Monday, December 22, 2008

Famous Bielecki

Above is a video of Mateo in the Combatives course he took in July-August 2007. This is what gave him a certificate, an award, and a dislocated shoulder, which ended up giving him a new job in the Army, too. This is a commercial that's been featured worldwide on the AFN network cable that pipes through every service member's TV in Europe and on post in the States.

Below is a picture of Mateo's group in the Army. Gosh, he's gonna kill me for not knowing the real word to describe that group. I think it is Command, or something. The HSC SETAF Command. He is in the second row from the front; the third one from the right of the flag (the tip of the flag points to the guy next to him). They took this picture when they switched their berrets from maroon color to black. Click on the picture to enlarge.

AND, the famous guy also has a spot on the radio wishing his family a Happy Holiday. Some of you have reported to me that you've heard it already on the radio in your cars and at work. Awesome! You can listen to it here: Just click where you see "Army Sgt. Jeffery Bicknell & Air Force Senior Airman Diane Berthiaume & Army Sgt. Matthew Bielecki" written.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Verona at Night

  • Dec. 19th, 2008 at 4:55 PM
My first impression of Verona was good, but not excellent. This evening changed my mind. I love Verona. Fantastic!

Aside from getting pulled over by the police and having major communication issues with the ladies, we got to Verona in time to watch the sunset from the top of the Arena (Verona's Colosseum).
Of course, we were having a dandy time in the Arena: taking pictures, freaking out over my sudden vertigo at the edge, admiring the view, "running" up the seats, testing the acoustics, etc. Finally, the cold breeze at the top got to me, and I wanted to move on, which turned out to be more difficult than expected. First, we had to remember which door we came in.
"Here it is!"
"It's closed."

Perhaps I was mistaken?
ALL of them were closed. locked.

We got locked into the Arena. We walked along the edge, the bottom, we even pushed past barriers and got an interesting, albeit panicked, look behind the scenes.
"I'm breaking down this wooden barrier!" Mateo says determinedly.
"Well, you try that. I'm going to bang on the metal door and scream for help through this rust hole," I said (thinking it was a decidedly better idea) "AUITAME! PER FAVORE! AUITA!"
None of that worked to our unpleasant surprise. I was about to bust into the fire hose and pull the alarm, when a couple enters the Arena. They snuck in... through a wide opening cleverly marked in large letters: "USCITA" (exit)
Oopsy. Everyone had gone home. They locked all the doors, except the large can't miss it EXIT door, which neither of us seemed to be able to see for the last 45 minutes.

All that excitement, panic, and final relief brings hunger, so we stopped at a market food stand and got Fritelle con Nutella. Yum! Orange scented dough, fried in a disc shape, dipped in sugar and smeared with Nutella, folded in half: Sweet Italian tacos. We enjoyed those listening to a Peruvian flute and avoiding an angry, drunk man on a cell phone.
We also shopped around in the square for a hat and moved on to stroll the decorated streets.
How romantic everything was! And, the cold, but not bitterly so, weather was clear and perfect.

Thirst over came us, and this wine & grappe store/bar was too intriguing to pass up. Enoteca Dal Zovo. Fabulous. Mateo bought a bottle of absinthe. You should check the guy's website out for some amusing pictures of the owner who tended to us and to get an idea of what the store looks like inside. It's crammed with dusty bottles, liquors, magazines, bags, and knick knacks. He's even got a naked chicks calendar at the counter. The clock is a large spider and he seems to really enjoy the nautical themed items.
When I was sitting in one of the only two clear spots in the store, I picked up a magazine. The first picture I looked at in the magazine looked familiar: It was the store we were sitting in! This pleasant little bar/shop was featured in Bell'Italia. Alongside it, there was a review for an osteria not far away. We decided the article was spot on about the bar, so we ventured over to the osteria for dinner.

Boy, the osteria was indubitably an excellent choice for people watching, fine wines, and fabulous food. Our waiter wouldn't stop smiling in this hilarious and endearing manner. The menu is written on a small sheet of paper for the night. The list, you can imagine, is not long. I got carrot soup and Le Crespelle. Mateo got the first thing on the menu. The owner said something about it being horsemeat. He was all IN on that. The food was great. My Crespelle turned out to be crepes stuffed with ricotta and radicchio. It was incredibly rich and divine. His horsemeat was a stew with a side of polenta. We got out of there for under 45 euro, which, considering the quality and amount of wine and food we had (including an appetizer and small apertif, we were stuffed nicely) was not a bad deal. The crowd arrived just at the end of our meal. I can imagine the menu sells out nightly.

Then we went onward for sightseeing in the dark along the river.
Around a dark corner I heard commotion. Apparently the traveling German Christmas Market was in town (this side of town). So we bought a tin robot and more wine: gluhwine. The square was one of the best finds. The architecture around there was great: variety and detail and colors. The frescoes on the walls were disappearing, but enough remained that you could easily imagine how fanciful it looked when it was a new neighborhood.
Around the corner from THAT square I fell in love with a building. It was like a set from some play I'd dream I was the lead.

More pictures: