Turin: Day 1 (cont.) – Fancy Digs, Gorgeous Feasts, and..yup. Curling.

(In case you missed the first Turin entry, you’ll want to start here.)

When we last saw our heroes, they had just discovered that there was no room at the hotel at which they had believed they had a reservation. Let’s join them now, shall we?

Shortly after receiving the bad news that we were technically homeless for the next two nights, our situation improved. The manager’s wife came down from upstairs, clearly feeling bad about the situation, and called around to other hotels in the area on our behalf to check for vacancies. She found one at a hotel up the hill – Villa San Maurizio – but only for one night. Good enough, we decided, and we set off to track down our new home with only a crude hand-drawn map and fairly general directions.

As one might expect (especially one who is familiar with my skills as a navigator), we got lost along the way. We had reached the church that stood on top of the hill overlooking Pinerolo which we knew to be close to our hotel, but couldn’t progress any further.

When an elderly woman approached us on the street, I performed the traditional tourist introduction (that delightful combination of trying to apologize for bothering her, thank her for stopping, and assure her that I wasn’t a serial killer – all at the same time) and then asked if she knew where our hotel was located.

She didn’t speak a lick of English, but I took from her actions that she didn’t know the way.

But here was another moment where the wonderfully friendly nature of the Italians shone through. The lady pulled us along down the street – prattling on in conversation to us the whole time, realizing full well we couldn’t understand a single word – until we reached a busier street. She then flagged down a car, and after they rolled down their window, asked them if they knew how to get to our hotel.

Before we knew it, the car’s driver has gotten out and pointed us on our way. As it turns out, we had only to walk down the hill.

Fate, it would seem, would take good care of us during our trip: our room at the hotel was absolutely gorgeous. With a stone balcony with a view that looked out over the entire city and the soft peal of church bells in the distance, it was a wonderful surprise.

We also had at our disposal the latest in bottom-cleansing technology – a branch of science that I have not, to this day, had the courage to make use of. Not that I am in any way opposed to the device in principle, mind you. Far from it. Rather, I harbour certain fears about the types of injuries that could be sustained were one to accidentally use the device improperly. Perhaps if it came with a little instruction manual. With pictures. But not too many.

After dropping off our bags and inspecting our new room, we were off to the Women’s Gold Medal match.

Game 2: Women’s Gold Medal – Sweden vs. Switzerland:

Sweden 2 4 6 7 9 11
Score 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Switzerland 3 8 10

(full game statistics here)

This was a fantastic game to watch, and a nail-biter right down to the final stone of the extra end. Both teams were at the top of their game – as the throwing statistics show – and there were no favourites for who should take home the gold. In the end, Sweden took the win with a beautiful double-takeout by skip Anette Norberg with her final stone. The crowd went wild – it was a fantastic shot, and a well-earned win.

Following the match was the flower presentation ceremony. (The medals are awarded back in Torino at the medals plaza, but the Gold, Silver and Bronze winning teams are awarded flowers at the venue.) Shannon Kleibrink and the rest of team Canada looked thrilled to be on the podium, and it wouldn’t be the last time we would see Canadians on those steps.

While watching the match, we began chatting with a lady sitting behind us in the stands. Heather turned out to be a fellow Canadian who had been living in Italy for the past six months to learn Italian. When we happened to mention that we were still on the lookout for a place to stay for the following night (having only a single night’s reservation at our fancy pad), she instantly suggested that she could contact the owner of the B & B she was staying at! Next thing we knew, she had not only arranged a place for us to stay for the following night, but even offered to meet us there the following morning to serve as translator while we checked in. I said it before, I’ll say it again. Canadians rock.

We were on cloud nine as we left the evening match, having had our accommodation related worries evaporate before our eyes while watching a fabulous game. But now, it was time to sneak back into town and find some of this fine Italian cuisine we’d heard so much about!

Pinerolo by night was gorgeous. There’s just something about high-vaulted arcades with good lighting. As we walked towards a restaurant we had had recommended to us earlier in the day by our Norwegian friends, we passed a few interesting shop windows that were vending some products that one wouldn’t normally see front-and-centre on display. In another window, we found a curling broom displayed that was exactly the make and model that Ally used to use back in Vancouver!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we bumped into an unexpected familiar face. Standing in the smoking area outside the restaurant was former Olympic curling champion Pål Trulsen of Norway, holding court with a circle of fans while drunk out of his gourd. He was, however, on the ball enough to inform us in passing that there were no tables available at the restaurant. World class curler and source of local dining information! Who knew?

Alas, he was quite right about the lack of tables at the restaurant, and so our search continued. As we passed the Hotel Regina – the hotel at which we had originally intended to stay – we recalled that our friendly troupe of Norwegians had waxed poetic on the topic of the hotel’s dining room. We decided that, if we couldn’t enjoy the hotel’s guest rooms, we could at least try out their food.

I have never, and may never again, consume as much as I did that evening.

We each ordered a pre-set four-course meal off the menu, and enjoyed every single dish. We were both stuffed to the gills by the time our fourth courses were finished, and as the waiter collected our plates he left us each a spoon. We both stared at our newly delivered cutlery with a combination of surprise, anticipation and dread, our eyes meeting across the table, the unspoken question hanging in the air between us. A fifth course?

(“Oh come, sir. It eez onlee a tiny leetle wafer…”)

Indeed there was a fifth course, and it was wonderful. And after said course, there was coffee. And after coffee, there was conversation with the other diners – among them our gang of Norwegians, who also had at their table the coach of the Canadian Men’s and Women’s curling team! As we rolled our way out of the dining room, we were given a Team Canada whistle by the coach, and wished them well at the gold medal match the following day.

A combination of a fantastic day out, good food and a half-litre of wine had left us in a euphoric state as we walked up the hill to our hotel overlooking the hill, where we fell asleep almost instantly after we hit the sheets, and enjoyed a long, peaceful sleep.

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