Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday in Roma!

Kerry and I headed out to Ash Wednesday Service that the school had arranged for us with a church nearby school, St. Dorothy’s. We got there pretty early and the priest opened the door and ushered us in. We were the first ones there and he asked us if we would be willing to do the readings. I have to admit I was a little shocked but we agreed and he explained in the English he knew. He was so happy that we were there, and ecstatic about the Lenten season. It was different to see, I think the excitement may have been because we were American students and he got to use English. I don’t know I just don’t think I have ever seen a priest that excited to do a service. We took our seats and more students began to trickle in as it got closer to 1:30. The service began and we did our readings and then it came time to receive the ashes. We stood up and processed to the front. I received mine and it was different than the U.S. He sprinkled the ashes over our head and said the words completely different. He said something to the just of Let the gospel guide you through the Lenten season. It was pretty confusing. We sat back down and the rest of the service went as normal. At the end the priest dismissed us and gave Kerry and I a warm handshake as we returned the readings to him. It was an amazing experience. Who would have thought that I would have lectured at a church in Rome! We left and headed back home and decided to stop at CafĂ© della Arance. We always see people with huge blood-orange drinks so we sat down to have one. It was literally the BEST fresh squeezed orange juice I have ever had. We looked at our lives and decided this was it, pretty much on top of the mountain as good as it gets. We were sitting in Piazza Santa Maria, one of the famous churches of Rome, drinking blood-orange juice and had just lectured at Ash Wednesday mass. It was a pretty impressive day. We asked for the check and were shocked when we learned that each drink cost us 7 Euro. I wasn’t too upset though. It had been worth it just to enjoy our time in the sun and the beautiful Rome weather. We paid the bill and headed back to the apartment.


They even spelled my name right!
Behind the Sagrada, I liked this side better!
View from our hostel!

Last weekend (February 19-22) I went to Barcelona for the last weekend of Carnivale. I really went because I wanted to go to Spain, but it was convinient that I would get to experience this celebration as well. I'm going just go through my weekend in a nutshell. We arrived late Thursday night and checked into SeaPoint Hostel. When I woke up for breakfast the next morning I realized why it had this name. I walked out to the dining area that had huge windows. They looked out onto the beach and the sun peeking out through the clouds onto the Mediteranian Sea. It was an amazing sight, one that words could not possibly describe. I ran back to my room to get my camera before I even started to eat. After breakfast we headed out to look for Guadi's Sagrada Familia. We ended up seeing the Barcelona Cathedral first and then finding our way slowing to the Sagrada passing the Arc de Triumf as well. We also stopped at STARBUCKS...we'd been deprived of our American luxuries so we had to indulge ourselves. Finally after another 45 minutes or so of walking we reached our destination and walked around in complete awe of the massive structure with intricate art and architecture. We decided to wait for our travel buddy to get in (she had missed her flight) before we decided whether or not to go in. I should also add that the Sagrada was started in 1850 and is still underconstruction. It is scheduled to be completed in 2050. We continued our exploration down to Las Ramblas seeing another Guadi site and then walking through a market filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. It was beautiful, all of the produce laid out in such an orderly fashion with their vibrant colors. We made our way back to the hostel and met up with our friend and she joined us for a walk back up Las Ramblas, where we experienced the wonders of the street performers. We watched two different ones. The first was a man who could do amazing things with a soccer ball. He continuously bounced the ball on his head while simultaneously taking off a shirt and putting a different one on and then putting on a beanie balancing the ball on his head and pulling it off again. He also juggled 3 balls with his feet while bouncing one on his head and jumping rope. It was pretty impressive. A little further down another crowd was gathering and we witnessed a tumbling and acrobatic routine. These 5 guys built 2-1-1's and diamond-heads and did amazing passes that I have hardly seen people dare to try on a spring floor let alone the hard concrete street. The final trick was one of the performers did a round off full over the top of 4 spectators, Kerry happened to be one of them. It was quite the experience. Our day concluded with pizza from Pizza Hut and relaxing at the hostel. Our second day wasn't too eventful, we went out sight seeing again to the Sagrada, and went in a few churches along the way including the Cathedral we had stopped at the day before. When we got to the Sagrada we decided not to go in, I ended up heading home before the other girls and relaxed on the beach for a while before heading out to the Montjuic Park to see all of Barcelona. That was an experience in itself but will have to wait for another time. We finally made it up there right before sunset and had sangria and chocolate crossiants as the sunset. It was pretty awesome! We went out to one of the biggest clubs in Europe (supposedly) and I would just like to point out that Spaniards and all Europeans are insane. The club doesn't even open until 1:30 and stays open until 6 a.m. We only stayed til 5 but I was definitely tired and ready for bed. On Sunday, we took the bus back to the airport and went back home to Rome!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My first trip down the Mountain!

Around 7:00 we started to arrive to our destination. Someone described it as though we were arriving on the polar express…it was true. Funny but true. You could see the little lights of the town in the mountain valley as we drove through the winding mountain roads. There was smoke pouring out of the chimneys it was really just picture perfect. As we pulled into Interlaken the sun began to come up and we all got our roommates and checked into our rooms. We got meal cards had breakfast, went down and booked night sledding for Saturday night. After all of that we layered up and got ready to head out for a day of skiing/snowboarding. We went to the shop picked out snowpants got fitted for boots picked up a board and then paid. I paid 130 Euro for all of that plus a ski pass, not bad about the same as it would be in Colorado, and THIS was in Switzerland! The other three girls got a lesson so I headed out with another girl in our room who was also boarding and we caught the bus, with Mike, luckily, and headed up the mountain. We followed the crowd and got on 2 different trains and then took a gondola up the sheer cliff of a mountain and then walked out onto the slopes we were about to take on. I was a little afraid, but I strapped on my board and we began our trip down. It literally took me an hour and a half to get down the mountain. I spent most of my time sitting on my but after taking some pretty major wipe outs. I enjoyed my time on the slopes though, just looking at the view. An instructor of another group finally told me that it would really probably be easier to just go onto the red slopes because they were wider and would be easier to handle on a board. I took his advice soon after, really I didn’t have much choice, the blue I had been on turned into a red. This is where the fun began, I had finally mastered how to go a little slower, but sometimes I got caught up and couldn’t turn my board back sideways. Once I ended up going backwards and then fell head over heels and lying in the snow. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt, but I really wished someone had caught that on tape…it would’ve been a real award winner. I finally made it down the hill and got onto the ski lift back to the top.

Night Sledding!

We headed back so we could get ready for night sledding. Before getting back to the hostel some girls stopped for their boots, I went back and got my ticket and then got my boots also. We had about an hour and a half before it was time to leave so I took a nap and then got layered up for the evening. It was really funny because we all looked like little Michelin men waddling around in all of our layers. I made it down stairs and stuffed my fat feet (they had a few too many pairs of socks on) into my snow boots. We waited for a van and finally got into one and then started the 20 minute drive up the mountain. Once we got there we had to hike to a gondola and ride to the top. Our group was near the end of the line and each gondola took 8 people. It was crazy as the box of people went up and disappeared into the black sky. When we finally got in and did our own disappearing trick we looked down to see that we were being carried straight up the face of a mountain, it was a direct drop down. I’m really glad that it wasn’t daylight or I would have really been freaking out. Once we reached the top we headed to the rest of the group and got our glow sticks, put them on, and swung them around to our back. Then we waited until we got instructions on how to maneuver our sleds. When we were all ready, we hiked a long ways up to the trail and headed out down the mountain side. It was kind of scary the edge of the mountain was really right there, just a short (maybe foot tall) snowbank was between you and quite a tumble down the “hill.” Once we got past the initial bumper cars effect that was created by 50 people starting down the same hill, you were almost all alone on the mountain, all you could see was the little trail of green glowsticks ahead of you. Somehow though the little light always seemed to come up a lot faster than you expected and it was hard not to crash into someone. We took our first break and got out and walked to see a frozen waterfall. It was really beautiful. Pictures wouldn’t turn out so it was just a moment we would have to remember. We had buddied up at the beginning and Rachel was my buddy, we met back up and then all grabbed our sleds and began to head down the next part of the course. I quickly lost her in the mob again and filed into line with the rest of the green lights. From this point on we didn’t have a full out stop with everyone but instead just walked when you had to. I finally started to get the hang of things, turning and passing people. It was funny it was like you were in a video game with the little glow sticks and it was really unrealistic how fast you got going and how just sticking one foot out would allow you to turn. I ended up running into Kristin. It was funny because I said, “Kristin, is that you?” and she simply replied, “Yes” and I just said, “It would be you.” It was really funny (you had to be there ). After that little crash we only had a little bit of the course left and then it was over. I met back up with my "buddy." We carried our sleds to the shed and headed in for our dinner. We sat down at our table and waited as we were served salads, then the cheese fondue came out and then we had Rosti, which is just hash browns with various toppings this one had an egg. After our meal we headed back down the mountain and got back to the ski shop. We turned in our gear and went back to the hotel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Camel Ride by the Pyramids!

Here's the video from my camel ride in Egypt!

First Soccer Practice

At about 7:30 and I headed off to my first soccer practice! I met Jessica downstairs and we went to Guarini Campus. We were both pretty nervous. I was glad I wasn’t starting alone. We met up with a few of the girls and walked to the bus station with them. We made it to the soccer field and met with the coach. He had us all sign our names and numbers and all other info on a sheet of paper. Jessica and I looked at each other because we hadn’t exactly planned on staying on the team we were only there to see how it was going to go but we reluctantly wrote our names as well. Once everyone arrived we all headed down to the field. Coach told us to do a 10 minute warm-up run. We all started to run and all decided that a nice jog would be a good pace. I was pretty sure I was going to be dying soon, I hadn’t worked out since the end of cheer practice in December but 10 minutes went by relatively fast and we stopped to stretch. All of our bodies were steaming in the cold night air as we sat in a circle and got stretched out. The first thing he had us do was do a pyramid sprinting drill “3 rounds” he had said in a very thick Italian accent. After we had completed that we went onto passing drills. Jessie and I paired up and started to pass, it was interesting because neither of us had very good aim. After passing to just one we did lines and passed and then sprinted and finally we made a diamond and did a more complicated passing drill which I would definitely need more work on. After we completed those drills we went up to our smaller turf field and began work with a goal. He set up cones and we had to dribble the ball through them and shoot. This was an interesting experience but I actually only knocked over about 3 cones the whole drill. The next few drills were game situations and we spent the rest of practice trying to explain the game of soccer to Jessica and I. I think that it was a great choice to join. After practice, coach told us to meet at the field house at 8:30 for the game on Wednesday. I giggled a little again, because I really had no intentions on actually playing soccer, but here I was, part of the JCU Soccer Team!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cairo Day 2

We woke up this morning and headed out to the Cairo Museum. It was filled with lots of Egyptian artifacts, King Tut’s tomb, a copy of the Rosetta Stone, and tons of other stuff. Zach, Andrew and I got done faster than Adam and Kristina and decided to head out to the market Khan El Kahili. We couldn’t remember the name or how to say it so I called Lamiaa and asked her. She told us and said we could get a cab to there for no more than 10 pounds. We walked out of the museum gates and hailed down a cab. I went up to the window and told him where we wanted to go and said we would pay ten pounds he said twenty and said ten he said fifteen and I said ten and Andrew walked up said ten too. He said fifteen again and I said that we would just get the next cab then. And he finally agreed. We piled into the small aged black and white taxi, and he pulled away into the madness of the Cairo traffic. We dodged in and out of cars and finally reached the overpass from the downtown to the older part of the city. Once we were on a little clearer spot of road our driver sped through traffic like we were in the middle of a high speed chase. I was glad I was in the middle of the two guys so I had less impact of the jostling vehicle. We finally pulled over and we assumed that this was our destination we handed the driver our money and rolled out of the car. The street ahead of us wasn’t crowded like I had expected but was lined with simple stands of fruit and vegetables. As we walked a little further I was drawn aback by the sight I saw. It was a man hacking away at the head of a cow and the whole stand was filled with freshly butchered meat. There were pig’s heads and feet hanging and meat just laying in the sun on the counter. At this point we decided it was best to observe this market and not necessarily participate in it. There was no need to spend any time in an Egyptian hospital. We continued walking through the winding streets and saw a larger covered area for fruits and veggies and a stand with live chickens and rabbits. I saw a woman choosing the chicken she wanted and bartering for a good price with the owner. Once they had agreed the man took the chicken, broke it’s neck and placed it in a plastic bag for the woman to take home. As if that wasn’t enough excitement we wandered a little further around the corner and this is where I observed one of natures finest moments. I was totally shocked by the order and society these little creatures had established. We came to another meat shop and there were cats everywhere. One was begging at the door for a scrap of meat and the butcher dropped a piece to it. It snatched it’s prize and scurried off. What I saw next was the truly amazing part. There had been other cats, I suppose they were in line, I hadn’t noticed it before but they next one stepped up to the door way and each one moved up its spot in line. I suppose they had realized that if they waited they would each get a piece and there was need for a scuffle over one small scrap, if each could have his own. It was funny to see animals functioning as a “society.” We turned around and wandered the street for an hour or so more, just getting lost in the culture. For the most part we were ignored, they didn’t even bother to acknowledge our presence, which was a nice change from all the hassling we had endured the day before. We walked down a street and met two little girls. They said hello to us in perfect English, and Zach said hello back and also told them that they spoke English well. They responded with Thank you, and continued to ask his name and have a short conversation. They giggled and spoke to each other in Arabic occasionally, I’m pretty sure they thought Zach was cute. It’s interesting to see how children in all cultures are really all nearly the same. We circled around to head back to the main street and just was we thought our tour of the market was nearly over we passed by a bakery. Before we knew it we were being pulled in to see how it works. The man who seemed to own the shop took us back and showed us how they made the bread and then placed it on large trays and carried it to the oven and after it baked they placed it on shelves until they took it out to sell. It was a very interesting process. As Lamiaa, our tour guide yesterday had said though, nothing in Egypt is free. Not even this tour, after we had finished out “friend” asked for a souvinier to remember us. We finally gave in and gave him a dollar bill and a 1 Euro Coin. He was finally satisfied and said that he would remember us. With that we left the market and headed back out to crazy city to hail another taxi.

Day One in Cairo!

Today we had a tour scheduled. We had tried to call and confirm it and were unable to reach anyone, or at least anyone who spoke English. Luckily, our “tour guide” showed up early so we didn’t have to stress and we headed out for our first long day in Cairo. We stopped at an ATM and then were picked up in our own little touring van. There was no sitting on laps today, thank goodness. We started off on our journey and quickly discovered that Cairo, a city of over 20 million, has an extreme pollution problem. The air was filled with a cloud of smog. It looked like a foggy day, but really it was just the car exhaust and all other types of fumes filing the air. It was literally hard to breath. The air coated your throat and almost made me nauseas. We drove through the crazy traffic and went for probably 30 minutes with all the traffic to Giza, but really you couldn’t tell that we had left Cairo. The guy who picked us up told us as we were driving that 90% of the building were unfinished. They cant be taxed for building that were not completed. So for some reason they don’t finish buildings, just stop midway through a floor. People then live there. Or not, some don’t even have doors or windows, some are just the concrete frames. It was really unreal. We picked up our guide, and stopped at a gas station to try a different ATM and get some snacks and water. Then we headed to the pyramids. Lamiaa went and handled our tickets with our student IDs. We went in to begin our tour.
Lamiaa explained a lot about the pyramids, most of what I don’t remember.
I was too amazed by the sight of them and everything we were surrounded by. There were police officers riding camels and also set up with their vehicles under covered “garage” they stood around with metal shields and their AK47’s. There were tons of tourists, busses and vans like ours and even Egyptians who had driven their own cars. There were souvenir venders carrying there wares with them handing you things and if you didn’t refuse, you ended up paying. One even walked up to the guys and put on an Arabian head scarf saying it was free, but Lamiaa, almost angrily, explained that nothing was free. They ended up paying 10 lire each for the scarfs. We also learned not to take pictures of the men on camels, they would ask for money too and we shouldn’t buy anything without telling her we would like to get something first and she would get us the best deal. We started to walk to the first of the three Pyramids in Giza and she looked for an entrance that we could go in and see some things. Suddenly there were officers yelling and blowing whistles and she got a confused look on her face. She said it was strange that we couldn’t find an entrance. Then some man spoke with her and she explained that they were doing some sort of excavation today and that all of this was closed, but we would still get to go in and see the other pyramid, Catherine. We headed in that direction ignoring venders as we went. We walked up to the entrance of the other pyramid and Lamiaa collected our cameras because we couldn’t take them in with us. Then we headed down into the pyramid. It was a pretty steep decline on a little ramp. People coming out were sweating and breathing hard, either they were extremely out of shape or we were in for an adventure. We had to crouch down and crawl through a small hole and then had a small space where I could stand and walk but the guys all were still a little hunched over in the small space. Then we had to start climbing up through a small cramped space again, and finally, as we began to sweat we reached the large room. It was humid and hard to breathe. The room was large with high ceilings and had the name of the man who had discovered it on the wall. There was a sarcophagus there but it was only a replica and the guy explained it to us in poor English and handed us a flashlight to look at. When we tried to leave he wanted money, but we told him no and headed back out. It wasn’t all that impressive good thing we only paid 15 lire, a little more than 1 Euro to do that. When we finally emerged from the pyramid, Lamiaa navigated us toward our camel ride. She had negotiated that it would be 100 lire pounds per person and we were to give them a small tip afterwards. The guides took us up to our camels and helped us on. It was slightly akward because they acted strange to the girls. I was called queen and princess and other things. We began the ride being led and eventually they gave us our own reigns. They kept saying “kick it lady, come on lady”….it was really kind of annoying but they were speaking English so I couldn’t complain too much. And when they wanted us to go over something the said “other side, other side” We were so confused because what we undersood was to go the other direction, but really they mean to go to the “other side” of the hill, or rocks. We got to have a small little camel race and we stopped a few times to take some pictures. They took our cameras and took them for us. I learned that my camel’s name was Michael Jordan. Finally we reached a flat area of desert and they got us off the camels and we took more pictures with all of the pyramids in the background. They put headscarfs on, did the whole top the pyramid thing, and made us do the “Egyptian” poses. One of the guides asked if I was married, I laughed and said no, but I had a boyfriend back in the states and he said I was a very lucky lady, I don’t know what he meant but…I was getting used to the random comments from Egyptian men. After our professional photography session we re-mounted our camels and headed back to our starting point. The guides hopped on and rode back part way, but we decided they probably weren’t supposed to because they hopped off before we got into sight of their boss. I officially won the race, because I was the first one back to our little spot. They got us off our rides, and we got out our money again and gave them pretty large tips, for the little that they had to do, but we really felt bad for the probably12-year-old boy that was one of our two guides. So we gave them more than Lamiaa had advised us. It was a lot of fun, but we were off to our next stop, to see the Sphinx. We drove down a ways and then we got to the main road and got dropped off. Lamiaa explained a little more (which I don’t remember of course) and we had 15 minutes to go take pictures. It wasn’t very long and Adam somehow managed to get conned into buying batteries and after the whole conflict ended. Lamiaa lectured him and all of us once more. We were not supposed to buy anything without asking her about what the price should be first, to avoid conflict for her and for ourselves. After we looked and took pictures we met back up with her and she called the driver and he picked us up and we went to go get lunch. We went to a buffet that was 50 lire each and we actually received service. Our waiter was extremely smiley and happy to be working, or he faked it really well. Not only that but he kinda reminded me of Mario Lopez. The buffet was the exact same spread as we had had last night. It was good to get some food in us. We finished and got picked up again and we headed to Memphis. It was an outdoor museum, I didn’t find it exteremely interesting but it was still really cool, to see all the statues. After this we headed quickly to Saqqara and saw the first pyramid, the step pyramid. We quickly took pictures then went to another one that we could go in and look inside. We got there and I noticed a sign that said “No Photo” as we walked down. Adam was still being trigger happy and didn’t seem to have any interest in stopping. We went down into the pyramid. This one was more interesting because there were hieroglyphics on the wall and more than one room to look at. We still looked rather quickly. Zach accidently kicked one of the lights and it went off for a little bit and the men yelled in Arabic, but didn’t get too upset, and we headed back up. Once we were back in the fresh air we went into another room with more hieroglyphics and even tho he had been yelled at once in the building already he continued to snap a photo. Just to mention again, he’d been told by Lamiaa and the guy in the building NOT to take any photos. For some reason however, he thought he could snap one more and not get caught. He left the flash on and everything erupted in chaos. A lady ran over to us and started to yell. She asked if we spoke Italian, rather strange, but Zach responded and began to argue with her. She was extremely heated about the whole situation. She said "Lui" pointing to Zach and he said he didn’t take a photo that his camera wasn’t even working and she continued to argue pointing at her eye saying I saw the flash, I know someone took it. Zach apparently didn’t know that Adam had taken the photo because the lady pointed at Adam next, poking him in the chest saying “lui”… Kristina and I snuck away at that point. I couldn’t believe that there was an argument with a French lady in Italian in Egypt. It was rather comical, after we had somewhat resolved the conflict, we hurried out before there could be anymore problems. Adam was officially the token American on our trip. I was actually rather annoyed, because if you are told not to do something, there is a reason for it, so don’t do it. Simple enough, but obviously not. We drove away and headed out to our next stop. We went to one of the Carpet schools where they teach kids to make silk carpets, and wool and woven rugs. It was crazy how fast they worked and we were told that at 7x10 foot rug could take nearly 2 years to complete with 4 ppl working on it. We went upstairs and he explained how to tell it was hand made versus machine and showed us the changing colors of silk rugs. We asked how much one of the larger rugs would cost. He said 60,000 and he was talking in USD. Crazy! The hand made rugs are the same on both sides just mirror images. After the explanation, they offered us something to drink and we sat and had a cup of tea. When we finished our drinks we headed out to our next stop, the papyrus shop. We get a short explanation of how papyrus is made and how to feel the difference between really papyrus and the fake stuff they make out of banana leaves and then we got to shop around with our drinks, Egyptians are very hospitable. Our next stop was the cotton store where they sell Egyptian cotton. I was done buying so I looked for a while but then just sat and had another drink. Lamiaa was having a Lemon drink and I decided to try it too. It was amazing! Perfect lemonade, just juice with a little sugar, not watered down like in US. While we were there Kristina and I got our silver charms for necklaces that had our names inscribed in hieroglyphics. They were gorgeous. I loved it. We finally took Lamiaa home and we tried to tip her and she refused, but she gave us her number and email address and said if we need anything to call her and if we ever wanted to we could visit her any time and stay with her! Our driver then took us back to our hotel and we just sat around and chatted with Wallid for the rest of the evening. It was a great day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Florence: The Uffizi, Duomo and David

January 31/February 1
This weekend we visited Florence, Italy. As you could see from the previous post, it was quite the journey! Once we got here though, I found that Florence is a big city with a small town feel. It was really nice. The streets make more sense and it was really just alot easier to get along. I think it may have been a little less graffitied too. Any way, here is a video from the top of the Duomo. Mind you I am terrified of heights but this was too amazing to pass up. Enjoy!

Perusing to Perugia

Janary 30
Today the adventure out of Rome began! We hopped on board, actually buying a pass because we didn’t want to get caught since we would be on for such a long time. The ride wasn’t all that bad, but Termini is definitely not within walking distance. Once we got there we found our way to the ticket booths and printed off our tickets. Our train was leaving in about 3 min. We hurriedly asked a uniformed man where to go and he pointed us in the right direction. Once we reached the train we realized we had assigned seats and instead of being anywhere near each other we were on different cars. I boarded my car and ended up sitting next to some strange old man. He kept trying to talk to me. He said he knew English but would say a couple words then resort to Italian and I couldn’t quite convince him that I had no clue what he was saying. After the train got moving and the ticket checker came by the man moved. We arrived at our stop, I called Kerry and asked her if she thought this is where we should get off. We agreed it was got off and walked into the station. We had a second ticket, which was strange, but as we walked out of the station and into the town of what we thought was Perugia I quickly started to realize that there was a reason for the other ticket. The town’s name was Foligno. When I was reading the ticket for the first time I thought that this “F” name was the name of the station, like Roma Termini. It made sense at the time, looking back on it now, the second ticket did say the name of this town and then Perugia. Once we realized that we had gotten off to early, we headed back to the station and went inside to see when the next train to Perugia was. There was about an hour until the next one so we decided to check out this little town and began wandering towards what we thought might be civilization. We found a little pedestrian shopping area and stopped to have a cappuccino at a little bar. It was there that I was deemed the official translator of the trip. The lady at the cash register was trying to tell us she couldn’t make coin change. So I had to have Kerry pay for my drink because I didn’t have any 1 or 2 Euro coins only a 5 bill. I just kinda knew what she was talking about and Kerry was just confused, but it all worked out.

After coffee, we headed back to the station and got on the train, This one didn’t have assigned seats so we got sit in a little pod of seats by ourselves with no strange Italian men. The ride to Perugia was pretty short. We arrived and decided to ask for directions before wandering too far off in the wrong direction. There are always little booths that have signs that say Tickets/Information, in English and Italian written across the top of their roofs. So I went up to the window and asked the lady if she spoke English, assuming she would, I mean what good is a tourist information booth if you can’t speak to tourists who don’t speak Italia, but she didn’t. I did my best to explain in broken Italian that we were looking for the Chocolate Factory that Perugia is famous for. She just gave me a blank look like I was crazy. I mean chocolate is chocolate in any language, you just change the ending and she for some reason, had no idea what I was saying. So Kerry and I decided just to wing it and start walking in the only direction that looked promising, unfortunately that was uphill. As we got to the first intersection a ways up we thought for a second and decided to try the other way, this wasn’t looking any better. So we headed back down and once we got nearly back to the train station we stopped into a hotel and I went to ask for a pianta (map). The lady said she didn’t have one so I walked out and ended up walking right back in to ask about the Chocolate Factory/Museum. She looked as confused as the information booth lady. She then explained that we should just head toward the city center which was up the hill. So we began walking back up to where we had been going. It was a long hike and after a while we began to realize that it wasn’t going to get any shorter. By the time we realized we were no where near the top, I thought I saw a church steeple so I figured we should keep going because we had already come so far and even if there was no chocolate (which I still think is strange) we would have to see something for walking up this huge Mountain. Of course walking to a church, sure enough we came to a wall…Which resembled the Vatican city wall and I felt as though it could be a long day. The wall ended sooner than our first wall adventure and we discovered that our church wasn’t a church after all. It was a school of some kind, so we went on continuing up the hill. I was no officially convinced that all of Italy seems to be full of conspiracy. We tried to find the club that one night and it was nearly elusive and now the Chocolate town with no Chocolate factory. We trekked further up hill discussing our theories and finally spotted hope. A sign of civilization, an opening in the tree covered sidewalks and traffic up ahead. We had found the city center. What did that mean? Well once we finally arrived at the clearing I realized that it meant nothing. We continued to wander trying to find something important that was in the guidebook to make this stop somewhat worthwhile. After wandering aimlessly toward things that looked like they might be famous churches or monuments we finally found the largest church in Umbria. It was locked and we couldn’t go in though. And then we went up the other side of the street and found San Peitro another famous Perugian church. After those two sights we had given up on trying to find anything worth seeing and decided to find lunch and continue on our journey to Florence. As we looked for a place to eat, a pattern began to emerge, every place looked closed, or wasn’t serving pizza (the only reasonably priced thing on their menu). We finally found one place that looked busy we looked at the menu and walked in. The owner stood at the door and told us they were closed. It was so frustrating. We finally decided that the only place that could be open during this little siesta time was McDonalds, so that's where we went. It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. I had a cheeseburger and curly fries. It was amazing! After our little American indulgence we headed back to the train station and hopped on the train to Florence, which like all our other trains happened to be leaving 5 minutes after we bought our ticket. We ran to catch it and once we did, it was a nice 2 hour nap to Florence.