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Skeers Family Fun

After returning from Barcelona, I had to scramble to clean my studio in time. My friend John would be there in just a few hours to photograph me in the intern apartment. He photographs people in their bedrooms (not creepy) for a series he’s working on. You can check out his work here and my photo below. Isn’t it awesome?! I will cherish it forever. The UWRC will use it to promote the internship! Thanks, John!

At Home in the Intern Apartment

Only a few days later, my apartment became a home for two. Maggie, my former roommate Chad’s sister, visited Italy for 18 days, mostly spent in Rome with a few weekends away in Pisa, Florence and Cinque Terre. More on that later. On her first evening in Rome, I took Maggie on my impress-people walk and we ended up at Castel Sant’Angelo, a frequent motif in my blog posts. The next day Maggie took a solo-trip to the Colosseum and had a run-in with a guido. She escaped by latching on to a tour guide who fed her false information about ancient Rome. Don’t worry, I cleared things up.

Maggie and Me at Castel Sant' Angelo

By the next day it was already time for our trip to Tuscany, but this is just a teaser. Look for the next post about shenanigans in Pisa and Florence. We came back from the trip loaded down with goods and ready to be home in our Roman beds. On Monday we decided to explore a different neighborhood of Rome, Trastevere. This neighborhood across the river ranks as one of the best Roman rione in my opinion. We wandered down the tiny streets stopping in boutiques and bookstores and ending up in Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Below the Pincio in Piazza del Popolo

Later that week we were yearning for some green and made plans to visit Villa Borghese. We began at the Pincio and wandered through the gardens to the gallery. I played tour guide in the museum and Maggie and I started to wonder why many of those mythological stories are so similar. There’s a whole lotta love, lust, rape, murder and suicide. Since we’re in the mood for mythology, my next post will contain a poem by Rebecca Hoogs, Creative Writing professor. It’s a modern spin on an old classic she presented during summer quarter.

Maggie in the Borghese Gardens

The next day brought us to the Spanish Steps. Finally some sun! Why was June so wintery anyway? We basked in the sun on the steps, got a little sweaty and then it was time to head home.

That night we invited our neighbors out to my favorite bar, Birreria Trilussa. You remember the giraffa, no? Me either. After we had finished TWO of those, we descended to the river where booths selling trinkets and grub are set up on the banks all summer for Estate Romana.

Giraffa!

I woke up a little fuzzy, but ready for our trip to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. So beautiful it warrants its own post. Check back later!

The day we came back from the Cinque, I spent running around arranging things for the faculty welcome dinner in the penthouse that night. Maggie cut bread and I scrounged up enough plates and glasses for all 16 attendees. Lucky us, the faculty dinner was the same day as Saints Peter and Paul holiday. That night we ran from dinner to Ponte Principe Amedeo di Savoia, which is pretty far, to catch the fireworks set off from Castel Sant’Angelo. We ran directly after eating so many courses that I thought I might puke; I managed to hold it in.

The next day Maggie and I tried to escape the heat with a trip to the beach. Not sure if it really worked. We spent the majority of our time on hot, sweaty public transportation, but we did make it to Lido di Ostia. We laid out on the black sand of the free beach and waded up to our knees in filthy water. It was then that I thought to myself, “Gee, I really need to see a nice Italian beach before I leave.” More on that later.

After we cooled off seaside, we heated back up in Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port city. We climbed over ruins and through the grass rediscovering the empire of past days. It was a nice excursion, but it was over too soon. The site closed before we made it to the Casa di Diana. We did have fun in the amphitheater and temples though.

Fun in Ostia

The next day brought a walking tour of Rome. We made a checklist of all the things Maggie had left to see so that she wouldn’t miss anything. Our walking tour took us through the Ghetto, up to the Campidoglio, down beside the Forum and heading back towards home along Trajan’s forum. Check, check, check and check. The end of Skeers Family Fun came soon after. Maggie spent her last day buying goodies for the fam.

Us in Piazza Navona

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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.

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Dada, Jazz and Snowstorms

On Friday I woke up early (gasp!) and Damon, Bailey and I walked over to the Vittore Emanuele II monument. Bailey headed onto the Colosseum, but Damon and I went to an exhibition on Dada and Surrealism at the Museo di Risogimento inside the monument. Initially I was outraged at some of the things they included. There was a list of artists underneath the heading “Dada e Surrealismo” and many of them had nothing to do with either movement. In any case, the exhibition was huge. One of my favorite pieces was a work by Francis Picabia entitled L’Ombre. It’s much more impressive in person because of the opposing textures. The entire painting was matte save for the glossy blue figure. I like the idea of a shadow preceding its figure.

Francis Picabia, L'Ombre, 1927.

I also really enjoyed this woodcut by Alberto Martini. This is the only photo I could find of it online. It’s a shame that the top is cut off.

Alberto Martini, La Venere Dissepolta (Venus Disinterred), 1902.

After the special exhibition, I climbed up to the terrace on top of the monument to look out over the city. I’ve never seen the forum of Trajan from this perspective. There’s another thing I can mark off my list of things to do! Progress, that’s what I’m making.

Vittore Emanuele II Monument

A few days later Damon and I were off to Tuscany for the weekend. We spent one day in Florence and one day in Viareggio for the Carnevale festivities, but you can read about that in my next post.

I was surprised by the weather a few days after our return to Rome. I awoke one morning to a snowstorm! The last substantial snowfall in Rome was in 1986, before I was even born! I don’t think this counts as a substantial amount, but it was fun for a few hours before the sun came out and melted the wonderland away.

Snow in my backyard/Campo de' Fiori

Damon and I spent the following weekend in Monti, a rione of Rome. On Saturday we walked to Santa Maria Maggiore, checked out the under-whelming Arch of Gallienus, and purchased some goodies at an Asian grocery store. We were back in Monti on Sunday for a jazz concert with aperitivo and buffet. Yum to both the music and the food. We saw Marta Capponi sing and, since it was San Valentino and all, she only sang songs about love. What a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day. It’s possible that I will spend every Sunday at Charity Cafe soaking up aperitivo jazz for only 10 euro.

Now I just have to get myself ready to go to Paris! Piece of cake… not.

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Turning Acquaintances into Friends

For those of you who have been dying for an update (Mom, Hallie, Liv?), I sincerely apologize! I don’t know why it has taken so long.

This update requires a little history. Rewind four years: I was inspired by an MXPX song (can’t believe I just admitted that!) and joined my friend Jon on a day trip to his hometown of Bremerton, Washington. It was there that Jon first introduced me to his friend Meghan Rowley. Afterwards, Meghan and I hung out a few times and went to a few concerts together, but unfortunately she went to Western and we didn’t keep in touch. Fast forward four years: I find out via facebook stalking that Meghan is backpacking around Europe and invite her to stay with me in Rome. This is the story of our whirlwind weekend of rekindling our acquaintanceship and feeding the fire of friendship.

meg bec

Travel Buddies: Meghan and Becca by Trajan's Forum

Meghan and her travel buddy Becca arrived on a Friday night and I met them (with a few complications) at the train station. They were very exhausted from their day of travel and after our night walk/passagiata through the neighborhood (Campo, Pantheon, gelato, Piazza Navona), we all called it an early night. On Saturday, we woke up early and made the trek out to St. Peter’s, where they were setting up for a canonizing event the following day. Apparently, the first Hawaiian ever was canonized that Sunday. (Leisha attended the festivities.) We also walked by Castel Sant’ Angelo before heading back to the market in Campo de’ Fiori for some snacks. A little siesta was in order and then the girls did a little solo sightseeing until we met up for dinner with Leisha and Mia at one of our favorite restaurants, Bar Trilussa.

fausto

One piece from Fausto delle Chiaie's sidewalk exhibition

On Sunday, we did a little shopping before sightseeing. We visited the Trevi fountain, the forum and the Colosseum. In the evening we took a walk up to Piazza del Popolo and ran into the infamous Roman street artist, Fausto delle Chiaie. He had set up a small “exhibition” of works just outside the Ara Pacis. It was so cool to see Rome’s less-ancient, less-pretentious art scene. We took a detour via the Spanish steps before our glorious five-course Chinese dinner. Yum! After dinner we dragged our mattresses into the conference room and watched the wedding episode of The Office on the big screen. Pam + Jim 4ever.

big screen

Big Screen Fun

I had to work on Monday, but Becca and Meghan tried real Italian coffee and visited the monuments from our night walk in the daytime, such as the Pantheon. Monday was the first really cold day in Rome. I’m talking coat, scarf, gloves kind of 55 degree weather. 🙂 While it was pouring down rain, we stayed inside. Leisha and I taught the girls how to play Briscola, an Italian card game. We also whipped out the Phase Ten cards and I lost miserably. When the rain died down, we headed out to Bar Trilussa again, only this time we ordered a 4.5 liter giraffa of beer and it went to our heads. The walk home was quite fun and Meghan and Becca were a little tipsy when they caught their midnight train to southern Italy.

After Meghan and Becca left, Leisha and I spent the next week trying to get pumped for our upcoming trip to Paris. We watched one movie every day that takes place in Paris (or just France in some cases). Here’s the list: Night on Earth, Paris, je t’aime, Before Sunset, Ratatouille, Two Days in Paris, Beauty and the Beast, Last Tango in Paris, Frantic and Amelie. I think it worked! We leave tomorrow for Paris and we’ll be staying with Elyse, a friend from high school. She is a nanny in a suburb called Asnieres, which is only 15 minutes from Paris.

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Winding down from Summer

I have been very busy over the past two weeks as Rome has finally begun to cool off. The weather is starting to feel like fall and we’ve had our fair share of thunderstorms.

The last two weeks have also been the final two weeks of the early fall start programs. Last Saturday I watched the final videos from the Cinema Studies program. The five films covered a wide range of skill, genre, theme and mood. One of my favorites was a film constructed like a parody of a “behind the scenes”/making of a hit blockbuster. They even used the vans from when Julia Roberts was filming as props. One of my favorite scenes from a different film takes place in front of the Colosseum with two girls reenacting a gladiatorial combat and a random Asian lady spontaneously joins in with kung fu moves. Hilarious! I wish I had the links to share with you.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time with the friends I’ve made from the Design and LSJ programs, particularly Ben, Anthony and Rain. Last week Leisha and I went over to the design students’ apartment for a pot luck where I met Ben’s girlfriend, Kristen. Kristen and Ben remind us so much of Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. They’re too cute! They even have their own joint blog that Ben designed, of course. Anthony has been my LSJ gossip informant sharing the scoop over glasses of wine. He’s going to come back to visit me this Sunday! Over the past couple weeks Rain and I went back to the Porta Portese market in the rain making some excellent discount purchases, found ingredients to make some Asian noodle creation from scratch, treated ourselves to McDonalds way too often, and nerded it up with some Star Trek TNG while downing cracker after cracker with cheese on top.

Crazy Roma Fans

Crazy Roma Fans

On Sunday a group of the LSJ students, Leisha, Mia and I went to the Rome vs. Florence soccer game at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome. It was a cultural studies lesson for sure. When we arrived, there were people in our seats and I politely asked them to move and they laughed at us. When we talked to one of the guards, he just told us to sit somewhere else. Later when I watched a man break his leg right before my eyes, I realized that the guards are there to call ambulances, not to help the poor little American girl get her rightful seat back. Soccer fans are CRAZY. At one point fireworks started going off in the stands and then people started rushing in, hopping walls and yelling. When the fireworks went off, Corddaryl yelled, “Run!” We were kind of caught off guard, so he explained: “If the Romans run that way, we need to go the other way!” It really wasn’t that serious at all, but funny in retrospect. One of the best parts about the game was getting a beer and a hot dog. Now that’s what I call some sort of sports event. Rome won 3 to 1 and everyone celebrated on the bus ride home by singing victory songs and pounding on the bus windows. I was a bit worried, but the LSJ kids and I made it home safely.

Cory Rain and I rocking Roma Gear

Cory Rain and I rocking Roma Gear

It has been a pleasure getting to know all the students and I am so sad to see them go. Separation anxiety, here I come. Maybe we can all meet up again over Christmas break!

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Relaxing in Southern Germany

Flowers and Buildings along the Neckar River in Tübingen

Flowers and Buildings along the Neckar River in Tübingen

I had a little trouble getting to Tübingen. After that scorchingly hot afternoon in Berlin, there was a lightening storm that delayed my flight. Luckily I arrived in Stuttgart just minutes before the last S-Bahn and train to Tübingen. Joey met me at the airport and we made it back to his dorm by 2:30 am. Joey had school the next day so I spent a lot of my time sleeping off my Berlin exhaustion. In the evening I explored the city. I saw the castle, the river, the Rathaus, the island and the H&M. 🙂

The next day Joey and I walked from his dorm to the city center. We visited the main church and then bought some ice cream to eat by the Neckar river. They have these boats that you can only find here in Tübingen; they’re called Stocherkahn and they kind of remind me of the gondalas in Venice. The boat driver, if you will, uses a big stick to push the boat along the water. We saw people barbequing sausages for a leisurely summer dinner on a Stocherkahn as well as people practicing for the Stocherkahn race.

Stocherkahn Boat Race

Stocherkahn Boat Race

Afterwards we met up with his friend Ben to have a beer and a pretzel at the Bier Garten by the river. We then decided to be a bit adventurous with dinner and bought the ingredients to make pho at home. DISASTER. It tasted nothing like pho and was a bit hard to eat. Thank god Ben had chips and pretzels for us to munch on. After dinner we all met up with Lindsay and her Swedish boyfriend in the park and then we went to a bar for drinks. Then it was off to bed!

The next morning we had a lazy day trying to save up on sleep before heading to Greece. We did hop on the train to the next town over, Reutlingen, to buy some shorts for Joey to wear in Greece. We were mildly successful. Now we’re going to try to get some shut eye before heading to the airport at 3:30 am. Ahhhhhh, not looking forward to it.

The main thing that I learned during my time in Southern Germany: There are some differences between Austrian German and German German. I have trouble understanding and at times I sound like a fool.

Joey inside of my Authentic German Pretzel

Joey inside of my Authentic German Pretzel

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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!

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