Hi all!!!I'm hooooome!!!
(Skip this bit if you're not techie!)
I've just spent half the afternoon on the phone with Microsoft and Orange because in setting up my brand new Livebox that arrived this morning, I had a problem I couldn't figure out myself. Orange sent me to Microsoft.
Turned out to be quite simple in the end, nothing to do with Firewall after all (the software said firewall was on when I know it was off. Microsoft even took me into services.mgs!)
She finally set up a conference call with Orange and it turned out that, having used a modem and ADSL for so long, I had disabled my LAN and 1394 connections. :P
[End Techie Crap]
So I am now skimming through the internet with my very fast 400 Mbps Orange Livebox, and eventually I hope to go wireless. At the moment I'm connected with an Ethernet cable. It's like being at university again.
Who wants to know about Verona?
I also want to tell you about the nice shoes I bought on sale there, not to mention the clothes. *ahem*
I did not take as many photos as I would have liked had I been alone and at leisure. When you are with someone who has been there a thousand times, it just doesn't work. I will be including some photos from 2004, specially of the hotel room (my friend always gets the same one) and a few things I saw then that I did not this time.
VERONA - Day One (Thursday)
I arrived at Gatwick an hour before departure (the first time I didn't make it two hours ahead for an international flight! Still had to wait half an hour for them to put up the gate. Boarding was only held for 15 minutes...so I consider it perfect timing.) When trying to catch an 8.30AM flight, there is no way one can feel other than hungry. Once we got into the air, I was hollow inside - my 5AM mug of milk was long gone.
Imagine my delight when I smelled food. They served us (in Club Class) a miniature English breakfast: bacon, scrambled egg, sausage, tomato, mushrooms. Perfect. Plus fruit salad and orange juice...then they came round with baskets of hot croissants, followed by tea/coffee and baskets of hot pastries. I had an apple Danish.
So I've never had such a happy tummy on such an early flight.
We flew over the Swiss Alps. Not much snow up here anymore, even if it is summer, and the glaciers are melting rapidly. This ugly grey stretch of ice is one such.
I had a really aesthetically pleasing welcome to Verona when I had my passport checked by a yummy Italian with dark olive skin and blue eyes. I thought: "Typical" and had the yearning to take one of them home with me.
Taxi phone lines were all busy so I hopped on the bus into town and got a taxi from the train station. The hotel put me into the orangerie while the room was readied, and I had a welcome bottle of sparkling water while I did some crosswords. It is the only 5 star hotel in Verona, so...
Some impressions from the hotel Orangerie/Courtyard/Conservatory:
Less than an hour later, Miss S came in from Rome and we went off in search of lunch (bruschetta for me, the tomatoes were so shockingly red and so sugary sweet - she had a coffee affogato). It was as hot as London has been at its hottest point, but more humid. Fortunately, the heatwave acclimatised us to such weather, whereas last time we were very lazy. We sat at a caffe that sprayed a fine mist on the customers under the awnings at 5 minute intervals. Like cheap A/C and very effective. Steli, just like the one you saw last week?
We did a quick walk around of the shopping streets, looking at bag and sandals (for me), then went back to the hotel to rest, watch some Fashion TV, and prepare for dinner. We went to a simple place behind the hotel reserved for us by reception.
Antipasto: finely shredded smoked horse meat on a bed of rocket with parmesan and lemon, to which I added olive oil and black pepper.
Primi piatti: Tagliolini (?) with prawns, zucchini flowers and saffron. What an aroma!
Dolci: house style tiramisu in a crispy crepe cup. Basically the custom bit was their use of a bucketload of yellow panna cotta rather than lighter cream. Nearly went off tiramisu.
Back to the hotel to change. I wore this dress:
And then off to the arena for Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci.
From 2004, some of the ongoing conservation of the stone- and brick-work, plus the usual display of props from the night before (in this instance, Aida):
A ruined outer section of the Roman arena:
The stars at the end of Cavalleria Rusticana. The intermezzo is still my favourite part.
It was a very sticky, humid, hot night. I sat there fidgeting on my two 3 Euro cushions and falling asleep thanks to my two hours of sleep the night before. I was only too glad to get back to the hotel and wash the day's travel off my skin. It is discomfiting to stand up in the bath and find yourself eye to eye with this artefact: