Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family is the key to happiness!

Oh Mio Dio! I am getting really awful at this whole updating thing. At least this time I have an excuse for my delayed posts. La Mia Famiglia was here for the past week!

Let me back up a little bit first before we get into the exciting stuff. After we returned from Rome it was a pretty boring week I had a huge midterm that I had to study for so that took up most of my time. After my test was finally over we took a school trip to Milan on friday March 4th. I have to say I was not impressed with Milan at all. We visited an Italian newspaper the Corriere Della Sera (coor-E-er-A) ((That was fun to type out)). It was interesting except for the fact that I am not a journalism major so it was not my cup-o-tea and I felt towards the end they were hurrying us out of the building because they wanted us to leave. I understand being busy and having to get back to work but do it a little nicer. Anyway after that myself Kate, Laura and Isabelle went to the Graphic Art museum which was amazing. This is also not my major but much more exciting than a newspaper that is in Italian. After the museum we were starving so we decided to get lunch. This is always a daunting task when you are in a new city. You don't want to eat near anything monument or museum because you will pay an arm and a leg for nasty food. So we decided to walk around the back streets near the Duomo of Milan to find a place to nibble. We decided on this bar on the corner (bars in Italy are not places to get drunk, they sell coffee and sandwiches). I had the second worst meal in Italy; second to the microwave dinner I paid 14 Euro for in Rome. So after this awful meal we decided we needed gelato to cleanse our pallets of the awful taste that was still residing within our mouths. The gelato was fantastic you could pick two flavors (like most places) and then if you got it in a cone they filled the bottom of the cone with white/milk/dark chocolate which was a nice twist. After lunch we shopped at stores we couldn't afford and then headed back to the train station for Florence. 

I was barely able to sleep that night after being up since 5 in the morning, because my mom and grandpa were coming the next day. It was finally here, the day I had been waiting for since I arrived. I am sure my roommates and friends here wanted to kill me for the continues countdown I started the day we arrived for when I was able to see my mommy again. After waking up at 7:15 and stalking their flight all day online to see where they were on their journey, they were finally in the same timezone as me at 2:30 PM. This was fantastic! I rushed to the hotel they stayed in and saw my mom and grandpa standing outside. I ran to my mom (it was a scene straight from a disney movie) and hugged the stuffing out of her, then the same to my grandpa. After a few minuets of embrace outside my mom stepped in the door of her hotel (I thought she was grabbing her suitcase or something) and then out walked my brother Michael! I had no idea he was coming and this honestly was the best surprise they could have had for me. I am really close with my brother and was really really missing him. When I saw the 6'5 frame I call Mikey I jumped into his arms and screamed bloody murder. You may all think this is overkill but I assure you this is exactly what happened. After having a heart attack I went up to their room with them so they could shower and rest for a few minuets. That flight is one of the worse things you can do in a day. After they settled down for a while I showed them my apartment and we went to dinner at the "Cat & the Fox" which has become a custom. 

The next day (Sunday) I walked to their hotel to see what they wanted to do for the day. We were going to just explore Florence a little bit but decided since the weather was so nice we would go to Pisa for the day. After walking to the train station (which grandpa would say was 50 miles away) we bought our tickets and were on our way to Pisa. They were amazed at how easy it was to get around in this country. Sometimes the best trips are spontaneous ones. When we arrived in Pisa it was around 60 degrees and bright blue sunny skies. From the train station we stopped at got gelato (it took mom no time at all to fall in love with the sweet treat). Then we made our way to the tower, stopping to shop along the way of course. Once we arrived at the Leaning Tower we all took the typical tourist picture (again) of us holding us the tower and we shopped some more. After our visit we decided to head back to Florence. Once we got home mom and I went to the grocery store and bought items to make hamburgers, fries, salad, rice, and vegetables for dinner.

Monday and Tuesday we hung out around Florence and they got to know the city a little bit better. Tuesday the 8th was moms birthday so I spent the whole day with her shopping around and eating gelato (of course). For dinner we ate Mexican food and believe it or not MY mother ordered a peach margherita and liked it! I could not believe my eyes. I even put candles in her nachos and we all sang happy birthday to her!

Wednesday was an adventure to say the least. We decided to go to Cinque Terre for the day. This is a region of 5 towns on the sea northwest of Florence. It was about a 3 hour train ride to get there. Only so long because we had to take the Intercity train which stops at every city from here to La Spezia where we had to switch trains to get to Cinque Terre. We really didn't have a game plan as to what towns we wanted to visit so we decided to start in the first town Riomaggiore. The highlight of this small small village was walking down into a harbor to see the multi colored houses lining the mountain and the brightly colored boats in the dock. After realizing there was not much else to do in this town we decided to hop on the train to the next town to see what it had to offer. After waiting 30 minuets for the train to depart we start moving and it didn't stop at second town or the third or the fourth for that matter. So beyond our control we went straight to the fifth and final town of Monterosso al Mare. Right as you exit the train station you were let off onto a beach with crystal blue water and white sand, it was paradise. If you turned one way you were looking at the beach and when you turned around you were looking into the mountains, it was breathtaking. 

Thursday we were off to Rome for the weekend. We finally got a chance to take the fast trains with better seating and quicker arrival times. We got to Rome around 4 PM and took a taxi to our hotel. The taxis in this country still amaze me the way the whip in and out of traffic like they are invincible. Mom and I decided that my dad would so not be allowed to drive in this country. When we got to the hotel we hung out for a bit and then went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. It was so nice to have American food and free refills with dinner. Oh the things I take for granted at home. After dinner we all made our way to the Spanish Steps to see them at night and then turned in early because of the long weekend ahead of us. 

Friday I took mom, grandpa and Michael to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. I tried to be the best tour guide but couldn't remember everything so thankfully I had a book about Rome to help me along. Word of advice to those of you who will ever travel to Rome. The Forum and the Colosseum are accessed by the same ticket. To beat the lines buy your ticket at the Forum and then walk down the street to the Colosseum. You will not have to wait in the horrendous line that forms so you get in a long faster! After these sites we made our way back to the hotel stopping at the Trevi Fountain along the way. I am pretty sure there were 1000's more people in Rome last weekend than when I went 2 weeks ago. After the fountain Mikey and grandpa ate dinner at Burger King and we went back to the hotel. Once we got there mom and I wanted to do a little shopping. Well our "shopping" trip landed us back at the Hard Rock Cafe where we had drinks and shared an appetizer. Thankfully we had a different waitress, we had been there the night before too. 

Saturday we woke up and they looked to me with an expression that read "what is on the agenda today", I should start charging a fee for the tours that I gave these people, sheesh! Today we were going to visit the Vatican Museum and the Pantheon. Again when we arrived at the Vatican there were thousands more people than we there before. We waited in this line that looked never ending but ended up going really fast to get into Saint Peter's Basilica. Once we entered the church I think I even saw a little bit of awe in my brother's eye. I could visit this masterpiece everyday and still not catch every detail that went into building it. Once again I tried to recall what I had been taught about the church to my family so they too could appreciate the history behind it. After the Vatican we rode a few buses back across the river to the Pantheon. This is a structure dedicated to the Roman Gods, and one of the only original pieces of architecture still fully standing in Rome, so that in itself is pretty impressive. After all of the sightseeing we were hungry for dinner so we ate at, wait I am going to let you guess... you are right the Hard Rock Cafe, again! Although I am not complaining I got my fix of American food for a while. This was the last night with my family and I could not believe that the week was over already and they were going home the next day. It took all I had to not fly home on that plane with them. I was doing really well with the homesickness up until they came and I was fine the day they left. However, after a few days have gone by it is bad again and I keep thinking about how much I miss everyone! (Especially my club president Mrs. Jones!) But after talking to my mom she reassured me that the next month and a half would fly by and I have tons of travels to look forward too, which made me feel a lot better. I would not be able to be here and make it this long without the love and support from everyone of you back home. 

I am leaving for Greece for spring break on Saturday so I will update in about a week and a half when I get home! Thanks for reading.

TaTa for now!!  

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