Thursday, September 29, 2011

Italian men singing in English... With a banjo...

Really fast post about really fun things! Ready-GO!

Ok, so what I thought was going to be my major accomplishment for the day was managing to de-seed an entire pomegranate. And follow up said feat by eating it. Winner? Yes. Delicious? Yes. Full of antioxidants? Probably. I was very proud of that moment.  It was a bucket-lister.

But reality told me that this was going to be no ordinary day where de-seeding and eating a pomegranate would be a triumph, oh no, this was going to be an epic day.

"How epic," you say?
Epic enough to find not only live music in Rome (near by, I might add), but also Folk and Blues live music in Rome.

DING! Winner! It was so cool! So we actually pass this place every day on the way to class, but they have a sweet little set up in the back and it was hopping. One guy was obviously in charge of who was doing what, but there were several little acts-all folk music... In English. Our favorites included: Wolverine (Erica's fav) so named because he looked like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (good choices) and he played the guitar and bass, "Pretty Boy"-not an adequate title for this beautiful man, tall and lanky with the one stray dark curl. We originally called him "Married Boy" but turns out that it wasn't a wedding band after all. Anyway, he played the guitar and sang (both very well I might add) (I mean, Wolverine played a mean guitar, but he didn't sing. So points to Pretty Boy.) Pretty Boy's Friend, just was just there and was the friend of Pretty Boy, like the awkward wingman. And the Banjo guy. He wasn't attractive, but he did play the banjo. He was also one of those characters who doesn't talk much.

But there were attractive men, beautiful guitars, a banjo, a harmonica, basses, a drum set, and obviously Italian men singing folk songs in English. Eventually we branched a little into the Blues realm (including my favorite, the sing along), but regardless, it was awesome. Erica, Molly, and I had more fun than you can shake a stick at. I'm totally pro this becoming a regular routine. Thursday night in Rome? This is where it all happens.

Oh yeah. Before I forget, I'm leaving for Tuscany in the morning, so I won't be posting again until Sunday night! Can you say hot springs and horseback riding? Ok good. Because that's what I'll be blogging about in 3 days.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Off to the Races

Fact: I should start blogging earlier than 10:30pm.
Fact: I should probably finish my readings before I blog.
Fact: I have yet to do either.

So disregarding my need to actually read for my class tomorrow, I 'm going to tell you about my adventures for the day.  May day began with the decision to grab some espresso from Giovanni (we learned his name a week or so ago) at the coffee place down stairs and picked up some tickets for the tram/bus.

Feeling good that I had 30 minutes to get to the Pantheon, I waited by the stop for the tram with a bunch of other people. I'm thinking, hey, I'm taking public transportation to get to my class which is being held by the PANTHEON. I'm awesome. La dee da dee da. Why aren't there any trams coming this direction? Maybe they're just behind today. La dee da dee da. Why are there still NO trams headed in the right direction? HMMM!!?! *watch check* Ok, so I've still got 20 minutes. No big deal.

Enter: Italian man thinking I speak Italian.

From what I think was going on in this little 'exchange' he was telling me that cars are no supposed to drive on the tram tracks. There is a part of the road designated for cars, and another for trams. Cars driving on the tram lines defeat the purpose. At this point I was kind of laughing because my long awaited tram was behind this taxi who was going against these stated rules. Yay it's here!

False.

That tram wasn't taking any passengers. Bad news bears. *now frantic watch check* I got places to be in 15 minutes. It's a long walk. Uh... Bus? Too late. Answer: book it.

At this point I'm going to show you a little map. Please notice the time designation to the left of the picture.

Correct. That does say '26 minutes'. Yes, I needed to be there in 15minutes. Other questions include, oh yeah I don't have a map on me, and I haven't exactly been to the Pantheon yet. I knew that it was past 'Argentina' which is where the tram would have taken me, and I had a vague idea of it being straight from there. That's it. That's all I've got. So I take one last look at the funny Italian man trying to convince me to wait for a bus, and get going.

I'm dodging past people, walking in the street, paying no regard to crosswalk signs, leaping over baby carriages, knocking over postcard stands, and foaming at the mouth.  It was a trial. Once I got to Argentina (again, this is the end of the tram line/piazza, not the actual country) I began to worry which way I was supposed to go. With no map and no signs, I pull out my cell phone in what I realize is probably a futile attempt to reach Kate, and just pick a street.  At this point I'm just praying, please let this one lead me to somewhere I can actually see the Pantheon, that way I'll be able to walk in that direction.

HUZZAH! I'm such a good guesser. Sheer talent. I've got a profession here. In short, I made it to the Pantheon. ON TIME (that means that I made that 26 minute walk in 15 minutes). So we walk in to the Pantheon talk about Raphael for a moment, then head over to Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Talked about art there. It was tight. It was awesome.

And then I got groceries.

That's my life.

All of it.

And Sam is my lover.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mondays a la Tuesday

You're just so demanding! It's ok. I forgive you. I could hear you yelling at me from across the pond, "Keellllssseeeeeyyy!!!!!  Why didn't you post last night?!?!  Mondays suck enough without having your beautiful prose to come back from class and read. *sob* *cry* *sound of nose-blowing* *sob*"

And to that I say, I know. Mondays do suck. They suck so much that here in Rome I just couldn't bring myself to blog about it. And if you look at it like that, I'm doing you a favor! Because what's more depressing than a Monday? A Monday spent reading Russian drama... Followed by Kelsey's depressing blog post. So I let you read your Tolstoy in peace and war,  (See what I did there? That was clever) and gave you the night off. Blessing in disguise.

So in conclusion, Mondays are so boring/sucky that we spent 20 minutes of the night attempting to iron Molly's hair. Sure, oh yeah, flat iron, haha. FALSE. No one brought a flat iron. So we IRONED her hair. Well, Kate did. But Erica was there for moral support, and I laughed a lot. So that helped right? Anyway, it mostly worked. To be clear, no one was burned, no one died, and everybody got up in time for class in the morning. But it wasn't quite as effective as maybe a Chi would have been, but we didn't have one for comparison. So there.

And that concludes the exciting adventures of Monday.

See? Was that really worth it. No. You waited almost 24 hours for that. And you could have been sleeping, or reading Tolstoy instead of pacing your room waiting for a 300 word blog post about an iron. Sad.

Today, after not having much to compete with, didn't measure up well in the polls either. I got some work done and got to watch a movie in Cin City (which was only mildly depressing, but still). And now I'm writing a blog over tortellini and waiting for my sinuses to drain.

So now you're thinking, "Hold up. Tortellini? Wow, Kelsey's got some mad skillz over there in Roma!"
Don't get too excited. Due to my congestion levels, I do not feel compelled to make delicious smelling things, and so I made tortellini. From a box. I know, severe let down. I'll try to make it up to you! Maybe (if you're lucky) I'll test out my newly acquired cooking skills in the states.

And with that, I bid you adieu. I may actually go to bed at a reasonable time tonight.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things to do on a Sunday

This is how I spend my day: reading for Gaga, Philosophy 101 (still no catchy nickname? Lamesauce), and most of my Italian High Renaissance class.  If this doesn't sound like the perfect Sunday, then you need to invest in a sundae and call it quits.  None the less, the farthest I traveled today was from my bed to the couch. I literally also had the time to measure which was farther, my bed to the couch, or my bed to kitchen sink. Couch wins.

So after learning a lot more about geometric pottery, whether it really exists out side of my mind, and that Leonardo da Vinci wrote backwards AND devised wings made out of lizard scales so that other lizards could look like dragons, I decided that I was just going to pretend like I had been way more productive than I had been and laugh about it later.

Speaking of laughter, this is a wonderful little video that was recommended to me (after sharing Double Dream Hands) by none other than Michelle. It is a sure-fire way to make your day a little bit brighter, I know the combination of Double Dream Hands and Laughing Yoga is the right way to end any and all weekends.

Enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXgdSOxaCGI

Saturday, September 24, 2011

If a coin is lucky, how much luck do I get for a bicuspid?

So we'll try this again. Blogger was not on my side this evening, and I am now feeling the full force of this technological hatred radiating from my computer screen (think geed squad can fix that? Or maybe it's just free x-rays.  Undecided.)


It is what it is, and today was an adventure. Of epic proportions? Mayhaps not, but we do what we can while in Roma. Yes, it's been nearly an entire month in the Eternal City, and we are just now (mark that calendar) actually seeing the sights. Well, most of them. After our adventure in Firenze last weekend, we decided that it would be better to just stay here and see what they know about things.

So we began our journey after a pot (is that the right word?) of expresso made at home, Erica's chipper morning singing, (and bags packed for touristy things that would allow us to fit in with the crowds and get swarmed by 'tour guides' and 'helpful people who really just want you to give them money'.  The real trouble is that Rome's sights are so spread out that it would literally take an entire day (dawn to dusk) to walk to all of them. Keep in mind that we had an inside opinion (a la Molly) that we shouldn't attempt to see all of these things by walking.  Something about a surprise 4 hour walking tour means that she didn't want to do that again. Whatever. So we opted for the 'hop on hop off' tour bus method for the seeing of the sights. Now this technique involves little to no hopping, but it does require a keen eye for recognizing tour buses. This is a practiced skill, and not one easily trained. So Young Skywalker, we shall test your skills. 


Facts: The bus that you choose for your excursion is red.  There are two 'lines' to this tour company, you are allowed to board either line. One is labeled the 'red line' the other the 'blue line'.

When looking for the 'blue line' do you look for a blue bus?

NO. No you do not. You look for a red bus with the words printed on a piece of paper on the windshield 'Blue Line'. Granted, this does mean that you can't just hop the first red bus you see, nor can you just get on the bus that you recognize as the right company (after all there are multiple red buses), you have to get the blue-red bus. Time consuming.

So we leapt aboard the correct vehicle plugged in the nifty red head sets and drove off into the sunset-I mean the Vatican. YAY ART HISTORY! We only stayed for a bit, but it was enough to have a nice little appetizer of what could be behind that facade. Beautiful colonnades (yay Bernini), stunning dome (yay Michelangelo), and a TON of tourists. So many. But that's ok. We looked just like them.

Back on the bus, and over to the Trevi Fountain where pictures and coin throwing ensued. Now I guess I'll have to come back to Rome sometime. It's in the luck of the coins now! On a side note about throwing money into the fountain, the most shocking part of the day was noticing not the money in the bottom of the fountain, that's to be expected, but the dentures. Yes, I said dentures. I'm not sure what kind of luck that brings you, but I bet the person missing his/her teeth is either the luckiest or the most unlucky person there. Maybe this is something like the tooth-fairy drop site. There are lots of euros, and some teeth... so she was on her first rounds of the day? A set of dentures should be about 5 euros right?

This is going to be the part of this blog post where you judge me.

And it's going to be like ripping off a band-aid: the faster the better. I'll just say it.
We ate at McDonald's.

Hey, stop the hate. I know you're thinking something like, "KELSEY! You're in Italy!!!  How in the world can you disgrace yourself like that by going to a McDonald's in Rome!?!" Wait. Hold your little pony there. I'm going to defend myself in three points.

1) I'll have you know that it was almost entirely packed full of Italians. NOT Americans. Therefore it was a cultural experience.  Did you know that they have pistachio McFlurries? Had I not gone in there, you wouldn't know that.
2) I've been here for a month. I've had pizza. I've had gelato. I've had pasta.  Sometimes you just really want greasy burger and some salty, artery-clogging french fries. This is the human condition. Not to be confused with the human condiment. That's weird, and it's after midnight here. Just ignore that last part.
3) Since the team back home is enjoying the first tastes of the road, I figured I would show my undying support by also eating fast food.

See? Brilliant. Now you're just jealous that you didn't eat at the McDonald's by the Trevi fountain too.

After a delicious, allbeit caloric, lunch, we jumped back on the bus and headed to the Colosseum. Was it beautiful? Yes. Photogenic? Yes. (which reminds me, I'll get to pictures tomorrow or Monday). Free? Also yes.  With these nifty little holidays built in, there are occasionally free cultural attractions. So hand over that free ticket stub, I'm jumping on that band wagon. So we wandered around that historical colossus and took more pretty pictures.  Then back to the blue-red bus and wee wee wee all the way home.

Once at home I made attempt number 37 (a guestimate on my part) for red sauce, and I think I'm getting closer! It was pretty good for what I have available to me at the moment. All four of us ate, and then finished up our Tom Hanks meets Meg Ryan in a serendipitous way marathon. Which totaled two movies over two days. We're not much for long term committed viewing.  But we had a good time, and now that it's after one am, I'm calling it quits and going to bed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Frozen Pizza Section- Aisle, well that one over there

If someone asked me right now, "If there was a time for you to eat 'hotdog and french fry pizza' would you do it? What would the occasion be?" The answers would be: Yes, and needed something to blog about.

I know, I know. Now you're thinking, "Wait, Kelsey. What in the world were you thinking? You're living in Italy and you picked 'hotdog and french fry pizza'? What? YOU'RE IN ITALY!? Pick up your game!" Au contraire!  This is not an 'Amurican' thing that I have done. This is entirely Italian. When was the last time that you saw, AND purchased a hotdog french fry pizza in your local Price Chopper? Never. Don't lie to me. You have never done such a thing. But here in Italy, it's a big seller. Welcome to the frozen pizza section of the 'supermarket' in Rome.  And because you did not lie there, (or over here for that matter) I will tell you the truth.  It actually wasn't that bad. No, seriously.  It's like having cheese pizza, and a hotdog, and french fries. Just all at the same time. In order to be more supportive of the full experience, Erica and I made sure that everyone tried a slice (some more enthusiastically than others).  And I promise you that the pizza is now gone.  I almost saved you a piece. Then I got hungry.

The rest of the pizzas (not all taken to with such gusto) were polished off during the viewing cinema pleasure of "You've Got Mail".  So yes, we had a girls' night in.  With hotdog french fry pizza, chick flicks, and general frivolity.

If you're jealous, I understand. We're a pretty cool club.

My night has concluded with skyping nearly the entire Forensics team as they scampered out the door and off to dominate the first MAFL.  So go team! I love all of you. And Sonja's a pretty great person for spontaneously skyping me at just the right moment so that I can meet nearly all of the freshmen and send my well wishes on the bus with them.  Not only that, but I finally got to use some of my pent up 'bald' jokes for Brucetifer. Winner? Yes. I feel better all ready. So go beat 'em bust 'em Gusties!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blah Blah Blah

So today marked a day of significant progress. I mean, for a day where I only had one class and it was kind of my version of 'Friday' (We don't actually have class on Friday's so this is the weekend. All you haters can hate), being productive was pretty good! Let's have a recap before we go to the slow-motion, Rob.

Class: Check
Get food: Check
Cash: Check
Money order: Wait, what?
Pun: Check
Do Cin City Reading: Check (that's Italian Cinema-Credit: Bethany)
Email team: Check
Write Mariecus: CHECK

It's be a very good day. I mean really, for not having class tomorrow, that's a lot of stuff to get done! Look at me go. For serious.  I think I'm cool.

As for tomorrow, it's technically a 'make up day' where Thursday classes can have an extra class? No that question mark is not a mistake. I still don't get all of it. But the point of the story is that thanks to my Cin City prof (who I think unintentionally calls me by my last name instead of my first.  Roll call: Sarah, David, Abele, Elizabeth, Francesco...) we just had an extra thirty minutes of class discussion today instead of having an entire extra class on a Friday. Cool? Yes. So I'm going to be industrious and get work done tomorrow. Aren't you proud?

If you were looking for a really cool story about a different alien in my Cin City class, you're out of luck. These people are all human.  But I guess that's ok. I guess.

At the request of Erica (I tend to trust her on these sorts of things) we played Ke$ha (read: K-dollar sign-ha) and danced in the living room. Europe and Ke$ha seem to get along very well. Occasionally when walking along the street you can here one car blasting music that would seem more common in route to a speech tournament or the dance party in the Dive. But it's always nice to have a little note a la home once in a while. And dancing to Ke$ha is always a good option.  Always.

Anyway, after a lovely conversation with Alecia, I'm zonked.  So class or no class tomorrow, I'm gonna needs me some sleep. Good night world!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm going camping, and I'm bringing C-Rad

Things that make me happy: Receiving letters from my mother (with socks... Dobby much?) and MARIECUS.  It literally made my afternoon.  Not only was it soggy with sassiness, it was practically angelic prose. And I can't wait to respond.  It's already begun.

Part 2: Skyping with Sonja and Vanessa.  Separately, but wonderful all the same. It's like my life as it would be if I wasn't in Rome.

Part 3: Eating delicious Gnocchi made by Erica.  That means that I didn't have to cook. Yay!

Now for the real news of the day, and I've been thinking about this post for a large chunk of time. Honest.

I'm going to tell you a little story about Charles, and subsequently, my assumptions about all degree seeking students here.

Charles is in my Gaga class.  (That's Ancient Greek Art and Archaeology for those of you not paying attention) Charles is a fairly tall man with a full beard and often wears a beret when not in class. He is the kind of individual who will physically move a chair to the front and center of the room just so he can sit there. This also means that he is often the only one in the front row of a classroom. But far be it from me to criticize his enthusiasm for learning. As I was sitting down I peered over his shoulder and noticed that the header of his paper was written backwards. We're talking mirror image (including the formation of letters) with the title of the class. I figure, hey, he's been here for a while and got bored. Fine, whatever. We've all been that bored kid in church or homeroom. I get it.

This is where things get freaky.

Part way through class, I noticed that he was left handed. Ok, cool. I know some sweet left-handed people.  But I don't know anyone who... TAKES NOTES BACKWARDS! What!!?!?!?!?!  That's the most absurd thing I've ever seen in my life. Legitimately writes backwards. Think Leonardo da Vinci in English.  Except I don't think this Charles character is a genius... that I know of.

Speaking of good old Leo. In my Italian High Renaissance class (see what no nick name does? It makes you read all of that plus my asides. How not fun is that?) Professor Smyth (not a joke) talked about how Leonardo would follow the strange looking people all day just so he could sketch them when he got home. Awesome? Yes. Would he follow Charles? Probably. Is Charles an Alien? Very likely. (I feel like this entire thing could be filled out a la scantron.  A) Yes. B)Very Likely. C)Sometimes. D) Not Likely. E) No.)

But seriously, who takes pages (PAGES) of notes writing backwards!?!?!  Who? Only aliens do that. It's the only plausible explanation for this strange occurrence.  Like crop circles.  People? No way. Aliens? Almost certainly. This brings me to my degree seeking student bit. In this particular class, there are 3 (including Charles) current degree seeking students (this means that unlike the study abroad kids who are there for a semester/year, these people are there all 4 years.) And I think there are two freshmen who are degree seekers as well. I'm not really counting them because they are almost as clueless about JCU/Rome as the study abroad kids (side note on these two, one of them is literally named Chloe R. I'm never sure how to take this because we often sit next to each other. So my Chloe R, pay attention).  And if you throw Charles into that group of three, you have: A girl I can't understand who gave a presentation I couldn't understand with pen on her face, a girl who is supposed to be in multiple classes of mine and shows up late to all of them, if at all, and a degree seeking alien who takes notes backwards. By this point I just keep playing the "I'm going camping" game.  During one specific bus ride to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Cadi took a turn and listed (and correct me if I'm wrong): light up shoes, radio towers, Natalie, that car, and her cat.  What can you bring camping? Anything that Cadi thought might have been an alien.  Well I'm going camping, and I'm bringing Charles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Make banana pancakes-pretend like it's the weekend

Let's talk for a moment about how flipping pretty Rome is when you're not bathing in your own sweat.  It's actually b-e-a-u-tiful.  For serious. Example: It was only in the 70s today and that means wearing things like jeans and boots! It also means things like my hair doesn't have to be piled on top of my head and away from my neck. If it was up to some people I would have a Barbie ponytail at all times, and it would be curly and funny and potentially very distracting (to both me and the people sitting behind me in class).  But that's all besides the point. I finally got to wear things that I would like to wear to class rather than scrounging for things that don't need sleeves, or could just do without sleeves until I sew them back on later (I brought a sewing kit, whatevs) (that one is for you Cadi).

After a lovely walk to school at the G campus, I spent a lovely two hours watching a movie in my Italian Cinema class (still no real recommendations? I'm disappointed in all of you. Come on people.  Bethany is the only one on my solid gold list. Digipho for the win. And potentially my mother with her recommendation for Greek Art and Archaeology: Gaga.) and loving all of it. I mean what other kinds of class can you possibly take that allow you to sit for two hours and watch a movie EVERY OTHER CLASS.  That's one a week. And the other one you only have to attend half of because it's just a discussion. Winner.

After class I leisurely walked to the grocery store because I was hard up for some grub. This meandering involved me listening to Jack Johnson and enjoying the light crisp breeze and the sunshine.  Do you envy me yet? You green with it! (Mike Wazowski!) (For those of you who followed that, we're best friends now). So I shopped, didn't make a fool of myself (it's hard, but actually possible) bought another I Puffi glass (We're going to see it this weekend. Fact.) and toted my newly purchased foodstuffs all the way home. Wee Wee Wee. It was a good time.

Made some lunch. At the recommendation of Michelle I made a grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich.  Very good.  May need something else to it, but I'm content with how good it was for the moment. Talked to some beautiful people from home.  Missing them hardcore. And read a little bit of Philosophy. Actually reading Philosophy is not quite as conducive to dreaming of Moua as class.  But I tried. Watched Down With Love with Erica and Kate (Molly will attest to how adorable we were on the couch), and finally making dinner for Erica and myself. (Just going to say it, my red sauce is going to be perfected by the end of this semester. I'm throwing down the gauntlet now-Bring it Mc Saucyson!)

And now I'm giving up and going to bed. The End.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blissfully Breezy

The sad truth of this post is that it has absolutely no chance at being as amusing as the last two (count them, two). And that estranged fact makes me feel blue. Blue like a rainy day.

WHICH IT WAS.

Segue! Holla! Check this out. So apparently last night there was this gargantuan thunderstorm.  We're talking the kind that wakes people up and they all converge in corners the next day to talk about their individual trials with that one specific storm.  This girl, however, had no idea it even rained. Whether that is a testament to my incredible sleeping skills, my up bringing a la tornado alley that makes thunderstorms seem like a small gold fish compared to the siren wailing Oz suckers we can get, or simply that I am usually so enveloped in some wacky dream to pay attention to the real world remains to be seen.  The point of the story is that I can sleep through anything I set my mind to.  Real champions sleep through storms.

Anyway, that 'mega storm' made the temperature of Rome much more palatable today. And that is a miracle. After about 3 weeks of 90+ weather, and only really having layered clothing to deal with makes this now clean 60 degree breeze blowing through the windows right now down right glorious. It feels like fall at last! (knock on wood. I want it to stick around) The only trouble with this new found breeze is that it has the propensity to blow our nearly secure lights from side to side at dangerous looking angles. Not nice. But kind of fun in a daring sort of way.

I had my full regimen of classes today, including Digi Phot (I'm using it until someone gives me something better. You all are slackers). Now in Digi Phot (see, just going to keep doing it) we spent the first hour out taking pictures. Now you're thinking, Hey, I want to take a Digi Phot class!  I want to spend an hour outside taking pictures! But the deal is that we went to an out door market, and this always makes one very hungry.  And breakfast just wasn't as filling as it could have been.... and you have one euro. Suddenly not so fun. But it was still pretty sweet. Then we spent the last two hours of that class looking at the pictures we took and talking about ways to edit them.

Other class, followed by the class where I dream of Moua, and then finally home. This makes me realize that I desperately need to go grocery shopping. Desperately. So on tomorrow's to-do list there is FIND FOOD/SCAVENGE in very large letters. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out... but hopefully I'll find something to eat tomorrow. Wish me luck.

ALSO: The letter situation is a solid green light. No more hoping and praying, just a little bit o time. Today I have heard news that my postcards have reached GAC (I <3 BS, and sent a post card that said so), and I have received mail from GAC (Go Alecia go!).  All systems go. I'm willing to spend the 1.60 euros on the people who are willing to spend the $ 0.98 to write me. And no that's not an equivalent amount. Just so you know.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

All the lonely people looking-back-at-me-from-18th-century-gilded-frames-Florence (part 2)

[to be read by Michael Caine]
Chapter 2
The Second Day

The next morning we woke up leisurely, but in good time to actually make another whirlwind adventure of Firenze. (ok, you can stop with the Michael Caine voice any time now... that was just supposed to be for the title...)  This all happens after we had laughed ourselves to sleep the night before and now were (quoting Kate here) "Ready to rise and greet the day!" (Yeah, I know there was too much enthusiasm in that sentence for anyone before noon.) But we managed to get packed up and out walking toward breakfast by 10.

Some espresso, croissants (cornetti) (<-- look at me learning multiple languages), and orange juice, we walked around for a little bit taking pictures, attempting to find a working ATM, and to make the first leather purchase of the day (looking hott, Molly).  Then we waited in line for the Uffizi Gallery.  Not only did this take an extensive amount of time, but we played a lot of "he's the one, but" games. Once in the gallery, I basically stood there with my mouth wide open and fanny pack and audio headset equipped tourists bustled around my statuesque form.

I'm talking hole-y Shiitake mushrooms. There are billions if not trillions of dollars worth of art in this museum. I think that if you collected all of the money made from selling the entirety of the Uffizi collection, you could pay off the US national debt. I don't know if that's actually true, but I'd be impressed. Hell, I'm already impressed. No need for those kinds of joking terms. So I grabbed a map and began my tour de force of the Uffizi.  For me, this means something like my nearly 3 hour stay didn't even scratch the surface of what I wanted to look at. I spent a long time doing some journaling homework for my Italian High Renaissance class (Why has no one come up with fun nicknames for these classes? I'm tired of typing this out every single time!) and that involved spending about an hour in front of one painting sketching and writing.  But there were something like 17,000 other paintings that were completely neglected! I feel terrible. So many paintings that just deserve a good long look instead of the guided tour required 5 minute stop. Just a string of half-attentive tourists shuffling in and out without a reluctant, passionate look back. It just makes you want to cry.

Anywayzies. I know not all of you will be as enthralled by the overwhelming presence of art as I was, but they eventually dragged me kicking and screaming out of the museum so that we could figure out what leather purchases we each needed to make before leaving the leather capital of the world.  This involved a walk across the Ponte Vecchio (I promise that I'll post some pictures tomorrow, it's getting late and this is getting long for me to do it now) and around some of the side streets.

Leather leather leather everywhere. Kate and Erica both bought beautiful purses/bags/begs (depending on your accent of choice) and Molly and I are jacket buddies.  And I'm just going to say, Cadi K is going to pee her pants when she sees my new leather jacket. Sending my love from Italy. It started at over 700 euros, and after much talk and trying on several other jackets, we worked it all down to 270 euros. Deal? Yes. Deal. It's a beautiful red and hand stitched.  I'll post pictures of this acquisition as soon as I have a good reason to wear it... like it's cooler than 80 degrees. So hopefully soon!

With our leather purchases in hand, we picked up our bags at the hostel and made our exhausted way back to the train station. This began our adventure back home. Train (lots of laughs and delusional commentary), waiting at Termini for the train to Trastevere, missing the announcement that said that the train would be at a different platform, attempting to find a bus, giving up and taking a taxi.  The taxi ride always means someone in the backseat is terrified that we're eventually going to squish a moped or confused tourist. Luckily for us, we managed to not kill anyone on that Mariocart track back home.

Home at last. And realizing that we don't have much food except for a frozen french fry/hotdog pizza. Yum?
Maybe for the next adventure.

Rose Nylund never had anything bad to say about Herringbone patterns--Florence (part 1)

Hello friends! Or should I say "Hello Firenze!" They sound about the same in some accents. It's been a long time and this is going to be a long post. So sit up, pay attention, and have some sort of delicious beverage of choice nearby.

Wake up in the morning feeling like it's very early-because it is. We were planning to take the 7:58am train to Termini (a station in Rome that has a lot of connections).  So at about 6, I forced myself to roll out of bed and pretend like it was a doable time of morning. And all I could really think about was, that I'm going to be late to the tournament. Let's face it speechies, we get up early for tournaments. and 6am is not that early.  In fact, if you're getting up at 6, you're going to be late. So I did some dishes, packed some stuff, put some clothes on, and put on a thing of coffee.  After we were all up (some more excitedly than others) we downed some coffee and ran out the door with bags over shoulders, laughter, and old school rap lyrics being tossed around the sidewalk as we made our way tot he first train station of the day.

Fast forward to post ticket purchasing, we make our way on to the train.  For this short ride, we didn't do too much. But once we arrived at Termini, we had to walk down the entire length of the train station until we finally found another counter to purchase our tickets to Firenze.  We then waited for a little bit before hopping on the last train of the day. This two hour ride left some sleepy, others well read, and still some others smelling gum. But you know, all in a day's work. Once we made it to Florence, we jumped off the train and dragged our luggage all the way to the hostel we were going to be staying at for the night.

In the process of finding the hostel, we passed through the Piazza del Duomo. Let's talk about this for a moment.  So much time is spent giving credit to Brunelleschi for his Duomo, and rightly so (that to be covered later) but the entire square is vibrant and rich in colors, architecture, and Asian tourists.  If you don't think that sounds like a winning place to be, then you're no fun. It's stunning. The facade of the entire cathedral is brilliantly patterned and ornate and automatically draws you toward it before you even realize your feet are moving.  Fighting against the impulse to run up and hug the entire building, we finally made our way to the hostel, dropped off our bags, asked some questions from the proprietors and decided to grab a snack before attempting the biggest adventure for the day: Climbing the Duomo.

Hostel: Check. Snack: Check. Caffeine: Check.
To the Duomo. Cupola or bust.

Now to get to the top of the Duomo, there are some tasks.  The first one is to wait in line and take pictures of other tacky tourists in floral prints and eating gelato.  The second is to pay 8 euros for a ticket.  Then: the stairs. And there are a lot of them. 463... ish.....  So jump on in and get those legs to pumping.  At first you're walking along thinking, hey, these are pretty nice stairs. Not a really tight spiral, almost square shaped. Sweet. Dobedobedo. Tralalala-hey look a window!  That's cool. Keep going, platform.  At this point you being to realize that you really did pay 8 euros to climb 463 steps. All of them. And that some people are not taking that investment seriously.  Some people have seen the road less traveled and turned around to go back the way they came. They have a word for those kinds of people, they are called: Wimps. Only the strong survive this.

Eventually you make it all the way to the edge around the actual dome.  This part is hard to describe in words. But there's a last ring before you start walking inside the actual dome, like the curved part with the burnt orange roof. Since you are inside the cathedral, you are basically walking along the molding that marks the difference between the wall and the ceiling.  The walls have giant stained glass windows that are just out of reach at this point, and the ceiling has an enormous fresco of the Last Judgment.  When you are literally standing at the foot of some of these demons, they are unrecognizable, but looking across the way, everything looks well thought out and proportional.  It's fantastic.

From this point you actually have to start climbing inside the dome. This involves very VERY narrow passageways that also much double as a two lane road.  That part is tricky.  There are parts where the only way back down is the way you got there in the first place, and there is still this giant string of people making their way up to the top. So basically if you are at all claustrophobic, it's rough going. I'm now going to have an art history nerd moment. Thanks to Mr. Luce making our class read that "Brunelleschi's Dome" book, I was acutely aware of the herringbone brick pattern and the alternating ring and rib structural supports.  And although I was ogling and babbling, there were still stairs to climb-which got progressively steeper. So huffing and puffing we made it all the way to the top to see the most beautiful view you could possibly ask for.

Tangent time.  Art history books spend pages upon pages describing the intimate detail of the building, the architecture, the artist, the years and the stylistic points of each thing. But nothing, let me rephrase, NOTHING compares to actually being there. To walk the steps, to feel the walls, to notice the little things like the mortar, the bricks, the dips in the stairs from all of the people walking up and down them for hundreds of years. This is culture. And once you read all of that material (cough, not very exciting Brunelleschi book, cough) everything comes flooding back when you're actually there. So, props Mr. Luce for making me read that entire thing. I remembered a lot more than I thought I would. (Side note for those of you who survived that 2 week discussion with me: THERE'S AN OX HOIST.  This is real life.)

So after taking ample pictures at the top of the Duomo, speaking to some British people (if KBG doesn't come back with a British accent, we gonna have some problems) and generally enjoying the view, we made our way back down the 463 steps without breaking anything (either personal or historical). We then made our sweaty way to Santa Croce to a wonderful little restaurant on the piazza. It was absolutely delicious. Pesto Lasagna? Yes please. I think I'll have 7. And 8 slices of cake. Thanks.

After that luxurious lunch we finally worked up the shaky-legged strength to make our leisurely way toward the Accademia.  For those of you who don't know why this is such a fantastic place, it's because of The David. Yes, that David.  Michelangelo's David. And (probably less famous) several of Michelangelo's later works like "Dying Slave" and the late "Pieta".  *shiver* SO GOOD. All of it. There were some other smaller galleries too, very early Renaissance alter pieces, and another sculpture exhibit.  Once again, those pretty pictures in art books don't do much justice to the works themselves.

We then shopped our way back to the hostel where we rinsed off (walking up lots of steps takes effort and hydration).  Rested for a bit, then got ready to go out to dinner at a Mexican place. Now before you start judging us about going to a Mexican restaurant in Florence, let me just list some facts for you to digest: Fact-Mexican food is delicious. Fact-It's hard to find Mexican food in Italy (and I assume many other parts of Europe).  Fact- We've been here for almost a month and haven't had any Mexican, thus going through with drawl.  So although it wasn't the best Mexican in the world, it was attempt to fix the fix.  Then back to the hostel for some well deserved sleep. Winner.

This is very long. I'm going to consider this part one, and the next one part two.  It's like a chapter book.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Because John Denver Wanted it That Way

If that title was too much of a music mismatch for you, you can forget about it. It's ok. I'll beat you later.

So my bags aren't quite packed.  I'm mostly ready to go. I'm still in my apartment (not standing outside anyone else's that's for sure) and I'm still awake to say good bye to you.  You all have been such loyal readers, that I just had to lose another 30 minutes of sleep to let you know what's up and what's going on. Don't you feel special? You should. You are special. I'll just echo whatever your mother told you on that front.

The plan: Go to Florence.
Why: Because it looks awesome.
When: Tomorrow morning at a very early hour.
Who: Us.  That means myself and 3 other fantastic individuals.
What: See the above four points
Where: Haven't you been paying attention?

Now that you read that twice, I'll continue. Thanks to Sam and Laura (two delightful friends of mine who both studied in Florence this time last year. Sam: My thumbs need to be popped. Laura: I actually burnt my finger today. I miss you so much. I just wish that the burn spelled out 53 instead of a blob.) (It's really strange to think that I can reference both of them off hand.) (PUN) I have had this immense desire to go to Florence and see all sorts of beautiful things. Their influence coupled with the fact that my Italian High Renaissance professor talked about all of the beautiful things in the Uffizi Gallery for three hours on Wednesday.  So I'm leaving.  And I'll be back after I've learned some more stuff.

That's where you come in. I've attempted to be very diligent about updating this blog every day, but alas, I won't be bringing this whole laptop shabang with me.  So I'll take notes, have an incredibly long and potentially rambling (blog title? what?) post on Saturday night/Sunday.

I love you all, I'm so glad you're keeping up with this. You make me happy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"That's the biggest thing I've ever seen!" "Dad, that's a station wagon"

Let's talk for a moment about the size of the average vehicle in Rome if not in Europe. I've been here for just over 2 weeks, and still smile when I see Smart Cars. Maybe not as much as when I first got here, but generally, I still smile. And as a point of reference, it's like going to Kansas in June and smiling when you see wheat fields. Or Iowa and smiling when you don't see houses. Or Minnesota in January and smiling when you see snow.  Basically it's a lot. All of the cars are pint sized, or fun sized depending on your mood. A Mini Cooper-though considered adorably cute in the states- is a relatively good sized vehicle in Rome. I actually saw one today (they're not terribly common) driving down the street I was walking on and thought to myself-wow, that Mini looks huge.  Which not only is an oxymoron in and of itself, but is just a frightening concept all together. If a Mini Cooper is huge, then what do you call a Hummer? or a Semi-truck? They would squish a Mini like a bug. Or a Bug like a bug. Same idea.

So that got me to thinking, what would a Hummer, or an Escalade look like on any one of these streets? Ponder ponder ponder. Conclusion: It wouldn't fit. It just flat out wouldn't. Basically, each road is lined on one if not both sides with these little cars (Mini, Bug, Smart Car etc) and scooters (not the kind with the infomercial when you were ten, the motorized kind that you mock and coo over in KC).  This leaves about enough room for one small vehicle to drive down the street, and one pedestrian to walk, and maybe a dog.  Not much else. And sometimes there's no room for the pedestrian. So pay attention. If someone then got the bright idea to start driving, let's say, an Escalade in Rome, it would look something like a monster truck rally. Not even kidding. There would be crushed little baby Smart Cars, toppled Vespas, and peeved pedestrians wondering why there was so much noise and breaking glass all over the place. It would simply kill the atmosphere.

Now I'm wondering what my father's truck will look like when I get back. Still maroon, still large, but how large? Will my baby Scarlet look big too? So tonight when Erica and I went out to take some night pictures, I was s-h-o-c-k-e-d to see a limo. Yup. A bona fide limo.  Cruising around Rome. It looked massive. We're talking the length of 6 Smart Cars.  That's a lot. That must have been one swanky party. That's for sure. Maybe one day I'll be invited to such a snazzy occasion. The kind where you can rent a limo in Rome. Just 'cuz.

That all being said, the cheesecake is gone. And that was party enough for this apartment. We are a rockin' group. That's for sure.

But I'm feelin' alright

It's approximately 3am in the states, and I think that this post will suffice for yesterday's.

In honor of Molly's blog, I think I'm going to talk a little bit about a song that is somewhat accurately describing my Tuesday: Len's "Feelin' Alright".  As far as Tuesdays go, this one seemed to be filled with much more homework than I cared for. 3 chapters from various art history books, 2 readings for philosophy, and a presentation to prep for. Now those chapters took some time, I'll guestimate at 100 pages, and the presentation prep had to begin with 45 pages of reading too, then throw in the Philosophy stuff and I'm swamped.

It's like being the smartest kid in class and having no brain.

So much stuff going on! But that's kind of the way my life always operates, right?  I'm always running on fumes and staying up later than I should to finish whatever it was that I didn't get done.  I remember now. The only difference is, that I'm in Rome.

I'm looking all around and everything doesn't-look-anything-like-Minnesota

So those weren't the actual lyrics, but now it's effectively stuck in my head.  And for the moment I will depart to go to class (what a good little student) and to grab some espresso.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In reference to at least one 'Monday' song

Today was a day like any other day. Full of adventure, class, fun things, and sweat.  At least most of those things go together. That's pretty good day all things considered. I managed to make it to all of my classes, worked DigiPhot (a potential new abbreviation for Digital Photography, undecided. Anyone who comes up with something catchier-and/or classy names for all of my classes-gets a gold star) like a diva, solved the Greek Art and Archaeology crisis (it had nothing to do with actual art, so that's not a problem), and sounded reasonably intelligent in Philosophy class (can I just call this one Moua?).  So as far as Monday's go, this is one I would keep.

Looking at my super sweet phone that only texts in 'abc' (NO t9?!?!?!?!?!  WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY!?!?!?!) I found a message from my dear Erica talking about picking up some kind of plain biscuit cookie on my way home. The second part of the message was much more interesting-she mentioned making cheesecake. I'm in. Totally in. Done. So I wandered in the direction of the store, taking a new route and stopping in a church that I pass almost every day (so pretty!) and by the time I get to the store, I walk in and who do I find? Erica and Kate. Beating me to the punch.  At that point (since they had already picked up the cookie things, I grabbed some juice, mushrooms, and rosemary, and the collectable "i puffi" cup full of Nutella (we're going to see it in Italian, look it up) then we headed home.

This is where the actual fun beings. We made (we'll make it again, but if you want a slice you're going to have to fight me for it) chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Now wipe the drool off your computer, and continue reading. It has yet to set completely, but when it does, I assure you that there will be pictures in plenty. I'm so excited.

That was followed by the less amusing adventure of making dinner (9:30pm? ok) and eating it whilest skyping with the stunning Sonja in the team room (also got to see Moua-sigh). That conversation had a little coda of talking to Danielle and Josie back home too.  Things you should take away from this paragraph: I love my GAC peeps. They make me happy.

Paging Batcave. Paging Batcave. Code on line 42.
BS ----> BA^S+RB=face(t).

So I'm going to finish my Italian Cinema reading, go to bed, and dream of delicious cheesecake.
It's just another manic Monday.  In Rome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'll Take Mass for 500

It's a Double Blog Bonus Day!
That means that it's kind of like double Jeopardy, but without the buzzers, theme music, or really smart people with their names written on podiums. So basically, that means that I'm posting two times in the same day. Still, hashtag winning here.

Today was mostly spent working on homework (see step number 2 from previous post).  And if reading Ancient Greek Art and Archaeology for several hours doesn't sound thrilling, you don't have my life. And last time I checked, you didn't have my life, and that's ok.

But that's not the fun part. The fun part comes when Molly and I decided to go to mass.  That's fun. So remember way back when and we had decided to go to mass, but mass didn't happen? Well this time, we got smart, and showed up and hour early to the place we saw mass going on the last time. This time we went to Santa Maria in Trastevere.  This is possibly the oldest church in Rome. You said what? Yup, that's right. Think about the third century.  Then put this floor plan there. Then put the mosaics up around the thirteenth century, and a few other things after that, and BAM. Basilica. The short version goes something like: It's beautiful, it's stunning, I can't stop looking around, and it's all in Italian.

The long version goes something like that except in another church. Why? Mass was only 38 minutes here. Did someone say "Fastest mass ever?" Then there must be an echo. World record for sure. It was short and sweet, and I still had no real idea what was going on, but the art was wonderful. And for me, that's a pretty good day.

I'll put some pathetic pictures so that you can kind of be involved. Nothing does this place justice.

The ceiling 

Can you say wow?

One wall

Alter area

Stunning. 

The Fluffins are Bland

Ok, so it's not a real word. In fact, if you are into questioning reality, this isn't a real post at all. So give that one a spin around the block. Sorry for not updating yesterday.  Actually for being a very lazy day, the fact that I didn't get to the blog is shocking to everyone involved. So I'll attempt to make it up to you now by giving you a play by plan of my relatively uneventful Saturday.

Step one: Get Caffeine.
        This is something that can be important world wide. Americans head to Starbucks, Minnesotans go to Caribou, and the people in Rome/Italy go to the nearest counter with a nice man standing behind it and order very small drinks in very small cups.  You'll notice that there is no 'tall' or 'venti' or 'grande' (I'm not even sure if those are in the right order) but almost everything with the proper dosage of coffee in it (this excludes things made up of 95% steamed milk) comes in what most 5 year old girls would assume is a teacup for her dolly. None the less, the four of us (looking like American college students on a Saturday morning) made our way down to our favorite counter, and ordered our favorites. M: Espresso, Pea a: Espresso, Pea b: Frilly stuff, E: Frilly stuff. We do have our divides.
         We also attempted to have a conversation with the owner of the store.  Considering that I know approximately 7 words in Italian, and one of them was used to order the espresso, we all turned to Molly.  Whether or not she is actually an authority figure on the Italian language remains to be seen, but at least she's in Italian III (When you write 3 like the Romans it looks like mini doric columns! Yay!) Without going into details about this relatively stagnant conversation, let's just say that we all really like to smile and nod.

Step two: Do homework
        Ok, just do it.

Step three: Eat Purdy things
        This can be difficult if you don't have anything purdy to eat. But here in Rome, it's easy! Erica bakes such purdy things and the Berry Lemon Bars were no exception.  The crust floated to the top (uninvited) and surprised us all. Eventually we flipped the entire concoction over so that the crust was back on the bottom and the berry lemon part (un set) oozed over the top.  For about a day we decided that it was much to purdy to eat, so eventually we just had to let the aesthetic pleasures pass and finally had to dig in.  Every had a spoon, and everyone had a corner.
        A this point, things got sticky. Molly didn't want a bit of gelatinous berry goodness, so Kate decided that it was a good idea to spoon feed her some instead. This is the reaction to that.
video


Step four: Learn Vocabulary
        Thanks to a skype call from Kate's parents (Shout out the the adopted parentals!) Erica, Molly and I learned a new word: 'popover'.  Now a popover is not when you decided to unannouncedly go and visit your neighbor (or pop over for a visit), this is actually a bready Minnesotan delicacy. Kate described them as "fluffy muffins".  Naturally, the three of us were so intrigued by this new word that we simply had to use it in all kinds of incorrect ways before we finally got it right. But instead of immediately sticking to the correct terminology of a 'popover,' we decided to give it a new name. Meet the Fluffin.  Erica, being the little baker that she is, made the smart move (after Kate ran away from us carrying her computer-aparently offended that we didn't know this particular food group) to actually look up what a popover-fluffy-muffin-fluffin actually looks like.  And low and behold, we found a recipe.

Step five: Hide things from Kate
        So while Kate was sequestered in the room talking to parentals, the three of us decided to whip up a batch of fluffins. The trouble was, that we have made far too many 'purdy' things for this to possibly go right, so we didn't want any sad pandas in the apartment for messing up the fluffins. The minute we got everything all battered up, we sent Molly on a special mission to make sure that the conversation didn't end too soon. Go Molly go! (she's kind of a star spy) But she managed to give us the perfect amount of time to get the fluffins baking, and then to start dinner on the stove so as the oven being on wouldn't look suspicious. Magical. Cooking and sneaky baking always go hand in hand. At one point Kate said that she smelled something delicious, and the only problem with acknowledging that is that Erica was only boiling water at the time. Anywhozles. We continued to cook delicious things both in the oven and on top of the oven.  Erica finished making hers, Molly made hers, and now I was going to cook for both Kate and I, but no one was left to make sure that she didn't accidentally look in the oven. [Insert Pink Panther theme here]. Got to making the pasta sauce, put in maybe a bit too many red pepper flakes (nice and spicy). Then, SURPRISE!!!!  Fluffins are done! And the look on Kate's face was delightful. Just overwhelmed with the apparent caring hearts of her roommates for making 'popovers' (they were very clearly fluffins).  Regardless, they were nice, and they were purdy.

And we managed to enjoy the rest of the evening without too much else to report.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Dare You Play That Song!

40 pages of Italian high Renaissance reading later, I am dying for a decent light, or a super nifty piece of technology that allows me to zoom in on details and appreciate the actual colors. But alas, the rest of this might have to wait until morning.

Speaking of morning (what a snazzy transition), Erica and I had an early one today. We decided that because we were both in photography classes, we would take a trip up a hill to catch dawn shining on the city of Rome.  So 5:15 comes, and I manage to roll myself out of bed, grab breakfast, and putz around facebook until Erica needed to "rise and greet the day" (that's a Kate phrase, incase you didn't recognize it).  So by 6 am we were strolling out the door, cameras in hand, and rubbing sleep from our eyes. Honestly, the last time I think I was up that early was at a speech tournament....  NFA? Anyone? Of course there, we hadn't actually gone to bed, considering we were driving....  details. But we managed to hike all the way up the hill, noticed some of the early morning life of Rome (buses and trams still running and fairly full, vendors getting newspapers, taxis looking at us strangely-the usual). This was actually the hill crowned by the Tempietto and San Pietro in Montorio.  Both of the places were things my Italian High Renaissance class visited on Wednesday.  And although the view of Rome is relatively extensive, there are these things called 'trees' that have a strange tendency to get in the way.  Secondarily, there are similar things called 'shrubs' that we short people have issues seeing over as well. And no, I do not want a shrubbery. NI! Moving on. So we took what pictures we could, walked back to the apartment and promptly went back to sleep.

Zs-ville.

Now for those of you who know me well enough to realize how much I enjoy sleeping will not be shocked to know that we got home at 7, and I slept soundly until 11. The trouble is that I could have slept until about 2 or 3pm without another thought. But alas, I felt some sort of remorse that the rest of my roommates were most assuredly awake by this time. So I dragged my poor sleepy body out of bed for the second time today to investigate what the crew was up to.

By this point, plans were being tossed around discussing an afternoon of shopping. Shopping? But Kelsey always ends up finding the funny things to look at and try one.  And today was no different. I did end up trying on a lovely antiqued gold blazer-but Kate said I looked like Elvis.  Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. I thought it was lovely. We wandered around Rome, me pointing at beautiful things like feathered dresses, and reflective pants, but Erica and Kate didn't like them. For shame. We also managed to eat Chinese food on this little extravaganza.  If you would like a culture shock, please consider the following: Chinese food, in Italy, listening to an accordion player play "La vie en Rose" and "Yesterday" (yes, the Beatles version)(side note, he also played 'That's Amore' which cheapened the entire situation. Really dude? You're going to be 'That' guy, playing 'That' song? Boo. Hiss.), and speaking in English. Enjoy every aspect of that would you? It was beautiful.

We shopped for a while, looking here, looking there. Found that magical grapefruit gelato again, saw the Disney store (This one is for Phil-miss you!!!)

Eventually, we made our way over to the GAP store in Rome. If this isn't on your "to do list" in Rome, you're just not Kate, and otherwise you are perfectly normal. For being a new store there were many confusing aspects, like the return policy. Now I won't go into all of the nitty-gritty details and just suffice to say that while in the Gap, I managed to read the following books while waiting for this little fiasco to go down: The Allure of Women in Hollywood, the Allure of Men in Hollywood (which was significantly worse than the female version, I recognized maybe 4 people in that entire 250 page book), The Fashion of Dogs (not enough real dogs in sweaters pictures. Disappointment), Rebel Style, American Style (this was was an interesting one), and the T-Shirt book.  Consider me well read.

We then made it all the way home, only recognizing this guy I met in my Philosophy class on the tram (awkward encounter: 1), and eventually ate dinner. And that, is a wrap.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hitting up the Berry Bars

Ah, the joys of the weekend. A whole day early. This means, for some, that it's an entirely free evening to catch up on all of the homework that you refused to do Monday-Wednesday, and for others it's an opportunity to get the real party started.  In this little corner of the world, however, we do things up right. We each made dinner, contemplated the pros and cons of Sims 3, and are now waiting on the perfection that is Berry Lemonade Bars. Life is good. And the Sims update is that Erica is downloading Sims 3, and we've torn Kate away from her homework. As for Kelsey? I'm floundering between all aspects, jamming to tunes, cooking, helping bake (sort of), doing laundry (that's right, the washing machine is fixed! Although it still takes all afternoon to wash things, and that's without drying-which is done by way of the air), talking to the beautiful people on the hill (that's you GAC friends), and generally pondering life.

The conclusions to my pondering hours go as follows: I have work to do. Granted, it's a few chapters here and there, I still need to pick up a text book from the "Almost Corner Book Store," and I also need to somehow convince a current Barstow student to log into my artstor account so that I can fully appreciate the things in my art history books without the glare from this atrocious lighting (one bulb, one room... all I can think is interrogation.... no comment). Past that, I'm just thriving on the survived week feeling.

Highlights of the week (for those of you who are too lazy to actually keep up)
--3/5 professors have thick accents. Either Italian, French, or a combination of the two.
--KBG has a blog. And it's funny.
--First thing I did in my Italian High Renaissance class was go on a "field trip" to the Tempietto about a 10 minute walk from the classroom=awesome. Then we talked about all of the art in San Pietro in Montorio (the church about 25 feet from the Tempietto).  Needless to say, I'm in love with the class.
--Several successfully made dinners. Hoo-rah
--Found all classrooms without the love and support of John Cabot University.  Take that.
--Expresso is delicious.  I've moved away from putting any sugar in it now. This is actual real life.
--I bought stamps (for postcards) today! It was a strange experience, but I did it! And everyone had lied to me multiple times about finding them at the Tabacchi shops!  Blaspheme! Balderdash! I went to the postoffice, had a cultural experience, and lived to tell the tale. That's one to write home about.
--Watched a movie in my Italian Cinema class. And it's going to be a weekly thing.  Awesome.

And that's about it for the week... Or the school week at least.

WAIT

I forgot an important one. When Erica and I went grocery shopping today, we walked by a playground. Thanks to the pictures in Erica's guide book about Rome, we managed to identify the children playing there as "Roman children." Thank you Rome Top Ten. AND (this part is important) we saw baby Hercules. Not a joke. Legit-skies.  He was this adorable toddler with little blonde curls and just pudgy enough to be 'buff' and really truly, honest to Olympia, looked like baby Hercules from the Disney movie. It was pure magic. And I practically borrowed Hermes' winged shoes to flutter all the way home with this sighting. How splendid. You can be jealous. It's allowed.

With that little nugget of awesome (Zero to Hero in under 60 seconds), I leave you to go try the Purdy Berry Bars. Erica's going to open a Purdy bakery. I'm in full support.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kitchen Sink Pasta

This is going to be another short post describing my cooking adventures thus far. Although I am no Michelle (check out her blog at http://justachefsdaughter.blogspot.com/ It's awesome, and hilarious, just do it) I am doing my best to feed myself with the supplies that I have. So I'll give you a little taste (See that mad word play there? Sweet) (oh, there's another one.) of what I've been cooking up.  I'm eventually going to be famous for the idea of the "Kitchen Sink Pasta." This involves taking whatever you have, and combining it into delicious things that you didn't have to measure, prepare to make, or generally think ahead.

Last night I pleasantly surprised myself with this little whipper snapper. Ingredients:
Ham
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Basil
Red Wine
Garlic
Pasta (Rigatoni if you must know)
And a Mystery Vegetable.

Mystery vegetable? What is that.
Duh, that's the point. This isn't some kind of sick competitive show where you cook until you snap and beat the other competitors with a skillet kind of deal, this is life. And life in Italy where I don't read Italian. So Mystery vegetable is exactly what I had. (I later found out it was Fennel. And I will give a gold star to anyone who knows something good to make with it.) The precursor to this is to being the pasta... so get on that. Then I minced the garlic--sauté in olive oil, add freshly chopped basil, chop mystery veggie, and add to mix, pour in some red wine and add ham.  Sauté for a bit before adding black pepper. Check pasta (this is an important step... So make sure you do that).  I let it simmer there for a little bit until the pasta was done. Then I drained the pasta, and poured my little concoction over it.

At first I couldn't believe my taste buds. Is this real life? Ok, the mystery vegetable was a little strange, but nothing terrible, and not really noticeable. So to check my senses, I called Kate over and stabbed a piece of ham-"Try this." From that point on, I had to beat her away from my plate with a spatula. So not all bad. There are a few things I would change....  Like maybe I would pour it over rice instead of pasta, and get an onion instead of fennel, and not let Kate eat all of my food. But other than that, I was very pleased. High five me!

Tonight's was a similar principle, but not quite as delicious. For one I decided that I should use some of the potatoes we have. And fresh basil is better than the 'spice' kind for this sort of thing... and anyway, it was edible, but not quite as tasty.

But the gouda news is that now I'm thinking! (I'm in Italy, check it)  Suddenly I feel like I can actually make things if necessary. And that's a good thing! So maybe I'll actually make a list of things I need when I go to the grocery store next.  I'll just have Erica take me. She literally knows every store in the city. I didn't think it was humanly possible, but she's a star and makes purdy baked goods. Winner. Winner. Chicken. Dinner. (hey, now that's an idea)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Will the Real Cartographers Please Stand Up?

Will the cartographers at JCU please stand up and do a service to your school? Note to all of those people who enjoy maps, enjoy reading maps, and otherwise enjoy knowing where you are--JCU is looking for people to hire.  Thus begins my tirade about map problems and receiving them from John Cabot University.

Yesterday (and sorry about the lack of post-homework really puts a damper on blogging.  Bum city.) I was scheduled to attend my Digital Photography class at the mysterious classroom at Platform 9 3/4.  So I went to the Tiber campus and decided to ask a few more obnoxious questions before wandering around Rome searching for a class of lost students. Conveniently enough at the welcome table there was survey about orientation. Hoo-rah.  That's right world, that survey was doomed from the start. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being poor, and 5 being good), how did you feel about Navigation 101? This girl drew a fat old "0" next to the 1 and circled that instead.  On the "Do you have anything else you want to share" section, I wrote an exemplary essay about how it was unsafe to misguide students by either giving them false information, poorly drawn maps, or not posting valuable information on the already overly crowded website. Not only that but it was a matter of school pride that the orientation leaders should know where all of the campuses are, regardless of whether they have personally taken a class there.  Feeling relatively cleansed after that little cathartic exercise, I wandered back up stairs and headed in the direction of what I assumed to be my class.

Walking, walking, turn here and suddenly those magical doors that seemed so ominous before were open.  Taking a chance, I walked through them, flashed my JCU ID (about the most useful thing they've given me) and was directed upstairs.  So these were some fancy almost spiral stairs-just a square shape.  Walk up those and hear voices coming from a room down the hall, there I find a small room with a table and chairs enough for the prof, and about 5 students. That left me with the floor and listening to a French man who has lived in Italy for 18 years.  Welcome to 2.5 hours of talking about photography. At least he's really excited about photography, he says things like "If you do not have your camera with you, take pictures on your telephone- click!"

I then walked back to the Guarini campus and met Kate for lunch and gelato, then to my Ancient Greek Art and Archaeology class with the ninja billy goat tour guide from Ostia Antica. After that class, I walked back to the Tiber campus, hung out there for a while, found the mysterious "Almost Corner Book Store" (may be hanging out there a lot, they're really nice), then went to Philosophy class. Instead of thinking about Plato, and caves, and how in the world I was going to log into MyJCU, I thought about Moua. What a dream boat. Then swing by the grocery store, and back to the apartment.

Moving on to today, I went to my Italian Cinema class after the daily expresso, and discovered that not only does he want us to buy a text book, he also wanted us to obtain elusive copies.  After class, I made about 4 stops to attempt to figure out what in the world he was talking about, and ended up paying a ghastly amount of money to the librarian who gave me instructions to this "copy point".  Enter: Another shoddy JCU map.

The thing I most enjoy about maps is being able to read the street names. I know, it's a perfectionist tendency of mine, but it's nearly necessary. Let's just say that it's a good thing that I borrowed Kate's nifty popup map. Otherwise I never would have even had an opportunity to find it. I walked down the main drag right outside of our apartment, straight along the bus line until this street that had been conveniently crossed out by the theoretically helpful black arrow-therefore making it impossible to read. It was a nice try, but not so very useful. So after staring at multiple different maps, I decided to walk southward, and hope that I landed somewhere I could actually identify on a map. Having just past through the Argentinian Sacred Site, the gods were with me, and I found myself lead to a tiny courtyard with an adorable fountain. Walking just a few steps further, I looked, by chance to my right and saw a room with copy machines. B-I-N-G-O. Done. And now I have a nifty little bound book of my readings for the semester. Golly Gee.

So now I think I'm going to make some din din, and enjoy one of Erica's delicious (and this is fate right here, she loves baking, I love eating=pure love) chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes. Just smear one all over my face.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Platform 9 and 3/4

This is going to be a short one. And an actual short one because there wasn't much actually going on.

As the last free day in Rome, we decided to take full advantage of this opportunity by sleeping in.  I then edit some speeches from the team back home, and whipped up some lunch.  The next thing on the list to do was to find this mysterious "Lgo. Fio 4" building where my morning class was going to be held. Not a big deal, there are ample amounts of resources to find that, and get it done.

Ah, but good old JCU never fails to disappoint me. They are so delightfully well informed. Molly and I walked to the Tiber campus to ask someone who had at least lived in Rome for longer than a week, and had maybe attended JCU for a bit. The conversation went as follows.
Kelsey: "Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could help me find the building my class is in tomorrow."
Woman 1: "Are you here for the walking tour?"
Student-Male: "What campus?"
Kelsey: "I honestly have no idea.  My schedule says Lgo. Fio 4"
Student-Male: "I've never been over there. [to Student-Female] Have you?"
Student-Female: "Yeah."
Woman: "Are you here for the walking tour?"
Student-Female: "Do you want me to show it to you?"
Kelsey: "Yes, that'd be great!"
SF: [circles stuff on map.  Says something about buses]
Kelsey: "Fantastic!"
[Exit Molly and Kelsey]

Wander wander wander.  Find the street. Looking, looking, looking..............dead pigeon......

Nothing.

Seriously, nothing. We spent close to 30 minutes walking around this area looking for something that could feasibly be a classroom. Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch.  From the frustrated sighs, and complaints, we decided to walk back in the general direction of the Guarini campus before heading to mass. The student at that desk hadn't actually been to that campus either, but she had another very crafty grey-scale map to help the problem. Too bad it wasn't legible, nor did it have an obvious location as to the purpose of the map. Once again, JCU, 'Over there' is not an appropriate response to asking for directions.

So the plan (since I still do not know where this classroom is) tomorrow is to wake up early, attempt to ask some more people for directions, go to the blurry location on the map, and either a) launch myself at a seemingly solid looking wall and hope that I'm actually attending Hogwarts, or b) wait. If no one else looks as lost as I am, I guess I'll read a book, or take some pictures. Well done digital photography class. Well done JCU.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's not as bad as buying a thong

Today marked the official day to buy text books. Not that it was mandated by some 'god' force, but rather that we as a group (me, Kate, Erica, and Molly) decided to retrieve our text books from the 'very easy to locate bookstore'.  First of all, that is a load of Alaskan lies. "Why?" you ask.  It's because directions like, "walk 250 meters" is not very helpful. What direction? Right? Left? Straight down into the center of the earth? Or, even better, 250 meters straight up by scaling the edge of the nearest building using our incredible Spidey webs, and the newly purchased suction cup shoes. So yes, 250 meters.... and walk there. Don't skip! Do not run! I sayeth, walk. And walk we did.

We walked, and we walked, and we walked. First thing we had to do was to (get expresso, duh) then find the bus stop.  Although this seems like a relatively simple step-much like walking 250 meters- it proved difficult.  Not just because the four of us are not terribly familiar with the public transportation routes of Rome, but also because the bus stops are not very clearly marked (and the directions told us to just take the 116 bus).  So after about 45 minutes of walking around the area attempting to find this elusive stop, we happened upon what we thought to be the right one. We waited for a bit, waved to some tour buses, then finally jumped on the 116. Let the adventures actually begin! This bus promptly took us in a direction that we didn't think we actually wanted to go. According to the incredibly informative orientation lectures, we decided that at the next stop, we would hop off and switch sides of the street to get on the same bus going to opposite direction. This brings us to lie number two. The stop that we ended up walking two was several blocks away.  We arrived at this stop to find a 116 bus conveniently parked there. Hurrah! Looks like this excursion is looking up! So we hop on, thinking we know exactly what we are doing, and check our tickets (note, this is an important step in case the authorities decide to check your tickets.  If you do not have your ticket stamped, you are fined 50 euros and the price of the ticket. Basically it's not a good deal.) we check our tickets and discover that the man who was on the bus we bordered originally was magically on this bus too. We recognized him by his pinstripe pants, and pink cell phone.  We sat down expecting to being again in the right direction, all to discover that the engine was completely off and we were apparently just taking a little break. After a few minutes of chillaxing, we started up again, and literally wound our way around various narrow streets until we reached what we assumed would be 250 meters from our final destination.

FALSE.

Not only was it a flagrant lie saying that the stop we were supposed to get off at was in the Spanish Steps area, but the book store was no where near by. We walked to the Spanish Steps, took some pictures, took a brief detour to an underwear store (see blog title) and decided that we would grab lunch (after all, it was close to 2 pm-we started there at 11).  After looking for some place that wasn't ridiculously expensive, regardless of the fact that it was right next to the designer stores (read: 5th Avenue), we found a small restaurant that also had air conditioning (double plus, for sure).  We sat down, ordered drinks, and began talking. We ordered food, and waited. Erica pretty promptly got a plate of roasted potatoes.  Considering that she was supposed to get some with her roast lamb-not that strange. However what was strange was that after a few minutes (5-10 minutes) the waiter came and took the untouched plate away, went back to the kitchen for maybe 30 seconds, and brought it right back out to the man who was at the table next to us. Rapid Italian words were exchanged before what we assumed was some offer of free dessert.  After a good long giggle about that little hot potato incident, and a better longer wait, we received our lunch.  Ate, and regained our energy to actually find this mysterious book store.

If I wanted to be repetitive, I would say something like "We walked and we walked and we walked," but I don't want to do that... So I won't. But we did. And then turned around (keep in mind that this walking thing involved going UP the Spanish Steps= long) and went back the way we came. But unfortunately for us, we couldn't rely on just the map that they gave us. Oh no, that would be easy, we had to use all three maps that we had between us- the one with the address of the store, Erica's that she stole from some travel book, and Kate's nifty pop up map. Using the combined powers of the deathly hallows to wander around for another good hour-which felt like 3 years- we wandered around, back tracking, retracing, and had a pitstop to get some gelato.  At this point I decided to be incredibly adventurous and try the pink grapefruit flavor. Can you say delicious? I can, and I did. Fact. I also got way more gelato than what I paid for, so that's a winner, and potentially the highlight of my day.  So we continued on our meandering and eventually, through some clever calculations, we FINALLY stumbled upon it. There. 250 meters from nowhere. No where that I've ever seen before, and judging by how long it took us to get there the first time, I never will again. We purchased our books with relatively equal parts of exhaustion and glee and  began the trek home.

We walked down the street, and around the corner to find that magical 116 bus for the third time. Not caring how long it took anymore, we jumped on, stamped the tickets, and took a STRAIGHT SHOT back to where we started. What? Read it again. You'll be in the same place we were. Dumbfounded, sweaty, smelly, and feeling like idiots. So we got off the bus, and walked all the way to the grocery store, got some more grub, and sweated our way home.

Granted, we may laugh at this entire experience later. And we did have a fair amount of awkward giggles over dumb luck and dumb decisions. Regardless, it was an adventure. And Lordy be knows I love an adventure.

IN OTHER NEWS: The mannequin name contest winner is my mother with the suggestion of Anne Boleyn.  Runner up was Bethany who's suggestion of Helga was proudly given to the nude woman in my room. Congratulations to all who submitted either by email or blog comment, you are all stars in my book.

For those of you incredibly confused about what happened to the picture page, there may be a new arrangement in order. Blogspot believes that 'static pages' are useful. Although they are wrong, I am not computer savvy enough to figure it out.  So once I get the pictures trimmed down to a manageable size dose, and finish the Flickr account set up, I will make sure to put a link/slide show on this page so you can literally see what is going on.  For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, check out some of those pictures. And with that, this is Kelsey from Rome-signing off.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Espresso and Boats

The morning began semi-unassumingly with both Kate and Erica jumping into my bed and saying things like "Good morning sunshine," and "get up".  At that point, I knew that the day would be a pretty good one.  So here we go on a whirl-wind adventure. On your mark, get set, go!

The first thing we had to do was to wait for one of our SAI persons to come check our apartment. Those hours were designated between 10 and 1, or 10 and 13 for those of you playing the 24hr clock game.  So while we waited we divided into two groups so that we could go down to the local coffee shop to get our caffeine fix. That's right, I had expresso. Flat out, ye be warned, kind of espresso. Granted, I put an itty bitty tiny pinch of sugar in it, just to get used to it (let's face it, I also used to put cream in my American coffee, so things will change).  Needless to say, THAT is my jam. No more of this frilly steamed milk stuff for me. Let's talk about the pure caffeine in a baby cup in a baby saucer, and served up hot and beautiful. Pure love in a cup. Let's be real. About an hour later, after watching My Drunk Kitchen episodes, and generally being Friday morning bums. She finally arrived, and checked through everything, and helped us start the wash, and left without further complications. NOTE: The socket that we use for the wash was shot.  "The wall plate, it's scorched" (Chloe).  So every time we went to check on the wash (which is supposed to take an hour... blerg) it would be stopped. This eventually ended with a soaking floor, and us being extremely concerned about the bubbling plastic around the edge of the plug.... Not good? yup, probably not. So now that we have all of our clothing hanging joyfully in the foyer, we will have to send in a report about the outlet, and those turmoils begin. Alas.

After that we headed out to find some lunch and some other necessities where we found this darling little place called Otello (because that's pretentious) and had some DELICIOUS pasta, and had a wonderful conversation with the waiter (Francesco).  It was so adorable, I'm reasonably sure that we'll be back there.

Then, and this is the good part, we went to Orientation! For those of you following along, "Orientation" is a synonym for drool worthy power points and lackluster speeches. However, this was JCU's orientation (so a little bit more like what you did before you started freshman year with meeting strange people who you have almost nothing in common with, yeah, like that). But here, and I'm now going to use as many puns as possible (and to Alicia Gerber, on her boat adventures, I hope you like this), they were boat/ship themed. And that means that 'we' were the 'crew' (and if you didn't know you were 'on a boat', you had to go upstairs to find out) and were divided into different 'ships' (mine being The Nina).  And the leaders of each groups were not the 'captains' as you would initially assume, but rather the 'skippers'.  So after a very mumbled and at least partly Italian greeting from the president, we paddled our life rafts to the historic ships that were to set sail on this adventure and get our sea legs.  One quick round of names, and then we start discussing this "treasure hunt" around Rome. I said, "a what?" And truth be told, this was sprung on us, that we were going to walk all around Rome to see famous things (think Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain etc) and take funny pictures with your group to win some kind of wine tasting... Oh yeah, and do it in 2 hours. Bahahahahahaha, they're real jokesters here. Except not. They were very serious.  However, as a special clause to this "adventure," my skipper said that if we got lost, or didn't want to paddle any more, we could just go back to the JCU campus and grab dinner. Kate and I found each other on the side walk and spontaneously "walked the plank" by going back to our apartment.  On the way we called Erica and Molly to try and get them to jump ship with us. Erica caught up quickly to where we were, but poor Molly was viscously tied to the masthead and couldn't commit mutiny while retaining composure. So the three of us, pulled out from port (with out JCU IDs in hand-about time mateys) and shipped back home. There Kate and I updated our video blog (http://twopeasinpasta.blogspot.com) and relaxed a bit (with more laundry of course).

After a bit o that, the three musketeers (wait, no more Pirate jokes?) decided to head out to find important things like anything to measure ingredients with. As well some extra apartment things (tupperware? yup). This brought us to the less publicized Jewish sector of the city, so many Kosher cafes! (Sorry, I have to throw this one in. What does a Jewish pirate say? Ahoy Vey! -You laughed, don't lie to me). Mission success is what I like to call that trip. Then on our way back we found our last dog-paddling sailor, Molly, and threw her a lifesaver.  In short, Molly worked a lot harder than any of us today. Total mileage covered in flip flops? Approximately 11 miles-in the FOUR HOUR TOUR OF THE CITY. She got to pick where we ate dinner.  Actually I'm surprised that she's still awake.  None the less, I suppose that paddling out to tourist attractions was JCU's way of welcoming us to Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-o-m-a. (if you couldn't tell, that was pirate slang....  funny!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This Is a Really Old Rock Wall--watch your step

TODAY- (that's in an official announcement voice) we had an exciting adventurer to Ostia Antica! Now I know you're excited. As it was described to me initially, it's like the flooded version of Pompeii.  So rather than everything being preserved in volcanic ash, it was preserved under water when the Tiber flooded years ago (and that's a lot of years if you couldn't tell by the inflection). Moving on, basically they have uncovered a bunch of this ancient city that's about an hour outside of Rome down the Tiber toward the Mediterranean Sea.  It was initially used as a defensive city for Rome before she reached the height of power at which point it switched to a port city that basically fed Rome.  Naturally, it's then a really sweet place to find all kinds of neat-o artifacts and discover the ways of life from 240(ish) BCE to well past the 3rd century.  So lots of old things.  And that's awesome.

Let's play a little game called-Describe stuff. The cobble stones were very very smooth, but were incredibly uneven in places, this naturally made it some what challenging to walk without tripping. The consequence of not tripping of course is then missing the 2,000+ year old architecture. Unga Bunga. Our dear guide-we shall describe him as a Billy-goat ninja (and this is because he was not only agile over these precarious rocks, but he was a ninja with lightening fast speed too!) was both informative and as a plus an art history professor. Mine? Perhaps... we shall see. But he was nice enough, and I thought I learned a lot, so that's a plus. We walked around for 2 hours, checking out the baths, the other baths, the temples, the other temples, pointed to the first known Synagogue in Europe (that's pretty sweet), mosaics, ancient toilets, some more stone stuff, some frescos--you get the picture. Mostly delightful with the exception of the heat thing, that was a little sticky.

After we survived that feeling much more enlightened, and very dehydrated, we loaded back up on the bus (PS, driving a coach bus in Rome must be the single most terrifying job in the city.  Not a joke. You could just crush dozens of the little baby Smart cars and not even know!) and went for another 30ish minute drive to this farm called Borgo di Tragliata.  The subtitles to that go something like "the most beautiful place you will ever eat a 5 course meal".  It was literally the best kind of get-me-another-plate-of-that-would-you-please place you would ever want to eat. But the trouble is that even if you LOVE (and I do mean the kind of love-you want to marry it) you can't possibly fill up on that alone because you know the next course is going to also be spectacular.  A very peculiar dilemma. So here's the menu-the good and the better of it: White and tomato pizza, red chicory ham and mozzarella tart (THE BEST), cous-cous with vegetables, spaghetti pasta amatriciana style, chicken with peppers served with roasted potatoes, and finished off with apple cake.  Can we talk about how delicious that entire thing was? And the company was pretty damn good too. We laughed, we talked, we thought the potatoes tasted like cookies, and had just a jolly time. Then as kind of a lets-work-off-all-of-those-calories-time we walked up to the castle on sight, and saw the gardens and the pigs near by. Hannah, we took pictures just for you.  Then back on the bus, for a short nap on the way back to Rome.

Then, because Kate apparently thought that everywhere was as cold as MN=false. So we had to go shopping where we found some clothing, and I found a black belt (not the ass kicking kind, I always have that kind) to replace the one I left in Belton. That was then considered pretty successful-along with the addition of the gelato we found on the way. Came home, made dinner, talked, laughed (are you seeing a trend here?) and now it's group blog time, and then to bed. Beautiful.