For the past month we’ve been spending quality time in two very contrasting worlds. After a few parting tears at the airport near Trieste, Kathy and Glenn’s only request was that we contact them and let them know where we decided to sleep that night, at this point there wasn’t a plan. With a free month at our finger tips and limited Euros in our pockets we decided it was time to WWOOF again. We contacted a dozen farms in Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia and received a lot of responses from people that were really interested in meeting us, but didn’t have need for extra workers at the time. Then we received a reply from a farm in northern Italy that read like this:

“I dont now if our farm the right place it s for you. We are a little farm and we cant say how many hours per day you should help. we like to have people hier thath enjoi want to now, lerning and help in our kind of live that we have choised.”

We knew right away, that this was exactly the right place for us, because, you know... we love: “ to enjoi want to now lerning and we’re intrigued by the live they have choised.”

The decision to join Silke and Nivio for two weeks on their farm/home has been one of our most life changing experiences on this trip. We’ve reached
some pretty serious heights and taken some adventurous routes through undeveloped nations but this was a take home experience. This couple has built up a sustainable farm over the past ten years and they live off the fruits of their labor. With twenty goats, four sheep, two cows, ten chickens, ten bee swarms, a large garden, an orchard of fruit trees and a passion for biodynamics they’ve created a small world of their own. We immediately felt at ease with them as they led us through their daily lives and after only two days we started imagining creating this type of life for ourselves. Did I mention the homemade tiramisu? Well there's that, too. We were meant to stay ten days but that’s just when the weather started getting nice and the actual work started so we stuck around a few more, in the end we ended up living with them for fifteen days. I have no doubt in my mind that we are going to stay in close contact with this couple and pick their brains for the next few decades.

After leaving Silke and Nivio’s world we traveled deeper into the Italian Alps on a week-long self guided bike trip around Trentino and into the throws of Lago de Garda; absolutely breath taking. From there we made our way out of the mountains and down to the sea one last time in search of a different type of world. The grand finale to our backpacking adventure in Europe was spent in fluffy robes, sipping fine wines and eating sushi aboard ‘The World’. This is the true definition of getting soft.

In reflection Italy has been all about getting to know family on another level, whether the separation has been generations, months or states. The most rewarding part of our final Italian leg on the ship, apart from the little chocolate truffles they serve with the cappuccino, was the quality time spent
with my aunt and uncle. Karyn and Geoff have always been a part of my life but I’d never taken the opportunity to spend more than a weekend, a wedding, or an over-crowded family occasion with them. We had a fantastic week with them, wandering the streets of Venice and exploring the many coastal towns of Croatia. We had planned to disembark in Split but were convinced to stay on until Rome, the
convincing took all of about two minutes. Our days were filled with paddle tennis,
excursions ashore and backgammon on the pool deck while the evenings took a
different twist with outdoor movies, endless magnificent meals and ...wait for it.... a vow renewal. My personal favorites were the nights we arranged to sleep out under the stars in the bali beds, a softer alternative to camping. In Rome we reluctantly got our packs out of storage, returned all our barrowed clothes and whittled our packs down to the Ryanair mandatory 15 KG/pack! Reality hits you like a brick.

We headed to the Netherlands to celebrate the retirement of an ex-colleague of Ryan's and a rendezvous with Ade and Barb, a couple we raved about back in Vietnam.

Europe's chapter is coming to a close; one that didn't go so much according to plan, but in the best way possible. Only South America now stands between us and landing back in the USA....and we're going to go out with a bang!


    On July 1, 2010 at 6:11 PM Anonymous said...

    Wow! Wow! Wow ! I haven't treated myself to an hour of catching up on your blog in over a month! So good to hear about Europe and your experiences. Renewing your vows - very awesome ! I was so sad not to be able to meet you there. Pictures are amazing and the stories make me smile ! Love ya - Bren