Thursday, November 25, 2010


Sorry about the obnoxious title, but I couldn't really name this post anything else.

Let's see whats been going on. School wise things are going well I guess. I have to write two papers before I leave and I'm kind of worried about getting them done. There are a limited number of books in English at the school, so its been a bit difficult trying to find enough information to start. I'm sure I'll get them done though. I always do! Last Thursday I had my art class again. The school has been having problems with having classrooms for everyone so we decided to take a field trip. Since we didn't have to be at the school at a certain time, Elena decided to start at 11 am. I was like cool, we'll finish early and I can have the afternoon free to do stuff. Wrong! The class lasted 6 hours! We walked around Santa Maria Gloriosa di Frari and Scuola di San Rocco. It was a fabulous introduction to Venetian painting with each place housing works from Titian and Tintoretto and a whole host of other great people. So I was happy to have Elena there explaining things to me, but it was a little excessive. When it was over I had to walk home in the rain and then I made dinner and went to bed. It was a very long day.

The next day I went to see Harry Potter. OMG! I'm not really that big a fan, but I've seen all the movies and wanted something to anyway. I was super nervous about it being in Italian. I went with the other group of American study abroad students and it was nice to have some people to talk to. A couple of them are huge HP fans and decided to use the Venetian flag as a Gryffindor cape since the flag is gold and red and has a winged lion on it. It was pretty funny. I'm not sure the Venetians would approve lol. The movie was pretty good. I was able to get about 70% of it, so that made me quite happy. The part when Harry and Hermione kissed cracked me up. Sooooo awkward. But yea it was definitely better than the last one which bored the crap out of me.

The next morning I went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum because I'd never been and it was free for Venetians. Yes I know I am not technically a Venetian, but I have my IMOB card and that counts. So I was pretty excited. The place was so cool! There was a whole room filled with pieces by Jackson Pollack! I could live in that room. What I love about his stuff is that it never gets boring. You can stand in front of it for however long you want and still find something interesting to look at. So fantastic.

After the museum, I packed for London. My flight was quite late, but it was at the airport in Treviso, which is about an hour outside of Venice. So I had to take a bus there and then wait some more. The flight went fine and I got to London at like midnight. I had to take another bus to central London which was like another hour. I got to London at like 1:30 am. Then I had to take another bus to get me closer to my hostel. Then I had to walk about 20 minutes to actually get to the hostel. So by the time I got there it was about 3 am. The hostel is considered a "party" hostel, but I booked it because it was super cheap. When I got there the room I was supposed to sleep in was pitch black and I didn't want to wake anyone so I had to find my bed and lock my stuff up only using my cell phone as a light. Ugh it was a bit rough. I also didn't have a pillow so that was pleasant. The next morning I had to get up semi-early to go to Wimbledon. I had to take the tube and then take a bus to the actual park. That took about an hour. It was fantastic to see it for the first time. It was much smaller than I imagined. Its crazy to think that so many people visit the event in the summer. I got to take a tour of the entire place. I got to see Centre Court, "Henman" Hill, the room where the players are interviewed, and the court where John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played the longest match ever. It felt great to be in this historic place and learn about how and why the tournament began. After the tour, I was able to go to the museum, which was also very interesting. A lot of the stuff was interactive so that was cool.

After my visit to Wimbledon I took the bus and the tube back to central London and decided to do some sightseeing before my first tennis match. I saw the London Eye, Big Ben, the houses of Parliament, Westminister Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery. The National Gallery was fantastic because I got to see The Arnolfini Double Portrait, a painting I've been obsessed with for years. Its even more amazing in person. The detail that went into it is so crazy. I also go to the see Van Gogh's Sunflowers, which is one of my favorite paintings ever. Soo amazing. Its crazy that the whole museum is free. If I lived in London I would go like everyday.

After my bit of sightseeing, it was time to head to the O2 to watch some tennis! It took about an hour to actually get to the venue cause I took the bus and it the place was in North Greenwich. When I got there I was extremely excited. I knew it was going to be a great event within the first five minutes because I walked right past Justin Gimelstob. He is a former player turned commentator and "journalist." I didn't stop and ask for his autograph because he was in the middle of a conversation, but it was cool anyway to see him out and about. The first thing I did was find something to eat because I hadn't had anything all day. I decided since I was in London that I should try some fish and chips. So I got a cod and chips combo. It was pretty good. I had to put a fair amount of tartar sauce on the fish to make it pleasant, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. After that I made my way to my seat. Now when I bought these tickets, there was a warning about buying them if you have a fear of heights. I was scared to see exactly where they were because of this warning. Turns out they really weren't that bad. I was a little shaky at first, but got used to how high they were fairly quickly. The first match I watched was a doubles match and then I watched Roger Federer play. Live tennis is so different than watching it on TV. It is so silent during play. Like you could hear a pin drop. With TV, you have music and commentators talking through the points. Its quite crazy how different it really is. The Federer/Ferrer match was pretty boring because Federer won really easily. He is so arrogant it kills me. In his post match interview he pissed me off so much. I don't think he realizes how pompous he actually sounds. I guess you get to be that way if you are "the greatest tennis player ever."

The following day was the greatest day ever! After I got up I went straight to O2 because I wanted to walk around the Fan Zone and I didn't want to be late for my matches. When I got there the Fan Zone wasn't open yet so I had to find something to occupy my time. I found a Starbucks and decided to get some coffee. Its Christmas time so they had their special blends going. I saw a thing for an eggnog latte and was like hell yes! It was one of the most fabulous things I've ever tasted. It was like heaven! I got a blueberry muffin as well, which was also quite tasty. After I finished those, it was about time for them to open the Fan Zone. Right when I walked up they removed the barriers and it was a rush to get seats at the practice courts. I didn't know who was practicing, but I had some time to kill and decided to see what happens. Robin Soderling was practicing! Now I've never really liked or disliked this player, but I was excited to get to watch him practice. He is pretty easy on the eyes as well, so that was good. After that I went to watch my first set of matches. When I walked into the arena and found my seat, I realized Novak Djokovic was warming up for his match so that was fun to watch. In the afternoon session, I watched a doubles match and then watched Djokovic play Berdych. It was a pretty easy match for Novak and was over quickly. He is the funniest player on the tour right now. I also love listening to his interviews. After the matches, the players sign the camera lens and instead of signing his name he drew a duck. I thought it was quite amusing. After that I had to leave the arena so they could prepare for the evening session. I decided to go back to the practice courts to see what was up. I sat for a while thinking that nothing was gonna happen but then Jurgen Melzer walked up to practice with his doubles partner. He is becoming one of my favorite players. He is also pretty easy on the eyes lol. So I watched them practice for a while and then it was time to head back into the arena for the last round of matches. As I went up to my seat, these were the worst seats I'd had. I was in row s and the rows only went up to row u. Yea it was pretty high. Anyways, I turned to look and see who was warming up and it was Andy! At first I was content just to sit and watch from my horrible seat, but then I thought maybe they would let me into the lower section to get a closer look. I was right! I was able to go really close and watch the end of his practice. AT this point, my hands were shaking and I was freakin out. I really didn't expect that to happen and I felt really embarrassed. I prepared my sheet of paper and marker to maybe get an autograph. As he finished practice and started walking over to the group of fans, I tried to worm my way through, but by the time I was able to he started walking away. I think at that point I said "please, please" kind of loudly. Not my finest moment, but whatever. I was super sad, but he was being rushed off the court so I understood. I also didn't even expect to be that close to him, so it was fine to leave without his signature. So after that I returned to my seat and calmed myself down a bit. I watched the nights doubles match and then got ready to watch Andy vs. Nadal. Now pretty much everyone thought Roddick was going to get killed. I actually someone behind me saying just this and it made me sad. As the match started, Andy was playing really well. He won the first set, and I was like he could actually win this! I wanted to turn around and yell "you were wrong!" to the person who doubted Andy lol. Then in the second set, as in most Roddick matches, he started to struggle and ended up losing the match in three sets. I guess I wasn't surprised since its becoming a Roddick trademark to get his fan's hopes up and then lose kind of badly. It was still a fantastic match and watching him play live was a great experience. Watching him on tv will never be the same again.

After the matches I was dreading leaving the arena. It meant the end of my tennis extravaganza and it meant that I had to ride the bus for an hour to get back to my hostel. I wanted something warm to drink for the trip and I had some money to get rid of so I decided to get another eggnog latte! Oh so good once again. I got back to my hostel pretty late and only got about four hours of sleep that night. I had to get up to catch the bus to the other bus to the airport. When I got to the airport, I had some more money to spend so what do you think I did? Right, I found the Starbucks and got another eggnog latte. This one was more for the caffeine and the fact that it would probably be the last one I have for a while. I flew home and when I returned to the apartment, I took a shower and went to bed right away. This was at about 5 pm. I slept until 9 am the next day. I definitely needed the rest.

Now I'm back to my normal life, with only memories of Andy Roddick swimming in my brain lol. I have about 20 days to write three papers, so I'm a little pressed for time. We'll see what happens.

Thanks for reading :) Ciao.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

so much to tell

Ok so the last time I updated was about two weeks ago and a lot has happened since then. This might be a very long post! So...where to begin?

Two Tuesdays ago I had my art history class with my teacher Anna. She is great, but she talks sooo much. The class is only supposed to be two hours and we were walking around for about five. I'm actually learning a lot, but after about three hours my brain goes to mush. Oh well at least it gives me something to do. While we were walking around, she saw this restaurant that she likes and asked me if I had been there. I said no and she was like this definitely has to change. So after we got done looking at the third church she took me there. We had a really good fruity wine that I wish I could remember the name of right now. We ate mini pizzas and pizza dough stuffed with anchovies. Before that moment, I had never had anchovies in my life. They weren't horrible but they were sooo salty. It was the most amount of salt I've had since coming to Italy. I don't really think I'll order them in a restaurant willingly, but if offered them I guess I wouldn't turn them down. I need to start trying new things. Its the start of my new, I need to change a lot and try new things attitude.

The rest of the week was pretty normal. That Friday I finished the Italian language class. I got a certificate and everything! I am so happy to be finished although I don't know what I'm going to do with the ample amounts of free time I have. I guess I can dedicate most of my time to writing the papers for my classes. With only about five weeks left, I should probably start them. Also at the end of the week, a group of American study abroad students showed up at the school. They will be in Venice for a month and I told them to let me know if they ever go out and do something. So yay! I might not be as lonely for the last few weeks. Kinda crazy that there are only like five weeks left. It feels like such a long time, but I know that it will go buy super fast.

Last Saturday, I met up with one of the American study abroad students, Matt, to kind of show him around Venice. All the others went traveling because it was the start of their week break as well. We walked around Venice for like a million hours. Seriously it was crazy how much we walked. I think we hit like every corner of the city. I also realized that I know more of the city than I thought which was cool. In the evening, we ended up going to one of the bars near school. Matt wanted to meet some new Italian friends. Thankfully all the people we met spoke English so I didn't make a fool of myself.

Sunday I went to the opera. I'm not really a fan of opera, but I thought it would be fun to experience. I originally was only going to take a tour of opera house, but in the end I decided it would be much more fulfilling to actually experience a show. I saw "The Elixir of Love," which was actually pretty good. When I bought the tickets, they said that I would not be able to see very well and they were right. To see a small of the stage I had to scoot my chair all the way up to the one in front of me and like hover over the shoulder of the person in the seat. Luckily, the people working there realized that I was alone and found an empty seat for me with a perfect view of the stage. But yea the show was good. I'm totally amazed at the skill it takes to perform opera. Its crazy! One thing I didn't like was the fact that they would repeat a song if the audience clapped long enough. I mean I'm all for hearing more music and giving the singers praise, but when you stop and bow and then sing the same song it just takes you out of the plot of the show. I guess its normal for an opera, but it didn't sit well with me.

Monday I just visited more churches on the chorus pass. Visiting churches has become one of my favorite things to do. Its crazy how much detail and art are in these buildings. I hope that people that go to church in them know how lucky they are to be able to worship in this space.

Tuesday was the first day of my trip to Rome! I didn't sleep much the night before because I was worried about not waking up in time. My flight was pretty early and I had to take a bus to the airport. I flew with easyJet, which was really weird to me. The airline is very easy to use and pretty impersonal which I like. The weird thing was how you boarded the plane. So you go to your gate and wait for them to start boarding. You get to board, except you don't. You walk down and get on a bus, which then takes you to the plane. With easyJet they don't assign seats so when they open the bus tours its like a mad dash to the plane. Kinda fun, but kinda nervewracking. The plane ride to Rome was really quick which was good. When I landed in Rome I had no idea where to go. I knew I was supposed to take a train somewhere so I started tour them. As I reached the door to the train terminal I was stopped by a woman promoting bus shuttles. I thought it was a large shuttle bus and figured it might be cheaper than a plane and she seemed to know where I needed to go so I went with her. She leads me out to a black van, where like 4 people are already waiting. I was slightly nervous and felt like I was about to be kidnapped. But I went with it, fearing for my life the entire drive. Everything turned out okay with that though. They took us to Termini which is the main train station in Rome. From there I took a bus to some random piazza and walked the rest of my way to my hostel, of course getting lost a lot. The hostel I booked used to be a convent and it definitely had that feel. But whatever it was super cheap and I was only sleeping there. After I checked in, I left right away to start my sightseeing. I went to the Colosseum first because it was one of the main things I wanted to see. I bought a Roma Pass before I left which allows you free bus/metro travel in Rome and free entrance to the first two sites you visit. The Colosseum site included the Roman forum and everything around there so I thought I would get that free. The Colosseum was cool. It wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be. I mean of course it was super huge and awesome to see, but I didn't get that awe-inspiring feeling. I did however get that feeling when I saw the Roman forum. It was incredible to see! It was monstrous and it was one impressive thing after another. I think I said wow about a million times. After the forum I walked to the Trevi Fountain, which is the main thing I wanted to see in Rome. It was marvelous. Pictures don't do it justice. It sucks that there are so many people by it all the time. I did the necessary tossing of coins into the fountain. After the Trevi, I went to find the Spanish Steps. They were pretty impressive to see. They were a pain in the butt to climb though. Its like a never-ending stairway. Eventually I made it to the top and witnessed the pretty sweet view. When I went back down to the bottom I realized I had used a photo of this very spot for some viscom projects last year which was pretty cool. I knew the pics were taken in Rome, but I didn't know exactly where. After the steps, I went to the McDonald's located in the Piazza di Spagna. It is the coolest McDonald's in the world! The bottom floor is a cafe and the top floor is the restaurant. Apparently it was the first McDonald's in Italy. There is an X-Box in the middle of the restaurant that kids can play on and it looks too fancy to be a fast food restaurant. After eating, it was dark so I decided to go back to the Trevi fountain. This turned out to be a fantastic idea. The foutain was even more fantastic after dark. After that I went back to the hostel and fell asleep at like 7:30 pm lol. I literally couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, I don't care how weird it looked.

The next day was Vatican day! I was super excited about this. Even though I'm not really religious anymore, it was something I grew up with and kind of a dream come true to be there. I had an appointment at the Vatican Museums at 11, so I went to St. Peters square at like 8 to have ample time to walk around and explore the Basilica. Seeing the place for the first time is crazy. Its so imposing and fantastic. I walked up the front of the Basilica and was told it was closed. My first thought was noooooo! This was the only day I could see it and I needed to see it right then! After a bit of confusion about when the Basilica would open again, the guard informs me that I can go to the dome of the church. I was like whatever that could be cool. So I paid 5 euro to climb the 551 steps to the top. Its a little over 300 steps to get to the large dome and see the inside of the church. You can only see a small amount of it because the landing doesn't reach all the way around and they have a fence around the area that you can walk on. I took a lot of pictures at weird angles through the fence because I thought this was the only chance to see the inside of the church. Boy was I wrong, but more on that later. After "seeing" the inside of the church, I climbed the rest of the stairs to the top of the dome. When I reached the top I literally said "Hallelujah!" My legs hurt so bad, but the views of Rome were completely breathtaking. When I looked out over the city I knew that I had made the right decision in paying to go up there. After that I went the souvenir shop on the top of the church. Yes they have a souvenir shop on the top of it. It made me laugh too. After the shop I made my way down the staircase allocated to people exiting the dome. The stairway led straight into the church! I was so confused. I was like how am I standing in the church when the guard at the beginning told me it was closed. So so so confused. Oh well...I decided to take advantage of it. After taking some pictures and being amazed by the incredible stuff in the church I noticed a fair amount of people coming into the church (again confused why the guard said it was closed) and decided to check out what was going on. At this point it was about 10:15 and remember I had an appointment at 11 in the museums. I walked up to a spot just in time to hear someone say the Pope was gonna be there any minute. What?! The Pope?! SWEET! So I was like I'll wait until 10:30 to see him and then book it to the museums since they are a little ways away from the church. 10:30 came and no Pope. So I decided to wait until 10:40. That time passed and still no Pope. Just as I was about to give up hope I hear the music and people start cheering and there he is! It was fantastic. Again, even though I'm not really religious anymore it was a dream to see him in person. I took like two pics and then had to book it to the museums. I reached them just in time to make my appointment. They are pretty much normal art museums, which was kinda disappointing, but there were a few highlights. As I was walking through the first few galleries, I started thinking about how Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" might be there. As I was thinking this I see a sign that says its been taken down because the room is being restored. Ugh sadness. One thing I was excited to see was "Laocoon," a statue I had learned about in one of my art classes freshman year. I didn't know it was in the Vatican museums, but it made me happy to find it there. Another highlight was the Sistine Chapel. Its like one of the last things they let you see on the way through so I was pretty happy to finally witness it. They don't allow pictures, but I strategically hid my camera and was able to get a pic of "The Last Judgment" and "The Creation of Adam." So cool to see in person. So yea, in total I was at the Vatican for about 5 hours. After that, I went to the train station to buy tickets for my trip to Montepulciano (where they filmed part of New Moon) which I would take the next day. At the train station, an Italian woman asked me to help her with the automatic ticket machine and I was able to do it all in Italian. I felt pretty accomplished. After that I went to a contemporary art museum. I mostly did it because I wanted to make sure I used my second free entry on my Roma Pass and I was getting a little sick of looking at older art. The museum I want to was called MACRO and it was pretty impressive. I love contemporary art cause none of it really makes sense. Like you feel like its simple and you could do it, but then you think about it or even try it and its impossible to actually do. I love it cause its amazing to see how others think and what they can come up with. I wish I was that creative! After that I went back to the hostel, read a bit, and went to bed.

The next day I had to get up early again, to make sure that I made my early train. I had to take a two hour train to Chiusi before heading to Montepulciano. I thought that the bus would take like 10 minutes to get there, but in reality it was like 40. So when I actually got to Montepulciano it was like 12:30. I had a train to catch back in Chiusi at 3:30. I was rushed for time. I wanted to find the clock tower from New Moon. The entire town is a huge hill. I wanted to get there fast but the hills were really rough. I finally made it to the square with the clock tower. I was pretty impressed since I didn't use a map. My legs were killing me but it was cool. It was sad to find out that the fountain that Bella runs through in the movie isn't actually real. But all the other background stuff in that scene is. I was stoked. Right after I saw it and went into the church in the square I had to trek back to the bus station right away. The bus I took back to Chiusi was like a school bus, so it was filled with kids giving me weird looks cause obviously I'm not usually there. After that it was another 2 hour train ride back to Rome and then an hour train to the airport. I don't know if that trip was really worth it but the views on from the train ride were awesome and now every time I watch New Moon I can say I've been there! When I got to the airport and checked in, I went to my gate. Sitting in the area were some Americans. I thought oh yay maybe I can talk to them and give them some tips about Venice to pass the time. After I sat down I realized I didn't want to talk to them because they were being so obnoxious. It really is true you can tell an American tourist by how loud they are. These kids were talking about how they were going to get drunk and high and be crazy. And they were even talking about how one of the kids in their group wasn't good at anything and he wasn't smart. They said all this after he left to get some food and it was so sad to here. So stupid to talk about a friend that way. I know I may talk about my friends when they are not around, but I would never say they aren't good at anything and aren't smart. Of course they are. Everyone is good at something! These kids just put more stock in having a good gpa and playing sports. Anyways after that was the plane ride and then I was back in Venice. I realized when I got back how much I missed it. It was a great feeling to have especially since I've been a bit bored and lonely here. I was happy to feel like I belonged and that it felt a bit like home :)

Wow that was a lot. Sorry I saved all that up until now. My next post will be about my trip to London and hopefully I'll tell you how awesome it was to see Andy Roddick play :)

Thanks for reading! Ciao.

Monday, November 1, 2010

its all about piazza san marco

So I guess the past week has been a bit boring, but thinking back on it, its actually been pretty good. Even though I haven't been that active I've started to really let myself find the beauty in the small things. Like walking home from school one day, Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley came on my iPod right as I was walking across the bridge over the Grand Canal at sunset. I just stopped on the bridge and watched and listened to the whole song. It was pretty incredible for me. Everything about Venice is gorgeous I don't know. I sound really cheesy but whatever.

Like I said life has been pretty boring. I've pretty much just been going to school, coming home, eating dinner, and going to bed. Which is fine. Its not like it is required that I go out and do something every hour of every day. Although I have made myself a promise that from here on out I'm going to go out and see something everyday. Even if its just something small. I want to be active and be excited about the city. If I don't get my rear in gear I know I will regret it when I go home. I'm trying to be careful though because money is tight...really tight. I think if I am stingy I will be able to make it out of here with money left in my bank account! Lets all cross our fingers lol.

I've been spending a lot of time in Piazza San Marco lately. I have no idea why. I always find myself back there. I hate all the tourists, but ever since I went there with my teacher for class it has become something so amazing. I think I could sit outside the Basilica and just stare at the mosaics and the marble for hours. Its breathtaking. Its something you need to see at least once in your lifetime. The Piazza is also something that is good to use to find other places. For example, I wanted to find this one landmark and it was semi-close to San Marco, so I went to San Marco first and took it from there. I guess its just an excuse to walk through the Piazza just one more time :)

Saturday was the first day of the week that I actually wanted to get out and do stuff. I decided I should use my vaporetto pass all that I could because I decided not to renew it this month. I wanted to visit the cemetery because its its own separate island and I wanted to see what it was like. Little did I know that this weekend was the weekend that everyone goes to the cemetery. Ugh I felt bad walking around just to watch, while everyone else was there to visit their loved ones and clean things up. Needless to say I didn't stay long. The place was pretty cool though. Every grave really reflected the personality of the person, or at least what their family thought of them. The worst part of the island are the sections where you walk over the some of the graves. It looks like a sidewalk so I didn't realize I was doing it at first. A lot of people were doing it, but I felt wrong about it so I jumped down to the ground to walk.

After the cemetery I went to the church at Redentore. I bought this thing called a chorus pass that allows me entrance to like 14 churches for like 7 bucks. It was worth it to me. The church was beautiful. It was pretty simple compared to others that I've seen. I wanted to kind of make my time worth while so after I walked around and looked at the paintings and details and whatnot, I just sat in one of the pews for a while. It was peaceful and I could really example the details. After that I went to look at the Scala Contarini Bovolo. Sadly, they are closed to the public which means I could go inside, but they were breathtaking anyway.

Yesterday, I decided I would head to the movies. I wanted to see a movie that I had already seen in English so that I would know what was going on. I decided on Inception because I wanted to see it again. I had to go to Mestre to see it and there were only two theaters showing the film and only one of those had a showing at the time I wanted to go. Obviously with my luck, I wrote down the address to the one that didn't have a showing until 10. I got to the theater at 6. Ugh. I decided to buy a ticket to Despicable Me, which showed at 8, in addition to the Inception ticket. So to kill the 2 hours I just walked around. Despicable Me was in 3D and the glasses they give you are sooo intense. They are monstrous and very heavy. I wish I could have kept them, but they were really crazy about getting them back. Luckily I took a picture of myself in them. The movies were weird too because they have assigned seats. You can't just sit anywhere you want. Which is whatever just different. I actually understood a lot of Despicable Me and liked the movie a lot. Inception was a little more difficult, but I already knew what was happening so it didn't matter. I'm pretty much in love with Joseph Gordon Levitt in the movie. I finished at the movies at like 12:45 and after that I walked back to the train station. Upon arrival I found out there were no trains back to Venice until like 6 in the morning. Yea I was not spending the night in the train station. Luckily I overheard a family talking to a police officer asking how to get back to Venice and he gave them directions on the bus they could take. Hallelujah! The universe was definitely helping me out there. So I took the bus and got to bed around 3. Happy Halloween to me!