Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to the US - eventually!

The past few months have been crazy - good, bad, sad, happy - but I feel like I need to write a little update if even to keep a little record just for myself.  I said good-bye to Italy for an unspecified amount of time.  Before I left, everybody kept asking me if I was going home - Yes - Forever? - Well, for a while.  I'm taking all my stuff so... ma la vita e` lunga (but life is long).  This was pretty much my standard response.  My roommate Grazia is convinced that I will come back to Italy and who knows (see above).  I like to think that I will come back some day.  I left a big part of my heart there, mostly with all of the amazing people that I left.  It makes me sad to think about how wonderfully I was treated and what good friends I'm made - so I know for sure that I will see them again.  And I really miss speaking Italian, as much as I struggled with it for so long, I Want to speak it now.  My first instinct when someone speaks to me in a foreign language is to respond in Italian...yet sadly they still don't understand.  I don't really know how to sum up my Italian years - they were a wonderful experience that I will never forget.
However, I am super excited to be going back home and to be near my family and enjoy some American comforts, so that helped with all the sadness of leaving and trying not to say good-bye.  Plus it really seemed like I was just going on a 3 month vacation (which I am) - just without at return trip to Italy this time. 

The Long Way Home...SF via Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Kenya & Tanzania..

Since I am jobless now, I figured that I would spend some time travelling on my way home. So I hopped on a plane to Athens on July 4th to join my sister Amanda and travel buddy Tamarin.  I'll give you a brief rundown of our trip so far.  Athens (old ruins, mostly lone columns; dirty city; awesome gyros; Pantheon).  Santorini (beautiful sunset over white houses, lots of pool and beach time; relaxation). Naxos (beach). Samos (waterfall hike, greenery).  Ephesus (awesome ruins of the old city, sad temple with only one column remaning, lots of mosques, St. John church). Pamukkale (the coolest, strangest calcite formations ever in the middle of nowhere - you really ought to check this link Pics).  Capadoccia (rock formations, musty somewhat suffocating cave room, beautiful valleys, hot air balloon ride, finally some hiking, HOT WEATHER!, again, one of the strangest, most unique geologic places set in the middle of nowhere). Anakara (layover). Istanbul (lots of mosques, breaking the Ramadam fast with everyone else, Bosphorous river cruise between the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea - Asia and Europe, bazaars, persistant waiters, churches and palaces). And now BULGARIA (so far the beautiful Rila Monastery, Germanic Plovdiv architecture, and KFC).  I'll post a few pics for you to see but really you should check out Amanda's on Facebook, or I might post some later.

So far I've been travelling for 5+ weeks - the longest ever so far.  At times it has seemed long, I have to admit, but mostly I was just ready for the 100 degree weather to end.  Thankfully, the past two days here it has rained and cooled down some and there is hope that this will continue for another week or so.  Amanda went home on Wednesday and part of me wanted to go back with her - but most of me is so excited for Africa on Sept 1st that I am happy to keep travelling.  Not that I want to go home - just a few days of being able to cook my own food, sleep in a comfy bed, and have a shower that is not directly over the toilet, reliable internet, no more lugging huge suitcases around (Africa equipment).  But Bulgaria has been a nice change - I feel like I am back in Europe and back home.  Tomorrow we are off to Bucharest Romania and from there we will rent a car to explore the countryside for a while.  It should be great, beautiful and hopefully very, very green and nature-y!
So - a short update - but I am still alive, super priveleged to be travelling and experiencing so many different things and to have gotten to spend 5 weeks with my little sister - and ready for more adventure..

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grassheads, A wedding and Pasqua!

I wanted to share my new favorite pet with you – my grasshead. Smile  He’s the cutest ever.. I bought him at the 99cent store and it’s magic.  Now I can cut his hair, tie it in bows, give him a mohawk.  It’s quite good therapy, and much less stress maintenance then a real pet.  I’ve always wanted a Chia pet..
We had a small Spring break from school and I mostly spent it relaxing and becoming addicted to The Amazing Race – amazingly, I had never seen it before.  Good thing there are like 18 more seasons to go… I also went to a good friend’s wedding.  It was at Villa Viviani – a beautiful villa in the hills of Tuscany above Florence.  The view was amazing and I would never get sick of it.  It made me appreciate how lucky I am to live here (and how much I want to live in the country and not in the city).
Last weekend for Easter, a friend and I went to Genova for the long weekend.  Here the Monday after Easter is Pasquetta (little Easter) and thus a holiday.  Genova is a very interesting sea port town with an amazing acquarium, ship museum, old castles and villas, and some beautiful seaside scenery.  We also spent a day on the Italian Riviera – we took a beautiful walk from Santa Margerita to Portofino (where all the rich stars spend their vacations).  The sea was so blue and clear.  It was a nice, relaxing weekend with some beautiful scenery.
After a nice break, I came home to a broken fridge.  Something else to add to the list of things I’ve had to live without for at least a week of permanently (washer, dryer, heater, air conditioner, hot water, freezer).  I can’t really think of anything else left – I shouldn’t jinx it – but hopefully the fridge will get fixed one of these days soon.
So now the countdown begins…10 more weeks of school!!  I need to start checking things off my list of things to see before I leave.  It is free museum culture week next week.. Although, I like the idea of leaving some things undone – always a reason to come back..

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So happy winter is almost over…

This post is for Laura since she might be the only one who reads it anyway Smile  My life really hasn’t been super exciting in the past few months.  I feel like I hibernated all winter – it got so cold here – and all of Italy.  Although it didn’t snow much it was in the 10s and 20s for a couple of weeks – way, way too cold for me.  Don’t forget we have ancient radiators and old buildings that can’t keep up.  I can’t tell you how much I love smart wool socks, thermals, scarfs, gloves, coats and my Snuggie.  So somehow I survived.  It really was cold – not just for Italy – we had this biting wind that didn’t go away for 2 weeks.  And the Arno was even iced over: something most Fiorentines have never seen.

But we survived and it is starting to feel like Spring! 


I went to Venice for Carnevale with some friends.  Here Carnevale is like Halloween but with lots of festivals and parades and confetti and treats everywhere.  Venice was packed full of people in historic costumes (a little bit like the Castro used to be on Halloween).  We had a great time.  Now it’s time to wait for Spring – huge chocolate easter eggs are already in the stores, Easter hunts and treats, gardens and flowers and basking in the sun in the piazzas (my favorite past time). 

It’s It’s been a pretty uneventful winter – but don’t worry, I have an awesome summer planned.  A 3 month tour of Greece – Turkey – Bulgaria – Romania – Kenya – Tanzania – Mt Kilmanjaro – before returning to the beautiful US of A.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Welcome Back to Italy!

So I’ve been back for almost a week and it’s been a busy one.  Some good welcomes and some bad welcomes…


I was welcomed to scaffolding up in front of my window and behind our balcony..for some reason they are removing all of the surface of the building and redoing it.  Which means pounding and hammering all day long..not to mention that we now have our washer (nonfunctioning) in the kitchen and no hot water for 3 days (so far).  When was the last time you heated 16 pots of water on the stove to make a warm bath? 

I was welcomed to my great roommates and Grazia’s birthday party…and then in time to help her move back to Sardegna.  Work had already called me before I even got back and I started again at 2 the next day.  Good thing I never have problems with jet lag.  Unfortunately they changed all the books at work so I get to redo all my lessons. 

And I was welcome back to Fall!  Which means pretty soon it will be colder in the house than outside and I’ll be wearing jackets all the time until the heat gets turned on – and the leaves will be turning beautiful colors.  Welcome back to walking everywhere, waiting for busses that never come, cigarette smoke, good food: pasta, pizza, gelato, great students and friends.

Things here are always just a little bit backward> it’s what makes life so interesting here. But it’s nice to be back.  I had a fantastic time at home visiting friends and family and celebrating my grandpa’s 90th birthday.  Not to mention a fantastic trip to Spain, France, Belgium and Poland – not that you’ll ever see pictures Smile  It was tough to leave all of the great people in the US, especially my cute nieces and nephews and I miss them a ton but I can’t be on vacation forever. But it’s going to be a great year, right?!