Off to Rome…we just left Florence after 4 days and it was absolutely amazing. I think that Italy is going to be my favorite part of the trip, there is just something about here that I can't get enough of. Spain was amazing, but Italy is just unreal. It was really nice to be able to spend more time in Florence - mom and I came here for a day, but after staying here for four, neither is nearly long enough.
So let's start from day 1 - we had the longest bus ride of our life here…but the scenery was worth it - it seriously looked like it was from a movie background (probably was at one point). It was extremely hilly, so all of the houses were built into the side of the mountain. We drove along the waterfront - we were surrounded by beautiful green rolling hills and the open sea - and no I did not sleep through it =). I actually have not been getting motion sickness at all, so I attempted to read on the bus, but we were on a road that has over 300 tunnels on it - so needless to say, I could get about 3 words in before we were in the dark again - now that gave me motion sickness =)
Once we got to our hotel, we realized that once again we were outside of the city…more public transportation love it! I can picture it now…"So Sammar what did you do while in Europe?" me: "Well, I became a pro at reading bus routes and maps" just kidding…but seriously, paying for public transportation is starting to put a damper on my shopping sprees.
The first night that we got here, we just had our welcome dinner because we did not get in until close to 8 - and come to find out, no internet. I think we all died - and I could not use my phone card because apparently Italy is weird and 1-800 numbers are not free - not cool! So sorry Nadia...that is why no phone call =( But at the welcome dinner, our little group of friends got separated, so we had to branch out a little bit. And branching out was interesting - lets just say that it reminded me what the stereotypes of Georgia Tech are. The people at my table started figuring out exactly how many cups each person at the table could get out of the 2 Fanta bottles on the table - I was just thinking to myself, "should I be wearing a pocket protector" haha…on the brightside, at least I got a laugh out of it.
At dinner, we made friends with our very cute Italian waiters (sorry daddy, they were very cute...have to paint the picture here). They invited our whole group to go out with them that night and it turns out that even though we were outside of the city, this little town knew how to have a good time. They have an outside party/concert/club right across the street from our hotel. So being on European time, we left the hotel at midnight and danced the night away (to American music even) til about 4 in the morning. It was so much fun...it was probably one of the best nights thus far. However, Clair and I decided to take their advice on a drink...bad idea…it tasted like someone grinded up a Christmas tree and put in a cup. Yuck! So note to self…never, ever, ever ,ever ,ever get an Italian cocktail, unless you are into that kind of thing.
The next day, we started being tourists again - we went on a walking tour of the city, wearing our Pearsall's 5000. I know you are wondering what a Pearsall 5000 is - so let me break it down - Pearsall is our art professor - an absolutely amazing guy with the skill to walk as fast as my jog =) And the Pearsall 5000 is a handy-dandy headset that all 50 of us students wear while walking around the city - oh yes, 50 of us wear a headset at the same time. So you can only imagine how humorous it is to see 50 obviously American tourists, speeding walking or should I say jogging around the city turning to the left and right in synch - I do not think their goal of blending in had worked so well. My friends and I came up with the name - Pearsall 5000 - it is pretty awesome, they will be out on the market soon =)
So after our fabulous walking tour, we went to the San Spirito - an absolutely precious church that not very many people know about - the churches here make you wish that churches in the US were still made that way. The little detailing and just spirit in the church is amazing. I love how they design their churches were every last mark, bench, painting, or mold is made to worship and give praise to God - they truly give back using their talents. Since we did so much walking and had a long night before, Clair and I decided to stay in and watch a movie. So we scrounged around for some snacks, purchased a 4 euro Fanta (not worth it…live and learn), and watched I am Legend.Not really sure if I like that movie or not, but I do know - that our neighbors probably did not enjoy our screams.
The next day we got up to go to the Duomo and the Medici Chapel - both divine of course. Even though I have seen majority of the stuff before, I am still as blown away and as in awe as the first time. We walked around the streets by ourselves a lot this day - passing all of the human statues along the road. Another infamous Sammar moment happened, or as people here have been referring to it - "a short bus moment" , little mean right - all in good fun though. So we are walking past all of the human statues, you know the ones that get all dressed to make themselves look like a statue. Well we pass one that is a sercafacus…one of my friends says, in complete sarcasm, "That is amazing how still she keeps her face" and me with my pure ingenious, responds with "It's a mask, isn't it?". Oh yes, apparently I have no common sense in Europe either - going half way across the world doesn't help.
The Uffizi was my favorite museum…Boticelli's famous works are here, including Birth of Venus. This is one of my all time favorite paintings. Our art professor, the same as Pearsall 5000, always gives amazing insight to the paintings. A small group of us stood in front of this picture for about thirty minutes just discussing the narrative of the work, symbolism, brushstrokes, etc…I absolutely loved it. My art professor and I get along very well and it was been really nice to be able to explore my artistic side more while being here.
We went to the Uffizi earlier in the day and then had a big break before the Accademia. So you know what that means….shopping time! I would go in to details about what I got at the fabulous market (aka Sammar Heaven), but people are just going to have to wait and see what gifts I got them =) Let's just say, I think everyone will be very pleased. I had to use some extreme self control because I feel in love with a leather purse and briefcase bag, but once I converted the price to US dollars - the bags were not so to die for anymore. Daddy, you would be proud - I used those amazing negotiating skills that you taught me - I was helping some of my guy friends shops for moms and sisters and I definitely was the hero for the day for the amount of money that I saved them. Better watch out Mommy and Daddy, you have a pretty persuasive daughter on your hands now =)
Well, that is all the news I have right now! hope you enjoy the pics...miss you all and love you dearly!