Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our Arrival in Bologna and the Sabbath Day (Days 4 and 5)

Saturday morning we all gathered to hike to the train station (with our luggage I'm happy to say) to make the trek to Bologna. It was a really nice train, air conditioned, and relaxing. Mom and I had a chance to visit for a while as we sat across from each other. About an hour into the trip, Griffin traded with Mom, so he sat across from me and played with his Leapster. Upon our arrival in Bologna, we walked with luggage in tow to the Atlantic Hotel in downtown Bologna.

We passed the Jolley Hotel (which Griffin thought pretty funny), through a lovely piazza, and down a relatively quiet street to find our hotel. I'm sure we overwhelmed the staff as our family took more than half of the rooms in their entire establishment. The rooms were comfortable and the air conditioning was in our control. John, Griffin and I kept our room at a cool 25 C. Ian, Maggie and Ellie, however, rarely even turned theirs on. We dropped off our stuff and took off for, where else, McDonalds!

It was about a half mile up the main road (where all the sidewalks are covered!) and where we got to see some of the clothing stores up close. I got a chuckle out of this one:

When we finished our McDonald's meal, Pat took us to his favorite Gelateria. (He was recently hired by the company that makes the machines that freeze the gelato.)

Not very familiar with what it was like, I ordered a, well, what I thought was a reasonable portion of the chocolate fudge flavored gelato. After all, I can put down a love-it size Cold Stone treat in one sitting and that's nearly a pint of ice cream. Pat looked at me leeringly after I got my order and said, "You just got one flavor?" Upon completing my first spoonful, I knew I was in trouble. It was like frozen jell-o pudding, rich and creamy. Ellie had the same thing and within a few minutes, was nearly covered in it as it melts pretty darn quick. We kept grabbing napkins, but it was dripping everywhere and each time she tried to clean up, more of it smeared. I would say that after eating maybe a third of it, I was completely stuffed, and had learned to ALWAYS incorporate two or three flavors. But it was amazing!

After resting for a bit, we gathered with Pat's family--Alfonsina, Ethan and Jonathan--for dinner. (It was the first time we got to meet Pat's boys.)
Ethan, Robby Clawson (son of Michael and Pri), Jonathan, and Griffin

We gathered at an amazing restaurant for a family dinner, courtesy of my sister Kim Griesemer who was unable to attend due to her LDS church mission in Quito, Ecuador (see sidebar for a link to her blog).

Mandy (Griesemer), Tabitha and Brandon Rohner; Mom and Dad

Chris and Andrea Griesemer, Jessica (Griesemer) and Steve Adams

Ellie, Jonathan (hidden), Ethan, Griffin, John, Ian and Maggie, Pat and Alfonsina

Michael and Gabriel Clawson; Seth, Megan and Joshua Clawson;
Jackie and Isaac Clawson (holding Robby)

Elizabeth, Terri and Kevan Clawson; Priscilla, Michael and baby Gabriel Clawson with Robby on the other side of the table

It was at this moment that Griffin was introduced to Tagliatelle Bolognese, we had fried zucchini blossoms, and Jessie and I tried vanilla ice cream with balsamic vinegar. (It was interesting to say the least.) Afterwards, we retired to the hotel for our first night's rest in Bologna.

On Sunday, we met to travel to the local church for Sacrament Meeting (my kids were relieved to know they didn't have to attend all the meetings since they wouldn't understand any of it).

Since we arrived during the sacrament, we gathered in the overflow room--which is also the Relief Society room and is air conditioned--so put could translate for us. We filled the room to capacity and watched the air conditioner struggle to keep all the warm bodies cool. When the meeting finished, we all went downstairs to gather for a family meeting.

Mom did a slide show of our family accomplishments since the last time we were together, we visited, and then ate a ton of pizza! When the others left to go back to the hotel, my family went to hang out with Pat and his family at their apartment. It gave us an opportunity to download our pictures and videos, as well as let Griffin and Ethan play Lego Indiana Jones on the Xbox.
Pat was kind enough to let John borrow some clothes to change into. Let me introduce you to first,

Rex Kwon Do of Napoleon Dynamite fame

and then second, we introduce

John Kwon Do!

My favorite part of my time with Pat was breaking out Rock Band and playing together. I wish this had been around when we were teenagers. We could have had a blast. (Then again, it could have been another world war in our house.) After a few hours, we headed back to eat dinner with the family, completely overwhelming the restaurant as usual as we would say "party of 30." Griffin would astound us all as he would eat 5-6 pieces of bread as well as every bite of his meal. The secret was Pat's phone which would show three Curious George episodes. He didn't take his eyes of the screen and would continue to shovel food into his mouth. It didn't hurt that we were walking an average of 6 miles a day. That much walking gives anyone an appetite!
It was decided that we would go to Ravenna the next day, the home of Byzantine churches and unbelievable mosaics. And so we go to Day 6 . . .

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