Tag Archives: tour

Winter Wrap

So, winter quarter has ended and it’s now starting to feel a bit like spring in Rome, which both exciting and terrifying. I love Rome when it’s sunny, but I hate Rome when it’s hot. Sadly, these things often come hand in hand. Anyway, this is how winter quarter ended!

Damon picked me up from the train station and then we took his friend Bjorn to Bar Trilussa, an establishment that has been featured in my blog many a time. (I should be getting some sort of kick-back.) I have to say, however, that Bjorn appreciated the giraffa far more than any other guest I’ve taken to Trilussa.

Damon and Bjorn at Bar Trilussa with the infamous giraffe

The next day the three of us went to Abbey Theatre (kick-back?) to see a live rockabilly band, the Da Silva Trio. To be honest, my expectations were quite low. I mean think about it: Italians playing rockabilly. Uh, yeah… To my surprise, I was completely blown away! They were amazing. i knew almost every song and the three of us were very enthusiastic throughout their entire performance. Here’s a video I recorded of a Johnny Cash cover in which you can witness some of Bjorn’s excitement:

On Friday I took Bjorn to the Capuchin crypt. That’s the one where it looks like they used the grim reaper as an interior decorator. I’ll never forget Bjorn’s face when he first walked in. I didn’t know anyone’s eyes could get that huge. I’ve sort of forgotten how creepy that place is when you first visit. I’ve taken so many people there that I seem to be desensitized to its, um, subject matter.

Anyway, Bjorn left on Saturday and it was free Sunday at the Vatican Museums the next day. So, Damon and I drug ourselves out of bed way too early and waited in line. Despite attempts at being cut in line by nuns (that’s right, NUNS!), we made it in early and Damon saw all the things he missed when he went with his class. I also did a bit of research in the Sala dei rotundi (see below). I hope to make it to another four free Sundays before I say arrivaderci to Roma!

Vatican Museums

It was a short work week after that because I was invited on the Communications program field trip to Pompeii on Friday. After the field trip, Damon and I stayed in Naples for the weekend, but you can read about that in my next blog post.

It was only a few short days after we said goodbye to Bjorn that it was time to say hello to Josh, another one of Damon’s friends. He joined us on the field trip to Pompeii on Friday. We also managed to do the obligatory trip to the Capuchin crypt and Bar Trilussa con giraffa. On Monday Josh and I accompanied Damon to Abbey Theatre to support him at open mic night. After our rockabilly experience, I only had positive feelings toward the pub. Unfortunately, this night Abbey Theatre was filled with annoying girls who would not shut up. I could barely hear Damon and he had a microphone. Argh. As frustrating as it was, Damon still put on a great show. 🙂

The weekend after our trip south, Jocelyn came to Rome to visit me. She has been living and working in southern Spain, so it wasn’t too long of a trip for her. She arrived late Thursday night and we only had time for a few drinks before bedtime. On Friday Jocelyn visited the Vatican while I was at work. We met up later for a bit of shopping mixed with sightseeing. We managed to see the Spanish Steps before meeting up with Josh and Damon at a restaurant we found while Bjorn was in town. It was very chill the first time around, but this time it was filled with a huge group of tourists celebrating someone’s birthday. They may have had a lot to drink and they were certainly enjoying the atmosphere. I think this put us in a goofy mood as we mowed down with tambourine baby watching over us.

Dinner Party with Tambourine Baby: Jocelyn, Josh, Damon and me

Saturday morning Damon and Josh left for England. (Don’t worry! Damon’s coming back to Rome tomorrow before he heads back to Seattle for good.) In the afternoon I took Jocelyn on a tour of the Campidoglio, the forum, the colosseum, Trajan’s Forum and other goodies. It was sunny, so we were in a good mood. It was a wonderful day for sightseeing.

Jocelyn and the Arch of Constantine

On Sunday night I took Jocelyn to aperitivo jazz at Charity Cafe (another kick-back, please). However, it didn’t really turn out to be jazz. The band had a singer, drummer, bassist (with both standard and upright bass) and pianist, but they played a cover of Norah Jones and Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. Weird. Anyway, it was good food and drinks and there was music. I can’t really complain.

The next morning it was time to say goodbye to Jocelyn and she hopped on a plane headed back to Spain. Hopefully my mom and I will be able to visit her in Cadiz in May. Here’s hopin!

The last few days I’ve just been relaxing and getting things ready for the conference, which starts next week. After that it’s time for spring quarter to start. A fresh batch of kids (including the art history group), a fresh batch of visitors (including, but not limited to Paige and Momma) and fresh, spring weather! I have good feelings about next quarter.

In conclusion, I am fond of parenthetical statements. Thank you.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Rome

A Series of Friend-Making Events

This week Leisha met up with Mia in Milan for the Homeless World Cup and left me alone in Rome again. Only this time I chose not to sit on my bum! This is the story of me not sitting on my bum:

Friend-Making Event #1

On Tuesday I met up with a bunch of couchsurfers in Villa Borghese. I guess a few years ago someone decided to replicate Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in the Villa’s gardens and now you can see his comedies and tragedies all summer long as if you were in London. Roberta, who studies Theater, organized the event and there were three Italians and a Russian girl there. I thought, “Hey, it will be a great way for me to practice Italian.” Aside from speaking with the couchsurfers, I was wrong. Shakespearean Italian is not the kind of Italian that I am capable of understanding. Luckily for me, I am very familiar with the play. I read The Taming of the Shrew in high school and, really, who hasn’t seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Also, just to be sure, I read the cliff notes before hopping on the bus to the Villa. So, I was able to follow along for the most part. Afterwards, Roberta gave me a lift home on her motorino. It was my first romantic, night-time Vespa ride. She turned into a bit of a tour guide on the drive, telling me about all the sights. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already knew quite a bit about the city. When we said goodbye I almost walked away with her helmet. Oops. I hope to see her again soon!

Friend Making Event #2

Wednesday night was the first night of a course at the American University of Rome that I hope to audit. The course is on Art Crime (theft, vandalism, forgery, etc.) taught by Noah Charney. Please click on the link to his website. He’s absolutely amazing. He is the first academic art crime expert EVER to exist and he is currently working on two TV shows. One is a documentary series that he will host and the other is a CSI-type show with a character based on him. The show will be about Noah helping the authorities solve crimes against art. He also created a non-profit organization that helps churches protect their works of art… for free. Anyway, enough sausaging about Noah. Just check out his website. Back to the friend-making. So, during the class I sat next to an American girl named Sam. She is an art major from some school I have never heard of and she just arrived in Rome last week. We exchanged emails and may be meeting up in the future! Score! Two friends in less than 24 hours!

Friend-Making Event #3

After the class, I met up with the LSJ students who were having a goodbye party for one of their professors. Professor Walsh is leaving Rome early because his wife was just appointed to Obama’s council for something something. Yeah, you know, because that happens everyday. Anyway, it was a wonderful party and I ended up getting gelato with a few students afterwards. Apparently I made a joke that made me seem more human (less intern?) to the students. SUCCESS! If you can consider this Friend-Making Event #3, then the next one will graciously take the place of event #4.

Friend-Making Thing #4

This one is questionably considered an event. I guess all of Rain’s roommates were participating in other events that did not sound appealing to him. (The LSJ group is ridden with drama. Don’t get me started.) So, we decided to watch one of his favorite movies, Stardust. It is now quite possibly one of my favorites as well. While Rain slept through most of the movie, I was glued, wide-eyed, to the screen. It has a cheesy, but oh-so-good factor that is simply off the charts. Just check out the trailer and see for yourself.

Potential Friend-Making Event #5

Leisha and Mia returned to Rome on Friday. Mia is one of Leisha’s friends from the design program and she is here working for Cornelia. I can’t even begin to describe this woman, so I won’t try. Anyway, I foresee friendship in my and Mia’s collective future. Only time will tell!

2 Comments

Filed under Italy, Rome

AKA Field Trip to Orvieto

Sabrina Tatta, one of the LSJ professors invited me to join her program on their day trip to Orvieto on Friday. Seeing as how I like to take advantage of as many free things as I possibly can, I said sure without hesitation.

We met at the Portone bright and early on Friday morning and as we were walking to the bus, it started to rain. It was the first raindrops I have felt since arriving in Rome a month and a half ago. It felt so refreshing. On our way to Orvieto we made a pit stop at Bomarzo. Bomarzo was made famous by the Park of the Monsters, AKA Villa of Wonders, AKA Sacred Grove. It is a park commissioned by Prince Orsini after his wife’s death as a kind of tribute to her. It includes a wide variety of monstrous sculptures intended to astonish. My favorite one is a monster’s face that you can walk into. The acoustics of the room inside the monster makes your voice carry and echo. Lucky enough, I went inside with Dominique, a singer, and she serenaded me. It sounded so beautiful.

Monster in Bomarzo

Monster in Bomarzo

Back on the bus and we were in Orvieto in no time. Orvieto is situated on top of a flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff that was once inhabited by the Ancient Etruscans and then the Romans. First we visited the duomo/cathedral, which held a particular surprise for me. I had no idea that the Chapel of San Brizio was in Orvieto! This chapel is home to Luca Signorelli’s most famous frescoes.

Luca Signorelli's Resurrection of the Flesh in San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

Luca Signorelli's Resurrection of the Flesh in San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

Pigeon holes in the underground

Pigeon holes in the underground

Next we signed up for a tour of Orvieto’s underground. I really think dad would have enjoyed this. The tunnels and caves were carved into the cliffs by the Etruscans and the Romans searching for sources of water to supply the ancient towns above ground. In the middle ages the tunnels were used as a means of escape during enemy sieges. In the early Renaissance, families who owned property above carved niches into the tunnel walls to encourage pigeons to nest there. Then the families would make money selling the eggs at market. In the 1700s, the tunnels were excavated a little too enthusiastically and the town above started to sink in and reinforcements had to be made. During WWII, the underground was used as a bomb shelter for the inhabitants of Orvieto and surrounding towns. Today there are over 1,000 tunnels underneath the city. So cool!

Bearing the breeze on the top of Torre di Mauro/Clock Tower

Bearing the breeze on the top of Torre di Mauro/Clock Tower

After the tour, we climbed the stairs of the clock tower for a beautiful view of the city. One of the great things about Italy is that in every city there is something that you can climb to get a view. After a little shopping and museum-bathroom-using, we headed down to St. Patrick’s Well. Apparently the well is so deep that the Italians have an expression about it. When you want to say that you don’t have enough money for something, you say that your pockets aren’t as deep as St. Patrick’s well. After that, it was time to hop back on the bus and head home!

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Orvieto

Benvenuti a Italia

I’m not going to go into detail about getting from Tubingen to Rome because it’s something that I would like to forget. Bus, train, train, train, fine, plane, bus. I think you get the picture.

Anyway, I arrived in Rome in the evening and my friend Leisha met me at the bus stop near Termini train station. I met Leisha during my first quarter at UW and we worked together at the Henry Art Gallery. She has a design internship here in Rome this summer. She’s going to be my partner in crime (partner in debt may be more accurate). We took my luggage back to her place and then ate a panini on the Spanish Steps. Welcome to Rome!

New Coworkers: Valerie (ex-intern), Jennifer, Sheryl, Laura and Federica (Matthew not pictured here)

New Coworkers: Valerie (ex-intern), Jennifer, Sheryl, Laura and Federica (Matthew not pictured here)

The next morning I met Valerie, the old UWRC intern, in Piazza del Biscione and we had a coffee before heading up to the office for my first day of training. It was a long day filled with a lot of new information. In the evening we had the intern dinner to say goodbye to Valerie and to welcome me. We ate at a wonderful restaurant and shared appetizers and made a toast with prosecco. After dinner I rushed to the movie theater to meet Leisha. We had free tickets to see the new Harry Potter movie and we were so excited! I won’t ruin it for you, don’t worry.

The next day I got to sleep in and do training in the afternoon. On Saturday Leisha and I met in a park for lunch (whoa! Trees in Rome?!). In the evening Leisha and I wandered over to Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s. I had dinner with the old intern Valerie and she took Leisha and me to her favorite gelato place. Then we met up with some of her friends in Trastevere, wandered around and had smoothies.

Leisha and I in St. Peter's Square

Leisha and I in St. Peter's Square

On Sunday Leisha and I took it easy. I walked down to the Colosseum, but nothing too eventful. Leisha and I also started scheming about how to make some extra money. We’re thinking of offering tours by tips, but we’ll see. We didn’t end up at home until past midnight. It’s so warm at night here that it’s hard to imagine it being any later than 9:30 pm even in the wee hours of the morning.

Today was my final day of training. Valerie took me on a little tour of our neighborhood showing me all the locations where I will run errands in the future. Tomorrow is my first day on my own and I also get to move into my apartment!!! I’m getting so excited!

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Rome

Step One: Panic

After a long night on the ferry without much sleep, we were welcomed on to Santorini Island by a bunch of hotel lures trying to bargain with us for a room. It was a bit intimidating for me, so instead of getting a room like we should have, I convinced Joey to take the bus into town. However, before we got on the bus, shocker #2 came. What to my wondering eyes should appear, but Billy and his brother at a café by the port. They were taking the next ferry out to Ios. It is such a shock to see someone you know in so remote a place. As Joey and I got on the bus, the shock, intimidation and lack of sleep combined into tears. My bad.

So, Joey bargained for a room when we arrived in the town of Fira. After we settled in, we headed out again to explore the city. We walked along Fira’s cobblestone paths for the entire length of the city, enjoying the views from Santorini’s cliffs and wishing our hotel had a pool. In the evening, we watched the sunset and marveled at how the fog swallowed up the city.

Exploring Fira, Santorini

Exploring Fira, Santorini

Step Two: Twist

The next day Joey and I bought tickets for a cruise around the island. Unfortunately, I must have twisted my ankle on the cobblestones the day before. I woke up with a swollen right ankle, but we already bought our tickets, so we pressed on. Our first stop was the volcanic crater. Santorini used to be part of a large round island created by a hot spot, but the volcano blew a while back leaving the two outer edges of the former island (Thirassia and Santorini) and a small desolate island with the crater intact. It is here that I realized the gravity of my ankle pain. So, Joey and I were unable to hike all the way to the crater.
The next stop was the hot springs on the other side of the crater. Joey is not much of a swimmer, so I enjoyed the hot springs alone, swimming about in water warmer (believe it or not) than the burning air. Then our little boat took us to the island of Thirassia, mainly a farming island. Joey and I opted out of the steep switchback path up to the main city and instead we enjoyed a leisurely dinner and played around in the water at the beach. After a couple hours our boat picked us up and took us home. What a full day!

On the boat with Oia, Santorini in the background.

On the boat with Oia, Santorini in the background.

The next day we checked out of our hotel and could not find a place to store our luggage, so we lingered at a café having brunch and writing post cards. Finally, it was time to catch our Ferry to Naxos.

Leave a comment

Filed under Greece, Santorini

A Few Days in Berlin

After saying goodbye to Vienna, Sarah, Andrew and I hopped on the night train to Berlin. We arrived early in the morning and promptly found the longest route to our hostel. Sarah found the Generator hostel by typing in “fun, hip hostel in Berlin” into Google Search. Success! haha

First, we finished our final exams in the Burger King across the street, then we wandered around the city a bit. That night we went on the Generator’s pub crawl and met some people from the East Coast and also from Wales.

The next day we took the free walking tour of Berlin that Tomasina recommended. It was amazing. Our tour guide, Stewart, starts out by introducing himself as a finance major and a part-time rapper. Then he proceeded to rap about German history throughout our tour. We pretty much saw everything on this tour, starting with the building Michael Jackson dangled his baby out of (RIP). Stewart showed us the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Bunker where Hitler committed suicide, the remains of the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the square where the book burnings took place, some churches, everything. He also pointed out some famous artists’ graffiti. Berlin is well known for its street art and it is everywhere.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

After the tour, Sarah and Andew headed back to the Generator and I pushed on to the Pergamon Museum. I really wanted to see this museum because it has a lot of the artwork taken from Greece, particularly the Pergamon Altar. However, I also saw Mesopotamian art that got me really interested in that area. I might have to make a trip there someday… I also found a soldier’s head from the Great Trajanic Frieze that might help me with my research later on. I was able to study the helmet and facial hair pretty closely! After the museum, I met up with Sarah and Andrew again and we had a wonderful dinner of Indian food. Once again, scarfing down ethnic foods that aren’t available in Italy.

Andrew and I at Neue Palais in Potsdam

Andrew and I at Neue Palais in Potsdam

The next day we took the train out to Potsdam, the palace complex that belonged to the Prussian kings. We started out at the tiniest palace and worked our way up to the largest Palace, Schloss Sanssouci. It was so hot that we were melting while we trekked around the complex. It’s not just a complex, it’s a city and it’s huge. I would almost say that from one end of the park to the other is not within walking distance (it’s at least questionable). Just as we were getting a bit delirious because of a shortage of water and a surplus of sweat, we found an oasis: a little stand selling ice cream, water, potato salad and souvenirs. That little boost of energy was enough to get us through the rest of the park. After five and a half hours of exploring, we hopped on the train back to Berlin and we all passed out, three dead-tired tourists on public transit. Then I grabbed my bag and headed to the airport.

Tübingen, here I come!

Leave a comment

Filed under Berlin, Germany

Raindrops on Roses

View from Salzburg Castle

View from Salzburg Castle

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the train to Salzburg, Austria. When we arrived, we took a long walk in the rain to our hostel. Our hostel had a wonderful view of the famous Salzburg castle, but the same view showed many a construction crane as well. After dropping our things off, we walked up to the castle as a group. I have never been to a castle as disappointing as the Salburg castle. It looks glorious from the outside, but there’s really not much to see once you’ve trekked up the insanely steep hill and paid admission to get inside. Okay, so there was one thing to see: There was a medieval fair going on (kind of like a Renaissance fair). The best part was the medieval band which had a very enthusiastic oboe player.

After the castle Andrea, Sarah, Kirsten and I decided to explore the city. As it turns out, Salzburg is not that big. Our walk from the train station to our hostel covered the entire city, but during our tour in the rain we visited the cathedral, the main shopping street and the palace. In the cathedral, Kirsten and I went below to the crypts, which were less scary than the word “crypt” makes it seem. When we were on Getreidegasse, we realized it must be the “Disneyfied’ street we read about in Cultural Studies class. Even the McDonald’s had an authentic-style street sign. Finally we crossed the bridge and wandered through the gardens of the palace. Andrew met up with us here.

Looking at Salzburg Castle from the Palace Gardens with Sarah

Looking at Salzburg Castle from the Palace Gardens with Sarah

Later that night we had our (paid-for) group dinner at another very Disney-like Austrian restuarant. Andrea, Verena and I tried Himbeer Radler, beer mixed with raspberry juice. So delicious! After dinner Verena took us to a monastery, which is basically a brewery. We all shared Märzen in liter mugs!

The next morning we packed up and hopped on a train to the little town of Mauthausen. It was a quaint little Austrian town just off of the Danube, but we weren’t there for its picturesque qualities. On the top of the hill overlooking Mauthausen stands the remains of one of the most brutal concentration camps. We had a tour guide who showed us the wailing wall, laundry room, living quarters, crematorium, torture room and gas chamber. It was a very sobering experience. This concentration camp was exceptional because it was not mainly for Jewish people. This camp focused on what the Nazis deemed political radicals, criminals, the insane and social radicals (homosexuals). People from all over the world were interred at Mauthausen and they had to work in a quarry until they died. At the waling wall there are plaques dedicated to people from Poland, Spain, Russia, Italy and the list goes on and on. This really hit home the fact that the Holocaust was not limited to the Jews.

After our tour of the camp we walked down the hill back to the train station. We did the reverse of what the Mauthausen prisoners had to do. The prisoners would arrive at the normal train station and the SS would force them to walk through the town and up the hill to the camp. Therefore, many townspeople saw the Nazis’ victims walk by their front doors for six years while the camp was in use.

1 Comment

Filed under Austria, Salzburg