ECSTASY | JANUARY 31, 2006
It was extremely warm in Rome today - well, at least warm enough to be outside without a coat on, and apparently, also warm enough to make the streets incredibly crowded. If it is this warm now, I wonder how warm it will be in March when my family comes to visit.
One of the fun things about walking in Rome is seeing people looking at maps trying to figure out where they are. I always imagine what they are looking for, and wonder what language the map is in that they are using. I have only had people ask me for directions a few times, and they are usually english-speaking tourists. The tricky thing about Rome is that you can't use a map. You will always get lost no matter what you do, so you have to get a good idea of the general direction you need to go, then start heading that way. At least, every time I use my map, I get a little bit lost (maybe I am naturally a little bit lost?).
I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and make the hike to Santa Maria della Vittoria - the church that holds Bernini's The Ecstasy of St. Teresa. Yes, yes, I will admit that the only reason I was going to see it was because I read about it in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. And I must have not been the only one with that reasoning, because there were also two young Italian girls there with the copy of the book in Italian. It was cute to talk to them because my Italian is so bad, but one girl's english was pretty good.
This sculpture is pretty intense. Have you heard of it? It is in a part of the church called "Cornaro Chapel" it is designed to resemble a theater, focusing on the sculpture. The sculpture then depicts the story of an angel visiting St. Teresa in her sleep and piercing her with an arrow. Read this -
It pleased the Lord that I should sometimes see the following vision. I would see beside me, on my left hand, an angel in bodily form -- a type of vision which I am not in the habit of seeing, except very rarely. Though I often see representations of angels, my visions of them are of the type which I first mentioned. It pleased the Lord that I should see this angel in the following way. He was not tall, but short, and very beautiful, his face so aflame that he appeared to be one of the highest types of angel who seem to be all afire. They must be those who are called cherubim they do not tell me their names but I am well aware that there is a great difference between certain angels and others, and between these and others still, of a kind that I could not possibly explain. In his hands I saw a long golden spear and at the end of the iron tip I seemed to see a point of fire. With this he seemed to pierce my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. When he drew it out, I thought he was drawing them out with it and he left me completely afire with a great love for God. The pain was so sharp that it made me utter several moans; and so excessive was the sweetness caused me by this intense pain that one can never wish to lose it, nor will one's soul be content with anything less than God. It is not bodily pain, but spiritual, though the body has a share in it -- indeed, a great share. So sweet are the colloquies of love which pass between the soul and God that if anyone thinks I am lying I beseech God, in His goodness, to give him the same experience.
During the days that this continued, I went about as if in a stupor. I had no wish to see or speak with anyone, but only to hug my pain, which caused me greater bliss than any that can come from the whole of creation. I was like this on several occasions, when the Lord was pleased to send me these raptures, and so deep were they that, even when I was with other people, I could not resist them; so, greatly to my distress, they began to be talked about. Since I have had them, I do not feel this pain so much, but only the pain of which I spake somewhere before -- I do not remember in what chapter. The latter is, in many respects, very different from this, and of greater worth. But, when this pain of which I am now speaking begins, the Lord seems to transport the soul and to send it into an ecstasy, so that it cannot possibly suffer or have any pain because it immediately begins to experience fruition. May He be blessed for ever, Who bestows so many favours on one who so ill requites such great benefits.
This is taken from The Autobiography of Teresa of Avila, chapter XXIX. So basically, people think it is a story about her having some heavenly orgasm. I don't know - she looks like she is in a lot of pain to me! Ha ha.
It seems tomorrow I leave to visit Verona and Vicenza for some sort of school project, then I am off to Paris on Friday. I am bringing the computer though, so I will try to update! Ciao ciao.
UPDATE FOR ASHLEY & OTHER NEWS | JANUARY 30, 2006
To explain the title - I told Ashley I would post links to the images of places I want to visit when we are in Paris this weekend. So beginning with that... there is the Eiffel Tower (of course), the Pompidou Centre, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Ste-Chapelle, Louvre (probably won't go inside, but it is free this Sunday), Musee Picasso, Ste-Denis and La Defense. If you can think of any other places I should visit, let me know. I will be in Paris for 3 days, so I feel like I have a lot of time!
Last night was a bit frustrating for me. I hurt my back really bad (being clumsy of course) then went to the shelter to volunteer. I was kind of worried because I do a lot of bending over at the shelter, due to the low walls, and I thought it would make it worse. When I got there though, there was an another problem to deal with. It seems that when Rixa (the woman I work with at nights) got to the shelter, and went inside to unlock it and turn on all the lights, she came back outside and someone had left a poor kitten outside in a wire cage.
She was not crying or hissing, but her fur was all wet and matted down. She was also breathing very heavily with a bad cold. I felt so awful for her. There was no identification on her either, so we had no idea if she was a cat that was adopted from the shelter before, or if she was completely new. We had to find a empty cage for her, and at least 5 new cats had been abandoned since Saturday, and there was only one left open. I still feel so bad for her, but at least now she is in a warm shelter, with food and water and a litter, and today she let me pet her.
The other frustrating thing has to do with Cher... my beloved little furry friend. We have been letting her out of her cage to get her accustomed to being around other cats (she is blind, remember) and last night she was was so eager for my attention that she climbed up the back of my body to be held. Twice. Using her claws. The first time I noticed what she was doing and turned around to pick her up, but the second time I was cleaning another cat's litter, and she really dug her claws into me. I was too late when I dropped the litter and turned around to grab her. I have never had that happen to me before so I was a bit frustrated by it. The good news is that she didn't do that today when I saw her, and she seems to be getting more accustomed to being out of her cage.
I feel like I haven't explored Rome on my own in days. I still haven't visited Trevi Fountain and a few other places. Tomorrow I only have class from 10-2, so maybe after that I can go out and about!
GENOVA | JANUARY 29, 2006
I think that getting on the train to Genova has been the craziest experience of my life. I arrived at the train station twenty minutes early to buy my ticket, but as I was typing my destination into the computer, I realized there are over 24 train stations in Genova for me to choose from. And of course, I did not write down the station I needed to go to, just the time that it leaves Roma Termini. So I was frantically searching for the train that leaves at 00:26, but could only find ones that leave at 00:15 and it is 00:09! So I just picked a random station, one that sounded good, like Principle or something, and ran out of there (at 00:14) to figure out where the train is leaving from.
When I find my train, it turns out that all the seats are first class - or so it appears. An attendant tells me to get on because we are about to leave, and I begin walking in the cars, looking for a second class seat! I get to the very end, and another assistant tells me to turn around, and puts me in (what I think is) a first class seat (has more privacy). I was happy to finally sit down, but I had no idea where I was going or when I would get there! The only thing I do know is that I do not have to make a transfer. NOTE TO SELF: Buy tickets online next time!
So I am sitting in the car, out of breath, wondering where the hell I am going, and the other guy in the car starts to talk to me. I immediately say mi dispiace, non parlo italiano. I know it is awful, but at that point I couldn't even try! But it was cool, because he speaks very good english! We talked until his stop in Civitavecchia, a town north of Rome (actually close to Cerveteri, a town I was just talking to my Dad about yesterday).
His name was Max, and he commutes back and forth between Rome and Civitavecchia (don't worry everyone, he is 34 and had a wedding band on). He recommended that I visit Turin to see the Egyptian Museum and Positano for its gorgeous scenery. I also asked him about Como and Modena, two other towns I want to go to... and he told me that George Clooney is always in Como, that he loves it there. I just want to visit there to see where the filmed Star Wars (along with a palace in Caserta), but I didn't say that. You shouldn't always reveal your dorkiness to strangers immediately.
It was fun to talk to someone from Italy and ask him questions, and just to have a real conversation. I was feeling a bit paranoid when I got on the train, but it turns out I don't always need to be that way - just cautious. Max recommended some places to go to in Rome, and even gave me his email if I had more questions. He was very helpful, he even said to let him know how things went in Genova!
The rest of the six hour ride I took alone. The heat in my part of the train did not work, so I had a very hard time getting any sleep. When I got to Genova, I rushed off the train towards the smell of fresh cooked croissants to warm me up. Then I began walking around the city. I decided to use my innate sense of direction to get me where I needed to go... but that did not work and I had to get the map out. I spent the first part of my day exploring the center of the city - the Duomo San Lorenzo, the Porta Soprana, the Sant'Andrea and the bronze fountain in Piazza De Ferrari.
After that I explored the port of the city, and decided that I wanted to go into the Lanterna - the lighthouse to view the city. I saw a sign that said it opened at 10 and walked there (in the rain) but it was closed. So, because my umbrella was broken and my shoes were sopping wet... I went to buy new shoes and take the train home.
I also bought a blanket to stay warm on the way home, and I slept very well. I spent the last hour of that train ride attempting to talk to a man in Italian. I think I did a pretty good job - we eventually understood each other, but I felt really flustered when I couldn't remember words. It was kind of ironic because I was studying for my Italian final tomorrow and using that text to talk to him at the same time!
Other news - a few pictures to show that Data is a naughty cat up to no good!
SATURDAY OBSERVATIONS | JANUARY 28, 2006
The aura of Rome changes on Saturdays. The streets become littered with people of every motive - tourists looking for monuments, Romans shopping, panhandlers begging for money, people trying to sell you stuff you don't need... the transformation is interesting. Even though the streets are busy during the week, it feels completely different. The crowd moves at a slower pace, with a lot of people stopping to talk, window shop or snap a photo.
There are definitely pedestrian and traffic flow patterns that I have observed here. The most pleasant times for walking are at early morning, late at night (minus the homeless man I saw defecating) and Sundays, because there are few people out. The worst times (so far) are definetely midday (any day) and Saturday evenings. On Saturdays the streets are full of people, and getting from place to place becomes a challenge. I have walked through streets on Saturdays that are packed from wall to wall with people - it is more squirming than walking! At times like that, I just have to remember to be patient and cautious.
GOOD & BAD NEWS | JANUARY 27, 2006
The good news - Deborah and I successfully mailed my brother his birthday package today, for only €8,50! The bad news - Pink was adopted while I was in class. I visited her before I mailed my package (at noon) then came back at 4:00 and she was gone. It isn't really bad news because she is probably in a very loving home now... but she had only been there for three days! I really looked forward to seeing her when I came into the shelter. Oh well. I always have Cher (and Data at home!).
Tomorrow is our first studio pinup and drawing exhibition. On a Saturday! I think this is nuts - why is it ok to have school on a Saturday all of a sudden? I want to travel! I am actually planning on taking a very long "day trip" to Genoa on Sunday (if weather allows). I will get on a train around midnight tomorrow night, arrive Genoa 6:00 am, then leave at 4:00 pm and get back to Rome at 10:30 pm. I know it seems crazy, but I don't mind the long trains rides and short days. Besides, that is 10 hours of studying on the train for my Italian final on Monday!
I am taking this trip by myself, because I really need some alone time to think and clear my mind. I have been very busy this week - going to class, volunteering, working... it does not seem like a lot, but I have not had any time to spend alone. I have been running from one thing to the next, and I can't wait to relax and do things on my own schedule.
I just booked a hotel and a ticket to Paris for next weekend, the third of January. Ashley and I are going together after we get done traveling in Verona (Italy) for a field trip. I am nervous about this trip. The flight we are taking is very cheap, so the accommodations will not be nice at all. And we booked a hotel that seems a bit scurvy. But I know these things in advance so I will be prepared when I get there, with a positive mind set.
OSTIA ANTICA | JANUARY 26, 2006
Today I traveled with my history class to Ostia Antica, a town of ruins 16 miles southwest of Rome. "Back in the Day" (1-500s AD), Ostia was the most prosperous Roman seaport. But after the town of Portus was built, Ostia went into decline, went through a bout of malaria, and was eventually sacked and ruined by invading colonies. Ostia Antica is said to be one of the most well preserved and interesting ruins, outside of Pompei.
It is neat to see these things with a tour guide - our history professor! Otherwise I am afraid I wouldn't understand what used to be there. Today we saw temples, apartments, public baths, shops, bars, a theater, etc. The theater is even still used for open air concerts in the summer.
We also got to see Forica (the public latrines) and my favorite - Domus di Amore e Psiche (the House of Cupid and Pysche). Remember the first picture on my January 18th post? Well, that is another version of the Amore e Psiche statue that I feel in love with on first glance, so I was really excited when my professor told us we would see another version, and I made him promise to tell me the story of Amore e Psiche.
So the story goes (this is all my professor could remember): Psiche was the most beautiful woman on earth. Venus, the god, was jealous of her, and instructed Cupid to go to earth and shoot one of his arrows into the ugliest man he could find. Then, Psiche would fall in love with him, but be humiliated by his ugliness. Well, Cupid went to earth, but feel in love with Psiche himself. He abducted her away to his secret fortress in the clouds, and would only come to visit her at night, to conceal his identity. One night, curiosity got the best of Psiche and she leaned over Cupid, while holding a candle burning from oil in her hand. A splash dripped on Cupid and... this is the part my teacher couldn't remember. So Cupid abandoned her and she became desolate. She roamed the earth on her own, and eventually asked the gods to make her immortal so she could spend the rest of her life in heaven with Cupid. Aww. And so they did.
I fell in love with a new kitten at the shelter tonight - new, because she was just brought in on the 24th. Her name is Pink, and she is a little brown, gray and white kitten. She seems to want attention whenever anyone is near her cage. She will start purring just if I walk over there to say hello! Oh, and that reminds me, I had a friend take a picture of me with some dogs today to prove that I like dogs as well, so you don't think I am some freak, premature cat lady.
And just to clear a few things up - everyone's boyfriends (of my roommates and I) thinks we should just ask for wireless internet and be provided with it. Um, hello... Iowa State does not care if we have internet access in our apartments! We are lucky enough when it works in our studios! I would rather have my washer not fill up with our dirty sink water anymore than have internet. I would rather have an oven that works than have internet. I would rather have heating that works than have internet. Even though it is inconvenient to walk to my studio to use the internet, I enjoy getting out of the apartment. You can't be connected all the time!
BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME | JANUARY 25, 2006
Today was my first attempt at sending my brother his birthday package and... no luck! I asked Deborah to help me, and she was nice enough to say yes, but we couldn't get very far with the post office on strike! Hopefully I will have better luck when I try again, on Friday. Don't worry Nick, it will get there. Someday.
I love the little conversations that I have (usually with men) in pizzerias. Take today for example:
Pizza Man: Bonjour! Hola! Hello! (he tries hello in all the languages he knows...).
kilax: Buona Sera, I mean Buon Girono! (He threw me off by saying Bonjour).
Pizza Man: Are you from Australia?
kilax: No, from the US.
Pizza Man: Ah, Philadelphia?
kilax: No, Chicago. (I just tell everyone Chicago because they know where that is).
Pizza Man: Ah!
I then ask him which pizzas are vegetarian and he teases me by pointing at every single one and saying either "meat" or "no meat." I finally interrupt him to pick one.
Pizza Man: Eat it here?
kilax: No, to go.
PIzza Man: (looks very upset) Why?
kilax: I am on my way to class.
Pizza Man: Studying architecture?
kilax: Yes, how did you know?
Pizza Man: You look like an artist (I was wearing a yellow Columbia jacket, a knit hat and jeans).
I laugh, and then he begins to ramble on about Bernini, a famous architect, so I take that as my cue to leave (after I get my pizza of course).
Sometimes the things people say to you after they realize you are a foreigner are so funny. And sometimes, they are just... strange. Like last weekend when Ashley, Kelsey and I were at the train station at 6 am in the morning. A man stopped us to ask if we were from the US, then from San Francisco, then he asked if we could spare a dollar. Um, no.
MY FIRST TIME... | JANUARY 24, 2006
Today was the big day - my first time trying on wedding dresses. I spent an extra amount of time getting ready... I figure if you look gorgeous on your wedding day you might as well try to look gorgeous when you are trying on gowns!
So when I got there at 5:30, they still didn't speak english, and I still didn't speak italian. I am SO happy that I had Kelsey with me, because I had never tried on wedding dresses before, especially in a foreign country! She helped remind me what to ask them, and to get all the different pieces (veil, etc.).
Apparently trying on wedding gowns is quite the process. I am happy I spent all that time looking and smelling pretty because I was sweaty and tired when we were done! I only tried on 3 gowns (I know, what a lightweight) but that is because I am not a size 6 and that is the only size they carry their gowns in! If I decided to buy one, I wouldn't actually be able to see what it looks like until it was done being made for me. Some of my friends told me that when you try gowns on in the states, they have one big size that they just cinch in to see how it would look on you. Well, they didn't do that there!
I let them help me into the gowns and put my veil on and all that fun stuff. I felt like Kelsey was my mom, sitting there, telling me how good I looked. I really wish my mom and sister could have been there with me... but I told the dresser that I would bring them back in March (the first thing my mom will say is "How much does it cost? That is too expensive!"). Hopefully the dress will still be there in March.
I didn't fall in love with any dress yet, probably because the one I really wanted to try on (Capri) was in the really small size, so they just held it up in front of me. But I will show you some pictures of the ones I tried and you can tell me which you like. (Sorry for the weird back shot of Badia and the weird thing on the model's head in the other... these pictures are all I could find - they are both taken from the Atelier Aimée site ). Comments welcome!
I thought of two things I really miss tonight. The first is our cat, Data. Even though I work at the shelter practically everyday now, I still haven't met a cat that acts quite like him! The other thing I miss is my own warm, big bed and my own bedroom.
Oh, and just so I don't get reamed by my sister-in-law, Courtney, YES, I MISS MY FAMILY TOO!!!
TA NEWS | JANUARY 23, 2006
Last night was my first night volunteering at the shelter (TA). I got there at 10:00 and met with Rixa, the German woman who works there at night. Soon after, Titsiana, another volunteer, came to help and train me. One problem - she speaks no english (and Rixa speaks very broken english).
So I managed to communicate with Titsiana with the very little Italian I know. I asked, Hai un gatto in casa? [Do you have a cat at home?] Her response? Sì, ventidue gatti e un cane [Yes, 22 cats and a dog] And I said, Tutti in tu casa? [All in your home?] and she said sì!
Then later, I asked, or tried to in Italian, how long she had been a volunteer. I am pretty sure I asked her incorrectly, but she responded with dieci anni [ten years], so I must have said at least one word right! Sometimes I find myself thinking in Spanish and am about to say something... then remember Italian NOT Spanish!
I am really excited about learning more Italian. My brother and sister-in-law bought me a "Learn Italian" book for Christmas, so I am going to work extra hard in that. We also may end up having the option of extending our Italian class for the whole semester, so maybe I will do that too!
I told Deborah at the shelter (earlier last week) that I could help her if she need anything done with graphics programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) so I know I am helping her work on an animal abuse flier. She also asked me if she could pay me to teach her Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, because she has wanted to learn them for a long time. I told her if she teaches me Italian, I will teach them to her!
MENTAL NOTES ON ROME | JANUARY 22, 2006
After living in Rome for half a month, I would like to share some of my mental notes on living in this city.
1. No matter how hard you try, you will trip on a lose paved stone. Be prepared to fall and pack Band-Aids.
2. Always have exact change. Don't ask how! Just have it!
3. Not all Roman cats enjoy chicken flavored Purina Cat treats. Buy European cat treats.
4. You can drive your car/motorini on the sidewalk/wherever you please.
5. You can walk whenever you please, just keep in mind note #4.
6. It is normal to wear animal fur while you are walking your dog.
7. Avoid making eye contact with any beggar near a Gelateria.
8. Don't walk on any major street on a Saturday, if at all possible. It will be swarming with people.
9. Sunday is the best day to explore the city - the streets are blocked off and everyone is sleeping.
10. Be careful when you greet people with "Buon giorno." They may assume you speak Italian.
11. Unless you want to kiss people on the lips when you greet them, kiss their cheek to your right first.
12. Don't assume anything about the food you buy. ASK.
13. Red Post Box, Blue Post Box... just put the postcard in one!
14. You will get lost, even if you use a map. Don't worry, you will get there.
15. Driers are unnecessary machines.
16. Try to spend as much time by yourself as possible. It will make better memories of the semester.
17. Don't spend all your time calling home. You'll miss out on too much.
18. You can survive a day or two without the internet - Hurrah!
19. Make friends with the locals. They know where the best stuff is happening.
20. Just try to communicate. In the end we are all human and it will work out just fine.
21. Read your guidebooks before you get there so you don't miss out on anything (don't worry, I haven't).
22. Don't expect places to be open before 8:30 am, between 1-3:30 pm, or after 8 pm.
23. All you need for company is your MP3 player.
24. Not all pizza is created equally. Write down the places you enjoy.
25. Don't expect anyone to speak english. Ask. Politely.
Don't take me the wrong way. These are just personal notes to myself, that I thought I would share. I love it here and don't miss much about the States, I am just still adjusting to a few things!
One of the best things about living in another country (that I have observed) is that it teaches you how to be flexible and NOT SELFISH. I think some of my classmates are having a hard time adjusting because they are used to always having things their way. But if you just go with the flow you will discover that you don't always need to do things they way you are used to doing them... and that sometimes another method is even better!
PISA & SIENA | JANUARY 21, 2006
I am going to cheat a little bit and post this entry with yesterday's date for two reasons - because I wrote it yesterday and didn't have internet access when I wrote it, and because it will be too long if I post it all under one date. Okay, three reasons - it is also about a trip I took on the 21nd!
What a long day - it started at 5 am and ended at 1 am. I feel sore, tired and somewhat disappointed.
I had heard from multiple sources that Pisa is not worth a day trip on its own, so Kelsey, Ashley and I decided to visit Siena in the same day. It meant getting up very early, but hopefully that we would have a more fulfilling day.
We left on a train at 6 am for Pisa. Pisa is 265.2 km (163 miles) northwest of Rome so it was four hour train ride. The Italian train system is actually quite interesting, because depending on how much you are willing to pay, and how many stops you would like to take, you can get to the same places in different amounts of time. For example, our ride took a little over 4 hours, but it did not stop and cost €15. Other rides to Pisa cost more, had train transfers, and were quicker. What I liked about our ride was that the last 15 minutes of it went by the Tirreno Sea (which connects to the Mediterranean Sea).
We arrived in Pisa around 10:15 and immediately walked to the tower. I was taken aback at the condition of the town. I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but the town felt like a slum. We walked for about 25 minutes, and it never got better until we reached the large park that the tower, baptistery and cathedral are located on. When I saw the tower I thought, "gee, it really is leaning!" I know that is stupid, but it just looks much more dramatic seeing it in person.
We took a lot of fun pictures there, but didn't go up into the tower, because it cost €15 and I thought that was a bit unreasonable. It was actually a very different experience for me, because I hadn't traveled to such a tourist driven spot yet. What I mean is, I think Pisa makes a lot of money off the tourism of that area, and I wasn't prepared for it. I had to even pay 30¢ to use the bathroom!
I was very optimistic about Siena after seeing the condition the town of Pisa was in. I had read that it is a "gorgeous Medieval town" set on three hills made of "beautiful earth." The color, Siena Red, actually comes from the rocks of this town! So we left Pisa around 13:50 and took a 1.5 hour train ride (complete with switching trains during the ride) to Siena. Siena is 87.5 km (54 miles) southeast of Pisa.
It was starting to get fairly gloomy when we arrived. The first thing we all wanted to do was go to the Piazza del Campo and climb to the top of the Tower there. The piazza slopes down and is in the shape of a fan. It has lines on it that divide it into 9 sections to represent the 9 regions sectors of the area. There are horse races and flag throwing events held here in the summer (I think this may be where the flag throwing scene was filmed from "Under the Tuscan Sun?"). I was really excited about viewing the campo from above. We climbed uphill for 40 minutes to go into the tower, but then found out it was closed. I was pretty bummed, but said, "Well, at least we can still visit the Duomo! It could only ruined if it is covered in scaffolding!" And what are the chances... but it was! That is why I say the day was somewhat disappointed.
But we did discover a wonderful museum that had a "Siena & Rome" exhibit featuring the work of Raphael, Carravagio and other artists. I also ate some wonderful gnocchi (potato pasta) with pesto sauce and more fragola gelato. So the trip to Siena was fun, I just wish I could have done more. I would love to go back there when it is a bit warmer, and go up that tower and see the beautiful Tuscan landscape.
We took an 20:21 train home, with a layover in a town called Chiuso. We actually got stuck there and didn't get home until midnight (hence the late post), but otherwise, I enjoy the Italian train system and think it can be as efficient as you want it to be (meaning you pay more money to get somewhere faster!).
UN GIORNO MATTO | JANUARY 20, 2006
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Is there a word that represents screaming? I don't remember if I mentioned this, but I have seen quite a few bridal shops here with GORGEOUS dresses. So today, on my way back from drawing at Ponte Sant'Angelo I passed Atelier Aimée (one of the shops) and saw that it was open. I went inside to ask about a gorgeous dress in the window, and saw even more gorgeous dresses in the back, and managed to set up an appointment for next Tuesday! The woman's english was bad, and my italian is even worse, but we managed to figure each other out. I feel nervous and excited! All of the dresses she showed me are silk, and very simple, but so pretty. The one I like is many €, but I can still try it right? How do women pay for these dresses anyway (especially since I will have to pay for shipping too)? I better figure that out incase I fall in love with it.
I wish my mom and bridesmaids (you know who you are) could be with me when I go to try on dresses.
I also stopped at a neat shop on the way home and found a birthday present for my older brother (can you guess what it is from the wrapping?)! I think it is something that you can only find in Europe, so I really think he will like it. I hope it is not too expensive to ship it to the States, but if it is, I suppose I can send it back with my parents. Either way, I feel very happy that I found something cool for him.
Last night I came home from studio at midnight, and I decided to stop by the Torre Argentina ruins to visit with the outdoor cats. I discovered that the door to the shelter was open, so I felt worried and went down to check it out (probably not a good idea, I know). I actually found someone in there cleaning - one of the founders! I felt awful, because of course I frightened her, but I think she understood why I was worried. It turns out she works there during the night, cleaning and giving medicine to the cats, so I told her I could come by and help her at night if she wants (since I am usually up). So I am going to be spending even more time there - hooray!
Our theme for studio this semester is called tra, which is basically an italian prefix. We also have it in english words like transcend, transfer, travel - so it kind of means "in between." So we are studying "in between" spaces, or spaces that are separated. I feel like we are getting off to a slow start, doing a lame warm up activity, but I am used to this by now. Anyway, I think we get to pick our sites and projects later this semester, and I think it would be SO COOL to design a real animal shelter for Torre Argentina. It is hard to explain, but that site is extremely tra, you can see into the ruins, where the cats are, but you can't go down there. Also, the entrance to the shelter is somewhat hidden, and as I noticed today, not accessible. Like I said before, the Italian government does not want the shelter there, so that is probably why it is hidden and not very "up to code." I think it would be really neat to work with that site. We have to write a midterm paper for my History class, and I was planning on writing it about those ruins as well. Am I overdoing it? Nah! That area of Rome is interesting and I haven't learned much about it yet.
I am surprised that I didn't think about designing animal facilities before. It is probably hard to specialize in animal shelter, but I bet there are many firms who design vet clinics and veterinary schools.
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW... | JANUARY 19, 2006
Oh my gosh, I cannot believe how gorgeous it was in Rome today! It was like the rain yesterday never happened. The sky was clear blue all day, and it was in the high 50s - perfect for walking! Check out how beautiful it was in the pictures below (which I didn't even edit).
Lucky me - remember when I mentioned I would be doing a work study job while in Rome? Well I have been selected as the official "IT" person (hmm, I hope that is the right word), meaning I get to troubleshoot all the computer and hardware problems. So far, all I have done all week is help people print and install drivers on their computers. What we really need is a person who understands wireless networking and internet setups... what we really need is Steven! The internet hardly ever works here (I feel like I am on dial up!), and I think they expect me to know how to fix it. Sometimes it seems that these problems can't be fixed unless people are willing to buy new equipment... and I doubt that will happen.
I am in my second week of school now. I must say, I have never found it this hard to concentrate before. I try to sit down and read for class, but find myself daydreaming of trips in Europe... I come to studio to concentrate harder, and end up researching my trips on the internet. I think the trick this semester is definitely going to be doing projects I am INTERESTED in (normally I am not). Right now, I feel like I haven't done any school work since I got here. Sure, I have studied the Italian language, and gone on trips to learn about buildings and the forums, but I think I would be doing both those things if I was here anyway.
So, if you have any good tricks for "focusing" and "concentration," please let me know.
SCATTER-BRAINED WEDNESDAY | JANUARY 18, 2006
I received my first letter here today - from my Dad's parents. I was super excited! Everyday I check the mailbox to see if anything came for me, but usually it is stuff for someone else. But today it was different!
Today was our first day of rain in Rome. We have been really lucky with weather - each day in the mid 50's and clear skies. But today the rain began... I hear once it starts it never stops, but I am more optimistic than that (especially since my weather widget tells me the rain is stopping tonight). I don't mind being wet anyway, as long as I don't have to see any snow!
I bought a map of Europe today so I can begin to mark down where I have been. I am planning on traveling to Paris with Ashley in the beginning of February, and to Greece with Kelsey two weeks later. And I would love to go to London, and Cairo, and of course back to Spain. We actually get to spend a few days in Barcelona, Spain for our second field trip. I am really excited to go to Barcelona and see all the works by Gaudí.
I went to the neatest museum today for my drawing class - Musei Capitolini. I seems like it had every statue I have seen on a postcard here in Rome. I really want to go back.
Yikes, this is my most scatter-brained entry yet. All I can say is that I have been especially out of it lately, and I hope I am better soon (I think I am losing my mind)!
FIRST GELATO | JANUARY 17, 2006
I had my first gelato tonight - fragola e crema (strawberry and cream - 2 different flavors). I hadn't tried any yet because I was avoiding excess sugar in hopes that it would make my migraines stop (it did). So I had the gelato - it is like sherbet only a little thicker. They put 2 different flavors into a cone then put panna (whipped cream) on top. It was no cake batter flavored ice cream from Cold Stone, but it was still pretty good.
FIRST VISIT TO VATICAN CITY | JANUARY 16, 2006
For once I feel like I am getting my money's worth out of my education! We go on these wonderful walking tours for our history class, last Thursday to the Forum and today to St. Peter's - I learn more than I ever would out of a book, and it is like getting a free tour! I can't wait to share what I have been learning with my family when they come to Rome.
St. Peter's/Vatican City is one of the MUST SEE places in Rome. Vatican City is the smallest independent state in existence - it has its own postal service (if you receive a postcard from me, see if it was stamped there!), radio broadcasting, newspaper, currency and train station (only used for freight now). It also has its own army of Swiss guards. There are museums with immense collections of art, gardens, residences, libraries, and of course, all the wonderful works of Michelangelo, Bramante, Bernini...etc. We didn't actually see all that today, but I am excited to explore it.
What we did see was St. Peter's Basilica. It is hard to describe how enormous the space is inside, and the elaborate detail and careful geometry that went into its planning. So I am going to be lazy and show some pictures instead.
One of the best things about volunteering at Torre Argentina is talking to the tourists. I meet all sorts of wonderful people! Today I met a woman from England who works at a cat shelter there, and also a girl from Amsterdam and a girl from Israel. It is neat to share a common interest with people who live on the other side of the world, and also learn a bit from them about their culture.
I also found out that a lot of the volunteers and facilitators are vegetarians... makes sense. Actually, a lot of them are vegan (they eat NO animal products), which makes me feel guilty or something. It is hard to explain.
SUNDAY BLESSINGS | JANUARY 15, 2006
This morning I tried to go to the annual "Blessing of the Animals" at a church here in Rome. When I say try, I mean that it is an event that lasts about 2 hours, and after I got there, I had to leave early for a field trip. A Sunday field trip! It makes me so angry, especially since our teacher was late to arrive, meaning I could have stayed longer...
But anyway, the "Blessing of the Animals" is an annual event at Eusebio Church. People bring all sorts of animals into the church - dogs, cats, hamster, fish (and the police have their horses outside!), then after the service, the priest comes outside to bless all the animals! It was really adorable, except when a dog was very mean and bit another dog and took some of his hair. I wish I could have stayed to see the whole thing - but it was hilarious enough to see a classic church full of animals!
Our field trip was to the Aurelian wall. Emperor Aurelian built it in 270-275 AD around the city of Rome for protection. So it is more like a fortress wall. It is really interesting, because to save money and time, he would connect the wall to parts of heavy buildings that already existed - like aqueducts. We actually visited a part of the wall, and were able to go inside of it and to the top of a tower.
It is the sale season here in Rome - every store has signs that say SALDI. I like to window shop, but I never go in because the stores are very small and cramped! I always see little baby things, like blankets and toys and it makes me miss my nephew so much! And it also makes me think of my mom and sister, they love to bargain shop!
ORVIETO | JANUARY 14, 2006
I took my first trip out of Rome today. I decided early in the week that I would like to visit the Cathedral (Duomo) in Orvieto, a town 100 km north of Rome. Kelsey decided to come with me, and it was quite the adventure getting to the train station from our apartment and buying our tickets. I think we walked two or three miles to get to the train station. Then we bought our tickets, luckily with no problems except for an unfriendly salesperson. Then we found at we had to "validate" them (get them stamped with the date). All you do is put your ticket into a little machine and it punches it. Unfortunately, it wouldn't punch our tickets, so we had to jump on the train before it left without us. Then the conductor came by to check our tickets... and we didn't have our little stamp. Oops! Luckily, he let us get by with it, but we were able to get them stamped on the trip home.
The train ride was an hour and a half long. We went through a lot of tunnels in the hills, which made my ears pop, but the ride was very enjoyable otherwise. I love the countryside landscape here. Once we left Rome we began to see lots of hills and houses scattered every where. We saw a few farms with olive and grape trees. It was such a nice change of view from what we have been seeing in the city. And Orvieto turned out to be even more gorgeous.
Orvieto is located in a region of Italy known as Umbria. There are not many well known towns in this region; it is mostly hills and small towns. But if you have ever seen "Under the Tuscan Sun," the landscape of Umbria is similar. Tuscany (actually called Toscana) is the region west of Umbria. Italy has 20 different regions, which operate similar to states in the US. The capital of Umbria is Perugia, and Umbria is the only land-locked region of Italy.
Orvieto is on a hill 325 m (1066 ft) above sea level. The train station is at the bottom of the hill, so you ride a "Funicular Railway" up the hill - which is basically a little trolley on very steep tracks! After we took our scary little trolley ride, we went to the Cathedral. It is a meticulously ornate renaissance style cathedral that was begun in 1304 and not completed for 300 years. The scale of it was just amazing; I think it is the tallest space I have been in since I arrived in Rome. I wish I could remember more from the intense cathedral class that I took my junior year, then maybe I would appreciate them ever more.
Orvieto has over 209 underground caves that were built by the Etruscans, who founded the city in 6 BC. The caves are under people's homes, and many people still use them as wine cellars. I toured one that is currently used as a wine cellar, but was used as a garbage chute and to hold water in earlier centuries. In the cave, you could read the different lines in the bedrock to discover the age of the cave. After the tour we sampled some Orvieto Classic wine - very good.
After the cave we climbed to the top of a bell tower to get a good view of the city. It was gorgeous, and warm up there so close to the sun! It was amazing to see the cathedral from that height.
I also went into "Pozzo di San Patrizo," a well built for Pope Clement VII to guarantee fresh water for him incase of a siege. The well is 62 m deep and 13 m wide, with a double helix stair - 2 that do not intersect. I walked down all 248 steps, and back up. At the bottom is a little bridge to cross from one stair to the other.
I enjoyed my first trip out of Rome. Now I just need to figure out where to go next (and how to get all the homework done I should have been doing today)!
DISCLAIMER | JANUARY 12, 2006
DISCLAIMER: This entry, and those that follow, could potentially reference Torre Argentina, the Cat Sanctuary. It seems to have become my favorite place in Rome. So in advance, I apologize for all my babbling.
Every time I visit Torre Argentina someone recognizes me and asks if I have some time to stay and help. Of course, I say yes when I can... so I end up meeting more people and doing all sorts of fun and random little jobs.
Today I found at that Watson is being neutered on Monday, and also having his other eye removed. He will be gone for 20 days - the first day at the vet and the others at someone's home, where he will be able to relax while he recovers. I am going to miss him a lot when I go to Torre Argentina! The woman who told me this is another volunteer, from the UK, and I don't think I have ever met a more chatty woman in my life! She was gossiping to me about all the other volunteers - who is a goth, who is homosexual, who is dramatic. I was listening, but not taking her too serioulsy... I think she just wanted someone to talk to. Anyway, Watson is going to be staying with her, so I know he will have a lot of company!
I found out the saddest news when I was there today, while I was cleaning the cage of a pretty black and white cat named Doloretta. I noticed that she was having trouble using the bathroom, and was getting excrement on herself and on her bed. When I asked someone to help me clean her cage and clean her up, they told me she had AIDS and would probably die soon. I don't know what came over me, but I started crying a little bit. It turns out that quite a few of the cats have AIDS, and had it before they came in. I can already tell I am getting too attached to the cats there... I should be careful, so I am not really sad when I leave or if one passes away.
Here is an optional meme to read (a meme is what happens when I get bored in class)...
THE REAL WORK BEGINS | JANUARY 11, 2006
On the way home for lunch I stopped at Torre Argentina to visit Watson and Cher (it is becoming a daily habit). I met one of the founders, Lia, and ended up helping her put prices on some of the Cat Store items. So I missed lunch at home, but went to the pizzeria across the street... and Santo Cielo! That was the best pizza I have ever had! It simply had mozzarella, tomatoes and onions, but the crust was so crispy, and it had the perfect amount of grease and combination of flavors! It was so heavenly, if I think about it long enough I can still taste it (probably because I haven't brushed my teeth yet, ha ha).
We started our Drawing Class today. Yikes. I try to be good - I try to see with my hands and create the illusion of space and all that blah blah blah, but it is always a distortion. I end up interpreting my surroundings into something else when I document them on paper. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, it just isn't the technique the professor wants to see (or I want to see for all that matters).
I feel so frustrated whenever I draw (mostly with graphite). I will feel excited to do it, but then feel discouraged by my mediocre results. Perhaps this will be the semester that I stop feeling that way? Probably not, but I have hope.
Before I forget, here are some of the lovely graphics from my Italian coursebook.
IL COLOSSEO | JANUARY 10, 2006
After two visits to the Colosseum (in the same day), I am taken aback. Never have I seen a more magnificent or grand work of architecture. I visited it early in the morning, after my Italian class with Ashley. It was crowded with tourists and vendors. Then I went back at night by myself and spent a lot of time there. The lighting of it is so amazing, you can just stand there and gawk for hours. It is difficult to capture what you see with your eyes on film, or even a sketch, but this is a breathtaking place I think everyone should visit, and I haven't even been inside!
We had our first studio session today. We simply discussed the syllabus, but it seems that it will be an interesting (er, vague?) semester. My studio instructor is actually stuck in the States with visa issues until Monday, but we are getting started nonetheless. Apparently, the whole semester will be a study of the meaning of tra (the Italian word for between). We are to analyze what tra is - inside and out, cold and hot, etc. It all sounds very vague and hypothetical to me, but I can't really judge it until I meet my instructor. And it seems that we will be able to pick or own site and create our own building program, which makes me happy.
SCHOOL BEGINS... | JANUARY 9, 2006
First school day of second semester! Only three more semesters and I will be free free free! Of course then I will have to decide what to do with my degree. Lately I feel so unmotivated about architecture I can't even fake interest anymore. I still find studying it interesting, but I feel that there is something greater I am missing out on. I haven't developed my own architectural style and I am worried I never will. Not all of us will become principals, but I fear I won't become anything.
I feel like I am lying when I say today was the first day of class, because I didn't actually go to a class. I went to studio and did more orientations (with a 30 minute speech on not getting drunk) and worked and all blah blah mundane stuff, but the best part of my day was when I volunteered at Torre Argentina.
I learned a lot about the sanctuary, and about Italian law. It turns out that Italy has a "no-kill" law (since 1991), which makes it illegal to kill a healthy stray cat or dog. As soon as this law was enacted, the animal shelters quickly filled up. Since people could not get rid of their pets there anymore, they started dumping them at the site where Torre Argentina is located, and still do so.
I also found out that this operation is technically illegal. I don't understand all of the Italian law, but today they told me how they are still not allowed to connect to the public sewage system to have a drain. In the past politicians visited all the time to try to kick them out. I don't know what about it is illegal, but all these people are doing is spaying and neutering and taking care of stray cats... what's wrong with that?
My simple task of the day was to clean litter boxes, sweep up litter and check for food and water. They are very methodical about keeping the cats as healthy as possible, so I had to clean the litter scoop with a water/bleach mix each time I used it. One of the cats was very mischievous. He was a young black kitten, with one eye missing and one eye blind, but he was very playful. Every time I opened his cage he pawed out at me, even though he couldn't see what he was doing! He had the most adorable name - Watson. It seems so regal for a cat. When I left him to clean the other litter boxes, he would get into his litter box and throw litter all over his cage! Then I would have to go back and clean it up... he was so cute. I think he would really get along with Data, can we adopt him Steven? Please?
AVENTINE TOUR | JANUARY 8, 2006
I am not making too great of an effort to become accustomed to the time zone change. I stayed up late chatting to Steven and family online (about 5 am) then woke up at noon. I am so frustrated with myself for doing this! I am missing most of the hours with sun in bed, and I am messing up my body! Hopefully the fact that I have to attend another orientation at 10 am tomorrow will get me to bed a bit earlier.
Today I attended a group walking tour with the administrator of our program (a local resident). I was a bit apprehensive about being on a tour with a bunch of my classmates, but it was actually quite enjoyable. We walked past Circus Maximus, which was used as a stadium between 4th century BC and 549 AD. It held over 300,000 spectators, who came to watch the horse and chariot races, athletic events, and animal fights. Now it looks nothing more than a grassy park and some ruins. It takes a lot of imagination to picture what used to be there.
We walked to the top of Aventine hill (one of the seven hills of Rome) and found a lovely garden, with gattini! And there was a neat view of the city, but I couldn't tell what much of anything was. I recognized St. Peter's (the largest dome) but I would like to go back when I know more of the city, and also to read a book or sketch.
We also visited Santa Sabina, a basilica, on the Aventine hill. It was founded as a Christian basilica in 425 AD, but was given to the Dominicans in the 13th Century. It has a very serene interior - a simple, straight nave, small apse and arcade. It made me excited to visit more of the churches and basilicas in Rome. I think there are at least 200 here. And I hope that I will be able to visit the Gothic Cathedrals in Europe.
I went back to Torre Argentina, the cat sanctuary, at the end of the day, to tell them about a dead cat I saw... I am not sure if there is a service that picks up deceased animals, but I thought they would be the ones to help. When I was there, I asked about volunteering, and they told me to come back tomorrow and talk to a woman named Deborah. I am excited about working there. Maybe I will pick up a bit of Italian!
SABATO | JANUARY 7, 2006
Avete pane fresco? I woke up early this morning with the intention of buying fresh bread to have with breakfast. But near the Pantheon, that is almost impossible at 8:30 am on a Saturday morning, so I settled for some from the nearby grocery store. It didn't quite curb my craving, and I am still looking forward to some warm, freshly baked bread. I also can't wait to go to the market and see all the different kinds of fresh vegetables and fruits. I just need to figure out where the market is and when it is open. That is the only major challenge I have run into so far - figuring out when things are open. It is not like in the states where stores are open for the same hours everyday. Here they take a lunch break, usually 2-3 hours, then reopen in the late afternoon. I don't mind, I just need to remember that!
We had our first "school" activity today - Orientation. It is always a bummer to have trips ruined by school activities, but like I said before, I need to remember this is NOT a vacation, and I am here to study! I honestly can't wait to get out and start sketching. I hope my skills will improve dramatically. We are spending the first 3 weeks of our drawing class focusing on graphite.
Our studio is in Palazzo Cenci, in the heart of the historic Jewish ghetto. As late as the 1800s, the ghetto was a collection of buildings that were gated together. A guard stood at each gate to enforce a curfew for the Jewish. Our instructors told us you can still see where the gates used to be in Venice and Florence.
I don't know how, but today when I went to visit the Spanish Steps (by myself), I ended up on the top of them rather than the bottom. I didn't have to walk up all those stairs, but I will never understand how I pulled that off. There was so many people there though - you couldn't even see the steps! The streets were absolutely packed. I think it is because of the Epiphany celebration yesterday, and because it is near the street with all the high design stores on it - Prada, Gucci, Armani... I just hope it calms down, I would love to see the steps without a zillion people on them!
I GATTI DI ROMA | JANUARY 6, 2006
Today I visited the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary - conveniently located one block south of my apartment! The actual sanctuary is located underground - it houses an office, an adoption room and a room full of healing/blind cats. It is connected to a large open area in the city - full of ruins and lower than street level. So the cats who live in the sanctuary also roam free in the ruins.
The Sanctuary was created to take care of the abandoned and abused cats of Roma. The volunteers that work in the Sanctuary vaccinate and neuter or spay every cat that is brought to them. They currently take care of 250 cats, many blind and disabled. After the cats are healthy, they put them up for adoption. Anyone can go in to visit the cats... which I imagine I will be doing a lot, since the Sanctuary is on my way to class!
It broke my heart to see all the abused animals. When we were there, a volunteer told me that one of the sweetest cats there, a ginger colored cat, was kidnapped and killed on Christmas day. I don't understand how people can be so cruel to animals.
If I have free time, I think I may volunteer there. Just don't tell Data!
Ashley and I cooked our first meal tonight - it was a bit daunting (pasta and corn always is) but it was so nice to cook a meal and sit down at home!
DAY 2 IN ROMA | JANUARY 5, 2006
It seems that in all the confusion of the last week, I sent out an email to a lot of people that was supposed to have a map attached to it, but did not. So here it is - a map of where my apartment and studio are located, as well as a few major Roma landmarks. Sorry for all the confusion (and pointless emails).
As predicted, I went back to the Pantheon today. It has a gorgeous interior - it is amazing to step in to such a colossal space. The coffers on the ceiling are absolutely perfect, and give the ceiling a relief of depth - the dome is very thick (the walls of the drum supporting the dome are 19' thick), and the coffers were added to reduce its weight.
The Pantheon was built by emperor Hadrian in AD 125 to replace an earlier temple. It houses the tomb of Raphael and modern Italian kings. When I was there today, parts of it were roped off for an evening service, and there were tons of people there. I didn't expect it to be empty, but I was kind of bummed that I couldn't get a close view of any of the tombs without pushing or shoving. I have actually been "doing as the Romans do" - a lot of pushing and shoving in public areas. I just feel so rude! Mi scusi! Mi scusi!
I managed to pick up a gift near the Pantheon for Misty's birthday in January. Now let's just hope it arrives in the States by the 22nd! I think that shopping here can either be a lot of fun, or a chore. It is a delight to look at beautiful clothing and accessories in the stores, and attempt to speak to the salesperson in Italian. The style here is a little flamboyant, but there are still many elegant pieces, and I dream of having enough money to buy whatever I would like (and there are a zillion things I would love to buy for my sister!).
Now, shopping for groceries is a headache. Literally. It is interesting to discover new foods and tastes, but I cannot handle the smell of fresh (why does it smell if it is fresh?!) fish in all these little grocery stores. Today when we stopped, I practically had to run in and out to avoid the smell because it was giving me such an awful headache. Of course, I am sensitive to smell, so this may not be a bother to everyone, but I hope that I get used to it soon. You tend to forget things you need to buy when you are trying to make the trip as short as possible!
Looking at pasta is a delight though. It is available in every flavor - white, wheat, spinach, carrot, you name it, it is there. I love colored (flavored) pasta. And there are so many shapes I have never seen before! They have all the stuff we have in the States - spirals, bowties, spaghetti, etc., but they also have folded pastas, humongous tubes, twisted pasta, inappropriate body part pasta, and many other things. When I am there I just gaze at all the different types, wondering how savory they will be with certain types of sauce. Yum yum yum.
We (Kelsey, Ashley and I) went to a few places before the Pantheon today. It is hard to write about them though, because I did not get a chance to research them before we left, and we were in a bit of a hurry. The first place, which we didn't actually go inside of because it was across a very scary street, is Il Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, a monument to Italy's first King. My guidebook (Thanks Nick and Courtney) tells me that the white marble is seen as "insensitive" in comparison to its surrounding buildings. I can definitely agree that it stood out!
We were awestruck by the gorgeous, tucked away patio of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, and stopped to check it out on our way to Piazza Navona. I wanted to see the Christmas/Epiphany market/fair at the Piazza, but it was packed to the max with bodies and booths. I will definitely have to go back there after the holiday (tomorrow is Epiphany). Running into the little courtyard on the way was definitely a pleasure. Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza is Baroque church by Borromini with some unique characteristics - including a hexagonal floor plan, and a twisting spire. Again, I would love to go back and go inside (the inside is supposed to be perfectly symmetrical with a mixture of concave and convex walls)! It will probably be easier to go back without friends, when I can be on my own agenda.
I don't know where I will go tomorrow, or what I will see - perhaps the Spanish Steps of Trevi Fountain? Whatever I do, I want to take my sketchbook, sit down and relax there! It is hard to experience places by dashing in and out of them!
CIAO DA ROMA | JANUARY 4, 2006
I am finally in Rome! I feel like it took me days to get here, when it really only took 12 hours. Kelsey and I left Chicago at 5pm, then Toronto at 8:30 pm, and arrived in Rome at 11:30 am... but it was really 4:30am in Chicago when we arrived. So, needless to say, I feel exhausted, but I am excited to finally be here and be settled in!
I haven't really explored the city yet. It has been kind of a hassle to pick up our apartment keys, carry our extremely heavy luggage around the city, and unpack it all. Honestly, now that I am all settled in, and have had the most awesome bowl of Minestrone for dinner, I just want to crash in bed.
Speaking of the bed, these apartments are... interesting, to say the least. Our apartment is on the third floor (no working elevator of course), has 13' high ceilings, a kitchen the size of my fist, a bidet in the bathroom, and cots to sleep on. I am so happy that I brought my own towel, pillow and blanket. Even though I had to pay a bit extra for shipping my 4 lbs. overweight suitcase, the comfort of having those things is definitely worth it.
Don't worry, once I get a chance to explore the city, the pictures will be much more interesting. I did see the Pantheon tonight on our way to dinner, but it was too dark to get a decent shot. Guess I know where I am going tomorrow!
SEE YA LATER | JANUARY 2, 2006
Goodbye everyone, I leave for Rome tomorrow at 4:00pm! I hope to update the home page as soon as I arrive (as well as finish updating the rest of the site).
To all of my friends and family - I will miss you all dearly . You will be in my thoughts everyday.
© COPYRIGHT 2006 Kim Ilax. All Rights Reserved.