A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: BretP

Parma... Getting to know the Italian way

semi-overcast 13 °C

Parma street music

Parma street music

Seven weeks into our European holiday and we are now in Italy; Parma to be precise. Parma? I hear you ask. Parma is in the north of Italy, between Milan and Florence, it is part of the Emilia-Romagna region, famous for food such as proscuitto, parmigiano cheese and vinegar. Some of the biggest Italian food brands originate from the area such as Barilla Pasta and Parmalat milk products.

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We also knew the area through football, Marco Bresciano and Vince Grella both played for F.C. Parma in the Serie A. So coming to stay in Parma for three weeks sounded pretty good. It was to be the place that we would get to know the Italian way and familiarise ourselves with the language before we hit the tourist hotspots.

Our first week has been a little slow, which is okay as the previous six weeks had been full on with not a lot of opportunity to just relax. We are living just near the Parco Ducale gardens, which connects the old town. Each day we walk through these gardens with many of the locals, a relaxing way to start the day.

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Our daily walks into the old town take us near the 1000-year-old baptistery and churches, which are truly amazing, and on most days there seems to be a market somewhere.

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We have managed to get out to a football game where Parma beat Torino 3:1, and in passing through the town we stumbled upon an expo about the 100 years of FC Parma. The old men were very welcoming and even though it was all in Italian, we managed to enjoy it.

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The biggest challenge has been to apply for the ‘Permesso di Soggiorno’, the permit to stay in Italy. We had discovered our visa was just the first step to stay in Italy for longer than 3 months. This permit has quite a reputation and our next few weeks will see if we are to be in Italy legally or illegally for the last three months of our trip.

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We have also found that as Parma is not a tourist hotspot, English is not common, so we are all focusing on our Italian language skills, which can only be a good thing.

We have ventured out of Parma, one day to visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, this was okay but a little over priced for what it was but what do you expect with the name ‘Ferrari’ in it.

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Today we visited the hill town, Castell'Arquato, a beautiful town that unfortunately did not show its best side due to the fog. Still a great day trip with another glimpse into the past.

Walk up to the Castle

Walk up to the Castle

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Of course these trips have warts as well. As four travellers we all have our annoying habits and there has been a few arguments, which can normally be put into 3 categories:

1. Tiredness
2. Tidiness and personal space
3. Decision making

They say after six weeks on a long-term travel trip relations improve as everyone learns what is expected and how to deal with each other in all the scenarios. So far we have not had any reasons to pack up and call it quits so if it only gets better from here on we won’t have any complaints.

Enzo's way

Enzo's way

Posted by BretP 06:47 Archived in Italy Comments (5)

Frohe Weihnacht (Merry Christmas)

sunny -3 °C

It is now Christmas Eve in Obertauern, the traditional day for Christmas in Austria.

The tradition here is that the tree is put up on this day in the living room, it is decorated and lit with real candles awaiting the Christkind. The room is left empty awaiting the Christkind to arrive and give gifts.

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A small bell is rung, which signals the Christkind has left the room. The family can then enter the room.

The Christkind - Small blond child with wings that brings gifts on Chrtistmas eve

The Christkind - Small blond child with wings that brings gifts on Chrtistmas eve

The dinner is usually goose and ham served with Gluhwein, Rumpunsch, and chocolate mousse.

Today the ski lifts will be closed at 3pm to give everyone time to meet up with their families. Our traditional Christmas day will be just like any other. It is forecast to snow on the 25th but not tonight.

We plan on going out for dinner and then skyping our families afterwards where it will be around 7am.

Frohe weihnacht an alle (Merry Christmas to all in german).

From the Parkinsons

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Posted by BretP 22:26 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Goodbye UK... It's time to head to the Alps!

all seasons in one day 3 °C

The next three days would mainly consist of car travel on motorways.

First stop after 5 hours driving from York would be Dover. Dover has a castle, a nice one at that which is set upon the White Cliffs. The kids were over castles at this point and there really isn’t much else in Dover. To be honest we just wanted to get across the channel.

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The next morning we headed for the Ferry which would take us to Calais. Once on board we found a corner to chill out for the next 90 minutes.

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Bonjour France… We finally make it to France and picked up our brand spanking new Peugeot 3008, a nice birthday present that I will have to give back in 6 months time. A great addition to the trip is the on-board GPS, we can now put the phones away and relax and let ‘Charlene lead us around Europe’.

We headed to Strasbourg, a 6-hour drive across the top of France. The drive is mostly straight on motorways. 50euro’s in tolls later we arrive in Strasbourg. It was night and we headed straight out to see the Christmas markets and grab some food.

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The markets are spread out all over the old town with different themes’ for each of them. The first one we come across was centered on food and drinks, very different to the English ones, which sell mostly German sausages and French crepes; these have much more variety and looked delicious.

This is the first time we hit the language obstacle, having practiced French for the past 6 months I thought I would be able to get by, unfortunately my mind could not think quick enough when I was asked questions. Often only English would come out and I would stumble at that. At least I was able to say Merci to some of our frustrated friends.

The markets were highlighted by the one centered around the Cathedral. This building is massive and getting a photo proved most difficult, as it was just too big but what an amazing building.

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On the way back I picked up a bottle of French wine so I could have a drink for my birthday, unfortunately when I got back to the room I had no opener… I went back to the local corner shop where I purchased it. Not confident with my French I showed him the bottle, he smiled and opened it for me. Merci Beaucoup!

The next morning we headed to Salzburg; another 5 hours in the car. As we headed out of Munich the boys would see snow for the first time. The Alps got closer and excitement was growing as we entered Salzburg.

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Posted by BretP 00:33 Archived in France Comments (5)

The Real English Football

rain 3 °C

Here we go here we go here we go - time for a traditional English football match. The ground was Hillsborough, an English football ground with real history, glorious and tragic. We are to see Sheffield Wednesday (the Owls) against Nottingham Forest.

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A quick grab of a burger and cheesy chips from outside the ground serviced the hunger requirements, now off to find our seats.

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Inside the ground an hour before kick-off, we soaked up the atmosphere and the history. Seated at the Lepping’s Lane end with the away Forest fans, where the Hillsborough disaster occurred in 1989 with 96 people losing their lives. We felt a real sense of being right in the thick of real English football.

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As the crowd grew and the players came out to warm up, the Forrest fans would chant for their players.

Forest had to win to stay in touch with the top four while Sheffield Wednesday had just sacked their coach, they responded through the week with an away win over league leaders Leicester. Both teams had plenty to play for.

We were surrounded by hardened Forest fans who understood what it means to play for Forest, a club that has won two European cups, there is a lot of pride in those shirts.

The banter between the Forest and Owls fans added to the atmosphere. Fans point out each other and then invite each other outside. The Forrest fans chant ‘We feed our family’s’ at the Owls fans.

An Owls fan is singled out. The whole away end in unison chants ‘ What a Twat, What a Twat’.

Into the second half and Forrest take a 1-0 lead. The Forrest fans step it up continuing to engage the Owls fans and reminding them of the score.

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The crowd is announce at 24,000, the Forest fans sing ‘ Your only here for the Forest, here for the Forest…’.

Game over. Nottingham Forrest wins 1-0. Fantastic night.

Note: A special thanks to Adam and Sam Brader for organising tickets for us.

Posted by BretP 09:07 Archived in England Comments (2)

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