Follow my adventures while living in Italy with my husband and our two dogs Moose the whippet and Ruby the Australian Terrier. It's sure to be full of fun, frustration and cultural confusion.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Lake Garda

So I live rather close to Lake Garda, one of the lakes in Italy's lake district. My friend Gwen and I decided to squeeze in a couple of days holiday before I start my new job and Lake Garda was our destination.

In a word Lake Garda is beautiful. It is currently cooler than Bolzano which was very refreshing. We stayed at Park Hotel in Desenzano which was great, we got a last minute price, they gave us a free room upgrade, breakfast was included, they had a rooftop pool, a hotel dog and they are on the lakefront. Totally recommend them! Below is the view from our balcony.

Basically we lay by the pool, ate delicious italian food including loads of gelato and one morning we caught the ferry to check out the little town of Sirmione which was really cute as proven by the pics below.

The view of Sirmione from the ferry

Selfie of Gwen and I on the ferry, it was windy

The square in Sirmione where you get off the ferry, totally cute and authentic italian, was a lovely place to stop for a coffee.

I loved this gelato shop, the tiles were gorgeous, the gelato delicious and the iceblocks looked amazing

So pretty

Gwen going for a little paddle

A couple of photos of the lake, as I said earlier it was so beautiful

Another selfie

This is the fort thing at Sirmione, it guarded both the water and road entrance to Sirmione

So to sum up Lake Garda, beautiful place to chill for a couple of days. You get an authentic Italian experience and its easily accessible from Verona by train (20 mins from Verona to Desenzano). I will definitely be heading there again and wouldn't change a thing! If you have more time and more energy there are lots of other towns to visit, lots of hiking and mountain biking to be done and if your in the mood for some water sports its a great windsurfing spot.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cooking dinners

So what have I been up to apart from sweating profusely in the ridiculously hot weather that is Bolzano in August? Well mainly trying to source things we need for the apartment (we have a washing machine and tongs! and a vegetable peeler!) and find a flat in Munich. I need a flat in Munich because I GOT A JOB IN MUNICH! I start at the beginning of September and am heading up to Munich tomorrow to view a few flats.

The other thing I've been doing is playing the wife and keeping house. To be honest I don't love this job. Cleaning doesn't give me much satisfaction, luckily the apartment is tiny and requires little cleaning. The part I do like is cooking dinner. As I'm not working right now I get to cook dinner the way I like - plan a menu for the next couple of days, head to the supermarket and get everything I need and then cook. Fyi the way I don't like to cook is when you get home after a long day at work, Joe is whining he is hungry and with half empty cupboards you need to magically (and quickly) make something delicious.

So in our tiny kitchen I have been cooking dinner almost every night. I cook from cookbooks. I like the method of following a recipe, I might tweak it a little but I like the order of getting out all the ingredients and following the steps. Currently I have one cookbook with me. Everyday by Peter Gordon.The man is a genius, everything is delicious and I'm having a great time working my way through it. Some of my favourites are Chicken breast en papillote with cherry tomatoes and rosemary, Pasta with blue cheese, walnuts and pear, Tuna skewers and squid with parsley yoghurt, Red curried potato, mushrooms and spinach. Saturday night we had Mussels with Tomato, Chilli and Mint and it was so easy and so delicious I thought I'd share it with you.

You need:

  • 1 large red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli sliced (these are difficult to source in bolzano, I can only get sweet peppers so I used chilli flakes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 kg mussels, beards and barnacles removed (this was Joe's job, thanks Joe!)
  • 1 kg of cockles or clams (I didn't have any of these so we just had mussels)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 small handful of mint leaves shredded
1. In a large pot saute the onion, chilli and garlic in oil until it begins to caramelize
2. Add safron then mussels, turn the heat to full and put the lid on for 2 mins. Give it a shake now and then.
3. Give it a stir and add the tomatoes, wine and butter and put the lid back on.
4. Cook until the mussels have opened (about 3-4 mins) stirring now and again. 
5. Stir in the mint and ladle into bowls.

It was so so yum and I converted Joe from being a not really a mussel fan to really really liking them :) 

I also loved that it is cooked in one pot on the stove top as we have a tiny kitchen! The photo below is our whole kitchen!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Well I got back to Europe just over two weeks ago and it sure has been a busy couple of weeks. In this time I have visited Munich for a weekend, had a job interview, moved into our new apartment and collected our dogs from Milan airport (which involved my first driving experience in Italy).

40 hours of travel

I arrived in Munich after many hours of travel. My flights were actually pretty good, I had an upgrade to premium economy on Air New Zealand for the first leg of my trip (Auckland to Tokyo) which was lovely. Premium economy was only a third full so it was a really relaxing flight and they let me take my very overweight bag on the plane. I stayed the night in an airport hotel in Tokyo. Checking in with ANA (All Nippon Air) was interesting, first I was somehow booked in as a child so I kept being asked if I was flying alone, then obviously my bag was still really overweight so I offered to pay the extra charges but the lovely ladies told me that the baggage rules had just changed so I just had to make sure I was underweight next time. Then even though my AirNZ gold status expired at the end of June my star alliance gold must still be active in the system because they gave me a lounge invite and then once I was in the lounge I got informed that I had been given an upgrade to business class – score. Basically it was the best flight I have ever had and I arrived in Munich in a really good mood.


Munich is really lovely. It was really hot while we were there (near 40 degrees) and everyone was out by the river and in the gardens in their bikinis and speedos, except for the naked man we saw who was lying on a lounger by the river completely naked. Below is a photo of us by the river.

We didn't do much in Munich except walk around and eat. As I plan to spend my weekdays there we both figured we have plenty of time to visit the museums, galleries and churches - actually we ducked into a beautiful church in passing and then once inside I realised I was dressed quite inappropriately (straples, sleeveless maxi dress) so we made a quick exit. I had my job interview on the Monday and then headed home to Bolzano. 


Bolzano is hot, like really really hot, all the time. We moved into our new apartment just over a week ago , it is tiny but all we need really, and the views are amazing, below is a shot taken from our little balcony.

 We are still busy sorting it out and acquiring things we need - this weekend we bought a really skinny washing machine. The apartment came with a bed frame but not a mattress so I have bought a super fancy self inflating air mattress to tide us over until our actual mattress arrives – this means we have somewhere for visitors to sleep – come visit people!! Just maybe not in August as it is really quite uncomfortable. I was getting rather weighed down with all of the organising we've been doing but the last weekend in Bolzano has been quite lovely (it's been cooler, only 29 degrees!) and we've done some fun things. There was a wine festival on Friday evening that we went to, all the local wineries had stalls and you could sample there wares for one or two euro. It was great everyone out having a nice time and minimal rowdy behaviour, I couldn't help thinking how out of control it would be if there was a festival  where you could get glasses of wine for a couple of dollars in New Zealand. Last night after spending most of the day inside out of the sun watching game of thrones we took the dogs for a walk by the river and then got gelato, so nice to be able to finally do that. Which leads me to... 

The dogs

I know this is what you have all been reading this really long post for – how are the dogs??? We picked them up last Thursday, this meant driving to Milan on Wednesday evening which I did (!!!) in a snazzy new Audi A3 and then headed to “cargo city” at Malpensa Airport on Thursday morning. We then visited five different offices getting different documents signed and occassionally paying people some money before we could get the dogs. It was actually pretty seamless, just Italian. The ladies at the vet office were lovely, one insisted Joe practice his Italian with her while we waited and the other went and visited our dogs after the vet called her to let us know that they “were very well and very beautiful”. When we picked them up they were very glad to see us and get out of their crates, Moose was fine as soon as he could see us, Ruby still looked pretty worried until we got her out. Their travel crates took up the whole back half of the car so Ruby curled up at Joe's feet and Moose had the best car trip ever on Joe's lap. The dogs are settling in ok, it's really hot so they are having to adjust to that, though thankfully the nights are now a little cooler. They are taking it in their stride mostly, Joe and I have a theory that it was such a traumatic experience on the plane that they are just happy to be with us now that nothing else is phasing them. I really need to work on my Italian as Italians love their dogs and I am constantly getting stopped in the street by people wanting to say "ciao" to Moose and telling me he is "molto molto bello". I feel abit sorry for Ruby as she doesn't get anywhere near the same amount of attention as there are quite few yorkie terriers walking the streets with their owners that look very similar to her. Moose however is quite a novelty. Below are the two of them on our couch this morning

That's all for now, hopefully I'll have some adventures to share with you soon.

Ciao for now