Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greetings From Italia!


Greetings from Italia! Let me just say right off the bat that --- Oh my god, I'm so glad I'm here. I've only ever been to Venice, Florence and Pisa, and spent like - a day in each city... I knew it wasn't enough time to really experience Italy, so I've been itching to go back ever since.

Fast forward 5 years later, and here I am, back with a vengeance!

I landed yesterday morning in Genoa, which is in the North Western part of Italy. My jaw dropped when I saw the breathtaking views from my airplane window. I wish I had half a mind to take a photo, but I was too awed to move and too tired to be bothered. This is sort of what it looked like from the airport though...

Borrowed this photo from

From Genoa, I took the bus to the Brignole train station, and from Brignole, took the train to Chiavari. My Help Exchange host, Martina, picked me up from Chiavari, and drove me up to the Shanti House, which will be my home for the next 3 weeks.

From outside the house, before even entering, I heard guitar strings being masterfully played... I had no idea who it was, but I knew right then and there that I was going to like staying here.

Photo from

The Shanti House is basically a B&B that offers guests some form of escape and peace away from the big city. It's located 700m above sea level and 22km away from coastal resorts like Chiavari and Lavagna. The place is really rustic, has really great surroundings, and quite peaceful. All the guests are so at home, I had such a hard time distinguishing guests and volunteers from the owners. Everyone's just so relaxed and sort chilled out!

Photo from

I met two of the other volunteers Janaca and Shanti, and I was keen to get started helping them out as well but Martina shoved some cheese, alcohol and bread in my face and said I should just relax for the day. Thank goodness for that because I really wasn't feeling very well. Tired from the journey, I think.

So I spent the day just hanging out with the guests, eating cheese and salami. My favorite bit though was jamming along with the musicians playing in the lounge area. Brilliant musicians! I could have spent all day there, honestly... I LOVE musicians. I was so glad I brought my ukulele with me.

Photo from

However, my enjoyment got cut short because I felt sick. I had a migraine and was bed ridden from 6pm onward. I get these really bad migraines every now and then which usually gets suppressed by meds. On very special occasions though, meds won't work, and I wouldn't be able to even move my head or open my eyes from the pain. And that's what happened to me yesterday which SUCKED BALLS because I couldn't even eat dinner!

What's worse is I could hear everyone downstairs yelling "BUON APPETITO" with a round of applause... AND I could smell the aroma of the beautiful food that the resident cook, Pippo, created... AND I could hear the clinking of the wine glasses they were having with dinner.

OH and they had a mini concert after that. All the musicians banded together to play and sing and I missed it. I missed ALL of it because of my stupid STUPID migraine. WAAAAH!

My fave photo of a crying child because it captures exactly how I feel

It sucks - but I wasn't too depressed. I was actually smiling the whole time I was hearing everything that was going on because I had a "glimpse" of what's in store for me for the next 3 weeks! :)

I woke up really early today. Took more meds, had a shower, and I am thankfully feeling better. It's 8am right now, and the whole household is still asleep. Apparently nothing starts here till about 10am. Haha! I really am going to like it here!

It was a rough start, but there's no where to go but up! Today is an Italian holiday - Ferragosta. I have no idea what they do or what it's about... but they said we were going to town for some fun and celebration, so... I'm outta here and I'll talk to you guys soon with more action.