Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to make a 20+ hour bus ride fly by

There is nothing like a Kansas sunset. Even if you are in the heart of Leawood, the entire western half of the horizon turns a brilliant and unique combination of orange, purple, pink, yellow, and blue. And here I am, on a bus with a bunch of speech kids, headed to Texas. Now if that doesn't sound like a blast, then you are missing out in life.

Let's do a recap of the past few weeks since the last time I put something on the Internet for everyone to read at their leisure: speech.

Good now that we've covered that I can tell you about today, in its infinite excitement. After packing all of the important things that you would need for a forensics tournament, you know, like shoes, underwear, and the ever wonderful suits, I finally managed to get to sleep. This morning I rolled out of bed, attempted to collect some blankets, some food from the caf, and the important things previously mentioned. And hobbled/tottered/dragged my freezing behind through the newly remembered winds of the hill. So despite my incredible struggle to make my way across campus with unicorn pillow pet and Judy Garland blanket in tow and I admittedly couldn't feel my fingers by the time I got to that fabulous new building.

Fast forward and think about driving on a coach bus through, by the end of the trip, six states (MN, IA, MO, KS, OK, TX) can you say busy? I mean besides the stunning scenery, and the beautiful Kansan sunset, it's been a pretty normal speech ride. Strange jokes, funny commentary, random CDs, and a few odd movies. Add in the "team bonding" games that happen to include packets of condiments taken from fast food restaurants. I don't think I can explain that any better.

So I think at this point I'm going to leave your imagination to run wild with the idea of 25 speechies on a bus, watching labyrinth. Sweet dreams!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Leaving the Eternal City

The good news: 

I am not dead, I have survived finals, airplanes, and the welcome home crew. 
I have recovered from jetlag.
I am now going to relate to you my last few hours in the beautiful city of Rome. 

Basically that means that you are really excited and can't wait to read the rest of this post! How thrilling!

Forgive me because part of this was from about 4:30am at the airport and such, so I'll do my best to piece together the good parts. 

And here we go!

Technically I have been up since about 7:15 on Friday.  Currently, it is 5:37am on Saturday and I am in an airport. I will admit that I took a bit of a catnap before I really left the apartment at 3:30 this morning.  Now keep in mind that I have been a very busy little munchkin.  For instance, after enjoying our last night at Ombre Rosse, and watching Roman Holiday (yes, I finally got around to it.  I personally think it was more fun to watch after living in Rome for four months.) I immediately went to bed so that I could wake up bright and early and do some damage on that Italian High Renaissance Exam. Favorite way to start a day? You betcha. That exam is a whole different can of worms, but I’m willing to tell you about the rest of my day. So after I managed to survive the test (with or without Carolyn’s help… 3 not on the list? Really Carolyn?) I talked to a few people from my class and then leisurely walked to Campo de Fiori.  Where I made a last minute souvenir purchase, and then swung by that yarn store that I mentioned earlier.  Yes, I caved. I bought some incredibly soft yarn just so I could make a hat. Unfortunately, before I can even begin to think about that hat I have about 3 other knitting projects to get to work on.  So I’ll let you know how that turns out.  (To give you a little hint about how wonderful this yarn is, Erica described it as no longer fabric, but goo. I don’t know how I feel about that, but it seems relevant.)

Moving on! So I then walked all the way back to the apartment (a lovely little stroll) to a group of panicking roommates who were freaked out that I didn’t answer my phone and was waaaay later than the exam should have taken. But they quickly forgave me and everyone was content listening to The Muppets Christmas Carol (a splendid little beam of light for any occasion).  So after our little freakout session, I began my whirlwind packing tour.  Since I have been the last to finish with finals (that sucked), I was also the last one to pack. Thus, while everyone else was frolicking and having a jolly time packing, I was barricaded in the library with large academic picture books and attempting to study. And after some frantic packing and singing of Christmas carols, we headed back out to return our bricks, I mean cell phones, and to explore the city one last time. This meant giving one last patriotic send off to JCU, and traipsing around Via del Corso and eventually ending up at the Trevi Fountain. 

Now there are two sides to the Trevi Fountain. One can be seen during the day, and a totally different aura happens at night that you just have to experience for yourself to really appreciate it. The crowds and tour groups are much diminished for one, and the four of us were able to find a seat and just enjoy watching the fountain for probably close to an hour. If this seems like a waste of time to you, you haven't been there.  

After making our wishes and doing the Gustie Rouser one more time, we headed back home to change into something a little bit more dressy and go to dinner. There we traded our secret Santa gifts (big hit, we're cool people) and proceeded to make our way to this 4 star restaurant that we had found with the help of our ever fancy guide books called Ferrera.  

Though right in our backyard (relatively), we had never stumbled on this little jewel before. With their exquisite wine list, we had a delicious time eating and being generally jovial. At midnight we left the premise and I began my stop watch.  Yes, that is correct, as a good speechie, I brought a stopwatch with me to Europe and now seemed like the perfect time to use it. Why? Because I had just begun the longest birthday of my life. 

So considering that I had been awake since 7:15 that morning, and I had to leave my apartment for the airport at 3:30am, there was really no point in going to sleep, so let the packing festivities begin! We went back to the apartment to do some last minute packing and such.  And around 1:45, I just couldn’t stand it any longer and took a cat nap until 2:45. But of course we were all terrified of not waking up for our flights, so there we were, all falling asleep, all with the lights on. At 2:45 I woke up, threw the last few things in my bag and called it a night. I made sure that everyone got up to wish me off (it did include a few tears, and not just because of the early hour) and I rolled my way out of the apartment for the last time.

Driving to the airport I realized that Italians, no matter what time of day, drive like it’s Mario Kart.  That’s not a racist slur at all, it’s just fact. It’s 3:30 in the morning and there is no real reason to drive like you are avoiding the wrath of God, or the police for that matter, but that’s what was happening. And within 20 minutes we were pulling up to the terminal.

I drag all of my worldly possessions up to the ticket counter only to find that it has no one to attend it and approximately 10 other JCU students patiently waiting in these predawn hours for someone to take the heavy things toward their final destination. No such luck. So I parked my caravan of things and took a seat to wait for an hour before someone decided that it was time to go to work.  That happened at 5. Let’s do a little tally of time spent asleep from the time that I woke up on Friday morning, to when I went to bed KC time on Saturday.  So far, it’s Saturday morning and I’ve been asleep for 1 of 22 hours. After the chaos of getting bags checked in and paying exorbitant amounts of money to get a second one in (because a backpack is not a personal item) through the same security line as the mosh pit style one-except without the problems of Prague. So basically a breeze, to the gate, and then on the plane.

There were two lovely things about this plane ride: 1) I had a row to myself. 2) Because of 1, I got to sleep.
Sleep total: 3.5 hours of 26.5 hours.
When I got off the plane, one of the flight attendants said, “Hey look, she’s awake.” That is the last proof that I have of any sleep I had on this birthday of travel.

In Zurich, I had to re-go through security, which instead of metal detectors and angry people in polyester, it was just a booth of angry people in polyester asking questions. Same difference. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and waited for the next flight. As that flight began boarding, there was an announcement over the speakers that said something like, “This plane will be landing in Baincorh (spelled phonetically) before continuing on to Philledelphia.” Uh… did he just say Bangkok? That’s in the wrong direction. I will never make my connecting flight. When the announcement was made again, it sounded like Bengal, which is also, nowhere close to Philly, or home.  Crap.

So when I get up to the front of the line, I ask, now where are we landing? “Baincorh, you’ve never heard of it? It’s in your country.” I’m sure Bengal and Bangkok are in my country. To hell they are. “Yeah, Baincorh Maine.” OH. Yeah, I totally know Bangor Maine.


Great, on the plane, there are no personal TVs, I’m going to Maine before going to Philly before going to KC and there’s a balding, dandruffed (didn’t think that would go together), overweight, bouncing man sitting in front of me. Every time he sat back down, he literally bounced in the seat. Talk about making working on my computer a real hazard. None the less, I was sitting next to a fellow art history major who had also survived JCU and we bonded over the Extreme Couponer episode being played. Classy stuff.

Over that 9+ hour flight I think I slept less than an hour, and never well, so we’ll round that down to 30 minutes and add that to the earlier 3.5.  Total: 4 of 36 hours. 

Land in Bangor. It was boring, we didn’t get off the plane, and pretty much got right back on the runway and headed to Philly.  My one discovery in Bangor was that my phone was completely and irrevocably dead. Talk about anticlimactic.

Eventually land in Philly, recheck the luggage, go through customs, and wait for the next and final leg of my rather long journey. Keep in mind that now it is approximately 5 Philly time, and I’ll get back home at 7:30ish KC time. Fast forward (past all of the, they speak English here realizations, and oh wait you don’t need my passport to get on the plane things) and I took a catnap on the plane and that brought my grand total up to something like 5 of 40 hours. Then [drum roll please]


Yes, after all of this time, I finally made it all the way back home. Home: to the little humble KCI airport, to my three mildly crazy cats, my parents, and my own bed. What a lovely thing it is to be home.

We had some Chinese food, and I opened 2 presents (I was not awake enough to open the rest, remember? It was my birthday all during this adventure) and crawled into bed until the next morning.

Since that very long day, I have been reconnecting with friends, getting my technology problem fixed (I’ve joined the dark side, hello iphone?) and knitting like a fiend.  It’s good to see all of these wonderful people, but I also know that the next reunion is going to be located in the more convenient St. Peter. Minnesota style.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

A final boarding call

I'm sorry i'm sorry I'm terribly sorry!

I will post a desperately long (series) of posts about the final hours of my Roman Holiday and how I returned to the states during the longest birthday ever, and even what I've been doing post Italy.

In the meantime, I would like some input.

Should this delightful little blog continue?  Would you still love me if I didn't have as many adventures to share?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finals and what you would rather do.

So here's a little blog post to kick start my morning. On the agenda is studying, and after this I'm actually going to pull myself up by my to-be-put-on-socks and go to the over crowded library where I will undoubtedly be annoyed by the people there and be unable to find somewhere to sit. Happy Finals Week!  Huzzah!

So the studying will be reviewing, learning, and memorizing close to 80 slides so that I'm tested on 5-10 of them (depending on how you define 'test'-identification, comparison, mystery.  The joys of an art history major).  Thus far I have survived my SinCity final, my Gaga final, my dreams-of-Moua final (I wasn't asked my favorite questions about Moua though, so that was a bust.) and my Digipho final.

What you ask? Final in Digital Photography?  How absurd? Was that class really hard or something?

No. In fact, that was probably the most asinine two hours of any exam I could have experienced. As many of you know, and know all too well from maybe your own experience, public speaking is an art. An art that some people never truly manage to grasp.  And quite frankly, I would rather not listen to them try on a Wednesday night. Regardless, I managed to survive, with only a few restrained-in-the-nick-of-time smart ass comments. The point is that it's over now, I took some pretty pictures, and that's about it.

So with that, I am going to recommend to you that you go find your own personal major's meme and enjoy the inside jokes that it brings. And in honor of my art history fiesta today, have some Art History Major Cat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beam Me Up, Scotty!


I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I'll make it better by telling you the second Charles story in honor of my last final with him.  (It was an emotional class for all of us)

Episode Two:
The Fall of a Great Empire

But now we backtrack. Back way long ago to last Wednesday.  Last Wednesday marked a very special occasion for Charles, and it came up as we were waiting to get into the room.

So we are all standing in the hallway, Charles by the doorframe, me across the hall (which is very narrow) and some of our other classmates scattered about. And we began our usual banter of what are we going to do in class today.  When suddenly we hear a soft sign from Charles.

"What's going on, Charles?"

"Nothing, i just realized that this is my last class as an undergraduate."

[Immediate applause] And all of us began enthusiastically discussing how special we were going to make this class because Charles had to celebrate his last class as an undergrad.  So we asked him if there was anything special that he wanted to do (you know, besides a recitation of his paper on pomegranates) and someone mentioned (I'm not sure if I should take credit for this or not) that we could sing to him. And he said that we should sing to him the entire Odyssey.  Done.

Girl one: "Well damn, I just don't know all of the verses to that one."
Me: "That's ok, we'll work through it."
Girl one: "Alright, let's do it!"

At this point Charles was chuckling at our seemingly uneducated banter about ancient epic poetry, but that's ok. I'm much better at banter about epic poetry than singing it (though I've admittedly never really tried to sing epic poetry....) and this gave a prime opportunity to learn some things about this mysterious character.  Here is what I've gathered.

1) JCU is the largest school he has attended and he will graduate this spring
      (How is this possible? The graduating class is typically around 50)
2) For elementary and middle school he attended a small private school
3) In high school he was home schooled
     (NOW things are beginning to be explained)
4) He is working on his thesis in the spring.

Excellent. The pieces begin to come together.

So we go through class, and it was something about Alexander the Great (I finished this exam, it's all gone now) and then we had to fill out a class evaluation form (no, there wasn't a box for aliens present in class... I looked).  Well, by the time I had finished my thought on the paper, only Charles and I were left in the room.

Me: So Charles, now that you've survived your last class of your undergrad work, are you going to have a party in celebration?
Charles: Well, I don't know.
Me: Oh come on!  You've earned it!
Charles: I might have a party after I finish my thesis in the spring.
Me: See here's what you do. You have just a one night party for finishing your classes, then when you finish your thesis, you can have a whole week of parties.
Charles: [laughs] I don't know about that.
Me: Well, you don't have to have a big party, you can just find someone who cooks really well, and have them come cook for you. That works too.
Charles: Well, I don't need anyone to come cook for me. Actually, cooking is one of my greatest passions.
Me: That's perfect then! You can make yourself something special, and eat all of it yourself!  That'd be a blast!
Charles: Maybe I will.
Me: I've got to run, but congratulations again for surviving.  *high five*

And I left.

Immediate reactions: I-JUST-HIGH-FIVED-AN-ALIEN. Shortly followed by, of-course-he-cooks. And I-bet-he's-a-good-cook. And that-was-weird-but-sort-of-hilarious. And I-JUST-HIGH-FIVED-AN-ALIEN.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I miss Charles already.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greek things can be learned from Blogging right?

And here are the facts: There is no possible way to make ancient Greek Art and Archaeology interesting or fun to study. None. I've tried. And I'm sorry to say that but my attention span for such things is approximately 43 seconds... usually less, so I'm attempting to escape this drudgery with a blog about something related to Gaga....

You guessed it, Charles.

Hooray!  Let's talk about aliens and be merry! I have two Charles episodes to relate to you, and I will title them appropriately so that you may distinguish between the two.

Episode One:
The Love Potion

So for Gaga, we all had to write a term paper. Not a big deal (annoying as hell, but reasonable) and the week before they were due, everyone had to do a short presentation on the topic of their paper. Now unlike the presentations before, we all got to choose our topics for our paper as long as it fell under the umbrella of this course. Great! So everyone got to talk about something that interested them, and that's a lot more creative than just a regular topic.

So while everyone is presenting about some pediment on some temple somewhere, or on some mythological scene represented on some clay stuff, our dear friend Charles took everything to a whole new level.

Charles gets up in front of the class with a plastic bag and a powerpoint. Then he starts talking about pomegranates. Oh yeah, and he pulls a pomegranate out of the mysterious plastic bag. That's cool. So he's talking about all of the ancient uses for pomegranates like contraceptive, love potion, symbol of wealth, death, rebirth etc.

At this point he had only been casually tossing the pomegranate between his hands an occasionally flipping a slide, but suddenly he asks if anyone has actually tried a pomegranate.  Most of us had but he reaches to his belt and whips out a knife. (WHAT!?!) flicks it open and begins to cut open the pomegranate in his hand. Our professor (remember billy goat man from Ostia Antica? Yeah, him) says "Wow, I guess you don't mess with Charles." And then Charles starts to hand out pieces of pomegranate to the rest of the class so that we won't feel left out.

Keep in mind that out of a class of about 15 ish, there are two boys, including Charles. Now that everyone is munching happily on their piece of pomegranate, our professor chooses this exact moment to say, "hey, all of you girls eating this pomegranate have to marry Charles now."

Awkward laughter...

Charles blushes...

True, he had been talking about pomegranates as a love potion... but I'm not sure that was necessary...  I'm also not sure how I feel about marrying an alien....

After the end of his presentation, everyone proceeded to ask for a copy of his paper because it was actually interesting.

Pomegranates: doing work.

A+ for Charles.

The End.

Now I'm going to study some real Gaga, and post the second episode when I need another break... And with your luck may be very soon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Talking to Birds

So this morning at 6am, I decided that it would be a good idea to wake up, get out of bed and get on a train.  Doesn't that sound like your perfect morning?  Now just add a suit and it's a regular weekend!

Anyway, I stumbled my way to the kitchen, made some coffee, and figured that I should get ready.  So load up at the crack of dawn and make it all the way to the train station. La dee da, train ride, blah writing and watching the beautiful countryside whiz by.

So in Assisi there are a few things to do. 1) Go to the St. Francis Basilica. 2) Go to the St. Francis Basilica and look at art.  Guess what I did? I'll give you three guesses.  So I went there and did that and it was amazing.  All I really want in my life is a chorus of Giotto angels.  Ok, and maybe the ability to talk to birds (also applicable to this topic. Look it up), but that's all I really want.  I spent a good hour and a half visiting the art and Francis himself as well as his historical clothing.  All good things really.

I then spent some time walking around stores, speaking to the natives and just enjoying the day.  I walked around a few other religious sites and then got back on the train and came back to Rome. What a delightful day away.

First of 5 finals tomorrow. May the countdown to home begin.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Immaculate Conception

When you miss parties in Italy when you thought that it was just a regular holiday....  it's really a bummer to find out things like the Pope lights Christmas trees with tablets....  Oh well.

But that's ok!  Why? Because Erica was baking today and now I'm feeling fat and sassy.  So after that we watched Back to the Future (which is obviously amazing) and ate said treats.

In the morning I am taking a study break and headed to Assisi tomorrow. All bright and early-like, so wish me luck!  I'm basically going for the art, and that's ok with me. But I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Though I Czeched out of Prague ages ago...

Aren't you thrilled?  You should be excited for two reasons: 1) I'm actually posting about Prague now! and 2) I'm done with classes at JCU! That means one step closer to home!!! In the words of Patricia Kazarow, 'Wahoo!!!"

Ok, now Prague. (And while I'm thinking about it, remind me to tell you Charles stories. There are two)

So day two in Prague arrived, and it was much like the first one-kind of rainy.  But that's ok! Because I have a mildly sunshiny personality, and I'll make due with any thing to be in Prague. So basically the first thing you should know about walking around Prague is that it's common to forget you are not actually an animated cartoon with forest creatures following you around.  It looks like a fairytale! Not even a joke. You basically cross one bridge and suddenly all you can think of are Disney Princess songs and twittering birds. It's almost ridiculous. But not really because I love it.

So the first thing we did was grab Starbucks. And there is not much more delightful than a take away cup of coffee that is larger than a Dixie cup. You think that's a joke, it's not. It's a wonderful invention by apparently caffeine crazed people from the US. But that's ok, I love it.  Then we caught a tram to go meet one of Erica's friends: Gabriella.  What a delightful person! She is studying in Prague and was gracious enough to not work on her paper for a few hours and show us around! So we went up to the Prague castle and walked around the area, saw some great views, saw a pretty spectacular cathedral with some amazing stained/painted glass. Once we were done taking pictures of that, we decided to go see one of the major squares with some markets (and the name escapes me now, but that's what you get from a person who wrote a philosophy paper today), and while we were there we got some delicious pretzel-cinnamon-sugar things. I don't really know what they are called, but they were circular and warm and delicious. See? Even the food is fairy-tale themed. Then we managed to walk around a bit more (saw a 'large' ice rink....  lies.) T

Then we went to a French lunch!  Oui! Ok, you caught me. We really did go to a place called the Cafe Louvre, but I'm not so very French. Anyway, we had a delightful lunch of Quiche and good times.  Then Gabriella led us up to another excellent view before she darted off to work on that pesky paper.  We photo bombed each other and then headed back down the hill to do some shopping and look around a bit before dinner. For dinner we headed back toward the Christmas markets (where there were obviously the most people) and we had a delicious dinner under a canopy watching the people go by. I personally had some goulash with dumplings, and that was quite good. And being the good roommates we are, we all had to share, so that was fun.

Then we decided to walk around the Christmas market (now that we're there to shop and not just to pass through) and it was so much fun!  All kinds of places open and selling food and ornaments and hats and gloves and everything else!  It's like window shopping, but they are in little vender stalls.  At one point, Molly and I lost the other two and went up to a vantage point to seek them out. Upon finding them in a crowd (and watched them look for us) we called them and made them dance for our return: always appropriate task.

So after finding all kinds of worldly goods, we were just reveling in the atmosphere and started spontaneously singing Christmas carols. Well, eventually we found ourselves standing in a circle, by one of the most crowded places in the market and singing full volume all of the Christmas songs we knew, regardless of whether there was a distinct language barrier.  And after about 30 minutes of this, a man came up to us speaking in rapid-language-I-don't-know and we assume that he was complimentary! So that's good. And we spent half the time fudging up the lyrics, or giggling, but it was amazing. And since we didn't get a video the first time, we walked back toward the giant Christmas tree and starting singing Hark the Harold and O Come All Ye Faithful back to back. During this rendition, we were not only applauded, but someone was taking video of us. So that's pretty fricking spectacular. And we had fun, so that's totally worth it.

After that little crowning jewel, everything was pretty much a slide from there. We met up with Gabriella for another hour later that night, and saw her at this adorable cafe the next morning (and had some cake-very good) and then back on the plane.  What a stunning last trip.

Now that all of my papers are done, it's just finals and packing (PACKING!?!?!??????!?!) and that's always a good time.... ish....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prague delay (just like real life)

I procrastinate
Far too well to update you
Seventeen syll'bles

(that means you don't say that syllable right? Ok, great, glad we're on the same page.) I'll be done with my Philosophy paper I'm writing about Moua by tomorrow, so I'll tell you about our most exciting day in Prague.

Hints to keep you reading this blog and not to skip it like you probably want to right now because I let you down:
1) There were pretty things
2) There was singing
3) There was good food

That's it! "I'm the stone you can't squeeze blood from and that's the truuuuuuth!" (That's a Muppet's Christmas Carol quote for you.)

You probably also were the one to throw me out the door, I'll accept that fate....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prague Day 1: Getting Searched and Searching for Ghosts

If I knew the real way to say 'Hello' in Czech, I would, but for now you'll have to deal with my made up phonetic version: Doh-bree-e-den.  Wasn't that wonderful? It's amazing that I don't teach languages.  I'm talented.

So the only fiasco that we encountered in going to Prague was actually getting there. The original plan was to get up before dawn, get to the airport, and get basically to Prague in time for a proper breakfast. Well, that would be far too easy, so instead, we were notified that our flight was cancelled, and that we were being moved to a later flight... One that left 7 hours later. BOO. So we sucked it up and left 7 hours later instead (and I did enjoy that little bit of extra sleep).

None the less, we made it to the airport in time for the rest of the world to also want to be leaving Italy. Why does everyone want to leave? Not a clue, but basically all of Rome was in the airport in one small room. Not even kidding. It was the most hellish airport experience I've ever had. We waited in a que line for a good hour, get our passports glanced at and then literally thrown into a mosh pit of angry travelers who don't know how to prepare for security scanners. (In my personal opinion, this means that you shouldn't be traveling, but they don't let me run things. I'm not in charge.) So instead, it was the biggest pile of hot mess you've ever seen in your life. Approximately 300 people all mobbing toward 8 security scanners WITHOUT QUE LINES. What?!?!?!  What happened Italy? String would do, long pieces of tape, reconfigured spiderwebs, ANYTHING but it just turned into an anxious swarm of unhappy. And because there were no que lines, or any guiding factors really at all, the people kept pushing toward the front without regard for those in front of them, trying to sneak in to the scanners first, and generally pissing off everyone else. Then all of the people who were running late (ie erryone) were extra anxious because there were 7 people who were on time in front of them. Woof. Town. So after another hour of that, we made it to the gate, slightly bruised, and temperamental, but going to Prague!

Boring plane things, blah, PRAGUE. Now to get from the airport to the hostel there are several things you have to do. 1) Get Czech money. That's approximately 25 Krona to 1 Euro. So get something that feels like a lot. 2) Get a 24 hour pass. 3) Take the bus. 4) Take the Metro. 5) Take the Tram. 6) Walk around and get kind of lost because we don't read Czech, and it's dark. We then walked up a hill to suddenly find our hostel! Huzzah! Czech in, (there are going to be a lot of those in here, get used to them) drop off our stuff, and find some dinner.

So we wander, wander, wander, and after walking into several adorable stores (hey dad, I found one with a toy John Deere tractor. For the low low price of 1125 krona!) and eventually found food. In this tiny little restaurant, there was a lovely television screen showing pictures of what we determined were deer-kats: they looked like meerkats, but patterned like baby deer.  And if that's not enough of a draw to go to a restaurant, I don't know what you want.  (Besides maybe Gates BBQ. OH FOR THE LOVE OF GATES). At this point we decided that we wanted to go on a ghost tour. On your marks, get set, GO-we have 20 minutes to find the ghost tour listed in the brochure.

Now if you've only been in a city for a few hours and it's dark, and you haven't walked anywhere, trying to find an office on some random street is not the easiest thing to do. But with spidey senses tingling, we managed to run right into it. And lucky that we did. In order to get the 10 o'clock tour, one other couple had showed up. Unfortunately, the 10 pm tour is only supposed to happen in the summer, as in not December. Oops. Apparently, the other couple had been told that if more people showed up, that he would give the tour, SURPRISE! Here we are! Saving the day or ruining the day, depending on who you are. Oh well. So we giggle and sign up for tour.  He shoos us out of the little office while he puts on his costume. Oooo scary.

So he comes out of the office in his red cloak/hood that is intended to be the costume of the traditional Czech executioner. Fun stuff right? And we go back into the office for a quick introduction and a survey. Survey? Oh yes, how would you prefer to be executed? A) Noose. B) Axe. (the joke here was that it was the middle school boy spray, same dif) C) Sword. (my answer) D) Hammer. E) Fire. F) Water.  There were little tallies next to all of them, with the most popular being axe. So while you ponder that, just picture us going on the most hilarious ghost tour ever. I mean, I've been on several ghost tours where they tell you creepy stories, and some of them are half believable, and even frightening, but this one was just straight up joke. He tried to scare me once, I wasn't too frightened, as in I had a super delayed/faked scream. Funny, but not the reaction he was looking for. So he decided to scare Kate instead, that one worked.

After the hilarious tour, we walked around singing Harry Potter Puppet Pals (what do you mean this isn't Czech?) and wandered around the pretty much closed Christmas market. Tried a bit o grog which was disgusting, and then called it a night and went back to the hostel for some shut eye.

And I will leave you hanging on that terrifying note. Expect day 2 of Prague tomorrow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm Alive!

So the updates that happen before you get real updates go like this.

1) I'm back from Prague and it was beautiful.
2) I'm 98.7% done with my Gaga paper-and that's beautiful.
3) I miss all Christmas concerts hard core (read: CinCC and Winter Blessings)-they're beautiful
4) That was my last weekend trip of the semester. AND THAT MEANS THAT IT'S ALMOST OVER.
5) Read #4 again, except with my panic voice.
6) I'm sleepy.

Good night wonderful people, I'll work on pictures and blog things tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ireland and Edinburgh-The leftovers

Huzzah! Thus begins day two in Ireland. We wake up to attempt to find some decent grub in the hostel (besides the half bag of Doritos and left over Dr. Pepper) and we found instant coffee, and toast. So we went to Starbucks. That's right, Starbucks. Laugh if you want, but it's one of the greatest inventions of all time. And we went there a lot. I love coffee.

So after that we decided to take a little self guided tour around Dublin. This included stopping in and around various cathedrals, taking adorable pictures, and generally being amazing. Eventually, we decided that it was worth grabbing some lunch before the Guinness storehouse tour. So we dropped into this cafe and had some wonderful soup. Now you're thinking, I mean, yeah soup, whatevs. LIES. After having pasta and pizza and pasta and pizza and gelato and pasta and pizza, SOUP IS AMAZING.

After that little tidbit, we went over to the Guinness factory. Now, I'm not what you would call a good Irishman (woman), so this could be a serious struggle. But, like a true trooper, I was going to enjoy every minute to the best of my ability. So that was that.  As someone who knows nothing about alcohol fermentation and different grain combinations and such, this was a fascinating experience. It is all pretty well organized, using a variety of different mediums to keep you moving and entertained. I will say that one of my favorite parts was the room of various add campaigns. So interesante!  One of these included that you should drink a Guinness a day for health reasons. Similar to the concept of an apple today. This was recommended by doctors!  So there you have it folks, a Guinness a day. Just like the doctor ordered.

Keep in mind that this storehouse is 1) built on a 9,000 year lease (hey dad, got any of those?) 2) It's the largest pint shaped glass in the world.  Lots of pints fit in there. 3) It's 7 stories tall. So if that wasn't enough to swallow, we managed to actually do the entire tour all the way up to the top where there is a panoramic view of Dublin while enjoying our pints of fresh Guinness. It was just so much fun to be with wonderful friends in a unique landmark.

After that we decided to walk around the shopping district for a bit, then grab some dinner.  We dropped off our stuff at the hostel before dinner and wandered around for a bit before deciding to try a 'boxty' place. Now if you don't know what a boxty is, then you are not alone. So as we were seated in almost our own private room, we just had to ask what we should order. And that came back as get anything with boxty in it. Ok, then when the waiter described it as an Irish burrito, we were sold. So a few minutes later he returned with our boxtys (ies?) lamb for Kate, steak for Erica, and chicken for moi, and they were delicious. Simply wonderful.

After that we had to enjoy our last night with Vanessa by going to find some live music/Irish dancing. And low and behold, we found some. Vanessa and I planned our escape, and that was basically magic. The Irish step really just reminded me of two very different things. 1) Ava. 2) The Congressional Award. Both are strange associations, but I think very applicable. But we sadly had to leave and get some shut eye because we were leaving the hostel before God gets up. And by that I mean we had to be down stairs for the shuttle at 4:30 AM. AM. BAH. And that's without pump up music loudly playing, or other people around. Boo.

Fast forward (it's only 4 hours, you didn't miss much.) and we are in a shuttle driving backwards. Literally driving backwards. You thought Cadi's picture with the semi was confusing? Imagine if you will driving on the left-hand side of the road IN REVERSE. Of course at 4:30 am, this irony is just too much to vocalize without drooling or crossing your eyes (it's kind of like a strange dream where you can't figure out if anything is real or not.) So I (and this is rare) kept my mouth shut and didn't make any smart comments about how they really do drive backwards here....  None the less, we made it to the airport, mostly driving forward. So that's good.

At the airport I got Naked. No, not like that....  I found (at Starbucks=life saver) Nakeds and I was basically the happiest person in the whole airport. I actually think I'm at my funniest around 4-5 am. I think the team will attest to this.  And we jumped on that earlybird Ryan Air flight and enjoyed everything that they tried to sell us (Newspapers, cigarettes, food, Women of Ryan Air calendar-Christmas list for sure, and there was one more, but it was a short flight... so I forgot.).  Get into Edinburgh and get ready for our just over 24 hour experience.

Find the hostel, find a Starbucks (yes, again. It's like crack) and then go to the cafe where we were going to meet Claire and Ava. Now this is the final reunion of the semester, and this time we got smart and took pictures. Way to go Erica. The pictures basically show pure joy. And with that many pretty people, it's hard not to see joy and beauty at the same time.  There was lots of squealing and hugging (trend?) and then we all had more coffee and bagels (yeeessssss) and all talked very quickly at the same time just rying to catch up as quickly as possible without being super obnoxious. Eventually we peeled ourselves from the warm cozy atmosphere of the Black Medicine cafe (I think that's right) and began our tour a la Edinburgh.

First impressions: It's suuuuper windy. (just like GAC!) It's adorable (Part of this reaction is because I don't think you can quite call Rome cute. So everything smaller than Rome is automatically precious). And there's that realization that there are some really cool things that have happened in this city. Like, oh yeah, Harry Potter began here. WHAT!?!?!  Yes, that's right. The Elephant House, I went there. It was amazing. There are so many nooks and crannies that history just lurks and people remember all of it.

We walked through a Christmas market and past the soggy ice skating rink, all the way up to the view point that over looks the water. And it was so windy that you could lean at a 45 degree angle and the wind would hold you up. There are so many pictures of us trying to either stand upright, hold on hats, or just giving up and letting the wind do with my hair as it would.

Then back down to take a few pictures of the castle, and then off to lunch. Lunch was a wonderful plate of nachos and a burger, you know, very Scottish food. And we talked for a few hours before heading off to Claire's apartment to relax and catch up a bit. Then while Claire's boyfriend Kalin began cooking, Ava took us out for a little bit of shopping.  We bought our kilts and headed back to the apartment for some delicious moussaka. It was absolutely delectable.

After dinner, we went out to meet some of Claire's friends, and had to say good bye to Ava. That was a bit heart wrenching, but I managed to keep my tears back.  Enjoyed the company, the atmosphere, and eventually headed back to our hostel after saying goodbye to Claire and Kalin.  I miss them all desperately already.

And pretty much the second my head hit the pillow, I was out for the night. We got up kind of early the next morning to get to the airport.  Layover in London, then on to Rome. Nothing too terribly exciting to report (no backwards driving), got home later than expected, but not because of delays. All in all, a fantastic weekend.

Since those adventures, I've been trudging though papers and attempting to go to school. It's sort of working. Oh, and I leave for Prague tomorrow. So that's awesome. It's the last trip of the semester though! I'm thrilled to be going with three wonderful ladies and we are going to have a wonderful time of it. I'll try to let you know how that one goes sooner than I did this week.