Saturday, March 20, 2010
more pics soon!
So, I am currently sitting on the plane, headed back to Newark, NJ. Robin (my best friend and roommate) woke me up at 4am this morning at which point we packed our suitcases and placed them outside our hotel door for the concierge to pick up and bring downstairs. After organizing our belongings, we packed our carry ons, showered- looked around to make sure we weren’t forgetting anything and made our way downstairs by 5:30am. At 5:35am we counted off to make sure we were all present and accounted for. Our hotel packed each of us a small to-go breakfast which was much appreciated and with that and our bags in hand we headed for the airport.
We arrived at the airport around 6am, checked our baggage and then made our way through security. I managed to get patted down twice haha. After we all made it through we met at our gate (G8) and awaited the arrival of our plane. A few of us grabbed a sandwich and drink at the airport diner and before we knew it they were calling us to board our plane. But there was one problem! Natalie Yale, a Bay Path College student was not given a seat on our plane! This caused a huge problem, but not to fear, President Leary handled the conflict with class. She and Natalie spent a while talking with the front desk, trying to find a way to fit her on our flight which resulted in the airport asking over the intercom if there was anyone in the airport on our flight that would be willing to give up their seat. Needless to say, no one volunteered and so Noel Leary (the President’s husband) gave Natalie his ticket and he stayed at the airport. He will be taking a different flight back to the states and it is speculated that after arriving in Newark he will then take a smaller plane to Hartford. With this plan in place Natalie, President Leary and the rest of us boarded the plane and prepared for take off. Jenny Clark was nice enough to change seats with me (on both flights) so that Robin and I could sit next to each other and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me! Robin is a great friend who has been there for me any time I get anxious J I can’t thank her enough for pushing me to face my fears.
Currently it is 11:38am (EST) which means it’s 4:30pm in Italy right now. We have been on the plane for eight and a half hours so far (flying for seven and a half). So far I have slept the majority of the time, read Cosmo magazine, watched Twilight: New Moon on the airport TV implanted into the back of the seat in front of me and had a meal provided by Continental! I am writing this on my parents little Netbook lap top, there isn’t an internet connection and so I will post this online as soon as I have internet. Robin is sitting next to me reading Harry Potter, Jenny Clark has been writing on and off in her journal, and Melanie Decker is taking a nap- which sounds like a good idea. More later. Miss you guy!
Hello!! Sorry I was not able to post this sooner! It has been a very busy two days! So Friday was our “free day” where we could all spend the afternoon doing whatever we wished! A few of us were very interested in seeing more of the ruins that Rome has to offer and so our tour guide arranged for us to visit a place known as Ostia Antica! Which translates into Ancient Ostia. Ostia is an abandoned ancient city located on the river. This town served as a destination for incoming ships and such so that Romans could get the items they needed from overseas. Now a days visitors can see remnants of what use to be houses, bars, shops, public baths, etc. The trip cost 69 euros and gave us a few hours of touring with a magnificent tour guide! Our guide was so well informed, when I asked her how she managed to learn and remember all of this information she laughed! She then explained that in Rome to become a public guide all you have to do is take a test, they do not really have classes or things like that, that you can attend and learn the information you need to about the city and so you have to do a lot of research on your own. She said that she would spend days visiting locations before her tour groups arrived, to be sure that she had as much information as she could. In addition she would find as much literature as she could on her touring destination in an attempt to answer any additional questions tourists might have! She explains that being a tour guide is something you really have to love to do because you eat, sleep, and breathe the information (so to speak). All in all we spent about three hours on our tour and I managed to snap quite a few images, which I will be posting soon I promise!
After our tour of Ostia Antica we asked our bus driver to drop us of in the center or Rome so that we could do some last minute shopping, and visit the Spanish Steps one last time. Robin Pierce, Amy LaPorte, Samantha Hahn, Sara M, Adina and myself ventured around town for about three hours. We made a quick stop at a local bakery and enjoyed a mixture of delicious treats! A few girls purchased gelato cones, I decided to sample some homemade chocolate mousse! It was absolutely delicious and the bakery owner was so funny! After our sweet treats we ventured fourth to the Spanish Steps, as we got closer my knee started acting up (probably from all the walking) and so Robin and I decided to have the group go on without us and we took our time walking a little slower, peering in shop windows and making a few more purchases before heading back to our hotel!
Once we arrived back at our hotel we all showered, put on our best makeup and finest packed outfits and headed around the corner to the “Roof Top Garden” Restaurant for our farewell dinner! We arrived to find a room reserved with exposed brick walls, fine china settings, wine, bottled water, bread and olive oil and an Italian musician awaiting us! The exposed brick walls are remnants of the ancient Roman baths! As the musician continued to play classic Italian songs on his acoustic guitar we all found our seats. Once settled in the wonderful waiters of the restaurant served us their finest selection of red and white wine, and a bruschette appetizer that was out of this world! After enjoying our appetizers the waiters came back our, grabbed the hands of a few Bay Path College girls and began dancing with them in the middle of the restaurant!!! And let me tell you they have some moves that would put our Bay Path College dance team to shame Haha! We were all laughing and eating and drinking and having a wonderful time! Our meal included tortellini soup to start, an artichoke, chicken and potato main course and a gelato dessert!
After finishing our meals, President Leary stood up and asked us to each explain our favorite part of the trip. At this point, each girl stood up, one by one and explained in detail what resonated most for them and how this Capitals of The World Trip has been an experience none of us will forget. Highlights ranged from touring the Coliseum to sitting on the Spanish Steps, to gasping at the sight of the Trevi Fountain and simply snapping incredible pictures! It was at this point that it really hit me, I just spent and incredible week in Italy and tomorrow morning I have to leave and make my way back to the states. I started tearing up, as did many of the other girls at the thought of leaving this life changing place.
I didn’t mention this before, but in the weeks leading up to this trip I had massive panic attacks. I couldn’t sleep, I started eating less and I was truly debating on going because I have a desperate fear of flying and I had never left the country and so I was afraid I couldn’t do it. I was terrified that something would go wrong, our plane would crash (god forbid) or that any number of things would go array. But I talked to myself, and I told myself “there is no way you are going to miss this opportunity, I know you are scared but this trip, this trip is going to change your life” and that is when I realized….. It wasn’t really the fear of flying or crashing that I was most afraid of. I knew that traveling to Italy would change my life forever and that if I could do it, if I could really do this and get on that plane that I would be unstoppable! If I could fly to Italy with a group of girls I don’t know that well, spend a week there and come back, then from now on I would have absolutely nothing to hold me back. I will have confronted my biggest fear in life (flying), left the country and survived. I was afraid to meet my potential, I was afraid because I knew that if I faced my biggest fear I would no longer have any reservations in life and that thought was perhaps the scariest of them all!
And now, sitting here in my hotel the last night in Rome, I’ve realized… I did it, and you know what, I’m unstoppable.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Samantha hahn and me
Group shot minus me :)
After Assisi we headed to a Tuscan winery! And let me tell you I dont think have seen more tightly winding roads! We were amazed that our driver made it! The roads are one lane, without a dividing line so technicaly thy were designed for one small car at a time, our giant coach bus was not exacty an ideal size! Never-the-less or incredibly talented bus diver maneuvered his way around each bend getting us there safe and sound! Once we arrived we walked around the 35 acres of grape vines and had an oppurtunity to see how the wine was made from start to finish! Afterwards we were able to sample a sparkling, red, and white wine from the vineyard and enjoy unlimited snacks and munchies!! After our tour several girls purchased bottles to take home to the states, heres hoping they do not break in their suitcases!
After the winery we ventured to Orvieto, Italy! When we hopped off the bus we took an escalator up two flghts of stairs, boarded a train/lift to the top of a mountain, then took a bus to our destination. Once we arrived in Orvieto we had one hour to spend as we chose! Samantha Hahn, Robin Pierce and myself did a little shopping and then sat down at a local restaurant to enjoy some bruchette and caprese salad! It was homemade and delicious! After one hour we ventred back to th bus, down the train/life, down the escalators and back onto our tour bus! I on the other hand, managed to board the wrong tour bus!!!!!! I made a lot of friends, but quickly jumped off and found the right bus! Leave it to me hahaha
After arriving back at our Hotel a group of us changed very quickly and marched our way to the Spanish Steps where we met up with A LOT of other American college students and participated in a PUB CRAWL! We ventured to three different bars, drinking free drinks at each location, included in the 15 euro adventure was a t-shirt that says "Spanish Steps Pub Crawl" and on the back "I came, I saw, I crawled!" We had a great time, we left earlier than most to make it back to our hotel safely but we still managed to have a GREAT time! Pictures will be up soon! And I will blog about today a little later! This is our last day in ITALY! Hope all of you are doing well, we are having a blast! Talk to you soon!!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sam Hahn during lunch :)
The Roman Forum!
Inside the Forum
Today we boarded the bus at 11:30am and began our panoramic tour of Ancient Rome! We kicked it off by touring the ancient Coliseum (Italian spelling) which was the famed battle ground for ancient roman gladiators! The ruins are held so perfectly intack it is absolutely amazing! According to our tour guide the walls are full of holes because originally the structure contained steel beams within the columns, however, shortly the Romans discovered that the building could withstand its weight without the additional support of those beams and so the romans began removing the steel support beams within the columns, melted the steel down, and then used that metal for weapons! Very interesting! Our guide also informed us that the structure was built using cement, volcanic sand, stone, brick etc.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
After viewing these galleries we were given the afternoon to shop and meander around the town of Florence! My group made our way down to the straw market and the local flea market which filled the streets with the best of Florence's leather, purses, scarves, gloves, souvenirs, gifts and art! After shopping to our hearts content we stopped at a local Gelato shop and tasted a variety of samples before choosing the one that we liked best! I had tirimisu gelato and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD! We met back at the political center of Florence and then made our way back to Rome.
Upon arriving back in Rome Robin, Sam Hahn, Melinda Siel, Amy Laporte and I changed quickly and then hit the streets in search of dinner! We stopped at a ristorante named "Bella Roma" we ordered a bottle of red wine and all kinds of classic italian dishes! Tonight I had salmon and penne pasta! It was amazing, I have noticed that here in Italy the chefs spend more time on the pasta than the sauce but as you would imagine, the combination is to die for! After dinner we intended to taxi across town to go to a different discotech, but first we needed to find an ATM so that we could get money from our US bank accounts. We tried numerous ATMS however, every one of them refused our cards saying that there was a daily withdrawl limit and that we could not receive any money. We searched all over town for a currency exchange but had no luck, finally we decided to head for a quick drink instead around the corner from our hotel. It was a great time! I had some chocolate mousse that was incredible! Afterward we headed back to our hotel! Tomorrow we are headed to the Coliseum and I cannot wait! I will keep you posted!
(Mom and dad if you see this can you try to put money in my savings so I can withdraw it here because I cannot find a cash exchange place, find out if I can pull it out of the account as soon as you put it in or if I have to wait a few days, If I have to wait a few days don't worry about it!) okay! Headed to bed, it is after midnight, talk to you tomorrow!