I know I have been M.I.A. lately, but I have had limited access to internet or I have been very busy trying to get back into the swing of things after Spring break! 10 days of traveling through five of Europe’s most popular cities: Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and Barcelona.
First Stop: Berlin. We arrived in Berlin around 10 am on Friday morning. When arriving at the hostel, they did not have our room ready so we changed in a public bathroom and moved straight on to the walking tour. We saw the Bunker where Hitler hid during the end of the war, the hotel that Michael Jackson held his baby out the window, the Holocaust Memorial, and the remnants of the Berlin wall. It was all very powerful to see that much history in a short amount of time. As American as I am about to sound right now, I don’t care; I was really excited to find that they had Dunkin Donuts in Berlin. During the tour we snuck off an got some iced coffee and it literally made my day.
I spent this weekend in London with my best friend from high school, Ryan. It was really nice to see a familiar face. It was also a really long weekend leading into a really long week.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 3 am in order to catch a bus from Florence to the Pisa Airport. Then I took a flight from Pisa to London Stansted, which is an hour outside the city, so I had to take another bus. Finally in the city, I met up with Ryan where we went sight seeing all day. First stop was to see Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Then we walked around a bit and ended up at the British Museum. There I saw the medals for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics that will be taking place in London as well as the Rosetta Stone.
Of all of my classes here, Italian definitely is my favorite. Not necessarily the topic, because I am horrendous at learning languages, but for everything else that can make or break a class. My class only has 8 people, including me. I’ve never been in a class that small, but I really like it because I know everyone’s name and we all get along really well. I do feel bad though its all girls except Greg, but he’s a good sport when we go on “girl stuff” tangents. I also love my teacher. She is so funny; she will explain things half in Italian, half in English so we will understand easier and learn different words. Most of the time we get off on tangents about different things, basically making the class a huge discussion and today, that is exactly what happened.
This weekend I made a repeat trip back to Venice with my program, API. Up bright and early for a 6 AM departure, I was able to sleep the whole way there. When we arrived we took a private boat from the main land to the actual island of Venice. Once there, we broke off into groups and was given a tour of the many islands. We went to St. Mark’s Square and the church there, but that was a review for me. After that we made our way to the Rialto Bridge, the first bridge to cross the Grand Canal. We then saw the only hospital left in Venice, which is settled close to the biggest cemetery in Venice. Personally, that gives me
a lot of confidence in the doctors there. We then saw where Marco Polo lived back when he was a famous merchant. He owned one whole island in Venice. To compare the wealth he would have had today, to own a square meter of land in Venice is about 15,000 euro.
Last night was Marti Gras and the last night of Carnival here in Italy. It is kind of like their Halloween because everyone dresses up in costumes. It was crazy because even when I was walking home from class at 5:30pm there were little kids dressed up, and my street was shut down for a parade that I had missed. There was confetti all over the ground. Even my teacher told us to get dressed up and go dancing because the next day starts lent and you wouldn’t be able to have as much fun then.
This weekend is going to be a hard one to top. I spent 3 nights and 3 days in the amazing land of my ancestors: Ireland. I went with Bus2Alps, a company that has preplanned trips for study abroad students. It was honestly amazing… maybe no P.S. I Love You amazing, but very close.
Thursday, I left directly from my last class of the day to go to the train station at 3:15. I had to hop a train from Florence to Rome because there were absolutely no flights to Ireland from Florence. After that hour and a half train, I took another 30 minute train from Rome’s city center to the airport. After checking in and making it through security, I made my way to my gate. To put into perspective how big the Rome airport is, I had to take a train to my terminal. After making it to my terminal with an hour and a half to spare, I got some dinner and took my time. With about a half hour left before my flight I made my way over to the gate that was stamped on my ticket. I arrive there, and the screen reads: Alitalia Flight to Budapest. I was clearly not flying to Budapest, so I instantaneously went into panic mode thinking I missed my flight, or it was canceled. I asked someone at the ticket counter and they said a lot of the flights gates had to be changed, and to check the board. Thank god, my flight was still in this terminal so I didn’t have to take a train back to the main area of the airport. My flight was almost booked solid and everyone had carryons so they had to take some and put them below. This made us sit for an extra 15 minutes. Then we missed our turn in line to take off so we had to wait another 15 minutes to take off. The flight itself was very easy with no turbulence.
Yesterday I finally took my first trip out of Florence to Venice. From February 11th - February 21st, the city is transformed and becomes the home of The Carnival. Similar to our Mardi Gras, people walk around with masks on celebrating together in the streets.
I’ve come to decide that my life here is revolved around one thing, and one thing only: food. I’m either shopping for it, thinking about what to make, or preparing/cooking it. For a long time leading up to this trip I was really worried that I was going to starve here or live off of pasta and jarred sauce. Well, while pasta is a large staple in my diet, it is no where near the biggest or best part. That title is held by onions and garlic.