Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye Dublin

Well Dublin, it's been a fun time. Hopefully I will come back to this beautiful country again and get to spend more time here, but until then I bid you farewell!
I'm off to the airport which will take me to Eindhoven and eventually I will end up in Amsterdam today! Ready or not here I come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cliffs of Moher

So yesterday I woke up at the crack of dawn to go to the Cliffs of Moher. I'm pretty proud of myself for making it there and back with only minimal injuries. I figured out which buses to take and when was the best time to take them so I wouldn't come home super late, but of course that meant waking up at 5:30 to catch the first bus out (the Cliffs are a 5 hour drive from Dublin so it was necessary). Since being in Dublin I have yet to experience Irish food yet, I'm ashamed to admit this but I'm kind of on a budget so I've been living off of snickers and Spar food (Spar is a convenience store that has taken over Dublin, there's one on almost every street I walk by) but tonight I will splurge and buy some real food since I'm leaving tomorrow. Any way the Cliffs were really awesome, it wasn't too cold or windy the first few hours I was there so walking around them was really pretty. It's weird that they don't have walls that keep you from falling off of the cliffs, I just kept thinking to myself that someone could just push me over and walk on and no one would be the wiser, its a weird feeling to think you could die at even a sudden gust of wind. Anywho on to lighter subjects. I walked on the cliffs for a while (slipped in some mud and busted up my elbow too, but I was in no danger of falling off I was just being careless) taking a bunch of pictures and I did a timelapse of the clouds moving over the cliffs. Hopefully it turned out since I'll need it for my photography final but I'll worry about that later. I chilled inside the visitor center once the clouds covered the sun and waited for my bus back to Dublin. That pretty much sums up my Tuesday.
Today I was planning on going hiking in the Wicklow park but the weather called for rain today so I took a pass on that and instead explored the city some more. I've been told to find crunchies and flakes or else I didn't actually have an Irish experience so I'll find those when I go out tonight. I painted a bit in a food court and did a timelapse of that. Of course I got some weird looks from people as they looked at my setup but I didn't really care, this timelapse is probably pretty bad so it was more for fun than requirement. Currently I am holed up in blankets on my bed at the hostel because it's pretty chilly and windy today, which I figured made it a good blogging day. Also a good Netflix day I watched Snowpiercer (it has Chris Evan (Captain America guy) in it so I was intrigued, but for anyone thinking of watching it it's pretty stupid and I advise against it it's a waste of two hours) and a bit of How I Met Your Mother. I know it's quite pathetic of me to be on the computer when I should be enjoying a new country but the fact of the matter is, it's not much fun exploring by yourself and I'm kind of over this traveling thing so I'm being lazy and doing what I would be doing if I were at home right now. 
Tomorrow I fly out of Dublin to Eindhoven at 1:15 and from there take a train to Amsterdam which is where I will meet my beloved Amber. Of course she won't meet me until later that night so I'll have most of the afternoon to figure out another country (one with a much more difficult language) before I get my own personal guide (get ready Amber to deal with helpless me). Anyway on with the pretty stuff that's always at the end!
Cows! Yay cows, there's lot of them around here.
A wee wittle bird. So cute.
A view of the cliffs.
The other side of the cliffs.
I could've walked right off into the ocean. There were a lot of suicide prevention posters around, I imagine it's not uncommon. 

I love how green everything is even in the middle of November.
Some silhouetted walkers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On leaving Italy

The past few days have been exhausting. As I said earlier Thursday night was our Gala (and Italian Thanksgiving) and with it being the last night we would all be together we stayed up wayy too late (like almost 3am) and sang a lot of karaoke (because that's just what you do apparently). So needless to say the Friday morning was a bit rough for everyone. To top it off Rosella comes in and tells us that there is a train strike in Italy so the trains we were hoping to take to get us to Rome probably wouldn't be running. Great. We were all a bit worried at this point but Rosella took care of us, she found buses that will get us there and even tried to get our money back for the train tickets we were unable to use (stinking strike). So around 1:30 10 of us and Rosella made our way to the bus station. Earlier that morning Dave and Cassandra had left for the airport already so our numbers were down. A group of me and 5 others were to get a hotel together and then 3 others were at another hotel, Mike came to the station to say by to us as he's the only one flying out on Saturday afternoon. So we had a 4 hour bus ride instead of a 2 hour train ride, there was not much sleeping to say that much. Once we finally made it to the airport we had to find the shuttle to our hotel and then we waited. It was nice to just sit and enjoy everyone talking one of the final times. Once at the hotel we quickly dropped off our stuff and made way for our last meal as a group in Italy (how sad is that). We had pizza and fries (patatine frittes in italian) and made our way back to the hotel for the night. Chris was leaving super early in the morning to catch his 6am flight so we said by to him before going to bed. It's so sad seeing our group slowly disperse.
At 5am Saturday we all were up and ready to leave (the remaining 5 of us) and left for the airport at 5:30. Two more were dropped off at terminal 5 and then the last of us went to terminal 3. We all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, which led me to the train station taking me to the city center of Rome (lucky me, flight doesn't leave till 9... PM) so I could spend one last day in Rome. I had a ticket for the Borghese at 9, so I wandered around trying to find the place (I may have spent a week in Rome, but I only know how to get to places from where we were staying not from the Termini station) and so I was lost for a bit. It was nearing 8:30 and I knew I had to get there soon so I gave up searching and hailed a taxi. The museum was awesome, there was only two floors but it was awesome. The top floor was paintings done by artists in the renaissance. The bottom floor were the sculptures and the really good ones were done by Bernini. He was an amazing sculptor, Dave described his work as making the marble liquid so he could shape it and then magically turning it back to hard marble when he finished (yes he was that good). So I oogled at those for a while then made out of the museum. I pretty much stayed in the Borghese gardens for the next few hours taking a few pictures here and there and reading a book (Gone Girl, I haven't seen the movie but I'm sure the book is much better so you all should read it). It was pretty chilly and looked like rain so I started moving again and made my way to the Colosseum so I could ooh and ahh at it one last time before leaving. I read there for a few hours also then went to get the last gelato I will have in the country before getting another taxi to take me to the airport.
I showed up kind of early but I was exhausted from carrying all three of my bags all day (two backpacks and a rolling one, the streets are not conducive for rolling bags) I nearly got blisters from them. So I made my way through customs and security and waited. And waited. And waited. My flight to Dublin was supposed to leave at 9 which usually means board at 8:15ish but 8:45 rolls around and nothing about the flight. It's raining pretty hard at the moment so I'm sure that was it but I just kept adding up all the time and how late we were going to land and how miserable I was going to be that late at night in the rain with all my luggage trying to find my hostel. But we finally got on the plane and off we went. We landed in Dublin at 11:30 and I had found my hostel by 12:15 which isn't too bad for being in a country by yourself for the first time. Needless to say I passed out when I finally got to bed.
Oh and I never even mentioned my food consumption, after dinner Friday night I had an orange and crackers for breakfast a croissant for lunch that I dipped in jam and a tiny can of pringles, a twix, and a snickers for dinner. Yay nutrition.
Today in Dublin I had cereal (with real cold milk, egahd cold milk who would have thunk it) and then went to the Dublin zoo. The zoo was really nice and even though it was a bit chilly and threatened to rain all day the animals were all pretty active. Unfortunately there was no giraffe feeding today (my luck with giraffes is outstanding, they're my favorite animal and I've yet to be able to touch one and I've gone to so many zoos). Then I walked around the city just kind of wandering. i ate a lot of snickers today (did you know that foreign candy taste so much better than our candy it's because we use high fructose corn syrup and they use real sugar it makes a real difference), I think the final count was 4 (but the days not over yet) and I had a bagel. Oh how I've missed bagels they're so delicious and warm and breadlike. I have decided I like Ireland a lot. They speak english do you know how hard it is to live somewhere and not understand the language, it sucks but then again I've gotten so used to Italian that when I tried to say thank you to someone today I said grazie they looked at me weird because they knew I wasn't italian so I should probably break that habit soon. Alright on with the pictures.
Fountain from the Borghese gardens. Much flow so wow.
There was some event going on in the center of Rome, there were cops and swat-like trucks everywhere.
Some lovely public gardens I walked through after the zoo today, I don't know why they've showed up before the zoo and honestly I'm too lazy to move it.
Lion cub running after momma. So cute.
A sweet building in the middle of the gardens I was in, it might have been a park instead of a garden but I'm going to keep saying garden.
Look at how majestic this tiger is, he posed like that for almost a whole minute it was very impressive.
A pretty nifty church I stumbled upon.
Monkey! Or orangutan or something like that.
Hehe, lemur. Poor Zaboomafoo who died recently. These guys are pretty cute.
A nicely reflected bridge.
I like this one better though.
Drum roll please (I'm doing it in my head so I hope you are too). Giraffe!
Mr. (or Ms I don't know rhino genders very well) Rhino.
I could not tell you the name of this animal but it's cool.
Doesn't he just look angry, again I'm assuming it's a he.
Elephant bums.
What a beautimus peacock.
Dohh sleeping red panda.

This painting was amazing, it was in the Borghese museum (excuse my scrambled pictures). The boy in the bottom left corner has a foot that looks like it is actually coming down towards us, theres even a shadow on the frame I was so impressed.
A sculpture by Bernini of the rape of Persephone. Happy scene, maybe not but absolutely stunning piece, yes.
Another Bernini, Apollo and Daphne (not scooby doo Daphne). She's a nymph so it looks as if her hands are actually turning into leaves, so freaking cool.
This was kind of creepy, it spins around and the lights go out and it goes so fast you see the scene of men killing babies. But it was still really cool (obviously not an ancient piece of work).
Look Mark I found Moak!
This is the theater I went to tonight to see Interstellar (which was amazing, Chris if you're reading this and haven't seen it yet you probably should like now), I just thought the theater was super cool and massive. I loved it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The last day

Well today was our last full day at the Villa. It's crazy to think that two months went by that fast. It feels like we all just got here and just met. I'm going to miss Italy but I'm going to miss all the people that are here with me more, they are like a second set of siblings to me. Tomorrow we leave by train and spend the night in Rome. Saturday I fly to Dublin and spend 5 days there and then I fly to Amsterdam to be with Amber (whom I haven't seen in far too long). The next week is going to go by so fast and then my Europe experience will be over and done with. I'd like to say that I know I'll be back and I really hope that I will be back here but I don't think that I will ever have an experience like this. 
Tonight we have our Gala which is kind of like a tribute to us and all the things we've done artistically and a time to say goodbye to everyone. Sorry I have no pictures to post and this post is also super cheesy. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Venice, Verona, and Milan

Friday November 7th- Sunday 9th

Friday morning a group of 6 of us (including Dave) left the Villa for the train station that would take us to Venice. Now it's been pretty rainy this past week and Venice being the city on water is bound to be much more full of water in rainy weather. However we didn't let that stop us from having an amazing time. We arrived in Venice at 3ish, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went out to explore. The streets were absolutely gorgeous with all the water running through them (I've been told Venice smells bad but since we came in the colder weather we didn't smell too much grossness, score for us). I loved not seeing any cars driving around smauging up the air. It rained most of the day but it was a wicked cool experience, as we had the pleasure of being there during the highest tides of the week so the water came up and over the streets and flooded most of the walkways (aside from the wet shoes and water you know isn't sanitary touching you, this was actually pretty cool and we didn't mind much). The best part of Friday night was the light painting we did in the San Marco square. Light painting is basically leaving your camera shutter open to capture as much light as it can (a tripod is necessary for this) and using flashlights or glow sticks you can draw things in the air and the camera catches it as something seeable. We did this for a good hour and a half in the wet, just playing around with different words to write and the composition and what not, it was super fun. People gave us the weirdest looks as we all waved our flashlights around (and the fact that I was making weird noises because why not) to make the words.
Saturday we just walked around the city taking pictures of the people and the wetness and enjoying the scenery. There comes a point when your shoes are so soaked that you no longer care about walking through massive puddles, breaking this point actually makes life a bit easier (until you realize you only have one pair of shoes and they're never going to dry before the next day). Around 11 we hopped on the train and headed to Verona. I wish I had stayed awake for the train ride but with it being rainy out I just get so sleepy and can't help but slowly nod off to the beautiful scenery. For those of you that don't know, Verona is where Romeo and Juliet are from (so of course there are little Romeos and Juliets everywhere). Juliet's house is located here and we just had to see it, and located at this house is a statue of Juliet. There is a tradition that if you rub Juliet's boob then you will have true love, three people in our group did this not to name names but Bailey, Ana, and Dave (unfortunately I am doomed to never have true love). We walked around the city enjoyed the scenery and then went to the train station at 6ish to make it to our resting stop for the night in Milan. Once we got to Milan we weren't much in the mood to do much touristy stuff so we stopped off at the hotel and then went out for gelato and nutella.
Sunday us girls slept in a bit (if you count 8 as sleeping in) and then went off to meet Dave (he just had to go see the Last Supper, like geez what's so important about that, pshh) at the castle in the park. This castle was pretty huge, it even had a moat (come on how cool is that). Then we were off to see the Duomo of Milan. This cathedral was super cool, none of the churches I have seen yet have compared to it. Unfortunately on Sundays they don't allow people inside but just looking at the outside was enough. After admiring this for a while we wandered over to one of the oldest malls in the world. Of course this being Milan the stores in this mall were that of Louis Vitton and Prada so we never actually went in a store just admired from the outside. There was a divot in the floor that you are supposed to stick your heel in and spin around three times for luck, I did participate in this tradition and I think I did it quite fabulously if I do say so myself. We scattered to get lunch after that, my group going to McDonalds (yes we went to McDonalds in a foreign country because when you've been eating nothing but pasta and pizza for two months you really start craving meat and greasy foods and you'll settle for even McDonalds, and you know what it does actually taste better in different countries aside from the fact they charge for ketchup) then waiting for the train.
We left Milan at 2 with our train headed to Florence for a connecting train to take us to Perugia. The first train was awesome because we got to sit in business class (so fancy), apparently they gave out snacks and wine for that but I must've been asleep for that part of the trip (bummer I know). The last leg of our long weekend was spent sleeping on the packed train of people. It felt so good to finally reach Perugia and know that I won't be on a train for another week. I said goodbye to Rebekah, as she was to stay at the train station to catch the next train to Rome so she could head home (er, to my house) on Monday. I almost didn't travel this weekend as Venice is quite expensive to go to but I am very happy I spent the money and had one last fantastic week in Italy before I make my leave this Saturday (how did that go by so quick, holy crap). Before I dwell on my departure too much here are some pictures from the weekend.
Now that is ocean side property.
Ana and Bailey looking adorable.
The water streets are super cool.
Gondola! Unfortunately we did not ride in one (they're kind of expensive).
San Marco square.
Water streets at night, so super awesome. I can't even tell you the awesomeness.
Night San Marco square, their were people here I just had a long exposure so they all disappeared.
The light painting, we also spelt out RMC, Italy, and RMC Italy. This was a lot of fun.
Ah wave!
Whoa, bigger wave! Oh yeah and gondolas.
These are boots you can buy to cover your shoes which is actually a really good idea but we thought we were above these ugly boots. I wish I had bought some. 
Adorable father and son, I may or may not have stalked them a bunch for more pictures. 
Adorable little girl in the water, I did not stalk her only two photos exist in my files. I swear.
These are platforms to walk on so people who didn't wear water boots (like us) can walk. 
Clearly a local Venetian, trudging through the water on the way to work. 
The wall people put love letters on by Juliet's house.
I wonder how often they clean this up.
A cool fountain.
Pretty flower.
The castle! The grass is where the moat used to be.
This guy and his dog were super cute, the dog was so happy to play fetch, this picture does not show how excited he was.
The Arch of Peace, of course when you are trying to take a picture of it without people and this one couple stands in the middle of it for 10 minutes peace is not on your mind. 
The Duomo at Milan! So gorgeous! I love this church.
Look at how cool it is! Ugh.
Apparently I have a thing for creeping on strangers children. But he was super adorable waving to the pigeons.
A section of the door on the church, people touch Mary and Jesus' hands so much the bronze has not tarnished like the rest of it. I really liked the look of this. 
Ah, amazing church!