Friday, October 29, 2010

Fever Friday: Fear the Beard!

It's Friday!  And right now, missing the Bay terribly, I can really only write about one thing...


THE 2010 BASEBALL WORLD SERIES!

Yes I am an A's fan.  But you know what?  I don't know why you can't like more than one team.
When I'm in another city at a baseball game (like Anaheim when I was at school), I always cheer for the home team.  In fact I am a huge fan of home team support...unless your home team is playing the A's...then my green and gold sticks out like a sore thumb.
And right now, the Giants are my home team.
Plus my dad was raised in San Francisco.
And unlike my friend James who has decided to make them his own mortal enemy, I love all things Bay and am gladly cheering for them right now.  Tonight they're taking a break, but tomorrow they'll be back to (knock on wood) score a 3 game lead over the Texas Rangers.
Now all these games start at 1:30 in the morning my time.  And since I have to be bright and chipper with a three year old starting at 8:00 every morning, I choose to do the correct thing and go to sleep and just check scores the next morning.But I'm still rooting for them!

So sorry to all you Ranger fans out there.  Also sorry to the Yankee fans.  And the Philly phans.

But I'm really hoping for a victory in the Bay...I just wish I could be there to see it.




Word of the Day: serie - series

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My how the time has flown

I promised today was a special day in my aupair world...here's why

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens


Yes today is Tuesday.  But Today is a VERY SPECIAL Tuesday.  Because today is my...

200th POST!!!

(Commence fireworks and ticker tape parades)

I've been writing this blog for a little over a year now.  Although my first four were over the course of four months and were just me warming up to the idea of keeping a blog so that my family and friends could see what I was doing while abroad.
But here we are, 196 posts later.  Some of these entries have been heartfelt, some have been funny, some have been the epitome of lazy, and some (and by that I mean many) have been one just like this...a Top Ten.

And so in honor of it being my 200th, I'm going to attempt something that will probably require editing as soon as I hit "Publish Post."  But oh well.  Without furthur ado, I give you...

MY TOP TEN FAVORITE THINGS

Family and Friends

Mexican Food

Tap Dancing

The Princess Bride

Holding Hands

The Beatles

Prague

Linguistics

Cabernet

Fien


Word of the Day: tweehonderd - two hundred

Monday, October 25, 2010

Firenze Fotos

Before I get on to the promised picture of Florence, I'd like to let you know that tomorrow is a very special blogging day.  And Thursday, is a very special aupair day.  So stay tuned!!!

And as I said, here are pictures of my (far too) short trip to Florence with Marissa my Love.  Explanations in captions...

(The Duomo Cathedral...inside and out)

(View of the Duomo from the Uffizi Gallery)


(OH MY GOD IT'S THE DAVID)             (Oh wait...this is a replica)     .

(Ponte Vecchio Bridge)



 (Two very important men in Italy's city of culture)

 (San Lorenzo Open Market)

(Typical Italian - smoking, working, and not caring)

(This store front gets set up every morning)

(This girl asked Marissa to take her picture.  No joke, it turned into a twenty minute photo session with the girl continually asking "one more" and switching poses and locations.  I just laughed)

(Sunset on the River Arno)

(Marissa and I enjoying a lovely glass of wine with dinner)

(Piazza de Michelangelo...man this guy is everywhere!
And for you musical theater nerds...this is "The Piazza" in which there is a "Light In")

(Panoramic view of the skyline line at night...a perfect ending)

Word of the Day: foto - pictures (Italian)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marissa and I relive the good old days

So my second city on my Mediterranean Tour of Awesomeness was Florence!  And there I got to see one of my really good friends from UCI.  But why type what happened, when I could show you?




Note: I'll upload pictures of Florence tomorrow.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAMPYS!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

City of Bridges and Boats, Masks and Merriment

Well I’m sitting here on a Saturday.  I’m in my house because it’s raining so there’s no point going outside.  The water heater shut off this morning so staying under the covers in bed seems like the warmest place right now.  Fien is at Oma’s.  I have absolutely no money courtesy of the last three weeks.  And I have caught up on the majority of my shows.  I guess there’s no better time than to actually write about my vacation...

So we’ll start with the first city…Venice (or Venezia as the locals call it.)

Oh Venice.  The most romantic city in the world people say.  So what I was doing, going there alone, I’ll never know, but I figured why not.  I was arriving at 11:00 at night.  Knowing my hostel was only a ten minute walk away from the train station did nothing to calm my nerves about the possibility of having to venture down a deserted alley with my worldly possessions strapped to my back in search of an unknown building.  But when I walked out of the train station…it was breathtaking.  I actually stopped and said “wow.”  Now I’ve been to the Venetian in Vegas.  And yes that place is completely romanticized, and much cleaner, and smells a lot nicer…but they got the gist of it…
Ahead of me lay a canal and above a clear midnight sky sprinkled with stars.  As I walked down a (perfectly lit) street, past shop owners closing up, I admired all the elaborate shop windows filled with Carnival masks, blown glass, and the odd Tratoria with the chairs up on the table and a lone staffer mopping the floors.  Yes it sounds like a storybook…and that’s honestly how I felt.  We all know that Venice is a city with canals.  But I could never really imagine it.  There are NO cars.  And every “crosswalk” is a bridge.  And the buildings are all bright colors.  And it is honestly just…beautiful.
When I got to the hostel, I was let in and not two minutes later, ambushed back out along with around 15 other guests as we headed to the local bar.  Immediately making friends, we soon learned where everyone was from (including two girls from Northern California!) Once at the bar we celebrated a birthday, watched some football, and gave some much needed advise to some young Aussies looking to pick up chicks. (And yet us Cali girls were the ones that got free drinks out of it.)
The next day I headed to the one must see sight in Venice – St. Mark’s Basilica...

The square itself was great for people watching – from the violin band playing outside of the cafĂ© to the little old man with the camera taking pictures of you surrounded by pigeons...

Before heading into the church, I made my way down to the water – not a canal, the actual Venetian Gulf connected to the Mediterranean.  There I admired the boats cruising by, the couple strolling by, and yes…the gondolas floating by.

The church itself was incredible.  Although a note to all travelers…when they kindly ask you, out of respect for the sanctity of a place, to not take pictures…DON’T TAKE PICTURES!!!  I was getting fairly annoyed.  But what was I to do?  So I silently strolled through, my camera holstered, and admired the breathtaking architecture.  Now this was my first experience with an Italian Church - little did I remember I was about to be in Rome and by the time I got to Athens I would be warmly embracing the Polytheistic way of life (kidding 99% of modern day Grecians are Orthodox.)
Taking the long way back, I stopped to admire the various canals as a peek into civilian’s life.  Laundry hanging to dry, personal boats anchored to the side, and gelato places at every corner...

When I got back to the hostel I joined a game of poker with some fellow travelers.  Little did I know three would be Philly Phans, and although at the time I considered them new found friends, for tonight, and possibly Monday, they remain mortal enemies (GO GIANTS!)  Soon this tiny card game turned into a table wide one.  And soon this table wide card game turned into a drinking one.  And by the time free dinner rolled around, everyone in that hostel was friends.  One of the Philly boys was even victim to an explanation of Linguistics.  Poor guy never saw it coming when he asked “and what exactly is that?”  But I loved the breaking down of everyone’s accent, which is made all the better when you’re surrounded by people from different cultures.
The remainder of the night was spent wandering the streets of Venice with my new friends.  Of course all this walking around and traveling was reeking havoc on my hurt ankle (don’t now how it happened) so by the end of the night I was hanging on a guy, not out of flirtatiousness, but out of necessity to navigate the up and down of the cities thousands of bridges.
The next day, three girls and I joined up to explore.  What’s great about meeting people in Venice, is that the majority of them are doing the same thing you are…Venice to Florence to Rome, so we made plans to meet up later (some of which actually happened!) We wandered the city crawling through every side street we could imagine and having fun with photography...
 
(this one's my favorite...this cat was just sitting there staring at me!)

Our sites included a flooded street (a common occurrence in a city built on water)...

Some beautiful bridges (upon which I actually got to be in some pictures)...
 
 

And of course, a different view of the city from the seat on the obligatory gondola ride...

After, we decided to call it an early night and headed back to the hostel for a much more subdued version of the night before.
And the next morning, it was off to Florence.  Although there wasn’t much left to do in Venice, I would have gladly spent a couple more nights in that beautiful city.

Word of the day: canale - canal (Italian)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Status Update (or two...or...)

So I just got back from my epic vacation.  And yes it was wonderful.  However, I was supposed to be updating the entire time.  Not only that, but I was also supposed to be participating in this blogging event at SITS all about building a group of support blogs with a like minded theme - my group understandably being living abroad/travel.
But...the internet in Italy SUCKED.  Like hard core.  It would take ten minutes for a page to load.  I had to do with the quick email to the parents to let them know I'm ok, and a quick facebook update to make sure all my friend back home were jealous. :-D
So while I unpack the last seventeen days of my life, organize papers, clean my house, make my dinner, and very possibly watch an Italian movie, I'll leave you with the last seventeen days of facebook updates...in the hopes that you can get a good idea of what happened...and hopefully look forward to the full story...

Seventeen days worth of luggage is not going to pack itself. But if I sit here watching TV, maybe it will become motivated.

Pick up Fien, go to the Bakker, run some errands, get on a train, PEACE OUT Holland!

Enjoying cold Germany before heading to warm Italy

Its kind of official...I hate Oktoberfest

Venice...wow

Teaching people linguistics while tipsy makes me happy

I have learned more drinking games from more foreign people in the past three nights than I knew to begin...US you are not ready for them!!!!

Goodbye Venice! Off to Florence to see the love of my life!

One hour in Florence and my previous definition of gelato has been thrown over a cliff and kicked on the way down.

Plan: full day of touring, followed by getting to wear a dress to go to dinner, followed by a night of music and wine...why are you so good to me Florence?

Ankle continuing to swell, but my dad's remedy of Tylenol and wine before bed seems to be helping.

Midnight view of the Firenze skyline...what a way to end a visit.

Six days in Rome with a side trip to Naples for pizza...hmmm...what to do first...

I feel inappropriate making cheap pasta with canned sauce for dinner.

You know when you say you've had heaven in your mouth? Unless you've had pizza from Naples, you were just exaggerating...

At one point I actually muttered "Holy Crap" while walking into a room of paintings in the Vatican. Inappropriate in so many ways.

Oh...hello buildings that were built 2700 years ago. I'm 24.

Union strike in Athens means the Acropolis costs free.99

The Grecian humidity and my hair have decided to single strandedly attempt to bring back the Farrah Fawcett look...they are failing...miserably.

Note to self: Two hours on a plane does not make up for not sleeping the night before. End of vacation = primetime.


Word of the day: status update (pronounced STAH-tus, UP-daht.) - status update

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So there's this festival in Munich...

Let me tell you about my brief encounter with that thing know as Oktoberfest…

I DID visit friends in Germany
Because I wasn’t planning on spending the night in Munich (see below), I decided to first stop in Muenster and see my friends Julia and Jonas.  It was a nice evening of catching up, as well as making plans for future travel (like New Years!)

I DID NOT meet with people at the fair
I knew of two separate groups of people going to Oktoberfest…neither of which got back to me in time to tell me where to meet them.
There was also a Couch Surfing daily meet-up scheduled.  We were supposed to meet in front of the Bavaria statue…
But instead there was a massive bandstand with music…
I don’t know if this happenes every day (if so it was VERY poor planning on the event coordinator’s part) but it left me wandering the surrounding areas looking for other people who possibly looked like they were there alone…which was no one.  Which left me alone and very frustrated surrounded by drunks.

I DID wear a dirndl…
At first I was a little apprehensive…until I arrived at Munich Central Station.  Wearing a dirndl or lederhosen to Oktoberfest is like wearing red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July…you, and everyone else, just does it.  Especially kids.  And oh man are they adorable. I actually was able to join in in the festivities!  Julia had one and when I visited her before I left for Munich, she let me borrow it.  It made my day a little more authentic.

I DID NOT stay in a hostel…
Yes they’re expensive, and yes you have to book them about six months to a year in advance, but I would highly recommend attempting to enjoy the fair instead of worrying about arriving and catching trains.  What I did instead was take a night train from Muenster.  This involved me and four guys with horrible BO in a compartment.  They had the top two bunks and the bottom two which left me stuck in the middle, which only gave me a surround sound experience to their constant snoring.  To be fair, they were really nice, and the train conductor even took me aside and asked if I was comfortable staying in this cabin by myself.  I thought that was nice of him.

I DID eat a pretzel…
If you’re going to eat a Pretzel, get it from a cart that is getting them fresh from the bakery inside the beer tents, not some random cart that has them stashed away among sandwiches and nuts.  They are so much better, so much bigger, and not much more expensive…and so worth it.

I DID NOT drink beer…
I KNOW!  Ok here’s the thing…Beer halls get filled very quickly.  Tables upon tables of people eating, drinking, and being merry.  But if you’re not a part of any group, it’s not nearly as fun.  First you have to find a table with an open seat.  Then you have to figure out if they speak English AND are willing to do so for the remainder of your company.  Then you have to ask if you can join their table.  And only then can you comfortably order a giant liter of beer from a beer maiden and feel comfortable about it.  Since that was really difficult to do, I bypassed it.  I hear at night, this is much easier.  But when people are first starting out the day, they are on a mission to get drunk now, be merry later.  However, I would never forgive myself if I left Munich during Oktoberfest having practiced a form of unwarranted prohibition, so I did get a bottle of Bavaria “Oktoberfest” beer at the train station and ate it with my sandwich while I waited for my train.

I DID take pictures
Of course, I’m not actually in any of them…which means they all look like every other photo of Oktoberfest out there…but still, they’re mine.

I DID NOT make a train reservation
Ok this is partly my bad.  But I could not get the website to do so before I left.  And when I got to Germany, EVERYTHING was booked.  I could not get a night train out of Munich, which left me with catching a train at 3 in the afternoon instead.  I’m not complaining anymore however, seeing as I had finished my solo tour of the fair grounds and gotten a relaxing lunch and still had an hour to kill.  So here I am on a train to Venice a day early, costing an extra hostel night out of my wallet, but happy to finally be able to relax.

I DID enjoy myself
Ok, I wasn’t participating in Oktoberfest the way most people do…but I still enjoyed walking around for the couple of hours that I was there.  I went into most beer tents and saw how they were decorated…


I saw all the horse drawn beer wagons…

I grabbed a coffee and just watched the fair go by.

So maybe I need to go back to Oktoberfest.  I know I at least have to go back to Munich.  Then I can actually get a beer, tour the city, afford a hostel, etc.  At the beginning of the day, I was grumpy and not looking forward to the fair.  But as I type this, I realize it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And it’s something that I can say I was at…and not many others can do the same.



Word of the Day: Beer - Beer (German)

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