Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 3: Padova, Almost to Venice, & Vicenza...

This was for sure the most interesting day of our trip. I'm a planner. I've planned this trip for months. Really, months. Every single detail. I don't mind if a few things go wrong, if we have to make a few little adjustments here and there. But, today was our 18th wedding anniversary, and even though we were with our kids, I wanted to spend it in the most romantic place in the world... Venice. I wanted it to be perfect.

The day did start out perfect. We got up early and went down to eat the delicious breakfast the hotel provided. The breakfasts there are so much yummier than ours, with meats, cheeses and breads to make sandwiches. They had lots of chocolate-hazelnuts pastries, yogurt and cereals. The best was the fresh-squeezed juices, and at this hotel they had fresh-squeezed blood orange juice. The most divine thing in all of Italy, in my humble opinion! Anyway, onto the crazy day...

We got our church clothes on, packed a bag of casual clothes for later, left the hotel, and drove to Padova (about an hour north). We arrived just in time to attend Sacrament Meeting there, which they had last. The ward couldn't be nicer, they hurried and grabbed us song books and made sure we had enough seats. The meeting was all in Italian and it was beautiful. We were planning on leaving right when church was over, so we could go quickly to Venice (about 30 minutes away). But, everyone started coming up to us and inviting us to stay for their ward Christmas party. It had snowed so much the night before, when it had been originally planned, that they postponed it until today after church. How could we turn down the offer? We figured it was noon and we had to eat anyway, so we thought we would stay for about an hour and then get on our way to Venice.

Someone came and asked us our names and then rushed off. The place turned from a chapel to a cultural hall within minutes and tables with cloths and name tags were quickly erected. Then we saw our table, complete with name places and everything, right in the center of the room!

We thought it was so funny that a couple of the tables had "The Simpsons" tablecloths on them.

The hospitality in that ward was like none we had ever witnessed. They were so kind and sweet to make us feel welcome and like such important guests! Nathan played soccer with some boys and loved it. They didn't speak English and he didn't speak Italian, but it didn't seem to matter at all. He came back at one point, panting and said, "I was just playing (saying while making air quotes) 'football' with my new Italian friends!" We fell in love with the members, especially this darling baby. We wanted to take her home with us!

The food was amazing. They had yummy sodas & waters on the table (their orange sodas have real juice in them and taste so much better than ours). They first served breads and anti-pasto (meats and cheeses) and then brought us a plate of food that had lasagne and some rice dish I thought Andrew was going to die, he was so happy. He said it was the best lasagne he had ever had. We ate everything on our plates and were pretty satisfied, thinking it was one of the best ward party meals we had ever had.

After we were finished, a few people started going around the room serving up different kinds of pastas, then some risotto... it was crazy! There were Nigerians in the ward and they brought around some meat and rice from their country. As we were pretty sure they were done serving, we cleaned off our plates, stacked them up and took them to the garbage. We were just about to say thank you and good bye, when we were served the next course! They brought plates filled with two kids of meats, veal and some meatloaf kind of thing, mashed potatoes and carrots! We thought we were going to die. It was honestly the best meal we had ever had, but it took everything we had to finish it. Finally, we did say thank you and goodbye to everyone, apologizing for leaving early. It was now 2:00 p.m., we had been there for 2 hours and the cheese course and fruit/dessert courses were still to come! We had to get out of there and on our way to Venice.

We went out to the car and I asked Rick to grab the bag with the clothes in it so we could quickly change in the bathrooms. It wasn't in the car. He said he thought I had grabbed it. Naturally I thought he had. So, we were going to go to Venice in our church clothes! We got in the car and drove off.

There were a few snow flurries and we had run out of windshield fluid the day before, so Rick decided to stop at one of the gas stations right off the side of the autostrade to see about filling it up. We stopped within about 5 minutes of Venice. He thought he might as well put some gas in the tank, since it was only 1/4 full. We hadn't purchased gas yet. Rick went to pump the gas and saw the black pump, the yellow pump and the green pump. All the words were in Italian, but he just assumed that the green was diesel, like in the US, and filled our diesel car up with that one. When he went to pay for it, he realized it wasn't diesel, but unleaded. That was a problem, it would ruin the engine. We weren't quite sure what to do at that point, we knew we needed to get the gas pumped out before starting the engine. The gas station attendants only spoke Italian and were not helpful at all. Luckily we had a cell phone that Karen had given us to use in an emergency. We had to make a LOT of phone calls, trying to get a hold of someone that could help us. We finally got a tow truck, but we had to wait in the freezing cold car for about an hour and a half for it to come.

When the tow truck finally arrived, Rick went out and spoke to the driver and then got back in the car. I asked if he was just going to pump out the gas right then. He said that he couldn't do it there, he would have to take it back to the tow company and do it there, about an hour away. Well, I thought that would be fine, but I started to realize we were not going to make it to Venice after all, and I was really sad. I started to think about the scenario of how it was all going to work right as the tow truck driver hooked a cable to the front of our car. I looked at Rick with a very confused look and he had a very guilty look on his face. "Wait, how are we going to get back to the tow company, or are we just going to stay in this gas station and wait for a few hours? We can’t all fit in the tow truck cab, can we?" As I'm saying the words, the machine kicks in and the car starts to get pulled up. "We are riding in the car." Rick says. "What?? ON the tow truck?? You are kidding, right??" I really, honestly, thought he was joking. As the car went up and up and up, I realized he was not kidding, not at all (although he was laughing under his breath). I opened the door (while the car was six feet off the ground) and said, "Excuse me, but NO, we are NOT riding up here!" I was making the universal sign for NO. The man who only spoke Italian laughed, similar to Rick's laugh, and gave me the universal "OK" signal. I think I may have then uttered something about "Heck NO I am riding on this tow truck." My kids claim I didn't say "heck", but they have no proof because Andrew started the video camera too late. I also mentioned something about this not being legal in America. The funny thing was that Rick knew, for an hour and a half that we were going to have to do that, and he was VERY smart not to tell me until that moment.

My favorite part of the drive was when we pulled back onto the autostrade, while riding on TOP of the tow truck, and our GPS kept giving us directions. "Take the next exit to VENICE." We did. We took the exit and then turned around and headed the other direction on the autostrade. Goodbye Venice. "Turn around when possible." We drove 90 mph down the autostrade, Italian style (which is scary enough driving on the road), to the town of Vicenza. There we spent another hour and a half in a freezing cold warehouse getting the gas pumped out.

The best part of the day was the fact that it was our 18th wedding anniversary, did I mention that? Rick said it was the best one ever, he had always dreamed of riding on a tow truck. The boys agreed, they had the time of their lives! And, everyone seemed to enjoy mom screaming and yelling while being put up on a tow truck!

After it was over the owners of the tow company had us follow them into the cute town to show us the best pizza place. They really were so sweet. We had some of the yummiest pizza of trip and then went out for gelato afterward. We got to see a really cute city that wasn't on the schedule. What a day, and it was only officially day 3!


Deon said...

Okay. You could be a sitcom writer because this is way funnier than anything that those writers could have concocted! Si?!!!

The stories your kids will have to tell . . .

Jill, Kenny and Aiden said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! That's too funny! Good thing for schedules huh? Andrew, I would LOVE to see that video!