Monday, April 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I’d been counting down the days until their visit and the day finally came. I headed down to the train station to catch a ride to the airport. I stood out in the nearly silent station waiting for the next train with two hippies guys about my age with flowers. I assumed they were on the same mission, to meet loved ones in the airport. The train came and the ride went without incident.
When we arrived at the airport, I realized I hadn’t ever gone to meet someone arriving, and therefore didn’t really know where to go. It took a few minutes but I found the right place and waited along all the other anxious people to see my guests walk through the sliding glass doors. I finally saw them and waved the little homemade sign I made with their names. I hugged them both and we began to walk to the exit. We caught a cab and we chatted about the trip all the way into Rome.
The driver dropped us off at their hotel/apartment, and we began our real adventure. We entered the building and then the stairwell with the set of keys I had received during check-in earlier in the day with no problems. The elevator was small so we loaded the luggage and sent my mom up the six stories as my little sister and I jogged up trying to beat her to the top. We failed miserably in our attempt and ended up nursing our sore calves and our burning lungs. I had the set of keys so I stuck the big crazy looking one in the top hole, like I had seen the woman who checked us in. I turned it once pushed on the door with no luck. I turned the key one more time and once again tried to open the door and it wouldn’t budge. So I decided to try to take the key out. This is where our true problems began!
The key was stuck. It would turn less of a quarter turn each way and wouldn’t move at all in or out. I was at a loss. It was after midnight, I didn’t want to call our “virtual concierge” (as she called herself.) I finally gave in though because I didn’t want to bend or break the key and we couldn’t just leave it in the door and go to my apartment, so I dialed the number. She answered with the Italian, “Pronto” and I replied with my soft scared voice explaining that I was extremely sorry to call so late but the key was stuck in the door and I couldn’t get it out. We then went through a long conversation trying to explain how it was stuck, that yes I had put it in the right key hole, that I had turned it and it didn’t open, and now the key wouldn’t move a single centimeter. She couldn’t seem to fathom that the key was “stuck,” I think it was mostly because she hadn’t heard that word before, but mostly because the silly Americans had never managed that one yet. She finally said she would be on her way.
She arrived at the apartment and began to violently shake the door and the key trying to get it out. I protested saying that it would probably break something, but she didn’t seem to think twice about it. Soon another resident came up, she lived in the adjacent apartment and got out a tool kit. The two of them proceeded to take out the screws of the plate for the key hole and shine a light in and prod at it with a screw driver. The lady finally said she would call a technician to take care of it.
Thirty minutes later, an Italian man wielding a large black suitcase arrived and began to inspect the damage. They spoke in Italian, and the lady seemed to get really upset. He left and said he would be back in ten minutes to get the problem fixed. She explained that the key had been put in upside down and because I had turned it several times, it was now broken and he would have to get the key out and replace the lock. That sounds simple now, but the process (mostly because we were in Italy) lasted until about 2:30 in the morning. After a million apologies, my mom and sister finally got to go to bed and I left, feeling absolutely miserable about my idiotic actions of the evening.
On a positive note, at least she now knew the meaning of stuck!
Ciao Rigazzi…Arrivederci A Presto!
March 14, 2009
Today as I was exploring I passed a theater (not a “ruin”) and saw that they were playing the Diary of Eve, or Diaro di Eva. I got really excited, I had just played in the Diaries of Adam and Eve last Spring. I went in and asked the man at the desk if he spoke English. He said to wait a second and he would get his friend. Another man came out and I asked when the next show was and what time it was at. He said tonight at 9. I thanked him and took a brochure to think about it. I called my mom to see what she thought about me going to the play. She agreed that I should definitely take the opportunity to go see it. I hung up the phone and went down to the theater and bought a ticket. I got to pick my seat and I sat pretty close to the front and got a student discount so my ticket was only 11 Euro! I was really excited to see it. I headed back to the apartment to have dinner and get ready. Once I made it back, I made pasta and then showered and got ready. I headed to the tram stop around 8:00 because I couldn’t remember how long it had taken me to walk from the end of Argentina to the theater. I got off the tram and started walking and then realized that I had only been about 5 minutes away so I had a good 30 minutes to kill before I could go in and wait to be seated. I wandered up to Capitol Hill and just sat in the Piazza enjoying the quiet and looking for Stars. I walked around a little and checked out the view of the Roman forum at night and then headed back down to the theater. I went in around 8:40 and they were just opening the lobby. I sat and waited and listened to the live piano player. He was playing amazing contemporary classical music. I absolutely loved it! When I got up to go to my seat I walked by and mouthed “Bravo” to him and he said “Grazie.” I took my seat inside and anxiously awaited the start of the show. The theater lights finally dimmed and the curtains opened. The beginning of the play was strange and I didn’t recognize it, first of all because it was in Italian, and secondly because it wasn’t part of the version of the play I had done. This one had a little Darwin-influenced twist. From what I understood it was Darwin and his wife sitting discussing the creation or evolution of man. The wife pulls out the Diaro di Eva and then the story goes into the one that I recognized. It was really funny because even though it was in Italian I knew what was going on. Adam walked on and put up a ladder and then assembled the Tree prop. As the voice of God talked, he scattered fake fruit from a basket all over the stage and then the voice warned him not to eat the fruit from that tree. The fake tree had huge apples dangling from it’s felt leaves. Adam fell asleep and God created Eve. Eve came on stage and began writing in her diary describing her first few days of life. “I arrived yesterday…” and so on. The actress was extremely bright and lively. I think it could have been toned down just a little bit but it was extremely entertaining. I really enjoyed the rest of the part that I understood. Near the end of the play, they went back to the Darwin part, which I still only caught bits and pieces of. At the end they had curtain call and all the characters took their bows, about 5 times each. With that my night in the Italian theater ended and I walked home remembering all the fun I had had performing that play!
March 11, 2009
This morning we had tickets for papal audience. We got ready and headed out around 8:00 for St. Peter’s. Rachel had class so she was going to meet us. As we neared school, she called and said that class had been cancelled so we met her and walked the rest of the way together. When we got closer to the square I started to think that maybe an hour and a half early wasn’t early enough. There were already several hundred people filling the square and filing in through “security.” Which was really that they made you open your bags and they glanced in and let you through if you had a ticket. We made our way through the crowd and towards the seating area. We decided to sit in the second section because it would be pretty tough to get through to sit in the very front. We sat in the first row right behind the wooden barricades. The group surrounding us kept trying to talk to us. Their coordinator lady tried to explain that the boys wanted to talk to us. We just pretended like we had no clue what was going on and eventually just ignored them. We started to realize as it got closer to 10:30 and more guards walked out that the pope was going to come right by us. That was the only logical explanation at least. We heard people start to clap and cheer and saw on the big screens that the pope was headed out on his pope-mobile. He drove around the first section then headed down the side aisle and turned towards us. Kristin and I had worked out that one of us would take pictures and the other would video. It worked out well and the Pope drove right by us. It was absolutely amazing. I can’t even explain how I felt to be that close. He ended up driving by again before he made his way up the steps of St. Peter to his little covered seat. The rest of the service was said in German, Spanish, French, Slovakian, English and finally Italian. The pope welcomed all the groups that had come from each of the respective language speaking areas. He then blessed us and our families. The end of the service was the Lord’s prayer in Latin and a blessing. Today was one of the most exciting days I've had in Rome, it was so amazing to be so close and hear the Pope live!
KOLACHE!!! it was a kolac in czech....mmmm!!!
The John Lennon Wall
The Dancing House, one of Prague's modern wonders
On the St.Charles Bridge with Prague Castle in the background.
Peeing Statues: There was a phone number you could text and they would "pee" your name...Strange..
The Church at Prague Castle
The Czech Crowns
The rest of my Praha weekend involved being a major tourist so I will just show you the rest of it in Pictures + some captions. AND speaking of pictures, I'm taking a digital photography class and I have a flickr account for that class. If you want to check out some of my amazing photos ;) go to:
There were lots more pictures but they will have to wait for another time, as I have lots of catching up to do on this thing...
March 6, 2009
I headed to the train station around 5:30. I dropped off Rachel’s postcards. When I got to the Station I bought a ticket in the machine because the stores weren’t open yet. The machine didn’t have change for a 20 so I got a credit receipt instead. I went out to the platform and waited for the next train. It was pretty dead at the station. It finally came and we got to the airport. I checked the board, found my check in desk and got my ticket. Then I headed to my gate. On my way I picked up a cornetto and then went to sit and wait to board. People started lining up so I joined the line. We went out to the plane and boarded for the trip. I slept the entire time and before I knew it we were in Prague! I got off the plane and headed to an ATM, then went to ask for directions to a bus and to get a pass. I found my way to the bus and then just followed the instructions on my hostel booking. I took the 119 in to town then got on the Metro to the Namesti Miru stop. I got out of the station and was greeted by a huge gothic church. I decided that I should just take the opportunity and check it out, so I went inside. It was really cool. The interior was all painted and well hard to explain, but that’s what pictures are for. Then I looked for the tram stop where I was supposed to catch the 22 or the 4. I got on the 4 and it turned out that it didn’t seem to be going the right way so I got off and went to go to the other side to get one of the two going the other direction. I almost got run over as I went across and the tram rang its bell at me. I boarded the 22 this time and rode it for 5 stops…3 to get back to where I started and then 2 more in the direction I was supposed to go. I got off and started walking “in the opposite direction of travel” and suddenly saw that my hostel was really right there. I walked in and checked in at the front desk. I was amazed. I only paid 34 Euro for 3 nights, a really good deal. I got 3 breakfast vouchers and used one as soon as I dropped off my stuff in my room. Then I looked around a bit and found a brochure for free walking tours. I decided to take a nap and then go find the starting point for the 2 o’clock one. I laid down and didn’t end up waking back up until 5:30. I rolled over when I woke up looked at the time and called James. He ended up losing signal because he was down in the metro station but then he called me back and said they (his roommates and himself) were going down to the city center for the evening because there was the European Union presentation/celebration going on. I said I would love to join. We planned to meet at my metro stop at 6:30. I got ready and went downstairs checked my email quickly then headed up to the metro station. I got a text after I had been there for a bit that said they were going to be a little late. They would be there at 7. So I walked around the square with the church. I went into a little café and got a cappuccino. Then I went and sat on a bench and waited for them to arrive. Around 7, I went down into the station and pretty soon a group of guys came up the escalator and I ackwardly waved, hoping that I wasn’t just waving to random strangers. James did a little double take and then said, “Nicolette?” I smiled and nodded. We had introductions, I met his roommates, Taylor, Tony and Jason. Then we made our way back down the escalator. This is where I learned my first fun fact, this was the longest one in the Prague city transportation system. We got on the metro and I can’t remember which stop we got off but we arrived in the city center. There was a stage set-up and live music playing. Two of the roommates disappeared to get “pivo” (my first Czech word was beer, how Ironic) this is when I began asking questions about other vocab. I learned, Please, Pro Seem, Thank you, De Qui, Excuse me, Pro mite, Yes, Yo, No, Ne, and I don’t know, Nero Zu Meem. I was pretty proud of myself. We wandered around a bit walked to try to find some of their friends and were unsuccessful. We tried down another street and it turned out that was not the right one either but I witnessed a group of police men trying to wake an extremely drunk homeless person out of his alcohol induced coma of sorts. He finally got up and stumbled away. After that we continued to try to find their friends and began discussing the dogs of Prague. Not only were they everywhere like in Rome, but people allowed them to run with a leash on. You would see little dogs sprinting a head of their ownere and then waiting and then sprinting again. It was pretty entertaining. We finally managed to meet up with their friends and we had another round of intros. I met tomi, from Finland, a guy from Germany, and a guy from the Netherlands. I can’t seem to remember their names tho. We headed out to find a bar to sit and drink at and after several attmpts ended up in a hostel bar on the fifth florr of a building. We had a few beers there, witnessed some intense Jenga, and then headed out to try to find this club, allled Mish Mash. It was supposed to be really cool. We followed this guy who had directions but eventually we gave up on him because we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. We went back to their dorm/hotel called Masaryakova. We went up to their room where I sampled Berechova and lemond along with a sort of Czech moonshine like Motecello or something. Then we headed down to the basement bar and had a few more drinks, we also ended up having cheese and salami with bread and chicken wings. It was an interesting night. The bar was closing so we headed back up to the room. I mapped out my route home and Jason and James took me back. It was just past 4:00 when we got on the tram and it literally took a good hour to get home. The guy even stopped and just had a smoke break, and it’s not like we were the only people on the tram but I guess at 4:00 A.M. you can do as you please. I finally made it home and the guys went back and caught the metro back since it was 5:00 and they could.
I was hopped on the tram to get there quickly. I sat down and waited for my stop. The next stop a man got on and sat across from me. A little while into our trip, he tried to ask me something about my jacket (I had my JCU pullover on). I replied, “Mi dispiace, non parlo Italianno,” (I’m sorry I don’t speak Italian.) He laughed at the situation, he tried to speak slower and use his hands to explain. I understood a little bit of what he said, I think at least. He asked if we were playing tonight and that’s about the just of the conversation I got. He continued to speak then it sounded like he asked a question. I gave him a blank look and then said, “Non lo so,” (I don’t know.) He just laughed it off and we went back into our own little worlds. I said good-bye and smiled as I got off at my stop. I continued to make my way past the Tiber campus to the school. I got near Piazza Trilussa and saw a large bus. I assumed that it was ours but couldn’t see anyone on it so I called Jeanne as I continued to the piazza. She said she would be there soon and I found that no one was waiting so I just hung around. As I was in my own world I heard a voice say, “Are you coming?” It was Federica, I nodded and followed her to the bus. We got on and soon Alex, Jeanne, Abbe, and Rachel joined us. They said Chelsea wasn’t coming, which meant I was the only sub (not good). We talked about our game plan on the way there. We discussed shifting the defense, and staying off the offense, giving them space so we could better defend the goal. We finally got to the fields, it was out in the boondocks, we drove thru darkness for a good 5 minutes, which is a pretty big deal when you are talking about living in a big city. We got off the bus and met coach and he took us to our locker room and we got dressed and got all “pumped” up. Fed said that this team was pretty rough, that fights usually broke out. We went and warmed up, but never actually touched a soccer ball, it could be an interesting game. We walked to the center of the field, waved to the crowd and then they had the coin flip. They won and we went back and did our little circle pep talk. The players took their place on the field and the game began. It turned out to be a very exciting game. I didn’t play but I fully enjoyed standing and cheering as the game got extremely intense. The ref even gave out yellow cards. We got 2 and the other team got a couple as well. Italian teams get pretty angry when they lose. They started to fall apart as they began to slap and push our players. It got pretty physical and the ref soon saw that and also they began to talk crap to him and that didn’t help their cause any. It was really funny. I had so much fun being the cheerleader. Alex made some AMAZING saves, Fed scored 2 goals, Jeanne schooled the other team with her awesome footwork, and Abbe and Rachel played great defense. At the end of the game, the girls looked at each other as they walked off the field, they weren’t sure if they had won or not. Once they realized however we jumped and cheered and then went to thank the other team for a good game.
. I left around 8:30 and hopped on the tram to go to