Thursday, April 28, 2005

Liberation Day Weekend

Friday I took a Tuscan Cooking Class- it was great! I learned to make some great soup, great appetizers, excellent Tuscan pork and potatoes, and of course a great cake for dessert! I ate SO much! But then I thought, hey, I better cap of the day at my favorite Florentine restaurant! So- last meal at the great Club Paradiso, though I will be returning to say goodbye to Andrea and Manuella, the great owners of the place!

Saturday we had a tour of the Chianti wine country! We went to a small villagey type place and sat for about 4 hours, drinking wine and eating- it was more like a food tasting! We had a great time, and we learned a bit about chianti wines too! That night we went to an Orthodox Sadir, which is the service to begin Passover, the Jewish holiday. That was SO cool because we were with such an international group of people- sitting across from a French guy and surrounded by people from all across the world, including Israel!

Sunday we day tripped to Pompeii. This is a big deal because Pompeii is not really your average day trip- it’s really a 2 or 3 day trip, but we conquered it! Naples, the nearest main train station, is about 3.5 hours away on the fastest trains- we went 3.5 hours there, and 5 hours back- so needless to say the travel alone was exhausting! But the actual experience of seeing pompeii was great. I suppose it was different from what I expected- not that I knew what to expect. I think when I imagined it in my head it was all covered in black ash and you walked around on these two thousand year old lava flows. It wasn’t like that. That would have been cool, but the way it was made it even better because not only was it fascinating, but it was also beautiful! There was so much green ivy and beautiful scenery there- and really interesting to see these building with the paintings on the walls, the amphitheater, the forum- so neat! And in the background loomed Mount Vesuvius... pretty sinister looking guy!

So... we made the treck back, it all worked out, and we even got some fresh squeezed Naples orange juice slushy after we ‘did’ Pompeii! It was a great trip! There are pictures up on the photo album, so don’t be shy- go and check ‘er out!

I'm Siiiiiiiiick.

yeah. Lame, right? I escaped the many bronchitis and tonsilitis episodes lurking in the apartment, the flu, the bad allergies, the pink-eye (ahh, to be a college student!), and yet NOW, just a week and 2 days before I fly over the Atlantic and greet those Rocky Mountains, I find myself oppressed by orangey-green snot (mm, imagery!), a sore throat, and some small men digging for gold in my head (or a headache, whatever you want to say). WHY? WHY? This is so frustrating! You'll realize that this is serious when I say that I have lost my appetite. Don't worry, I still ate something, but if you know me you know that I still eat when I'm sick. Strep throat, where's the soup? Flu? Serve up the Mcdees! Sinusitis? Bring on the bacon! Really, I am not an appetite loser- I'm an emotional, seasonal, in sickness and in health, all kinds of reasonal eater! So... last night when I could find no echo of "feed me" deep down, I knew we were in for it. And by we, I mean me. But you get me.

So... it seems those famed words "go see Doctor Corsi" (the free Doctor NYU provides, oh the generosity, for students, whom most everyone here has seen at least once, and whom I couldn't pick out from a 1 man line-up) now apply to me, and so I shall. This afternoon on the way to Italian I'll be swining by to sign my life away to the ever-prescribing free doctor- does anyone feel an E True Hollywood special coming on? "How this Italian doctor caused prescription drug addiction in over 400 students at an American University in Florence, Italy." You'd think with a doctor of a dad and a former nurse mom, and many nursely friends that I'd be more trusting. Well guess what, this is Italy.

Can you tell I'm pretty much ready setty goey to leave this great country? I am, if you couldn't. I am SO happy with my experience, but at this point even the inflexion of the Italian language is starting to grate, and that means its time- cause I love the inflection!
This was a random one, and mostly an update to tell you that I'll be informing you of my last weekend's adventures later on, and then of course expounding in all of my depth on many other matters- I hope to write a lot this week, as a transition of somewhat great proportion is impending!

Hope all is well with you, and since I am not smart enough to add links ON my website, let me give you some other blog links to you can share in the lives of my other dear blogging friends! Here they are! this is my dearest Beth, who now lives in NC, but whom I met in NYC my first semester at NYU! this is Alecia's blog, and she is a season writeressslashtvstarslashactresslashengagedwoman whom I met in NYC as well, though only last semester, and I will anticipate seeing her there again come, oh, say....August 30th?

Well that's it for me, my little swirling mind is spent- time to make the tissue dance....

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cinque Terre

Today Staci and I got up early and did some good ol’ fashioned train ridin’ up to the Cinque Terre- a group of 5 small towns connected by footpaths and trains- fun! When you get off of the train it is clear that this place is unique- to the right there are green and glorious mountains, and to the left there is the sprawling Ligurian Sea! We arrived at Manarola- a very tiny town with a few places to eat, San Lorenzo church (with an awesome revised version of God bestowing Adam with life from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling- pretty freaking awesome!). So we checked that place out and then walked along the Lover’s Path to the next town over, Riomaggiore. Riomag was great- it had giant rocks in the marina area, a great little restaurant we had lunch at- we laid on the rocks and soaked up some sun for a while, and then unfortunately headed home.
I could have spent a lot more time exploring the other towns (though one of the paths was closed from a landslide) and the surrounding area- I hope someday to go back! It was so peaceful up there- a nice break form the sight seeing rush and crowdedness- it wasn’t too touristy, and it was calm and just relaxing! But I’m glad for the time I did have there- it was a GORGEOUS day to be there and enjoy the fresh sea breeze and scenery! Thanks to Beth for the suggestion!

great things

So I have to say that life is good. I’m getting ready to get school over with, and at the same time I still have a good few weeks left here- a good meaning just over 3, which will not be over too soon, and yet are flying too fast! Funny how that happens, right? But I’d just like to take a moment to recognize some of the fun and great things going on in life- so you can rejoice with me!

-I registered for next semester! Man- this is an answer to prayer, and though I’m on the waitlist for two of the classes, I’m really happy to have the drama of that over with!

- I got my phone back! Here is the story of the phone LOSS:

On the way back from Vienna we were getting off at the SECOND to last stop- meaning that if we woke up late we would end up in Rome which is about an hour and a half (and 30 euro) away from Florence! So the Trenitalia guy comes around and tells us that the train will be in Florence in about 40 minutes- this is at 5:50am. So I set my alarm again for about 6:15 thinking that we’ll get a few more shut eye and then get up and bug out. Well, at about 6:10 I wake up and realize that we are stopped- and in a few seconds realize we are stopped in FLORENCE. That means- yeah- we need to get OFF this train! So jumping from the top bunk Stephanie and I spring to action, Andrea gets herself organized, and we try to avoid waking the other 3 people in the cabin! So we get off the train in 45 seconds flat, and just LAUGH cause we allmade it alive! And the traveling is over! About 10 mintes later I realize that the alarm never went off--- because the phone is still on the train!
After feeling dumb about that I decided that it was better that my phone was on the train than my wallet, passport, iPod, etc. So I was prepared to take that loss, and deal- only a little less than a month left, so I’ll live. Just to ease my mind I stopped in to the Office of Student Life to make sure that there is nothing I could do, and they suggested calling the phone. I was doubtful, but they called- and low and behold someone answered!
Flash forward 2 hrs, and I’m meeting a Trenitalia employee on platform number 5 with my phone- wow! If I could express how unexpted THAT was!

-It was warm today! It has been real cold- windy and rainy even- so I was happy to be warm again!

>>So... I didn’t actually finish this little blog entry the day I began it- which is sad, but I lost the flow I had going, so I’m going to end it now so that I can go write about Cinque Terre!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Vienna Blog

I’m back! And I had a great time!

Vienna was an awesome city- beautiful at all times of the day- PACKED with more art than you can see in three days (we barely skimmed the surface!), and full of amazing history and information!
The Hapsburgs knew how to party, let me tell you! They had all KINDS of palaces- summer homes, winter homes, regular homes- awesome! Lots of silver and pretty china, great clothes, and furniture of course- not to mention some heavenly gardens! I learned a lot about Franz Joseph and Elizabeth, or “Sisi”- interesting people. Interesting country!
The art was already amazing! Klimt, Schiele, Kokoshka, and a really great temporary exhibition of our country man’s work- William Eggleston (whom I REALLY enjoyed!). Plus mix in some Monet, Van Gogh, Rubens, Titian (which was great- a whole room for my Venetian boy!), Degas- on and on! Oh yeah, and Picasso- don’t tell anyone, but I’m really not a fan. I think I am coming to appreciate him, but I’m not a fan in most cases. So yeah. AND I got to see so many things that I learned about last semester- I took a class called “A Return To Vienna In 1900”- it was basically every cultural aspect going on in Vienna at that time (since it was basically the intellectual and creative capital of the world then...) and it was SO awesome! Then to get to go and SEE all the stuff I learned about! AMAZING! Go to my photo album to learn a bit and see some fun pictures!
I have to say that the food was enticing- NO pasta in sight, except in the cheesy italian restaurants- but you best believe I was not a frequenter there! When I received my first plate at lunch last Friday that was piled high with meat, potatoes, and dark, dense, moist (oh boy!) bread, I KNEW I was going to like Vienna! Oh- and I did!
I got to see the Spanish Riding School (located in Vienna... hmmm.. actually, lovely white stallions- LOVE HORSES! I’ve concluded I MUST ride again! It has been SO long! And to remember that feeling- of cantering, of galloping, of jumping with horses- amazing!), and I went to my first Opera at the Vienna State Opera house- I did it right with standing room only the first time- so that means I’ll really appreciate that center box when I get there!
All in all it was a great trip- even the overnight train was really not bad! Though the blankets were a little sketchy, if you can get yourself away from thinking about how many people’s hair is on it, and focus on the fact that yes, your sheets ARE clean, you took them out of the plastic yourself, you might just get some shut eye!
I’m sorry this was kind of a weak entry on Vienna, but there is so much ELSE going on that I don't’ want to think back when I’ve got all this stuff swimming around in my head NOW!
Hopefully more tomorrow! Ciao for now! OH- and I can HIGHLY recommend Vienna to any traveler!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Home again, Home again- at least the temporary home!
Vienna was great! I will be updating more on that, but just wanted to notify everyone that I am home and alive and had a great time- and survived the overnight train in both directions! I left my phone on the train so that is lame, but oh well, nothing that can be done about that!
Pictures and detail to follow!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

OFF to Vienna!
Leaving on a 10:12pm train, arriving at 8:30am in Vienna- pray that we don't get everything we own stolen!
Pictures and stories to follow- don't be afraid to e-mail me!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Driver's Ed.

Ok. My new goal is to pop on once a day or so and update you- so here is one for the moment. On the walk home today I noticed a Driver's Ed car... the first I have seen in Florence, since most people drive Vespas and can't drive until they are 21 (yep, lucky Americani!). But... there it was... in the middle of the roundabout in Piazza della Liberta- a Mini Couper, driving instructor and all. I'm pretty sure I learned on a Buick.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


So- after arriving on a pleasant British Airways flight (tea and all), we found our way to Paddington Station from the Gatwick airport. And I know what you’re thinking- you’re thinking, “is that the station where Paddington Bear lives?” And, my friend, you are quite right! So after we arrived we found our classy of classy joint called Tony’s House Hostel- which was really in a a nice location. It seemed clean enough, and the staff was... nice enough... so we got settled in, then went out for Fish and Chips! On the way to the hostel we had gotten a TAD bit lost (in that we were wandering the completely WRONG direction...) and a guy stopped to help us- Paul. Paul told us where to get some good eats near the hostel (about a block away, if that) and showed us to our hostel. So... of course we went to the place he recommended. It was VERY good. I’m not a huge fish fan at all- but those fish and chips were... AMAZING! So amazing that I ended up eating there for dinner the two following nights as well- but we’ll get there later (and for the record, another GREAT thing this little place had going was the price- the GBPound is 2X stronger than the USDollar, so every time you see a price you have to double that t see it in dollars- needless to say cheap and good food were a joyous find!).
The next day we shot out early and headed to the Big Ben and Parliament (beautiful!), the London Eye (like a big Ferris Wheel), Westminster Abbey (SO much history there! Queen Eliz 1, Henry VII are both there- plus a TON of other people!), the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (pretty neato), Trafalgar Square, the British Museum (and saw the Elgin Marbles!), Tower of London, Tower Bridge (very pretty and colorful!), London Bridge (really boring), Then we headed back to the hostel to get dressed (cram dose number two of Fish N’ Chips in), and then headed to Camden Town to Barfly where the great We Are Scientists played! It was great to see Ian and they performed well despite all three being sick and jet-lagged! The bar was cool, and even cooler with the knowledge that just a week and a half before Gavin Degraw had played Sold Out there! But really- Ian looked great, the band sounded good, and the crowd seemed to like it- I hear Platinum!
After that it was a race to ge t home before the Tube closed because we were there until around midnight and apparently the Tube closes at midnight for the most part- so we got to know that metro system real well that night... but finally made it home about an hour later.
The next day we were up pretty early again, and we headed to the famous shopping department store Harrod’s. That place is CRAZY. Besides the Egyptian elevator and miles of designer clothes, this place has a FULL fresh market- including bakery, fish place, sushi place, coffee bar, pastry shop, soup place, veggie stands... and on and on! IT was INCREDIBLE! Staci and I knew we weren’t going to buy anything (hello pricey) so we jotted down to H&M and were happy to find a WIDE selection of nice clothes at prices more our speed!
After some lunch at a bar type place we hopped over to Hyde Park- the weather was especially gorgeous that day- almost hot, and certainly bright and sunny, so half of London was at the park too! It was so cool to see everyone out and about! Through Hyde Park we wandered to Kensington Palace where Princess Diana lived, and had tea at the Orangerie there- if you’re going to London I’d recommend that as a cheap tea stop, along with lovely gardens etc. surrounding you- high tea can get pricey in L-town!
After Tea we split up- Staci and I had a mission- get tickets to a show! Staci had never seen Phantom of the Opera and we had seen posters for it all over- and of course I’m a sucker for musicals, so we started the hunt! We headed back to Trafalgar Square, just north of there is a TKTS- but we struck out there. We found out where the theatre was and charged! At the theatre there were two balcony seats and two floor seats left- and you know we opted for the good ones, cause you can’t go to a show in London and see Phantom for the first time from a Balcony Obstructed View Seat!
We wandered back down to the Underground stop, looked in a market or two, and then made our way back to Tony’s House. We got ready for the show, grabbed meal number THREE at Sussex Fish and Chips, and then headed to the show! The London Underground is very unreliable in my opinion. There are constantly delays, and although the system is convenient and seemingly efficient, don’t count on it for timeliness! So- we were late. Mind you, we only missed the first half of a scene, so it was ok. When we got seated we realized we REALLY got our money’s worth- GREAT GREAT GREAT seats! IT was such a FUN experience, including the icecream at intermission!
Sunday was our last day sadly- and it was another beauty! We parted ways again since Alexis, Jacqueline, and Sabrina had done a bunch of the stuff we had yet to do the night before. Stac and I hit up St. Paul’s Cathedral where Charles and Diana were married, then walked across the Millennium Bridge, did a tour of the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, had lunch at a Greek place and a Frappaccino at Starbuck’s (and the angels sang), and then hit the Tate Modern Museum. This museum was like a dream- SO much information, no superfluous info on t he labels, children's programs going on in every room- it was awesome! TRULY the most “efficient” museum I’ve been to in terms of traditional stuff like labeling and info- which I think is ESPECIALLY important in a modern art museum where half of the stuff looks like (sorry Jackson Pollock) a child could have done it. It was REALLy informative, and I was pleased to be confronted with Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and other artists that I have seen pictures of their work in books, but never live. And for the record, no, I don’t think that just anyone could have done what Pollock did, but you get my point?
After a GREAT (but too short) time at the Tate we headed back, met the other girls, boogied to the airport, sat around, and then boarded the plane home. It was a GREAT trip!
My only sadness from the trip was not getting to spend more time with Ian, but hopefully I’ll be able to make it to NY this summer to see him, or ideally he’ll come to Hawaii with us! We both said that London was a place we could live- and wanted to- so maybe in the near future we’ll have apartments just blocks from each other in London!
Conclusions: I loved London WAY more than i thought I would! The people were nice, the city is very navigable, and the food, despite all the horror stories, was really good! The sites were amazing, the museums were all SO nice, and the weather while we were there was ideal, so i have no complaints! I will surely be back- wanna come?

The Netherlands

Ok. I don’t have much time to write this all out- unfortunately I took so long on getting Spring Break covered (and shabbily at that) that here I am several hours before taking off to London and I’m trying to squeeze in writing about those Netherlands so that when I come back from London I won’t be behind! So... if you want to get a better idea of how Amsterdam and Brussels were- you can check out the photo album which is linked in one of the entries earlier this month! Some of them aren’t labeled yet, but if you keep checkin’ back they’ll get done! :)
SO! We arrived in Amsterdam last Friday, dropped our bags at the hotel, then headed BACK to the airport, and caught a train to Belgium! Staci was meeting me and Alexis the next day, so rather than go see stuff that she would inevitable also want to see, we decided to check out the neighboring country!
The scenery was SO nice! It was really lovely! Everything was so neat and contained, and there were little farms everywhere! SO CUTE! We arrived in Brussels and just walked around- we really had no idea what we should do or see because we hadn’t planned ahead for it, so we just followed the touristy signs and saw the main sites- Grand Place, Mannaken Pis (a little boy “pissing” fountain... SO CUTE! Check out the pictures in a few days for more info, and of course a visual!). It was a BEAUTIFUL place! I would go back there in a heart beat! We also had Belgian chocolate (they give you a free taste every store you go in!) and then Belgian waffles. and let me just say- wow! I mean, waffles are ok, but I am going to DREAM about those things! Oooh baby! We were only there a few hours, but it was AWESOME!~
So the next day we got a slow start, but Staci arrived safely, and we finally got in to Amsterdam itself (our Courtyard Marriott fun house was located outside the city- about a half hour bus and train... not bad as it sounds). We took a boat tour around the canals (in case you’re like me and didn’t know Amsterdam HAD canals- its does! It’s “the Northern Venice” they say!), and then walked around. We checked out the “Red Light” district which was VERY depressing (think middle aged women in provocative positions waving every man to her through the window... and really that doesn’t begin to describe it). The smell of pot was invasive, or more so in that area (fancy that).. so we bugged out and moved to the Anne Frank house, which was truly a GREAT museum and experience. It was the place where the Frank family hid, and where she wrote her Diary during WW2- absolutely impressive organization and a very effective exhibit.
We saw the Rijksmuseum (Dutch painters and artifacts), the Van Gogh Museum (which also featured an interesting exhibit on Egon Shiele), Rembrandt’s house, and MUCH more! There are trams there that run like trains (oh, but they’re trams) through the city on above ground tracks- they are very silent and sinister looking, but if you’re ON one they are a great way of getting around.
With our “I AMsterdam” cards, the cards we got that included transportation and museums and discounts on stuff, we got free stuff- including a taste of NASTY Dutch liqueur, these scary but delicious concoctions of potato, meat, and fried stuff, postcards, and coffee! It was really great- if you’re headed towards Amsterdam I’d highly recommend it!
I’m cutting the play by play of this guy short, cause I’ve gotten behind and this is a long one anyway- next stop- LONDON! In the end here’s the conclusion: Dutch people are nice and know more languages than we do, the red-light district is saddening, pot is disgusting and no one should smoke it, and Amsterdam has a lot to offer! I’d go back! Oh, and Schipol airport is the coolest airport on earth!