Warning: This will be a long post seeing as we crammed a lot of things into four days.
Since I last blogged, we have been about 100 places....or so it seems. Right now I am hanging out by maself in the Zurich, Switzerland airport. I'm following my good judgment and not exploring Switzerland because I'm scared I will miss my next flight to Rome. That would not be good. Therefore, Switzerland will have to wait until another trip. Just being in the airport alone I can get a feel for what it's like. A lot of people here speak English, which is nice. There is a lot of greenery closeby (what I saw from the airplane, at least), and the airport is really clean and modern. Very simple.
June 7th: We went to church in Milan for Sacrament. We missed Sacrament last week in Venice because the bus tickets took so long. It felt nice to have the Sacrament in me. There were two tiny twins that got blessed. I miss seeing babies get blessed in church. It got me thinking about how I will soon become a mother. Soon as in...in a few years. Anyway, I can't wait for that time in my life. I know it will be very different and hard at times, but from what I hear it brings great joy, too. Right now I am trying to become the kind of person I would want my kids raised by. I have obvious faults and am trying hard every day to work on them so my kids don't pick up bad habits that could be avoided.
The rest of the day was spent on the bus. Our bus driver made everyone sick every time we got in that bus, and things always seemed to end up taking twice as long as predicted. We didn't appreciate Guido 1 on the first leg of the trip like we should have! If we get Guido 2 next week I will boycott! JK...but seriously...but JK.
On monday we drove to a town 5 miles outside of Cinque Terre ("Five Towns/Cities").
We went to the beach that afternoon and played in the waves and laid out. It was gorgeous and I remembered just how much I love waves. The beach by Florence wasn't wavy at all, but still beautiful. I haven't seen a bad beach yet, honestly. We tried to get henna and failed. The directors gave us money for dinner (they've been giving us a lot of money lately because they overestimated...I ended up getting like 400 dollars back, which is nice). We ate at this horrible place. I hate just picking a restaurant because we're hungry, because it's really hit or miss in Europe, especially if you want something cheap. My food came out last (over the next 3 days, every time we ate out, my food came last...a great running joke but bad for the stomach) and as soon as I was finished we went to find another place to eat since we hadn't eaten lunch. We ended up getting fries at the place across from our hostel. Delicious!
Kelsey and I got locked out so we had to call up to this guy who was literally hanging out of his window to give us his key. I've noticed that Europeans are really playful. He said he'd have to think about it and walked away. But he was just getting the key and when we returned his key to him it was somewhat awkward. Seeing as he was flirting with us and we both have boyfriends. I told Kelsey she should have hooked up with him since I obviously had no desire to, but I totally forgot that she has a boyfriend almost as serious as mine. Awesome. An opportunity lost for her. ;-)
I tried to go to bed early since we had an early hiking day, but I waited up to use my computer. Kelsey was going to take an hour to talk to Steve, and I told her to get me when she was done because I had to have an important conversation with Jeannette. Well, three hours later, I walked down there upset because I had been woken up by another roommate, and she had forgotten that I needed to use the internet, and by that time I couldn't sleep. A mix of homesickness, frustration, and fatigue brought me to tears. After talking to Jeannette and Matt I felt a lot better and regretted getting upset. The next day Kelsey and I were cool and we had an awesome time hiking all day at Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre is five quaint cities on the water that are connected by a hiking trail. We started off in the first one and hiked "20 minutes" aka an hour and a half to the next town. It was steep but really exhilarating.We had a view of the ocean the whole time. If my knee and ankle hadn't have acted up, and I didn't have an ear infection I would have hiked the next hour hike. But we stopped to eat and get the second best gelatto of my life (Lake Como moves to third) and split up. Kelsey and I took the train and Amber, Jessie and Amanda hiked the whole thing. We ended up taking the express train instead of going to the third town, so we hiked backward. We saw tons of awesome graffiti in the couple tunnels we walked through, got some sketching in, shopped a little, and had some girl talk time since it was just the two of us. There were some jewelry venders on the way and we got bracelets. I got some earrings and a hand-carved stone necklace, too. We ended up at the first town and laid on the beach for an hour before meeting everyone in the last town for dinner. We were both sick so we didn't get in the water, so I fell asleep on the rocks. It was nice to just listen to the ocean and feel the breeze. I didn't need to get in the water to have a good experience, although the water was perfect.
The hostels we have stayed in have shattered my ideas about what hostels were supposed to be like. The one in Cinque Terre was really roomy, very clean, well-lit and respectable. They even had free wi-fi (a feat). I think hostels get a bad wrap, and if I come to Europe soon I'll probably stay in a hostel over a hotel.
June 9th: We left Cinque Terre and drove to Nice. Sara and I were late getting to the bus because no one told us we were meeting at the BUS at ten instead of the HOTEL (10 minute walk). I felt really bad for holding the group up, but what can you do? We left Emmy and Robert behind and started our journey. Bethanne and Jake rocked out respectively to their iPods. Bethanne has been really surprising. She is easily in her 50s, but has such a young spirit. We talked about bongs with her the other day. She's so upbeat and positive, but smart, artistic, fun, and responsible. She's awesome! We took so many more hours than we were told because our bus driver got lost. We discovered Cheesy Puffs at the rest stops, and I rediscovered Chupa Chup lollipops...the strawberry cream ones taste like Mukki milkshakes! Yum! When we finally got to Nice, France...well it's beautiful here. We drove through Monaco, so I can now say that I have been to five countries in Europe: Italy, France, Monaco, Switzerland, and Germany (yes, I count layovers).
Clarke, Kelsey, Peri, Alycia and I chipped in to buy peanut butter (a rare and expensive thing here), jam and bread and had a PB Picnic in the hotel lobby because nothing was open for dinner yet, and it was expensive. So good to eat American things...
We saw sister missionaries on the way to gelatto for Mark and Peri's birthday, so we invited them to eat with us. Yes, even in France, we got gelatto...AND pastries. All free. Cha ching?
I had a room to myself because Emmy is in Italy still, so I took a long bath, repacked things and actually condensed things down to one suitcase, and sprawled out in my queen size bed. On a study abroad, one rarely gets alone time, so I relished it instead of being lonely.
Clarke and I realized that we had the same flight to Switzerland, so we left at 8am on our own. The rest of the group going back to America left at 5am, so it was nice to sleep in and not travel with them. It was fun to have a travel buddy, and who better than Clarke! We are apparently going on a road trip, but I'm going to let him plan that when we are both in the same state again. Now I am in the Swiss airport on my own because Clarke's plane to CH-icago left about an hour ago. I splurged on a Swiss converter so I could entertain myself and bought ridiculously expensive internets so I wouldn't go crazy. Only about seven more hours until I am reunited with my mom, Judy, and my grandma in Rome. We will go to Florence and Venice from there, and then my European Excursion 2009 will come to an end! I love Europe but will be ready to get back home in 8 days. Matt is moving out on the 16th, which makes me very happy. We can finally go to church together and be in the same ward and WALK to each other's apartments. I'm so ready. It has been a long ten months in the works.
So that is my update. Pictures will be on facebook shortly.