cooking prawns (shrimp) outside in the back on the grill. Little kids were running around outside climbing trees and playing soccer. Little dogs were running around the room, terrified of anyone touching them. Haha. All in all, it was quite the scene! We eventually sat down at our table and were served a 'first course' plate complete with olives, different types of cheeses, bread soaked/cooked in olive oil, and some salami. It was delicious (minus the olives)! Our second course was pumpkin risotto and pasta a la norma (pasta cooked with tomato sauce and eggplant) and it was so good! The prawns were a bit fishy for me (and Eric - he's not much a seafood lover either), but the boys & Kelsey seemed to like them. After everyone had eaten they brought out a cake and everybody sang happy birthday to Corrado - the big 4-0!
After the meal we went and played some football/whiffle ball/volleyball/soccer outside, until . . . the boys decided it would be a good idea to get in the pool. WHAT?!! A brisk breeze had developed at this point and the sun was beginning to set. Nevertheless, the boys jumped in the pool and many others on the team joined them (some not by choice ha). I took some pics of the party and the pool party and I hope you enjoy!

The beach in Siracusa 

The crew hanging out at the party 

The happy honeymooners 

The incredible pool!

 Nate & Jordan enjoying a glass of wine in the pool

The boys with one of their favorite young elephants players, 'Little Pony'

Ciao for now,


Buona Pasqua! (HAPPY EASTER!)

Happy Easter everybody!
Hope you had as wonderful of a day as we did! We were planning on going to a church somewhere (either in Catania or on the military base), but our plans fell through. Eric & Kelsey headed out to the military base for church, but were unable to get ahold of the chaplain (a friend of Eric's), so they headed back home to Aci Trezza. Because the chaplain felt so bad about the mishap in the morning, he invited us all over to his house on the base for Easter dinner with his family. We headed to Nate & Eric's around 2 for some 'pre-dinner' snacks . . . bread, olive oil, proscuitto, and lots of cheese! We all piled into the car and left for the base around 4. The chaplain and one of his son's, Seth, met us outside the base and brought us onto the 'housing area' of the base. As soon as we got onto the base we were all in love! GREEN grass growing everywhere, American cars in driveways, basketball hoops, grills, fire pits, and a Texas license plate to top it all off! The chaplain's family was absolutely incredible! Him and his wife have 4 children - Katie & Peter are both 13 and they adopted them from Russia. Virginia is the next youngest and Seth is the baby of the family. We sat outside on the driveway and enjoyed some crackers with cheese . . . CHEDDAR cheese actually! We were all so excited! They also brought us out drinks - mason jars filled with ICE and water or sweet tea. They had just bought a grill the day before so they wanted to try it out for Easter. We sat outside and watched the chaplain and Peter cook steaks marinated in Italian dressing, porkchops, and brautwursts on the grill! The meal was absolutely delicious! Along with the meat, we also had a salad (with ranch or Italian dressing), baked potatoes, sour cream, butter, salt & pepper, and brownies & apple pie to finish the meal off. The family was so very nice - the kids were too funny! Seth let us watch one of his favorite videos on the tv, and the boys also got to watch some good ole' American baseball!  We're hoping that they come to the next home game (this weekend!) against Parma! Here are some pics!

After our adventures at the base, we all traveled back to the Lake casa! I skyped my brother & my grandparents (including a few extra family members which was a bonus!), and Jordan skyped his family! After we finished talking to everybody, Jordan and I decided it was time to open our 'Easter baskets'. Here in Catania they don't do it like we do in America. There are no actual baskets, no fake green grass, and no reese's peanut butter eggs . . . or candy like that in general. No, here in Catania, they do giant chocolate eggs wrapped in plastic with prizes inside! When we first saw the eggs in the grocery store we had no idea what they were all about . . . so we bought one for each of us :)
Jordan got me a pink Barbie egg (yay!), and he got a Pirates of the Caribbean themed egg. Upon opening them, we discovered that my egg contained a pink Barbie purse and Jordan's contained a Pirates of the Caribbean bandana. What an experience! The chocolate was delicious and we all had fun seeing what an Italian Easter is all about! Here are some pics of our egg opening courtesy of our friend Nate. I'd also like to give a shout out to my grandparents (Shirl girl & DDWinnie) for sending us a lovely Easter package in the mail containing an incredible amount of chocolate and also Easter eggs, fake grass, and a chocolate bunny! Opening that package made our day :)

 Jordan was pouting because I got my egg open and he couldn't open his . . . typical :)

Missed you all on this very special holiday! Hugs & kisses to everybody!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pizza Files: Game 3 Recap

Pizza Files: Game 3 recap

Hello again everybody! Sorry for the delay, one of the other americans has a new friend in town so we've been busy running around Sicily and haven't blogged. Shame on us. Anways, here is our game 3 recap from our game against the Bologna Doves....

It was another away game which means a 5AM wake up call and a 7AM departure from Catania to Bologna... or so we thought. Too bad everyone here runs on Sicilian Island time which means every flight leaves late and left us hanging out in the airport till our flight left at 815. After that debacle and a short 90 minute flight, we landed in Bologna with 5 hours to spare until the game. We walked around and sampled some local cuisine (Bologna is famous for tortellini and lasagna, and let me tell you, both were fantastic) until  it was time to get ready for the game. There are 2 teams in Bologna, the Warriors and the Doves, and the doves are the weaker of the two teams. At game time there was a rambunctious crowd of about 20 on hand ( most of which were Elephant suporters) to cheer on the epic battle that was about to take place on the gridiron. We won the toss and as always, we recieved, but this time we actually drove down for an opening score to jump out to a quick 7-0 lead. Defensively the Elephants came to play and after a quick 4 and out, we had great field position for another quick score. Unfortunately, the Pistolero had some problems in the kicking game so we missed the extra point to go up 13-0. After another quick 3 and out the Doves punted the ball back and we made short work of a lapse in coverage to go up 20-0. This would pretty much be a theme of the game as the Elephants were just too much for the Doves to handle. Details escape me at this time, but the final score ended up being a solid 57-14 victory with the doves final TD coming on the final play of the game. Needless to say, the victory was never in question after the first few series. I finished the day with 12 Tacs, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 4 Rec for 90 yards and a TD, and another kick off return for a TD to bring the total to 2 on the year.

We had a bye week in honor of Easter this week and put in a lot of work in preperation for the big game that lies ahead next weekend against the defending IFL champs, the Parma Panthers. If anyone out there has read the John Grisham book, Playing for Pizza, then you already know of this team. They are basically the gold standard of Italian football, and have been that way ever since old John decided to take a brake from writing political/law thrillers to dabble in the life of an italian football player. They are currently 4-1 and at the top of the IFL standings. This will be a great test for the Elephants and we are excitedly awaiting the challenge to establish ourselves as one of the teams to beat in the 2012 IFL. Untill next time, here are a few pics/ a clip of the KOR against the doves

Check out this link to a video of one of my touchdowns on youtube!

That's all for now,
ciao ciao