Thursday, January 29, 2009
And finally, our train ride to skiing in Bardonecchia. Keep in mind that I HATE talking on these things and was VERY tired. My husband made me do it. :)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I don't think until then, many years from now, will we truly know and understand.
1. We of course had our 1s day trip last week and I told you all about that. Fun, fun!!!
Oh boy....Sunday probably goes down as one of the most memorable days of my life (among many other things that have already come before it of course). I have never seen such natural beauty. It's amazing to me, that someone can see the things that I have seen and witness such beauty, and not believe in one divine creator. Only God could create such landscape with His own two hands. It is mesmerizing. Seeing such things has a way of not only redifining your faith, reassuring your faith. It was hard not to just stand there, in the open air of snow and mountains and blue skies, and just take it all in for hours.
Saturday morning, it was up early and off to the bus which took us to the train, where we rode about 2 hours to Torino. We spent all day Saturday in the quiet city sightseeing, ice dancing (if that's what you want to call it, haha!! some of the best times we've had together as a group so far....hilarious!!), playing in the snow, playing on a playground, and just all in all having a great time. We took the time to see where the Winter Olympics were held and warmed up with some lattes in a cute little café (it was FREEZING walking around in the snow all day) and finally headed to do some evening exploring. We ended up having Chinese for dinner (I know...in Italy!!), which turned out to be REALLY good. Afterwards we finally headed back to the hostel around 9:30 PM for bed. We had an EARLY morning ahead of us in order to make our train for skiing.
We arrived about 2 hours later, and had a bit of a time trying to figure out where to get passes, ski rentals, etc.; all that necessary stuff. We finally got it all figured out and hopped a bus to the top of the mountain.
Once at the top, we went to get our rentals, which took some time because there were 13 of us, but eventually we were all suited up. A quick bite of lunch and then we were ready to hit the slopes!!
Most everyone skied...myself and Leslee were snow tubing buddies for the day!! HA!! No, no, we did try the bunny slopes once, and then the beginner's slope (yeah right...more like the equivalent of an intermediate slope back home) once before turning in the skis and heading for the snow tubes!! :) We had an AMAZING time though...it was her first time and only my second so BIG props to Jonathan and Harrison for being so patient with us on the slopes!! ;)
We all finished up around 5 PM and turned our skis in to head back down to the bottom for a quick dinner because our train was leaving at 7:20 PM. We actually had to try a couple of places before finding one that was open because of the whole European funny hours opened deal. We finally found something open and I was risky and ordered a cheeseburger...but it ended up being REALLY good. Good risk I took.
So we hit the train (which was also delayed) and 2 hours back to Torino, then switching in Torino to another train, 2 more hours later we were back in Genoa at about 11 PM Sunday night.
Fun weekend :) Definitely in my Top 5.
3. Then we had our 2nd Day Trip on Tuesday of this week.
Another great one, but man oh man, those day trips wear you out. We ususally go from sun up to sun down. For this particular day trip, we had to be ready to go at the bus stop, by 7:15 AM. We had a bus chartered for all 19 of us (well 20 if you count Judy...not sure who Judy is?? Read about our fabulous day trip tour guide!!) to our destinations throughout the day. But never fear....there was still miles and miles and miles of walking included. Always. :)
It was so old, but so ornate. Wow.
Next, we visited Palazzo Dell'Universita' which was founded in 1361. This, like the previous, had many courtyards and was 2 levels with many adoring statues. It was quite beautiful. Mostly though, as all of these buildings did, it held so much history.
We then had a quick lunch on the main street of town, and we hopped back on the bus for a 30 minute drive to the town of Vigevano, Italy.
After spending some time in the square, we were able to actually go into and see the Castello. It was very old and again.....very beautiful.
4. And finally, we leave on Friday of this week (January 30th) for our very 1st 10 day trip of the semester (there will be 2 of these this semester including this one). We're off to Florence first and then a little over halfway through, we'll take a train and spend the rest of the trip in Rome.
The Arch of Constantine.
St. Peter's Basilica.
The Sistine Chapel.
St. Peter's Square.
Yeah. I'm going to see those things. This week. And stand just feet away. And possibly touch them. And possibly photograph them.
Life is unreal sometimes. :)
So, if you don't hear from me anymore this week it's because I'm running around trying to pack and get things done before we leve on Friday. And if you don't hear from me in the next 10 days, it's because I'm traveling throughout Rome and Florence and much too busy to blog!! So, until I get back home to Genoa, arrivederci mi amici!!!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Last week was pretty much your basic week; classes, meals, some Villa movies at night, some yoga and abs classes....all the typical student Villa happenings. We try not to go out to eat or shopping during the week to save money so we can travel as much as possible on the weekends. And since all of our lunches and dinners are provided for us Monday-Friday, why on earth would we spend money to eat??
Occassionally, we will go for some dessert somewhere after dinner -gelato, café, etc.- but not too often. We also might venture out during the day to make a trip for something particular that we're looking for, to see some of the sights of Genoa that we have yet to see and photograph, or to grab some necessities at the Di per Di.
The Di per Di. The translations is Day by Day. I don't think I have told you about that yet. Well, it's Italy's version of a grocery store, except MUCH, MUCH smaller. It has all the things that a grocery store in the States has, even a butcher where you select from fresh meats and cheeses. They also have a FINE selection of cheap chocolates. They also have lots of good juice drinks, cereal, and some Amercian things like Pringles and Coca-Cola. Basically, it's where you can find similar if not actual things to the States, and we use it as our "snack stash" store. We stock up and then we have something to snack on here at the villa during the day, in bewteen meals, and snacks to take with us on trips. All of us go to the Di per Di about 2-3 times a week.
For our 1st day trip, we were to tour the Port of Genoa. I was really happy that we were going to stay in Genoa for our 1s day trip because in the 2 weeks that we had already been here, we'd taken many trips out into the city to explore, but we never knew any history behind the things we were seeing.
One thing about Judy is, she knows her stuff!! So we spent our first hour or so (in the rain) walking through the harbour obtaining as much historical information as she could put out in a short amount of time. We saw some beautiful, historical architecture that she knew just enough about to make you feel like you had had a crash course on the history of Genoa and its port.
We then headed to Galata Museo Del Mare for a tour of the museum of the sea. This partiuclar museum was built on the original site of the 17th century arsenal main dock. In the main hall, when you first come in, you can see the entire map of the waterfront of Genoa. It's incredible.
An aerial view of the entire waterfront of Genoa
The museum was probably my favorite part of our 1st day trip. It was one of the coolest museums I had ever been in and had a lot of hands on displays. Of course being that it was a waterfront museum, there were tons of boats on display. Small ones, large ones, interactive ones. Everything was set in the time of Christopher Columbus and his discovery (being that he IS a native of Genoa...interesting fact that I did not know).
After finishing up at the museum we had lunch, which we had packed, on the dock. We had a lot of fun feeding the pigeons!! :) They kept fighting over the bread pieces.
After lunch we took a tour of La Commenda Di Pre' which is one of the most historical centers in all of the Mediterranenan, founded during the 12th century. This building was used as a hospice to knight monks and pilgrims that were traveling through the area to reach the Holy Land. It was incredibly old and incredibly beautiful. There were 2 parts, an upper and a lower. I didn't get too many pictures of the lower, just because it was so dark, but I couldn't stop photographing the upper. It was probably the oldest structure I have ever seen or stepped foot in.
The interior of the upper church of La Commenda
From La Commenda, we went to the Palazzo del Prince, which was the mansion and the headquarters of the Prince of Genoa. We toured the entire mansion; bedrooms, gardens, and banquet hall. Again, very old and very beautiful. We actually weren't supposed to take pictures, but I managed to sneak a few in. ;)
The ceiling of Palazzo Del Principe
Lastly, we ended the day with a trip to the tip of Genoa to se La Lanterna. It was quite the trek (we go everywhere by foot; if I haven't gotten in shape come May, something is wrong), but well worth it once we arrived and the perfect way to end our 1st day trip. I have never seen a more beautiful structure and the lighting when we got there was amazing. I have never seen the sky so blue. It was the perfect backdrop for such an important structure to the Genovese history. The Lighthouse was first constructed in the 12th century, then a new one in the 16th century, and finally restored as a museum from 1995-2004. La Lanterna is the symbol of Genoa; it rises some 85 meters (279 feet...everything is in meters here of course, and yes, I had to google that conversion!! HA!) from the base and 117 meters (384 feet) above the sea. It remains a functioning lighthouse and navigational aid for sailors even today holding a light beam that can be seen for up to 33 miles away.
And again, absolutely beautiful. Even the walk up to reach it was photo-worthy. The lighting was just so perfect.
La Lanterna...my favorite structure so far
So.....that at least gets you up-to-date on last week and our 1st day trip. I hate it because, I am getting so behind on blogging, but honestly, we go places and see things and photograph faster than I can tell you about them. And this bothers me because by blogging, I'm able to quickly put our experiences down so that I can come back to them and remember what I've seen and what I've done. I know if I don't, I'll forget. But really, we're hardly here, and when we are, it takes so long to process pictures and blog and everyone is always using the internet at the same time. It's fast, but it gets "clogged" up at times.
I do promise (mainly for myself) that I am going to try and do better. We just travel so durn much I can't keep up with it...I'm too busy seeing the world!!! :)
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
On Wednesday, studio began for everyone as well as all of their other classes. We have continued with our Italian and we will have our last class on Sunday. :( So sad. The schedule for not just the semester, but as well as day to day, was given out on Wednesday. Looks like there isn't going to be a whole lot of "in class" time, but more outside, traveling time. Yay!! I know I'm looking forward to it!! And it's been good to finally have some free, "me" (while they're in studio) alone time. I've really enjoyed that. Don't get me wrong, I love everyone here and I love being able to be with my husband 24/7, but everyone needs some ME time every now and then!!
Today we had Italian, and then they had Arch History which got out early so there was some time to spare before lunch. Then lunch came, and afterwards, classes were done for the day!! It will be like that EVERY Friday so we have the opportunity to leave out for weekend trips....I could get used to this. ;)
Have a GREAT weekend!! Ciao!!! :)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Sidenote: Many of you probably do not know this because I've tried not to remember it, but, while we were living in Charleston, I had a MAJOR hair situation that went on for about 3 straight months (regarding every time I showered) and this issue was not fixed until the last 3 days we were there (after I discovered the problem and worked VERY hard to fix it).
So anyways, the pressure here is REALLY good, and I could actually stay in the shower for many, many hours. It's so relaxing!!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
We had a great time, and we were all able to sit at one long table together (about 20 of us). We came back to the villa (after a lovely 25-30 minute brisk walk....HA!) and have been relaxing all evening.
Buona Notte!!! :)
The whole group at dinner!!