Tag Archives: reading

Joey sarà Giovanni, un romano.

On Sunday I woke up bright and early because the Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of every month. A few boys living across the hall, Brian, Chris and Tye from the U of O Architecture Program, joined me for their first trip ever to the museums. I kept trying to explain to them how large the museums actually were and if we expected to finish any time today, we would need to speed up, but it didn’t really hit them until we reached what I like to call the “halls of no return”. There’s a point in the Vatican were you can no longer roam around at leisure, but you have to follow a one-way-only track with a group of delusional, exhausted tourists packed in like sardines. My dad equated it to being driven like cattle when we visited two years ago. It also doesn’t help that there’s no AC. By the time we got to the Sistine Chapel, the boys were ready to leave. We snapped a few photos, Chris yelled, “NEXT!” and we were on our way.

The Sistine Ceiling

The Sistine Ceiling

On Monday morning, I finally had to address my sprained ankle from Greece. The swelling had simply not stopped, so Jennifer, my boss, made a doctor’s appointment for me. After running all over town and spending too much money getting meds and xrays, I now have to wear a brace for a month, a MONTH!

That afternoon, Joey flew into Rome and I met him at the airport. He said he wanted a “decadent night”, so I took him to get gelato (of course), which we ate by the Pantheon. Then I took him to Piazza Navona where an Estate Romana (festival called Roman Summer)  event was taking place. We saw a group of opera singers performing on a stage in front of one of the smaller fountains. After the opera singers, a group of dancers came on stage.

On Wednesday Joey and I took a short walk to the Trevi Fountain and ate the best gelato of our lives–San Crispino. In the evening Leisha and Jenn, the new library intern at the UW Rome Center, met up with Joey and I to go to Letture d’Estate at Castel Sant’Angelo. It was a book fair that surrounded the castle with vendors selling new and old books alike. I didn’t bring money on purpose.

On Thursday, I had the morning off, so Joey became the tourist and I became the guide. First I took him to the Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo. Then we walked out the back to see the beautiful view of the Forum from the Capitoline hill. We walked along the Forum (you have to pay to get in now) all the way to the Colosseum. We sat up on a hill there, looking at the Arch of Constantine. On our walk back to the apartment, we saw Augustus’ Forum and Trajan’s Forum. What a full morning! After work, Leisha, Jenn, Joey and I went to Scholar’s Lounge, an Irish Pub to see a Beatles cover band play. Italians faking Liverpool accents. Wonderful.

Arch of Constantine (note the ankle brace)

Arch of Constantine (note the ankle brace)

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Filed under Italy, Rome

Why I’m not allowed to choose the hostel anymore.

We had Friday off of school because of Arbeitstag (kind of like Labor Day), so Billy, Joseph, Andrea, Bobby, Andrew, Michelle, Amanda and I decided to wake up early and jump on the train. It was just after Sebastian’s birthday so we didn’t all feel our best, but we were able to sleep on the train. We arrived in Budapest around lunch time to find out that it was a lot warmer in Hungary than in Austria. After stealing a map from a Best Western, we attempted to find our hostel. The sun was beating down our necks and as it turns out, our hostel was on the outskirts of town. So we had to walk pretty far. When we finally got there, the hostel owners didn’t speak English. Haha, welcome to Eastern Europe.

We jumped on the metro, which was quite frightening. The trams are so old and when they stop at a station, they put on the breaks and then the tram skids to a stop. We made it to the inner city and took a walk around the Pest side.

Amanda and I in front of Parliament.

Amanda and I in front of Parliament.

We visited the beautiful Parliament building and walked to the famous Széchenyi-Lánchíd bridge. Then we walked to Szent Istvánbazilika, or St. Stephen’s basilica. It was a beautiful Neo-Renaissance church. The even had a reliquery with the hand of St. Stephen in it. In the evening we walked to Margit-sziget, or Margeret Island. It was a warm evening and we explored the gardens and the ancient ruins of a monastery.

We were quite ambitious the next morning and we decided to explore the Buda side of the city. We stuck mainly to the area called Castle Hill, but we started the day with a hike up to Statue Park. This is where the moved all the old communist monuments after Russia’s occupation of Hungary ended. They also had old weaponry on display next to the citadel. When we climbed down the other side of Statue Park, we ran into a couple bands setting up for a concert. Billy started getting excited because we happened upon an Iron Maiden concert, but it turned out that they were actually Iron Maidnem, a cover band, and they would be playing that night with Jon Bovi and AB/CD. Oh well.

Then we climbed up to the entrance to the fortified section of Castle Hill. We wandered around here for hours exploring the castle grounds. Yet another reminder that we were in Eastern Europe were the signs reading, “Watch for Falling Rocks.” You mean the castle might crumble down upon me?

Michelle, Andrea, Amanda and I at the entrance to Buda Castle.

Michelle, Andrea, Amanda and I at the entrance to Buda Castle.

On the other side of Castle Hill we spent some time at Mátyás Templom before descending the hill and ending up in a Burger King for some grub and a bathroom. Then we walked along the river to a beautiful view of Parliament and crossed over the Széchenyi-Lánchíd bridge to close up the miles-long circle we hiked through the Buda side. On the Pest side, we visited the largest Synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world. Then we ate a traditional Hungarian dinner of goulash. After dinner we walked back to the river to see the city lights.

View of Parliament from the Buda side.

View of Parliament from the Buda side.

The next morning we headed to the Varosliget district of Budapest where they were having a fair for Arbeitstag. We bought some delicious fair food and enjoyed traditional Hungarian funnel cake before heading to the baths. Andrew, Joseph, Bobby, Michelle and I bought tickets to the baths and played around in the lazy river, the mineral pool and the sauna. What a relaxing day in the sun! After our pool time, we walked to the train station and headed back to Vienna. I finished the book Joey got me for Christmas on the train, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It was fun, but we’re happy to be back in Western Europe!

*** A final reason why I’m not allowed to choose the hostel anymore: I didn’t shower for three days for fear of getting fungus from the hostel showers.

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All Things Viennese Part II

On Saturday Andrea and I woke up early to go to the Naschmarkt down the street from our dorm. It’s a huge outdoor vegetable/food market and on Saturdays it’s also a flee market. They had tons of fruits and vegetables, even ones I’ve never seen or heard of before! I think Aunt Louise would have brought home suitcases full of antiques if she had been there. I wanted to buy a used accordion, but decided against it. Andrea and I ended up sharing a pastry that wasn’t very good at all.

That afternoon Andrea and I met up with Andrew to go to a typical Viennese cafe, Cafe Central. Apparently the poet Peter Altenberg spent a lot of time writing in this cafe. They even have a papier-mache statue of him there! I tried to knock out a few typical Austrian things by ordering an Austrian coffee (gross!) and Kaiserschmarrn, which is a dessert made with torn pancakes and plum compote. After coffee and dessert and a few hours reading my book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, we met up with Billy and did a little sightseeing on the Ringstraße, the large street that encircles the inner city.

Pretending that I enjoy Austrian coffee.

Pretending that I enjoy Austrian coffee.

On Sunday it was warm and sunny so we went to the Stadtpark to lay out in the sun and read our books. We had dinner with most of the people in our prgram. I ate Bernerwurst, sausage wrapped in bacon! That night we used the projector in our dorm’s basement to watch Kung Fu Panda. I would recommend it; it was very funny.

Today Andrea and I decided to do a little church tour after class. We visited the Minoritenkirche, which is the Italian church here in Vienna. We also went back to the Ringstraße to visit the Votivkirche, which is my favorite church so far here in Vienna. It’s right next to the University of Vienna and all the college students were sitting in the grass in front of the church. We didn’t get to go inside because it was closed. We also tried to visit the Michaelerkirche and the crypt below it, but you can only enter the crypt at a certain time during the day and we missed it. We might try to go back later this week.

Afterward Joseph joined us at a cafe to do our homework. This time we had a typical American drink: Milkshakes! Yum!

P.S. I realized that there is a limit to the number of pictures you are allowed to post on Flickr, so I won’t be posting any more photos until May. Sorry!

votivkirche

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Filed under Austria, Vienna