again, the disclaimer
What did you expect after a week of world-wide (or Italy/Greece-wide) travelling. Pace yourself and take this entry in stride. :)

after this, i’m getting a cell phone
I will begin my recount of spring break with the top story. The basic outcome: all’s well that ends well, although it got a little testy there for a bit.

On Thursday, Megan, Ellen and I left Florence at 5:30 in the morning, heading to Venice. Our itinerary had a train switch in Bologna. As I wrestled with my baggage above the seat, people began to get on the train. Meg and Ell had bigger bags so theirs was in the larger baggage compartments. They had already gotten off the train. Our seat had been in the centre of the car and no one would let me by to get off the train, no matter how urgently I said, “scuzzie.” I got to the door, finally, pressed the button to open it . . . and no luck; the train started moving. It was just like a scene in the movies. I could see Ellen looking confused as she looked up and down the platform, trying to find me. Panicked, I pounded frantically on the glass, struggling to get her attention. When she saw me, she began to panic, too. She started running, trying vainly to chase down the train.

And so . . . I ended up in Milan, without a train ticket (we had one, three-person ticket for our little group), no way of getting a hold of Megan and Ellen, and not idea of what their actions were going to be. Not to mention the fact that my knowledge of Italian was limited to: “excuse me” (which obviously did me no good), “do you speak English?” “I don’t understand,” “thank you,” and “I would like a glass of red wine” (a phrase that Ellen has deemed necessary to learn in every language of every country we visit). While they had our train ticket, I had our hotel information. After a series of events trying to find out where El and Megs were, I got on a train to Venice, hoping to find the girls waiting for me at the station, knowing that they would have no place to go without knowing our hotel. It was 2:10 when I arrived.

No such luck. I waited and waited and waited for them to arrive on another train. Fortunately, 1) Venice has to be the safest place in Italy 2) I ran into five girls from our group who arrived in Venice. Elizabeth stayed with me for about an hour until, finally, Ellen and Megan showed up. They had been in Venice since our original train arrived at 11:53. It was now 6:30.

It turned out that the girls assumed that I would go to the hotel since I had the information. They called Ellen’s mom at about 3:00 a.m. Dallas time because Ell had given her all of our accommodations info. Leaving their stuff at the hotel, they left a note for me to find and wandered around the city. When they came back a couple hours later and found that I had not come to the hotel, they stopped by the station and found me and Elizabeth.

By the time we got my luggage to the hotel, search for three hours for Elizabeth’s hotel, it was 10:30 p.m. We got to take a boat metro thing, but no gondola. The city is gorgeous and I will definitely be returning there sometime . . . preferably with the love of my life, whomever that may be, as it is a very romantic city.

So, morals of the story:
have an emergency plan every time you travel
make everyone carry all essential info
determine a meeting point if you ever separate
make sure someone outside your travelling group knows your info as well
carry a cell phone for emergency contact

Overall, at the end of the day, we were all safe. And, I think I really would have loved Venice. It was just disappointing since we had only booked one day in the city. It makes for an exciting story, anyways.

now, for the rest of the week
I’ll take each city by section. These won’t be as long and detailed; I just thought you all might enjoy that little tale.

Roma (Rome)
Dirtier than Paris in places. A worse Metro system than London. Better monuments than any city. Ever. I’ll try to remember it all. We stayed in a hostel. Interesting experience. Cheap. Safe. Dirrrrty.

Sights we saw:
-The Spanish Steps: featured in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn, the only A.H. movie I have seen from beginning to end . . . great movie.
-Coliseum: really neat, very Gladiator-esque
-Roman Forum: the best place to take pictures. It cleared up just in time for us to get a good contrast between the wonderfully green grass and gorgeous blue sky.
-Walked along the river: clean river
-Trevali Fountain: huge!!! Really cool.
-Pantheon: I thought the ceiling was leaking . . . apparently there’s a huge hole, that, contrary to my first impression, is not covered by glass. Ell and Megs found my lack of knowledge quite amusing. But I saw Donatello’s coffin and memorial in the church and they missed it. So take that!
-The Vatican: G-to-the-orgeous. Saw the Sistine Chapel (amazing, but too crowded to fully appreciate Michelangelo’s genius), the Pieta, the view from the top of St. Peter’s dome. Here are my thoughts (and I’m sorry if I offend my Catholic friends out there): It was a little too gorgeous. There’s something about such extravagance that makes it seem like Man is trying to outdo God’s beauty. I know that’s not what the designers of the Vatican had in mind, but when I saw such lavish gold in one small area that was dedicated to the glory of God, it made me wonder why that gold hadn’t been put to use helping God’s people. Just a thought. I really liked the Vatican. It was my favourite day of Rome. I especially liked sitting outside the steps of St. Peter’s and chilling in the sun, watching nuns go by chatting on their cell phones. (No joking!)

Thoughts about Rome:
-The guys there have never seen a blonde. Ellen and I were clucked at, called “bella” and “beautiful,” got tons of stares, and had a couple of un-mentionable phrases thrown in our direction. One night, our waiter asked to take a picture with me and told me he loved me. Fortunately, that night we had met up with Jon and Seth from our group, so it was more fun than creepy.
-I liked it, but three nights (especially three nights in our hostel) was enough for me.

Firenze (Florence)
My favourite city from our trip. It was weird to think that Lane was just here a couple of months ago! I absolutely loved Florence.

-Duomo: the church, baptista, campanili, and museum. We climbed the 463 steps all the way to the top of the dome. It was an even better view than St. Peter’s, I thought.
-Museo dell Academia: saw Michelangelo’s David as well as his unfinished slaves and The Rape of the Sabines. Amazing. The best part about the trip, I think. It’s just so cool to me to remember doing a report on Michelangelo in third or fourth grade and having photocopies of his works spread out on the kitchen table and now to have actually seen the real works. David is enormous! His foot is nearly larger than my entire arm!
-Spent the night of Mardi Gras walking the streets of Florence, eating gelatti (Italian ice cream . . . sooooo good!) and visiting the famous bridge with shops on it.
-Uffizi Museum – saw works by Bodacelli (Birth of Venus and Primavera), Michelangelo, Caravagio (Shield of the Medusa) and many others.
-Santa Croce Cathedral: saw Michelangelo’s, Galileo’s tombs and Dante’s empty tomb, as well as St. Francis of Asisis’s cloak.
-Browsed the booths at the market.

Thoughts on Florence:
My favourite city (but I’ve mentioned that)
A little expensive! It cost to go into everything at the Duomo as well as all the museums and churches. I paid 6.50 (Euros) to go to the Academia and I couldn’t even take a picture of the David!
The weather was beautimous!

Venezia (Venice)
Oh, but we covered that one already. :)

Athina (Athens)
“…When the dog bites / When the bee stings”
I’ll admit that Athens was a little scary. To begin with, not only do they speak another language, but they also have a completely different alphabet. Thanks to Alpha Chi, I was familiar with the alphabet and pronunciation. However, I didn’t think “Sespouda somenta ano ta ta” (Together let us seek the heights, our open motto) was going to be of much use . . . except maybe when Meg, Ell and I were scaling the heights to the Acropolis. Actually, there was American alphabet interpretations for all the street signs and maps, and most people in restaurants and shops could speak and understand a bit of English.

The Acropolis: very interesting. Unfortunately, there was a lot of restoration going on and the weather was cloudy, so I don’t think our pictures will turn out the best.
The Gyros: We ate a gyros from a restaurant window vendor. It was soooo good; actually, it wasn’t too different from the ones at Jimmy’s Steak House in CoMo.
Making it back to our hotel safe every night. (We would sing “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music under our breath and walk very quickly to avoid the creepy guys who would stare at us in the worst way.
Overall, I’m glad we experienced Greek culture. The people who weren’t on the streets were really nice and it was a good challenge to be out of our communication comfort zone with the Greek alphabet.

number of gelattis in 3 days: 9
number of steps climbed throughout the week: some insane amount that I think adds up to 5,000. No exaggeration.
number of times a guy offered to carry my luggage: 6
number of times a guy offered to carry Ellen's luggage: 3
number of times a guy offered to carry Meg's luggage: 0
Ellen and my hair colour:: blonde
Meg's hair colour:: brown

and now . . .
My parents and sister come Thursday morning for a week. I’m really excited to see them and show them around the city, as if I’m a true Londoner. I’m actually looking forward to going into work tomorrow and tweaking the page design I left on Friday.

Sorry for the massive post; I think this is my longest yet. Cheers, ciao, arrivaderci, andios!

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