Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hallo from Deutschland

So, once I have finished up my year in Italy, I have decided to spend a year in Germany as well. This probably will not happen, but I love love love it here. Germany is clean, the people are so nice, and it's just a beautiful place.
I didn't get a chance to see much of Pisa, since I was worried about finding my hostel. It turns out that I could have just walked straight from the train station to the leaning tower, but I took the winding, creepy, and only street leading away from the tower route. I am not good with maps or directions. There, I said it. Phew! I feel much better having admitted that. Anyway, I eventually found the hostel and it turned out to be a really nice place. I roomed with two girls from London (perfect!) and another from Japan. They were so nice and interesting that I did not leave my room to go see the tower again, but I had it all to myself the next morning at 3 am. I took a few pictures, but I don't think they turned out well. My flight left at 7 so I wanted to be there at 5, which meant I had to get up at 3 to make it there on foot. Pisa, granted, is tiny, but it took me over an hour to get there with my overstuffed bookbag weighing me down. Check-in was simple, and I actually saw a few of my friends who were waiting for other flights. Apparently they took the last train out of Florence and stayed in the airport all night. I don't know who had the better plan...
After a rather bumpy flight I was picked up at the Memmingen airport by Maximillian, Jan's friend and the sweetest guy in the world. He took me on a drive through Kempten and showed me around his campus. Though it was foggy and we couldn't see the Alps yet, my first impressions of Germany were definitely good ones.
When Jan got off work we drove to Max's hometown (not sure how to spell it, but it starts with an A) to have cake and coffee with his parents and his brother Emanuele. I have a new favorite cake now: (mom take note) Black Forest cake. So good.
We got back in the car, with the addition of Eme, and drove to a place that starts with an S, which is Jan's hometown. We had an amazing meal in their lovely Tuscan red home and then all of us, including Jan's parents and Eme's friend Thomas, went brewery hopping around the town of Bamberg. This is much classier than bar hopping, as in most of the bars you are able to sit down and have a conversation--though the bars became increasingly louder as the night went on. But even this was alright, as most of the noise came from older locals singing traditional drinking songs at the same table and with the same mug they have been using for years. I tried a new beer at each bar, and one (no joke) tasted exactly like smoked ham. Our excursion did not end until 3 am--and we didn't even go to all 11 breweries.
The next morning we got a late start, ate a tasty breakfast, and drove back to Bamberg to do some sightseeing. I guess it is preferable to sight see when you can actually see the sights. Ha...allora...we saw many beautiful and historical buildings, but my favorite was the rose garden near the Duomo. I will post pictures later, but for now just imagine hundreds of roses, all different species, growing on walls, between pathways, around little Greco-Roman statues, and weaving through wooden A-ladders. Sigh... The view of Bamberg from the back wall of the garden was stunning.
I will post pictures as soon as I get back to Florence. I have over 250 already and I still haven't even been to London. As this post is getting rather long and I am wasting precious Germany time, I will describe the rest of my Deutschland adventures another time, including my night in a German techno club, my visit to two Bavarian castles, and my solo trip to Munich.
I wish you guys were here to see this!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where in the world is Melissa?

Ciao ragazzi! I'm off to Pisa in a few hours. I will spend the night there and then catch a dinky plane to Memmingen, Germany. I am still not sure what I will be doing in Bavaria, aside from freezing, but I am sure it will be a great experience. I brought two batteries for my camera! Because Ryanair is so cheap, they can make up whatever rules they want as far as carry-on luggage, so I have 9 days worth of clothes and supplies crammed into my little black book bag. This is "real" traveling I suppose. I will be in London for three days, and, again, I don't know what I'll do yet.
Really I'm just glad my midterms are over and I am pretty go-with-the-flow as far as fall break is concerned. I will post if I can, but I am not sure if I will have internet. Have a great week everyone and I will inform ya'll about my trip soon! Grazie per leggere!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Freddo Tempo

Picture #1 is a giant tower of chocolate used for chocolate sandwiches.
The 2nd is Perugia from a hilltop.
The 3rd picture was taken in a Wine Museum outside of Perugia. Before the EuroChocolate Festival we were treated to wine tasting.

It is now cold in Italy. It was especially cold in Perugia, which was a good enough excuse for me to buy cioccolato caldo (hot chocolate) several times. Perugia is beautiful and I would go there if even there were no EuroChocolate Festival. The festival, though cold, crowded, and a little more commercial than I expected, was still a lot of fun. I ate way too much chocolate and barely made it back with samples for my host family! To top off the day, Katie and I went to an outdoor craft fair. There were no crafts at night, but there were some awesome gyros. Just when I thought I couldn't eat any more.

Midterms began today and I am pretty sure I did well on my first one. Two tomorrow, two more on Wednesday, then I catch the train for Pisa on Thursday to get to Germany on Friday. Wish me luck!

If I don't post for a while it is because I am busy studying and have nothing interesting to share. : ) I miss you guys!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

La Traviata

(This is a photo of the theatre where I will be seeing Inglorious Bastards next week. Nice, huh?)

My first opera experience went well. I read a synopsis before going and that really paid off. We were up in the galleria so it was difficult to see (should have brought my mini-binoculars!), but the music was beautiful, the sets were interesting, and the lyrics were on a screen above the stage so I could actually understand a little. I do, however, think the opera is an acquired taste. If given the chance, I will definitely go back, but as of right now, I prefer the theatre. Pirandello's Henry IV is playing in December, so I am going to get my ticket now.

Tomorrow I am attending a Futurismo conference with my Italian Literature professoressa. I do not know what to expect, but I do know that most of the speakers have come all the way from the U.S. to present, so they must be good, right?

And on Saturday I am going to the Chocolate Festival in Perugia! I'll definitely have some pictures of this event up on my next post.

Midterms are next week. Can you believe it?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Venice was incredible. Our trip could not have gone more smoothly. We had several close calls though. For instance, I completely misread the bus schedule to the Florence train station and had to run the whole three miles to make it to the bus on time. We switched trains 3 times before arriving in Venice, and I still don't know how we managed to do that successfully. Katie is an intuitive genius.

Once in Venice we navigated our way through dozens of charming and very narrow streets. The gondoliers were a treat. All were very attractive and charismatic (that's how they get you in the boat). Katie and I did not take a gondola ride, but we took lots of pictures of other people taking them! Other than strolling and window shopping there is not much to do in Venice, except feed the pigeons. In Piazza S. Marco there were people covered in pigeons and Katie and I had to join in. We bought some rice cakes and doled them out to whichever pigeons decided to land on our arms and shoulders. Only after we had scattered our last rice cake did we realize what we had done. RICE CAKES!!! We hightailed it out of there before pigeons started bursting right and left. We still aren't sure about the fate of those fat little birds, but my guess is they're ok....I hope.

We stayed in a hostel 30 minutes outside of the island. Again, we were very lucky to have found it in the dark. We stayed in a mobile home within a campsite. It was not what I had pictured my stay in Venice to be like, but when you're on a budget...besides, the bathrooms weren't that far away.

The next morning it rained, hard, all day. We spent that morning and the afternoon ducking in and out of glass shops. I found some Venetian coffee for my host family (since I consume so much of theirs) and some gelatini sweets for them as well.

I don't know if I will ever go back to Venice, but I am very glad to have gone. I will never forget the first Venetian we met. He walked behind us for about five minutes singing his own personal version of "Baby I Love Your Way." His version went a little like this: "Ooooo baby I love your EYES. I'll take you on a gondola ride. We'll buy expensive Murano glass. I want to be with you night and day." Definitely a memorable trip.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

So Much

These past few days have gone by so quickly. I stayed in Florence again for the weekend. I went to the market with my host mother and she let me help her pick out our groceries for the next few days. I also made pasta from scratch with my host father. That was an experience, as he barely speaks English, and the pasta making process requires prior knowledge and skill. Luckily my host brother joined in and we had a pasta making party! I also went out on the town with a few friends to an Irish pub in Piazza Santa Maria del Fiore. The walk home with Lucy was beautiful, complete with a full moon and not a soul on the streets.
I aced my first Italian quiz. Whew. That was a relief. I knew the material, but I got nervous when I was taking it, so...whew!
I'm going to Venice this weekend with my friend Katy. We picked up our tickets at the train station and booked our hostel. Piece of cake.
I have a presentation tomorrow on Luigi Pirandello. I should be working on it now, but my host bro Nicola invited me out with his friends for appereitivos. Preparations will have to wait.
Buona notte ragazzi!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ieri Sera

Last night my host brother Nicola took me to a barbecue. There were over 30 people, all Italian, at this apartment/garden, and everyone brought food and wine. I thought I would be out of place, but everyone was amiable and patient with my attempts to speak Italian. I even talked about politics with my host brother's best friend! However, one guy approached me, speaking Italian a mile a min. and I just stared at him. Apparently he had asked me a question, and thought I was being rude for not answering. When he found out that I am American, he came over and apologized in broken English. It was pretty funny.
The food was great, but the company was even better. It was nice to meet Italians my age who are more impressed that I am trying to learn Italian than with the fact that I'm American.