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Guido Watch '09

a travel blog by kalib

I'm headed to Italy for three months on a study abroad program. Shenanigans and tomfoolery await...
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The Leave Taking

Seattle, United States

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the road, and If you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." -- Bilbo

permalink written by  kalib on March 24, 2009 from Seattle, United States
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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I primi giorni, the first days

Rome, Italy

Well, I have finally made it to Rome and gotten settled in enough to update you on my life…

Wednesday morning I woke up at 4:00am. I forgot for a second why I was awake, and then remembered, oh yeah, I’m flying to Italy for three months. Wade (my brother) took me to the airport and saw me off. I flew with five people from the Italian program, which was nice. We landed in New York and I had just enough time to go to the bathroom and buy a $9.00 sandwich. The flight into Rome was difficult. The seats were tiny and crammed together, leaving just enough room for my legs. Sleeping was next to impossible, and I probably only managed to get 2 hours in. We landed in Rome at about 6:45am local time, went through customs, got our luggage, and were hustled by illegal taxi drivers before getting real cabs and entering the city. (a note to any future Rome travelers: only get in a taxi that says “commune di roma” or “commune di fiumicino.” The others are illegal and will probably make you pay out the you-know-what). The stereotype that all Italians dress nicely isn’t actually a stereotype at all, it’s completely true! Even our female taxi driver was dressed immaculately.
I share an apartment with 4 other girls in Via Baccina. The southwest end of our street dead-ends at the Roman Forum. A little bit further west is the Coliseum. We are in the Monti District of Rome. It’s beautiful here. Pretty much every street is made of cobblestones and is what we would consider an alley. They are tiny, and usually don’t have sidewalks. Being hit by a car here seems almost unavoidable. I’ve also noticed that everyone is wearing winter coats, despite the fact that yesterday it was in the high 60s and much hotter in the sun. I think Romans must be used to extremely high temperatures. I feel very underdressed in just a jacket.
On our slightly aimless wanderings yesterday, my friends and I stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain. The first thing I noticed was the crowd. The tiny piazza was completely filled with people. The fountain itself, though, was gorgeous. I was distracted from my ponderings by a man trying to give me a flyer about a pizza place nearby. I didn’t want any, I said, but of course he wouldn’t let up. He eventually stopped trying to sell me pizza and changed gears to “You are beautiful. Are you from Obama? What part of Obama are you from?” I decided this could become a very weird conversation and walked quickly away. By lunchtime, the girls and I were exhausted. We were laughing at stupid things so hard that we were crying. At 3:00 we had a meeting at the Rome Center that did not help our sleepiness. I was falling asleep whenever I blinked. We decided to scrap any plans of staying up until a decent hour and just go to bed. We were all asleep by 5:00. I didn’t get up until 7:15am.
This morning I had the best cappuccino, orange juice, and croissant I have ever had in my entire life. The juice had just been squeezed minutes before. The cappuccino was so amazing that I literally couldn’t put it down. And the croissant was filled with the most delicious chocolate. The only downside to it is that I won’t be able to enjoy an American chocolate croissant as much anymore. Our’s have those two small strips of hard chocolate down the center, while the Italian ones have thick, creamy chocolate packed inside that oozes out as you eat it. It took all of my willpower not to buy a second one for the road.
So far my favorite thing to do is start walking towards a destination, but don’t pay much attention to the map. Eventually you find yourself going in the wrong direction in the wrong area, but you discover so much along the way. My apartment mates and I did that earlier this afternoon and ended up having the most amazing lunch (risotto with porcini mushrooms, red wine, and some kind of coffee and gelato dessert) and then wound up at the Coliseum without even meaning to!
Looking at the Coliseum is one of the most thought-provoking experiences in the world. How they managed to build it, how advanced the architecture was, how incomprehensibly old it is, how incredible it must have been in the Roman days…I think the only other thing in the world that could come close would be the pyramids. It’s difficult to convey how strange it is to look at. It’s as if I’m staring at a massive page of a book that has been set up in front of me. Everything surrounding it is real, but the Coliseum itself isn’t.
I have already decided that Rome is a city everyone needs to visit before they die, and I’ve only been here a day and a half

permalink written by  kalib on March 27, 2009 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Molti Informazioni

Monterosso al Mare, Italy

I want to start off by letting everyone know that the earthquake didn't do any damage here in Rome. It didn't even wake me up. So don't worry about me!

Last week was kind of a blur. We started classes on Monday as well as our internships. My group didn't do much in the way of work. We just walked around the city and the museum getting Roman history lessons in italian. I really enjoyed it. Trying to understand a constant stream of italian is mentally exhausting. But eventually you stop trying and just start absorbing what they're saying. It's hard to describe, but it's amazing to realize that you've been understanding someone who is speaking in a foreign language. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty much the same. We went grocery shopping (which is really stressful here!) and made dinner each night at the apartment. It's impressive what a few good ingredients can do for a simple meal! My new favorite things are Caprese salad - just mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil; crostinis (I've always loved the ones my dad makes) - basically the same as a caprese salad but on toasted bread with garlic and olive oil; and pasta with salmon sauteed in paprika, olive oil, and garlic. YUM! I eat sooo much food here.
Also on Tuesday we went up to the Castel Sant'Angelo across the river from our school. It was beautiful and I will add some pictures. We ended up walking along the river all the way back to Tiber Island. There are two large walkways on each side of the river that are far below street level and flanked by walls so you can't see the city at all. The water is an odd green color and there is trash in the trees. But despite the dirt and sometimes the smell, it was peaceful. We met a group of boys that asked us where we were from. I tend to get slightly nervous about europeans finding out I'm american, but these boys responded with "I LOVE America!" Things have really changed since Obama was elected.
On Thursday the UW Rome Center put on a movie night for all of the programs. We watched Gladiator. It's such a good movie! I love seeing the Coliseum intact and Rome as it was back in those times.
On Friday we went as a group (all of the people here studying italian) to the Vatican. I didn't know anything could be more...spectactular...than Westminster Abbey. But I was dead wrong. St. Peter's Basilica has more gold, more marble, more everything than anything I've seen! It was hard to take it all in. We saw Michelangelo's Pieta and a statue of St. Paul from the 15th century and Bernini's baldachin, which is the bronze canopy over the main altar in the basilica. We learned that some of the bronze used in it was taken from the ceiling of the Pantheon. We also learned that according to the contract establishing Vatican City as a sovereign state, Rome is not allowed to build anything taller than the dome of the Basilica that Michelangelo designed. The Pope is a lucky guy to have such an interesting place to live.

After the Vatican, my roommates and I took a train to a small town in the Cinque Terre region called Monterosso. It's right on the Mediterranean and so small that it doesn't even have a supermarket. The instant we stepped off the train, I was in love. In front of me was the sea, and behind me were the mountains. The town is colorful and surprisingly busy. It's full of small locally-owned shops and restaurants. We walked around the town and up to the cemetery on saturday. Almost every grave had flowers on it. It was very different from american graves.
The hills there are covered in trees, grass, cactus, and aloe plants. Everywhere we went there was a view of the sea. That night we had the best food that can be found in the entire world. I can't even describe how amazing it was. But, if you ever find yourself in Monterosso al Mare, go to Via Venti in a street called Via XX Setembre. Rick Steves recommended it, and I will always follow his advice from now on.
At night we went to Fast Bar, the local hangout for the younger crowd. We met a few boys from the town who were impressed with our unusual ability to speak italian. I enjoy disproving stereotypes.
On Sunday my friends Zoe, Molly and I hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza, the next town of the five. It was an intense walk. There were no switch-backs, just stairs going straight up. It felt good to exercise, and I have some beautiful pictures from up on the mountain. In Vernazza we had pizza that blew my mind. It's on the only main street in town, so you can't miss it. Make sure you go there too. After eating we layed out on the ground in the sun. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the water, the forks and knives scraping plates at nearby restaurants, the soft buzz of italian, the light breeze, and the smell of food and the sea mixed together. It was the most peaceful I have ever felt somewhere other than our cabin. I decided then that I need to figure out how to make a living in Cinque Terre and move there. I doubt they have a word for 'stress.'

Now I am back in Rome and the heat, trying to save money.
This week is Holy Week and the city is supposed to be inundated with tourists, people who aren't working, and kids who aren't in school. It's going to be eventful...

permalink written by  kalib on April 6, 2009 from Monterosso al Mare, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Tosta, eh?

Rome, Italy

I should be doing my assignment right now, but my brain just doesn’t want to think in Italian at the moment. I am supposed to make up a short fable about a character in Rome, and all I have so far is that there is going to be an owl flying around the city at night, doing what…I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
This week has been very laid back and uneventful overall. I have eaten way too much gelato and have decided to start working out. My roommate and I discovered a little running park south of the Coliseum that has a dirt path and simple wood and metal workout/stretching equipment. I’ve already been twice this weekend. Today I was walking after I had been jogging for a while, and a guy in his mid twenties passed me, smiled, and said “Tosta, eh?” Now, ‘tosta’ can mean tough, difficult, or determined. It is in the feminine form, but the word ‘run’ can be feminine, as well as ‘path’, or myself (since I’m a girl). This means that he could either have been referring to the run being difficult, in which case he would be making fun of me because he was having an easy time of it and not walking like I was; or he was saying that I was determined or tough, which could also be sarcastic since my face was pretty red. So I have come to the conclusion that he was either being nice, mean, or teasing. The Italian language makes me crazy! Although this line of thinking did provide me with some distraction for the next bit of jogging I had to do.
The other exciting thing we did was on Friday with my Italian group. We went on a tour of some of the cities’ Baroque and Gothic churches. Caravaggio has now become one of my favorite painters. I don’t have a list of the churches with me right now, but I will put of some of Caravaggio’s paintings that I got to see.
Last night my roommates and I walked around the city a bit. We decided to go the the “best gelatteria in Rome.” The closer we got to it, the more crowded the streets became. Even at 11pm the place was packed with people! It took us a while to realize that you have to prepay for the size you want and then take your ticket up to the counter. Once we did this and managed to shove our way into the crowd to see the flavors, I decided on Biscotto and Frutti di Bosco. I had no idea what Biscotto was, but the other is essentially mixed berry. But, silly me, when I told the guy what I wanted the Italian language failed me yet again. Instead of saying “frutti di bosco” I came out with “frutti di mare.” I asked for shellfish gelato. The guy behind the counter instantly started laughing at me and told all of his coworkers in the back. I don’t blame him, I was laughing pretty hard myself. After scooping everything on my cone he then asked if I wanted ‘panna,’ whipped cream. I said no, which prompted him to ask if I would rather have fish on top. I felt pretty silly, but I think I made his night a little bit funnier, so I’m ok with it. Once I got outside out of the crowd and told my friends my funny anecdote, I took a lick of my gelato. Wow. I can’t even describe how wonderfully, amazing, delicious, fresh, mouthwatering, awesome, absolutely perfect it was! Seriously good gelato. So, if you ever find yourself here, not only do you need to watch out for illegal taxis and see the Coliseum, you have to go to Giolotti near the Pantheon. I would suggest going late at night. They’re open until 1:30 am every day, and I can’t image how bad the crowd is when tourists are mobbing the Pantheon in the early afternoon.
Tomorrow we go to Umbria. We’re staying in a little town called Corciano, but exploring Perugia and Assisi. Assisi is apparently where the Franciscan Monks began and where St. Francis is buried. It should be a fun place!

permalink written by  kalib on April 16, 2009 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Goin' South

Rogliano, Italy

It’s been a long time since I last updated this! They shut off the internet in our apartment during our last week in Rome. It wasn’t the best timing for me! And since then I haven’t had internet access until now.
Umbria was beautiful. We stayed in a villa and they fed us twice every day. I love not spending money on food! There were lilacs everywhere! And oddly, snails. Perugia is a really pretty place. I bet it’s gorgeous in the winter covered in snow. Nothing too important happened that weekend, though. It was mostly just a nice rest. The beds! The beds were like sleeping on clouds. I never wanted to get out from under the covers. It was difficult to go back to Rome and my cot.
On the 24th we went to the Roman Forums, the Palatine Hill, and the Coliseum. They were pretty amazing, of course. But we didn’t have time to go into the Palatine Gardens, which sounded like fun. I’m planning on going back there with my friends in June, so I can tell you all about it in a month or so. The Coliseum is still my favorite after seeing the inside. It’s definitely not a disappointment, and the crowds weren’t too bad. I had to take a second to picture it put together, but when I did my mind blew up a little bit. I just can’t imagine humans possessing the knowledge of how to build something like that over 2,000 years ago! Think about it! How in the world did they manage it!? I might need to go back and do some more pondering. But I would suggest that you watch Gladiator. It’s a great movie AND you get to see the Coliseum “as it was.”
We went to the Vatican Museum on the 30th of April. That place is always packed with people! I can’t imagine how bad it’s going to be in the summer. We didn’t have much time to look at things, so I don’t have a lot to say. I’m hoping to go back when my friends are here and see a lot more. The one thing we absolutely had to see was the Sistine Chapel. It took quite a while to get there, though. You end up walking in a slow-moving mass of people through a bunch of elaborately painted hallways and past massive sculptures. Eventually you get to Rafael’s rooms. He painted a sequence of beautiful rooms that are almost impossible to appreciate due to the amount of people constantly being crammed into them. There is a description of each in the middle, but getting to it can be difficult. Every room was hot enough to make me sweat within seconds and people were always pushing. If you can manage to find a nook off to the side, though, the paintings are beautiful. After walking past some modern religious art, you finally get to the Sistine Chapel. Everyone spills into this large room and immediately looks up. Every single surface of the chapel is painted, and the floor is covered in people. The whole room looks full. It’s a bit dizzying. At first I was extremely disappointed by the paintings. They looked disjointed and plain. But after finding a good spot on the floor where no one would bump into me, and really looking at Michelangelo’s work, I started to appreciate how amazing it was. The detail is hard to see because it’s so far away, but it really is beautiful. He did a fresco on the wall where you enter the chapel that, in my opinion, is underappreciated. If you get to hear some history about it, it’s pretty cool. His self-portrait in it is grim, but my favorite.
I was more than ready for some good Italian food after that experience, so my friends and I went to a little place called simply, “Pizzeria,” at the southern end of the Largo Argentina (where Julius Caesar was murdered, and where there are now countless cats). It was the best pizza I have ever had. I’m pretty sure it even trumped the pizza in Vernazza.
Since this was our last night in Rome, we decided to get gelato and hang out at the Coliseum. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Rome. I loved living there. There was always something to see and do and learn. I felt like I had gotten to know my way around and I felt comfortable. It felt almost like home. The girls I lived with and I had become good friends and didn’t want to be without each other. But on the other hand, I couldn’t wait for the south of Italy. The air in Rome is extremely dirty, and city life can be draining. I was also looking forward to seeing a rural part of the country, and staying with a family for 5 weeks.
We left Rome on Friday the 1st of May for a small town in the south called Paestum. It’s right on the sea and has ancient Greek temples from the 6th century BC! The weather was beautiful and I LOVED it. The temples are in a field of wild grass and wheat and blend in perfectly. I was beyond happy to walk slowly around the ruins, through the grass, and just appreciate where I was and what I was seeing. At one point my friends and I stopped in the theatre and sat on the steps. I know I’ve said this a lot, but it was so cool! How often do you get to sit on the same seats, looking at the same view as ancient Greeks did over 2,500 years ago? I can’t believe I’m this lucky.
On the 2nd, we continued on to Rogliano, the small town in Calabria where we would be staying for the next 5 weeks. On the way I saw the most beautiful valley I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know what it’s called or where exactly it is, but I have already decided that I will find it again. It made me a little homesick, though. Seeing that sort of thing makes me want to show my parents, which in turn makes me miss them because they’re half a world away. But thanks to technology, after a quick text to the parentals, I felt much better.
That afternoon is a bit of a nervous haze. My friend Madeline (who lived with me in Rome) and I met our family and were immediately taken home. There are five of them total, Antonella and Cosimo, the parents; Michela who is 17; Francesco who is 12; and Annamaria who is 9. They have 2 cats, 3 pigs, chickens, rabbits, 2 dogs, a puppy, bees, and a horse. I love it here! Over these past two weeks I’ve gotten really close with the whole family. They are wonderful people. Cosimo keeps calling us his daughters and telling us that when we leave in June he won’t be able to eat anything because he will be too sad! They’ve thrown two parties for us and our friends where they made LOTS of food. One of them was at our house, and they made pizzas outside in a real pizza oven! The other was at their restaurant. I eat so much at lunch and dinner that I usually feel like throwing up after every meal! But they keep telling me I need to eat and that I can diet after the program when I’m in Greece. I can’t help but eat more! Antonella taught Madeline and me how to make gnocchi from scratch the other day! I hope I can recreate them at home. And she made the most amazing Tiramisu I have ever had! And the Canelloni! I barely fit my pants anymore…
Tomorrow I go to Taurmina in Sicily with almost everyone from the program. I am looking forward to evening out my tan, swimming, relaxing, and not eating for 3 days! I’m pretty sure I’m going to come home completely blonde. My hair is getting lighter every day, and I’m getting more freckles by the minute! You guys probably won’t recognize me!

permalink written by  kalib on May 14, 2009 from Rogliano, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Taormina, Italy

I woke up bright and early to catch the bus to Sicily Friday morning. We took over almost every seat! The countryside was beautiful. It didn't get dry until we were in Sicily. I was suprised by the amount of green. But there are cacti everywhere, as well as olive trees and old, stone farm houses. It took about 3 to 4 hours to get there, including a ferry ride. Taormina is beautiful. It’s a small town that sits on a cliff above the Mediterranean. There were tourists everywhere, but when you get past that, it’s really charming. We, being poor college students in Europe, stayed in a small town a few miles away called Giardini Naxos. It was on the water, which was perfect for what I wanted out of the trip: a tan. Before going to Sicily I made sure to buy sunscreen. It was 15 euro because hardly anyone here burns, but I needed it enough to pay that much. Our hostel was only about a ten-minute walk from the beach. We sunbathed a bit on Friday once we got settled, but there wasn’t enough time to do much else. About 13 of us from the program went out to pizza for dinner. It was amazing. I don’t know if I will ever be able to eat American pizza again. We went to the beach that night to just talk and watch the waves. I was so happy! Some of us ended up not going to bed until 5 in the morning. And the next day I woke up at 8:30 to go to Mt. Etna. Sadly, there were no buses there on that day. We still don’t know why. I’m sad that I didn’t get to hike the volcano. It would have been so cool! Instead we walked around Taormina in the pouring rain. Sicily is famous for its ceramics, and I found some pretty cool stuff. Madeline and I bought a bottle opener for our family in Rogliano. I almost spent a lot of money I don’t have on some amber earrings. They were so tempting! Instead I bought a cannoli, which is a hard pastry wrapped around sweet ricotta cheese, dipped in pistachios. AMAZING. Thinking about it right now has made my mouth water. I also had a blood-orange juice that was wonderful. They don’t seem to have regular orange juice in the south. All I’ve seen are blood-oranges. And I’m not complaining. I stayed up late again, but managed to get a nap in earlier in the day. On Sunday we went to the beach bright and early. On the way I bought water, strawberries, and a banana for my breakfast. It was a nice change not to be completely stuffed after a meal. We sunbathed for about 6 hours. It was wonderful. I even swam once. But the surf was rough and I had to swim far out to get away from the big waves. I came back in pretty fast because the water was sandy and all I could think of was that sharks like murky water. Those sharks always ruin my salt-water swims. And the Mediterranean is SALTY. After getting out I had dried salt stuck to my entire body. It looked like I was shedding my skin! The sun is also much stronger here than I have ever experienced in my life. I came to Italy as a brunette and am now very much a blond. After our day in the sun, I went to bed early. The next day Madeline and I headed up to Taormina early to get some gelato and sit at the piazza overlooking the water. It was an extremely hot day, and my gelato melted all over my skirt. But I didn’t really mind because it was so pretty. We left Sicily at about 2pm on Monday. We took the same bus route back to Rogliano, and it was still beautiful. My friend and I listened to Disney songs and sang the whole way back.
The last 4 weeks have been a bit of a blur. I don’t feel like I’ve been here very long, but school is out tomorrow. I can’t believe it. I have learned so much Italian staying with a family. I’m still not very good at conjugating verbs and tenses on the fly, but I think they understand me better now. I bought all of the train tickets I need for the next 4 weeks, and I decided to go to Greece…alone. It’s a pretty big decision for me because I tend to get really nervous about that sort of thing. But I’m excited to do something completely and utterly alone for once in my life. I don’t speak the language, I’ve never been there before, and I don’t know a single person. Wow.
Here is my schedule: on the 6th of June some friends and I are going to Sorrento. On the 10th I fly out of Naples into Athens. I will be there until the 13th, when I fly out of Athens to Corfu City in Corfu, an island on the west side of Greece. I will be there until the 15th, when I take a night ferry to Bari, Italy. It’s a 9 hour ferry ride on which I will be sitting outside. That is going to be an adventure in itself. I arrive in Bari on the 16th and take a train to Rogliano. I will be back here for about 4 days before I go to Rome on the 21st. My friends fly in on the morning of the 22nd. We will stay in Rome until the 25th, when we go to Venice. On the 26th we leave Venice for Munich. We will be there until the 28th when we take a night train to Paris. We leave Paris on the 30th for London. On the 6th of July we will fly home and get to Seattle on the 7th! I’m excited to do all of this stuff, but at the same time I miss home. I also don’t want to leave Rogliano. I love my family. Right now my little sister is sitting on my bed playing with my iPhone. I’m going to miss them a lot! But I guess I should be more excited since my summer officially starts in about 22 hours…I love not having finals!

permalink written by  kalib on June 3, 2009 from Taormina, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Summer's Beginning

Sorrento, Italy

After a very tearful goodbye to our family, Madeline, some other friends, and I hopped on a train to Naples. Madeline and I left our friends on the train because they were headed to Rome. It was really sad to leave them. We both cried quite a bit that day. But I decided not to cry anymore, and stuck to it pretty well. We met up with the other girls who we lived with in Rome and headed to Sorrento. Our hostel was really nice, but full of Americans who enjoyed partying quite a bit more than I do. We relaxed and walked around the town, saying goodbye to a different person every day. Eventually, only Zoe and I were left.
We went into Naples one afternoon to find a pizza place that my Italian friend told me about. Naples is the most diverse city in Italy that I have ever seen. It's crowded and a bit dirty, but I liked it. Although, it's famous for purse-snatchings. I kept mine close by at all times. The next day, she and I went to Pompeii, where I have wanted to go since I was little. It was amazing, and of course, sad. The town is huge! The bodies were incredible to see. On some of them you could still see their clothes.
We had spent the whole morning in the sun, and were quite hot and exhausted. So we decided to go down to the water and relax for the afternoon. Swimming in the Mediterranean is one of my favorite things. It's so salty that you float without any effort. And it's so clear that you can see straight to the bottom. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the sun and swimming in the sea. It was wonderful. The next morning, I left bright and early for Athens.

permalink written by  kalib on June 10, 2009 from Sorrento, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Athens, Greece

I arrived in Athens and realized right away how much I disliked not knowing a single word of the language. I felt bad speaking completely in English, but there really wasn't much I could do about it. I made my way into the city from the airport, but had a hard time finding my hostel. I hadn't written down directions from the subway because I thought a map would suffice. However, my hostel was too far north from the center of the city to be on the map! I finally got there using my iPhone. It was getting dark by the time I got settled, so I only ventured out to the grocery store to get my dinner. I didn't feel like getting lost alone in a city I didn't know. The next day I spent 7 straight hours outside walking around the ancient ruins. I found out afterwards that it was about 93 degrees. I drank more water than I have this entire trip! The Acropolis was amazing. You could see the entire city circling it. In the Ancient Agora I made friends with a tortoise and then ate my apple while looking at the ruins. I lead a pretty interesting life, I must say. On the way home I did some shopping in a nice, air-conditioned store.
The next day I went to the archaeological museum. They had some amazing things. One of the rooms had artifacts from 2500-2300 BC! The Greeks have been producing beautiful art for longer than I had imagined possible. After getting my fill of ancient culture for the day, I went out to get some from the modern Greece. I went to a leather sandal-maker and bought a pair that I love. While I was there, a woman bought 7 pairs! And they aren't exactly cheap! I also found an english bookstore. I bougt Robinson Crusoe because I too was on a solo adventure which at one point involved a boat. Being alone in a foreign country wasn't as strange as I had anticipated. I didn't feel sad or alone at all. The only thing that was different was that I didn't feel safe being by myself after dark. I'm glad I decided to go despite my reservations.

permalink written by  kalib on June 13, 2009 from Athens, Greece
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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The Island

Kerkyra, Greece

After Athens, I visited an island on the west side of the country called Corfu. The minute I got there, I was happy. It turns out I love small towns. I feel so much more comfortable and calm outside of the city. And Kerkyra is a beautiful place. The water is the most beautiful I have seen thus far. I was so excited to have a room in a real hotel. I had a bedroom and a bathroom all to myself! Those were the only two times that I have been alone, or will be alone, this entire trip in Europe. It was wonderful! I spent the first morning and afternoon at the water, lounging in the sun and swimming. I could even see fish around me when I was in the water! It was so cool! I (finally) got tan, too! My hair is almost completely blond now. No one is going to recognize me!
I walked around the town a little that night and wrote in my travel journal. I loved sitting by the water and the boats, smelling the sea and listening to the waves. I want to go back someday. The next day I walked around the town some more and sat by the water reading. There isn't much to tell from this part of my trip because I really didn't do anything. It was perfect!
I caught my ferry at 10pm and slept on and off for the rest of the night in a chair. I woke up to take pictures of the Sunrise and then went back to sleep. Once we got into Bari, Italy I made my way to the train station and then to Rogliano. I had to take 4 trains in 7 hours in order to get to Rogliano at a decent hour that day. It was a lot of travelling, but at least there was a home-cooked meal and a bed waiting for me at the end of it. I slept in until after 1pm the next day. I'm glad I have this time to relax before heading out on my next European adventure.

permalink written by  kalib on June 18, 2009 from Kerkyra, Greece
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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Again in Roma

Rome, Italy

Staying with my Italian family again involved mostly sleep. I didn’t experience a single morning there. I knew traveling with the girls would wear me out. After a few days, and yet another tearful goodbye to the family, I hopped on a bus at midnight and made my way to Rome. You would think that after multiple nights spent in chairs that I would be used to it, but sadly that’s not the case, and I didn’t get much sleep at all. I did get to see another sunrise, though. After a lugging my suitcase through the metro system, I made it to my hostel and dropped off my stuff before going to the airport to meet Heather and Kahea. I ended up waiting for them for over two hours! It turned out that the airline had accidentally marked Kahea’s bag to be delivered the next day. She was a little stressed out, but handled it like a trooper. I had been pretty homesick the past week, but when I saw the girls, I was happy. I can handle being here another two weeks now. Immediately after getting our beds we set off for the Roman forums and the Coliseum. The girls were excited, but so tired they could hardly do anything but walk slowly and snap pictures. The Coliseum was still amazing. And Rome was still Rome, only hotter. I had only had about an hour of sleep the night before and the girls were faring even worse, so we went to bed early. Six o’clock to be exact. The next day, we woke up at a decent hour and went to the Vatican. We were all peppier and enjoyed ourselves. That place still blows my mind. Afterwards we ate pizza at the Largo Argentina, marveled at the Pantheon, and got gelato at my favorite place, Giolitti. I am going to miss that place. I am going to miss ALL these places. We spent the third day, the 24th, at the beach outside Rome. It was absolutely wonderful! A whole day lying on the beach next to the Mediterranean with my best friends is my idea of relaxation. Heather and I went swimming, which is when she stepped on a jellyfish. That part wasn’t so much fun, but we got some sort of Italian liquid for jellyfish stings that made her feel much better. Since she couldn’t walk, I went up to the bar to get her a Carona. The bartender asked me if I was sixteen, and didn’t believe me when I said I was twenty-one. It’s good to know that my (extremely) youthful looks are obvious in every country. Tomorrow we will be leaving Rome for Venice!

permalink written by  kalib on June 22, 2009 from Rome, Italy
from the travel blog: Guido Watch '09
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