Tuesday, February 21, 2006

2006 Winter Olympics: Torino, Italy

This weekend actually started off here in Berlin when I told Pablo that I'd go with him and his friends clubbing on Friday. Apparently it was the best drum & bass party of the year at this club called Watergate, which overlooks the Oberbaum Brücke, and the entry fee was 10€. (Expensive by Berlin standards.) I'd said that I would only stay until 2, the latest at 2:30, because I had to wake up early to get to the airport. Well, go figure, I stayed longer and actually enjoyed the drum & bass floor more than the "mainstream" floor. To my complete surprise, I was pretty much dancing (or rather, bouncing) the entire time, whether because I wanted to, or to avoid some people (whose names will not be mentioned, but Alex, you know who I mean if you're reading this).

I left Watergate at around 4 a.m, walked home, got in the shower (couldn't go to sleep all gross!), and went to bed by 4:30-5 a.m. I woke up at 8:45 a.m. in order to eat breakfast, make sure I had all my things packed, and got to the airport. I had a layover at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris and the weather was pretty crappy, but all went smoothly and I got to Torino on time where I met up with Hugo and his friend Elizabeth.

As soon as we got into the city, we rushed off to pick up our tickets and then rushed off again so that Hugo and I could get to our hockey game on time. When we got to the arena, the game was only 4 minutes into the first period and it was already loud, packed, and full of energy. Hugo and I kept exclaiming to each other that it was unbelievable that we were actually there in Torino at the hockey game. We had been planning the hockey game for over a year already!

The game was pretty awesome, mostly due to the energy from the fans. There were lots of, "Settle down, boys!," "Stop being so sloppy!," and "What the fuck?!" from the Americans. (I didn't understand the Slovakian fans) From me, I kept shouting in German: "Nein!!!," "Was macht ihr?!," and "Verdammt Scheiss!" (I concluded that it was much more expressive, and well, it just came out in German, except for the times that I was shouting, "Yeaaah!!") I have to admit, both teams seemed to be a bit sloppy, but especially the Americans. There were times when it seemed that players forgot they had the puck, just didn't look up to see a pass coming, or just passed it way out yonder or to the Slovakians.

Too bad there isn't a website "overheardattheolympics.com." (If you don't know what I'm referring to, check this website out now. It's hilarious.) At the hockey game, some of the best quotes included a guy on his cell phone ("Dude! Are you watching TV now? The US vs. Slovakia game? Yeah! I'm there, man! I'm AT the Olympics! I'm behind the American bench! Well, no, farther up. But I'm there, man!") and another guy behind us ("Um, I'm already drunk. It's only the first period, isn't it?"). I'm sure some of the stuff that Hugo and I said were pretty ridiculous. We tried doing some Middlebury cheers (Tiny Bubbles and the one when we win), but we couldn't remember all of Tiny Bubbles. (Beer = cheer, Gin = win, that's all we remembered).

After the hockey game, we went to meet up with Devin, except that it didn't really happen. Hugo got us really lost and we wound up near the Olympic Village for the athletes, when Devin was by the Sponsors Village. Two hours later than we had said, we finally met at the train station Porta Nuova. We were supposed to meet up with Hugo's other friends who were in 2 other groups, but that just didn't happen. Time went by rather quickly, and by the time we knew it, it was too late to get the last trains and too early to get the first trains out to Sangano, where we were staying with a family. I was exhausted and admittedly cranky since I was running on 4 hours or less of sleep. Hugo, Devin, and I decided to just sit and hang out in the train station for a little bit, then we met up with one group of his other friends. We finally got a train at around 5 a.m., got back to where we were staying and went to sleep at 7 a.m. (Yup, a 23 hour day for me.)
Porta Nuova, the train station, with the Olympic Rings

Devin and Hugo had said they were going to wake up early, but I knew it wasn't going to happen. We ended up getting up at 1 p.m. and getting into Torino by around 2:30/3 pm, where we tried figuring out train tickets out to Sauze d'Oulx, where the freestyle skiing was taking place. (It's rather close to the French border.) That took up more time than we expected, so instead of wandering the city as we had planned, we grabbed some food quickly and got on the train.

The ride out to Sauze d'Oulx was about 45 minutes, and then an additional 30 minutes by bus up the mountain. When we got there, it was snowing pretty hard, and when neared the actual venue, we were told that the event was postponed until 8:30 pm. We found a small bar that was relatively empty and drank some hot drinks, but then heard that the event was postponed even more. Finally, we actually got word that due to the heavy snowfall, the event was to be rescheduled for Tuesday, 21 February. It was disappointing, since Devin and I were flying back here to Berlin on Monday, and Hugo and Elizabeth had to go back to Ferrara for classes. Elizabeth and I trekked back down to the venue to see if anything could be done about a refund, where we got the last forms in English to get it.

Everyone had to leave the mountain since almost no one was staying there. It was rather chaotic trying to stay together and not get seperated, but we managed. (Devin's quote: "I think we just got seperated from our peeps.") The buses were boarded and people were in lines for the next buses to come, but nothing was moving. No traffic was coming or going. Word got around that the climb down the mountain was only 30 minutes. Devin, Hugo, Elizabeth, and I decided that we might as well walk, since the traffic wasn't moving and it didn't seem that we were going to get a bus.

First of all, the walk down was way longer than 30 minutes. It took us 2 hours to get walk to the train station. What we didn't realize was the mountain was 1,509 meters high (or 4,950 feet). Additionally, it took a little longer than expected because there was snow and nobody wanted to fall. The whole experience felt like a disaster movie with loads of people walking by stuck cars, or it felt like a zombie movie because there were points where there just lots of people walking in the dark. Then suddenly there would be one shining light, and everyone was just surprised to see there was light.

It was pretty beautiful walking down. The mountains eerily rose out of the darkness and were these huge gray masses with very little light. Looking up from where we had walked from, there were bright lights illuminating the whisps of cloud and outlining the crowds of people walking down. Additionally, we walked through one or two very small mountain towns that were very rustic and Italian. I have several pictures up on my Flickr account and you can view all my pictures from Torino as a slideshow, if you want.

So all in all, Sunday was spent trying to get an event that didn't even happen, but it still made for a fun experience. On Monday, we actually woke up early (7 a.m.) and got into Torino by 9:30 so that we could explore. We first went to go see the Shroud of Turin at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We had kept making jokes all weekend that this was the one damn thing in Turin that we had to see, and it had better not be a disappointment, like a giant piece of toilet paper or something. We only could see a replica of it with pictures of it x-rayed underneath, and then way up front, the Shroud was in a case of aluminum and glass lying horizontally. I could see how it sort of looked like Jesus, but as an atheist, I wasn't that convinced, though it was pretty remarkable to see. (I personally thought it looked like a big tablecloth with a big coffee stain on it that happened to look like Jesus. Not that I'm saying it's real or not. That's just my perception of what it looked like to me.)

After the Shroud, we went to go see La Mole Antonelliana, which was a synagogue at one point and is currently the highest point in Turin. Unfortunately, the elevator to the panaromic view was closed because it was Monday. La Mole is basically that thing that you see in all the Visa ads with a ski jumper going past it. Devin and Hugo kept saying that it looked like a large stump coming out of a dome. I suppose that's one way you could describe it.

La Mole Antonelliana

Next, we went and got some food near the Sponsors Village, where this huge plastic thing that Devin described as an Aggro Crag. (Yes, that thing from that show Guts on Nickelodeon.) I forgot to take a picture of it. After lunch, Devin had to leave to catch a train to Milan, where her flight back was leaving from. Hugo, Elizabeth, and I went into the Sponsors Village to see if we could buy anything, but it turned out that the huge Olympic store was in some plaza a bit farther out than I could go, since I had to catch a bus to the airport for my flight. However, we did see past Olympic torches on display there. The three of us departed at the Sponsors Village and I walked back to a smaller Olympic store closer to the Medals Plaza. I came to the conclusion that there wasn't anything worth buying, so I didn't spend any money.

I was actually awake for part of from Torino to Paris. The view from the plane was stunning and I had to take some pictures of the Alps. After that, I actually fell asleep so deeply after not getting much sleep in Torino that the only thing that woke me was when the plane landed. I had to admit that I was relieved to get back to Berlin, if only because the public transportation here is so much more reliable.

The view of the Alps from the plane from Torino to Paris

The rest of the week will be devoted to resting up from the Olympics and getting ready for Karneval in Düsseldorf and Köln. From what I hear, it'll be.....interesting.


Stiny said...

Dude, i bet watching the olympics in person must be really cool. I never watch on t.v. because, well, yeah...but the exxcitment and feel of the crowd must be freaking amazing. Thats such an awesome experience, I mean, you were at the fucking olympixcs!!!!! How fucking cool is that.

Alexandra Romero said...

Agro Cragg!!! I loved that show. That, and the other one with the temple obstacle course thing...do you remember what that is called?

Going through another missing Berlin phase right now. I need a doener in the worst way!

Dan said...

Even though there were delays and mishaps, that sounds like an amazing trip! And you got to see Hugo! I miss that little guy. I saw your Flickr pictures too - and I thought the same thing when I saw the Zamboni picture. "Is that as cool as Middlebury's Zamboni?" We are dorks. And spoiled rotten at that wonderful school. Good job with the Middlebury cheers!

For Alex's benefit, the "temple obstacle course thing" was a show called "Legends of the The Hidden Temple." And yes, that show was the SHIT! You might still be able to catch reruns on TV.

Joel W. said...

Sounds like a really great time. You're so lucky to travel and experience all those things. That's good you're using your German for cheering. Sounds like you're much more comfortable with it. Awesome pics! Thanks for the update, it's great to see what you've been up to over there!

Crystal said...

Yay olympics.

Jackie said...

Fuuuun!!!! I'm so jealous! I really hope I get to see Hugo this week. Ahhh, the Olympics!! And despite what Dan says, the Agro Crag is indeed from Guts, not Legends of the Hidden Temple.

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