Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Semi-quick recap

Well, let's see if I can cover some of the highlights (or lowlights) of the post-Italy trip. We caught a train at 5:55 am to leave Trento and get to the airport. We flew Ryan Air, which is kinda the Southwest of Europe, so we had to get to this teeny tiny airport with like three gates. They have super low maximum weights allowed for luggage, so I knew I'd be over, but the lady made a mistake and charged us for 25kg instead of 20kg over, so when I pointed it out to her she only charged us for 15 to make it up to us! Which was nifty, saved money on that one. It was actually really hard for me to leave Italy, which I hadn't expected. I thought I'd be fine, but I was pretty upset.

But we made it into London in one piece, and boy, it was freezing! I stepped off the plane and wanted to run back inside. I'd shipped my warm coats home, of course, so I spent the next few days kinda cold. I also kept asking people if this was normal weather, and they kept telling me it was. I guess somehow I was thinking, Italy, England, it's all Europe so it should be the same weather. Not so much, as luck would have it.

So that was Sunday, and then we spent the next four days exploring London and a bit outside. We did a bus tour on Monday, where it took you all around London, and you could hop on and off whenever you wanted. We saw Westminster, the Houses of Parliament, and all kinds of stuff from the bus. Westminster was really neat because it's the burial site of so many famous people. I think Queen Mary kinda got screwed though because she was buried with her sister Queen Elizabeth I but the only have Elizabeth's image on top. I mean, Mary wasn't super great or anything but still, she was a queen of England. But, I gues that's what you get when your sister is one of the most famous queens of England ever.

Tuesday we went to the British Museum, which was pretty damn cool. It's gigantic, full of so many nifty things, you could spend so long there. Which we did. And still didn't see a ton of stuff. We were supposd to do this nighttime tour (haunts of Jack the Ripper), but they cancelled it on us (and of course didn't tell us). Hmph.

Wednesday we did a bus tour outside of London and we got to see Leeds Castle (super pretty), Dover (the cliffs are indeed white), Canterbury (saw the cathedral there, also pretty nifty), and Greenwich (you could just feel the excitement of being at 0 degrees).

Thursday we went around London some more and saw the Tower of London, which was so super awesome. We spent a while there but I could have spent way longer. But alas, it was our last day and we had things to do. I went to the redone Old Globe, and I wante dto just explore inside but I couldn't because they were about do to a play! So I got a ticket and saw the first half hour (was meeting my mom so I couldn't stay the hold time) of The Tempest there! Which was pretty nifty.

English museums are very different from Italian ones, because the ones in Italy have their little guards posted in every damn room just waiting to yell at you for everything. But in England, they seem to trust people much more. Things are out there, and they just have signs asking you not to touch. And they don't have guards in every room. And so if they say no photography...theoretically it would be much easier to sneak photos in England. Not that I did of course, just saying.

Also, it was super awesome being able to eat non-Italian food again. They had this giant breakfast spread at the hotel, and some of my Trento friends have been dying to eat real "American breakfast," and so every morning as I enjoyed all the food I thought of them.

It was a loooooong flight home, but I made it back to California eventually. I was awake the whole flight from London to DFW, and watched 2.5 movies. Which was a lot, but really I just couldn't focus enough to read--too much energy required! I slept some on the flight from DFW to LAX, though, because it was like 2am my time. But now I that I am back in California I am quite enjoying seeing people, going to stores on Sundays or after 7pm during the week...all kinds of things you don't appreciate as much when you're here. Like being able to send Ethan out at 1am to Safeway to buy cleaning supplies so you can start cleaning their scary kitchen because you're still too messed up from jetlag to sleep. Stuff like that =)

Lots of us have graduation Friday. Yay us! =)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I'm alive and home!

Ok, so I got back to America Friday night, safe and sound (as did my mom, of course). I've been enjoying being back in America, so I've been too lazy to update anything here. I will eventually, though. Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm back, and coming up to Berkeley tomorrow, Monday. So look for me there. =)

Oh, and I'm going to Duke for law school, in case you were wondering.

See you guys tomorrow!!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Final Thoughts

When I first arrived here, every day felt like forever. I mean, that could be partially due to the freezing cold, but everything just felt so different. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. January passed really slowly. And now I can’t believe that I’m going home already. Time seems to have two levels here: it seems like I’ve barely been in Italy, and I’m not ready to leave yet; but it seems like I’ve been away from home forever, and I can’t wait to get back, I miss people and America like crazy.

And so, instead of thinking about how my Italian adventure is over now, I’m just thinking that I get to finally go back home: free nights and weekends with my best friend ever Verizon; stores open every day, some even 24/7; food that’s not just Italian food (good as that is, man does not live by bread alone…although here it really is bread and pasta alone—and even I am tired of all the carbs! Which is really saying something, Liz can attest to that); order and rules that are actually followed; internet any time I want it; oh, the list goes on.

But I’m really glad I came to Italy, because there’s been a lot of great stuff here too. For starters, I speak Italian a lot better than when I arrived here! I mean, sure, they can still tell I’m foreign pretty easily, but doing stuff like reading and watching tv isn’t a challenge anymore like it used to be, I can do these things for fun now! Being able to take classes, and exams, in another language and actually do well is pretty neat. Plus, I’d never lived outside of the USA before. While we totally have the best country ever, I’m glad I’ve gotten to know another place too. The attitude here is just totally different, regarding just about everything, and while I don’t get a lot of it (ie why living at home indefinitely is a good thing), it’s really good to learn about it. Italy does some super cool things, like the whole open-air drying rack above the sink for dishes. Pure genius! (My mom totally loves it, too.) I guess when no one has a dishwasher, you get nifty developments like that.

Also, you know what else is cool? At grocery stores here when you buy fruits or veggies, you put it in the bag and then take it to the scale, and punch in the number for which thing it is, and it prints up the label for you for how much it is, and you just stick it on the bag and they scan that at the register. ie, zucchini is number 45, so you press button 45 on the scale and it does it for you. I think it’s pretty neat. And faster than a checker having to memorize all those codes. And I’ve gotten used to having everything up to two euros in coins, it’s kinda nifty too. Not that we should get rid of one-dollar bills or anything. But maybe we can have both?

Of course, I’ve gotten into some Italian habits, so when I get back home, if I do anything odd, just assume it’s Italian. Like if I keep trying to kiss you on the cheek. Or if I say “boh” a lot. Or seem obsessed with text messages. Or throw in random words in Italian because I can’t think of a good translation. Or talk about needing to go to the Bancomat (=ATM). Yeah, you get the picture.

Final count:
Number of Dallas Cowboys jackets seen: 6
Number of Lakers jerseys seen: 1
Number of Dallas Mavericks jerseys/shirts seen: 2
Number of Pistons+Heat jerseys seen: 0
Number of 49ers+Packers jackets seen: 0

God-awful fashion trends in Italy I can’t stand:
Wearing your pants tucked into your boots
Gigantic backpacks that look like they were brought directly to Trento from 1982, complete with the fake spray-painted look
Wearing many kinds of denim at the same time: jeans, jacket, and sometimes even shirt, all together. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t. But it’s always horrible.

I'm assuming this is my final entry from Europe--I will post when I get back to America with a wrap-up of England, the trip home, etc, and post the last round of pics…so don’t forget to come back! Plus I may keep the blog, I don’t know…eh. In the words of Michael Bublè, I've had my run; Baby, I’m done; I gotta go home.

Stay classy, America. See you in a few days =)

Friday, May 06, 2005

By the way

So I know several people have sent me things from the USA in the mail, and I’ve never acknowledged their receipt because I’ve never gotten them! So if you sent me a letter or postcard or a Ronald Reagan stamp, it’s not that I have been ignoring it, the damn post office never gave them to me!! Hmph. But, I did get a postcard in the mail, and you know where it was from? Vietnam! Freakin Vietnam. They can get mail here, but not the USA? That’s just not right. So thanks for the thought if you guys sent me stuff, I’m sorry it didn’t get here, but I really appreciate your doing so anyways.

Oh, and pictures are up. If you notice way too many pics of me, it's because my mom took my camera and likes to take a zillion just of me. Try to suffer through. But I've paid her back with pics of her too. Mwahaha.

Here you go

Ok, so I finally wrote the recap you’ve all been dying to read, so now you can finally rest easy knowing what I’ve been up to.

Wednesday morning (last Wednesday, that is) I woke up nice and early and headed down to the train station in plenty of time (well, four minutes is plenty of time when you already have your ticket) to catch my train at 8:25. But although I was ready, the train wasn’t. Yup, delayed by forty minutes. Which meant that by the time I got to Verona, my train to Milan had already left, and so I had to wait for the next one, an hour and a half later. So in the end my getting to sign that stupid paper the day before so I wouldn’t get to the train station late didn’t help any at all, because that was the same train I ended up taking! Around noon I got a call from my mom, saying I’m at the place you said but I don’t see you!! And I had to tell her that I was an hour out, so she better find a way to occupy her time. Poor her. Damn trains!

So I finally arrived in Milan, and found my mama. She was sitting there like a good girl waiting for me. We made out way to the hotel, which I had picked close to the train station on purpose, and then set back out in the town. For some reason the crappy weather of the past week had given way to super warm weather, so walking around in the sunshine was nice…for a while. Then it was just hot. Anyways, we meandered around the city for the bit, saw the duomo etc, and then we went to go see The Last Supper. You need a reservation to see it now, but cool as I am, I had made one weeks ago. It’s kinda strange, because you walk into this giant room and all there is is on one wall The Last Supper and on the other wall on the other end of the room another painting. The rest is empty…which I think just looks strange, but I guess, what else would you use the room for?

Anyways, after that we went back to the hotel and my poor mother crashed, seeing as she’d been up for quite the long time at that point. But, she wants everyone to know, that was it, because by the time she woke up the next morning, she was over her jet-lag. Yup, she’s just that cool. And I have to tell everyone about it. She’s making me =)

So the next morning we took the train to Torino, which is where the winter Olympics are gonna be held next year, and also where my great-grandmother is from. We explored the city, just one day though. We saw the shroud that supposedly covered Jesus’ body after he was crucified. Apparently (according to my guidebook, that is), experts rather differ on the veracity of this claim, but it’s still cool to see. And it’s just sitting there in the church, not under lock and key, just the watchful eye of the guy who stands there and tells tourists all about it. I managed to restrain myself from taking advantage of the lax security.

Torino is supposed to be a pretty industrial town, but we both liked it a lot. It was pretty. Though sadly some of the stuff was closed so we couldn’t see all the museums and stuff. But we did get to see the royal apartments, so that was nifty.

The next day we went to Cinque Terre, which is a collection of five small towns on the western coast of Italy, basically the equivalent of the French Riviera. Instead of staying in the main town, we stayed in the last one down the line, which was probably the second or third-largest. It was really pretty, the water was just beautiful, but it was packed with tourists! Lots of Americans, too, which just feels kinda weird. We stayed there for two days, so it was nice not to have to pack up and go again the next morning as we had been doing. But there really wasn’t too much to do there. They’re famous for being able to hike along the pathway between the five town, and we walked from ours to the fourth and third, but we left the last two for when we went by train. Probably not a coincidence that I booked us in the city that is connected to the next town by the easiest section of the trail =) Of course, in true California fashion, I walked it in flip-flops. Sneakers bad!

The weird thing about Cinque Terre is that there were cats everywhere! See, the rest of Italy is dog country. There are cats too, sure, but dogs everywhere. It’s great! But Cinque Terre is all about the cats for some reason, I have no idea why. And they know it too, they have a bunch of tourist stuff with cats all over it, but not dogs. So that of course makes them lose a couple of points. I wouldn’t like to live there, though, because it’s so crawling with tourists. Not so cool. But it was really pretty to visit.

So after we’d recharged our batteries doing basically nothing for two days, we headed to Florence. Well, first we went to Pisa. And the map I had listed the leaning tower in someplace it definitely was not, which made me not so happy. But luckily I can curse in front of my mother and she’ll keep her disapproving to herself. We finally made it there, though, and it was pretty darn nifty. It looks just like a postcard or something. Very unreal. We didn’t go up, because we’d already done enough walking and it costs 15 euros, so we just admired it from below. So we spent a couple of hours there, and then went back to the train station and finally got to Florence. We arrived in the evening, so we basically just went to the hotel, had dinner, and then went to bed. The next day was Monday, and many tourist sites are closed on Mondays, seeing as they have to be open for the weekend.

So we went around and saw a bunch of stuff, churches and other such things, but we had to save the Uffizi for Tuesday when it was, you know, open. And open it was, but the way they have it set up, they let very few people in at a time, in groups every fifteen minutes. Which makes for a very long line. Like 4.5 hours long. Yeah. We spent longer in line than in the museum. We were behind a french family that seemed very nice, and in front of a french couple where the guy was seriously chain-smoking. It was non-stop the entire time we were in line! He’s totally getting lung cancer in like ten years. My friend, whose friend is living in Paris, told me that the French smoke way more than the Italians, that like there if you don’t smoke there’s something wrong with you. I don’t know, but Mr. Chain Smoker doesn’t give the impression of a Smoke-Free France.

The Uffizi was cool, but honestly, I don’t think it was worth waiting that long for. Like, I’m sure my brother will yell at me because he’s all big with the art and I’m just a philistine, but really, just staring at paintings on a wall gets old. And after standing for that long in line, the last thing I feel like doing is meandering through a museum. But whatever, if the fact that I’d rather have waited in that long a line for Disneyland than the Uffizi makes me a bad person, well so be it.

We spent so long there that we didn’t do anything else Tuesday, and then Wednesday morning we headed back to Trento! Finally. I have to say, traveling makes me really miss home. And while traveling around Italy, Trento is home. I hate having to live out of a backpack, especially a crappy one I got for 10 euros with one strap that broke in Milan, which means you have to carry it around on one shoulder. Just a hypothetical example, of course.

Now that I’m “home,” I’m of course preparing to go actually home! I’m showing my mom around the city, and signing forms and packing. You know, I’m pretty impressed by how I can fit four months into two suitcases. Of course, I’m pretty sure that the super cheap airfare to London will be offset by the charges levied because of my suitcase being over the absolutely ridiculous weight limit of 15kg (33 lbs), but as long as they’re under 32 kg or so, then at least they get to come on the plane. My current plan is to burst into tears in line and see what that gets me. We’ll see how that goes.

I think the worst part is how many times I’m gonna have to repack, though. I mean, I’m packing now, so carefully my dad would be proud. But I’ll have to do it again in London. Then again in LA. And again in Berkeley. Hopefully I won’t get lazy because then everything will get broken. I bought too much glass stuff from Venice! Bu

Wow, here I thought this update would be super long, seeing as it had to cover over a week, but it’s not even that bad! I think because I’ve forgotten plenty of stuff I had to say already. Which means it’s a more boring recap than it would be otherwise, too, so sorry. I’ve got two days left in Trento, which just blows my mind, yo.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Ok, so I didn't get around to writing my big catch-up from last week (I think I hear the sighs of relief) so you'll just have to wait a bit for that. I'm back in Trento now (obviously) trying to take care of all the stuff I need to get done before I leave. But the list of stuff I need to do has been growing in the past hour. Hmph. Damn Italian bureaucracy.

Try to amuse yourselves until I get back with a real post.

Stephen Colbert is getting his own show! All is right with the world. =)