On the morning of September 20th, I made a mortadella, lettuce, and maybe-something-else sandwich.
It basked in the glittery rays of the warm Bolognan sun. Oh, how it basked. Yes, sandwiches can bask. They're just like you and me, you know. Not mammalian, but able to derive pleasure from the glow of a distant sphere of gas so large, so powerful, that if you thought about its greatness for long enough you would realize what an insignificant speck you are compared to everything else in the universe and want to kill yourself. I mean, it's going to happen sooner or later—you may as well end the suffering now. Don't you think it's rather selfish to keep all that fresh oxygen for yourself when you know it's all for nothing?
Yup, that was a good sandwich.
By the way, as I write this it's 1:30 AM on October 18th. I'm revealing my "slow as a rabbit nailed to a wall with a rock tied to its foot, which is broken" blogging speed to you, dear reader, so you can understand why I'm lucky to even post twice a week. It's not like I don't want to write (I love it!...I love you!...I love sandwich!)—I blame it on the rotation of the earth around the sun. That baby needs to slow down. Slow down, orbit!
Ah, it didn't listen. No one does.
I'm gonna roll into bed now. Shall continue this later. At which point I will not have. Sentence fragments.
In the future...
After filling myself with mortadella joy, I accompanied Diana to the train station where she would catch the bus to the airport. Because she was leaving! Yes, she left a week earlier than I did (or rather I left a week later than her) due to time/money constraints. Time to say goodbye to Italy. :'[
I daresay I look almost like a psychologically stable human being in that photo. No food in my face. No maniacal bug-eyed expression. Diana looks normal, as she's wont to do.
After she left, panic set in. While riding on the bus back to the apartment I suddenly realized that for the next week or so I would be forced to hang out with Morten and Kåre by my lonesome. There would be no Diana to save me. It would be just me, bonding with the weegies.
Not that they're anything to be afraid of. Morten and Kåre are two of the nicest, most easy-going people you could ever meet. I don't think they could say the same about me. I'll take away the task of having to badmouth me by describing my role as "the paranoid, worrisome, indecisive one."
We didn't have any particular plans for "the day that Diana left." As we walked around the city center Morten suggested making a last minute day trip to another city.
"Siena is supposed to be nice, and it's not that far..."
But when we tried to buy tickets at the train station we discovered that it was actually kind of far. "More than two hours" far. [Beep], DENIED. We needed something closer.
Tickets to Parma were cheap and travel time was only about an hour. [Beep], UNDENIED.
After enduring a mostly painless journey in a car mostly inhabited by high school students (who were kept docile by their iPods), we arrived in Parma. Ah, Parma, beautiful city of...um. Uh.
We had no idea. When I said "last minute day trip," I meant it. As none of us had planned on visiting Parma, we didn't look up what to do there beforehand. We kind of assumed that interesting stuff would magically appear when we got there.
This kind of happened. And it kind of didn't.
After Morten bought a map from a newsstand, we made our way to Palazzo della Pilotta, basically a bunch of pretty old buildings around a gigantic well-kept lawn (yes, that might be the worst description ever) so we could unfold the mysteries that the map beheld within its celluloidal fibers. Or rather, Morten and Kåre unfolded the mysteries while I unhelpfully poked at the map, saying enlightening things like, "Ooh, there's a football field here!...and here...and here..."
We stopped into the nearby Panificio Castagnoli for a quick lunch-ish snack.. I emerged with a giant slab of olive oil tinged focaccia topped with soft onion chunks oozing with sweetness. Damn right, I said oozing. Not like, "My blister is oozing," but, "Ah, this this is oozing with deliciousness." You can't see it ooze—you have to taste it. I tasted the oozing. Yes I did.
That was a little too much explanation about the oozing factor. Sorry.
Upon paying the entrance fee and gazing at the ceiling, my first impression was that the baptistery's octagonal pink marble exterior actually looked cooler than the inside. And don't get me wrong—the inside looked cool in that, "How the hell was anyone ever able to paint this stuff?" way. (This is second to the, "How the hell was anyone ever able to build this stuff?" thought that tends to pop into my head. I think the answer to that question is, ""Lots of money, lots of time, and lots of cheap labor.") Or maybe "cool" is the wrong word. It looked larger from the outside. Imposing. Huge-ass. From my experience buildings like these tend to look larger on the inside than the outside. While it certainly wasn't small on the inside, it felt smaller than I had expected it to.
It was at the baptistery that I had my first encounter with these multi-lingual robot machine guide doohickeys (I really hope there's a better name for them than that). For just 1 euro you could listen to the history of the baptistery and, through the magic of translucent photos of questionably accurate colors pressed up against a window of some sort and backlit by lighting of some sort, watch a slideshow! Kåre and I decided we could live prosperous lives without having listened to the history of the baptistery. Also, if we had any questions, we could just ask Morten after he was done learning about the wonders of the deceptively small eight-sided building.
Since Parma Cathedral had a sign declaring NO PHOTOGRAPHY, I actually followed the rule and didn't take any photos. Memory tells me that it was prettier than the baptistery and grander, although...well, it's a cathedral, of course it is. Oh, and it was free. No reason you can't take a short stroll through it.
We roamed around some more. Aimlessly. It's odd that I didn't take photos during this part—that's rare in the life of Robyn, to not annoyingly snap away—because if I remember correctly, Parma was cute. Charming. Reminiscent of the narrow little streets of Paris if Paris had more colorful buildings (they're mostly beige and ivory, methinks). Something that unsettled me about Parma though was that it felt strangely deserted considering that it's a large-ish city with lots of shops, restaurants, and pretty architecture. Did we go on a slow day? Was it the day after some city-wide party meaning that everyone was sleeping off a hangover?
I lied about the aimless part, actually. We gradually made our way to Parco della Cittadella, the "pentagonal fortress" that was once used as protection against nonexistent enemies (it had a moat and everything!) before being used as a prison/barracks (nice combo!) and then, in the 20th century, was given its most important function yet:
A place for kids to go CRAZY JUMPING!
Actually, it's just...a park. A park that happens to have a CRAZY JUMPING section (you know, that kind). It's otherwise mostly occupied by people leisurely jogging or biking.
We walked to the outermost road where we found a bench to plop our bums on. We'd been walking for hours, you know. Some sort of a rest was in order.
But the rest came at a price. A price that involved a swarm of mosquitoes feasting on our supple human flesh. The trouble started when I noticed that I had a bug bite...
"Hey, I have a bug bite on my foot. Like. Just now."
And then another one.
"Hey, I have another bug bite on my foot."
And then some more.
"There are five bug bites up my left leg, you guys."
My commentary of how many red, itchy protrusions had spurted forth from my lower limbal area went on for a while, with scratching breaks in between. In the end I had somewhere between 10 and 20 fresh bug bites dotting my skin. Thanks, nature! What got up your ass? I'm either very tasty or mosquitoes know I'm evil and must be punished. Or a combination of the two.
So we decided it was time to leave Parma. Not that Parma wasn't nice or anything—it was a breath of fresh air compared to the other tourist-ridden cities we had been to, albeit a mosquito-laden breath of fresh air. Obviously there's loads more to do in Parma than what we accomplished. At least, I hope there is. If you go to Parma, just be sure to plan ahead. And, for the love of god, don't sit on that bench.
"Well, Siena was nice," remarked Kåre after we left. It became an inside joke for the rest of the trip that we had actually visited Siena instead of Parma. ...I swear this was funny. I'd also swear that I LMAO-ed when, while pointing at the open curtain covering our window in the train, Kåre meekly asked, "Other one?" as a request for me to close the curtain that was allowing sunlight to burn into his skull.
See, these are the things you really have to witness in real life to get. I think.
- I'm failing, taken by Morten
When we got back to Bologna we almost immediately went out in search of food. But not without first checking out the giant monster that was the abnormally large red IKEA couch near the train station. We kept meaning to take a photo sitting on it, but our efforts were thwarted when we realized the couch was being watched by a guard 24/7, something that we absolutely failed to notice until while Kåre made the motions to help lift my leg up, a man in a car parked a few feet away flashed his lights while giving a look that said, "Oh no you didn't." Which would explain why the couch managed to stay pristine for so long; it's cheaper to pay someone to stare at the couch all day than to replace it.
After the failed couch sitting attempt, we walked. A lot. In the right direction, in the wrong direction, on shady, dark, narrow streets devoid of humans that we didn't know existed. Hunger grew in our bellies after a day of much walking and little nutritional intake. After a while I was amazed that my legs could propel my body forward even though my sleepy, hungry brain was barely aware of what I was doing (and that my eyes were sheathed in semi-dried out contacts didn't help either). Delirium is bad, folks. If it took us any longer to find a suitable restaurant I thought I would get to see Kåre go into his never-before-seen Grumpy Starving Mode. It was kind of an exciting prospect!...
But we did find a restaurant. Drats.
Even though we hadn't heard of it before, Mareluna looked promising enough. I mean, they had pizza. Do you need anything else? No. ...Okay, maybe a hug.
If I ever open a pizzeria, I shall name it "HUGS N PIZZA." I would fail within the first quarter, but hey, I'll at least have given it a shot. Literally, point blank with a rifle.
Since I craved the 'tato, I ordered a mozzarella, sausage, and potato pizza out of their large selection of pizza varieties. Potato of the chunky sort. I think it makes more sense to use thinly sliced potato as a pizza topping, but I've seen the chunky version before. Maybe it's the typical way. Or. Not.
I'd say the pizza was quite nice. No puffy, pillowy outer crust action, but it had a super-thin chewy crust and it had just enough topping to match the breadiness. It was probably cheap as well. I wouldn't mind eating pizza like this in NYC, but I don't think many places make sausage and potato pizza, if any. No love for the 'tato! No love. (Otto makes a pizza with potato on it, but I liked Mareluna's more.)
Kåre's pizza was draped with slender strips of deeply pink prosciutto and I don't know what else. Tomato. Yup. (I thought I took notes, but a glance at my notebook's scrawled lines for September 20th reveals that, nope, I so didn't. Sorry.) Morten ordered a pizza that was delicious in a completely different way, topped with radicchio, gorgonzola, and walnuts. Another thing I love on pizza besides potato are nuts. All I need to do is make myself a potato nut pizza and I'm set. Anyone wanna make one for me? ...Nope? Okay, didn't think so.
After inquiring what desserts were available, the waiter decided it'd be easier to just give us one of each. Hell yeah, we liked his style. You don't refuse a dessert buffet when its offered to you. From the top left green thing clockwise we were given a Sicilian cake covered in some sort of marzipan, tiramisu, a lemony cake covered in light lemon cream, and some kind of nutty almond cake. (There I go again revealing my lack of note-taking. Sigh.) My favorite was the almond cake. Lots of nuts, not too sweet, just moist enough. Completely different was the lemon cake, which was of the soft, moist type covered in a super light cream that more resembled whipped cream than something you would normally see on a cake. All the desserts were excellent (and I say that at someone who isn't particularly fond of Italian pastries), although I'd put tiramisu at the bottom because it incorporates two things I find mildly offensive—alcohol and coffee. I can still appreciate a good tiramisu though—the sugar and cream components help with that.
Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi, 29/a
43100 Parma, Italy