Tuesday, November 11, 2008

School? What's That?

PICTURES (in order from top to bottom):
1. Halloween party: Wonder Woman and Soccer Player
2. The French basketball players
3. Playing Twister!
4. Girls night out!
5. Midnight Snack! French Fry sandwich!
6. I have to go to school???!?
7. Hip hop break dancers
8. Waiting for the bus with Alex
9. Chicken and cheese crepe Karen made us!

The night we got back from Italy was Halloween and the Irish boys were hosting a party. I had to throw together a costume at the last minute so I decided to be a European soccer "futball" player. I wore my basketball shorts, Karen’s sneakers that happen to look like cleats, and borrowed Shane’s Manchester United jersey. It ended up being a great costume for not spending any money! The party was awesome and I was lucky enough to meet some French guys who play basketball! They invited us to their open-gym type practice. On Thursday night Karen, Emily, and I went to the gym and found, of course, all boys playing. At first I was a bit rusty (we had to do lay-up lines) but once we started scrimmaging I was doing really well. My team was actually pretty good, it was just really weird hearing French being shouted while playing basketball. I realized I was a little out of shape as I attempted to run up and down the court! But we plan to go every week now and I just bought some tennis shoes to wear so I’m really excited!

Today is Wednesday the 12th. I actually had class Monday-Thursday last week and had to do a bunch of homework. I only have one class on Thursday this week. HAHA! This school system is so odd. Tuesday was apparently another holiday so they just shut everything down Monday as well. I plan on spending this week writing a 7 page finance paper and getting homework done in advance so that I don’t have to worry about it when we are traveling. Alex and I have just booked a trip to Barcelona, Spain and we are looking into a trip to London. I recently found out that a friend from home is studying abroad in Lancaster, England and would be able to meet up with us in London! I hope it works out!
So, I have some exciting news. I actually cooked chicken BY MYSELF for the first time ever and I didn’t die of food poisoning! It was actually good! I had chicken, pasta, corn, and bread! I took a picture of my amazing chef meal but I accidentally deleted it! I know, it’s suspicious that I deleted the only proof of me cooking, but I swear I really did!

I realized today as I woke up at 3:30pm that I may have a sleep addiction. I think I need to work on that before I get back to the States and actually have class everyday! Well friends, it’s time to do the dishes and homework. How exciting! BYE!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Florence and Milan!

Pictures (in order from top to bottom):
1. Florence dinner, Karen and Alex
2. My fish with no face
3. Guinness picture for Daddy
4. Florence Duomo
5. Lighting a candle in the church
6. Big deparment store in Milan
7. Ray-Ban!
8. Ferrari Store
9. Pica, the hotel's dog
10. Milan Duomo
11. Candles inside Milan Duomo
12. Protest in Milan
13. Milan McDonalds
14. Train ride home through Switzerland
To see all of my pictures on PhotoBucket go to:
On the left you will see a list of the different Albums. Just click on the one you want and the pictures will come up. I separated them by city to make them easier to view.
The next stop on our Italian vacation was Florence. At this point it was just myself, Scotty, Alex, and Karen. Evan had an ultimate goal of reaching the southern coast of Italy, which I believe he eventually did. On the train the ticket guy charged us each 50euros for not having our travel date marked in our Eurail Pass! I was, as my Dad says, LIVID. I was at the point of screaming at him but he was being impossible! I finally realized I wouldn’t be able to talk my way out of this one. Talk about frustrating!!! So we just had to suck up the cost and try to not let it ruin the rest of our trip.

Unfortunately, Florence and Milan did not provide the same beautiful weather as Rome. As soon as we got into Florence it was raining and basically didn’t stop the entire time we were there. Once we got settled into our hostel, we went out in search of a cheap restaurant where we could fill our stomachs with even more pasta! Florence doesn’t have near as many tourists as Rome, so it felt like we were immersed in the real Italian culture. I felt like I was in the movie “Goodfellas” cause all these fat Italian men would come in the restaurant and go in the back. Sketchy!

As we sat down to eat, I ordered spaghetti as my first course and fish as my second. Just to be sure, I asked the server if my fish was going to come out with a face. He looked at me quite perplexed and said he did not understand. For the next five minutes I tried to explain what I meant and finally he said, “No, no head. It’s filet.” I was satisfied. Mom offered to pay for a meal for everyone in Italy so I used this as her meal. Everyone really enjoyed it, Karen even ordered rabbit!
That night we found a bar called Fish Bowl and they had a sign on the door for beer pong. We were all surprised because no one in Europe knows what that is. Apparently the owner was from the States so that explains it. It was a fun night even though the place was crowded with a high school group. Oh, immature little teenagers.

The next morning we set out to see the Duomo, a church with a large dome, (apparently both Florence and Milan have a Duomo) and find the fake statue of David. The Duomo was really pretty inside and I lit a candle for Grams and Gramps. We would’ve gone to the top but the day was so foggy it would have been pointless. Next we went to find the fake David but of course when we got there it was under construction and was completely covered! Just our luck! Since it was raining and nasty we just got some food, headed home, and watched Transformers in the hostel that night!

The next morning we set off for Milan, the fashion capital of the world! I was so excited! It took us a while to find our hostel, (conveniently named “America Hotel”) but once we did we settled in and then went exploring. While Karen went to a museum, Scotty and I went to the street with all the expensive stores. There are tons of expensive cars everywhere and we even saw a Bentley parked on a curb! We window shopped and I gazed at all the beautiful clothes and shoes I couldn’t afford.
Next we went to the Milan Duomo which I liked a lot more than they Florence one because it was the epitome of gothic architecture. Since it was raining all day, the gargoyles had water streaming out of their mouths, and the roof was covered in statues and pointed steeples. The inside was just as detailed and creepy, even the candles were tall and eerie looking as oppose to the usual round, flat ones in churches. Once back outside we met yet another protest. I don’t know why the Italians are so angry at life. I mean, I think Italy is pretty cool. Oh well.

The following day we decided to check out the AC Milan soccer stadium. There was a HUGE round thing on our map that was clearly marked “stadium” so we figured that had to be it. However, once we got there it was a tiny field and track with about 10 rows of seating. Something told us that wasn’t it, so we gave up (it’s just soccer anyways) and decided to go shopping!!! Yes, it’s shocking but I didn’t buy any shoes in Milan. I know. I actually didn’t find any that were worthy of the 80-100euros they would be costing me so I just stuck to buying some awesome pieces of clothing. I got a dress, shirt, shirt, and sweater vest! They are all black and/or grey. The French must be having an affect on my wardrobe because their style is completely void of any color. Oh well, apparently the less color you wear, the more chic you are!

I would have loved to spend more time in Milan but unfortunately we only had two rainy days. By this time we had been gone for about a week and I was more than ready to come home. Living out of a backpack for 7 days was a nightmare for me and I was so ready for it to end! Walking in the rain to find the train station after the bus didn’t stop to pick us up was horrible. By the time we were on the train home my shoes and pants were soaked and I was miserable. At lease our train went through Switzerland and we were surrounded by beautiful mountains covered in snow! Once we got home and settled back into our room I was so happy!

When in Rome!

PICTURES (in order top to bottom):
1. Scotty and Evan playing Uno on the train to Rome
2. So happy I got to see Mary!
3. Colosseum!
4. Rome overview
5. Spaghetti!
6. Maserati!
7. Me in front of the Mussolini building
8. Police blockade
9. Vatican
10. Inside the Basilica
11. Patheon
12. Spanish steps
13. Sistine Chapel ceiling
To see all of my pictures on PhotoBucket go to:
On the left you will see a list of the different Albums. Just click on the one you want and the pictures will come up. I separated them by city to make them easier to view.

Bonjourno! So last week we had a vacation week. I’m not really sure why but, hey, I’m not complaining! Scott, Karen, and I planned an Italy trip including Rome, Florence, and Milan. On Thursday the 23rd we boarded an overnight train to Rome with our other friends, Alex from Canada and Evan from Colorado. I’ve come to find that I cannot sleep on overnight trains, even though we had beds. Some guy in the room next to us was snoring so loud I thought the walls were going to crack. Also we stopped for at least an hour in the middle of the night and I heard people knocking on the door next to us saying, “Policia! Policia!” I’m not sure what that was all about. All I know is it made us really late and angry. My friend from high school, Mary, is studying abroad in Rome so she was there to meet us at the train station! Unfortunately, she was leaving for Switzerland that day following an exam so I did not have much time to spend with her. First, we checked into our hotel. It was quite frustrating because the Italian guy behind the desk did not understand our situation at all and was attempting to charge us extra money. After yelling at him for a while, I just gave up and we left for lunch.

I was so excited for my first Italian meal! I could eat pasta everyday for the rest of my life, so Italy seems the place for me! I believe I had pizza one time and the rest was spaghetti with tomato sauce. After lunch I had to say goodbye to Mary as the rest of us headed off to the Colosseum. As soon as we got off the metro stop and walked outside, it was RIGHT there in front of us. The Colosseum is, by far, one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The pure size of it is baffling, not to mention how ridiculously old it is! After buying a knock-off Prada bag, I got in the entrance line. The inside was just as incredible as the outside and I got a little camera-happy so you can check out the pictures. Outside there is a huge arc surrounded by really interesting trees! I liked them a lot for some reason. There are also palm trees in Rome which was cool. The weather was great, sunny and quite hot. We then climbed about a billion steps to the top of something and got a great view of all of Rome, especially its ruins.

By this time it was pretty late so we went back to shower and walked around Rome some more. We found this gorgeous building that we believe had something to do with Mussolini and made a point to come back the next day. We also got some ice cream and made a mess sitting on the side of the street eating it. In Italy if you sit at the tables in a restaurant or shop you have to pay a sitting fee, so we resorted to the sidewalk!

Saturday we went to a famous fountain and went in the Mussolini museum which ended up being quite boring except for the beautiful view at the top of it. (OMG I saw the most gorgeous Maserati on a street when I was getting us lost! I took pictures, it was beautiful!) Next we went and saw a movie about the history of Rome. It was in those theatres with the moving chairs and special effects like water, fog, etc. It was pretty interesting and fun. After that we walked around saw a huge protest. There were police all over lining up in blockade formation. I was somewhat nervous as we had no idea what was going on. We quickly left that area to go get ready for the night. We attended a Pub Crawl that turned out to be a great time. We got free T-shirts and you can never go wrong with that! We met a bunch of other Americans and even Australians! Towards the end of the night Karen and I got separated from the group because they got on a different bus so we just made our way back to the hostel and went to bed.

Sunday morning, Alex, Karen, and I did the responsible thing and made our way to the Vatican. I was really hoping to see the Pope but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. While waiting in line to go in the Basilica we met two American guys dressed as priests. I don’t know if they were trying to sell something or flirt with girls but I’m thinking dressing up as priests at the VATICAN isn’t really the right angle to take. We also saw the Swiss guards on the way in. Personally I think they look ridiculous in their little clown outfits. They really need a fashion update. Like all the other churches we have been in, the Basilica was massive and gorgeous. The architecture around the altar was amazing!

Next we headed to the Pantheon and stopped to see some interesting sights along the way. While the girls were out and about the boys, Scotty and Evan had rented mopeds and were driving all around Rome. When we got back that night they had an interesting story waiting for us. Apparently Scotty was riding on a road with tram tracks and when he went to turn, his wheel got stuck, he went flying over the handlebars, and crashed. The cost of a damaged bike is 900 euros so Scotty said all he thought when he was flying through the air was, “NO! 900 EUROS! My parents are going to kill me!” Thankfully, the bike was not that marked up, and Scotty luckily got away without any payment. Also, he was miraculously not hurt except for a scratched up knee. He should be so happy he didn’t have to go to the hospital because I would have slapped him for making me so worried and stressed out!

On Monday we headed back to the Vatican museum to see the Sistine Chapel which had been closed the day before. We were quite unaware that you have to pass through over 40 rooms until you actually get to the chapel. Not to mention that every room had a sign that said “Chapella Sistina” with an arrow so we kept thinking it was the next room! We only had an hour until we had to catch our train so we straight up booked it through the whole museum until we finally reached the Chapel. It was well worth it, though, the ceiling was unbelievable and we got some illegal pictures! Once we left we just about ran back to our hostel so we wouldn’t miss our train to Florence.

On a more general note, I think I should have studied Italian instead of French. The language is almost comical, because it is just English with an “i” or “a” or “o” at the end of every word! As I currently look at my Pringles can from Italy, for example, the word for ingredients is “ingredienti”, nutritional information is “informazioni nutrizionali”, and carbohydrates is “carboidrati”. I mean, come on, can’t they get a little more creative??? Oh well, when in doubt in Rome, just go up to someone and say “I’ma losta, cana you helpa me?” and you should be good! HAHA! Ciao!