Monday, February 28, 2005
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Good evening.Hello everyone. I am feeling better than I had been. I had a pretty good day today, and I feel like I'm getting some sorted out in my heart.
Quick click: Today was nice. :) My life had more order in it today.
Tonight's feature: Chocolate. Chocolate is ubiquitous in Switzerland. (http://merriam-webster.com) It is also relatively inexpensive, or at least, can be had inexpensively. There are certainly more expensive options. Also, you know the king size Hershey's bars like Mr. Goodbar and stuff? That is the most common size of candy bar. They even have ones that are like two of those put together longways. Also, the cheapest I've found them ever is about half a Swiss France, and Swiss Francs are worth about $0.83. Sweet, huh? :)
As I said, today was better. I woke up at 8 am, meaning I didn't have time to shower. We had English class today, which was one of the better in my memory, and had lunch and then Italian. I got lots of laundry done today, which was great as there were piles everywhere in my room of unusable clothes and also I'm headed to Munich tomorrow. I had some personal time this afternoon and then a good talk with Justin that needs to be continued. Then we had dinner, which was absolutely insane. One of the guys here had his 21st birthday today. Everyone got pretty trashed last night partying and was still pretty wound up (I think they recovered from feeling bad). Between being rushed to get the dinner stuff set up on time, fighting to get food before ravenous males ate everything up, getting up in the middle several times to take dishes back and forth, and the extremely high noise level the entire time in the dining room, it was just insane. But entertaining. Probably like having a birthday party for several small boys in your home. Anyway, I have stuff to do tonight, so I'm going to work on that now. Good night all, and thanks for your faithful support. :)
And since I haven't mentioned it in a while, let me talk about learning. Personally, I have been learning that it is important to set your life up around God, instead of trying to make Him a limited facet of your life. Also, I've been finding out that it is very important to have a lot of good-quality communication with those you want to maintain good relationships with. For more external things, I have been finding out that visiting every big city is not all there is to being in Europe. The fact is, and this is pretty big, people are pretty much the same everywhere. Justin said that being on the metro in Paris is pretty much the same experience as being on the metro in D.C., just the language is different. People talk on their cellphones, they look tired, they carry their briefcases, they get on and off without talking to the people next to them. Cities are also about the same. There's dirt and people with dogs and sights and Chinese restaurants. Being in Europe is not the dreamworld I used to think it would be. It's just life in a different place with some smaller differences like some ways people approach issues or things they use or the ways they do things. Most of it's really the same. Which probably means lots of things. Go figure. Goodnight. :)
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
[none]Hello all, a short blog tonight.
Today we had political science. Then I wrote my paper. Now it's finished. It snowed a little today. The end.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Oh yeah, andThis is a gold-engraved invitation for anyone who wants to post a comment. Just click down there, see where it says "0 comments"? It isn't hard. :) The blog people gave us a new interface. It's fun and easy. I'll walk you through it. Once you click it, click "Post a Comment." Now type whatever you want in the big box. Now this is the part they made easier. If you don't have a blog account, don't worry. Just click "Other" and sign your name, or click "Anonymous" and you can remain safely anonymous. Then click "Preview" if you want to see what it will look like, and whenever you're finished with it, click one of the buttons that says "Publish this comment."
Now the other things I forgot are:
1) check out Justin's blog if you don't normally: http://blog.themapples.net . He has a different take on our experiences which you may in fact prefer to mine, and he also has a great "Europe Blog" page (click on the link at the left) where you can see pictures from our trips.
2) God is good. I was reminded of this by looking at Justin's blog. Let me count the ways.
1-He gave us a safe trip with no accidents, missed trains, lost or stolen stuff
2-Justin did not in fact die of his illness but perhaps improved slightly over the weekend in spite of being in damp, sometimes rainy weather with no umbrella and somewhat of enough sleep, but not really
3-we got into the Louvre free
4-we got up the entire Eiffel Tower for 3 euro, instead of 10.80 or paying more (after we took the stairs) for the elevator the rest of the way
5-we got good cheap food and saved by bringing stuff with us and eating a free breakfast at the hostel
6-we finally found everyone, even if at the end of the trip
7-it hardly rained at all and the sun came out and cheered us considerably. Also even the rain wasn't too gloomy because it was more springish than wintry.
8-we had fun :) God is good.
Finally, Monday for Monday: A Day in RivaI have written about the weekend now, so read below if you're interested. :)
Zip snip: Today was class and catching up on personal tasks like emailing and writing people. Also, Justin and I are serving this week for meals, meaning we set up the tables for lunch and dinner. It was interesting the first time because people came early, but we were ready the second time and it went more smoothly.
Tonight's feature: Setting up for lunch and dinner. We don't set up for breakfast. The dining room at Riva has three long tables and black chairs on either side and one on each end. The tables are covered in white tablecloths, which they change about every three days and thus have foodstains on them in the meantime. It's hard to keep food off the table. For both meals, we put out plates, forks, knives, and glasses. For dinner, we also put out wide, shallow soup bowls and soup spoons. At each meal the servers also put out pitchers with ice water at each table, and baskets of bread slices, which we cut. We also get out bowls of butter pats and salt and pepper. I didn't know all this at first. I wondered who did all that! For the salad course (at lunch) and the soup course (at dinner), we don't do anything, but then when those courses are over, we get the dishes with the main course from the kitchen and put them on the tables and then help clear up after meals. It's kind of fun, actually-- I miss doing that kind of thing at home, believe it or not.
Today was English. Not everyone had made it back from Paris yet (they had train difficulties), so we only had the first part of class and the second part was cancelled. I worked on stuff and then we set up for lunch and everybody ate together today (not in shifts) because the architects are on a trip. Then I read over my notes, preparing for my paper due tomorrow, before Italian. Italian was also abbreviated today because the teacher had another engagement later. Then I worked on writing some people and ran to the post office before setting up for dinner, eating dinner, and now coming up to finish my writing business. Today was alright. I kind of like the setting up, because it breaks of the monotony of a day in Riva. I could get out and do stuff, but there's always stuff I feel I ought to be doing, and it's a little cold, so I just stay inside all the time, seems like. Tomorrow I will be working on my paper, since it isn't getting done tonight. Goodnight, everyone.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Writing Monday for Sunday: A Day in the TrainWe had some quick decisions to make in the morning as far as our timing and route home (to visit a small town or not to visit a small town?), but decided we didn't have the time or information to veer from our original plan, so we took the 7:55 train headed to Basel. This one was really comfortable, which was nice. :) At Basel we had about forty minutes to kill and we walked down a big street and came back. It was so nice and fresh and clean. I really liked it, especially after Paris being kind of grimy in places. Then we caught our 3:04 train to Lugano, where we ran into John and Eric coming back from Amsterdam, and we got home about 7:30. Justin and I had a good talk and that is all for Sunday.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Writing Monday for Saturday: A Day in the CitySaturday we had time, so we didn't meet for breakfast till 9:30 or so. Sure, we were "wasting" time in Paris, but if you're too pooped you won't take it in anyway, and Justin was sick. So we went down and got our cool free breakfast with really good cheese and excellent hot chocolate, and ate and planned out our day somewhat. Then we left for the metro and planned some more. We got a message too late from the front desk telling when and where our group was meeting, so we did our own thing.
We went first to Ile-de-cite, the island in the middle of the river running through Paris, the Seine. There we went inside Notre Dame and took pictures of the cool gargoyles and great statue of Charlemagne out front. Then we walked to the Place de la Bastille, and couldn't find the Bastille.... yes, the point of that whole thing is that they tore it down, so I was told today! I didn't do much research. Also I don't remember my French revolution history. On our way to the Latin Quarter, we found an excellent little shop selling quiche slices to go! They had all kinds and they all looked scrumptious. I finally settled on a goat cheese and spinach one, and Justin got smoked ham and sharp cheddar. We took them across the street and ate them on a park bench by a funny little chapel thing and watched the pigeons. Then we walked through part of the Latin Quarter, which was really cool and where I kind of wished we had bought lunch, because they had scrumptious looking Greek food... but that's okay. :) Quiche is French. Then we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, from where I was pleased to survey the Champs-Elysees. I liked the open roads and mad traffic even more than the arch. :)
Then we walked to the Eiffel Tower, just in case anybody from our group was still planning to show up there at 4:30, as was tentatively indicated the day before. Of course, the Eiffel Tower being absolutely humongous, we didn't see anyone we knew, and instead went up by way of the stairs. At the point where you must go the rest of the way by elevator, two ladies gave us their better tickets (they paid for the elevator on the way up to that point), because they were too cold to stay, and we got a free ride to the top. The view was beautiful. The sun was going down this whole time, and the clouds would break just right so the sun shone down across the city in streams. When it got darker, the lights of the city shone brigher and brighter against the blue of the sky. It was beautiful. The wind was pretty chilly too. We had a nice time at the top, then we went down and across the river to a good point for viewing when the Tower goes wild with strobe lights that look like largescale sparkles. We saw that and then headed over to try to visit everybody else on the trip.
Justin and I finally found their hotel, and talked with them for a while before heading back out, initially planning to meet up with them for the rest of the evening. However, we decided that wouldn't work because we had to be ready to leave early in the morning and couldn't afford to go without the rest. We were also really stinkin hungry and needing food, but sadly at this time of night (9:15 or so) not much was open. So we bought Chinese, as we had the night before. It was open, cheap, filling, and good. That was really nice, though as you may also think, ridiculous, since we were in Paris. :) But we definitely got better at using chopsticks, using them two nights in a row!
Then we went back to the hostel and went to bed.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Written Sunday for Thursday and Friday: Back from ParisBonjour.
Fast pass: The weekend was largely train-riding, blowing noses, seeing Parisian monuments, and riding the Parisian metro. It was good. Now it's over.
Tonight's feature: The Eiffel Tower. Justin and I paid 3 euros to climb the stairs to the top. The stairs actually weren't that taxing, as we only took them to the second floor. The view was beautiful, and the sun did a great playing-behind-the-clouds thing all the time we were up there, so we have some great pictures. From the second floor, you take an elevator to the top. Since we bought the cheapo tickets, we were going to have to buy another ticket to take the elevator, but some nice cold ladies gave us their tickets because they couldn't stay any longer. So J and I saw the whole thing for 3 euro! When we got to the top, it was even more beautiful. The sun was pretty much down and the city lights were more and more defined. The wind got really really cold, but we stayed up there for a while and got more pictures and stuff. :) Then we got to ride the elevator the whole way down, which was great too.
This weekend Justin and I (and a lot of other people) went to Paris. We left around 10 pm Thursday night and rode trains all night and arrived around 10 am Friday morning. Riding the train overnight was an experience, not necessarily positive. Justin and I were staying at a different hostel from everybody else because theirs was pretty booked. Ours was pretty far away. We got different rooms, and eventually had roommates, which we saw little of as we were gone all day. The hostel had a great free breakfast.
Friday after we got there, we went to the hostel. This took a long time, as it was a long way from the train station and we didn't take the metro. On the way, we stumbled on the very famous cemetary that has actual named streets inside. We stayed there for a while (partly by choice, partly because there aren't many exits through the wall) and finally arrived, exhausted from walking and sleep deprivation, at our hostel. We then sat for quite a while drinking the free water and eating lots of the cheap peanuts we brought. Then we headed out, taking the metro to near the Louvre. When we got to the Louvre, we found out that because it was Friday and we are under 26 years old, we would be able to get in free in another hour, so we walked down along the river and checked out a cathedral with cool gargoyles before going back. When we went back, we immediately checked out the Mona Lisa and then the area with the Code of Hammurabi and the gates of Babylon. Then, after another rest, we went to check out the "crown jewels" display, which was cool, and then the basement of the Louvre, which I think was maybe the old moat for the original building or something. I don't know. After that, Justin and I were ready to collapse, so we headed out and caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower doing its sparkling 'thing' and we really liked it and then we took the metro back to the hostel and crashed.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
HiyaQuick click: This day resembles the ones before in its general ineffectiveness, productively speaking, and its largescale focus on planning. Justin's health continues improving from yesterday, though slowly. God is good.
Tonight's feature: I can't think of any good features these days. I'll pick a short one. I find that Europeans tend to have more lightswitches than I expect, or at least more widely distributed, but fewer outlets, at least in the places where I spend the most time. This talk of light switches reminds me that many bathroom stalls have their own lights, which I find interesting.
For the past three days, I have felt generally ineffective and unproductive. Much of our time has been taken up with trying to make decisions and discussing things for travel. The problem with this is that it's ongoing and relatively urgent. That means it's very difficult to start work (work which I don't want to do and which requires concentration) because I am inevitable interrupted and can justify not getting back to it. Also, the work environment in the Casa, where I have internet access and where class is and where the meals are served and where I have to be to show myself concerned with spending time with the group, is not one conducive to work. The most convenient room for working is probably the most trafficked room in the house.
However, I am glad about some stuff: the trip to Paris has just been planned, nearing 24 hours before we embark on it. Justin feels better. My paper originally due yesterday has eventually been moved back so it's due Tuesday. I got a letter from Mema today. I was able to stay awake and participate in class today. I got a load of laundry done. Wow. Well, goodbye everyone. I love you and miss you and will be thankful to be with you again. :) Be careful.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Day After Valentine's DayHello all.
Fast blast: Today was not so hot. The stress from trying to plan trips continues. I did get some little tasks done, so that was good. Then Justin and I had a talk and then Dr. Taylor joined us for some time. Then we had dinner and now I'm blogging.
Tonight's feature: sigh. I can't think of a good one quickly.
This morning, I was awoken to the bizarrity of an alarm clock going bonkers. Stevie was very annoyed, thinking that it was my alarm clock, but I'd already pressed the button on mine... it was very funny. Then in class I could hardly stay awake until I had coffee. Then I took speedy and moderately copious notes. After class and stuff, we had lunch, then I did little tasks this afternoon like emailing and taking pictures off my camera. I was also avoiding working this way. Then I talked with Justin for a while about serious business, then we had a talk with Dr. Taylor about theories of intellectualism and other things. Then we had dinner and now I'm blogging. Justin feels sick and his head hurts, so I'm going back up to the Pab with him early so he can get a nap before we try to talk about serious business again. Oh, and I had a very high quality, brief talk with Genevieve. Yay. :) That was a good part of the day. :) God is good. Goodbye.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Valentine's DayHello. I'm writing this Tuesday, so I'll be brief and skip the usual features.
Valentine's Day was alternately stressful and good. The stressful part is trying to plan weekend trips with other people. The good part was finding pretty flowers in my room from Justin and having a nice dinner together in Como, Italy. Goodbye.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Lightning writing: Today started really good, with lots of rest and a good prayer time. I had octopus with my salad for lunch. Later my attitude got bad, though I got some things done. Now my attitude is better. I have stuff to do so this is why it's short. Also, one thing I did is update for the past week or so, so read my old posts if you have time.
Tonight's feature: Facial Hair February. February is designated as Facial Hair month for the Riva students. This means that, as of February 1, almost every guy has not shaved, except to keep his beard looking neat. Everyone looks rather scruffy. Last night I cut Justin's hair and trimmed his sideburns and goatee at the same time, so at least he kind of has one length going on now, which looks better. Next month is 'Stache Bash March. :P
Today I woke up feeling rested. This was amazing. The day was incredibly beautiful and warm enough to wear shortsleeves, as long as you were in the sun and out of the furious wind. I was told the wind comes from the Sahara, bringing sand to Munich and migraines to people. I had some nice raw octopus in my salad at lunch, which I liked, though it was admittedly strange. Later I finished some little tasks that have needed doing, and then I had to deal with a strange turn of my attitude that needed some serious help. Then I had dinner and now I'm going back up to the Pab to do stuff I need to do. Goodnight.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
First effortat finally getting caught up on blogging. :) Oh, boy. I have a lot to get caught up on. For all you hardcore blog readers, well, check back in the next couple of days, and I'll post blogs for the Rome trip, probably in chronological order, so check older entries. :)
Swift thrift: Today was good and restful. Went to nearby Bellinzona, pretty Swiss town with three castles, and walked around in the biggest castle for a while then sat and ate lunch and talked for three hours with Justin. Came back and ate dinner with everybody, and had a great time of chatting with several people. Briefly visited a mad Mexican bar with several people from here to celebrate the birthday of the other Christian on the trip, Robin, and left after a bench with three people dancing on it broke and a speaker fell on a classmate's head. :) We are fine.
Tonight's feature: There are several bars in this town. I mean seriously, the town is so small that you can see across it; however, the Tech students really provide a good clientele. There's the Mexican bar, the Mini-bar, the Bar Ticino, Osteria San Giorgio, Bar Lido, and I think maybe some others. I have only been to San Giorgio (more like a family restaurant) and tonight, the Mexican bar, which as I mentioned, was madness.
Well, if you read the Swift Thrift, then you know most of my day already. But in more detail... headed out to Bellinzona after a nice leisurely breakfast this morning. Bellinzona is a little less than an hour away by train. It's a very nice little clean town with three castles, small (the highest), medium (medium height), and large (the lowest). We went to the largest, lowest one. We didn't really spend much time inside any original buildings, but mostly within the castle walls or up in the tower, outside. The castle was extremely clean cut and kept up, with nicely built, squared off walls and clean stonework. There were several large grassy areas, where they must have brought up the dirt from below, because the castle was high on a mound of what appeared to be rock. It's sort of hard to explain. There is a big rock, big enough to put a castle on. The castle, as a result, is very high above the regular ground level of the valley, and appears to rise out of pure rock. Once you get inside, it isn't all rock or cobbles, but there are also large smooth grassy areas, some of which even have trees growing. On one of these smooth grassy places, Justin and I had lunch and talked for three hours. There. :) Then we came back to Riva, ate dinner with everyone (very good), and chatted with several people. I am really excited about having more real, worthwhile conversations with the people here. It can be hard to carry on meaningful conversation with people you don't know well, but God has really blessed over the past week and both Justin and I have been having much more worthwhile conversations with other people. Then I cut Justin's hair, which, from start to cleanup, took 3 hours.... yeah. Then we visited briefly with everyone at the bar, and now I'm blogging. Heehee. I just decided what tomorrow night's feature will be. :) Whhooo's undressed, and whhooo's in bed, and whooo's asleep?
Friday, February 11, 2005
Abruptly HomeWell, this was madness. Because of several unstable factors, due to Italian culture—train strikes, reneging of room reservations—Dr. and Mrs. Taylor decided it would be a bad choice for them to stay in Florence with Justin and me for our weekend trip as planned. Everyone else was heading back to Riva, loading the bus at 8:45—so we had to choose fast whether we were going back with everyone on the bus or staying. We decided to go, and it’s a good thing we were already packed! We raced to the bus (calling the hostel to change plans and wrong turn included) and made it to the bus, barely). Then we were on our way back to Riva. We stopped at Autogrill for lunch and had food (yay—hardly had any breakfast) and came on back. For the afternoon, I went up to the Pab and unpacked and just piddled around getting rested up. The Taylors had invited us to dinner because Justin and I weren’t on the schedule to eat at the Casa, and we met them for a smashing dinner of, yes, pizza with egg at a local restaurant. Highly delicious. Then Justin and Dr. Taylor went back to the Casa while I stayed and chatted with Mrs. Taylor for a long time. I got to know her a lot better. :) It was a good talk. Then I went back to the Casa, did internet stuff, and went to bed a little while later.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Florence Day 2In the morning we went back to the Uffizi because it is a huge art gallery. We waited in line a long time before finally getting inside. I enjoyed art more this excursion than any other before. Dr. Schuetz was good at telling us a brief history of highlights about the art and its artists and the styles of art. I got much more out of it this way, plus there were many beautiful paintings. Then we were free until 2 p.m., so Justin and Dr. and Mrs. Taylor and I had something warm to drink before splitting up for lunch. First, Justin and I went back to the bridge with the locks and left our own (we have pictures), then we found the most fantastic pizzeria. We ordered the house pizza to split for a decent price. It had ham, mushrooms, and egg on it. Not boiled egg, cut up, but an egg they had broken onto the pizza just before cooking, which stayed a little runny and the yolk of which was unbroken. You wouldn’t believe how good it was! It was excellent! And cheap. And fast. Which was good, because as it was, we already had to meet everyone at the destination, instead of the hotel. The destination was the Galleria dell’ Arte, I believe, which is where the real David is. He’s inside because the rain and weather isn’t good for him. So we saw him and lots of statues, and then, very tired, Justin and I left for our ramblings before dinner. We wandered around, actually looking for a decently-priced ice cream place, discovering various newer sections of Florence in the process. Then we stopped in a park and had a great prayer time, which was very good. :) Then we headed back to the hotel for dinner, stopping to get ice cream across from our hotel immediately before leaving again for dinner. Dinner was (as the night before) at a restaurant close to our hotel. Dinner was steak, which got loud praise from all quarters. We had a funky chocolate goo on cooked cream, which was good, then went back to the hotel. Again, everyone went out, but we didn’t. I showered and went to bed. :)
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Florence Day 1In the morning, we left for Florence. On the way into Florence, we stopped at this place overlooking the city and got some pictures. Then we checked in and went back out for lunch. Justin and I were so full that we just got ice cream again—gelato. Then we reconvened and went out to look at a church, which was really impressive. We saw some very famous bronze doors on a baptistry. Then we walked over and saw the Uffizi building, which was where the Medici family had their offices. There was a bronze model of the David, and then we wandered down by the river and across this walking bridge with only jewelry stores on either side—you never saw so much jewelry in one place. On the bridge was a statue with a little low fence around it. On the fence were tons and tons of little gold padlocks…incidentally, just like the kind Justin and I bought six of for our trip for locking our baggage. :) Then Schuetz let us go for the afternoon and Justin and I wandered around and back to the hotel. I went back out with two of the girls to shop at the vendors, and then we came back for dinner. After dinner Justin and I pretty much did nothing on the couch while everyone walked back and forth trying to coordinate where they were going and getting ready.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Amazing DinnerWe got on the bus and left for Assissi, stopping at Orvietto on the way. Orvietto is a town where a pope escaped for some time. It is high up on a cliff, and apparently the rock is very soft until exposed to air, so people could dig down into it to make parts of their houses. We had to ride a cog car up through the cliff to arrive in the town. There were cars when we got to the top, so there must be a road somewheres. We were just there for a few hours, and first we checked out the large well the pope had dug. It is a large-scale well, such that there are double-helix stairs going around and around to the bottom. I got several pictures. Then we went up through the exceedingly quaint town to a very impressive church. I liked this one. There weren’t so many statues. I think I don’t like statues. They are so distracting, along with the other art and the stained glass windows and the structures of churches that I can hardly comprehend the church. Then we broke up for lunch. On the way up throug the town, Justin and I had seen a place we wanted to go for lunch—cheap pizza—but couldn’t find it again, and walked up and down the street and all around. We finally got two slices of cold pizza and shared a Coke. Then we went back down and met the group and got back in the bus and headed to Assissi. I dig Assissi. It is high on a hill, and the whole thing is kind of like a little medieval/castle town inside a wall. Of course, it’s not totally like that, because it really is a town, just kind of somewhat walled in, and also, the wall isn’t that noticeable because the whole thing is on a pretty steep hill. We checked into our cute little hotel, and saw a church and then later were supposed to go with the group to a fortress, one of two on opposite hills. Unfortunately, Justin and I and Dr. Taylor went the wrong way and went to the wrong fortress, which was under construction. So we just didn’t worry about it and observed the incredible beauty from the hill—parts of it looked like the Blue Ridge, with trees and little grasses growing under them, but the hill opposite looked like something from the Holy Land because it was so dry and scrubby. Then we came down in the bitter cold and tooled around Assissi a little more before heading back to the hotel for dinner. Okay. This deserves a new paragraph.
The dinner at this hotel was like nothing I’ve ever had before. All of our dinners so far have had a primo piatto, or first course, which is usually pasta or soup. Then we have secondo piatto, which is meat and vegetables. Then we have a dessert. We always have the option of getting wine with dinner, and there is always bread on the table when we get there. So. Here, we had bread, then for primo piatto, we could have a green creamy soup or ravioli, or both. I had a little soup and then also ravioli. The ravioli was smashing. I’ve never had better. The meat was some kind of combination—maybe sausage with really fine ground beef or lamb or something. I don’t know. That was excellent. Then the waiters came around and gave us an odd thing, which was cauliflower with onions and a little slice of toast. We liked it, but we were kind of worried that was all they planned to bring. Then they came by and gave us slices of turkey and immediately after, funny little breaded meatball things and excellent zucchini. THEN, they brought us slices of veal. Now, what I didn’t know as I was eating the veal, is that it had a truffle gravy on it—little bitty pieces of truffles in other stuff. Truffles are incomprehensibly expensive. Dr. Schuetz told us that he had seen a pound of truffles priced at $200, and they could be as high as $1000. We were shocked, and also full. Also, this whole time, some people were getting seconds (or other people’s leftovers), with the result that Justin had had almost two of everything, and about four pieces of veal because the guys at our table didn’t like it. (We were hungry :) Then they cleared our plates again, and we waited for dessert. In a few minutes, they flipped the lights out, and our waiter came carrying a tray of flaming desserts! Each plate had a cakelike breadish thing with a creamy inside, apples on top of that, and some smashing lemonish ice cream. On top of that was a sugar cube soaked in alcohol and burning. *sigh* It was dreamy. :) So good. After dinner, Justin and I were incapacitated and sat for a while on a couch in the lobby, then I went to bed.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Non-Catacombs and Bridge Panini TalkWell, the plan was to go to the Vatican Museum and see the Sistine Chapel, but the line was ridiculously long. We actually had been supposed to do this a few days before, but the line was long then, so we thought a Monday morning would be better, but no. So we were free to stay and wait if we wanted, or go do something else. So Justin and I opted to go to the catacombs. It didn’t work out, though, because we waited for the bus there for a long time, it finally came, but then they didn’t have change for our fifty and the charge was sixteen. :( So we were disillusioned and sad for a while (this had been a long process and we were really hoping to see the catacombs or the Sistine Chapel), but we recovered and went and found this great little hole-in-the-wall shop where obviously the clientele was locals, not tourists. Which meant that we got the best panini ever—slabs of pizza-crust bread, several slices of salami, and some cheese of which I could not understand the name—for a really stinkin’ great price, and even got to warm them up! Then Justin and I found a wall above a river and next to a bridge and proceeded to have the second great talk of our trip, during which we reviewed all the great things God has done in bringing us together just the way He did, and all the things that went on as we got to be friends over the past two years. It was really good and brought about a change in our perspectives. Then we also talked about another great thing God is doing, which is helping us to be different from the other people in our group, in a way that makes them wonder about us and respect us for having higher standards, kind of. It is really good. :) Then we hustled, and I mean, HUSTLED back to the hotel—we were off the south side of our street map of Rome, and had to get to the middle right side… and did it in 35 minutes, which included some pretty shtinkin’ fast walking! By the way, for those of you who don’t really know me that well, yes, I do say “stinkin’” fairly often to intensify a statement. :) Betcha didn’t know that. :) This was so we could get to the Italian Parliament building by 3:15, “non-negotiable.” Yeah… so we kind of made it. We actually went a little wrong because our path was roped off at one point and we never got quite back on. So at about 3:16 in desperation, Justin, Stevie, Pam, and I hopped into a taxi, which got us there before the rest of the group made it through security. Parliament was kind of interesting. The building was fine, and we got to see some of Parliament meeting, but then a lady talked to us afterwards, and I was so exhausted, and her voice was so quiet and lulling, that I hardly stayed awake. Everybody was having trouble, and Justin actually fell asleep on a bench around the corner. Then Justin and I went shopping without money on the way back from Parliament—we didn’t think we needed our wallets to visit Parliament, and forgot we still didn’t have them. Thankfully, we had 4:25 euros, which satisfied the nice street vendor. :) Oops. We had omelets for dinner, which was smashing, and packed up to leave Rome for Assissi.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Forum and Coliseum, Panini TalkHello. Well, Sunday morning we first went to look at a church, which turned out to be stressful because Dr. Schuetz leads the group so fast people get left behind. Then we went to the Forum and got a tour around by Andy Becker, who knows lots about all that stuff. I liked seeing the same roads and buildings and stuff the Romans did every day and imagining what a normal person’s life was like. Then we went up on Palatine Hill. This was great. The whole top of this hill, pretty large, is pretty much either garden or nice tame ruins. The garden parts were beautiful, with orange trees and little fence things and neat trees. I like Italian trees. There are several really cool types. The other parts were large, flat, grassy areas with low brick ruins, such that the old walls kind of looked like a low-key maze. Then on the far side of all this, there was a great lookout to trees and the city and grassy areas below. It was great. I really liked how peaceful it was. You can’t appreciate peace as much until you have navigated on foot through Rome. Really. It is madness. Some roads don’t even have lanes, and the ones that do, nobody worries about. :) The scooters and cars just go in a riverlike stream around corners and across intersections. After the Palatine hill, we went to the Coliseum. I liked it better at night, really. There were lots of people, and there is scaffolding and stuff inside and the regular floor is gone so you can see all the passageways and brick walls below. It gave more food for the imagination at night. Justin and I were feeling pretty stressed out, so we were really glad to be done with group activities and went to go find panini, which are sandwiches, for lunch. We found a vendor and bought something to share and sat down on the grass overlooking the Forum, and proceeded to have an excellent, couple-hours long talk that straightened out some of our recent issues and got us headed back in the right direction emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and grammatically. Then we found a gelateria, which is an ice cream shop—I HIGHLY recommend attendance at as many gelaterias as practical—and had just about the best cone of ice cream I’ve ever had. I would have to say the company really made it the most special, though the ice cream was really good. It was called “caldo gelato,” meaning hot ice cream. It wasn’t really hot, but was actually more like a whipped cream consistency and temperature. We shared a big cone and got it all over our faces, and took several pictures so sometime you’ll see them. :) Then we found this cool piazza where everyone had been going after lunch (it was built to be a racetrack for chariots), and looked around at the funky fountain and the people dressed up as statues, before heading back to the hotel for dinner. I had a nice chat with Pam and Stevie before they headed out for the evening. Yay.
Saturday, February 05, 2005
VaticanIn the morning, we discovered the scrumptious breakfast of many different breads, fruits, cereals and yogurts, meats, and best of all, deLICIOUS scrambled eggs—some of the best I’ve ever had, and the first breakfast eggs since I left home—the hotel had for breakfast. Scrumptious. Then our group went to the Vatican, and saw St. Peter’s Square and the basilica there. It was pretty neat to be there. I liked the square best. The churches are running together for me because we’ve seen so many. There was a crypt under the basilica where many popes are buried. I liked that also—it had very interesting, cozy architecture. Several people went up to the top of the basilica to look out, but Justin and I accidentally got out of line and getting back in would have taken tons of time, so we left and went touring on our own. We found a round little fortress called Castel Angello, or something like, and spent a while exploring there. Then we had lunch at a little pizzeria, and had a decent pizza with blue cheese on it, which I liked, but found excessively salty. Then we walked around some more, and finally had some ice cream just before meeting the group at dinner at the hotel. Then we left hurriedly with a large group to go to an opera at an Anglican church. It was alright. I liked this church best of all—it had a beautiful mix of green marble, dark brown wood, and brick—no statues to try to comprehend or to acknowledge the presence of. The opera….well, I was very tired. It sounded nice from where I was sitting, but I couldn’t see because our chairs were lower than the people’s in front of us (who paid more for their tickets). Also, it was pretty chilly, and I pretty much dozed off and on. Also, I would point out that it’s very hard to follow an opera when there are no subtitles, they’re singing in Italian, and you can’t see the stage. :) We had to walk back to the hotel instead of taking the metro because apparently the metro doesn’t run that late. I didn’t get that.
Friday, February 04, 2005
To RomeWe left Riva at 6 a.m. As when we left for Venice, the morning was incredibly beautiful, with the sky navy blue, and everything smelling very fresh in the early morning dark. We rode most of the day, and got in Rome around 3 or 4 p.m. After we got checked in at our cool, four-star hotel with a very fancy bathroom and great food all week, we went on a mad-rush tour of several churches and saw the Coliseum after dark. It was beautiful. I got some great pictures. The sky behind it and through the arches was a deep blue, and the lights they had shining up on it and inside some of the arches were orangey, and it was very striking. Then we had a great dinner with a smashing dessert at the hotel, Hotel Universo, and Justin and I chilled at the hotel all evening instead of going out with everybody because we were exhausted.
RomaHiya. :) Today I got up at 4:35. Did you do that? I never do that unless absolutely necessary. The extreme oddness of this circumstance endears it to me. Also, the mountain as we walk down is surprisingly warm (we left for Venice very early also), and the moon was fascinating--it was a crescent and had just risen so was very orange.
Quick click: Today we rode on the bus a long time. I like riding because it's guaranteed down time. Then we arrived in Rome. It is very unlike Venice in that you put your life in danger to walk, especially, to cross the street. It is utter madness. However, we are all still alive. We walked around and briefly saw several churches and the Forum. We ate dinner with our compadres at the hotel and now Justin and I are enjoying not going out for the evening. :) Perhaps we will eat chocolate.
Tonight's Feature: At Justin's suggestion, the waiters in Italy, specifically, the waiters at this hotel. They are nice. They gave us extra helpings of stuff, which was nice, as we had two ravenous carnivores at our table. I was later told they probably would have given us more dessert if we had asked, which almost makes me sad as it was a dreamy dessert-- chocolate gooey ice cream blob surrounded by cakelike stuff, surrounded by awesome fluffy creamy goo with chocolate flakes in it. All this in a little ball on my plate. :) Anyway, they were nice, and also you don't really have to tip waiters very often here because it's included in your bill.
The longer version of the day... During the bus ride today, Oliver kept us in stitches (Justin and me and some other people) by his random, absurd, and sometimes sarcastic comments. We saw lots of pretty Italian scenery and the movies Troy and Gladiator. I slept some, and read some in my Europe 101 book. When we got to Rome, we were astonished at the perfectly ludicrous traffic. There aren't lanes. People do observe traffic lights, but there aren't lights at many/most intersections, and cars and scooters and motorcycles flow in big signalling, sometimes honking streams around corners and through intersections. This equates to safety in numbers for those of us on foot. People also just stop their cars to eat lunch wherever they want--not quite in the middle of traffic, but on the side of the road is perfectly normal, and they park wherever they find a parking spot (it doesn't matter which direction the car faces or if it's really parallel to the street). It's quite amazing.
And... our hotel is the bomb. That's right, the bomb. You should see the bathrooms. I'll take pictures. I also, for those interested, have met and spoken with Dr. Diana Ridgwell, for whom I am keeping the journal of my trip. The standards have slightly relaxed, so I'll be incorporating those changes soon. (like here now. :) Bye. Oh, for personal learning. I worked on relaxing when I wasn't perfectly at ease in my circumstances. It was good for me. :) 'Night.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
In a hurry 2:) heehee. I accidentally published my blog by hitting Enter instead of hitting Tab.
I am in a hurry. Got to pack and go have hot chocolate with a Christian Justin and I discovered on the trip with us. w00t!!
Snap flap: Today was good. :)
Tonight's feature: Lake Lugano. It's navy blue when the sun shines on it, and the wind often/usually blows from the north, which means that little waves crash on our side, at Riva. It's really pretty. The other day the wind was really brisk, and I didn't see it, but several of the architects said the waves were crashing so high and violently that the spray blew 30 feet. Amazing. Also, today Justin and I discovered that there's a sailing club. Who'da thunk it?
Today was good. It was warm again. I'm going to try to disconnect my attitude from the weather, but it does seem to be related, doesn't it? Aack. Well, we had poliscience today. I was really awake for the second half, and understood it all... due to the coffee I had at the thirty minute break. :) Then Justin and I tried to plan the weekend after our ten day trip for several hours. It didn't go excessively well, but it's on the way now. Then we went on a walk, which was very nice, and talked about very important things, like communicating, and leadership, and stuff like that. And we ate chocolate. :) Cheap, good chocolate. Then we ate dinner, and visited the Taylors after dinner, chatting with them and resolving our planning issue. Hooray for the Taylors and for God! :)
What I learned: ("And so what we have learned applies to our lives today--God has a lot to say in his book! You see we know that God's word is for everyone. Now that our song is done, we'll take a look!") In class, I learned other reasons why the Italian government is inefficient. It is not only due to laziness as I asserted in an earlier blog, but also to a lot of people all doing their own thing together. Personally, I learned something, about working on submitting to God. God is good. And I am really thankful for what He's done for me. :) He's provided some cool stuff lately. :) Goodnight.
I'll be away for some time, peeps, though I will try to blog daily on Justin's laptop and upload it later. So so long for about thirteen days! Be careful, and God be with you till we meet again. :)
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happyName the author of this quote (seriously...you didn't leave your name. :) :
Hey girlo! <3u! I am happy for you that you got a coolio ordeal for you birthday-enjoy it! And by the way Happy B-day in advance! I really liked that politicked out! Hope the clothes get dry soon! Oh and am I mentioned in this ummm...blog(--is that ok)? bbye have a greato trip!
Good evening, dear blog readership.
Hurried flurry: Today was better than usual. It started good and continued so. God is good, and I’m thankful for His grace to get us through the days and give us breaks when we’re not doing well anymore. The day included big news to deliver to Justin (that was fun! Suspense is great. :), English class, Italian class, my 3-4 page Traveler’s Journal to-be-turned-in-today-sometime, kickball with the peeps in the schoolfield across the street, hot chocolate, dinner (with some really great funky veggie dish that I wish I could have saved in tupperware!), more hot chocolate with dessert, dancing in the dining room, and finishing my story. Yay!
Tonight’s feature (see, I toldja!): Riva culture, that is, among the students. There are 32 of us, 17 guys and 15 girls. At first, as I have mentioned before, I really wasn’t comfortable with the culture here. I’m getting much more so. I feel like I’m getting to know people to the point where I can tease with them, though not (yet?) to the point where I know them really well. Since I spend so much time with Justin, maybe it’s taken me longer to get to that point, though I don’t think people often talk about really deep stuff even with the people they spend lots of time with. So I’m maybe not too out of it, just somewhat out of some aspects, like the bar biz. Anyway, I have been observing how there are some remnants of high school here… it’s quite entertaining! I think it tends to be with the guys… it’s hard to explain, but some of the humor is still kind of high school. And how else do you describe it when a guy comes into the room and obliviously/non-chalantly announces his entrance by a loud, soprano-like note as he closes the door? :P :D Also, there’s this group who I will refer to as the three amigos—well, their names are funny—Joe, Joe, and Will. They play off each other like no other—though they do participate in class and contribute quality stuff! Today in class as we talked about using dialogue in writing, one Joe gave an example of a code language between friends by quoting his and Will’s full names in some code they came up with. *cracking up laugh*
Well. As I said, today was a good day. I don’t totally know why, though there are several contributing reasons. One is I had a great talk last night with Rebecca, and found out some cool stuff which I was really excited about, and which I proceeded to tantalize Justin with before telling him today. If you want to know what it was, you should email me or ask Rebecca. :) Also, the morning was fresh and nice, reminding me that it’s getting warmer. Justin was in a really good mood today. I had a nice talk with Eva, our Italian professor, I just finished my story (and I like it), and I enjoyed hanging out with people today. We played kickball at four o'clock, and that was fun. Whew... I feel like I've pretty much put everything in either the Hurried Flurry or the Tonight's Feature that I don't have much else to say.
As for what I learned today, as I mentioned, we talked a lot about dialogue in class. It was very informative and fun. We talked about suggesting but not overdoing accents, and about how to make dialogue natural instead of trying to use it to outright tell the reader something. Personally, I am really thankful for an easier day. The weather does seem to have a lot to do with my mood. I think I need to work on that. But I had some really nice time sitting out in the sun in the garden today, and just being in the sunshine did a great deal of good for me. Also, it was really nice to see Justin in such a hopeful and joyful mood today. That was great. I'm thankful that God gives us break days, not depending on our performance. I really used it today. Yay. Good night, all, I love you and miss you. :)
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
[none] for tonightHello. Now, finally on today's blog. I'm always behind, it seems.
Quick pick: Today was... paperfull. I just turned it in, and I was so mushy in my brain. I need to start those things earlier. Today was also beautiful. It was so beautiful and breezy and fresh this morning--warmest morning yet. Yay, yay!!! Also, I got a letter mailed to Mema finally. w00t!
Wow. I feel so disorganized. I can't even write.
Tonight's feature: I don't think I'll have a feature for tonight. I can't think of a good one. Don't worry, it'll be back soon.
Today... today I got up very late, but made it out the door on time; I just missed a vital part of my morning, that being my quiet time. I was nevertheless in a state of outstanding joy and thankfulness on seeing the beauty and freshness and relative warmth of the morning. I zoned out many times in political science class, failing to see the importance or relevance to my life of some aspects of the Italian parliament. The history was interesting, though. I think the Italian government system is a curious study of what happens when grown-ups don't do what they ought to do to deal with problems. (Yes, I am twenty-one now. It doesn't feel "grown-up.") During the break I ran to the mailbox and dropped off my letter to Mema. On the way I passed a funeral procession--which feels strange, since Riva is such a small town and this is the second I've seen. Also, I don't normally hurry through walking funeral processions on small errands. I felt kind of bad. But I did say buon giorno to many people and they were all very nice and said it back. I liked them. :) Later in the day Stevie and I worked on laundry, which I have to say I'm very excited about, as I really need some of that stuff tomorrow! Then I worked off and on on my paper all afternoon. It really wasn't any fun. My brain turned off slowly as I got toward my fourth topic of discussion, so it's shorter and less supported than the third, and so on and so forth. Also, I have a bunch of stuff I ought to do for English class and for getting ready for the trip and just being a person, but I don't have time for all of it by tomorrow. I am, however, going to go call Rebecca tonight, which is an important personal detail that I've been needing to do for some time. And now I shall go. Oh, my personal learning. I guess I learned about the effects of being young and naive and desiring to fit in and being made fun of for being naive and having a good attitude. It can result in turning cynical and crusty at a deep level. I don't think about that much because I think that who you are is much more than what happens to you. You decide how you're going to be about it. But I do see that the things that happen to you do affect you. I don't know how much they need to or should. Sigh. Well, my paper is done, and God is good. The day was warm, and I have a nice bed to go to in a little while. I pray I have a great talk with Bec. Good night, all.