Posted by: megd1209 | July 2, 2010

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Hello All,

It’s been awhile since my last post and this will most likely be my last post, but I was told I needed to finish the story of my journey.

My travel day home was nothing but a mess! David and I got to the airport around 7 and waited for his plane to leave at 9. He left with no hassles, my flight however did not. I was supposed to leave at 1130 from Rome, but the plane was late getting into Rome, we finally took off at 130-2 hours after it was scheduled! About 80% of the people on the plane were going to miss their connecting flights in Chicago. We landed in Chicago right before 5 and my connecting flight to Minneapolis was at 5:45 which wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have to go through customs! I called my mom when I got off the plane to tell her that I would not be on my next flight, however, she informed me that my Chicago flight was delayed an hour-there was hope! I got through customs and re-checked my bag  just fine. Then I stood in the security line for double the time I was in line for customs. Once I was in the airport I started heading for my gate, but checked the time of my flight to see how much time I had. Bad news, I was headed the wrong direction because they changed my gate. Good news, they delayed my flight another hour. So I got to my gate with plenty of time to spare and bought a chai tea latte from caribou! I had been craving one of those for about 2 weeks and it was well worth my 5 DOLLARS!!! (not euros 🙂 ) I took off from Chicago when I was already supposed to be home which was a little sad, but things happen. On the up side of the day, I read an entire book! 🙂

I was VERY excited to be home, Europe was a blast, but very exhausting. Another upside to all of my delays was that we got to my house at 1030pm so I didn’t need to force myself to stay up to get back on Minnesota time. The morning after I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 730am and was up for the whole day with not a lick of jet lag. In fact I didn’t feel any jet leg until about a week after I was back but I think that was more attributed to working than to jet leg. 🙂

I’m happy to be home, but I want to go back at the same time. It’s beautiful over there and such an experience. I don’t regret any of it and I am 100% happy that I went through with it! Now I just need to sort out my 1100 pictures. 🙂

Thank you to everyone that read my blog, I’m happy to know that it brought enjoyment to your days! 🙂

-Meg

Posted by: megd1209 | June 13, 2010

Day 15-Roma

This morning was not going my way…

We woke up at 830 and got to breakfast at 9 and then I tried for an hour and a half to update this blog. It was very frustrating, but at last it worked and I was able to give you 3 days of information! 🙂

After the morning it got better. We went to the Coliseum. David went on a tour of that and of the forums while I wandered around Rome. I didn’t really feel like paying any more money for something I’ve’ seen twice already, so I walked. I went back to the Trevi Fountain and got some gelato while I sat and people watched. It was pretty entertaining. Then I walked back and waiting for David to finish up. I planned ahead and brought my book! I read right outside the beautiful scenery that was the Coliseum 🙂 It was pretty relaxing.

Met back up with David and we headed to the Pantheon. After the Pantheon we just walked and took miscellaneous pictures and then headed back to the hotel by 5. We cleaned up and packed for our rides home tomorrow and now I sit writing my last blog to you guys before I return home!!! I’m very excited to be back; its been a long time for me and I’m ready. However I have a feeling I’m going to miss it next week when I’m back at work 8 hours a day. lol

We are going to venture off to try to find a good restaurant where I plan to get some spaghetti! 🙂 We will leave our hostel tomorrow at 630 to catch the 7 train for the airport. David’s flight leaves at 930 and mine leaves at 1130. I hope all is well and I’ll see you soon 🙂

Posted by: megd1209 | June 13, 2010

Day 14-Roma

We had a very early morning today-6am wake up call. I wasn’t very happy about it, but David was a little worried that he wasn’t going to have enough time in Rome, so we left Venice at 627am and got to Rome at 10. We couldn’t check into our hotel until 230, but they let us keep our stuff in the luggage storage. You have to be very trusting of everyone at the hotel to do this because it’s just a room that everyone throws their stuff into. We’ve been lucky thus far!

Anyway, we hit the road for Vatican City. We decided to take a tour this time which was great idea for many reasons. A) We got way more information than Dad and I did by ourselves and B) the line was HUGE. With the tour you get to skip the line and go right in because all of the tours have reservations that our just hop in with. After the Vatican Museum, we got to skip yet another line and walk through the back way into St. Peter’s Basilica. It doesn’t matter how many times I go there, it’s still breathtaking! I love, love, love that Basilica! David decided his feet couldn’t take the walk to the top of the cupola, so we went into the catacombs instead and saw all of the pope’s tombs. St. John Paul II was the only one all lit up and had flowers and notes left by it. It was a sight to see, but St. Peters was huge and very detailed. It was a beautiful resting place.

After Vatican City we started our way back to the hotel room to check in since it was now approaching 4:00, but before we did that we went down the street to see the Castel Sant’ Angelo. We didn’t go inside because it cost money, but we toured the outside of it. We kept walking until we made it back (taking the metro) and checked in to our hotel! We changed out of our Basilica clothes (jeans and a long skirt) and into some shorts for the day.

We ate dinner at 530 at a so so restaurant. David didn’t really enjoy the spaghetti sauce and I agreed plus we ordered risotto sea food for a starter and the sea food was real sea food and I’m not that adventurous! I tried some of the things that didn’t look too gross and the octopus, but we left a good chunk of it on the plate. Even though the food was a little disappointing it still did its job and we started walking again.

Our first stop was the Spanish steps and then to the Trevi Fountain. I really wanted to see the fountain at night, but the sun never goes down here! We got to the fountain around 730 took some pictures and wandered through the stores for the next hour and a half until the sun was almost down. BUT the lights were on in the fountain and it was worth the wait. 🙂

At 930 we left and decided to walk back to the fountain-it took us 30 minutes, but it seemed much longer than that because our feet were tired! Anyway we are all cleaned up now and its lights out!
Tomorrow the Coliseum and its surrounding.

Posted by: megd1209 | June 13, 2010

Day 13-Florence/Venice

So we were going to leave for Venice at 930 this morning, but all of the trains were full until 1230. I don’t know why, but it very well could have been because of the transportation strike going on in Roma, Milano, and Napoli. Apparently, Italy has planned strikes and today, June 11th was one of them. Luckily the trains were still running to where we wanted to go, but I think that a lot of other people changed their plans because of it.

We ended up walking around the market with Megan and Angie and did some shopping for three hours before we said our second goodbye and actually left for Venice. The train was small and very crowded. I personally think they all went on strike just so they could watch the World Cup since it started today, but that’s just me.

We got to Venice at 230, found our hotel and away we went. We found out that their boat taxis and ferries were on strike which didn’t really bother us because we could walk to everything we needed to. We walked to San Marco square, however, too late to go in it. We walked along the shore line and looked at all of the stands selling things and we walked to the Rialto. Venice is quite small; we walked from the train station to San Marco Square in about 30 minutes. We continued to explore Venice by walking around and stopping at things that we thought looked like a good picture opportunity. We again, came back to the hotel, took showers, and rested before going out to dinner. We had dinner on the Grand Canal right in sight of the Rialto! It was good and relaxing until a police boat or something turned on its siren and all the waiters came out yelling “Attenzione” and motioning to pick up our bags from the ground and lift our feet because, as he put it, a tsunami was coming.  Since the boat was going so fast, the waves from the canal washed pretty well up on the sidewalk we were sitting on. It was interesting and pretty fun! 🙂

That was our Venice experience. In my opinion, Venice is a place to relax and enjoy the shore views and I love that! 🙂

Posted by: megd1209 | June 13, 2010

Day 12-Florence

We set a time to meet Megan and Angie at the Il Duomo for 830am thinking that we would be able to get into the church before we had to leave for our tour. Unfortunately, the church didn’t open until 10(!), so we meandered for a little bit and then got on the train. Megan set up a castle/wine tasting tour at the Pazzi Castle also called the “crazy” castle because that is what “pazzi” means in Italian.

The castle was 900 years old, but one of only two, if I remember correctly, that is occupied 12 months out of the year. A little bit more of the Florence history; the Medici family was a very powerful family and was in charge of Florence for most of its days, but the Pazzi family was somewhat of a rival and wanted to take over the city. So the Pazzi family set up a conspiracy to kill the Medici King and his brother. They did it on Sunday morning while the family was at church. They ended up killing the brother, but the king escaped through the back door of the church and the next morning ALL of the Pazzi family members were hung outside in the piazza for all to see.  We got to go in the conspiracy room and all of the wine cellars of the castle. The castle had only 40 rooms, so it was a small castle, but very neat all the same. There is no central air or heat, so it’s not a great place to live. The family that runs the place makes Chianti wine and extra virgin olive oil. We went through the wine cellars and were explained how they keep their two wines: their reserve and their table wine. They kept the olive oil in the dungeon, so we got to see a dungeon as well which was kind of neat. THEN we got to sample the wine and olive oil!!! We started with a white which I can’t remember if they made or not but it was a blend of Pinot Noir and Merlot. The next was their table wine which they keep for 6 months in steel bins. Then we tried their reserve which they keep for 3-5 years in oak barrels. And finally, we tried a dessert wine which tasted kind of like brown sugar. 🙂 Now, I’m not a fan of the red wine because I don’t like how dry most of it is, but their table wine was pretty good-still dry, but not overwhelmingly so. But their reserve was a little too dry for my taste; however, it was still good.

This by far was one of the better tours I’ve been on this trip, the guide was funny and very informative and we got “free” wine plus treats!!! They had bread with different spreads: their extra virgin olive oil, an olive paste, and a tomato paste, plus salami and cheese. 🙂 Everything was very tasty!

After David and Angie bought some wine we went back to the Il Duomo and went inside. The outside is very beautiful, but the inside is pretty plain compared to some other churches I’ve seen on this trip, but it was pleasant. After that Angie and Megan left to go do some other things and David and I stood in line for the Academia Gallery-where the original “David” is. That was pretty cool; it was so much bigger than I thought it was going to be. After spending 10 euro on “David” we took a walk, a very long and uphill walk to the Piazza di Michelangelo. Megan told us to go there because it has a great view of the city, she was right. It also had one of two copies of “David” in Florence.

We walked back to the hotel and took showers and rested until dinner time which was only a few hours. We met back up with Megan, Mendi, and Angie for dinner and went to a place where Mendi knew some of the wait staff. Here we shared a traditional Italian meal. Between the five of us, we ordered 3 first courses and 3 second courses and then we walked to a gelato café 🙂 It was a great dinner.

We said our goodbyes and left for our hotel and to Venice we go tomorrow.

Posted by: megd1209 | June 9, 2010

Day 11-Florence

Today we woke up at 8. We got our fabulous free breakfast and waited for Megan to meet us. Our hotel is really nice! They have free wireless and free breakfast which you order and then they cook for you. They have 9 options, David got two sunny-side up eggs and toast and I got 4 pieces of french toast. mmm mmm, it was good! We met up with Megan at 930ish and she showed us around the town.

Megan is one of my good friends and she now lives here with her husband. Megan and I met in 2nd grade and we’ve gone to school all the way up through the U even though we didn’t see each other much there. She studied abroad in Italy two years and met a guy here, she moved here last year and married Mendi in August. So I once again have a tour guide for this portion of our trip! 🙂

Her sister Angie is also visiting at the same time, so at 11 we met up with her. Megan made lunch for all of us and then she had to go teach English so David and I headed back to the center. We shopped for 3 hours!! I couldn’t believe it was thought long, but it was.They have, what they call, “the market” which is just three streets of little stands selling all sorts of things. Leather was a large majority of the stands. Behind them we found this cute little ceramic shop and I wanted to buy EVERYTHING in that store! Unfortunately, since everything is hand painted and ceramic it’s all very expensive; a small dinner plate is 40 euro, so I settled with an olive oil stopper and salad tongs. I may talk myself into going back there and buying a salad bowl as well 🙂 but we’ll see.

We are going to meet back up with Megan, Angie, and Mendi later tonight, but for now David is resting. 🙂

Hope all is well and I’ll see you in just 5 short days.

Posted by: megd1209 | June 9, 2010

Day 10-Pompei

Today was another long day! We left Termini at 730 last night and left for Naples. We arrived there at 430am and had to sit around the train station for another two and a half hours because nothing was open. Then finally, at 720 things started to get busier and were opening up! We put our bags in the baggage room and got on our train to Pompei at 8!

We walked around the ruins for a few hours as well as some little shops and headed back up to the station. We really wanted to climb Mt. Vesuvius, but we didn’t know how to get there-luckily(!) when we went back to the train station people were handing out flyers for the volcano! We bought two tickets, waited for the bus, and away we went!

The bus ride to the volcano was about 50 minutes long and circled up to the drop off point which was probably about halfway up the volcano. So we didn’t climb the whole thing, but it was enough for it to count. 🙂 It took us just under 30 minutes to get to the crater. We walked about a quarter of the way around the crater and then headed back down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the clearest of days at the top, so the city was a little more clouded over. But hey, we climbed Mt. Vesuvius!! Mark one up for another amazing thing I’ve gotten to do and to see!:-)

We left Pompei around 230, got our tickets, or bags, and a few snacks, and had 10 minutes to spare before our train for Florence left. It’s really quite amazing how little you think about food when you’re moving around so much, but when you stop you realize it! Our last meal was at 3pm yesterday and our next one was at 730pm today. Granted we had some fig newtons at 5am, a cup of gelato at 10, and two bags of chips at 4pm, but for a 24 hour difference between meals it’s not that much. It’s just odd.

Anyway, we got to Florence at 7 and checked into our hotel and then went to find some food! Once our stomachs were content we took showers!! It was another long time without one and we both felt disgusting-hooray for showers!! I called Megan and we figured out when and where to meet tomorrow and now we are going to hit hay!

Posted by: megd1209 | June 7, 2010

Day 9-Termini

It’s our last day here and we leave at 7pm-I don’t want to go. It’s great here, you see a great view every way you look and the people-they are fabulous. Everyone here is so generous and they want to know everything and tell you everything about one another. Family is very important here and it shows, I love it!

Anyway, we woke up at 830/9am this morning and got ready for the day. We first went for some panelle. Nino wanted us to try some because he says you won’t get it anywhere else. It’s only in Sicily, not even in Italy. It is a tortilla type food made of chickpeas and it was good! After we stuffed ourselves with panelles we went for coffee at a bar run by one of Nino’s good friends. Even at bars or restaurants, if you know the owners, they just give and give. Every 5 minutes he came over with more things to eat or  drink. First cappuccino, then panelles in bread like a panelle sandwich, then croissants, then lemon sherbert which is like a slurpie in the US, then strawberry sherbert, then more coffee, but this time it was like a frappuccino. Very creamy and very coffee-y. The slurpies are great, they have so much flavor because they don’t use a lot of sugar, they use the true flavor of the fruit.

After our coffee, we went to a travel agent to get David and my seat reservation for our train tonight. It cost 6€ for both of us but she charged 6€ for taxes which was ridiculous, but it’s still cheap, so i guess it’s fine. lol After that we went took a drive. We saw more views and Nino pointed out where he picked up Grandpa back in 1955. The drive was nice. We’ve seen a lot of history of the family. We’ve seen where Nino was born and where he grew up and many plots of land that great grandpa and his brothers owned. It’s all very interesting. Again, I don’t want to leave! But at the same time, I can’t wait to get home and be in my house.

Anywho, after our drive we went to the grocery store and picked up some lunch. Currently we sitting at the table chatting and cooking our lunch. It’s beautiful here, everyday. It’s about 75/80 degrees and the sun is shinning.

Well this will be it for a few more days because I won’t have internet access until we get to florence on the 9th. Hope all is well! Ciao!

Posted by: megd1209 | June 6, 2010

Day 8-Termini

We woke up at 8 and went on the road to go see how ricotta cheese is made. The man who we met yesterday at the restaurant took us there: Dad, Nino, Pepo, and I. It was up in the mountain on windy roads again. So we saw how they made the cheese and then got  to taste fresh ricotta cheese. They told us to eat the cheese as well at the broth with it. It was  warm (because they boil it) and it was good! Yum, yum, yum!

We just heard from David, he just picked up his bags at the airport and is getting on a train to get here now. He will call us again when he makes it to the train station and we will go pick him up!

We had lunch with Pepe’s family for Alessandra’s 1st Communion celebration. There was so much food-let me tell you, you will not starve if you come here; you may die of overeating, but you will not starve. We had, pork, veil, roasted potatoes, cheese, roasted red peppers, tomato and mozzarella, pasta, veggies, and probably other things that I am forgetting, but it was all delicious. This time though I remembered to  not to eat too much and I saved room for dessert! 🙂 The dessert was a cake with cream filling and pistachio on the outside edges.

In the middle of all of that commotion, Nino and I left to go pick up David at the train station. He scared me a little  bit because he did not wait for us on the platform he went to the door. I don’t know exactly how we missed him, but we did  so when the train left and he wasn’t there we hoped that he was on the next one. We turned around and  saw him standing by the exit, so we walked to meet him and all was well!:-) We went back to the celebration and he was mobbed with food. The grandma just kept bringing everything to him from the serving table-he was well fed! lol

At night, we went out with Roberta and her boyfriend and friends and went to Cefalù. We just walked around the city and visited Il Doumo and of course got some gelato! One of their friends spoke pretty good English and he asked us if we wanted any and his response reminded me of Vanessa-he said there was a special pocket of space always left for gelato no matter how full you are! 🙂 We saw the sun set over the ocean shore and then headed back to Termini.

We got back to Termini around 930 and met back up with Dad and Nino and had dinner and went to bed.

Posted by: megd1209 | June 6, 2010

Day 7-Termini

Neither Dad nor I slept very well, but surprisingly I wasn’t tired for the upcoming day. Nino and Pepe met us at the train station and away we went! Pepe showed us around his amazing house-it’s huge-and told us to make our selves at home.

Nino and Pepe had an appointment at 11 so they dropped us off with Giusepepe. He is my age and he walked around the top of Termini. Then he had an appointment with one of his professors at 1 so he dropped us off with his grandmother. She was a lovely lady, but didn’t speak a word of English and Dad and I don’t speak Italian, so that made it very interesting. We worked through a few conversations and then just watched TV. She had prepared lunch for all of us, so once Guisepepe and Nino came back we ate. Oh my gosh!!! It was amazing!! She made so much food and it was all delicious. We had salad, arinchini (breaded rice-so good!), eggpant, chicken, olives, cheese, artichoke, bread, and wine! 🙂 Then she made coffee  and brought out dessert! Joe, would be so jealous of me because she made cannolis and oh they were good! Along with those, she had some tarts and cream pufffs. I only had a cannoli, but I’m sure everything else tasted just as good. We were both stuffed after that, but with a meal like that I couldn’t complain.

We left with Nino and went to the Cemetary and saw where our relatives lie. Dad got a little emotional and then we left. Nino had another property to sell at 3, so we went with him. After that we went up with Pepe and Nino to a restaurant/hotel up in the mountain. There we had some pop, chips, and biscotti. The man who ran the place also made oil and gave dad one and me three! He liked me better lol. We stayed and chatted for quite some time, but the view and weather was great.

We got back to Pepe’s house and cleaned up before dinner. Ah, brushing my teeth felt amazing. We didn’t get to do that on the train, so it had been a while. Pepe made us spaghetti and sausage. The sauce that he had tasted like it had been smoked-it was good! Everything, it’s just been wonderful here!

I’ve been spoiled and I don’t want to leave!

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