I was nominated for a contest. The competition is of logs that were written about peoples experiences as they visited Wales. If I win, the prize is a 3 night stay in this crazy cool place in Wales. Yes an excuse to go back! Keep your fingers crossed. :)
So today is Friday, May 29th. It is 9:45pm as I write this. This means that I have 9 hours left in London before I have to leave to head to the airport. I cannot believe I just burned through 4 months. Where did the time go, seriously? I realize that I have had some amazing experiences but I have this weird feeling like tomorrow I am not going to leave. Tomorrow feels like it is just another weekend trip and I will be back here Monday morning. Do you ever get that? While I love all the people back home (there's no easy way to say this without offending people) but I don't want to go home. Going home means this semester has come to end, that it is officially over. That starting Monday I have to head back to my summer job. That this summer has begun and thus starts the count down until the end of college and furthermore the closure on a stage of my life. It bums me out to be honest. Peter Pan was right, growing up isn't fun and why would you want to?
Alrighty now that I have turned this into a cheesy editorial I will move on.
This past week I have been trying to do the last couple of things on my to-do list and revisit some of my favorite places. Yesterday I went to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. I had been to neither of these and they sounded like fun. The Natural History Museum was cool but just another extention of 3rd grade social studies. It contained information that I had already learned a million times over so I stuck to looking at the displays instead. IT had all kinds of displays: minerals, fossils, animals, and bunch of other things. I thought most of the displays were cool-the dinosaur stuff being my favorite. They had an actualy dinosaur only exhibit but the queue was rather long so I opted not to go in. The museum had animal which was more like walking through a zoo but with specimens with empty souls. There were tons of taxidermed animals. While a child would love this I actually found it quite sad. Just the fact that these were dead animals stuffed and put on display--i don't know, it just made me sad. I think it is the fact that my mother is an animal lover and that growing up in my household was like being a part of dr. dolittle's world that I felt this way. Seeing the staple stitches on the giraffe's stomach where they inserted the foam and stuffing is what did me in. This bummed me out a bit so I decided it was time to go. I had been there close to 2 hours and saw what I wanted to. Then I went to the Sciene Museum-thinking it would be a larger version of Robot World in the Dells. But it wasn't it had some early models of inventions likehe printing press, a loom, early automotives and space shuttles. But other than that there wasn't much so it was a bit of a let down but still cool.
This morning Dani Sam and I went to have our last meal in London. We woke up and went and had full-english breakfast. Delicious, as always and I am definitely going to miss it. I didn't really fell like going to anopther museum so Dani and I opted for going to Hyde Park and laying around there for a while. It was a gorgeous hot sunny day so I soaked up as much sun as I could. I ended up taking close to a 2 hour nap there as well. After some much needed lounging, Dani and I walked to Buckingham Palace, a few blocks away and then strolled up to the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square was very busy today so we jsut stopped for a second and then head to Leicester Square and Covent Garden (Theatreland). Also so busy so we walked around the block and headed back to Nido.
Here I have been just doing some finishing touches to packing and will prob go to bed soo nsince I have to get up so early and head to Heathrow Airport. I will be back in Chicago tomorrow at 2pm central time. Crazy stuff. Not looking forward to the almost 9 hr. flight. Not fun.
List of things I will miss most from London: 1. My friends from here.
2. Kebabs, Crown Fish, and Tesco (they kept me fed this semester)
3. The parks. (Hyde, Regent, Green, St. James, Highbury)
4. The diversity of people.
5. Walking around and seeing history left and right.
6. The tube
7. Dani talking in her sleep (quite entertaining)
8. Sam turning every word into a plural (Tescos, Convent Gardens)
9. Mike's random catch phrases ("These beans are bomb!")
10. Lady Gaga marathons and the "downstairs"
See you London, you were Amazing!
And see all of you guys soon. Thanks for reading the blog too, made the writing worth it.
So yesterday I woke up at 6am to go wait in a queue for Wicked tickets. In London, at the Wicked theatre, they have this thing where everyday, when the box office opens, they sell the entire front row for only 25 pounds. The normal price in this section of the theatre is 75 pounds. So for a third of the price you can get the best seats in the house. Having never seen the play but loved the music, I wanted to try and get these seats. So Dani and I awoke to head down to the theatre. The box office opens at 10am but we wanted to beat everyone and be at the front of the line--so 1. we could get front row and 2. to get front row center. Well we got down to the box office at 7:30ish and no one else was there. Winner! This was great, except it was freezing cold and rainy. Typical, not great, London weather. So we picked a spot outside on the steps and waited it out. It was so cold I couldnt even say. At around 8:15 we took turns going to get some breakfast. Up until about 9/ 9:15 we were the only ones in the queue. We felt kind of like idiots really. Finally one more guy showed up to join us. We talked to us a bit and we found out that we had showed up at the right time because usually people start showing up when we did, it was just a slow day. So that was reassuring. And after him a person here and there would show up until 10. The box office finally opened and Dani and I were the first in line. This was amazing. We got the tickets 2 for us and 1 for our friend Sam that couldnt come wait in line with us. We got the tickets and to our excitement we got the 3 seats that were dead center! How cool is that?! On top of the great seats the show was great. We were close enough that we saw every detail on the costumes and all of the facial expressions by the performers. I have never been that close before, I prob. never will. It was just a great way to see the show. I love musicals and this one is def. one of my favorites. If you get a chance to go see it-do.
So as my time in London is drawing to a close, Dani Sam and I are in denial. While I love all of you, I am not ready to leave London. This city is so great and I have had so many amazing experiences that I am going to miss.
Monday, Dani Sam and I went to Oxford, home of the famous university and many other things. We found extremely cheap train tickets that cost about $18 for a return ticket. So we headed up for a day trip. The day went pretty smoothly travel wise adn with my past history that was a gift itself. The train left at 10:22A and took about an hour. I napped most of the time. We arroaved and headed off. None of us did any special research as in what there was to do we just wanted to wander and we did. We started off with heading to the city center. This city seemed rather small when compared to London, as most cities would and do. We walked down there major shopping street and saw up ahead a tall building and decided to head there. We arrived at the Christ Church (also a university) and saw that the building was shut off to the public but it had a huge open, park like area. We had some great sunny weather and decided to walk around. It was so gorgeous and the building was beautiful. We learned that the author of Alice in Wonderland actually was the math professor at the college in his hay day. Alice was the Dean's daughter and he would tell her stories as well. Fun fact. Another fun fact is that the Thames River, in London, actually runs up through Oxford too. Cool stuff. We wondered how long it would take to travel by boat. After waling through here and seeing some cool wild life (a few families of ducks with fluffy babies), we headed to the covered market that Oxford is known for. But when we arrived we saw that it was closed due to the bank holiday, which is similar to our memorial day. Bummer. So we then just wandered down some random streets and came across another university and walked onto the campus and sat down on a grass patch. Very relaxing that is until a woman came up an asked us not to sit on the grass. I guess it was the kind of grass that is just for looking not enjoying. Which was obvious when we thought about it later--I mean this grass was green, nicely kept, underneath a sunny sky.....oh wait that sounds like every other grass patch on the planet. We thought it was dumb that you weren't allowed to sit there but moved on anyway. From here we went and walked through another park and decided to stop and get ice cream and popsicle. My treat was of the tropical strawberry variety and I enjoyed it quite much. After hanging around there we went back towards town and stopped and got a snack at a local place. I got a cookie bar and iced tea. Delicious. This led to more aimless wandering and my purchasing of some surf shorts and a book. I bought the book "A Wolf at the Table" by Augusten Burroughs, the same guy who wrote "Running With Scissors." I am about 85 pages in and love it. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new book to read. After spending time at Borders we had to head back to the train station to go back to London. The ride home was smooth and easy. Love it. I was glued to my book the whole ride anyway. Very cool city, glad I got to see it.
The following is what happens when a person does not know how to cook. These were the dinners that Dani and I prepared for ourselves yesterday. It was too funny so I had to share. I bet you can guess which one was mine. HA
For the end of our stay in London, the school puts on one last shindig for us. For our end of the year party they took us out to eat and then a ride on the London Eye. I had been looking forward to this all semester but now that it was here, I find myself wondering where the time went. It did have a cool view of the city but we didn't have the best weather. Nothing terrible just some typical London haze. These are some pictures from then.
In order to complete my travels throughout the UK, I had to visit Scotland. Lucky for me, Alyssa is studying in Glasgow which gave me the perfect excuse to visit. The only downside is that my final project for my web design class is due next week, so trying to find time that I can leave and not really work on it was a bit hard. So I left for Glasgow Sunday night, my bus left at 11:00pm. The bus ride was 8hrs. or so, sounds like a ton of fun right? Well no, I will be honest, I wanted to kill myself, or others, after about 2 hrs. The beginning of the ride started out fine, I had a window seat the and one next to me was empty. But there was an odd couple sitting in front of me, old people, and children present. Individually not bad, but combined-not my favorite. I swear, if the people around me could have heard my inner thoughts they would've thought I was a crazy, homicidal maniac. It got worse halfway through when one girl decided to play musical seats and asked to sit next to me. As uninviting as I tried to make myself look, she still had the guts to ask me and I am not the kind of person who says no-so a seat buddy I gained. Yay (big sarcasm). I finally arrived to Glasgow and waited a few minutes for Alyssa. A familiar face. Yes! We walked to the nearest subway and took it to a stop closer to her flat. I have never been on such a small subway in my life! It was so tiny. Heightwise if you were above 6 ft. you'd have to duck to get in. Crazy stuff. It is quite the trek to her flat, let me tell ya. Not anything terrible but a lot longer than I would have guessed and dragging my suitcase up a hill was not the funnest thing I have ever experienced. But we arrived safely. I was incredibly tired so opted to take a nap, Alyssa agreed. We napped for a few hours and finally decided to get up and see some of the city. She went and showed me around part of her campus. It was gorgeous and the main building looked like a castle out of a Harry Potter film. The campus is also on one of the high points of the city so there was an amazing view on the edge. I could've sat there all afternoon but Alyssa insisted on showing me other places, equally as cool. We then went to go meet some her friends at a bar called Nude. They were serving mojitos for 2 pounds. It was cool to finally meet some of the people I had been hearing stories about-and they were all very nice people. From there we went to a pub called Curlers. There was a football match going on, the place was pretty busy, and there wasn't a lack of men. We hung out here for the rest of the night. It was very entertaining to say the least-watching the people surrounding me was very fun. One of Alyssa's friends sat and went on and on about how much I look like Anne Hathaway. I think it was for at least 30 min. Seriously, I get it, yes I kind of look like her at times, let it go people. Then we just headed home. Tuesday we woke up around 10 or 11. Her friends planned to have a picnic in a park, Kelvingrove. I was very lucky with weather while I was in Glasgow so the picnic was really fun. It was sunny and very green-loved it. Alyssa and some of her friends started to play frisbee-I chose to sun bathe. Afterwards, Alyssa took me down to the city center and showed me around there. Alyssa wanted to do a little shopping so we bummed around some stores. She bought a pair of pants and a shirt, I was content with being a consultant. She then showed me St. George's Square. It was cool but there was construction being done on it so it was hard to appreciate. By that time it was starting to get really cold so we headed back to Alyssa's and hung out there for the night. We went to this website called "textsfromlastnight.com" It was hilarious. You should all give it a look if you haven't already. Wednesday we slept in and by we I mean I woke up at 9:30 and Alyssa did so at 1. I pretty much just entertained myself via youtube for four hours. Don't get me wrong though-it's officially my favorite past time. When we finally headed off to great the day, Alyssa took my to the Cathedral and the necropolis. Both were really cool. The necropolis had an amazing view of the city. Even better it was another sunny day. The necropolis was my favorite thing to see. I know it sounds weird but I always thought cemeteries were cool and pretty--in a dark, emo rocker sort of way. So walking around the different grave stones was really cool. Yes I get how disturbing that sounds. From here we had to walk back towards Alyssa's campus to meet up with some of her friends and partake in what they call "Secret Wednesdays." Secret Wednesdays is where Alyssa and three of her friends go to this bar the G.U. to have one pound drinks. It is called secret wednesdays because they don't tell all of their friends of their ritual. They hoard the drinks to themselves--sounds like the startings of some great alcoholics eh? Alyssa has me worried. From there we just went back to Alyssa's flat for a couple of hours before I had to go to the bus station and take a night bus back to London. Glasgow was really fun and a nice city, but I was starting to miss London. The ride back was fine except I didn't get any sleep and was very cold on the bus. So i got back to my room around 7:30am and slept until 4pm. I had to get up at 4 so that I could get ready to go to the end of the year jolly that the school was putting on for us. Details to follow.
My aunt, Jody, just emailed me this joke. I thought it was funny and decided to share:
Hymn #365 This is a hoot, but I suspect the minister didn't appreciate it. A minister was completing a temperance sermon. With great emphasis he said, 'If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river.' With even greater emphasis he said, 'And if I had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river.' And then finally, shaking his fist in the air, hesaid, 'And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river.' Sermon complete, he sat down. The song leader stood very cautiously and announced, with a smile, nearly laughing, 'For our closing song,Let us sing Hymn #365, 'Shall We Gather at the River.'
Hope it made you smile :) Do you think this idea should be pitched to Noah's Ark? The lazy river could always use a redesign.
So nothing too special too report. There is an art supply store that is roughly 10 blocks or so from my building and today they had student day where everything was 15% off for students even on items already discounted and with ID you got this cool bag and a couple of free items. So today I went and checked it out. It was a great store, really. So I dabbled and bought some new amazing paint brushes that are absolutely gorgeous, marker pens, and a sketch book. Then when I checked out I got this cool canvas tote with a free tube of paint, sketch pencil, and notepad. How cool is that? Well it pretty much made my day.
Other news- well I know some of you were having troubles commenting on the blog and such and I finally checked it out and made it so anyone should be able to post. you wont need to make an account at all. So feel free to do so if you wish.
And Dani's parents are getting in today, so she is pretty excited. She's actually in the process of picking them up from the airport.
Sunday I am going to Scotland, finally, to visit with my friend Alyssa. The same friend I spent part of spring break with. This will be my last trip while here and lets me complete in seeing all the countries of the UK. Excited but I have a ton of work to get done before I go. So I am going to start that now.
So I have been swaying back and forth over the past couple of months about whether or not I wanted to get bangs. Well, today I said what the heck, it'll grow back if I don't like it. So now I have bangs, lets hope its not like the summer before my senior year, which is when I first tried these out. My parents didn't approve--especially because my senior pictures were only a couple weeks away. Oh well.
Well there's nothing new to report really. Just bored and sick of writing the mound of papers that I have to finish. Dani along with all of my friends here, except Jack, have gone away for the weekend and while my friends have flown off to France and Spain, I remain here. I have found I have an addiction to YouTube--a website where you can watch pretty much anything you can imagine; stuff from illegally posted TV shows to a short clip of a walrus doing sit-ups (yes this exists and I have watched it a few times). But I find that even that along with Facebook, email, and itunes cannot entertain me. You may ask yourself why I am not out exploring the city, mean I am in London for pete's sake, but I am not allowing myself to do anything fun until I get my work done. Well, I am a big procrastinator and even my procrastination is no fun. I mean I am writing this right now....so in essence I am procrastinating my procrastination--I live a sad life huh? Anywho I thought I would add in some fun facts about myself just for kicks (yes I am that bored) so here are 5 things you may not know about me, yes even you mom.
1. When I was in the 6th grade I wanted to be a professional boxer. 2. My first pet was a guinea pig named Oliver. 3. I've eaten a habenero pepper for a dare. Don't do it. 4. I own a '96 Thunderbird. jealous? ha 5. I once stayed up and watched the movie Good Burger in an all night marathon with my cousin Sara. We watched it 13 times.
Ok back to work for me.
Oh and yes the swine flu crisis has reached us here. It ridiculous and no I haven't caught it.
So the London marathon was yesterday and Dani and I went to go watch it. It was pretty cool. We started at mile marker 25 and watched for a while and slowly made our way tp the finish line. These people are amazing and definitely inspirational. The crowd was great too. Anytime a person would slow down, stop for a break, or just look like they were struggling the crowd would get louder and provide more support. It was so cool to witness. Even better, this marathon is based on charities, so every runner had a cause they were running for. Really great. Also, currently there is a camp of protesters that are tenting out in front of parliament and they have been for some time. So yesterday, they were in full swing. It was quite the scene, let me tell you. Then we walked to the finish line and it was nuts. Just a ton of energy. I've never seen a marathon before so this was quite the experience.
We arrived in Madrid without a hitch. Katie was quite thoughtful and wrote out thorough directions for us in how to get to our hostel. We stayed in Hostel One located in Puerta del Sol, which is the city center. We took the metro which included switching lines a few times but no problem. That is until Mike went rogue and decided to walk off in the opposite direction of needed. I had to go catch him and lead him the right way. Both of us decided that we weren't sure what his train of thought was. Isn't it nice to have a male leader? After having some very minor confusion of which street we wanted, we found the hostel. We made plans to meet Katie at 6:30p which only gave us a few minutes to rest before we had to go meet her. After waiting for a few minutes, Katie found us and showed us some of the iconic parts of Madrid. This included the eact center of Madrid, the famous Tio Pepe sign, and the Bear and tree statue. These were all in Puerta del Sol. She then took us on a mimi tour and showed us the royal palace and Plaza Mayor. Afterwards, she took us to where she lives. Katie has a host family where she lives with Concha (her host mom), Pablo (Concha's son), Jill (another study abroad student like Katie), and Trufa (the dog, means truffle in Spanish). Concha was the most welcoming, cutest lady. She doesn't know English that well, so I had to use Katie to help me translate when I couldn't think of how to say something. Truffa is a yellow lab and was adorable, made me miss my dog tons. We sat aroundand talked for a while, like we hadn't just spent the last 8 days together, or something. Mika and I didn't want to impose on dinner (they eat around 11pm there) so we headed back to the hostel. When we got back, I hopped on the computer and hung out in the tv room. This has been my favorite hostel I have stayed in so far. The bathroom was amazing, beds comfortable, and in the common room they had a flat screen tv with a playstation and a DVD collection. Awesome! So I sat and read Wicked for a little bit and then went to bed. We awoke next morning with plans to meet Katie and Mike's friend, Alyssa at 12:30. We decided to walk around and do some souvenir shopping before we met them, and I was able to get myself an authentic Spanish fan along with some other items for the family. We met up with Katie and alyssa and headed to lunch at a place I forgot the name of but they have these great little sandwiches called bocadillos. Spain is known for there ham so naturally I had a ham sandwich. I think my favorite was the chorizo ham if I am remembering the name correctly. We then walked arounf for a little and Alyssa took us back to show us her apartment. Katie had to head off and go to a class btu we were going to meet up with her later. Alyssa's apartment was small, but cute. They had a balcony they had a cool view considering it was on the top floor and all. After a while, mike and I headed off and went to this park that had an Egyptian tomb-that was a gift from Egypt as a thank you for Spain restoring it or something of that nature. The park was pretty and it had been cloudy and rainy most of the day and it was finally getting sunny out. From there we walked to Plaza Espana which is where the famous Don Quixote fountain. The is pretty cool and the flowers around it were gorgeous. From there we walk Gran Via, one of the main streets, back to the hostel and bummed around there for a little while. We then went to meet Katie and since Mike and I were hungry we stopped at a cafe that was close by and had dinner. We were having some fun chatting with each other and it even led to another quote from Mike. We were talking about friends and he thought it was cool that Katie and I have been friends since we were 7. He then said how he felt he had known Katie for longer than the realistic week by saying, "I feel that I've known you for so long. Who knows, maybe we were lizards together in a past life." Taken out of context that statement may not be funny but believe me if you were sitting at that table you wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face. We were at the cafe for about 3 hours or so when Katie had to head home so Mike and I said goodbye and went back to the hostel. We woke up the next day and while Mike slept in again, I bummed around and watched tv and went on the computer. After we checked out, we headed to the airport using the metro. We arrived at the airport too early apparently. This is what I was told after I had been waiting for about 30 min. We had to wait another 40 min. or so and then finally were able to check in. This went pretty smoothly and we made our way to the gate. We were caught off guard when we saw that we had to go through a police check point and have our passports check again. But I got excited because this meant that I finally got my Spain stamp in my passport. I still can't figure out why they give you one when you leave but, I'm not going to complain. At the gate, we ran into Mike's friend Alyssa. She was coming to London the same day and staying for the weekend with Mike. But we thought she was on the plane after ours so it was a surprise to see her. Well, we boarded the flight and off we went. I just started readin Wicked and eventually fell asleep. Apparently at one point Mike tried to talk to me before he saw that I was completely konked out. We arrived at London Stansted Airport around 6pm or so and caught a bus to take us into the city. I was so relieved to arrive to Baker Street and know exactly where I was. Love it. Well that ends my crazy 10 day extravaganza. It was a ton of fun and I was so glad that everyone got along so well. And while, Mike may not have been able to make his own bed, read a map, plug in a heater he sure made the trip a lot funnier. Plus Katie and Alyssa are two of my best friends from home, so I can easily say this was the best spring break ever.
We awoke early Sunday morning to head off to Barcelona. The campsite had an airport shuttle service so the three of us took advantage of it. Alyssa did not come with us to Spain so that morning she headed back to Glasgow instead. This was a pretty smooth ride to the airport and we arrived a little early for check-in so we had to grab some seats for a while. We spotted some and as we were walking to them I noticed that there was a stray cat sitting on one. These are all over Italy so it didn't surprise me really. Well Mike sat down and went to move the cat on the seat next to him so I could sit down. The problem was that he thought it was a fur hat so when it moved when he touched he freaked out a jumped a bit. It was rather funny and the people around us got a good laugh out of it to. When it came time for check in Mike and I had no problems but Katie had some issues with her bag, again, which led to eventually having to check it. Super annoying. There is a funny story though. Katie knew that she was over weight in her carry-on she to prevent that she wore 7 shirts that day to the airport just to find out she was still over the limit and had to check the bag anyway. So she then took out her folder she had her flight information and checked everything else. So imagine this tiny girl with a million shirts on carrying a folder with a print of a puppy on it. Call me insensitive but I got a good chuckle out of it. But we got to the gate and bummed around waiting for boarding. On the flight, I once again semi-succeeded in taking a nap. When we landed in Barcelona, I was super excited, especially because it meant another stamp in my passport. Well to my sadness, no one was at customs to check our passports. No fun. So we then had to catch a bus to the city center and did so, more napping. I didn't have directions to the hostel, only the address so when we got off the bus we jumped on the metro adn estimated where it was. we were wrong. So we stopped at a cafe that was nearby and asked for some help. By we I mean Katie. She is studying in Madrid and was much better off than myself-even with my 7 years of Spanish. But the people in Spain were so nice and Katie had 4 people helping her. During this I came to realize that I did have directions to the hostel-they were on my confirmation page, and I had forgotten about them. So then it made it much easier and we realized we weren't too far away so we headed off. We made it a couple of blocks and decided to check our map to make sure we were fine and as we bagan o take out the map an elderly man stopped and offered his help. Seriously, they are so nice there. So he gave us some more directions and back to walking we went. It was too difficult to find the hostel. We finally arrived and I was so relieved. It was called Sea Point and was right on the boardwalk. I stepped outside, walked 20 feet, and I was standing in sand. AMAZING! We showered and then decied to do some walking around and went dinner. We found one close by and decied to try there "menu del dia". (menu of the day). This included bread, salad, traditional paella, chocolate mousse, and a drink. It was delicious. I had never had paella but it was awesome. I recommend it to all. After wards we checked out some more of the city. This led us to the acquarium that we decided to go to-Mike said he ahd heard it was supposed to be a really good one. And it was great. We got to see all types of sea creatures-penguins, octopi, stingrays, sharks, sea horses, the entire cast of Finding Nemo and a tons more. They even had a room where you were surrounded on all sides by the tank, as in you walk underneath it in this tunnel. It was so cool. I have always been a fan of water and its inhabitants so this was a real treat. Afterwards we decided to try and find the "Magical Fountain" which is an iconic landmark in Barcelona. Along the way we walked past a theatre that was playing Spamelot (the monty python and the holy grail musical). The box office was open and it looked fun so we decided to ask how much tickets would be. With a student discount they were 21 euros so we impulsively purchased them. We went off to find the fountain but failed and had to give up so we could make it back to the theatre in time for the show. The show was spectacular, if you like Monty Python, you would like this. It's great and has all of the classic jokes of the movie and then some. After the play we opted for heading back to the hostel and calling it a night. The next morning, Katie and I woke up and had breakfast while Mike slept in a bit. Afterwards, we went and sat on the bech for a little bit and then I walked Katie to the metro stop. She headed to Madrid on Monday because she had a class the next day. Once I got back to the hostel, Mike and I made a mini itinerary for the day. We decided to start by going to the top of Mount. Montjuic which is the high point in Barcelona. To get there you have the option to ride these cable car/ ski lift things to the top. It looked pretty cool so we thought we'd give it a shot and walked to the starting point tower. This looked like a mini Eiffel and was very cool. We waited in line for a while and then rode an elevator to the top of the tower, where we got on the car. This had an amazing view of the city and was really neat. But my fear of heights reared its ugly head and I started geaking out a little. Good thing I had a strong man like Mike for support, right? Well no, he chose to laugh at me instead. But this ride dropped is off about half way up the mountain so we looked around for a little bit and took in the amazing view. There was mini lift to take you to the top so we then walked up a little ways to get to that. On our way, we happened to walk past the swimming pool arena that was built for the '92 summer olympics and that was pretty neat to see. A bit rustic-definitely not worried about the up-keep. Well, we hopped on the lift and and rode it to the top. What a view, I cannot even describe. Also on top was a castle that still had some tanks and warheads from a war, we thought one of the world wars maybe. And you could walk around and see it all. So we spent some time at the top and finally decided to head back to the hostel and then hit the beach. The beach was amazing but, hey I love a good beach and probably wouldn't have been disappointed if there was a hurricane. While I worked on getting a little tan, Mike worked on adding to his sunburn and succeeded. His neck got so red it looked like someone tried to dye him with beet juice. I have a friend that I use to work with over the summer, Ashley. She is studying in Barcelona so we arranged to meet her that night, she was taking us to her favorite sangria bar. But that wasnt until 10 so we had a few hours to get some food and wander around the dock somemore. Finally we headed off to meet Ashley. The bar was just off a street called Las Ramblas, which is the main tourist drag in the city. We arrived and it was a little creepy at first because from the outside it looked like a dungeon but the interior was really neat, with little caverns and such. So we met up with Ashley, some of her friends, and some of her friend's friends. We talked for quite a while until we realized the time and decided to head back to the hostel. I was exhausted. In the morning we did the same drill of me getting up for breakfast and Mike sleeping in. We bummed around for a little bit but then headed off to the metro to go to the bus terminal to go to the airport. Along the way I bought a postcard and 2 bracelets. Wanted to have something to prove I had been to the city. We arrived at the airport and used the kiosks to get our tickets and then headed of to the gate with no problems. Since we were there so early we were the first ones at the gate. Perfect. The flight company we flow through doesnt assign the passengers seats. You have to hop in line and it becomes a free for all to find a seat and space for your luggage, so we knew we wouldn't be having problems this time. After boarding got delayed for 30 min. we hopped on and jetted off to Madrid. It was a very short flight that went pretty smoothly.
We awoke at 4 am Thursday morning to head off to Rome. We had all packed before we went to sleep so basically just had to grab our stuff and go. We went to reception and had the midnight watchmen call us a taxi. It seemed he had some trouble which made the four of us nervous, especially with our past history. But the man assured us the taxi was coming so we popped a squat and waited for it. I don't know what came over Alyssa and I but we got into one of the biggest giggle fits I have ever been involved in. I don't remember what was so funny, but some scenario we made up in our heads was hilarious. I assure you we were not on drugs of any kind or under the influence of alcohol-this was some pure PG fun. A few minutes after we were able to control ourselves the taxi comes flying around the corner. I seriously thought he was going to kill us and he zoomed and whipped his car in a 180. We loaded up our bags and he drove us into the bus terminal which was about a 10 minute ride that cost us 40 euro (55 dollars). Insane, but we were too tired to care. We arrived at the bus terminal a little early so had to sit around for a little while. Which would have been fine if I hadn't been hit on by some weird Italian man and had another short sweaty creeper stare at us while we waited. Again, Mike, the man, didn't stand up for us--good thing women need a man to travel with, especially for security reasons. So the bus pulled up, we loaded the gear and headed to the airport. Check-in went much smoother this time, sort of. The flight company we chose has a crazy rule about only 1 cabin baggage is allowed and it has to weigh under 10kg. So if you area girl you cant have a back pack and a purse-only 1. So i was fine but Katie had some problems with her bag. They wanted her to check even though it fit the dimensions specified by them. Annoying but we got it figure out and headed to the gate. When we sat down I had a little bit of a panic because I couldn't find my passport. It then hit me that I had set it down in security and left it there. Four letter curse word. So I jaunted back to find that a security officer was coming to find me at my gate, phew. So I calmed down and went back and sat at the gate. It wasn't long after that we heard an announcement over the PA system. Our flight was cancelled. I will write it again, CANCELLED. Seriously, WTF. Our flight was terminated due to the foggy conditions outside. Yes it was foggy but not that bad and they cancelled the flight a whole hour before boarding-didn't try to wait it out or anything. Super annoyed. So we had to go back and wait in this long line so that we could get our flight refunded and to be told that all of their flights were booked until tomorrow night. So we had to go back to the bus terminal and to try and catch a train to Rome. We got there to find our the we couldn't catch a train until 1:00pm. We had to wait at a stupid train station with crappy, overpriced food until then. We popped out a deck of cards to try and pass the time but a worker came up to us and told us that cards were not allowed. I have yet to understand that logic. But we got on the train and made it to Rome in time to check in to our hostel. But we arrived in Rome at 5:10pm versus 9am, which is when our flight would have landed. We then had to catch a couple of metros and overground trains to reach our hostel where we were able to check-in right away. We went to our rooms to see that they were very similar to our Venice ones. This hostel, Tiber Village, was a sister campsite to ours in Rome. We had another cabin with 2 conjoined rooms but this time we had 2 bathrooms, which was great. In Venice we had community bathrooms shared by a bunch of people. We pretty much bummed around the campsite for the rest of the day, took advantage of the free internet, and went to bed. In our rooms blankets and such were provided and we were given 1 plug in heater and their was another on the wall that looked like an air conditioner. We had the heater plugged in for a while but unplugged it before we went to bed because of safety reasons. I woke up in the middle of the night and it was freezing, I can't describe how cold it was in the cabin. I desperately wanted to plug in the heater but didn't dare leave the somewhat warmth of my blankets. The cold kept my from falling completely asleep so when my alarm went off in the morning I was pretty much awake. As soon as me alarm went off, Mike and I woke up (we shared a room and Katie and Alyssa were in the other), we all started verbalizing our thoughts of the cold. Mike, a passive-aggressive baby, said off the cuff, "Do you think the heater will turn on if it gets plugged in?" Which was his way of saying he wanted me to get up and plug it in. What a man right? He also made note of how cold his nose was and that he needed another pair of socks. I couldn't even get mad, he was so pathetic, and funny to hear. So I jumped out of bed and ran over to plug the heater in and jumped back under my covers. A few minutes later he got up and jumped in the shower which helped heat the room with the steam. After we got over the shock of the temperature we got up and headed into the city. It was Good Friday. This led us to the decision to start the day off with a tour of Vatican City, we had to earn some brownie points for Heaven somehow. We began by touring St. Peter's Basilica. It is gorgeous with amazing mosaic, tile floors and painted ceilings. Sculptures of Martyrs and former Popes decorated the walls. Amazing stuff. From here we headed over to the Vatican Museum-this place was/is filled with many paintings, sculptures and artifacts. Most of which was stolen, probably during the Crusades. The self guided tour ended in the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's masterpiece. While it wasn't permitted I did happen to sneak a picture of it. Yes, I have already been scolded for my actions and have had some brownie points taken away. But the chapel was amazing but I would it is a lot smaller than you would guess it it. Well we stood and gawked for awhile but then decided to move on to see some of the other hot spots that were close by. From here we walked all around and saw things like the Castelde Angelo, Pantheon (Raphael's tomb is there!), Piazza deVenezia, Piazza Nuova Four Rivers Fountain, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and a park that I have forgotten the name of. In a nut shell if you have read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, the same author as the DaVinci Code, you may recognise some of the places. I think my favorite was trevi Fountain, but each place had different architecture and atmosphere so it was hard to compare them. Seeing all of these sights took up the entire afternoon/ day. We ended the day in the park and then headed back to our hostel. The hostel had a restaurant, bar and market like the Venice one so we decided we were going to eat dinner there. They had delicious food. After dinner we hopped on the internet and just hung around the area and eventually made our way to the cabin to bum around there. It led to another night of fun conversation and again Mike making an ass out of himself. at one point he mentioned that great Spanish song, "HablaNagilaHabla." You may have never heard of it, and that would be because it doesn't exist. What Mike meant was the Jewish song, HavaNagila. We still cannot figure out the train of thought he was using but, I mean we shouldn't question him because males are the superior species, right? ;) Well that capped off the evening and we headed for bed. This time we decided to keep the heater on all night, if the place caught fire at least it would have been warm. After some inspection we also found out that what we thought was a air conditioner was actually a second heater in our so we cranked that up as well. This combined with the extra blankets we got from reception led to a very cozy, comfortable night of sleep. We awoke the next morning around 9:30ish. Today on the agenda was to tour and see all of the ancient Rome places that we didn't get to Friday. We shuttle over to the Coliseum and the Roman Forum. We knew that if we went to the Roman Forum first because we knew we could buy us tickets there that would get us into all the attractions. So we started the day off by walking up/ on Palatine Hill. This is where the birth of Rome is said to take place. If you've heard the Romulus and Remus myth, it is said to take place on this hill. We were standing on history-so unbelievably cool, I cannot even tell you. This hill is a part of and kind of attached to the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum is in essence old ruins of ancient Rome. Your allowed to walk around and climb on these things, so amazing. There are tons of old buildings where the only thing that really remains are some columns and walls. It's in here that you can also go in and tour Augustus' house. We spent a few hours in here-with amazing weather and I took advantage of the sun completely. From here we headed over to the Coliseum. We and another funny situation here. The girls and I paused on the side of the street to take some pictures and the next thing I know Mike is gone. I couldn't seem him anywhere until I looked about 150 feet up the sidewalk to see him making a bee line for the Coliseum. We were confused and thought maybe he thought we had left him and he was trying to catch up to us? Well we practically had to run up to catch him and when we did we asked where the fire was and said, "I don't know, I was just really excited." Well we hoped in the line and were able to jump part of it because we had already bought our ticket at the Roman Forum. We toured around here for a while. We had a system over break though. Once we got in we would let ourselves get split up so everyone could go at there own pace and not feel rushed. We just meet the group at the exit when we were ready to leave. Katie and I went at our pace which seemed to be the fastest. So we exited out of the Coliseum and waited, a few minutes later came Alyssa. We were waiting outside for close to an hour when we came to the decision that there was no way Mike was still looking around. So we finally spotted him. He was waiting for us inside the Coliseum and the rest of us were outside. It took some effort to get his attention but we finally did. No big deal, it was only 45 min worth of miscommunication. After the tours, we were extremely hungry and Rome is very expensive so, apologetically we chose to eat at McDonald's. We had passed one the previous day somewhere near the Pantheon so off in search of it we went. As we were looking for it we ran back into the Trevi Fountain. This is actually a bit funny. Well, you know how you're supposed to throw a coin in the fountain-well you do this so that one day you will come back to it. For us it was a mere 24 hours for most it years. We laughed, I guess throwing a coin in works eh? So we had dinner and bought some souvenirs and then headed back to the hostel. We arrived back and celebrated our last night in Rome with a happy hour and chatting it up, sitting in the outdoor patio. we had to go to bed a bit early since we had an early flight to Barcelona the next day. Espana here we come!
Current AmeriCorps*VISTA member serving in Oakland, CA. Has a BA in Public Relations & Organizational Comm. and Art at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. Previously studied Art & Media Production at London Metropolitan University.
*All work, designs and rights belong to the artist.