Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travel day: Rome to Pisa

Today is a travel day and the last day I will write until I return from Romania. Today I was going to go to an outdoor market but I decided it looked way hard to find and also it was not close to a metro... and my ankle is a bit sore from yesterday (along with my feet). So, I embarked on a different mission, finding a charger for my UK phone that would work in the rest of Europe (darn Brits needing to be different from the rest of Europe...). It has taken me the better part of the day to find one, but at last I did. Happy joy.
Now I must go pack my things and find out how to get my train ticket, as the ticket offices are closed on Sunday.
Over and out,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rome (day 2)

I would like to start by adding a P.S. to yesterdays blog: Dearest Cousin Danny, I am pained to say that I took no fantastic photos of a slinky going down the stairs of the Colosseum. There were no good stairs to send it down... :-(
All the stairs there are no longer there. (The only stairs go from the first level to the second- there are about ten stairs and they are no good.) Sorry, with great sadness do I relay this news.
Okay, on to today.
So, yesterday started out as a not very good day. (Debbie, you were right.) I was really bummed that I had not met anyone yet and was just in low spirits. Then... I took a nap. It turned my world upside down and I woke up ready to face all of Rome. It was wonderful. Evidently sleep really makes a person feel grood (great and good). So, after my nap I walked out of the dorm-ish thing I am staying in and went on a walk then to the place where the computers and food are located and made some friends. They are two girls from New York and both their names are Kate. Then I also got some roommates from Canada. It was very happy. So, needless to say, today has been a much better day. Today feels more like my first day in Europe. Kate and Kate and I wondered around Rome together and saw so much. We walked about five or six miles not including the maze called the Vatican. It was a full day. I saw the Sistine Chapel today! It was AWESOME!!! I have loads of photos. (Unfortunately they will not get put up for at least another week as I will have no internet in Romania) On top of seeing the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's, and all the other catholic things in Vatican City, I saw Fontana Di Trevi, which is a huge fountain and is beautiful and crowded. I also saw the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, more fabulous ruins and much more. It was a jam-packed day. I also got real Italian food today. Yesterday and the day before I ate the tuna and mandarin oranges I had packed, but today... I ate nutella and bread and I ate out at a little restaurant. I got lasagna and it was really really good. I also tried some of Kate Z's ravioli and some of Kate's pizza. It was all very good. Other good things: since we walked everywhere I got to see a lot more of Rome and it became more of what I expected, narrow stone streets with small motor cars and motorcycle things zipping around everywhere. It was neat. And, instead of water fountains like we have, they have actual fountains that you fill your bottles at or stick your head under or what ever. The water comes out of everything from gargoyle mouths to whales. It is neat. So, today was good.
Tomorrow I am going to an open air market that is open only on Sunday. After that, I leave for Pisa and then Monday I will leave for Romania. That being said, I will not get a chance to write again until I return to Pisa from Romania, so it will be about a week. I will have no internet in Romania so I will also not be able to check my e-mail until I return to Italy. But until then,

I know some people were wondering about the food and I forgot to write about it. So, most everything cost a flat rate, £1 or £1.50 - never like in the states where things are always odd change. The strangest cost was today I bought juice for £0.90. There are no taxes when you go to check out either, which is nice. However, the downfall to going and eating out is most places charge you a sitting fee. It is just one euro per person usually, so not too bad. Then, depending on where you eat the meal can cost anywhere between £5-10 (that is at the places I eat... cheap). So my meal yesterday (this post) was £8 but there was a £1 sitting charge and also the water cost £1. So it ended up being £10, not too bad. All along the streets there are little stands selling food and other what-nots and the food there is usually just pizza (not like our pizza, though-more like a sandwich pizza) and there are sandwiches. They are usually between £3 (if you are lucky) and £5. It is good though. Bread is cheap. :-)
So, I just thought I would add that info for you all to enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Rome (day one)

Well, I made it (at last) to Rome. It was a long plane ride and many hours of waiting... but I made it at 11:00 pm Rome time and went straight to bed. :-)
Today I went around town and saw the Colosseum and other must see things in the area. I think tomorrow I will go to Vatican City and wander around. I am staying in North Rome, so it is a bit of a journey to get into town, but it is an interesting one. I was expecting things to be much different here than what it is. Outside of the city center, Rome reminds me more of a big city in a third world country. There is graffiti everywhere and all the buildings are so old and falling apart. In the nicer part of the city (more towards the city proper) there are vinders of every kind everywhere. It is really interesting. Some parts of the city are really big but I mostly avoided those areas so as to not get directionally confused in an area where I don't know the language. So, I mostly just stuck to the super touristy areas. I made a chum of myself... a classic tourist mistake- nothing is free. There were a bunch of people dressed as roman soldiers asking people if they wanted their photos taken with them. Since they were using my camera, I assumed it would be free, but, of course, it was not.
I was proud of myself on the metro, though. I only made one mistake and I got of f at the exit after I made the mistake (wrong direction) and got on the right train. A small mistake. Although it was a short day (it is 14:00 and I am back at the hostel) it was a great first day. I think I will get the hang of this soon...
I am really looking forward to Romania and visiting my friend Andreea there. I am glad I will know someone there. It is hard being in a country where I don't know the language or any person, but it is good. This trip will be a very good learning experience.
I am out, but I will get photos on here in the next few days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And so it begins...

And so it begins... As my trip to Europe draws closer (it is now one week until I leave) I have begun to become more excited and much more nervous. I have never done anything like this before and I am so glad I have all your support along the way. I will try to write here weekly, but that is no guarantee. If you send me an e-mail, I will do my very best to respond to it in a timely manner (and it will be happily received). I would also like to say that I am not good at spelling and my grammar will not be the best at times and so now, I believe, is the appropriate time for advanced apologies. Thank you all again!

This calendar is subject to change at any moment (not so much the first part... but the month of October and the end of September are likely to change).

July 23- leave St. Louis and fly to London
July 24- arrive in London and fly to Rome (arrive Rome)

July 27- train to Pisa, Italy
July 28- fly Pisa, Italy to Constanta, Romania then train to Dej, Romania

August 4- fly Constanta to Pisa

August 6- fly Pisa to Brussels, Belgium

August 11- train to London
August 12- train to Cambridge

August 14- travel around UK with tour guide Dave (a friend in Brighton, England)

something, something, something...

August 25- train to Den Haag, Netherlands

August 29- train to Stockholm, Sweden

September 1- train to Ostersund, Sweden

September 3- train to Bodo, Norway

September 6- train to Oslo, Norway

September 9- train to Gothenburg, Sweden

September 12- train to Den Haag, Netherlands (go to Amsterdam and Utchrect)

September 20- train to Denmark (?)

the rest of September and October:
go to Switzerland and France and some other places
and go back to Belgium

October 23- train to Brussels, Belgium or Den Haag, Netherlands

October 25- train to London

October 28- fly home