Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh, and By the Way...

When I was in Barcelona we came across this really cool guy who's an artist traveling across Europe / the world raising money for charity. I checked out his blog and was hooked as soon as I saw him describe "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (AKA - my favorite book of ALL TIME).

www.thelostphotographer.blogspot.com 
Check it out! If you can't donate, drop him a message to let him know how cool he is. During the holidays we all need to remember that it's not about the money but about the spirit. Keep it alive.

Happy holidays!

<3

Lindsay

The Holiday Season and Getting Ready for a Whirlwind (AKA - Allll byyyy myselllllffff!!!!)

Nah, just kidding. Not by myself. Although I assure you I will at some point this holiday season I will recreate this scene from Bridget Jones's Diary, boozing and bad pajamas included:



It’s December 23rd, and that means Christmas is only 2 days away. Where has the time gone? Have I really been here for 4 months already? I supposed with everyone BUT me leaving to go home for the holidays, I’ve become a little sentimental.  Having to say goodbye to some of your best friends is really, really hard, especially if they won’t be coming back for next semester. I’ve shed some tears over it—and I do not shed tears easily.

Lots of people have asked me how I feel about not going home for the holidays, specifically Christmas. It’s hard—that’s for sure. It’s especially difficult when I realized that I will likely be spending Christmas day alone, probably studying. However, in all honesty, I feel like I have nothing to complain about. I’m okay with being alone on Christmas, because I know I won’t be lonely on Christmas—I will Skype with my family, call some friends, and then spend the rest of the day reading a good book.  That’s what a lot of people don’t understand: there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to be the former.

Besides, I’ve got lots of cool things going for me. Yesterday I spent the day in Florence to visit a friend from UW-Madison who was there for a few days. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I will get my butt out of bed at some insane hour (like, 3:30 AM) to leave my house at 5 AM to be on a 6 AM train. That’s a lot of single digits followed by “AM”. Destination? Venice! I will be visiting the ever-so-lovely Hope Carmichael (a UW Badger through and through) and her parents for the day in the city I love so much. They are there for about a week and were nice enough to invite me to spend Christmas Eve with them. I’m so excited! Venice at Christmas? Yes, please!

View of Florence from Pizza di Michelangelo. Quite a hike but worth it!

Then, on December 27th at another ungodly hour, I will pay for an incredibly expensive cab ride to get to the airport for an incredibly expensive flight to go to the incredibly worth-it SCOTLAND! My friend, Jessica, invited me to spend a week with her at her family friends’ house in Glasgow. Although it took me awhile to figure out budgeting (forget about flying anywhere cheaply… or even reasonably… around the holidays), I eventually caved and jumped at the opportunity. We’ll spend 8 days in the beautiful country, and possibly make our way to Edinburgh for New Years, one of the most popular holidays there. Totally, completely worth it.

After I get back from my little whirlwind travel extravaganza, I will have to seriously hit the books. My last exams are on January 13th and 18th, both of which are for the same art history class. I must memorize an insane amount of information for over 500 images (only 10 will be on the test… eek!) and read a full-length (FULL-LENGTH) book on Mannerism. Yipee for me! No, I’m sure it will be fine. I’m always fine when it comes to these times. Nothing bad can happen if you put in the work… right? RIGHT?

Until  I next write, I hope you all a very happy holiday season no matter what you celebrate!

Baci,

L

Barcelona Part Three: Sagrada Familia, Beach, Nekked Man (AKA - Germans Be Chantin')

The next day, six of us (all the girls, the two boys were still passed out from their night on the town) got up bright and early and made our way to the Sagrada Familia, which is probably the most famous architectural feat in Barcelona and Gaudi’s greatest works.

Outside of the Sagrada Familia. Crazy, eh?
Check it out from behind! Looks like it's melting!!!
This place is amazing—easily one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever gotten to set foot into.  The outside is all gothic, but then when you step into the church, you feel like you’ve entered a fantasy land. There are beautiful stained glass windows and soaring columns that lead up to a roof made of crazy stucco and concrete designs. According to the guidebook, Gaudi was obsessed with the church for much of his later life—he even lived on the premises during construction—until he got smushed by a tram and died. Ouch. Naturally, they buried him in the Sagrada Familia crypt. RIP Gaudi.






After the Sagrada Familia, Sarah, Kyle, and I went rogue from the group and head to the nearby chocolate museum, which is actually pretty ho-hum if you ask me. It’s got nothing on the chocolate festival that came to Bologna, but it does get points for style: the entrance ticket was a bar of chocolate. So cute!

Once we got our sweet tooth on, we ate lunch at a small restaurant nearby before heading to the beach, which was beautiful. All the sailboats were in the marina, and the water was beautiful and warm-ish. We walked up and down a stretch of beach for a bit, and then were scared off by this man who was COMPLETELY NUDE. As in, He-is-so-ridiculously-naked-and-there-are-no-clothes-in-sight-and-it-specifically-states-that-this-is-not-a-nude-beach completely nude. It was gross and yet seriously funny. He was just chillin’, taking a stroll by the seaside buck naked. Whatever floats his boat I guess… no pun intended. Ew.

After avoiding nekked man, we wandered around the seaside for a bit, took in the sight of Montjuic, and meandered through a small antiques market before trekking back to the hostel to freshen up before taking a stroll through the gothic quarter and eventually finding food.

Our last meal in Barcelona was by far my favorite. We somehow stumbled across a small bar/restaurant in the gothic quarter that was mostly a local place. The awesome bartender made us all delicious drinks (Regular Mojito for Kyle, Mango Tango for Sarah, Passionfruit Mojito for me, although I ordered a regular), and we feasted on burritos, chicken tacos, and spicy beef tacos (surprisingly, the latter was mine. My gastronomic audacity is starting to pick up speed).
Mojito and Mango Tango made by Senor J... aka Senor Hayyyy.
When we returned back to the hostel around midnight, Kyle and I decided to catch a few (literally, 3) hours of shut eye before we had to wake up at 3:00 AM to catch our 5:00 AM bus back to Girona. Wandering through Barcelona at 4 AM is not nearly as cool as it would seem—there are a lot of drunk people around and questionable smells wafting through the air.

Overall, we spent a fantastic 3 days in one of Spain’s most iconic city. Now it’s back to reality—we have our history exam next week, and all of us are studying our terrified little heads off. Well, I’m not exactly studying. More like looking at my history book periodically while blogging about random things that don’t involve history whatsoever. Oh well. I think I’ll take a nap and then give it another go?

-L

Barcelona Part Two: I feel like I'm in Jurassic Park (AKA Germans be creepin')

Cut to the next morning when we wake up in our itty-bitty bunk beds and I oh-so-gracefully pirouette out of the top bunk with the lightness of a 5-year-old ballerina, we had an interesting bathroom experience. First of all, it was almost exactly like being back in the dorms: communal showers, no where to put your shiz, signs on the doors warning against theft of electronic items (okay, but seriously… who’d be stupid enough to leave electronic items charging in the bathroom overnight? Someone who has far too much trust in the morality of 18-26 year olds.). Then, as we were brushing our teeth, two shirtless German men cam waltzing into the bathroom like nothin’. Kyle and I sort of just stared at them for a second while they stood behind us, oddly rubbing their sternums and smiling weirdly.

“Gurls?” One asked us.
Me: Um, obviously.
Kyle: I think he meant the bathroom, not us…
Me: Still quite obvious that this is the ladies room…

After we convinced the shirtless Germans to go away, we finished getting ready and ran for our lives out of that hostel. Our plan? Go to Park Guell, another of Gaudi’s crazy ideas. Unknowingly, however, we took the Podunk “side entrance”, which involved us going up escalators randomly placed in the middle of nowhere. After trekking through some serious cacti-forests, we found the Gaudi part of Park Guell, which is super cool. Homeboy was crazyyyy.





The city from Park Guell... cool, eh?

After Park Guell, we mostly just walked around in search for food. After food, we went to the Palau de Musica Catalayna, which is this absolutely beautiful music hall—as in, one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life. The entire experience was made even more interesting by the fact that Kyle and I could only buy tickets for the last tour of the day—which was in Spanish. Thankfully, we understood everything—apparently studying Italian does pay off.  The stained glass in this place was freakishly beautiful. It was simply amazing. I wish I could have taken some pictures, but that shiz was on lockdown. Copyright shmopyright.

Like bosses, we went back to Les Quits Nits for dinner. I had some sausage-mushroom dish, while Kyle enjoyed delicious salmon. Then we put our game faces on and headed to a Flamenco event at one of the local bars. Even though the bar was in a sketchy area, we bought tickets and got drinks (the strongest rum and coke in the history of man… he literally poured us a glass of rum and then gave us a small bottle of coke. I felt like I was doing a 5th grade science experiment trying to get that thing to taste good…) and sat ourselves down. We could not believe how many people showed up, and this bar was tiny—like, probably had a firecode of 100 people. There were over 200 of us in there, easily. It was not comfortable.

The music and dancing, however, was amazing! There was a singer, a guitar player, and “Magical Mustache Man” (AKA the percussionist and jazz flute player), who played some opening songs before a flamenco dancer came on stage. She danced her little heart out. Flamenco is actually a very angry dance, if you ask me. There’s a lot of foot stomping and leg-slapping. After a brief intermission, there was a second set, which was just as good—if not better—than the first, especially since a bunch of people left thinking the show was over. Naturally, Kyle and I stole their seats.


Flamencoooo!

That night we returned to Les Quitz Nitz for Round II of the day. The menu? Sangria and delicious desserts, of course! And then it was back to the hostel to meet up with my best friend Sarah (the one who came to Italy to visit me two months ago), whose flight got in at about 11 pm. She had an entire posse in tow—6 people in total, 3 of which were triplets. It was a full house in our hostel room to say the least…
Walnut cake. Walllnuuuttt Cakkkeee


Barcelona Part One: Who Recommended this Hostel Again? (AKA: Germans be boozin')

This weekend (ahem... i've been procrastinating on meaning to post this for a few weeks now... so, you know, more like 3 weekends ago)I went to Barcelona, and it was so. Much. fun.

The long weekend started on Thursday morning, when the lovely Kyle Frost and myself got to the Bologna Airport at 10 AM for our 11:30 flight. Let Ryan Air antics ensue. Ryan Air = super ghetto. Why do I say this? Let’s break it down.

First of all, in the two week period that has lapsed since we last to Ryan Air to Paris, Ryan Air check-in counters have transferred from being in the main part of the airport to “Terminal Est.” In order to get to “Terminal Est,” one must take an “Airport Shuttle Bus” to said terminal. This “Airport Shuttle Bus” is actually one of those fake train things that has a front section that is a  car disguised as a yellow train and then little carts attached behind it. It’s kinda cool… although it was probably rented/stolen/bought from an amusement park that went tragically out of business. This yellow train should probably only go about 30 miles an hour. Whoever was driving out managed to get it up to at LEAST 45, and ON THE HIGHWAY. Yep, that’s rights… this tiny little plastic not-a-train-but-a-“train” thing goes onto the Italian highway, where Kyle and I saw our life quickly flash before our eyes for about 30 seconds until it gets off the highway… and brings us to the SKETCHIEST LOOKING “TERMINAL” OF ALL TIME.

This place looks like some kind of farm/shed/storage facility and is surrounded (SURROUNDED) by fence topped with several layers of barbed wire. Naturally, Kyle and I get our boarding tickets signed and then get the heck out of Dodge and back on to the little train. It brings us to our actual terminal… all is well. Our flight even lands in Barcelona ON TIME, prompting a standing ovation from the crew and the blasting of some trumpet soundtrack for about 15 seconds. Woopee!

Since we landed in Girona, which is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Barcelona, we had to take the Barcelona Bus into the city, where we got off at Estaciones Del Nord, and spent about an hour trying to find out hostel. I was pumped, ready for my first hostel experience…

Cut to us arriving at the hostel. It’s called Kabul Backpackers Hostel and is located in the Placa Real right off the main drag of Las Ramblas. It all seems pretty cool—good location, the front door seems legit, there are a lot of restaurants and bars around…

Yeah, turns out this hostel is a weird combination of a frat house, an on-campus bar, and a janky dormitory (for a better picture, all you Badgers imagine the Ratskeller at the Union meeting  Sellery Dormitory meeting a frat house… the image is probably spot on, I guarantee it.)

Placa Real, the location of our highly questionable hostel.

Kyle and I felt like we were entering a club. Biggie Smalls was blasting from the sound system when we entered the place at 3 pm, and there were already several fellow hostel-stayers on what looked to be there third or fourth pint of beer. We get our keys, ignore how creepy the staff seems to be, and head up to our 8-bed, maroon-colored room that has lockers of bank vault caliber. We stuff our crap in them in get out of that club… I mean bar… I mean hostel. Yes… hostel. That’s the one.

First of all, the weather in Barcelona was amazing. Kyle and I could not get over the fact that it was the 1st of December (!!!) and we were wearing light cardigans (!!!).  The sun was shining, leaves were falling and crunching beneath our feet, people were vending fresh fruits and smoothies… We were quite content.

Kyle is excited for cardigan weather...

I'm DOUBLE excited for cardigan weather.
The first night we mostly just meandered, stumbling upon some very cool things, like the Casa Batllo, which is this crazy house that was designed by Antoni Gaudi, one of Spain’s most famous architects. This house is insane—it’s like stepping into a fairytale land. We also spent the night “ooohing” and “aaahhhing” at the Christmas lights on the main streets and around the Placa Catalunya, where the trees were just beautiful.

Casa Bartllo

Casa Bartllo from below... that rhymes!


We went to dinner at a restaurant called Les Quints Nits, which was right by our hostel in the Placa Real. This place was THE BOMB. Not only was the place classy, but the menu was dirt cheap (#Winning). We’re talking less than 5 Euro for a half-liter of the house Sangria (#DoubleWinning), and only 8 Euro for a hefty serving of the best (ahem… only) paella I’d ever tasted. Chips with guacamole dip may or may not have been involved in this affair (hint: they were). It was simply delicious.

For as weird as it looks, it tastes hella good!
As we very slowly made our way back to the hostel, we got solicited by about 15 different club-representatives,  all trying to get us to go somewhere “bumping.” Instead, we returned to the hostel, which essentially was a club. What was more interesting than rowdy drunk Germans at 1 AM? The itsy-bitsy, practically non-existent ladder to my top bunk and how I looked like a graceful ballerina hauling myself into it.  Let’s not go there…

Thanksgiving In Bologna

Christmas Tree in Piazza Maggiore... looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree during the day, but beautiful at night!!! 
The Asinelli Tower all lit up!
Thanksgiving has come and gone.

It feels weird even typing that. Time just seems to stand still here—not in a bad way, just in a hey-the-weather-isn’t-changing-and-nobody-celebrates-thanksgiving-here kind of way. It’s weird though, because it seems like the day after Thanksgiving the city just threw up all the Christmas lights. Are you SURE you don’t secretly celebrate the “doorway to Christmas” holiday?

BCSP arranged a dinner for us, which ended up being fantastic and relatively near my house. Since I was wearing heels for the first time since coming to Italy, this was a HUGE plus. On Wednesday, Professor Ricci sort of dropped the bomb that the restaurant was a “classy establishment”  and we had to dress nicely. Ergo, I had to go out and drop 40 Euro on a new pair of tights and a dress.



The dinner was so good! We opened with a pumpkin soup, then moved on to ceasar salad (is this normal for your Thanksgiving? I’ve never even heard of eating ceasar salad on any holiday), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey, and apple pie with a nutmeg sauce.  While the food was definitely “Thanksgiving-y”, it was more like Italians trying to do Thanksgiving food… delicious none the less. That and they just kept bringing wine. I will be going back to this so-called “classy establishment” soon. Ben even busted out in an acappella version of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”—which, granted, is not the best song to choose for a room of homesick 20-somethings—but he was amazing.

Afterwards, about 10 of us all went out. I’m still not quite sure what all happened between us leaving the restaurant and Dru and I getting home…  mostly because we were having so much fun (that and my heels hurt so bad I could barely focus when walking from apartment to apartment). I haven’t had that much fun in a while—the kind of fun when you’re thinking, “Damn, I need to remember every second of this” and then you get home and can’t recall a single thing as clearly as you would have liked to. It has nothing to do with wine or being stuffed with turkey… it’s all about the company.
Kyle, Me, and Brea --- Those two are among my favorite people here! Top of the list!

Thanksgiving was all-in-all amazing. Although I so wanted to be home with my family, eating fabulous food prepped by my mom and company, I was very happy to be right where I was, eating good food and enjoying the company of all the kids in the program. 

This week is promising to be one of the longest in history. I have an oral exam in my grammar class tomorrow, then a written grammar exam on Wednesday… a quiz in the hardest history class in history tomorrow, and lots of prepping to do for BARCELONA. I leave on Thursday and I am SO SO SO excited.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Barcelona Part One: Who Recommended this Hostel Again? (AKA: Germans be boozin')

This weekend I went to Barcelona, and it was so. Much. fun.

The long weekend started on Thursday morning, when the lovely Kyle Frost and myself got to the Bologna Airport at 10 AM for our 11:30 flight. Let Ryan Air antics ensue. Ryan Air = super ghetto. Why do I say this? Let’s break it down.

First of all, in the two week period that has lapsed since we last to Ryan Air to Paris, Ryan Air check-in counters have transferred from being in the main part of the airport to “Terminal Est.” In order to get to “Terminal Est,” one must take an “Airport Shuttle Bus” to said terminal. This “Airport Shuttle Bus” is actually one of those fake train things that has a front section that is a  car disguised as a yellow train and then little carts attached behind it. It’s kinda cool… although it was probably rented/stolen/bought from an amusement park that went tragically out of business. This yellow train should probably only go about 30 miles an hour. Whoever was driving out managed to get it up to at LEAST 45, and ON THE HIGHWAY. Yep, that’s rights… this tiny little plastic not-a-train-but-a-“train” thing goes onto the Italian highway, where Kyle and I saw our life quickly flash before our eyes for about 30 seconds until it gets off the highway… and brings us to the SKETCHIEST LOOKING “TERMINAL” OF ALL TIME.

This place looks like some kind of farm/shed/storage facility and is surrounded (SURROUNDED) by fence topped with several layers of barbed wire. Naturally, Kyle and I get our boarding tickets signed and then get the heck out of Dodge and back on to the little train. It brings us to our actual terminal… all is well. Our flight even lands in Barcelona ON TIME, prompting a standing ovation from the crew and the blasting of some trumpet soundtrack for about 15 seconds. Woopee!

Since we landed in Girona, which is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Barcelona, we had to take the Barcelona Bus into the city, where we got off at Estaciones Del Nord, and spent about an hour trying to find out hostel. I was pumped, ready for my first hostel experience…

Cut to us arriving at the hostel. It’s called Kabul Backpackers Hostel and is located in the Placa Real right off the main drag of Las Ramblas. It all seems pretty cool—good location, the front door seems legit, there are a lot of restaurants and bars around…

Yeah, turns out this hostel is a weird combination of a frat house, an on-campus bar, and a janky dormitory (for a better picture, all you Badgers imagine the Ratskeller at the Union meeting  Sellery Dormitory meeting a frat house… the image is probably spot on, I guarantee it.)

Kyle and I felt like we were entering a club. Biggie Smalls was blasting from the sound system when we entered the place at 3 pm, and there were already several fellow hostel-stayers on what looked to be there third or fourth pint of beer. We get our keys, ignore how creepy the staff seems to be, and head up to our 8-bed, maroon-colored room that has lockers of bank vault caliber. We stuff our crap in them in get out of that club… I mean bar… I mean hostel. Yes… hostel. That’s the one.

First of all, the weather in Barcelona was amazing. Kyle and I could not get over the fact that it was the 1st of December (!!!) and we were wearing light cardigans (!!!).  The sun was shining, leaves were falling and crunching beneath our feet, people were vending fresh fruits and smoothies… We were quite content.
The first night we mostly just meandered, stumbling upon some very cool things, like the Casa Batllo, which is this crazy house that was designed by Antoni Gaudi, one of Spain’s most famous architects. This house is insane—it’s like stepping into a fairytale land. We also spent the night “ooohing” and “aaahhhing” at the Christmas lights on the main streets and around the Placa Catalunya, where the trees were just beautiful.
We went to dinner at a restaurant called Les Quints Nits, which was right by our hostel in the Placa Real. This place was THE BOMB. Not only was the place classy, but the menu was dirt cheap (#Winning). We’re talking less than 5 Euro for a half-liter of the house Sangria (#DoubleWinning), and only 8 Euro for a hefty serving of the best (ahem… only) paella I’d ever tasted. Chips with guacamole dip may or may not have been involved in this affair (hint: they were). It was simply delicious.

As we very slowly made our way back to the hostel, we got solicited by about 15 different club-representatives,  all trying to get us to go somewhere “bumping.” Instead, we returned to the hostel, which essentially was a club. What was more interesting than rowdy drunk Germans at 1 AM? The itsy-bitsy ladder to my top bunk.  Let’s not go there…

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kick Ass Cake and Other Musings...

Alessia, the mom of the two boy's I tutor, had me for dinner last night. On the menu? Vegetable soup, lamb chops, sauteed mushrooms, and THE BEST CAKE EVER. She was even nice enough to give me half of it to take home. What's in the cake? Well, it's layer upon layer of zabaione (egg yolks, sugar, and sweet wine all fluffed up into frosting-like consistency), real whipped cream, real frosting, and dark cherries... all separated by thin sheets of pastry. OH MY FUCKING GOD (sorry for the language and the name in vain...) but it is so good!!! I ate another slice last night, and then i polished off the rest of it for breakfast. And, lordy lord, i cannot even so much as look at food right now. It's such a delicious pain.

In other news, i booked my tickets to Paris and Barcelona yesterday. Kyle, Madeline, and I will be going to Paris the morning of November 17th, and staying through the 20th. The lovely Kyle and I will then be heading to Barcelona on December 1st to meet my beloved bestie Sarah. I'm getting so excited! Paris has never been high on my to-do list, but recently it's been climbing the ladder... okay, there are mainly 2 reasons: one, it appears in the last 2 episodes of Sex and the City and looks amazing. Two, it's the backdrop of Adele's "Someone Like You" music video... and Adele is my FAVORITE. Okay, maybe she's tied with Jessie J and Sara Bareilles... no, i think she edges them out by a hair. Because she's Adele! I was crushed to hear that she must take a 6-12 month hiatus for her voice. CRUSHED I SAY!

Barcelona has always been somewhere i've wanted to go ever since reading Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which is hands-down, slap-your-mother, indubitably my favorite book of all time. It even beats out Harry Potter, which is a rare feat. The book (which i recommend you all go out and buy/borrow/rent NOW! Okay... finish this blog post first... but then go!) takes place in Barcelona, which is almost a character just as much as it is a setting. I cannot wait to take the "Shadow of the Wind walking tour" that Zafon has posted on his site. Kyle better sit tight because nothing's stopping me from this one... I may also stalk Zafon, so he might want to watch out for some American girl creepin' outside in some bushes...

I'm also thinking of dyeing my hair. I need a physical change... and hair dye seemed to be low on the "how much it costs to complete said physical change" list. Other things on the list: another tattoo (too permanent to be capricious with), a nose piercing of some sort (mildly expensive), liposuction, and facial reconstructive surgery. Okay, those last two were just a joke. Really, they were. I would never let Dr. 90210 near me, my face, or my love handles. Why? Heidi Montag, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, the entire Jackson family... need any more reasons?

Okay, i should really probably do my homework... and study for that test on Monday... and read some of the 250 pages i still have left...

Yeah, i think i am going to take a nap.

Monday, October 31, 2011

666 Steps --- This Is What My Life Has Become

You know what sucks? Being poor and big-footed in Italy.

Okay, let me explain...

Italy is expensive--a fact most people know. BUT, did you know that it is practically impossible to find shoes in a size 9-10? Okay, let me rephrase... it's practically impossible to find fashionable cool comfortable  semi-decent shoes in a size 9-10. I've been to over 12 stores, and i cannot find a pair of comfortable boots that fit. Cut to last week when i was walking around in a rainstorm in flimsy flats with an even flimsier umbrella...

In other news, yesterday I got together with Dru, Kyle, and Brea to climb to the top of San Luca, this church located in the hills of Bologna. In order to reach the church, you start at street level and climb up stone inclines and stairs for about 30 minutes. There are 666 porticoes, all labeled, to the top... but 200 of those are at street level, so it's more like 466. I like this number better, it makes me seem less ambitious in my physical exercise and less like a devil worshiper. (For the record, I hate working out and Satan is not my homeboy.)
One of the however-many terrible inclines.

San Luca Church. It's much more impressive in photos not taken by me. Google that shit.
 After a half-hour of huffing, puffing, and mild complaining, the four of us reached the top. We sat in the church for about 15 minutes, more or less to rest and take in the medieval interior of the church. Then we went outside and sat around for about an hour, shooting the shit and people watching... more or less because we were too tired to walk back down those damn stairs/inclines. I spent most of the time taking rando pictures, like the 18 i took of Dru's glasses (i was having a hipster/i-think-i'm-a-photographer-because-i-have-a-camera moment), and the semi-artsy photos of the guy wearing the RIDICULOUS blue wind suit. It was just so... blue... and... you know... wind-suity.

Artsy-fartsy picture #1.

Dru let me borrow her shades for Artsy Fartsy Pic #2


Man in blue windsuit in hot pursuit of the water fountain...

Brea going to examine if Man in Blue Windsuit is clinically insane or a fashion genius...


He drank water and walked back to wherever he came from... like a BOSS.
When we finally descended down the stairs, we all decided to go to Piazza Cavour and treat ourselves to the best. gelato. ever. from Gelateria Funivia. This place is DELICIOUS. I got three flavors: zabajone, straciatella, and torta funivia (chocolatey-chocolate gelato with chunks of chewy chocolatey-chocolate cake). So damn good. Afterwards, we were all pooped and went to our respective apartments to shower and pass out. I ended up being extremely productive, reading the rest of my assigned history reading (which takes forever) while i drank copious amounts of tea.

I don't even like tea. I think it tastes like dirty water... but my apartment is ridiculously cold. Like, 58 degrees cold. I'm terrified to turn on the heat because Sara, my old roommate who owns the place, told me how expensive heat is. I think she exaggerated, but i don't want to take the risk... so i walk around with several layers of clothing, a scarf, a blanket wrapped around me, and the occasional red gloves. No exaggeration. I look like Randy from The Christmas Story when the mom dresses him up in his snow suit...

This morning i woke up at 11:24 AM, which was super confusing because all of the clocks in my apartment were telling me it was 10:24 AM but my phone was telling me it was 11:24. Turns out Italy has daylights savings time on October 30th. Who knew? It's good, too, because then i didn't feel too guilty about sleeping in so late--the latest i've slept in since i got here--not that i really did anything all day.

I mostly just watched Hocus Pocus repeatedly and took a very long, cold-medicine-induced nap. Why did I watch Hocus Pocus a total of 4 times today? Simple: I love that movie... that, and it's the only full-length movie worthy of my time that i can find for free on YouTube. Why don't i use Project Free TV, you ask? Well, because PFTV gave Dru's computer a virus--a virus that literally ate her computer. Okay, not literally... but it messed shit up bad. I'm on my last computer (I started with two, see previous post about my beloved Alice) and I refuse to mess up my little mini nugget of a computer.

Oh, and i made some kick ass carbonara today. It was SO GOOD. This could be because i was sick, or maybe because i've eaten buttered noodles for my past 109 meals. I don't even really know how to make carbonara... i just winged it, and it actually turned out really, really good. Super easy to make, too...

Other than that, I'm just chillin (literally chillin... it's effing freezing!) in my bed, wrapped up like an eskimo baby, staring at my art history textbook. I've read two pages--literally two pages--of the 311-page book. I should probably be more worried about it than i actually am. Oh, well... it'll get done.

And it's officially 12:21 AM on October 31st, AKA Halloween... AKA my favorite holiday. YAY! I think i will watch Hocus Pocus again... fifth time is a charm!

Loves yah!

-L
PS: I took my first-ever "planking" photo on one of the San Luca porticoes. Too bad I fogot to take my camera off the ridiculous "blue windsuit man" setting and my hair out of that terrible bun. Oh well, still good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RIP Alice

My big laptop died today. I got her three years and two months ago, and her name was Alice. She went up in a cloud of smoke and some sparks when the AC adapter on my charger cord blew.

Today is a sad day.

Internet's a Putana

You know what I love? Not having internet in my apartment. It’s really the best thing ever.
Please note the sarcasm in the above declaration.

In theory, not having internet should be a good thing—it cuts down on major procrastination outlets, hours of mindless youtube sessions, allows one to get in touch with their inner chi, etcetera etcetera. In reality, not having internet at my apartment is possibly the most inconvenient thing that the cosmos could inflict on me. If anything, I waste more time because I am constantly contemplating what life was like before internet, or when the internet was just a baby, AOL was still the shiz, and it took me 4 hours to download one Avril Lavigne music video (by the way, I’d like those four hours of my life back, thanks). Oh, nostalgia. 

Not having internet also means that I have about seven blogs lingering in “My Documents” that are now completely out of date and irrelevant. Here’s a short recap of what I’ve been doing lately:

-My best friend Sarah came to visit me. It was her first time in Italy and we tried to fit as much as possible into a four-day period. One day we did Bologna, the next Verona, the next Venice, and the last we saved for Florence. That’s four cities in four days. It was so much fun but so exhausting, for both the body and the wallet. Now Sarah is safely back in London, and I am lounging in an internet-less kitchen.
Sarah's first gelato! Where else would be go than Sorbetteria Castiglione?

Roman arena in Verona. NBD.

Kyle, Sarah, and I on the Grand Canal in Venice!

I couldn't resist. Shladonkadonk, David!

-The weather has been a changin’. It’s significantly colder than it was a week ago—probably in the 60s. The thing is, Bologna is mad humid, so 65 degrees feels way more like 50 degrees. It’s also been raining a lot, which makes drying laundry very difficult. It also makes your socks wet through your shoes. Not the greatest sensation in the world.

-I have so. much. homework. Okay, so it’s not so much homework as it is reading, but I’m, like, 200 pages behind. This is mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t find the textbook for the class, so I only got my hands on it 2 days ago. I am not completely innocent in this situation, however… watching and rewatching episodes of Vampire Diaries hinders my academic endeavors a bit.

-Went to my first Italian house party. I was scared for my life for most of the night—in a good way, though. I felt like I was back in Madison—people from wall-to-wall in an apartment of questionable cleanliness, drinks being spilled, no one understanding anything that was being said, dancing to Gaga… the usual.

-I have a newfound obsession with couscous. It’s the greatest thing ever. EDIT: Okay, as with most of my gastronomic obsessions, I am now over couscous and totes into boiling potatoes and mashing them with a fork with unhealthy amounts of butter and salt.

-I also have been eating several bars of chocolate a week… okay, more like one a day. The fact that I still fit into my pants is an effing miracle!

-Going to Montagnola, the Friday-Saturday morning market on the other side of town, is not advisable when you are not feeling your best. It took me an hour to talk myself up to leaving the house (I had one of those ‘I am feeling off’ mornings), and within 2 minutes of me getting on the bus, I almost threw up on a seven year old. Cut to me walking around the market for 15 minutes before the heavy smokers, really cheap, obviously not cashmere “cashmere” scarves, and seriously loud crying babies drove me to get on the bus again. Fifteen horrible, horrible minutes later I arrived back at my apartment, crawled back into bed (with my shoes on… grossness), and slept for 6 more hours (on top of the 10 hours of sleep I got last night). I have a stinking feeling that I am getting sick.

-I still haven’t done my Italian history reading. It’s going to take me several hours, and I’m dreading it like a punkabestia* (heh-heh, get it? Dreading it? Like hair dreds? Heh, heh… okay, sorry, I’m done.)

-Can we please take a moment to appreciate how amazingly good the third season of the Vampire Diaries is? I mean, Mason Lockwood has been resurrected. Thank you, Julie Pleck, for answering my prayers. *Drooooool*

-When you sit in Piazza Verdi with anything that even resembles a bottle of alcohol or anything that could have alcohol in it, you will make more friends that you could possibly imagine. You will also make enemies when you don’t let said new friends have any of your Coke Zero. Liquor is one thing I’m willing to share. Coke Zero? Back the heck off, boo.

-Yeah, I should start laying off the chocolate…  just sayin.

Peace out boy/girl scouts,

L

Sunset in Venice from the Ponte di Rialto. Kinda sucks, right?

*In case I’ve never mentioned it, Punkabestia are semi-homeless young adults with really elaborate rasta dreads, bad clothing choices, and several dogs that just chill all around Bologna—mostly on Via Irnerio or Via Pietro San Borgo—looking dirty and meancing. Most of the ones I’ve met in passing, however, are very nice.

Shout Out: To the lovely Kelly Stretz, who I think may be the only person who reads this blog. Loves yah!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fireworks and Flames

Yesterday was a national holiday in Italy in honor of a saint: most of Christian Italy celebrated St. Frances, but Bologna celebrated St. Petronio (patron and protector saint of the city). All schools and most stores were shut down for the day, meaning i got to sleep in past 10 AM for the first time since arriving in Italy. All day there were festivities in Piazza Maggiore and the major streets. Since i had to tutor, i didn't get around to going until 10 pm. While waiting for some friends to arrive, I watched some guy throwing fire sticks and juggling flames.

Since the fireworks weren't scheduled to start until 10:45, so we all went and got some delicious gelato on Via Zamboni before heading back to the square. We got there just in time, because as we were fighting our way through the crowd to get to the front, firework just started exploding. And, let me tell you, Bologna knows how to handle fireworks...

First of all, the fireworks were launching off the side of a 600-year-old basilica (Basilica di San Petronio). Second of all, the fireworks were exploding extremely low. At first, this freaked all of us out... I swear to God that Dru almost had a heart attack and I thought there were problems with the launchers. Nope... they just don't have regulations for firework here, obviously. It turned out to be really, really cool. It was definitely one of the coolest things i've seen here yet. Here are some pictures and a video:

video

Fireworks with the Basilica di San Petronio in the background. So beautiful!

Sizzle sizzle, snap snap.

oooooh, ahhhhhh.

So, so, so, so BOOTIFUL!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Urbino

So I kinda forgot I had a blog for a bit there… or, rather, I forgot to update it. And by “forgot to update” I surely mean “too lazy to update.” Whatevs.

Nothing much exciting this past week—Giuliano moved out, which was kinda sad but not really. He had a dinner with his girlfriend/friends-with-benefits/I-have-no-idea-what-was-going-on-there, and he left me all of his dishes to do in the morning. That, and he left super abruptly. I saw him in the kitchen, we exchanged “good mornings” and then I proceeded to take a shower. When I get out of the shower 10 minutes later, Giuliano is nowhere to be seen and I have a text on my phone that says, “Hey, Lindsay… I left for Naples. Feel free to eat my food. See you in November.” Uh, bye?

Friday we had our “mock oral exam” for the pre-session. This basically means that you partnered up with someone (I partnered up with the lovely Kyle Frost), and then you “acted out” an oral exam, meaning one person plays the professor and the other plays the student. Each person had to talk for a total of 10 minutes as the “student”, then switch to the “professor” role of asking questions. We could choose our topics and prepared ahead of time, but it’s still super intimidating to get up in front of the class and ramble on about Boccaccio’s Decameron for 10 minutes. This was fun compared to sitting for the rest of the 3 ½-hour class listening to my classmates talk about stuff I didn’t care about (and I say this lovingly… I am sure they didn’t care about mine, either). SO PAINFUL. I am so glad that’s over.

Today I was up at 5:30 AM in order to be at Piazza Malpighi at 7:20 AM. The program took us on a day trip to Urbino, where Professor Benevolo gave us an in situ art history lesson. We had a coach bus, which was super nice, but the 2 ½ hour drive there was a nightmare: it was all rolling hills and curving roads. Everyone needed a dose of Dramamine to make it through without puking. When we finally got to Urbino, we stopped for a quick breakfast at a bar and then set off. Our first stop was the main palace in town, which was cool. When we finished touring the palace-turned-museum, we took a break in the palace garden’s, where Professor Ricci’s kid, Ray, proceeded to jump in bushes. Nick tried to wrangle him as best he could, but all attempts to tame this kid are totally in vain. He’s a little monster… but a cute monster, nonetheless.

Ray... in a bush.
Nick trying to pull Ray out of said bush.

Success!.. unless you count the fact that Ray jumped back into the bush about 5 times after this. 

We then went to lunch, where we spent 2 hours feasting on bruschetta, spinach and cheese ravioli, perfectly juicy veal, questionably fig-filled pastries, and espresso. Yummmmm.

Afterwards we trekked it up to the top of the city (which is built on a very steep hilltop), which had an AMAZING view. We stayed there for a good hour, taking lots of group pictures and doing lots of belly-bumps. Lindsay Carrerra even convinced Professor Ricci to do one. It was effing hilarious. 
The lovely Kelly and I in front of some huge castle thing.
video

On our way back down, we went to see Raphael’s house (yes, the Raphael… the one who painted… and became a Ninja Turtle). Thank goodness we just got to wander… we were all done with lessons for the day. The house was huge, maze-like, and had many marble busts of men with very impressive mustaches. Ironically enough, there were no authentic Raphael paintings. There’s actually only one in the whole city of Urbino, and we saw it at the first museum/palace thing.

IMPRESSIVE MUSTACHE, MAN!

DOUBLE IMPRESSIVE.


Before leaving, we had 45 minutes of free time. Most of us just bought a few post cards, got gelato, and watched as Ray ran around like a maniac and stick his head into garbage cans.  That kid is so strange. On the bus ride home, he spent about 30 minutes showing Dru and I the chewed cookie he had in his mouth, then proceeded to threaten to spit it on us. It was delightful.

Me: "Hey, Ray... you do know that's a garbage can, right?"
Ray: "I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING!"

carry on, little man... carry on.

Now I’m just chilling out in my “new” room (I swapped rooms with Sara, since she’s home now… and as fabulous as ever). I’m going to try and make it to midnight without falling asleep, but my attempts may be futile. It’s a good thing I didn’t go out last night… Monday marks the first day of class AND the two written exams for the BCSP pre-session. Considering that I copied all the answers to my homework out of the key in the back of the book, I now need to learn everything we talked about in the last 3 weeks. Tomorrow will be interesting. On the upside, on Tuesday there is a national holiday because it’s San Petronio’s birthday or something… apparently we get off school for every day dedicated to a saint. God bless Italians.