Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Capri, Gelato, and small hotel rooms!

            Today we went to the gorgeous island of Capri.  I don’t think I have ever seen such beautiful views.  We took waayy too many pictures with Julie’s camera that I will be stealing and uploading.  We took a ferry from Serrento to Capri and the first thing we did over there was swim in the Mediterranean.  It was so hot already and swimming was the perfect way to start the day!  The beaches weren’t sandy at all, but they were perfect.  We found some cool rocks to hang out on and dry because none of us were smart enough to bring towels of course.
            After swimming we decided to walk around a little and see what the island was all about.  Capri is a very rich so all the shops were pretty expensive and they had all the designer “high end” shops.  We found the most AMAZING gelato after walking for a while..I had the strawberry and chocolate.  We decided we wanted to go to the top of the world so it took a while to figure out how to get there but we made it on our own!  The top of the world is a chair lift to the very top of the island and I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the view was.  I will upload pictures but I know I won’t do it justice.  It literally took my breath away and I found myself just staring so much because it was so beautiful.  We got a glass of wine and sat at the little bar and just took everything in.  On our way back we decided that we were very hungry and Jackie and I were really craving hamburgers.  We found a little cafĂ© right when we got off the ferry in Serrento and decided to order some hamburgers.  Well when they came out these hamburgers were sausage patties on tortillas…yeah I’m not sure either.  It didn’t really taste all that bad but we were pretty disappointed because we wanted a real American hamburger.  Oh well..I guess that’s what we get in Italy.  After coming back from Capri I crashed and took a two-hour nap, which helped so much.  I am ready to go tonight!  We got invited to a wine bar with a live of course we are going to hit that up!  I bought my first bottle of Italtian wine and I decided that I’m going to bring that one home and drink it in America.  I’m sure I will be bringing back numerous bottles, so everyone will get a little taste :)

            After eating gelato every night since I’ve been here I decided to talk about it a little.  Everyone knows how much in enjoy ice cream (and chocolate) and if you don’t then obviously you don’t know me very well.  Well gelato is made a little different from ice cream- from whole milk, sugar, fruit, or different flavoring; and most of all, it’s amazing.  I don’t know if ice cream will ever taste as good as REAL gelato.  Now there is real gelato and then there is what we like to call “push pop gelato” which is still decent, but just not the same.  Push pop gelato comes in little tubes that look like pushpops (shocking right.)  They put it into a little machine and push it out into a cone.  It looks really cool but it just doesn’t taste the same as the real stuff.  Last night we went to a little store that had home made gelato and I got the coffee and chocolate.  It might have been the best thing I have ever tasted.  Anyway..all this talk about gelato is making me crave some, so I either need to stop talking about it or leave to get some..but I have more to write so I think I will just get some in a little while!

Onto hotel rooms-  Hotel rooms in Italy are TINY. When you walk in you have two beds that are bunked and then two twin beds that are pushed together.  I have one of the beds that pushed together.  There is enough extra room to store our luggage and to walk through to the door, but if someone happens to be opening their luggage, bending over, getting dressed, might as well just wait.  There is about 2 extra feet of walking room between our beds and the door.  We do however have a pretty sweet balcony!  The bathroom is pretty decent, but the showers are small.  This one I am at least able to wash my hair in, but shaving my legs was quite the production.  I guess that’s about the best visual I can give about hotel rooms.  I might take a picture and upload just to let everyone see how packed in there we are.  I am so excited to move into our apartment and not be living out of a suitcase!
            I think that’s about it for this evening!  I’m going to upload some pictures to facebook!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Napoli, Pompei, Vesuvius

June 27, 2011
            We started out the day with a 4 hour bus trip to Napoli, which wasn’t too bad because I slept most of the way (not surprising to anyone).  As we pulled in to Naploli, it was pretty overwhelming.  All I saw was trash, trash, cars, trash, big buildings, and trash.  The town itself is very old and pretty run down.  The people in Naploli are very intense and didn’t seem to like the fact that a bunch of Americans were walking through their town.  The thing that surprised me the most was the driving. They really don’t have lanes or any sort of passing rules.  Motorcycles pass cars so close to the point where I am just waiting for an accident and people drive incredible fast.  Crossing the street is a little scary but we learned “always look your enemy (the driver) in the eye and NEVER run.” 
            Once we got to Naples we walked around a little on our own.  Jackie, Molly, and I went down to see the coast, where there were a lot of guys in speedos sun bathing which was just kind of strange.  We met up with the group for lunch and had a Maghretia with mozzarella di bufala.  Which is cheese from buffalo milk..and let me tell you, it was awesome (totally beats pizza shuttle at 2am).  After lunch we met up with Alesondro, our tour guide, and started walking around with him.  We went to a couple outdoor galleries which were beautiful and had so much history.  Too bad I couldn’t understand/hear him so I didn’t catch most of the stories.  It was a little frustrating because I found it all really interesting, and I really wanted to learn about it but I couldn’t quite catch what he was saying.  After walking around outside we drove around Napoli in the bus, where I immediately fell asleep, and then proceeded to go to the Archological museum.  There was a lot of cool artifacts and sculptures that was really awesome to see, but other than that I didn’t find it all that interesting.  The tour was very long and way too detailed for me to understand anyone.  He was very knowledgeable and passionate, but I just don’t share that same passion for art so I didn’t find it as interesting.
            We walked through Napoli and went into one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in my life.  It was absolutely breath taking.  We were only able to be in there for a few minutes because the bus was waiting, and we weren’t able to take pictures, but I really wish we could have spent more time in there.  I love old churches like that because they never fail to take my breath away.  It amazing me that they are so old yet so detailed and filled with so much art.  The columns and murals on the walls were immaculate and I always wonder how they achieved that without the technology that we have today.
            After leave Napoli we headed to Serrento  where we will be staying for the next four days.  We checked into the hotel and went down to supper right away.  After supper a few girls and I walked around the town to find some good Italian wine and gelato.  While we didn’t end up getting wine we found Jenny’s bar where we got some cocktails and sat outside drinking those.  We walked a little bit more to get some gilato and then made our way back to the holtel.  I’d have to say my favorite part of the day was figuring out we could go out to the roof of our hotel and it has an AWESOME view of the Mediterranean sea.  We decied that tomorrow we are going to get bottles of wine and watch the sun go down over the sea on the roof…and I’m excited.

Ciao for now!

June 28th
  Today was a much better day than yesterday.  We got to sleep in until 7:30 and left our hotel around 8:30.  The first thing we did was visit the excavation site of Pompei.  Pompei is an ancient city that was discovered from excavation after being covered by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.  The coolest part of the whole experience was standing in the theatre and being able to hear the acoustics from the "perfect spot".  I'm just amazed at their ability to figure all that out so long ago.  We saw ancient restaraunts, bath houses, laundry sites, spas, and of course a lupanare which is just a fancy word for a whore house. I thought that was really interesting.  As you walk in you see pictures on the wall and you "pick your woman".  There wasn't a universal language spoken so most men just pointed at the picture of the woman they wanted.  There were little stone beds in each room where you can imagine what went on in there...Deep, intellectual conversation of course!  Anyone we walked around Pompei some more and the most bizarre thing was the amount of stray dogs there. I guess people just drop off dogs because they will be taken care of.  None of them looked like they were going hungry which was comforting, but you know me..of course I wanted to take them all in!

After visiting Pompei we were able to hike Mt Vesuvius.  It was a little scary to drive up there because we were driving up the side of a mountain in a huge bus...and European roads are much narrower than American roads.  We had to honk every time we were about to turn a corner so we wouldn't hit cars oncoming traffic.  At one point our bus met another bus coming down and we had to back up around a huge curve so the other bus could get by.  Let's just say my mom wouldn't have been able to handle it!  But I figured that if we ended up falling to a terrible death, at least I would die happy!  Once we FINALLY got up there we were able to start walking.  There were a lot of cool little shops along the way and of course I had to buy gifts for a few people.  I don't want to buy everyone gifts from the same place so I have to try and spread it out a little..but who knows!  The hike wasn't a long as we thought it would be, but the view was AMAZING.  We could see the Mediterranean, Napoli, Serrento, and I'm sure a few other towns that I'm not sure of.  We took so many pictures that I will update soon but it was hard to tear myself away.  There was an awesome breeze so it wasn't too hot, and I just wanted to stay there forever!  Buuuut I guess we had to leave at some point :(

Tomorrow is a free day and we get to do whatever we want so I think most of us are going to the island of Capri and hanging out there most of the day to tour, lay out, and swim!

We found a really cool internet cafe with some amazing wine so I have a feeling I will be spending the next three nights here!  So far the trip has been more than I imagined and I have a feeling 5 more weeks is going to FLY by.  I miss my family and of course my dog, but hopefully pictures and messages will keep me from missing them too much.  Well we are going to get some more gelato and walk around for a little while.  I will update everyone later!


ps.  Sorry for any computer is about to die and I didn't have a lot of time to proof read..oops :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A little overwhelmed...

Ciao everyone!

First of all, I want to apologize in advance for any typos and anything that is hard to understand.  I am exhausted but completely and utterly happy :)

The last couple days:

On Thursday I headed back to good ole Hays, America where I dropped off my dog :(  and my car.  Friday we packed our vehicle up to head to KC for ONE night.  I emphasize the ONE because I want you to be aware at how much we had packed for this trip.  I know that a 4 year old and a 2 year old require a lot of stuff..but man we had a lot of stuff.  The luggage rack on the top was full, and Ashlyn was buried somewhere in the back between the 2 coolers, 2 bags full of food, and multiple duffle bags per person.  I'm pretty sure I packed less for 6 weeks than they packed for one night.  Now I told you that story because later on I realized that I overpack too... Anyway, we got to Great Wolf Lodge and spend all day swimming and going down the slides.  It was so fun to see Kaleb get so excited over EVERYTHINg.  I mean that kid couldn't contain his excitement.  He was jumping, and running, and was a lot of fun to watch.   I am so happy that I got to spend the last day with my family.

Saturday we got up and headed to the airport. My flight out of KC left at 1:15 and there were no problems there.  However as soon as we took off for Chicago, a baby decided it wanted to scream the entire way..not just cry...scream.  I felt so bad for the little guy and for the parents.  They were so apologetic to everyone on the flight and seemed really upset by everything.  My plane landed in Chicago and I made my way to my next flight to Rome.

My flight to Rome was scheduled to depart at 5:05 PM.  We boarded the plane around 4:45 and everything seemed to be going smoothly.  Then we sat..and sat...and sat...and sat..and sat some more.  Turns out there was a problem with one of the engines (comforting right?)  We sat there for about 2 hours before we were finally cleared for take-off.  At this point I was started to get nervous because I was supposed to meet Kate in Rome at 9:15 to take the train to Viterbo...needless to say I didn't get there at 9:15.  So we finally take off and I start to get settled in...Let me set the scene here..  The seats in my flight were set up like so:  AB (isle) CFG (isle) idea where D and E went but whatever.  I was in seat G sitting next to a couple in C and F.  They might as well just shared a seat by how close they were sitting to each other.  I'm all for being in love and being happy and showing a little affection every now and then, but this couple acted like high schoolers in the back of a car...sick.  I heard them kissing every couple minutes and at one point she was almost sitting on his lap.  I almost turned and asked them if they were aware that children were on the plane because it was not G rated.  So as I'm trying to drown out the "smooching sounds" of said PDA couple the child in seat H is asking her mom (who is in the isle behind her) a question every 5 seconds and if the mom wouldn't answer right away she would keep asking.  Who knows..maybe she was just trying to keep from watching PDA couple too, but man she had some off the wall questions.  At this point I turned on my ipod and thanked God for headphones and country music (however there were times when I could hear the kissing over my music).  Needless to say, it was a very long 9 hour flight....

So I finally get to Rome airport (which is not in Rome btw) and I find Kate (thank God!).  We ended up meeting a few other girls from our group and decided to wait and take the group transportation with them.  So we sat..and sat..and sat some more until the group flight arrived.  By the time we got on the bus to get to our hotel it was 5:30 (maybe?) pm in Rome which means 10:30 am in Kansas.  At this point I had only slept a couple hours on the plane and it was not a very good sleep.  My back hurt, my head hurt, but I was so happy to be here.  We walked a couple blocks to our bus with all of our luggage..which by the way I think I win for most luggage in the group (and we all know who I get my overpacking gene from)  We took a two hour bus ride to the hotel which I slept all but maybe 5 minutes of and finally arrived in Viterbo.

We got checked in and I was able to take a shower- which was AMAZING!  This shower might be the smallest shower I have ever stood in.  I couldn't even wash my hair without my elbows hitting the doors..needless to say my legs didn't get shaved today.

After showering we walked through town and went to a Pizzeria where we ate pizza topped with french fries and hot dogs (and yeah they did that just to mock us)..but it was fun.  We got to see part of the town which I think is really neat.  It is a really small, old town and all the building are old, but it has so much history and culture that will be so cool to learn about.  I didn't want to take any pictures tonight because I just wanted to take everything in.  I want to have time to take good pictures of all the cool fountains and of course the view of the Palace (which is BEAUTIFUL).  Tomorrow we head to Napoli (Naples) which has the "only" pizza in the world..I mean I'm sure it doesn't compare to pizza shuttle at 2am, but I will at least give it a shot.  We start our south of Italy field tour which lasts 5 days and we get to travel and see a lot.  I can't wait to get started traveling and exploring everything.  We decided tonight that we are just going to be tired for the next 6 weeks so after we get some real sleep tonight we are going non-stop for 6 weeks and I can't wait!  I know it will go by fast and I don't want to waste any time.  So on that note..I'm signing off!

Sorry for the novel..I guess I just had a lot to write about..and it's only the first day!!  I'm off to finally get some real sleep, even though it's only 4:30 in is definitely bed time here!

Buona notte! (goodnight!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Instead of packing and cleaning and doing the million things that I still have left to do, I'm reading and blogging...oh well

So I've said goodbye to everyone in Manhattan, and that was the easy part.  Sure, I was sad that I won't see my friends for six weeks and I know I'll miss out on some great times in Aggieville...buuttt I'll take Italy over Aggieville- at least for a while.  The hardest goodbye will come tomorrow at 8am.

I know it's corny and people make fun of me for it a lot, but my dog is the closest thing to a child that I will have for a long time.  I haven't spent more than 4 days away from her since January 7th, and I thought that was difficult.  Every day I had to call and ask how she was doing.  She is there all the time.  I have had to worry about her for the last 6 months and to give her up for 6 weeks is going to be painful.  My biggest fear is that she won't remember me when I get back.  It makes me sad that she will be so much bigger and almost out of puppy stage.

I made the mistake of reading Marley and Me again. It's bad enough to read it at all, then add actually having a dog and on top of that having to leave her.  I've already cried while reading and it hasn't even got to the sad part yet...I probably shouldn't finish this one on the plane ride.  I don't want to be that crazy lady that no one wants to sit next to, so I'm trying to finish it before I leave...I have no doubt in my mind that I will.

Don't worry once I dry the tears from my eyes I will post again after I say goodbye to Straiter and before I leave the country..that one should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How I got to where I'm going.

So I have never blogged before and I'm a little nervous.  I don't really know what all to write or how to write it but I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually...

First of all, I want to explain the title of my blog.  It is the title of one of my favorite songs by Lady Antebellum ironically called "I was here".  If you have never heard it, then I suggest you go listen to it.  Here- I will even post a link for easy listening (if I can figure out how)
Hey I got it!

Second of all: Why I'm creating a blog.
-During the summer of 2010 I started thinking about how I wanted to study abroad.  I figured this is my one chance to go away for 6 weeks and not have to worry about school, a job, a family that I have to take care of, etc.  This would be the once chance in my life to pack up for 6 weeks and leave everything behind without a second glance.  When I first started thinking about going somewhere I originally thought about going to Ireland or Germany.  Ireland, because I have always seen pictures and heard stories about how beautiful it is and of course because they speak a language I actually understand.  Germany, because I wanted to know more about my heritage and the spend time getting to know where my family came from.  The more I thought about it however, the more I realized that these places were too "safe" for me.  This whole experience is about me going somewhere, by myself, completely out of my comfort zone- somewhere I don't know anything about, anyone there, hell- I don't even know how to say "hello" in Italian (ok that might be a very slight exaggeration).  So I picked Italy solely on the fact that I like Italian food (and the men aren't bad), and I've heard the culture is completely different than here in the United States.

I have gone through a lot of changes this past year and I wanted something to embrace those changes rather than set me back to where I was.  I have never really been an independent person.  I don't like doing things by myself, and I usually have someone right by my side.  I seriously can't even go jean shopping alone!  After this past year, I decided I wanted to change that.  I want to be comfortable alone and in my own skin.  I want to worry about making myself happy and not caring what other people think of that.  I want to do things for me and because of me.  So I'm going half way across the world by myself knowing no one that I will be spending six weeks with.

I am leaving the United States on June 25th and I will return on August 6th.  I have never been outside of the United States, nor have I ever traveled alone- so this will be quite the experience.  Do I have any idea where to go when I get there? Nope.  Do I know what to do, how to act, what to wear?  Not a damn clue.  But I'm gonna go over there with an open mind, and a new outlook on life and hope to have the best experience of my life.

Well here goes nothing...