Elba

So as promised, I shall fill you all in on my exciting weekend. My friends Sam, Kristen and I decided that instead of going to Venice with the majority of our group, we would go to the island of Elba. Mainy, this was because we were tired of so many trip and were looking forward to relaxing on the beach. Also, just getting to Venice would take at least 5 hours and 45 Euro per train ride. So, we opted instead to go to an island most famous for housing the exiled Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (who later escaped for reasons unknown since you would have to be absolutely nuts to leave Elba for Paris). In order to get to Elba, we had to make 3 transfers, take a bus, a boat, and a taxi. But it was definitely worth it to get to Elba and it added to our self-confidence since all three of us are normally very directionally challenged. We left Siena around 8ish and arrived on teh island around 2pm. So yes, it took 6 hours which we were not expecting but still it took the Venice group about 9 hours to finally reach their destination. So when we finally set foot on land, we decided that instead of navigating the bus system, ( I should probably add here that all of us are beginner Italian students and out of the three of us, I had the best Italian which is really not much) we would take a taxi which we figured would be the best option. That turned out to be wrong unfortunately. Our cab driver turned out to not be familiar with our hotel and ended up taking us to Hotel Mare instead of Hotel Belmare. But we soon got back on track and to our hotel so we forgave the driver for his exorbitant rate and lack of knowledge about this very small island. Our hotel room was very small but conveniently located next to a small beach and a port with a lot of really cute restaurants. As soon as we put our stuff in the room, we got ourselves ready for the beach! For me, this meant applying plenty of lotion and falling asleep on the beach. My Italian-American counterparts however, just fell asleep in the sun and woke up with a nice bronze to take back to school. I also woke up with some nice tan lines but they were fringed with red, not a nice brown shade. Eh, story of my life. We all had a good laugh about my pain (I was the only one who wasn’t laughing) and pack up our stuff around 6 to go back and take a shower at the hotel before dinner. We watched a little MTV Italia where they followed a young soccer team much in the same way that American MTV once followed a highschool football team. Then we went to dinner at a small restaurant on the beach near our hotel. We had some major problems communicating with our waiter who seemed to assume that whatever the first one of us ordered, the rest of us would also want. Stranero. But, eventually we got our food and it was delicious! One of the most interesting things to me, about Elba was that there was a very strong German influence. Most of the menus had not only Italian but also German and then sometimes English and French. There were a few boats in the port flying German flags and we encountered at least 4 German families/couples while dining. Very interesting since Elba is not particularly close to Germany; it is really only about an hour off the coast of Tuscany so it is definitely closer to Italy than any other European country. However, since I know absolutely no German, this was little help to me in communicating with any locals. We made our way though, and I personally think we did pretty well since we made it to the island and back without any major hitches. But anyway, we were really tired so we went to bed early like old ladies but absolutely loved it. In the morning after a very Italian breakfast (lots of sweets) we headed to a gorgeous beach near the port from where we were leaving. It was absolutely gorgeous. The water at Elba is perfectly clear. And I mean absolutely clear. I will attach a picture below that I took standing in the water and you can see straight through to the bottom and a jellyfish (medusa) swimming by. There weren’t many meduse in the water which was good because they had long tentacles that scared me, but still you had to be on the watch for them. So all day, we just stayed on the beach (me absolutely covered in suntan lotion that I had just bought and applying every half an hour) and read, listened to music, and generally relaxed. It was exactly what I needed. Just so beautiful and perfect that we all decided that of all the places we had seen in Italy, Elba was definitely the one we wished we had more time in. I hope that maybe my family will want to vacation in Italy sometime and I can show them all the amazing places I have seen, beginning with Siena but making at least a 3 day stay in Elba. We were only able to stay until 6 so that we could make it back to Siena at a reasonable time. The highlight of our trip back was the family we adopted of a group of young chinese who were a bit lost. We saw them on Elba and then we happened to all be going back to Siena, so we helped them figure out the ticket machine (which is temperamental at best) and which stops to take since we were now traveling veterans. It was really funny because they didn’t speak any English but one of them spoke some Italian. But we spoke only and little Italian and no Chinese. It was quite comical especially when we had to use a phone translator to communicate with each other. We all made it back to Siena safe and sound around 9 or 10 because one of our trains was late. Oh! and I had my first kinder egg! Everyone had been gushing about them so I had to buy one. It was quite fun and I really wish they weren’t illegal in the states. But, when I got back to Siena I was exhausted and happy to go to bed.  IMG_1993

IMG_1988

Clearest water in the world + jelly!

Clearest water in the world + jelly!