Friday, January 27, 2012

November 20th

Surprise! Who doesn't love waking up to a surprise blog entry? I know some of you had given up on me, but, I want to finish the blog. Obviously, not with the day to day blogs but at least with my trips because I had some pretty amazing trips and met some pretty amazing people. Alright, I left you all in Rome last, hasn't this been a great anticipation builder? Well, you just wait for the excitement that is to come!

After an amazing night walking around Rome, we woke up and headed down to breakfast. A majority of the group was already downstairs eating and so we grabbed the last available table and got our food. I got strawberry yogurt with granola and fruit and also got a cappuccino, I had seconds of each.

So after breakfast everyone brought their luggage into a secret holding room below the hotel and we got on our way to see what we had planned for the day. First off were the Colosseum and the Forum and of course I was beside myself with excitement. The movie Gladiator holds a special place in my heart and so I was very excited to go and see the Colosseum. We walked there from the hotel because it was only about a twenty minute walk and it was very nice out. We met our tour guide right out side the Colosseum and she gave us a little background history of the place before entering. I had seen men dressed up as gladiators and so I wanted to get my picture taken with them. They were so nice and fun until they asked me for their payment. I was so confused and the man said that it was 5 euro to get your picture taken with them. I tried to protest and then they said they call the police for anyone who doesn't pay. So, needless to say I payed and got dupped. Gosh, never trust a gladiator I guess. So after paying for a dumb picture, the tour started and we walked into the Colosseum. Being the good Catholic girl that I am, I proceeded to cry. Explain to me why I didn't cry on my way into St. Peter's or in the Vatican? On second thought, please don't explain.

Inside the Colosseum, she gave us a talk about the history and other really, really interesting facts which was really fun and enjoyable to listen to. We listened for about thirty minutes and then had free time to walk around. MH, Celia, and I took a bunch of pictures, some serious and some goofy, and made our way to the second floor. I have no idea how people wearing togas did those stairs. They were ridiculously steep and to me, beyond dangerous. We would have had to hold my mom's front and butt on the way up and down to make sure she didn't fall. Seriously, so dangerous. On our way around the Colosseum, I noticed a girl who looked eerily similar to a girl who I went to high school with. I told myself that it couldn't possibly have been her and continued on my way around the beautiful ruin. As I passed her again, I said "no, that is her". So I walked after her, tapped her on the shoulder, and proceeded to say "I don't remember your name but we went to WWS together and I am sorry I don't remember your name". As always, calm, cool, and collected. She was so excited to see me and she had no idea what my name was either so it was totally fine and was actually funny as we tried to figure out what class it was that we had together. She is a year younger than I am and was studying in Rome. Her mom and sister came in for the week and we probably looked like babbling American fools to everyone else there. This is what I had always wanted to have happen. I wanted to run into someone I knew from back home in a random place. Even though I didn't know the girl's name, it was still the perfect bit of home. I found out later that her name was Courtney and we had friends in common. We still to this day have not figured out what class we had together. When it was time to leave, we thought we had lost a fellow but ended up finding him about fifteen minutes later.

We made our way to the forum and listened to some more information on the world that was once the greatest civilization in the world. We saw what was once Julius' tomb which was covered in flowers and was really just a big pile of dirt under what used to be a tomb, sort of a disappointment. After walking around the Forum and learning about the saying "All roads lead to Rome", we went to the Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon (which is different than the Parthenon), and finally the Piazza Navona to see won of the Palaces and a really cool fountain. From here, we were allowed to have our free time and wander around the city. A woman my dad had met through his tax appointments said that I had to go to a gelateria called Tre Scalini, which had "the BEST gelato in all of Italy". So, while still in the Piazza Navona, I went to Tre Scalini and got a gelto creation which was their "best" gelato. It was indeed, very good gelato. Unfortunately, it was not THE best gelato. I still hold that to my beloved Firenze.

I was so excited to be done with the tour because I was going to do what I came to Rome to do, go to the Audrey Hepburn exhibit at a museum they had! Now I know that might disappoint some of you, but I had read that they were having an exhibit and I just HAD to go. Only true Audrey fans would go. So I wandered around the streets on my way to the museum. It was beautiful taking the time to wander around another Italian city and just appreciate the architecture and the people. The old women in Rome are so beautiful and so nice. When I made it to the museum I could hardly contain my excitement. I made it! So being the cool, calm, and collected American that I took a few pictures of the exterior of the museum and then went inside.

I walked around the museum for a little bit before I headed down to the exhibit. The museum was a small, contemporary art museum and it was actually pretty interesting. Audrey's exhibit was in the basement, personally I think it should have been right when you walked in the door, but at least that got people to walk through the museum. I went to the basement and was immediately stopped because I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the exhibit, party poopers. Oh well, I walked around the museum for about an hour because of all the things they had. They had a big timeline along all the walls and a bunch of her clothes in cases everywhere. There were a few movie clips rolling around the museum and it was just so cool to be there. The Romans loved Audrey and Audrey loved Rome so she stayed there for a majority of her life.

After the museum, I wandered around the back roads to The Spanish Steps because I wanted to see it in the daylight and be able to go inside. Walking around the streets was one of my favorite parts. I was able to see a lot of interesting buildings and go into a lot of interesting little shops. When I made it to The Spanish Steps it was just about sunset so I was able to see the sun being gold and start to set over Rome which put a gold glow over all of the tops of the buildings. Hands down one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. God is truly the best artist.

I watched the sun set for a little and took pictures in the mean time. After I realized how quickly time was passing, I went inside The Spanish Steps and looked at all the artwork that they had in the church that is located at the top. The church is filled with artwork, as most Italian churches are, but this one will forever hold a special place in my heart. Located in The Spanish Steps' church is the first piece of artwork that has ever mad me cry. When walking in the doors, the first statue on the left, behind glass doors is the plaster cast of the Pieta by Wilhelm Theodor Achtermann. One thing I have never done is attach pictures to my blog, well this one is my exception. In order to appreciate this statue the way I did, I wanted to show everyone the beautiful light flowing over Jesus and Mary's faces and just try to give you a little bit of the emotion that is in each of their faces as they removed Jesus from the cross. Breathtaking.

While I was in the church, I ran into Celia and MH and we left together to head back towards the hotel. Walking slowly in and out of shops, we went into a broach shop where the sweetest old woman worked. She used to be a hand model and warned us about our purses needing to always be zipped because of the sneaky gypsies in Rome. We talked with her for about twenty minutes and then went on our way. In one of the stores we stopped in, I finally got an ornament that I had been searching for. There was a hand painted one of a scene in Rome and I was sold. After further examination, I realized that the scene was of The Spanish Steps, the same ones I tripped up and contained my first crying at artwork, so I knew right then and there that I had to get it. It is still one of my favorite ornaments.We walked around for about an hour and a half before making it to the hotel. Walking around and appreciating everything around me is still one of my favorite ways to travel.

We got to the hotel on time, grabbed our luggage from the storage room, and loaded the bus. Rome was one of my favorite places that I visited and I want to go back for a week to really sink my teeth into everything. I felt like it was all just rushed and that there we so much I didn't get to see. I saw all of the main landmarks, but I still feel like there was so much of Rome that I still have to discover.

Rome was a beautiful city and I am so thankful that I was able to go, it was on my list. I really just fell in love with the city and I want to go back someday. It may not be on my next trip to Europe or the one after that, but I would love to be able to go back.

Thank you for being patient on the posting and I hope it was worth the wait. Don't give up on me! We still need to go to Wuppertal and Barcelona together!

Con Amore, Ciao!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

November 19th, things are about to get out of order

So, I went to Rome a little while ago and typed this up when I got back but didn't quite finish it. While my project is taking forever to render, I figured I could catch up on some bloggin :)

I was beyond excited to finally be able to go to Rome that when my alarm went off at 6 am, I didn't even hit the snooze. I had around a half an hour to get ready before I had to leave so it was the perfect amount to be able to eat breakfast slowly and take my time getting ready. I left and went to the bus with a few minutes to spare and found my friends who I was going on the trip with. I sat with my friend Mary Haley who goes to Baylor University in Texas and we slept for a majority of the bus ride. She will from here on out be referred to as MH because I do not feel like typing out her full name every time.

We got to Rome on time and all I kept saying was, "Oh my gosh, I am actually here" over and over again but it was ok because MH was doing the same. We were allowed some free time to go get lunch so we walked to a pizza place with our friend Celia and we all split two large Margarita pizzas. On the way back after lunch we got some gelato from a place we had noticed earlier and the the flavors were very good. I don't remember now what they were, but they were delicious.

We started our tour with the Vatican Museum and then went into the main attraction, the Sistine Chapel. I am not much of a museum person, but this was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined it being. It was very busy and almost every surface was covered, but it was so beautiful. We went from the Sistine to St. Peters basilica and it was gorgeous. I love walking through old churches and seeing all of the old art and statues that they created. It amazes me the beautiful things that people are able to create with their hands, especially when they are giant chunks of marble. After the basilica, Celia and I went into the gift shop and looked around for about thirty minutes because Celia couldn't choose the rosaries. We went in and out of the shop probably a total of five times because she kept on forgetting people who she needed to get rosaries for, it was pretty funny.

We rode the bus to the hotel and had a little while before dinner was ready to be served. It was dark by this time but the three of us still wanted to walk around so we went quickly to our hotel rooms and then went out to the city. The room was very nice and it was even a little on the big size for the hotels that I have stayed in. We went out to the street and started our wandering process. Since it was dark, it was hard to actually see what was around us but the lights that were on allowed us to look into stores and see the fronts of the buildings. MH with her savvy navigation skills was able to get us back to the hotel even though I doubted a little bit that she knew where we were or where we were going, similar to Chris in Pompeii, only this time I didn't attach us to a group of high school German boys.

When we got back from our walk we had a few minutes to freshen up before dinner.We headed down and sat with two other girls that I don't remember the names of, but they were really nice. Dinner was super delicious. It was a pasta dish for starters and then for the main dish it was a mixture of a type of potato salad, beans, and pork loin (is what I am calling it). It was really good but I still have yet to find a potato salad that beats either my mother's or Mrs. Marshall's German potato salad. For dessert we had some sort of vanilla pie that had chocolate drizzle and it was delicious. Dinner was so much fun. The five of us girls were laughing so hard that at one point I was crying a little. The peak of the night was when the waiter came over and grabbed our vinaigrette bottle and said "oh you girls were laughing so much I thought this was wine!" And then later on he proceeded to call me special, I am still not sure what type of "special" he called me.

After dinner Celia and I decided that we wanted to go see the Spanish Steps and the Trevi fountain at night time because it is probably a once in a life time thing to be able to see, at least once in ten years thing to see. We went with a girl from my Italian class and her friends who were very nice and full of laughter so it was perfect. We went to the Trevi first and wandered around on our way there. Once we made it there it was beyond beautiful and I am so glad that I went at night time. It was just so peaceful and not very crowded at all. Obviously there were tourists there, but it wasn't too bad. The lights from the fountain at night time project a really pretty green onto the building it is attached too and almost makes it look kind of eerie in a way.

When we decided that we were a little on the chilly side, we made our way over to the Spanish Steps. I thought they were going to be a little bit larger, but they weren't. I had the same feeling I had when I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, all this hype and it was only about half as big as I thought it was going to be. Anyhow, we took a lot of pictures and then sat a bit near the top before they verged off in two different directions. I went to the top to look over the city and it was beautiful. Celia and I went down to tell the girls we were with that we were heading out. On my way back up, I tripped. I tripped up the Spanish Steps. WHO DOES THAT? Classy girls like me, I guess. Gosh, I am my mother's daughter. Oh well, not many can say they have done that. Is that a bright side?

Celia and I took a quick walk back to the hotel because we were both freezing and I looked like Rudolph in all of my pictures already, so I didn't want to risk getting sick. The fact that I was exhausted was only part of the reason for heading back early. We got ready for bed and I feel asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Con amore, Ciao!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November 21st-24th

Rome will come, just maybe next weekend once I have a moment to relax, in the meantime, here is last weeks postings!

Well, as it turns out, school has really gotten in the way of me posting these puppies and I am NOT happy about that. So as you can see as the dates for the post, this is going to have to be another week update. Not a whole lot other than homework happened last week but it will still be good for me to give an update or two of what happened each day.

Monday 21st:
I woke up early and started working on my project for a little bit before I had to go to my lighting class. I wanted to make sure that my presentation was exactly what i wanted it to be so my teacher could see all of my progress that i have made since the previous week. I am building a custom book case that will be installed to another one of my finals and it is coming along quite nicely. We went on a field trip to a few local stores to look at their choices for their lighting fixtures and to evaluate them. It was interesting and much more informational than when we had to go on our own for our midterm projects. We have to write a paper about the lighting choices and analyze the stores. In sustainable design, we showed our progress for our final projects and our teachers were pleased with our work. I am happy with the progress of my group because, unlike last time, it seems like they are willing to put in the effort that is needed to complete the project and have it be presented professionally. After class I went home and spent the rest of the night doing homework.

Tuesday 22nd:

Woke up and went to my Revit class which was very productive and emotional all at the same time. I found out that I have been selected to be published in our school's catalog of projects and that my work is going to be on display in our final showcase of the year. I am very excited but also very nervous to have my work on display. It will be a week filled with little sleep in order to get my work done, but I know it will be very worth it to put all of the extra hours in. I came home and had lunch while doing homework. I skyped with mamma for a few minutes and then headed off to Italian class to dominate the quiz. After class I came home and spent the rest of the night doing my Revit project.

Wednesday 23rd:

I went to wine class and it was a very exciting day. We presented our wines we had made the previous week and tasted each groups version of the wine we had made. My partner's name is Summer and so we decide to have our wine's name be "Moore of Summer", our slogan of course being that everyone wants some "Moore of Summer". Seriously, I should change my major to advertising. However, I should not change my major to wine making because ours tasted absolutely horrendous. The one that tasted the best was of course mixed by students who are studying wine as their major, they are here on a year long program taking only wine courses. To be honest, I am not sure how they function during the day. On my way home, I got dried ginger from my fruit man at the San Lorenzo market. It tasted horrible. I love ginger with my sushi and I love eating candied ginger from time to time, but this ginger made me want to vomit. I even gave it a few more tries on my way home, but I just couldn't do it. In order to remove the taste from my mouth I got a kebob for lunch which is always a delicious thing. I can't wait to make them for my friends at home and to introduce my family to the goodness that is the kebob. Once I got home I ate my kebob and waited for my roommates to get home so that I could try and give them my ginger. Success. Each of them tried it and then had the exact same reaction that I had. Even though it is mean, watching their faces was a rather funny thing to see. I finished the day with homework and trying to get as far ahead as I could on my project before the weekend and Thanksgiving the next day.

Thursday 24th:
I started my morning with laundry and Revit. So much of my time has been devoted to this project but I am so nervous that I wont complete it in time that it is difficult for me to focus on any other project that I have been given. Horrible, I know, but for those I have more time. There is so much of a time crunch and pressure when it comes to getting this project completed on time. I spent most of the morning working on my project and then I skyped with my mamma for a few minutes, as is our normal tradition on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was definitely weird waking up knowing it was Thanksgiving and that I would not be spending it with my family. I went to class and our teacher gave us what were basically eclairs from her favorite bakery. She said that this was the best she could do in order to try and give us a Thanksgiving, it was so sweet of her to think of us. I got back my quiz and I received a very good grade on it so I was very happy with that. I went to the grocery store with Valarie to get what I was assigned, two loaves of bread, and headed home to start my homework before heading out for the thanksgiving festivities that were to begin around 730. After about an hour of productivity I helped Ellen make baked apples and also a cheese-rice-broccoli casserole. We got ready and headed out to her friends house where everyone was gathering together for dinner. We unfortunately had a vegetarian dinner unintentionally because no one cooked the bird and then no one had any meat in their dishes. It was definitely different than I am used to, but I was so thankful to be around such nice people and to have a feast on Thanksgiving. After we ate all of our food and finished the many bottles of wine, we decided to go out to a bar in town that everyone really likes and spent the rest of the night there. It was a really great night and it is a Thanksgiving that I will remember for a very, very long time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 18th

I slept through my alarm but was thankfully woken up by a friend to tell me that they were waiting on me for our wine field trip to a vineyard in Verona. I raced out the door and literally ran the mile to where we were they were waiting. It was so sweet of my teacher to wait and it really means a lot to know that a teacher cares about you and enjoys having you around.

The three hour bus ride passed quickly due to the fact that we were all asleep, with one potty break caused by me, we made it there in a rather reasonable amount of time. For this trip, we went to two different vineyards that are located only a mile or two away from each other. The first we went to was a vineyard called Masi and it contained one of the oldest wine cellars in all of Italy. The tour was very informational and the wine is rather famous around Italy. I am not sure if it is famous in the US, but I do know that they carry Masi brand wine in some stores. After our trip to Masi, we went down the road to a vineyard called SergoAlighieri and it was breath-takingly beautiful. The fall colors were all around us from the golden yellows to the cranberry reds, this is one of those times where pictures do no justice. We walked around the vineyard and got an amazing tour filled with a lot of information. We also saw their rooms they hold the grapes in until they are perfectly dried out.

After our tour they took us to their main reception hall and we had our wine tasting. They had a feast prepared for us of different cheeses, meats, and bread, I was beyond happy. We all ate while evaluating the wine and just really enjoyed each others company. My class is really nice because there are only about ten of us so it is very quaint and cozy. Our teacher is only around 24 years and so cute, she always has the cutest clothes. She is really fun and sweet, she really enjoys our class.

Oh I should have said this earlier but now I will give a little bit of history of the vineyard. The name Alighieri might ring a bell because of the author Dante Alighieri, the author and former residence of my beloved city. When Dante was exiled from Florence, he and his family settled in Verona on a plot of land and decided to start a vineyard. The vineyard was run primarily by his son, but Dante lived there as well. A few hundred years ago, the last born Alighieri was a woman and she then married a Count with the last name of Serego. He allowed her to keep her maiden name because it was so famous as long as she was willing to have his name before hers, something very radical for these times. The decedents of Dante still live on the lands and run the vineyard. The current generation has two daughters and so they are hoping to be able to find men who will be willing to let them keep their names and continue to run the vineyard. We took the bus back and I slept a majority of the trip.

Of the three vineyards that I have visited, this was hands down my favorite. From the atmosphere to the lands to them providing us food to the history, it was just the most amazing experience. I would rank them vineyard 3, vineyard 1, and then vineyard 2.

We made it back to Florence and I had dinner and started my homework. The girls wanted to see the fourth Twilight movie, and although I am not a twi-tard, I thought it would be fun to go and see it with them. Turns out that it was not too bad of a movie and so it was a good experience in the end. And now I can say that I saw a movie in Italy.

When we got back to the apartment, I packed for Rome and worked a little bit more on homework. Rome was early the next morning and so even though I went to bed at 1:30, I knew I needed to make the most of my sleep. I was beyond excited to go to Rome.

Con amore, Ciao!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 17th

It was a very productive morning of working on my Revit. I kind of had a high from the night before because I had worked so long and hard on the cabinet that it was great to be able to start it again in the morning. I started with sweeping and mopping, I realized I hadn't mopped in a month and so the water was a little dingy to say the least. After mopping I started Revit and spent most of the morning bouncing between that and my Italian homework that was due later in the day.

I went to Italian class and it was fun because we played a game with a few classmates and also went over our written homework. The written homework was a love story that was 10 sentences long, I wrote mine about Massimo and Laura.

I came home to work on more homework and to wait for Courtney to get back from class to head to dinner. We were going to go to the school's culinary student's restaurant but it was closed for the evening and decided to instead go to a Spanish restaurant that we had seen on the way. I got "the Gringa" which was essentially a quesadilla with shredded pork, pineapple, and spicy cheese. It was probably the most delicious and greasy thing I have had in a long time. Their guac was heaven-sent and it was just beyond delicious. On the way home, we got some gelato for desert and I don't remember the flavors, but it was of course delicious. We went to our favorite place that is just down the block from our apartment.

We came home and did a lot of homework before we both realized that we wanted to go out for the evening. We blasted our music, got ready, and went out. We had intended to repeat last Thursday's bar hoping but the first bar was so much fun that we didn't want to leave. We went to a place called Slowly, and it was just a lot of fun. 

Con amore, Ciao!

November 16th

Sorry these are late! I started to get super busy again with school and so these aren't going to be the most detailed seeing as how they are a week late! That is ok, I will get my act together sooner or later! Also, I will add to them as I remember different things if they are random memories from the certain days.

Ok I started the morning with wine class and it was super exciting because I was able to make my own wine! A partner (that was for you Daddy) and I mixed together three different types of sangiovese wine that our teacher had available for us and we are going to be drinking them in the next class after lecture on the 23rd.

After class, I continued my new tradition of getting dried fruit after each wine class on my way through the market. Today I decided to get a euro of dried ananas, which is pineapple, and it was delicious. I always have the plan of saving them for when I get home but for some reason, they never make it past the Duomo. I am not sure if it is that I am impatient or the fact that I just had three glasses of wine at 10:30 in the morning, probably a mixture of the two.

I had lunch while skyping with my mom for a couple of minutes and then was able to skype John for the first time since getting here. It was great to catch up with him and be able to see him. I did laundry and started my homework. Courtney and I went to an American coffee shop here called Astor and we worked on our homework together. It was nice to have a change of environment and be able to be out of the apartment to work on our homework. 

I came home when Courtney went to her night class and I had my dinner of spaghetti while doing homework. Miriam and Ellen were going to a friend's party so they asked me to braid their hair and I was obviously more than willing.

I spent the rest of the night doing homework and it was a very productive night in revit. After 6 hours, I built a cabinet.

Con amore, Ciao!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 15th

Well, I started my day with puffies and joghurt as usual and then headed off to my revit class with high hopes. I stopped by the Neptune fountain in my Piazza to get some free mineral water, which has become a very nice tradition that I have. Also, I have become obsessed with mineral water, it is so delicious. I used to hate it before coming here (except for when it was with red wine of course, Mrs. Marshall) but now that I am just so cultured and worldly, I love it!

Revit class was great and it was an amazingly productive day. My teacher showed me how to do some pretty amazing things in the program and it sort of freaked me out because I realized just how much work I have ahead of me for the rest of the semester. I am really going to have to crack down on work which unfortunately cuts down on my wandering time. I will have my weekends for that though, but I am not excited for the work load ahead of me. Especially because I am traveling just about every weekend until I leave.

I came home for lunch and my 10 minute catch up with my Mamma and then headed out to Italian class. I have had a salami, arugula, and goat cheese sandwich just about everyday since the first time I tried it when I have been eating at home. Obviously, when on breaks and travels it is more difficult, but I think that they are just about the most delicious combination in the whole world for a sandwich. I dare any of you to challenge that! And Mamma, you are not allowed to say mayonnaise and peanut butter, barf.

Italian class was annoying as usual and started homework right away. When it was dinner time, I had spaghetti and a mixture of frozen veggies. It is a bag I got from the supermarket that has all the veggies in it that are intended for minestrone soup, but I just boiled them and had a bowl. After dinner I started my wine paper that I had been researching for for the past week. A friend, Val, came over to write hers with me and it was a lot of fun. We both finished our papers in a reasonable amount of time and it was much more enjoyable to work on it with someone else rather than just by myself.

Ellen had a bunch of girls over, including Val, to cook bake brownies and it was a lot of fun meeting them. I spent the rest of the night working on my Revit project and working on Italian homework. Court and I do our homework next to each other every night at the table that is in our room so it is really nice always being able to hang out with her and to have someone to talk to whenever a thought comes to mind, I'm really going to miss that chica.

Con amore, Ciao!