Category Archives: Wanderlust

Power of the people is my happy thought.

So clearly, people dying is not a happy thought. Nor are dozens of injuries and a national museum getting looted.

But waking up and finding out that the unwanted leader of a country has actually left to run to his vacation home is pretty incredible. And yes, I realize this doesn’t mean all of Egypt’s problems are over. Their problems are far from over. But knowing the people really do have the power to make a difference and stand up for themselves is kind of amazing. I’m one of those people who feels a little defeated when I think about all of the civil rights that people still do not have, or the environment and the impossible position we’re in regarding saving our planet, or growing old, and how everyone seems to hate it so much. How do we fix all of that? But those people in Egypt took a huge risk, and even if they don’t get everything they asked for, they have this. They have today. And that’s pretty cool.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Far, progress

Wireless internet is my happy thought

Because what did people used to do when they were stuck in an airport for five hours before internet? Drink? I’M NOT 21 OR I WOULD BE IN A BAR RIGHT NOW. Watching The Bachelor is the next best thing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Far

Leaves are my happy thoughts

Spur of the moment trips to state parks in the peak leaf season make the best escape from the city. There were swans on the pond! Swans!

Sigh.

Leave a comment

Filed under lookoutside, Near, Wanderlust

Back in the right State of mind!

(This one’s a long one, but it details an amazing journey! So it’s worth it.)

WOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!

Can you feel the excitement? I’ve been back for a couple weeks, two of which were spent in California with the fam (one of which with Ben there visiting!). I got to see everyone, go to Disneyland and the Zoo, go to the beach more than I normally do in an entire summer, and was luckily there for Grandma’s awesome 80th birthday.

UNluckily  I can’t find my camera cord to download pictures from my camera, so no pictures of California OR my infamous Berlin-Florence train journey.

Too bad, too, because I carefully documented that epic trip all throughout the night. I have pictures of the Swiss Alps at like five in the morning right after the sun rose.

ABOUT THAT. Is every single person in the whole world aware that I recently spent nineteen hours on five trains going by rail from Berlin to Florence? That’s 612 miles, for those not in the know. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I will detail exactly why this travesty occurred.

School was finished, I was excited to be almost home, but first Lisa and I had a trip to take! We took a train from Florence to Milan, then flew to Berlin for the weekend. Berlin is incredible. Such an amazing, historic city, with a great nightlife (especially after three months of Florence). We took a walking tour on Saturday afternoon with a totally awesome British tour guide. She managed to summarize like 14oo years of Berlin history, but I am not nearly so talented as she so I won’t even try.

After our walking tour, we found food (I had a weird flatbread pizza type thing with sour cream instead of pizza sauce and flavored beer! Raspberry!) before napping, then going out on a pub crawl. The crawl was kind of a dud (half-dud? Is that a word?) but it is amazing that we went on it, because at the first (or second?) bar, a French guy approached us and after we told him we were going to Prague on Monday the flying back to Florence, he told us flights were being cancelled again because of the GIANT ASH CLOUD that’s been spewing from Iceland lately. We hadn’t even thought about the ash cloud!

The next day we got up and frantically tried to figure out how to call my parents so we could get some advice on the sitch. Problem A) I had no credit on my cell phone and couldn’t buy any in Germany, so I couldn’t call them. Lisa had no credit either. Problem B) the computers at the hostel had no microphone, so I couldn’t call my parents using Skype. Solution? I called the house and cell phones on Skype repeatedly until my mom finally checked her text messages and realized it was me. So creepy, to answer the phone at like seven in the morning and repeatedly get silence.

Anyways, we finally connected and the parentals agreed jumping on a train and getting back to Florence in time to make sure we caught our flights back to the states. We packed up and went to the train station, got tickets from Berlin to Florence (you don’t want to know how much that cost) and were off!

First train: Berlin to some other city in Germany that I can’t remember.
Departed: 9:00PM Arrived: 2:00AM

Second train: Some German town to a very Northern Swiss town
Departed: 3:20AM Arrived: 6:00AM

WAIT! We got off on the wrong stop on the German side of the border, so we had 16 minutes to get from the wrong train station to the right one to catch our train to Milan. We HAD to get that train, because there was no room on any other trains, due to the giant ash cloud situation. We got on the commuter train and made it to our station with THREE MINUTES TO SPARE.

We RAN to our next train and hopped on just in time, but, guess what, the woman in Germany didn’t assign us seats when she bought our tickets, so our Switzerland to Milan, 6:30AM to 10:30AM train was spent hopping from seat to seat as we tried to sleep at least a little.

Got to Milan (finally, thank GOD, about three and a half hours sleep at this point) and had to go wait in line AGAIN to change our tickets from Milan to Florence that we were supposed to use on Wednesday. Got on the fifth and final train, made it home, and collapsed.

On the bright side, I had enough time while in Florence (crappy weather, depressed college student) to memorize how to pronounce the name of that God-forsaken volcano.

EY-ya-FYAT-la-YO-kut

Leave a comment

Filed under Wanderlust

Roma

So NYU in Florence is super cool and gives the art history classes a budget for three days of field trips, meaning my Renaissance Art class took a one-day trip to Venice and a two-day, overnight trip to Rome! My class has about 15 people in it, so with us, the teacher, and our trip coordinator, we came out to 18 people (I guess that means my class has 16 people in it…). We got to stay in a super nice hotel, which was a welcome break from all the hostelling I’ve been doing, and had a HUGE free breakfast in the morning! Seriously some of the best pastries I’ve had in Europe. I’ve recently discovered a love of marmalade in my brioches after accidentally ordering it in Naples one morning.

Anyways, it was a long couple of days. We met at the train station to go to Rome at 7:50 am on Friday, then dropped off our bags in our hotel before immediately starting our tour. We saw the Pantheon, several churches, did a quick walking tour of Rome, and went inside two separate villas. Honestly it’s all pretty much a blur.

The Pantheon

Saturday we were at the Vatican Museum by 8:30 AM, winding our way through the huge lines. Thankfully NYU in Florence paid for our group reservations everywhere, so we never had to wait longer than about ten minutes, marching past all the poor people that had been in line for about an hour already at that point. My flash of guilt disappeared as soon as I thought about the tuition check my parents had sent out at the beginning of the semester. Seriously, NYU in Florence does such a better job at using their resources for the students. We get free museum passes, tons of day trips and activities to help us understand and participate in Florence, field days, speakers coming from all of the world…I understand that NYU in New York has a lot more students and has responsibilities all over the world, but the money they receive is proportionally more as well. Part of their supposed mission is to incorporate New York City into their student’s education, but they don’t make an effort to actively engage us in the city. They leave it all up to the students, and we do a good job of it, but I think they could do better, especially after being a part of the awesome NYU in Florence program, I wish JSex would swallow his pride and realize he could learn a little bit from the Florence President, David Travis. Who, by the way, has come into three out of four of my classes this semester to say hi and ask how we like the class. I’ve never even seen JSex in the Gallatin building, let alone interacting with the students.

Ok. Rant over. Back to Rome.

Saturday. Vatican Museum. The Sistine Chapel for the second time in my life. I definitely recognize how amazing it is that this was my second time viewing this incredible room, when most people will never get to see it in person at all. We spent so long in there, which was lovely as I can barely remember the first time I was there. This time I had a Renaissance Art PhD with me to tell me all about it, too. Amazing. After the museum we went into the Basilica to see the Pieta by Michelangelo.

We saw the Pieta when I was there when I was ten, and I remember thinking it was the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. After the trip ended, though, I could never remember where I saw it or if it was even real, so when the slide came up in my class a few weeks ago, it was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened to me all semester. I’m not exaggerating. A work of art that really touched my soul when I was ten, that I then could remember so vaguely I thought it was a dream, turned out to be real. Not only real, but in Rome, and I was going to get to see it again. It was an incredible feeling.

St. Peter's Basilica

All the chairs still set up from Easter

My awesome class!

After the Basilica (btw, did you know if the building is called a basilica, it’s because it houses the ashes of a Saint?), we had lunch, then saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and other really old stuff that used to be pagan and has seen been hastily turned catholic. At about 5 we returned to the hotel, where I hung out with my class until they left on the train. I then walked from that lovely place to my hostel, back to reality with six beds in the room and no mirror in the bathroom.

But staying an extra day gave me a chance to meet Lisa by the Trevi Fountain that night, where we ate dinner and debated for about ten minutes which shoulder to throw our pennies over. I think we chose to throw with the right hand over the left shoulder. The next day Lisa got up early to see a bunch of the stuff I had seen with my class and I headed to the Caravaggio exhibit in Rome. It’s been big news, as about ninety percent of his few masterpieces are all in the same building right now, which never happens in case the building catches fire or something. The show was incredible, though crowded and full of very pushy, large men who didn’t mind literally pushing me out of the way with their hands in order to place their large girth in front of a painting, then profess loudly that Caravaggio must have been gay. No joke.

Also, the Disney Store, Roman style

I met Lisa at the Spanish steps for lunch (which btw, apparently Romans do not call the Spanish steps. I asked a policewoman where the Spanish steps were, but in Italian, and she literally couldn’t answer me because she was laughing so hard. Rude, and also made me so self conscious about my Italian that I asked the next police officer I found in English.), then spent several hours just walking around the city. It was nice to be back in an actual city, big enough that I was able to get myself good and lost just to wander before finding my way back to the train station.

1 Comment

Filed under Art Attack, Wanderlust

Napoli

Seeing as the volcanic explosion in Iceland sadly thwarted my attempt to spend the weekend in Paris with Kelsey, I have time to update!

For Easter weekend (April 1-5), Lisa and I headed down to Naples and met Kelsey, who was on spring break. We went on a cool tour underground in the aqueduct system, called the Sottoterrano (literally translating to under-ground) built several thousand years ago by the Greeks. It was used as their water system for hundreds of years, and during WWII was used as a hiding place for the citizens of the city to avoid bombings.

We walked all around Naples that day and then had the BEST pizza of our lives. Seriously, we spent about five minutes after putting the first bite in our mouths going “Oh. My God. Ohmygod. Oh my God!” So. Good.

The next day was spent in Pompeii, which was beautifully sunny and wonderful. We got there super early after successfully figuring out the somewhat weird subway/train fusion system they have going on over there. We looked around…

…had lunch, then took a two hour nap in the grassy field of the amphitheater. Which, by the way, could seat like 10,000 people or something impressive.

On Sunday, Easter, we took a ferry out to Capri! So beautiful, and definitely gave the feeling of the Italian Greek islands. We took a cable car and a bus all the way to the top of the island, then walked alllllll the way down on the longest flight of stairs I’ve ever seen. We passed a few suckers making their way up on the the way and were very happy that we weren’t them.

We hopped back on the ferry in time to not only have dinner at the pizza place I mentioned before, but a late lunch as well (yes, the same pizza place TWICE in one day), but as it was Easter, EVERYTHING was closed! There was literally nothing open! We bought bags of chips at the only place we found to eat for lunch and dinner, but the man who owns the hostel we were staying at actually made dinner for everyone, since nothing was open. Our epic pizza plans were thwarted. It’s a sore subject, so I won’t bring it up again.

The next day, everything was STILL CLOSED! We were leaving in the early afternoon, so it wasn’t a big deal, but the only place for food that was open only sold cornettos and brioches (Italian pastries) and gelato. So we had brioche and gelato for breakfast. Yum.

We got on the train back to Florence around 2 or so, ending our weekend in Naples! It was a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Well, I guess if I lived right next to that pizza place, I might.

Leave a comment

Filed under Foodie Call, Wanderlust

Greece is the word: Santorini

We only had roughly twenty-four hours in Santorini, so this one will mercifully be briefer for the three people that are actually interested.

We hopped on the ferry at noon, arrived in Santorini at 3:30, walked off the pier and accepted the first offer of a room in the main town of Fira. Sleeping arrangements: done. This hotel also drove us up the cliffside in their scary van. Transportation to top of huge mountain: done. They also told us they would drive us back down to the ferry the next day. Guarantee of getting back to Athens the next day so that we wouldn’t have to set up a shed on Santorini and start spearheading fish for sustenance: done.

Then we looked around.

And that pretty much sums up our 24 hours in Santorini. We walked around, watched the sunset, slept, went to the beach, slept on the beach, caught the ferry and slept on the way back to Athens. What a stressful trip.

Basic message: Go. To. Greece.

Leave a comment

Filed under Wanderlust