06 February 2009

Just Like Romeo and Juliet

5 January 2009

Lots to catch up on. First of all—the Barca v. Deportivo football game! So fun! After spending the entire day (when I should have been studying) looking for a jersey and buying tickets, we headed out to the game armed with Estrella tall boys! I don’t know if drinking in public is actually legal here anymore, but we did it anyways. We ended up having to run all the way around the stadium since our ticket window was on the opposite side of the one we started out at. Oh well! We got there just in time and our seats were fabulous! I thought we were going to be sitting farther back, based on what the guy at the botiga said, but we were suuuuuper close! We won 5-0! Fun game! The place was completely packed, it was insane! On the way out, some guys wanted to get a picture with me and Amy. Again, they have apparently never seen a blonde person before. Silly. But yeah, fun night!

Finals were good. It felt nice to be done with all my papers and tests and just be able to relax for a few days before heading off to Italy. Poor Amy and Kelly were up all night working on their papers on the morning we left. I think they sent them in about 20 minutes before we left! Talk about crunch time!

Pisa was so pretty! The leaning tower is so funny looking! I mean, what must the builders have been thinking when they noticed it was leaning? I wonder if the guy who built it got fired or something for building it in a bad location. We took tons of pictures by it, including the classic “let me hold up the tower” picture. Amy and I also decided that we would take Bluth chicken pictures at each city in front of something famous. It was 15 euros to go up the tower, which we thought was pretty lame, so we didn’t do it, haha! Instead, we went to a cute Italian restaurant and got some delicious pizza! After eating, we purchased some new shades and hung out at a park for a while! It was such a beautiful day out—it was nice to just relax in the sun. We almost got arrested on the way to Florence by the Italian polizia. Apparently you’re supposed to activate your train ticket before you get on the train…oops! Megan and Kelly tried to reason with her that she could destroy our tickets so we couldn’t use them again. But she didn’t understand English and threatened to call the cops on us if we got off at the next station. She told us that it was a 40 euro fine each, which is obviously ridiculous for a 5 euro ticket. Then she started badmouthing us and Americans to the people in the next area of seats. Umm, we understand you, we’re not stupid. She said in America, an immigrant would go to jail for something like this. Um no. First of all, our system makes sense, and second, you w

ould get a warning, not a threat! What a bitch. We ended up paying a total fine of 40 euros, so it was only 8 each. Not bad…makes for a good story!

Florence. Oooooooh Florence! So many stories from Florence. After spending about 20 minutes searching for our new hostel (which was changed on us 14 hours beforehand—is that even legal!?), Tommy came outside and waved us down. Tommy. Oh boy. So we go up there and it looks like an apartment he’s just happened to turn into a hostel. There are only 3 dorm rooms in there, and we had the biggest one all to ourselves. When we asked for towels, Tommy said, “ooooh yeah. We don’t really have towels.” Excuse me? “Yeah, people tend to steal them.” We’re not going to steal your freaking towels! Turns out he DID have towels, except we were convinced there were poo stains on 2 of them. They probably weren’t, but we figured it made for a better story. With this hostel, we were supposed to get breakfast and dinner for free, so Tommy sent us over to their brother hostel for dinner every night. It wasn’t far away. We buzzed, could hear voices all the way on the bottom floor, and were greeted enthusiastically by an Australian boy. Oh hello. Then we met Franco. Oh boy, what a character! “Ooooh hello, sexy girls!” Oh Franco. We had to wait for round 2 of dinner since there were so many people out there. So we sat in one of the rooms and Franco poured us some Australian beer since it was apparently Aussie Day. What’s Aussie Day? No one knew…not even the Aussies. Amy mentioned that she was tired and Franco’s response was, “sexy boy keep you up all night?!” Oh god, what a crazy man. When it came to be our time, some people hung back to hang out with us. Turns out 2 of the boys there were from Illinois. And from Chicago. And from U of I…and lived 3 houses down from us. WHAT?! What a ridiculously small world. They were Theta Chi’s and just were with one of the girls in our house a few days earlier. Crazy. After eating, everyone from the hostel went to a bar together and we got the 3 beers for 9 euros and 5 shots for 5 euros special. Good times!

On day 1, we started off by checking out Ponte Vecchio, the only bridge in Florence to survive World War II. It was really neat looking, especially from outside of the bridge, since there are little stores built into it! We got a great view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo after we hiked up a mountain (okay, it was just a big hill) to get to the top. After making the journey back down we checked out some plazas and churches and stuff. Palazzo Vecchio was cool. They have a replica of David out there, but it was covered up when we went…sad. There were a bunch of other really cool statues out that we could look at though, so it wasn’t a complete loss. After some lunch, we went to check out Santa Maria del Fiore or the Duomo di Firenze, which is the symbol of the city. We got to go inside for free. It was enormous but very cold feeling. By then, it had started to downpour so we ran out quickly and went into a coffee shop to get some coffee and hot chocolate. So delicious! We hit up some 1 euro stores (like our dollar stores), tried on goofy hats, bought some candy, and I bought some water color paints. There was a cool outdoor market going on, so we walked through it and made some sweet purchases. Amy and I both accidently dropped some gummy bears and they drown face down in the puddles of the Florentine roads. Oops. That night for dinner, Franco said “ooOOOOOoo” when we buzzed and then we ate with everybody first round. We met lots of Aussies, some British folk, some Spaniards, a Brazilian, and many more. Everyone was so fun! We played spoons and circle of death with everyone afterwards while waiting to go out. So much fun! I love hanging out with a bunch of international people! We went out again with everyone and got to know everyone better--so fun!

Next day we got up early to go check out San Lorenzo which contains a lot of stuff by Michelangelo and is totally Renaissance neo-classic. We were just sitting in there taking it in and this little old Italian woman walked up and asked if we were tired. She then asked us if we spoke French or Italian, when we said we spoke English, she said, “oh I have bad English, you want free tour?” Sure! She gave us a great tour in English-italian which worked perfectly. She would randomly talk about America, or ask us about English words. When she found out we spoke Spanish, she was all “oh, how wonderful!” She was the most adorable old woman ever! She kept saying “capito?” and it was always a yes, haha! We all wanted to give her a little something for giving us such a nice tour or at least a hug, but she buggered out of there fast after saying goodbye and to enjoy Florence. Adorable! We made our way over to the Accademia Gallery so we could see David. Okay, so the Mona Lisa is very unimpressive when you see her. I mean, if you had a lot of time to yourself to get up close to the painting, I’m sure it would be cool, but it’s just really small and its very crowded. I was thinking of that going into the museum and almost screamed when I saw him. He was HUGE! Here I was thinking he would be life size, but no! Much bigger! So awesome. I’m retarded and didn’t realize that he was David from David and Goliath. Either way, he’s just chillin there all relaxed and stuff. Coolest sculpture I’ve ever seen. So detailed! My favorite part was his right hand because you could see all the tendons and veins and stuff. SO COOL! After staring at him for at least a half hour, we ran over to the Galleria degli Uffizi to make sure we were there before it closed. Success. We had to put our stuff through security scanners, as usual, but the guy asked me where I was from. I told him Chicago and he proceeded to tell me he was either going to come live with me in Chicago or I should come live with him? I don’t know. Italians are crazy, but I still love them! There were a bunch of Italian military dudes in there, like a BUNCH! They kept staring and winking at us. It was funny. We wandered a bit before going to the hostel for our last dinner with Franco and Co. We got distracted on the way and played on the carousel you know, because we’re like 5. Oh well. So we were late and had to wait for round 2 again at the hostel. While waiting, Franco gave us wine and pulled out some chocolate from a drawer for us to eat. Then he told us how he was frustrated with some Canadians who wouldn’t eat dinner because they ate too much chocolate before. Crazy man. Dinner was kind of boring since everyone was playing games while we were left to eat with the 2 new Australians who were boring in comparison. We all went out again, but it wasn’t the same. We went to a dance club that night with everyone, but as amy said “there was just no….penetration.” Of groups she meant. Sofia fell off a table, which was funny. But besides that, the boys hung out with themselves. Oh well! Peace out Florence! The next morning while we were getting ready, Franco came over to say goodbye and give us his Facebook info. What a baller. We all got a kiss on the hand and then he joked to Megan that “there’s no hot water megan, what are you doing!?” She was confused.

The train to Bologna was nice and relaxing. Being in Europe has definitely given me a newfound love for trains. Sin duda, it’s my preferred method of transportation! When we got off the train in Bologna, we asked how to get to our hostel and she said it was 3km away and that we could definitely walk there. Okay, let’s go then because the bus to the hostel only comes every 2 hours. That should have indicated something, but we were oblivious. So we start walking and realize something is up when we had to walk on an overpass. Then even more so when we entered the ghettos. So we stopped in a bar to ask a woman who speaks zero English how to get there and she looked it up and then gave us new directions. Attempt 2 was a fail. We ended up getting a taxi. When we got in and showed him where we were going he says “aaaah, camping, yes.” Errr, what? “Yes, camping.” No, we’re going to a hostel. “No, this is camping.” WHAAAT?! There was no way we would have ever been able to get there. We would have had to walk about 10 more minutes down the main road and then taken this zig zaggy country road for about another 7 minutes until we got to camping! It wasn’t really camping though. We stayed in a lovely little bungalow. After waiting for an hour and a half for the next bus, we went to the main part of the city and saw everything in about 25 minutes! We checked out the Torre degli Asinelli and the Torre dei Garisenda which are the symbols of the city. You can go up into one of them, but latter is closed since it has a major leaning problem, haha! We walked through Piazza Maggiore and raided a tourist info store where Megan put on these ridiculous black glasses that made her eyes 3 times as big. The people there obviously hated us because we were playing with the donated glasses, haha! Oh well. We took pictures in front of the Fontana di Nettuno, another one of Bologna’s symbols. Basilica of San Petronio looked really funny. I don’t know. Just weird lookin. We wandered, went in some stores, and got some gelato before heading back to our little bungalow. That night we goofed around, made coneheads with our hair, and played. It was fun! Next day we took the bus into the city so we could catch our train to Verona!!

Verona is definitely one of my favorite cities in Europe. When you picture Europe or Italy in your head, I assure you that Verona is what you see. It was the most adorable city with such a small town feel. Our B&B Casa di Barbara was so baller! Coolest thing ever! After getting settled, Kathleen (Megan’s friend) showed us how to get to one of the main plazas where we got some dinner. Verona has what looks like a mini version of the Coliseum. It was built in 1st Century AD by the Romans, and although it’s crumbling on the outside, it’s the world's third-largest amphitheatre to survive from antiquity. I can’t imagine how cool shows must be in there! That night, Kathleen took us to a bar called Campús where we saw Jess Miller. Yeah. We also saw Ted and got to meet his girlfriend. That bar was exactly like being at home or Brothers or something. It was kind of overwhelming. We don’t have anything like that in Barca.

On our full day, we went to the tourism office to get the Verona Card for 10 euros but let us into like 15 different places for free. Definitely a good decision to get that! First on our list was Juliet’s tomb. Amy and I were super creepy and crawled into it for some pictures. Haha, so typical. After hanging out there for a while, we went to go play in the Arena. We had battles and did chicken dances and then walked around the entire theatre. Very pretty. We met up with 2 of Megan’s sorority sisters and their Italian friend Matteo for lunch and then they took us to Castelvecchio, a 14th century castle on the banks of the river Aldige. Again, since we act like 5 year olds, we played on the castle and climbed the walls and stuff, haha! They also took us to Casa di Giulietta, which is supposedly the location of the famous balcony love scene from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In reality, it has no connection to the play. Although the house is old, the balcony was added in 1936 and declared to be "Juliet's house" to attract tourists. Oh well! You trapped me! We took a picture with the Juilet statue out front. Apparently you’re supposed to grab her right boob if you want good luck with love, but we didn’t feel like groping her. We made our way down to Piazza delle Erbe where we found more outdoor markets. Feeling ambitious, we climbed Lamberti Tower, Verona’s tallest tower and 238 steps to the top. We got a great view and hung out up there until the huge bell chimed, scared the shit out of us, and made us go deaf. We peaced out to Megan’s friends until dinner and headed over towards the Verona Cathedral, or the Duomo. I think that is my favorite church. Like, ever. It was so big, yet the colors and materials that they used to make it made it feel really warm and homey. LOVED IT! Last thing on our list was the Roman Amphiteatre. It was really neat. We climbed up to the top of the ruins and watched the sun set over beautiful Verona. It was perfect. That night we bought bread and wine over to Kathleen’s. She made us some really good pasta and we had dinner like a family at a real table with chairs. It was really fun! We were like a little family! That night we went back to Piazza delle Erbe and had some really delicious wine at an outdoor café. That place was hoppin. I feel like that was the first time us Barca girls freaked out about going home. Who would want to leave this? Where else can you sit outside drinking wine in public in an old, beautiful plaza? Oh goodness. I love Europe.

Train to Venice went smoothly. The train went over the water to get to the island, which was very cool considering I assumed we had to take a ferry over or something. It was so cool to be surrounded by water and seeing the city in the distance! We got to take a water taxi to get closer to our hotel. So cool! The guy had to throw the rope around each stop to pull the boat closer to the docking spot. It was so fun!! We also got to see a lot of Venice and people on their gondolas and boats going about their business! We even saw the polizia boat and the garbage boat, haha! Since we got in late the first night, we walked around a bit by our hotel and then got dinner at a place where students were playing violins and other stringed instruments out front for fun. Interesting waiters…more crazy Italy inhabitants. I say that because the guy was really from Jordan. He said he labeled tables as families and we were his family 5. He then told us that in Jordan, its legal for men to marry 4 wives at a time...interesting considering there were 4 of us and one of him, hmmm. Sneaky, sneaky. "Lucky for the guys, but not the girls!" They liked us very much. Crazy Italian inhabitants. We went back to the hotel that night and watched 2 hours of Dancing with the Stars, Italian version. So much drama on that show! It was insane! Loved it though! They do this cool thing where there is a vote during the show, and the bottom 4 couples have to improve a dance on the spot after receiving a genre about 10 seconds earlier. Half way through that dance, the pro dancer leaves and the famous person has to continue making it up by themselves. It was HILARIOUS! Quality Italian entertainment. We speculated as to which of the partners were screwing each other. It was fun. We saw their pictures on the newsstands the next morning. Love it!

The next day, it snowed like mad. They were really pretty huge flakes! It was really pretty!! First, and almost only, on the list was Basilica di San Marco. We were originally worried about the pigeon situation, but there weren’t that many there, thank goodness. Those Italian pigeons are like kamikaze pilots! We couldn’t go in the church til 2:00, so we got some lunch and went to check out the Ponte di Rialto and all the shops nearby. We found some really cool mask stores and got their card so kel and megan could go back and get masks later. They were gorgeous masks, and all custom made in that store. We ran into some Pinocchio figurines which creeped me out a bit. Italy has Pinocchio stuff everywhere. It’s funny. St. Mark’s was cool. So much gold in there! We saw someone propose to his girlfriend on the Rialto on the way home. It was adorable! After taking a rest and warming up in the hotel for a while, we got some dinner and went out for a drink at an American bar. Around midnight, the bartender asked us if we lived by St. Mark’s and when we said no, he said “oh good, because its high tide soon…I didn’t want you to get stranded.” Holy shit! Awesome! We made Megan and Kelly finish their drinks fast so we could go by St. Mark’s. We always seem to do things we’re told not to do. Oh well! Already, the water was almost up to the top stair that leads out of the canal and they had the bridge tables set up so you didn’t have to walk in water/be stranded where ever you’re going. It was so cool! When we got to St. Mark’s it had already begun to flood and was flooding quickly! We ran down the strip that wasn’t flooded to get closer to the church and take some pictures. When we realized that the path we took was almost gone, we high tailed it out of there and walked around the raised perimeter to the wharf. That’s when it really started picking up. We were walking by the gondolas and the waves were crashing in and banging the boats all around. We ran around over there for a while dancing by the water and watching the whole place flood and then walked out onto the table-bridges for a bit. We decided we better start heading home and took one last look at the flooded Saint Mark’s. We actually needed to use the table-bridges on the way home since about half of our route was flooded. Once we got closer to home, it wasn’t flooded….until we got to the door of our hotel. Really!? COME ON! We tried to James Bond it between doorways but we realized it was hopeless since there was about 10 feet of no doorways. So we took off our boots and socks, rolled up our pants, and ran through the icy water to our door. Once inside, we realized the water smelled like sulfur, and then, logically, went outside to dance in it and take pictures. We’re so smart! Amy ran in and fell in the doorway, hahahah! We had to take a communal foot bath to get rid of the stench and then we all went to bed with the sounds of Italian MTV in the background.

Day 2 it wasn’t snowing, but it was still raining. Oh well, you cant win everywhere you go! We went back to the Rialto and the shops again. Megan and Kelly got really cool masks too. We basically did a lot of shopping and wandering on day 2. We got a pizza for lunch/dinner and took it home with us. That night we went to see a Vivaldi concert which was so good! The cello player was very animated…it’s a good thing he was exceptionally good or it would have just been unnecessary.

On the day we left, we had to take the water taxi to the bus to take us to the airport. It was nicer out that day so I got some better pictures, yay! All in all, it was a great trip and I drank a lot of coffee in Italy. It’s no wonder they have no Starbucks there—they take pride in their coffee!!

6 February 2009

Oh, I missed that cousin of mine! Amy and I went out with her, Kate, and Kate’s new roommate for drinks at an Irish bar down the Rambla. We had an Irish Car Bomb as soon as we got there (I think that’s a shot of Bailey’s dropped into a Guiness?)…it was actually really good! Then I had a Hoegardden or something which was also very good. It was nice to hang out with those ladies—they’re so funny!! However, I understand why they say not to go down the Rambla at night. Some guy tried to grab my ass on the way home, but I was lucky walking just right so I hit his hand away (thankfully) by accident. Even though I was completely speechless at the nerve of that man, I did give him the most ferocious death stare I have ever given anyone in my life. About a minute later, a guy stopped next to me and slurped at me? Um what? I don’t know what that’s all about but its freaking creepy! I walked in the middle of the group after that. That was the first time I’ve been assaulted in Spain. Oh well. Life goes on. Tonight Carolyn's parents took us out to dinner and we're going to head over to a bar over by Sant Jordi tonight. Oh, how i missed that area!!


Barca Game






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