Excitement about our vacation within a vacation abounds!
We got up early, suitcases ready, got coffee and walked to the train station. I wish we had taken the vaporetto--too many stairs for me with the heavy suitcase--but we made it fine. We had to get the "expensive" train because there were no cheap ones until the afternoon. Upside is that it only took us and hour and 20 minutes to get to Bologna. We had assigned seats in car 5, second class. When we got onto the train, car 5 was crammed with people and big suitcases. I looked to the right, to car 6 and it was empty so we just went in there. The whole ride there were, at most, 5 passengers in our car. I was afraid we would have to move at some point we stayed put--the conductor said nothing when he punched our tickets.
Funny thing--here we are, supposedly savvy travelers--we get off the train in Bologna and we could not figure out how to get out of the station! First we went downstairs where it said exit but then there were other signs for the street I knew we should go to, so we went back up. Finally I asked and it turned out we could exit through the "back door" right off the tracks and we did. It was about a 10 minute walk to Hotel Paradise from there. Our room wasn't ready so we stashed our bags and walked to Piazza Maggiore. We were a little unsettled with the heat, the car traffic and fumes (spoiled Venice residents that we are) so we decided to sit in the piazza and have a cafe "shakerato"--espresso, with sugar, shaken with crushed ice--Italian iced coffee:
We went back to the hotel just in time to meet up with David (Battin) and jump in a cab to go to Al Sangiovese for lunch with 9 other Slow Travel friends. It was SO much fun seeing old friends and new friends. I loved my ravioli with fresh tomato sauce. Ken had a curly short pasta (gramanni???) with a sausage sauce which was also wonderful. He also ordered a beautiful "salad deliziosa" with asparagus, fresh mozzarela and pancetta which was plated beautifully and lived up to its name. We drank a Tocai from Friulli. We sat there and talked and talked. Finally Ken and I walked back to the hotel to check into our room.
We hung out and read, did emails, etc. and the went for another walk. There are lots of very interesting stores around here. On the main street--via Independenzia, there are mostly familiar ones--Zara, H&M, Promod, Golden Point on and on. On the side streets are lots of smaller, some seeming very sophisticated, shops and lots of housewares. I did some serious window shopping and we went into one store with fantastic cheap dishes but we are not buying.
We went through an alley way/pass through at one point and I saw these lights, I really liked:
We decided to make dinner reservations even though we were still full from lunch. We went to Trattoria dal Biassanot, right around the corner. Sitting outside on a breezy evening was lovely and I was glad the hotel told us to reserve because it was full. The food was good but not great. Ken had tagliatelli with porcini and an artichoke salad. I had grilled vegetables, which, although there was a wonderful assortment, were obviously made hours before. I most enjoyed the braised pork shank with porcini. It was falling off the bone-tender and really nice. Ken had a huge bottle of beer and I had a glass of prosecco that tasted like kool-aid at first. I had coffee and they gave us some wonderful crispy meringue cookies with it.
We walked back to Piazza Maggiore which was full of fun loving teens at that hour, and back to the hotel.