Sunday, November 18, 2012

diamonds in the sky

this post is dedicated to kristel. bless her heart, she couldn't sleep and took an ambien. when we got to the hotel this morning, she kept trying to talk to us but all she ever said was "diamonds in the sky." she thought it would be a great idea to take a picture of the three of us snuggled up in bed because it would be perfect for instagram. only problem is that it's pitch black so it didn't really turn out... at all.

well, here is the picture. i literally don't think you can see a thing. thank you kristel for our late night entertainment!

goodbye siena, hello venice

i never thought this day would come this fast. i was saying goodbye to the place i had called home for the past three months. on our last night as we were sitting in the campo eating frozen yogurt, i came to the sad realization that i was never going to be doing this again with my three new best friends. i was never going to be twenty years old again in siena. i was never going to be living at 50 via del porrione again. but through this experience, i learned so much. i learned a new language. i learned how to be completely independent. i learned so much about myself. i am so grateful for this experience and feel so fortunate to have been able to do something like this at such a young age.

friday morning came and we were saying goodbye to anna and marcello who, strangely, we came to love and were very sad to be leaving. one last hug and kiss on the cheek and we were on our way to piazza gramsci to catch our bus to ravenna. it was a sad morning for us, but we decided we were going to be back one day so it made it a little easier.

we stopped in ravenna for the day to see a few churches and then spent the night in the lovely cheetah print beds. we decided against the bunkbed situation they had going and turned the beds into one giant bed and we stayed in watching the tourist to prepare ourselves for venice!

the next morning we were on our way to venice! i had heard so much about the city and i was very excited to be going there! we went to doge's palace and saint mark's cathedral then wandered around the city for a little while. we met up with the group again where we went on a gondola ride! we enjoyed the most amazing ride down the grand canal with musicians serenading us. it was one of the best experiences i've had yet! after the gondola, we had our farewell group dinner. it was the last time we were all going to be together. after dinner, we wandered around a little more then went back to the hotel where we, once again, changed up the beds and made our own giant bed out of the mattresses on the floor. this was our last night sleeping together so we decided to all fall asleep cuddling and watching house bunny.

today was our last day all together. this was the first timewe were going to be separated in three months. we haven't spent more than an hour apart from each other and now we are suddenly going to be leaving each other for the next two months. we spent the day shopping around venice and ate dinner at the most beautiful restaurant down on the water. we went back to the hotel and hung out for a little longer and postponed our goodbye as long as we could but unfortunately the time had to come eventually...

we just said our goodbye to chels and kenna. it was not quite the goodbye we had expected.. it was more of a "help them get their bags to the water taxi and put them on then almost get taken to the train station with them so hurry and hug and literally jump off the boat and cry and wave" kind of goodbye. not ideal, but it's okay because it's not a real goodbye. we don't like to think of it as a goodbye. we think of it as an "i'll see ya soon then." in a few short months we will be reunited and we will be living together in our sugar house house and it will be like italy all over again, just not quite as cool. one thing is for sure though: the friendship and bond the four of us made is something that will last forever. i know these girls will be some of my best friends for the rest of my life. i feel so lucky to have met them and grown so close to them over the past few months. this study abroad changed my life in the most amazing way and i know the memories i have made are some that i will never forget. so to my three new best friends... thank you for everything you have done for me in italy. i can't wait to see you in january! i love you more than you know and i'll see you soon then.

mont blanc

oh how i've missed the mountains. the cold, crisp, clean air, the trees, the snow.. everything about them. seeing everyone's pictures back home of how much snow there was making me so jealous so mont blanc was exactly what i needed. it was the perfect wintery lodge escape. and it was in the italian alps so how could it get better than that? i was living in my perfect fairytale!

when we got into courmayeur, we were all instantly so happy to be back in the mountains. it was the perfect little town in the alps with the cutest stores and streets. we checked into our hotel and went up to our room to found the cutest lodgy room. it had a huge bed and a loft and a balcony with the most beautiful view of mont blanc. we settled in for a little bit then went out and explored the town. most of the town was closed but it was still so cute to look into the windows of all the shops. we went back to the hotel early and cuddled up and just watched tv and went to bed.

the next day we took the tram up to the top of mont blanc and had the most beautiful view of the whole aosta valley. i was in heaven. it reminded me so much of a zermatt. we ate lunch up there then went back down and wandered around town again. tonight was another early night hanging out in the hotel room, drinking delicious tea, and giving each other massages. it was the perfect relaxing night!

poor sono tattooed her face so she'd remember to email her grandma...

poor, poor sono...

all in all, the weekend was nothing too exciting, but it was the perfect relaxing weekend in the mountains and was exactly the break we needed before finals.

happy halloween

mikey j made her do it.


well we went from heaven to hell in a matter of 24 hours.

first off, lets point out that we got home from perugia at 1:30 in the morning and didn't go to bed til about 2:30. next, lets remember that we had to catch our train to verona at 5:00. what does this mean, you ask? well it means we got an hour and a half of sleep because we had to make the two mile walk to the train station at four in the morning. so that was a great start to our morning. maybe we should have taken that as a sign that we shouldn't go.

in an attempt to save a little money (well, actually a lot), chelsea didn't want to buy tickets at all. after a lot of convincing on my part, we decided to buy "ragazzi" train tickets. do we look like we are under twelve years old? eh, that might be a stretch. but nobody ever actually checks the tickets so we figured we would be fine.

well, on our first train, domenico p came to check our tickets and since we didn't validate them, we were fined five euros each. honestly? he couldn't have just taken the tickets from us or written on them to make it so we couldn't use them again? oh wait, actually he did write on them. he wrote that we got a five euro fine. thanks a lot domenico p. and maybe you should learn your native language because you don't even know how to form a complete sentence to explain why you are giving us the fine. "biglietteria." "cinque euro." "non e possibile." your one word of italian is not helpful. go to school and get a real job so you don't have to waste your time fining some harmless american tourists for not validating their tickets. sheesh i hate the italians.

from there, all was well until we arrived at the train station in verona. or should i say east berlin or the soviet union. i swear to you we were dropped off in the middle east or russia or something - anywhere but italy. first off, there were more people speaking german than italian. what? not to mention the fact that it looked like we'd been dropped off in commie central. we felt so safe. good thing chelsea knows how to say one sentence in german so we look like we fit in... except that the only thing she knows how to ask is for water with ice. so i'm not quite sure how far that would've gotten us if we had actually needed it. and my two years of german from good old herr hardy didn't get me much further. where is hendrik when we need him??

well we finally made it to the center of town and decided to stop at a cafe for breakfast. i decided to order eggs and bacon (since they don't seem to have that anywhere and i needed a normal breakfast) but when it came out, the eggs were over easy and had probably been cooked for literally 15 seconds. they were completely raw. and i barely even like eggs to begin with and can only eat scrambled if i ever actually eat them. i hoped the bacon would be normal, but it wasn't really either. at least the orange juice and hot chocolate were normal so i got a little something in my system.

after breakfast, we went out to find the casa di giulietta. you would think it would be easy to find since it is the only thing people go to verona for. well, it should've been, but it wasn't for us. of course we walked right past it, even with the huge crowd of tourists around it. we finally managed to find it and went to go find the wall to put our letters to juliet in but oh wait... that wall doesn't exist. thank you amanda seyfried for putting false hopes into our minds. turns out all there is is a tiny, tacky mailbox. so we put our letters in there then walked around in hopes of finding something to do to pass the time until there was a train leaving.

when we bought our tickets, not only did we buy childrens tickets but we bought them for the 3am train because it was so much cheaper. we went to the station and found a train leaving for florence, but the layovers were in different places than were on our tickets. we figured we'd be fine, and we didn't really want to wait around for another hour for the right connections and we certainly weren't waiting twelve more hours for the 3am train. we boarded the train to padova which is where the trouble really started.

when we got to padova, we went to the platform where the florence train was leaving from and we got yelled at by the worst italian i came in contact with the entire time we've been here. she told us we had the wrong tickets and to go buy new ones. we thought we could just get on the train at a different door but no... we got kicked off the train and watched it drive away without us. we had to go talk to customer service (which might i add was not much of a "service" at all. thank you america for always being so helpful) to get them to change our tickets but then they got mad at us for having childrens tickets and made us buy new ones. but not just new tickets to florence... new tickets an hour and a half backtracking back to bologna then the two hours to florence from there instead of the hour and a half to florence from padova. not only were our tickets children's tickets, apparently we had bought boy children tickets so they were not very pleased about that. we really don't understand though because there was no option to pick if it was for a boy or girl but whatever. we were not male children and that was all that mattered to the trenitalia nazis.

we pretended to sleep on the train from bologna to florence since we still had our child tickets for that segment and luckily we actually weren't woken up on this one. we know from cinque that they have no problem violently shaking you until you wake up though. so for one segment, things went our way.

once we got to florence, there was not a train for two hours since we had missed the earlier one we were planning on. our tickets, however, were for the direct train and this one went through empoli. we decided we should buy tickets for this train so we didn't have to worry, but for whatever reason, we still decided to buy ragazzi tickets. we had to waste two hours now and hadn't eaten since breakfast at 10 so this is when we stooped to our absolute lowest.... we ate mcdonalds. since it was 11 at night it was the only thing open and we had no other option except to starve. this was the first fast food we've had in months and we all (except chelsea) immediately regretted it. we felt so sick and it was disgusting and didn't help us at all.

we finally got on our train to empoli and once we were there we knew we had to transfer so we got off the train and went to look at the screen to see where our next train was. but when we looked at the screen, we found out the train we had just gotten off of was the last train out for about 6 hours. at that point we ran back to the platform and as we came up the stairs we saw it driving off so we attempted to flag it down and a man on the train just stared at us, smiled, and waved. we moped back to the waiting area and were ready to go get comfortable and cuddle up to the homeless man on the bench since we were going to be stuck there all night. a group of three men who had watched us through that whole experience were laughing and one of them looked at us and just said "siena?" and we said yes and he pointed outside and said we were supposed to take a bus. we were so relieved to find out we hadn't just missed our train to who knows where and headed outside. when we got on, we sat down in the red velvet seats and headed off to siena. we knew this bus would be dropping us off at the train station and we wanted to go to the bus station close to our house so chelsea went up and asked if the driver could drop us off there. he looked back at her with his one tooth smile and said "train station." yes sir, we know we are going to the train station. we want you to take two seconds out of your time to drive us to the bus station instead because it is much more convenient. but no, he did not understand that and said we could walk. thank you so much. as if we didn't know we were capable of walking home.

we got to the train station and were about to start the walk home when our luck finally changed and a taxi pulled up right then. we thought there would be no chance of this happening at two in the morning but somehow it worked out for us. the second we got home, we got in bed in our clothes and went right to sleep.
so this was our encounter with satan. we decided that from this point we should just suck it up and only buy the right tickets so we never had to go through something like this again. to anyone traveling to italy, verona is not worth your time, effort, or money and i strongly advise you not to go. ever. worst day of my life, hands down.

oh and as if all of this wasn't bad enough, i sat at all the train stations for so long that the commercial that plays on all the tvs was stuck in my head and i had learned the dance that goes along with it. once i find it, i will add it in so you can see/hear it. ciao freaking ciao.