Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 4, Alessandria, Italy

October 25th

- I woke to complete darkness.   As my consciousness slowly coagulated into wakefulness it took me a while to orient myself and discern what reality was.  My dreams were mixed in with the confusion of my sense of time and my understanding where I was geographically.   I got up and got dressed.
 - Coming downstairs, I see John already awake and he already investigated and the espresso machine behind the bar A few espressos were quickly fired up.  Soon afterwards he stepped out with Silvatorre to grab some breakfast to bring back.
- Venturing outside, I was at once amazed at the sight of the Alps.  We were truly at the foot of the mountains, where you can see the the rise of the terrain rising up at an extreme angle.  The vegetation was lush and thick.  Very serene.  I shot back my espresso and let myself wake up.
- As other band members woke up and came downstairs, I puttered around, taking in the view.  John came back with yoghourt, fruit and croissants.   The typical Italian breakfast is espresso with a pastry, but John made sure that we had something substantial as he knew that basic needs of nutrition and health were tantamount.
- We took our time eating and having more espressos.  Luckily the bar staff had a laptop, so we were able to quickly fire off an email or two to our friends and family back home.  As it turns out, it would be the first and only time would have access to the internet and have  the enough time to email.
- We  loaded up our gear and away we went to the town of Alessadria, the hometown of Silvatorre.  This was our day off, so we were able to relax and take in the scenery for the first time.
- As we entered the outskirts of the town to our hotel, Bobby noticed a large pillar with a bronze cast eagle mounted on it.  Being the historian, he soon figured out that this was the few places in italy where the italians had lost a battle against the Napoleonic expansion.  The eagle signified this historical precedence.  It seemed likely, as there were large fields surrounding the area where a battlefront could be appropriately staged.
- We arrived at the hotel and noticed a weird, incense like smell in the hallways.  Probably the detergent used for the carpets.   Thankfully we finally had rooms that were properly equipped and we were all to ourselves.  Bobby and John shared a room while Averil, Chris and I took another.  The bathrooms had a bidet and  a towel rack that was also heater.  Genius!  Those italians got their priorities right.  You can wash your ass and  have nice, toasty towels!
- We got settled in and then wanted to check out the town so we got our jackets and umbrellas and headed out to the bus stop.  We eagerly waited in the pouring rain.  No schedules of course.  John went across the street to a car dealership and ask when buses go by.  The guy had no idea.  We waited a bit more and then our patients broke and we decided to head back to hotel and see if there was bus schedule or any information to reassure ourselves that something was going to happen.  Nope.  Our impatience costs us as we found out that the bus comes by every 30min.  We went back to the stop and sure enough, we had missed it.  Another 30 min.
- The bus finally arrived.  We didn't pay to get on, it was some ticketing thing and we didn't have it didn't matter or something.  The town itself was very... what you imagine Italy to be like.  Old looking buildings, narrow streets, cobble stone roads and stone sidewalks, tiny cars.  The first thing we did was find a coffee shop and got warmed up with some quick espressos.  I was really diggin' the Italian coffee culture:  super fast service, shoot back your espresso at the counter, and then leaving.  No lingering around.  In and out in 2 min. and moving on.  Of course, you could hang out and sit down, but a coffee was something as fast as dropping in to say hi, a quick little chit chat and then you're on to the next thing. 
- We wandered around the main shopping area and took it all in.  Eventually we stopped at a bar and had a beer.  Around 4/5pm there's something equivalent to tea time, where people would go to the bar and have a drink.  Of course, food is always served with alcohol, so at times the bar would serve you something like bruschetta or pizza or focaccia bread or something.  Some bars just have everything out, buffet style.  And toothpicks.  They leave tooth picks out so you can quickly spike a morsel of food and pop it in your mouth.  No need for plastic forks.  We settled on a bar called the Hemingway. 
- From there we called Silvatorre and met up with him.  He drove us to a wine store a little ways away.  The owner was a friend of his, so we hung out there chit chatting for a good 2 hours.  Of course, we got to sample their amazing wines.  And we're not talking like a meager sip or half a glass.  In italy, when you sample something, they pull the cork and expect you to drink the whole bottle right there in the store.  We sampled about 3 different bottles, some grappa, and some sparkling wine.  Of course, there was some cold cuts and cheese to go along with it.  All right there in the store.
- While we were drinking, a girl came up to us and asked us if we were the Feztones.  It turns out that this girl so an article in the local paper so knew that there was a 60's frat rock show happening.   She was an international student from Uruguay and was there to study video game development for her Masters.  Back in Uruguay, she knew about the Gruesomes so she was happy to chit chat with Bobby and John.  Famous quote from her: ".... I know I am kinda nerdy and like very particular music and electronic devices and things, but yah, that was too nerd for me..." (some dude played some song that was in a Zelda video game for her, for real, on a flute).
- We left the wine shop and I was loaded.  Silvatorre drove us down to a pizzeria and we sat down for some authentic pizza and beer.  The menu had 50 different pizzas to choose from and it took us a while to decide.   It was indescribably amazing.
- Dear mother of god.  What the hell are we eating in North America?  It's certainly not pizza.  It's some bastardized, deep-fried pub-food idea of the delicacy called pizza.  
- For dessert, through rather weak attempts to refuse it, we had those little puffball cookie things covered in a chocolate mousse sauce.  Goddam.  Those Italians are killing me.
- We finished things up with espressos.  And of course, more booze.  This time it was a type of grappa called Limonata: you guessed it, lemon flavour grappa. 
- We hauled our fattening asses back to the hotel where we thankfully went to beds in our clean beds ( we always do the bed bug check ) and quite rooms. 
... do buses even go by here?  Maybe we should go back and check at the hotel?


More Alessandria

Man, you could put these things on an axle and freakin' drive with them like a car.

Just a few things to nibble on with your drink

Alessandria at night

Families usually bring their bottles to be refilled, but Bobby just drinks his daily quota on the spot

We got loaded here on quality wine

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