Kayaker, Engineer, Athlete, Tinkerer

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Training (my palate)

Well today was an off day in Milan.  I had ambitions to rent a motorycle and try to drive the Stelvio, but the combination of there being snow and just the experience of italian driver's I decided that could wait for another trip.  Instead we had a plan to drive to a wood working shop to buy some wood to make a roof race for the rental car.  After making directions and look at maps we set off.   Let me just say that driving in Milan is ambitious, just the vast number or cars combined with lane splitting scooters/motorcycles along with lots of cyclists and pedestrians makes things difficult.  About a quarter of the way there I ended up taking a wrong turn,  then took and even worse one heading further into the city center.  It took driving in a bus lane and some aggressive driving to make it back in the right direction. Once we got to the spot where I thought the store was the next task was finding a parking spot.  After a few go rounds of the streets in the area we actually managed to find one and with a little direction I was able to parallel park the car, which I believe is honestly the first time I've had to do it since my drivers license test. Then, we had to find the actual store, the unfortunate part was that we actually weren't at the right spot and after spending half an hour wandering around we gave up and headed back. After driving in Milan traffic for a good portion of the morning I came back and took a nap.  Later in the afternoon we headed out again but this time on foot.  We already saw the Duomo yesterday so today we went to an old castle, not really sure of the name but it was cool.
The main entrance of the castle

Outside of the entrance there were some crazy street performers.  The top one is sitting on a soccer ball on top of a pole held in one hand by the man on the bottom who is sitting on a glass jar.  The were just sitting there static, who knows for how long.

from inside the castle

Some castle's have moats with water, this one has a moat of stray cats
The view out the back of the castle

After all this wandering we were getting hungary. I heard tip from one of my old roomates about a cool coffee shop in Milan, after looking them up, it turned out they had an eight course dinner special that night, so that sounded like a good thing to try.  First was some Jean-paul Deville champagne 
Next, was basically a vegetable medley, but with 15 different elements and it was amazing

Next was a sort of tomato paste with stewed yellow tomatoes, basil and several other things I can't remember

this course was branzino (sea bass) with sea urchins, and a spinach cream sauce

Then came the some sort of meat? haha well it was marinated for 3 hours, then roasted and dried slightly and served with a light mustard sauce on thin slices of toasted bread doused in olive oil

Then came a shot of yogurt with ginger to cleanse the palate

Ah dessert, dark chocolate mouse, with rasberry jam, and white chocolate cream,  not nearly enough of this, so they have us another plate

Top it off with some really good espresso and some cookies. An excellent meal in a really cool cafe.  Going to try and head back in the morning for this before leaving Milan, so good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Long Flight and First Impressions

Well my self and Chris Norbury (Team Manager) have arrived in Milan and we made it to our hotel or at least that's the short boring version.  Going back a few steps, we both were on the same flight and ironically the same row of the plane which made the logistics of meeting in the airport easier.  Once we picked up our luggage, the plan was to rent a car and make our way into Milan (the larger airport is a little ways from the interesting part of Milan).  Since Chris would be heading back sooner than I, was he was going to put the rental car in his name and I would share cost.  Yet Chris didn't know his driver's license was expired until he tried to rent a car at the airport, so now the rental car was in my name, but attached to Chris's credit card, haha perfect...  Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear said that the fastest car in the world is a rental car, because it's a car you will drive to the limit.  I disagree, I say the fastest car in the world is a rental car on someone else's credit card haha.    So we hopped in and started on our way towards finding our hotel.   Let's just say that being jetlagged and jumping straight into absurd crazy italian traffic is not the most relaxing, luckily I can drive quickly,  we made it through the madness to the hotel.  Since it was still early, we couldn't check in, but we were able to park the car and explore a little on foot,  there was a nice restaurant a little down the street so we went there for lunch, after two airline meals, the food was delicious and the shot of espresso that came the meal was much needed to keep the jetlag at bay.
After the meal we still had some time to kill so we walked to the city centre.  I've never been in any of the really old cities so it was cool to see everything made of stone instead of asphalt. We wandered around the plaza of the Duomo and even went inside for a bit (I didn't have my camera on me so google duomo, the third largest church in the world).  It wasn't long until the inevitable happened, someone asked me if I played basketball..... After a while we went back to check into the hotel and shower, and sleep a little.
I booked the hotel through hotwire for two adults,  I was sort of hoping that it would mean two beds, but it didn't.  The receptionist even tried to be coy be say there was only a single available, which I responded with a deadpan stare and stammering uhhhhh, luckily she was joking but there is only a queen size bed. Ah memories.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Italy Bound

Hi there, well later today I will take a flight to Italy to begin training for the World Championships.  I've always like the idea of trying to keep this updated but recently there have been several distractions: graduation, picking grad schools, find places to live,  and even working in NC for the past two weeks. Since this is my second World Championships race I have a better idea of what to expect and how things will play out.  I'll keep this updated as training progresses and especially for the races.  Thanks to everyone who helped by donating or buying a shirt!