Sunday, September 23, 2007

Things I Miss the Most

- Afternoon gelattos
- Church bells
- Walking everywhere
- People Eating on sidewalks
- Water you can drink from the tap
- Cobblestone Streets
- Exit signs
- Unprocessed foods
- Piazzas (not to be confused with pizzas, though I'll miss those too)
- Slower pace and emphasis on stopping to enjoy life
- Rich appreciation for art
- Lonely Italian men (not really)
- Siestas
- Having fewer decisions to make (I only had 4 shirts and 2 pair of pants)
- Trains
- Superior cheese and chocolate (and pretty much anything edible)
- A river running through every major city
- Bunk beds
- Fresh (and clean) air
- Making wishes in fountains
- Glacier milk
- Multi-colored shudders
(But I guess I missed family and friends more cause I came back.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Farewell to Europe

Well, tonight is my last night and tomorrow morning I head for the airport and its back to the States (no I have not abandoned all responsibility and decided to stay), but I come home feeling enriched and grateful for the experiences I have had and the things I have learned. I have discovered many new things like conditioner is overrated, you can make trains on time even without a watch, afternoon gelatto is an important part of everyday, and you can find a lot with a map, and even though I have felt lonely at various times I have felt well-protected and guided and I think learned some things I really needed to know. After a month I think it is time and I a ready to come home and take these new memories with me into the future. Thanks for your love and support faithful friends, family, and readers out there and if something happens on the way home and I dont make it back, bury me with my locket and know I died a soul of many satisfied dreams.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Siena, Venice, and Rome

Sunday, in the sunburnt buildings of Siena (which I match pretty well now) I was tracked by an Albanian guy as I ate my sandwich in one of Europe's best piazzas (that's a square for you hicks out there.) He watched me eat for at least 20 minutes. I finallly asked him at one of the souvenir stands how much longer he was going to follow me. He just smiled (I don't think he knew English that well) and I relented to letting him show me a couple of sights before running away from him. I also learned that the patron saint of Siena and as of 1999 all of Europe is St. Catherine. Apparently she had visions and a holy quest too, kind of like Joan of Arc, which coincidentally she had a twin sister named Joan. Later that night, as I was saying goodbye to Florence, I was targeted again. It's getting ridiculous - I can't sit on the steps of anywhere without some guy asking me out for a cappucino and I say that as unarrogantly as possible. I probably wouldn't mind if I actually found the guys attractive. After I turn them down I also have to make sure they don't come back or follow me. I've been forced to invent a boyfriend back home. His name is Buck Morley, a professional wrestler and part-time CIA agent on assignment which is why he's not here. He's extremely jealous. I left Florence Monday morning (I loved that city) and headed to Venice for a day, which I also ended up liking a lot. I didn't think it was that dirty or smelled bad but then again maybe I'm dirty and smell bad. I heard opera music (in my head) all the way down the Grand Canal and enjoyed the architecture and colors. As I sat down at the end of the day to eat a pizza by the waterfront I heard distant voices calling my name (I thought I was going crazy too) and turned around to see my hometeacher and two other LA Firsters standing there (Ryan, Jim and Jeff). I was so happy to see them I hugged them all. We hung out the rest of the night eating gelatto and trying to get pictures of the battle of the orchestras (every night in St. Mark's square these classical orchestras duel it out with music.) It was cool. We got lost trying to find my orphanage-like island (Venice is like a maze) and hung out the next day til we got on separate trains in the afternoon. We're going to meet up again on Friday to do the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. I was in awe at seeing the Colosseum today and Pantheon and of course I made a wish with the last American coin I brougt in the Trevi Fountain. I can tell my trip is nearing the end. I'm losing momentum and can't wait to feel really clean again. My Rome hostile smells like moth balls and Bulgarian apartments and the matress feels like a bag of knots. Tell dad not to worry, before arriving in Rome I memorized all the Italian phrases for "Help," "Thief," and "Stop that man." I miss you all and can't wait to see you.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ah Florence!

I loved Florence the minute I sat on the steps of the Duomo and listened to a man and his son playing Frank Sinatra's My Way on the accordion as the sun set behind the colorful architecture. It's amazing the birthplace of the Renaissance was here. Before arriving here Thursday, I stopped in Pisa since my train was passing through. I met a girl, also named Caterina, who invited me to her house for a real Italian family meal, complete with grandpa who runs the oldest shop in Pisa - a gun store. Over the last 2 days I've enjoyed multiple servings of gelatto and enlightening moments in museums. I have to say the David was amazing and not just cause he's nude. I didn't appreciate the work until I saw it's stunning graceful form in person, and apparently the sculpture was the poster boy of Florence and the Renaissance, embodying the strength and confidence of man to excel and overcome. I went to Michelangelo and Galileo's tombs in San Croce Church - two men I greatly admire and want to learn more about. Tomorrow I go to Siena for the day. The smell of too much leather has driven me to the country-side for some fresh air. A smooth-talking Sicilian named Amadeo tried to sell me a leather jacket my first night in Florence(I must admit, I did look pretty stylish) and then asked me out for a drink. He got off work too late though and I had to get back to my room full of snoring spaniards. One more week until America.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pure Italian Bliss

The Cinque Terre (5 cities strung along the cliffs of the Italian Riviera) is quite possibly one of the most enchanting places I have ever been. I met Mama Rosa when I got off the train in Riomaggiore on Tuesday and she had an extra bed for me in a cliff room overlooking the Meditteranean. The room came with an old chandelier with half the lights burned out, a broken grandfather clock, and a jewelry-making roommate from Chile (interestingly enough mama Rosa came in this morning and shut the place down due to, from what I could gather, sickness or illegal activity. Yesterday I got up early and hiked through all the towns. I had to keep stopping to ask myself if I was really here. Unbelievably beautiful. Bellisimo! I had seafood ravioli and my last town and a Baccio (a kind of chocolate) gelatto. The restaurant owners have kept me company, trying to teach me Italian. One called me a bronzetta referring to my (one day) cancerous arms and told me to be glad I wasn't married like the table of 3 couples next to me who were, amazingly enough, from Utah as well. I sat on the beach until some guy asked where my ticket was so I got up and left. Being overly ambitious I thought I would hike most of the way back to get another view of the forests, vineyards, lemon trees, and sea but it ended up being longer and harder than I remembered and I did get a little lost as the sun was setting. Made it back safely, though, and sat outside Mama Rosa's house with a guy named Giulherme from Brazil and looked at the beautiful, countless stars. The weather's been great, the bread not so much so, and I've been cursing myself for not bringing a swimsuit. I miss friends, family, and home but am making memories to take back with me. Today I am headed to Florence, where the hostel hopefully has sheets cause Mama Rosa took mine.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Nice not so nice

Well just wanted to let you know I left Paris this morning after a creepy French guy tried to kiss me and arrived safely in Nice. I even found a bed to sleep in for the night and I can't wait to go to bed. All I can say is this is an interesting place. I already saw one guy peeing on a tree and ended up at a topless beach, I however kept my top on (after much deliberation). I'm excited to go to Italy tomorrow and hike the Cinque Terre - 5 small towns cut into the cliffs of the Italian Riveria. I'm looking forward to the hiking and the seafood. I think I'll go back to my room now where apparently a German couple is waiting (it's a shared room). What can I say, that's Europe on a budget.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Walk Like A French Woman

After almost a week in Paris I think I finally have the French strut and pouty lips down, but I fail on the style part (there's only so much I can do with a backpack of clothes). I must admit French women have an arrogant elegance about them. I went to Versailles on Thursday. My favorite part was the beautiful grounds - so big I took a nap in a little grove of trees where none of the tourists found me. Friday I went to Rouen and connected with my warrior sister Joan of Arc, then that night I walked along the bridges and saw the Eiffel Tower all lit up. Early Saturday morning I left my hostel to find a lady and two gentlemen dressed in 19th century clothing. I thought my dream to travel back in time had come true until I saw the film camera down the cobblestone walk. I took a train to the Loire Valley where all the French castles are and I ate my lunch in front of Chambord castle under a tree. It was like a dream. Besides the shower that shuts off after 30 seconds and a hostelmate that likes to chew her food as loud as possible after we're all in bed, the hostel's not so bad. It's interesting waking up in the morning and not knowing what time it is or when to get up. I think the French church bells are lazy. They don't always ring when they're supposed to. Not like the Swiss bells. Well headed to Nice on Monday and Tuesday hiking in the Cinque Terre. I'm looking forward to my 3rd and final country.