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.

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