Monday, April 27, 2009

Paris



Paris....wonderful wonderful wonderful! We loved everything about it...the Eiffel Tower, Croque Monseur, the Louvre, musee d'Orsay, Andy Warhol exhibition at the National Gallery, the best pastries the world has to offer, crepes, baguettes, Notre Dame, omelets, Arch de Triumph...etc. The people were so nice and friendly (contrary to what you always hear)! We kind of had a goof at the airport on our way home though, and of course we didn't figure it out until the night before our airport left at 7AM. So we had to be at the airport at 5AM, and the hotel we were staying was about 1.5 hours away, so technically we needed to leave around 3 AM in order to get there in time, but we soon found out the last train left at around 12 AM, so our plan was to leave at 12 and sleep in the airport. So around 11 at night we got kind of worried because it was daylight savings, and we didnt know at what hour the time was going to change, and we didnt want to miss our only way to the airport. So we packed up in a hurry and just left. But then we found out that we could only go to a certain point by train because the rest of the trains had already stopped running. So we went as for as we could, and then had to get a taxi for the rest of the way. They were really nice and showed us the secret door to go in the airport because technically the airport wasnt open until 4. So we walked in and found a cozy place by the escalator on the freezing marble floor away from the homeless people and slept until about 5. It wasn't until we woke up that we actually realized how cold it was...
Boy were we glad to make it home!! We slept until 8pm that night!

Howth, Ireland....a tiny fishing village outside of Dublin





London and Liverpool




Friday, April 17, 2009

Liverpool, Home of the Beatles

In previous blog I forgot to mention how crazy/great it was to be in an English speaking country again! We kept catching ourselves saying si and grazie and forgetting that people could actually listen to our conversations when sitting on the metro or walking around. It was also a HUGE relief to know you could walk up to someone to ask for help or directions, something we are not used to here in Italy.
On to Liverpool..

Liverpool was one of my favorites just because the people were so nice!! Of course we never have any idea where we are going upon first arriving at our new destination, but the people in Liverpool were constantly helping us! After walking to about 5 different bus stops, we finally made it to our hotel. Thanks to Lizard, we stayed at the most amazing hotel(or it seemed like that after coming from the hostel)with the most comfortable beds, chocolates on our pillows, English tv, and a huge continental breakfast. I think this is also what made the Liverpool trip so good. Unfortunately, not the best weather in Liverpool, but that didn't stop us from our Magical Mystery Tour! We rode a crazy neon tour bus around Liverpool and got to the sights of the Beatles including, their homes, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and much more. We got to hear tons of great stories from our tour guide who actually knows Paul McCartney! We were laughing the whole just because it was such a funny experience and because half-way through Tiff leans over and asks "how many people were in the Beatles?"
Another thing we loved about Liverpool was the accents..they were crazy and nothing like in London. It was really like another language, and most of the time we didn't even know what they were saying, but it was so fun to listen to.
Liverpool night we headed to the Cavern Pub where the Beatles used to play and listened to this guy do a lot of Beatles and oldies covers...i think one of the most fun nights on the trip. It was such a fun atmosphere in this small underground pub with all of these people just singing along and having a good time and dancing. We just sat in the corner, sang along, and took it all in.
I think that about covers Liverpool and London even though I'm sure I left things out, so I will have to have Mary Beth fill in...

Up next..Dublin!! (and pictures!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our whirwind of a spring break...only a month late

There is so much to say about our spring break trip that I don't even know where to begin! It doesn't help either that we waited a month to post about it, so sorry if some details are spared or forgotten. Hopefully the pictures will do justice! So we visited 3 countries and 5 cities in 10 days!! It was a whirlwind but a very fun one! Surprisingly, there were only a couple mishaps and a few moments of frustration and we all survived each other..even Cole who was with 4 girls!!

Stress #1 (before the trip even began)- waiting in the check-in line at the airport not knowing if our bags were going to make it on board because they were almost definitely oversize and overweight. Apparently these discount airlines are very strict with carry-on luggage, but we chose to do it anyway. So while no one was looking we walked over to the little metal box you have to be able to fit you bag into to carry it on and of course none of ours came even close to fitting, even with shoving. After frantically worrying for an hour, the lady didn't even look at our bags because apparently we had already checked-in online. It was a close one...

First stop...LONDON
We arrived Friday evening and headed for the hostel. It might have taken an hour to get there, but I'll have to say we have become very skilled at grasping each city's transportation system (or maybe that is just Cole and I and everyone else just follows). For our first hostel experience, it was not a bad one. Quite the opposite of what I was expecting, we came in around 11pm to get ready for bed and found everyone in the room sound asleep with lights off. So we scrambled around in the dark and in our shared floor bathroom to get ready for bed. Oh and found someone sleeping in the bed Cole was planning on sleeping in, so we all re-arranged in the dark. Quite an experience! Hostel experience #2 eating our cereal with spoons that had just been used by someone else. Our first day we took a free tour of London that we had found an ad for in the hostel. Starting with the changing of the guard, we got to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Parliament...all the things you need to see while in London..and all for free! We then grabbed some lunch and had a picnic in Hyde Park, one of the most beautiful parks I have seen. We were lucky to have great weather, so we relaxed in the park along with everyone else! We wondered around some more, across London Bridge and by the Globe Theater and then called it a day. Sadly one of the highlights of London was eating that night at Texas Embassy... some good old Mexican food. After another night of getting ready in the dark and a morning of eating cereal out of bowls and spoons other people had just finished eating out of, we headed to the Tate Modern. (I'm not complaining, I loved the hostel!) The Tate Modern was great! MB will elaborate more because she absolutely loved it! We also found that if you don't plan, you get a really late start to your day. Cole and I found a really fun market that had tons of food and home-made goods, lots of hand-made bags and clothes..it was a lot of fun and we ate way too much food. We also went to Kensington Palace and got to see all of the Queen's dresses and Princess Diana's gowns. Kensington gardens were beautiful..there were people practicing archery in their back yards!! It was just like a movie, very peaceful and picturesque. While we were at Kensington, MB, Tiff, Lizard, and Colleen went to Hillsong which I know was quite an experience!

Stress #2- figuring out how to get to Liverpool the next day because of course we waited until the night before and all the ticket prices had gone up..so after going to 3 train stations, we finally got tickets and ended it with dinner at McDonalds (a frequent stop for us).

Next stop...Liverpool

Sunday, April 12, 2009

here are some more of the pics...dont forget to read the blog below!




Yes, we did it. But really what else is there to do in Pisa?






So this happened several, several weeks ago…but I am taking charge with this blog business and I am recording everything we have experienced and not yet shared! On the 1st of March Meg, Tiffany and I decided to meet our best guy friend (studying at another school here in Florence), Kyle Bonney, in Pisa. He was flying into the Pisa airport from Spain and none of us had yet to experience the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Now when I say “experience” really all I mean is: look at the tower, take your creative/goofy pics with the tower and maybe take a stroll along the grounds of the Pisa Duomo...but literally that is all there is to do in Pisa.

We went on what we thought would be a casual, beautiful Sunday afternoon; however, in the typical March-Italy weather we got rain…and a lot of it. But that didn’t stop us! We walked from the station to the tower, took maybe too many pics in hope of creating some fa├žade beyond the ordinary, and then grabbed some quick, cheap lunch. After lunch we started back to the train station when we passed by these funky bicycle carts that sat four people. As you would expect, we made our Pisa adventure a little more interesting as we four steered a cart (of which I was the driver) through the main, busy streets of Pisa for the 30 minutes we were allotted. We made things a bit more exciting as we went the opposite way on one-way streets, tried to navigate ourselves without a map in a city that we were in the least bit familiar with, and tried to treck with the motor vehicles on the busiest streets of Pisa. All said and done, Pisa was accomplished and a lot more fun than we had all anticipated! I hope you enjoy our pics! Keep checking the blog more frequently…we have much much much more to come!

-Mb