Friday, November 16, 2007

Wow, I am failing to update yet again. Sorry. Saturday was lazy and I accomplished very little. I did find a new Kebabaria though, Kebabji. It is on the NE side of Piazza SMN. It is good, but just a little too sauced, and the wrap fell apart in the end.

Sunday I did make my way to Vinci for the new olive oil and wine festival. It was very nice but a little cold. I took the train from Florence to Empolli, where I spent an hour before planning to hop a bus. I had worked with one of the student life staff to figure out when the bus actually ran on Sunday. Usually the bus runs about every 10 minutes, but Sundays it only runs three times. I arrived in Empolli and found myself some breakfast before returning to the bus stop 30 minutes before it was supposed to arrive. 30 minutes after the supposed departure time, I found myself weighing my options since the bus never arrived. I knew that it was only about 11 km, so I thought about walking. Right before I left I heard an American couple ask a cab how much it was to Vinci. I asked if I could join them and pay a third of the fair. They where very nice and let me hop in.

The town of Vinci is very small, and mostly consists of the museum, which was pretty interesting. The wine and oil were flowing like water and I bought 3 bottles of oil and 1 of wine. I was very content with my purchases, and then the thought of how I was going to get back to Empolli crossed my mind. The couple was staying in the one hotel in town that night. After 45 minutes of wandering the streets and trying to find a taxi I decided to just start walking. 30 meters after passing the bus stop, a bus showed up. It really was my lucky day.

Upon returning to Florence, I found an email reminding me that the scholarship application for the Washington Center’s Convention Seminar. I had forgot this, so I immediately started writing my essay and deciding who to ask to write my letters of recommendation. That was stressful, but everything is in now and I cannot wait to here from the Reg. about whether or not I get it.

Monday was Alex’s birthday, and Wednesday was Tiffany’s (not new kid) birthday, so the pensione split the difference and went out on Tuesday. First at home, then Public House, Joshua Tree, and ending at Astor. When I left Astor at 2.30, I tried to get a Kebab, but Turkuaz was closed, so I decided to try to find the late night bakery on Via Della Route. As I discovered that night, the signs in the school where wrong, and ot wasn’t at 4, it was at 1! I had the greatest fresh cream croissant I have ever had in my life. It had just come out of the oven and was amazing!

I was sick at the beginning of the week, but now am looking forward to a weekend where I honestly will be doing nothing and can get healthy for my trip next weekend to London!!! Tonight I am having dinner at a mystery restaurant, but I get 2 courses and wine for 15 Euro. It should be fun. We will probably end up back at SpaceE, a dance club you might remember from my last update.

So, in the world of politics I am a little late hearing that Tom Tancredo is not planning on running for the House again. He is still in the presidential race, but not going for a sixth term. What is next for him after a <1% st="on">New Hampshire and Iowa? My guesses are either he will end up as a minute man, or maybe joining the national guard and moving to the border. Either way, he did go a little nuts with his latest fear mongering ad. Here is a good article on it. To quote my post of 3 April 2007 “I cannot believe Tom Tancredo gets an MSNBC politics page for himself. I only have one thing to say about him: if he gets one vote, may God have mercy on this country.”

Today in IR I learned a new word: Fungibility.

Video of the Day: A look back at the old Fox Theater

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sorry for the lack of update. I did make it out of Bosnia-Herzegovina alive. YEAH!!! This week however has been very tiring, so I am only now getting the opportunity to sit down and update.

Wednesday we took a bus from Firenze to Ancona, which took about 5 hours, and arrived at the ferry around 7. We stopped at an Autogrill along the way, which was the last thing I ate until lunch the next day. We boarded the gigantic ferry and we where off, after 3.5 hours of sitting at the dock. The seas where choppy, and I couldn’t sleep. I only got 2 hours of sleep, and the 3-4 meter waves made walking an adventure (yes, someone actually got a scar) and I was more than ready to get off the bus in Split, Croatia. Many apologies to Andrew who, when I thought I was going to loose my stomach at or around 3 AM, I kicked in the crotch while running to the bathroom.

We got back onto the bus for the trip from Split to Medjugorje. Arrived at noon, checked into cute little hotel with lots of rosaries hanging on the wall, and found our way to lunch. Calzone at lunch was very nice, except for the walk we then took. We meet our tour guides in front of the church in town, but most hadn’t finished there lunches yet, so my group left first.

To much to history to write here, but in short, Mary appeared to 6 youngsters in 1981 and to some of them still to this day. More history? Go here.

We walked to Apparition Hill, and then up the hill. It was a nice little walk, and I had the opportunity to say the rosary, which I always enjoy. My only problem was all the vendors (read: pilgrimage service providers) who lined the streets to the hill.

After that my group went to the top of another hill, about a 200 meter climb, called Cross Mountain. Erected in 1933, this 10 meter tall cement cross celebrates 1900 years since the crucifixion, and contains a relic given to the people by Pope Pius XI that is supposed to be a part of the actual cross on which Jesus died. There was a beautiful view, and my headlamp came to very good use on the walk back down.

After walking back from that hike, I found my way to a beautiful statue of the Risen Christ. On the outside of his right knee, a drop of water keeps reemerging. Chemical tests show that the water had the same make up at human sweat. Very cool. They even provide napkins so you can rub it away and take it home with you. I just did it on two rosaries.

Friday we went to Mostar. We meet some university students who are studying English and where children during the Civil War. All the students that I talked to where Muslim, and they all said that they do not see religious tolerance coming about in their lifetime. The city has a unwritten line that the Catholics and the Muslims do not cross. They enjoy being apart. That was no good, hopefully they while realize that they are all good people soon enough. They really love their bridge in Mostar, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Good day trip. Dinner was provided at the hotel, and I just sat there from dinner (7.30) to 11.30 talking with Shelley and two other students. The early night was a good choice.

Saturday we made a day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia, a beautiful old city on the sea. I had a beer upon arrival at the bar with the most beautiful view in the world. That is how they market it, and it was beautiful and a nice break. Just explored the city and had a great chicken sandwich. That night was Madeline’s birthday, so I went to dinner and a bar with her. The bar was great fun, and the house wine was like water before it breathed, but once it had, it was really bad, which meant I just drank the wine quickly.

Sunday morning I made the trek back over to Apparition Hill for one more time. It was surprisingly empty for a Sunday. On the way back I bought a large jar of very dark honey and a bottle of wine from a nice old lady. Mass in English at the church, then found a sandwich and back on the bus for the trip back.

All and all an amazing trip, and I am very glad I went. I bought lots of gifts, so I just need to decide who gets what. I did bye lots of rosaries.

Last night I went to dinner with Andrew, Erin, Kelly, Darby, and Sonia. We went to a Mexican restaurant named Tijauna. I had the chili con carne, and it was great. I also got to show off my Spanish, while Andrew would only talk Italian to the server. My pitcher of sangria was great. The lime margaritas where also good. After the meal, Andrew and Sonia returned home to rest before their 6.30 train to Rome. The rest of us went to Joshua Tree for a beer, then Space E. Erin was hit on by a large group of 16 year old Americans who where there. We did however return home rather early, 1. Great night though. Today I am finally getting a cell phone and plan on having a relaxing day. Sunday I am going to Vinci for the new olive oil and wine festival. I am very excited.

The train to Rome was so early because transportation workers had a one day strike, and vandalized the front of the school at about 11 this morning while I was in the computer lab. Kind of funny, but they where very loud out front.

Finally, WTF we have a new AG. Dang it! I understand why people voted yes, but it is torture, ever some Republicans admit that!

Video of the day: Special Comment by KO on waterboarding and torture and a true American patriot.