Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Catching Up

Given my severe blogging delinquency as of late, some of you may be wondering whether I'll keep it up now that we've returned to Canada. The answer is yes, the blog will continue. However, until Dave and I manage to attain some semblance of a stable life, the posts will probably be few and far between.

So, for an update, life is going well. I was warmly welcomed back to StatCan, and have my choice of many delectable projects to return to. As of next week, I should be officially starting in a new position... how exciting! Dave is also very happy, as has found employment through a good friend and former boss. His contract is not a long one, but it is nonetheless challenging, and will present the opportunity to travel to New Brunswick for a few weeks.

And that's fine by me -- it'll give me some much-needed alone time with my Playstation 2. ;-) I've missed you so, my love...

We have also found a fantastic flat, courtesy of Mikes' friend Matt, who is on an adventure to Cambodia. Given that we had a heads-up for his apartment becoming available, we were able to snag it before the market swarmed it. The place is spacious, inexpensive, and superbly-located... and we get to move in in a couple of days! I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I've uploaded the pictures I've taken over the last few months, starting with the end of our time in NZ. Do check them out! More will come in a few days.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Catching up

What a month indeed. Karla and I are now returning to Earth in Ottawa after one of the most incredible runs of good times ever.

The basic itinerary: Vancouver, Milan, Tuscany, Venice, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Ottawa. What follows is at best a poor summary.

The Wedding. Amazing amazing amazing.

Karla was amazing. Family and friends were amazing. The food, the wine, everything was just as we hoped. We danced, we drank, we speechified. It was terrific. If you haven't seen them, have a look at the wedding photos: As you'll see, Karla was a vision on the big day. I am a bloodly lucky guy

After some more visiting and some R&R around Vancouver, we headed for Milan. It was a beautiful place where we only spent a short time. I loved the Galleria and the Duomo, and seeing La Scala, the massively famous Opera house. Karla, having been there before, was a great tour guide. After a day though, we hired a car and shot south, towards Tuscany.

After the intensity of the wedding, the villa in Tuscany was just what the doctor ordered. We loved the area, located 120kms or so northwest of Rome. Sandra, the woman looking after us there was wonderful. She cooked delicious homecooked meals, and we stuttered through English-French-Italian conversations. Craziest thing on the menu: barbecued wild boar caught on the property. It also gave us a great chance to just lie around and read books for a solid 5 days, with a sprinkling of visits to the ancient cities and volcanic hotsprings in the area. I sawed through at least two novels while we were there. Bliss, my friends, bliss.

Venice was legendary--we were there to meet our great friends Jay and Tamara, who were getting married at the City Hall the following day. It felt like we were living in a Conde Nast magazine for a day, what with the special clothes, the special ceremony, the special location and the very special meal that we had afterwards. The wedding was fantastic. Jay and Tamara were so happy. Even the marriage commissoner and translator were crying with joy! And people cheered in the Canals as we floated by on our gondola. Some day I'll tell you all about the bottle of wine we ordered at dinner. It was among the most magnificent things I've ever tasted, short of Karla and my mother's cooking.

Rome was next and it was awesome. I'd love to go back. It was my first time and Karla's third. This time we steeped ourselves in touristy Rome, with the Colloseum, the Forum, the Vatican, Spanish Steps and Fountain of Trevi etc. It was magnificent--especially the Sistine Chapel and Rafael Rooms at the Vatican, but I know there's a lot more to experience there. I can't wait to find out more on another trip.

Florence was great. We braved the long line to see the David, which was a life-shaking experience. I've never seen such a perfect artwork ever. And to think the stone he was carved from had been rejected by at least two other sculptors, who said they could do nothing with it. See the statue and know the meaning of genius, my friends. It is humbling to say the least.

We also caught up with friend of a friend and co-democracy enthusiast Tiago Peixoto, where we proceeded to get really drunk, have tons of fun, and finish our night of dancing at 5am with a fresh croissant from a bakery that was just waking up. Nerds that we are, we even worked on a paper together at 2am. God help us. But it sure was fun seeing Karla in full statistician mode. I'd never seen that before. Who knew stats could be so sexy?

Bologna was the perfect place to end our trip. Such a lifestyle there! We had a look at the Modern Art Museum of Bologna (know as MAMBO), we bought parma prociutto and big blocks of parmagiano for gifts, toured the markets and wandered under the porticos. And of course there was the main event, dinner, graciously bought as a wedding gift by friends from New Zealand who are both from Italy.

Karla and I were awestruck by meal. We were amazed by the antipasti. Delighted by the ragu and mushroom main. And then floored by the dessert. Especially floored, I've got to say. It was so delicious! And there was so much of it! Karla was in heaven. Bowls of custard and ice cream, whole pies and cakes of every variety, jugs of chocolate, all were just left on your table for you to sample from. It was like the best buffet ever, but right at your seat. We had to roll ourselves out of there, stuffed and delighted.

So that's the wrap of the trip. We're now back in Ottawa after a week in Winnipeg for a big party that Karla's mum and dad threw us, and the marriage of one of Karla's friends. But more on that in another post.