The Gateway

The Gateway
The separation between life and death

Monday, October 31, 2011

Travel Week~

Day 1, October 29th, Roma:
All right, day one of travel week! The day's events were...well, eventful. Like all good plans, it flopped fabulously, yet I'm still here to type about yet another day in glorious Italy, this time from Rome. We (Lauren, Becca, Shane, and I) caught a cab from the villa at 6 am, of course getting four to five hours of sleep the night before, and arrived at the train station in Perugia somewhere around 6:20. Our train left somewhere around 7:40, so us three girls activated our Eurail passes, while Shane stood by encouragingly, ticket already in hand. On a side note, our teller definitely looked like a Gringotts goblin. It was the greatest. We then sat around, killing time, and wondering why our train wasn't showing up on the board, but not thinking much of it because it was on a printed sheet on the wall. By the way, if this ever happens to you, look into it. Seriously. Don't sit around and wait until time and find out, as we did, that the website Shane bought his ticket from had actually booked his ticket for the 30th instead of the 29th, completely against his wishes. Therefore: Shane had to buy another ticket for a much later time and we worried about the people we were planning to meet up with in Roma.
Thus, we wandered Roma. Only around Termini Station though...we didn't really want to get lost. We attempted to find internet for a long while, and were successful, but found out it required the equivalent of an Italian social security number to be used. Also a European phone number. But most importantly: they track their's weird. And super creepy. But anyway. We did not ever actually get internet access and were forced to eventually relocate back to the train station, though a very sweet Italian lady did try very much to help us with her limited English. And so we returned to the stazione~
Our trip then continued without any real hitch, and we spent a good three hours or so riding the train, in a very lethargic manner. “I feel like” was burned into the ground between Shane and I, and also I realized I hadn't played Elite Beat Agents in a rather long time. Aside from that, I don't remember anything particular about our conversations, and so I will cut to our anxious arrival in Roma. However, we quickly managed to find our meet up, and then carried on. Deciding to go ahead and book our night train ticket for that evening, we quickly ran into difficulties when we found out it would be 33 euros each to reserve a seat on any train leaving Roma that night. We then decided to put off the decision and decision making until later, switching errands into the immediate issue at hand. We split with Shane about an hour later, him going off to carry on adventures of his own, and our party was finally alone and completely female. We ventured off to find a bancomat and a supermarket...and also a bathroom.
Almost immediately after visiting a bancomat, an Italian stopped us and asked if we were looking for a hostel. While we were not searching for a place to stay that night, we were in need of a supermarket, which he happily directed us to. Aaaand...then we did grocery shopping. The details of that are private however, thank you. We did not find a bathroom though. So, shortly after that, we quickly went hunting for both a cheap place to eat and also a place with a restroom. We found both just around the corner, and split a pizza margherita between the three of us. We also gained a business card from our quirky waiter, guaranteeing us 10% off the next time we visited. It also had a tiny heart on it, which is going in my future scrapbook. From there, we came to the conclusion we needed to go ahead and resolve our locational dilemma. We tiredly made our way back to the train station and sat down to plan out the next few days, after finding out exactly how to reserve night trains for 3 euros.
However, while sitting and planning, we ran into Shane again~ His party ran into equal amounts of difficulty in their travel plans, and they were stuck, like us, until tomorrow. After deciding to stay the night in Roma with them, we managed to plan out about half of the next week for ourselves. Our plan for tomorrow, with the addition of Shane's group, includes Pisa, for the day only~ I'll be sure to let you lovely followers know where I am after that on Monday...keeping in mind that internet is currently scarce, and most of these day to day chronicles will be published on the same day, just separately. Oh well~ Ciao!
(Additions to the night's events) – So if you're in a foreign country, and are very low on winter clothes and comfortable places to sit, do not spend the night in a train station. But otherwise, you're good! We spent the night sitting on the platform, getting little to no sleep, until 6:10 am, which was when our train to Pisa left. We were badgered by strange Italians a couple of times, as well as noticed that rats were living down in the train tracks. But anyway, I thought I'd include how long that night was for us, even with several of us watching out.
Day 2, October 30th, Pisa:
As you know already, we left the Roma Termini Stazione for Pisa at 6:10 am, after a rather cold, long night on the platform. I can't actually tell you how that trip went because I was asleep for all of it...I think at that point I'd been up for about 24 hours, though I'm not positive. Either way, we had a four hour train ride, and arrived in Pisa. Currently, I'm sitting on a park bench there, typing this out to you, and the weather is amazing~ The sun is shining, with a slight breeze, and there's not a person in sight (unless you count the cars racing by on the road). Our first order of business was of course to go and seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which was probably about a mile or so from the station.
It was a rather uneventful walk, so forgive me as I skip the details. I will however tell you that Pisa is a rather beautiful city, and the area around the Tower, baptistery, and cathedral set is full of greenery. Also full of tourists pretending they're holding up the Tower in photos. Seriously, I lost count on how many people I saw posing for that. But, the whole area was rather beautiful. Because it's Sunday, we weren't allowed to wander through the cathedral, only to stand in narthex and observe the building. It was quite pretty though, and had a very large amount of baroque art adorning the walls. We could also see the large Pantokrator mosaic on the top of the apse, though we couldn't get close enough to see it very well. Only from quite a distance.
I will admit that today hasn't been particularly interesting, compared to the potential for adventure we may have in other cities, but it's been rather comfortable and not too strenuous, especially since we haven't been traveling steadily for a while now. From the cathedral, we left to find some lunch, and then we went on a quest for a park to sit around and talk in...which we found and are now doing! And so with that, I will leave you to wonder what my tomorrow and this evening has in store, and will type an update the next chance I get. Ciao~

Monday, October 17, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow~

Heeeeeeeeeey! No one's mad that it's been over a week since I updated, right? Right! I'm glad we're all good friends, willing to forgive easily~ So where was I? Oh yes...

Two Thursdays ago! That would be the day we saw David. Who was rather amazing! And I personally believe his facial expression and stance indicate that the moment takes place right after he's thrown his stone, and is waiting to see how it will impact Goliath. Or before he throws the stone. But definitely not after. Just so everyone knows. David is also without a doubt the best Michelangel I've seen on this adventure...though I still stand by Bernini as my favorite sculptor. Apollo and Daphne or The Rape of Persephone...but I can't decide which I like more. But those are predictable favorites, so I'll carry on. Aside from David, there was little else particularly remarkable to witness in the Galleria dell'Academia. though I did see a neat video about how to make a triptych with gold leaf. A mini triptych.

And then we had a free day in Firenze~ Most of the day was devoted to shopping in the market, which means I have officially finished all of my Christmas shopping! Huzzah! And everything will be much more special to people, since it came from Italy. Nothing too interesting after that though.

And then Saturday, and a journey from Firenze to our final destination for most of the semester! There was little as far as events go that happened...though I did have McDonald's in the train station! ...and yes, I am properly ashamed. In my defense, I hadn't had a proper burger in a rather long time. Then we left, and I napped on the train. Yay~ Then we hit...Perugia~ We rode in a bus over to the villa we're currently residing in for the rest of the term, which can be viewed here: That villa can also be compared to something like heaven. We get three homecooked meals a day here, and only have two classes. I'll cover this last week all at once now, since the events happen much less often now.

Since arriving at the villa, we went to the wine tasting festival Sunday afternoon, up in Corciano (within walking distance), which was quite fun. I bought some fantastic Italian honey while I was there~ The week was a blur of art history review lectures from Mark and Jim, and also our first two Italian classes~ I'm so excited to finally be learning the language! Come se dice 'excited'...? Bah. Maybe later. Our Italian teacher is adorable and fantastic though, and I wholeheartedly enjoy her class. That Thursday shone on our "final" for art history class, which was titled the Italy Bowl. Which was, quite simply, a giant Jeopardy game, with an art history theme. Naturally, my team won....we did win actually, but we had to creep up from behind and win at the last second. A few of us very nearly passed out when we saw the winning question, because we knew the answer. We had to calm down in order to dictate our response. But it was great times, and I owe a lot to my fellow teammates: Kelsey, Lauren, Melissa P, and River~

And now the best part of villa life! We have no class for Friday thru Sunday! So Friday was a long day of total laziness for me, while the majority of our group went to a lake. They say it was fun. I'm sure it was. I had lots of fun sleeping and sitting around. Also preparing for travel week~ But mostly relaxing. Then we spent Saturday at the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia! We gained 90 cent pizza slices and much chocolate...and fun times were had by all~ That was...two days ago! Yesterday was another day of total laziness, and then today was the first day we had only drawing class~ Which we're also taking, by the way. We learned about our projects (which are due next Thursday...ugh), and I managed to finish all of my thumbnails planning for the projects in the 5 hours of class we had today~ They were cumulative, not consecutive, don't worry. Aaaaand....that's the end of today! And I feel up to date~ Tomorrow is a day trip to Perugia, and the day after we are spending the day in Assisi~ I will hopefully have updated by the end of the day in Assisi, but who knows how that will go...

Until next time, ciao~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clearly Lacking

Everybody remember the last time I posted and said I was terrible at keeping up with journaling? No? Maybe you should go back to that and reread it...and maybe just check the difference in date between that post and this one. Eight days, guys. I never claimed to be good with keeping up. So this post will mostly be comprised of paragraphs summarizing the might be a little lengthy, but I'm hoping to get caught up.

All right, where did I leave off...Thursday, September 29th. The morning dawned cold and blustery, the sky dark, filled with heavy clouds just waiting to open - no, wait, this is an art history blog. But it was funny, right? Right?  Never mind. At any rate, that day just so happened to be Vatican day. And let me tell you, the Vatican is rather amazing. I got a first rate tour of it, sightseeing with only my good friend Becca and two of my professors. The things we were saw were, first and foremost, exactly what most people expect to go and see when they visit, plus thousands of other things...which I might remember a quarter of. By far the best thing I saw there, surprisingly, was a Dali painting. It's called Angellic Landscapes, look it up. But I don't know what to tell that point, and definitely right now, I just feel that I've been exposed to so many masterpieces that I can't bring myself to be really struck by everything anymore. It's a little heartbreaking, but I still see things that do impact me deeply, and I continue to learn. I just simply couldn't really into all that much detail about the things I've seen. Sorry, sorry. But....the Vatican. Yes. Definitely worth a visit, but make sure you have a whole day for it!

I'm just going to gloss over these next two days...on the 30th, we had a free day and so we repacked everything and sat around. We had a semi-fancy Italian meal that later made me sick, but it was still a good time. Saturday, the 1st, we all boarded the train to Firenze (That's Florence, for those who don't know.). And better. The air is terrible, and incredibly smoggy, and there are a lot of people still. But the markets, the people, and just the atmosphere is much, much better I think. I'm currently sitting in a small Cafe, maybe ten minutes walk from our hotel writing this, and I love where I am. I plan to pursue writing in coffee shops more often when I get back from Europe.

So the 2nd dawned bright and early for us, and the day's activities included the Florence Cathedral and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo...Museum of the Dome or something like that. The Florence Cathedral is beautiful, and I will be posting pictures later, so you may see for yourself...but let me just go ahead and say now that everything I've seen in Florence has been much emptier than the things I saw in Rome. Maybe because my enthusiasm for the sightseeing is taking a steep dive, but I haven't seen many things to be impressed by. Definitely not this day, past the initial "Wow, that's really beautiful!"

Tuesday, the 3rd. The day of the Uffizi. Which should definitely be a book title. Just sayin'. At any rate, I'm just going to say that the Birth of Venus is absolutely beautiful, and Botticelli is quite an artist. I would also like to say how incredibly happy I am that I was able to stand a foot away from the Venus of Urbino. It was Gorgeous. Note that capital G. Those are perks...aside from that, I have to beg forgiveness on not much more detail. It was a beautiful museum, but only a small group of paintings held any deep meaning for me.

And now for today's events! The morning was spent in an archaeological museum, which housed the Chimera. I also saw the Kouros, which was an unexpected surprise. The Chimera was definitely the highlight of that museum for me...everything else was just another passing blur. It really almost made me want to cry with frustration, that I can see so many amazing things and be so completely numbed to it all. But that's another story. Afterwards, I ventured up to the top of the Dome with Johan and Shane...which was so worth the 8 euros we paid. The view from the Dome is unbelievable. It truly is. Even after the hundreds of incredibly steep, stone steps one must climb to get there. Perhaps I'll change my blog picture to one of the pictures taken there later on. After lunchtime had passed, we also carried on to the Cappelle Medici, the main point of which was Michelangelo's "Night and Day". As I earlier told my teacher, I felt very...neutral towards the sculptures. I've almost come to the point where I think Michelangelo's a pretty cool guy, but not quite as spectacular as he's always been made out to be. Call me blasphemous and hang me for heresy, but there's my current opinion. Then again, I haven't seen David yet...that's all tomorrow. But I can't predict the future, so you'll have to wait for that to unfold later.

For now, I leave you with this summary of my days and my sincerest apologies for not continuing to update daily with my activities. I'm really trying to get better about it! Ciao for now~