Wednesday, May 20, 2009

awkward feelings of olive-smelling emptiness

Upon checking my email today I found this gem from Javier, it outlined grade procedures and technical stuff like that which I won't bore you with. But while reading the final paragraphs I found myself laughing out loud while at the same time trying not to cry:

"If you are inclined to drinking heavily on Friday [*we have a special IES end of the program dinner*], please do so after the reception.
And not heavily.

LOOKING AHEAD: Make sure you stay in touch with your IES friends when you are back
in the States. Only they will understand those awkward feelings of olive-smelling
emptiness that will haunt you for years. And please stay in touch with us too. I
will love to hear what you are up to, and I will be delighted to support you in your
future academic and professional endeavours, so feel free to ask me for letters of
recommendation, or simply for advice. I may also be able to catch up with some of
you on my travels to the States.

Use the next few weeks to reflect on your experience—how you have grown by
simultaneously riding on a wave of euphoria and coping with adversity; feeling proud
of your accomplishments and feeling like an idiot the next day; wishing you were a
true Spaniard, and not quite finding the American you used to be. And even though a
good no pasa nada may not be too efficient in your stressful American lives,
uttering such granadino words sparingly will be a powerful, intimate comfort tool.

I must end by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing these months with each
one of you. May you all have wonderful lives as committed world citizens, and do
never forget the days of wine and jasmine under the Alhambra hill.

All the very best,

None of us know what emptiness smells like but apparently in Spain it smells like olives, and it's awkward? Oh, Javier. It's going to be hard to leave, as I've said many times before...

Today it's about 93 degrees thanks to some Saharan winds' decision to visit Granada for the day. I forgot what this kind of heat feels like, dios mio. The upside is that there is no humidity here, so the temperature is surprisingly bearable and borderline enjoyable, especially in the shade. Trini's apartment is cool too thanks to the shade that I was so bitter about in January.

I had my first IES exam today which I think went pretty smoothly, I was only really unsure of one question, which is a nice reversal from the midterm (oops?). After the exam Joya and I had lunch at Dio's homestay in the Albaicin (he invited us over). We brought his hostmom, Mar, a bottle of vino, which we all drank during lunch.

Dio's Mar is borderline hippie (she was wearing overalls and a nose piercing when we got there) and her house is really quirky and awesome. There are all sorts of Arab-influenced rugs and pillows around the house, and she has a garden in the back yard (a yard!!) where she grows aloe, tomatoes, and lots of other plants they use all the time in their food.

Mar has a guy named Hector staying with her indefinitely (platonic friend) who speaks perfect English and was fun to talk to also (in spanish, obvio). Hector made us some apple/orange/carrot/ginger homemade juice while we waited for lunch that was really refreshing on a day like today. Their dog, Senda, is possibly one of the ugliest one's I've ever seen, and should be the spokesperson/dog for the "omg it's so ugly it's cute" association. It was fun to be able to play with a dog who LISTENS and UNDERSTANDS commands though (cough cough unlike Beau and Sidney).

The back yard is my favorite part of the house because you can't tell you're in the heart of a city! There are huge leafy plants everywhere, and the neighbors have an enormous palm tree covered in ivy towering over everything, and also frames a piece of leftover wall back from the Albaicin's days as an ancient city (medina). We ate lunch in the shade on the back porch and just talked and relaxed. Mar made some fish, organic tofu rice/plants from the garden patties (in a cold wrap like some thai spring rolls, so yummy) and soy sauce, and a salad of homegrown sprouts, tomatoes, and cucumbers with spices and oils. With a few glasses of wine each. This is probably the reason why I am in no mood to do the last of my work I have for the day.

Wednesday is hump day, halfway through the week. I have two more IES exams, Cine tomorrow and my Grammar on Friday. It's really strange. Amanda is starting to pack up as I type this, which is awful for the reason that it means I have to leave soon and everything, but also awful because it means I'm never going to pack (I'm relying on a packing party to motivate me to pack, all those who have been around me during packing situations know it is 1. my least favorite activity in the world and 2. something I epically fail at doing). I am also realizing that I should have packed Space Bags to make this hellish task more plausible ... gah.

Tonight I think we're all (the resi-IES kids and a few others and some Spanish kids) going to go out to dinner in Biv-Rambla and eat outside. Afterwards we want to get ice cream, and either go out or go back to work (my choice is going to rest on how much I get done today ... which isn't looking good. gross.).

Vamos a ver, hasta luego mis amoressss

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


My IES classes ended last week, and I decided that meant my UGR ones would too, so I am officially done with my classes and have moved on to finals week (all this Spanish has brought back my awful passive-voice habits from high school that Dr. N and Mrs. A made me fix ... great.). After a semi-chaotic error in miscommunication I took my sexologia final on Friday, it ended up being an oral exam that we all took together, thankfully. Basically the exam (long story short) was our Prof, Jesus Florida, looking through Jackie's notes and asking us each a random question about them. And of course he managed to ask each of us questions from a class we hadn't been to -- I managed to mess up one of the easiest questions on this planet and somehow, despite all my Winchester and Haverford sharing and caring upbringing, forgot the word "transexual". At the end he looked at us and said (in Spanish) "Well that went badly, actually it couldn't have gone any worse. But the important thing is you came to class and took notes, so I'm giving you all 8/10s, which is a very good grade for Spanish students." Honestly I have never been so unprepared (as in didn't study at all) for an exam in my life, and pulled a low A on that final ... which is extremely helpful in motivating me to study or work for other classes. This Spanish education system is going to take its toll on my during the thesis process next year. Ugh.

Last weekend I went out with a bunch of the residencia kids to tapas, the Hipercore (huge outdoor area behind a shopping center that is one of the government designated outdoor drinking areas post-declaration that you can't drink in public) which was insane, and then Granada 10 for old times sake. Saturday we explored the tapas area near my homestay and got delicious tapas and amazing mojitos. Sunday Dio, Joya, Amanda and I took one last beach trip to beautiful Nerja. The weather was perfect, the water was freezing, and the sun was strong, so I've officially got a legitimate tan now :). I've been maximizing time spent outside and tapas-ing in Granada, which is taking a toll on the bank account, but its well worth it (sorry dids).

It's so gorgeous here right now, of course. My finals aren't lookin like they're going to be too rough so I'm spending as much time as I possibly can breathing in every possible last inch of Granada. It really is like an alternate reality here where the sky is bluer, the food tastes better, and life is just incredible. I woke up early this morning to go for a run and started to feel really sad that in a weeks time I would never be running on this beautiful trail, heading towards the Sierra Nevada's still slightly snow-capped peaks framed by palm trees, surrounded by Spaniards for a very long time. It's unfair how people and places can come in and out of your life so quickly, no matter how much of an impact they have on you it's still impossible to hold on to it/them forever, but it's really hard for me to let Granada go. I know I'm coming back here, but the thought of leaving seems unreal.

Tomorrow Joya and I are having lunch at Dio's homestay right after I have my first IES exam (CivLam, the bane of my existence). Thursday I have my Cine Exam and Amanda and I are going to try to get to the General Life gardens of the Alhambra and then the Parque de Garca Lorca, both are supposed to be breath takingly beautiful right now so I'm really excited. Friday's my Grammar Exam and then that night is the Goodbye Dinner/official end of the program. Monday I leave with Lauren for Madrid. Since when is it May 19? I'll be home in ten days ...

I'm beyond excited to see everyone i love back home, and to see my city and eat the food I miss, but I am not excited to pack up and leave such a beautiful place. My earlier post about my "being in a really good place" about leaving, you can completely ignore. I AM excited to be done with these tedious exams though, this studying is getting in the way of my making the most of my final week here. It's kind of fun getting to be a tourist again and take pictures of everything I've been taking for granted this whole time, in some odd way. Vamos a ver, see you all soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Gordito's first baby tooth came in today!! Pobrecito Diego has been crying a lot lately since he's teething. I can't believe he's already growing teeth! We were talking with Trini at lunch the other day about what a little terror he's going to be when he can walk, which was hilarious until I realized I'm not going to be here to see him walk. It's so odd how you can come in and out of people's lives so quickly, I really am not happy with how little time I have left here.

Time to run to my last sexologia class!! Luegoo

oh mi cabo de gata!

I'm almost up to date on all my posts, no way!

Last weekend we went on our last IES scheduled field trip of the semester (what!?) to Cabo de Gata, a national park of mountains, desert, and some of Spain's most gorgeous beaches. It's only about two hours from Granada, so we left around 8:30 and go there at 12:00 after we stopped for one last chance to use bathrooms and buy food. The weather was a little overcast and breezy, which was very lucky considering we had an 8 hour hike ahead of us. We split into three groups, the hard hike, medium hike, and easy hike. Most of us were unaware of these divisions, I ended up in the medium hike which was fine with me!

Our tour guide knew no English and led us all over the place. The park was absolutely gorgeous, we walked up huge hills, and eventually scaled mountains while beach hopping in between. When I say scaled mountains, I'm not exaggerating. We all went into "monkey mode," there were multiple points where I had two hands on different rocks, almost on all fours, to keep my balance and hoist my LL Bean-backpack laden self up the rocks. The views were unlike anything I have ever seen, crystal blue Mediterranean water encased by rocky mountains and volcanic rock, with diverse arrays of flowers scattered all over the place. There were no cars anywhere, the beaches had no trace of modern technology anywhere, it was amazing. Nothing feels better than jumping into the Mediterranean after successfully climbing up and down super steep, terrifying mountains. I can't even imagine what that would have been like in the extreme heat! Even two of our three program directors who came with us were getting grouchy by the end, but after 9 miles of hiking we finally made it to San Jose where we were staying overnight.

We went straight to a little pizzeria in all our dirty and mountain-y glory and enjoyed pizza, pasta, bruchetta (nothing like Rome, but what can ya do?)and lots of sangria, cerveza, y shots of this lemon liqour that is supposed to cleanse your pallet, that our director of student activities, Jose, decided my table needed multiple rounds of. We were all pretty dehydrated, so all got pretty tipsy rather quickly, including the directors. All in all dinner was delicious and a lot of fun, minus the 45 min bathroom line since we're about 60 girls and 10 guys (I don't understand how girls take so long in the bathroom, I really don't).

me, jessie and jackie on our lunch break, and then pictures of the mountains and beaches!!

After dinner we picked up the rest of our stuff from the buses and made our way over to our hostel (normally IES stays in a nice hotel, but after a skinny dipping incident a few semesters ago we haven't been welcome back there ...) which was a couple blocks away from a pretty beach and lots of restaurants. I stayed in a six person room with Jessie, Jackie, Lydia, Stephanie, and Joya. We had so much fun, all of IES went out to a little pub and we all hung out, at some point the entire program used Lydia and my arms as a limbo stick which turned into a congo line, and by the end of the night I ended up on the beach with some friends along with Jose and Javier. It was a gorgeous night so we just sat around and talked til three-ish and then headed back to the hostel since breakfast was around 10am.

Saturday sadly was cloudy and a little chilly, it was actually raining when we first got up, but we trooped out to the beach anyways where I slept, read, and played some futbol. We headed back to Granada around 630 and I didn't end up going out that night due to exhaustion from so much traveling!

Sunday was beautiful here so Amanda and I laid out in the park all morning (I got rid of my pesky shorts tan, which now thanks to this gorgeous weather, and my affinity to running outdoors during peak sun time, is making a strong come back) and worked during the afternoon.

I have a TON of work to do this week. Not just by studying abroad standards, like legitimatly a lot of work. 10 page Islamic Civ paper (in Spanish obvio) on Iraq's Sunni and Shia relations due tomorrow (yikes), presentation for my grammer class on Thursday (part of the final exam, we've been "working" on it all semester) and then my first final on Friday in Sexologia, which is accompanied by the due date of my final paper for that class too. I also need to turn in a few papers that I consider busy work but do effect my grade in my Cine class as well. And of course the weather from here on out is going to be beautiful, mid 80s and sunny all the time!! Oh well, I'll get through it, plus one of the baristas in the cafe I work in has decided he likes me and gave me free coffee last night. could be worse ;)

Monday, May 11, 2009

mamma mia

The first weekend of May I spent with two of my favorite Haverfordians, Rosie (who's studying in Athens) and Andrew (Copenhagen). It took a lot of leg work to get to Greece from Granada: 730am bus from Granada to Malaga, 1100 am flight from Malaga to London Gatwick, then 500pm flight from London to Athens, then an hour or so bus ride into Athens city center, and then about one block to the arms of Rosie and Andrew!

Athens is enormous. A lot of people told me that the city itself is just miles upon miles of urban sprawl, but I had NO idea how true that was. Athens as a city definitely holds the least character/uniqueness out of all the places I have been, but then again I know nothing about archeology and ancient Greece, so I'm sure for some people it must be breath taking. The Acropolis was pretty awesome to see, but it really means nothing to me. I think I loved Rome so much because I knew what I was looking at and what significance it holds for the world and history, whereas in Athens I'd see some site with a bunch of old rocks scattered in it from God only knows how long ago, and it would mean nothing to me. I can respect the fact that a lot of these things are super old which is pretty awesome, but nothing really took my breath away the way the Alhambra does or the way the Colosseum did.

Rosie lives in a lil apartment right next to one of the huge Olympic stadiums (no one is really sure what it was for, some sort of track and field event possibly) and lives with four other girls. Rosie's friends who I met were all really sweet and interesting girls, it was nice to see that she's in good hands over there in that huge huge city. My first night in we all went out to a karaoke bar and sang Mariah Carrey amongst many other things, terrifying most of the locals. But it was really fun to meet all of Rosie's friends and get to sing (something I don't do much in Granada for fear of killing Trini's eardrums).

My first real day in Athens Rosie, Andrew and I walked around all day and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. Rosie showed me all main sites in Athens, we walked through some cool markets, and had lunch at a cute little cafe. Because it was May 1, most things were closed for May Day -- the Greeks love any excuse to not work just like the Italians and Spanish, this Mediterranean lifestyle is getting contagious which is not good for my work ethic! At the end of the day we met up with Victoria, one of Rosie's friends who's from Alabama and goes to Notre Dame, who we were going to one of the islands with for the weekend. There had been a scheduled strike for the ferry workers that day (so appropriate) so our ferry didn't end up leaving until midnight, and we couldn't board until 11pm, so we all went out to a long dinner at a gyro place near the port. Although I'm still partial to shawarma more than gyros, they were pretty delicious.

The ferry we took to our island was HUGE. Apparently a lot of them have night clubs in them because they're so big, but we didn't hunt that out/hear anything about it. The ferry ride was about 3.5 hours, so we snuck into the nicer area (our tickets were mad cheap, and therefore for the deck, as in outside, in the wind, which we refused to adhere to) and passed out until we reached Paros: the home of the Frappe, and our residence for the weekend.

Rosie and Victoria had figured out the logistics of the trip all on their own, and found a cool little camp ground called Camping Koulah. Through a series of emails, Rosie and Vic got us a cabin that fit "2-3" people on the beach for 12 euro a night, aka for four people 3 euro each. You can't beat that. When we arrived at 3:30 am one of the owners picked us up from the port which was nice) and saw our "cabin" we cracked up. It was tiny. Basically a glorified tent. The cabin was in the shape of a triangle/verging on tepee, and inside had just enough room for the three mattresses lying sheetless on the ground. But really, what more do you need? She tried to offer us another cabin, but we said no and all squeezed in (luckily we brought blankets). The night was pretty chilly but we were all so tired we just layered up and passed out.

victoria in front of our cabin

andrew inside. it was .... cozy

The next day we got up early, rented ATVs and rode around the gorgeous island beach hopping all day. Paros is gorgeous and everything you'd want an island to be. Mountains, white washed buildings, blue skies, soft sandy beaches, and lots of little cafes to drink Frapes. I took so many pictures from the ATV (Andrew drove ours) and they really just don't do the island any justice. We had a huge taverna dinner that night of all sorts of traditional greek foods, and then went out and walked around during the night and stopped at a bar or two (nothing was really open since it is just the start of the season). I had so much fun and it was so nice to just enjoy some of my favorite people in a gorgeous new place. I really liked Paros.

Getting out of Paros turned into quite an adventure ... after a night of quasi hell: we didn't realize the water was undrinkable so Vic got pretty sick ("it's comin out both ends!"), mosquitoes attacking every piece of our exposed flesh (next morning: "All the cuteness has been sucked out of my face" - rosie), lack of toilet paper in the bathroom, general cold (i slept with ski socks, leggings, PJ pants, long sleeved shirt, tank top, northface, and a scarf while cocooned in my blanket), inability to sleep at all due to all of the above, and our terrifying British neighbor ("these walls are incredibly thin) who 1. basically lived in the cabin next to us, as in all year round, and 2. was not pleased when we burst into laughter about what a ridiculous situation we were in after Andrew asked the question "has anyone else been awake for the past three hours?". So that morning we got up as early as possible and, despite our queezy stomachs, we ATV'd to a few more beaches until we felt more stable. We got some gyros for lunch and went to check out of our "cabin" and then just go relax on a beach until our ferry back to Athens came. Little did we know what was in store for us.

When we went to pay, the owner (not the woman who had been emailing the girls) decided to charge us a discounted rate of 40 euros for two nights. Which was wayy higher than the price we had agreed to and way way way higher than what the cabin merited. This turned into a huge argument, since we were all a pretty scrappy and stubborn crew by this point and not willing to compromise to an obnoxious Greek know it all. The main problem was he had Victoria's passport, so we couldn't just pay what we wanted and leave. And he was refusing to give it back. This extended to two hours, with a lot of tantrums by the greeks in which they'd all pile into trucks or onto motorcycles and leave for 20 min, and then come back to see if we were still there. Straight out of a sitcom. Eventually, the owner said "well go to the police if you like I want my 40 euro." So, we went to the police. She called him, Rosie witnessed the call, and told him he could not hold Victoria's passport hostage. But when we asked him about the call he said "she said you give me money I give you passport." Language barriers are extremely frustrating, especialy when you know NOTHING of the language. At all. Not even hello (in my case, and Rosie takes ancient Greek, which wasn't much help). Long story short, the police ended up having to come down to the Camp and make him give us the passport, explaining that he could press charges if he wanted but would need a lawyer (and no Greek man is going to do that, it would require way too much effort for 15 euro). Then we paid our 24 euro initially agreed upon and exhaustedly walked to the nearest beach, bought some snacks and a bottle of sangria, and tried to process what had just happened. We all just ended up laughing at how ridiculous the past 12 hours had been.

We caught the ferry back to Athens, Andrew left the next day and I hung out with Rosie and her friends. I had a really good time in Greece, but was definitely ready to go home to Granada by the weekends/weeks end.

Favorite part about Athens: Paros, seeing friends, the backlvah (sp?)
Least favorite part: not really a fan of the city itself, can't put toilet paper in the toilet (HOW did they host the olympics???)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

so it's may?

Sorry about the lack of posting, it's growing increasingly harder to post between all the traveling and all this gorgeous weather! It's hard to believe it's already May, time waits for no one, and it's not very fair.

I'm in a really really good place right now with everything in life, today it was impossible for me to contain my happiness, and I don't think I can blame it all on the 82 degrees and sunny weather. I had an amazing run on the nature trail down by the river today, and got no work accomplished at all (go figure). But for some reason, after this last trip to Athens (I will post that up tomorrow, Rome was overwhelming) I've really become at ease with how time's progressing. Leaving here isn't gonna be easy, there is so much I'm going to miss (I am sure I will post about that later as well) but at the same time I know I have to leave, and I'm actually getting really excited about going home. I love it here, don't get me wrong, but I do miss a lot of people (and puppies) and am so excited to get to see them. I'll elaborate on this more later, Andrew, Rosie and I had a good talk about this in Athens that really allowed me to put all my feelings I'm experiencing right now about leaving into coherent words.

Friday we leave for Cabo de Gata which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. And obviously I am super excited for it! We're staying there overnight Friday and getting back Saturday evening, I'm roomin with Joya, Jessie, and Jackie who I all love, so the trip will be that much better :) I don't have an itinerary on me but it looks like we'll be doing a lot of nature hikes and beach hoppings, so as long as the weather stays this beautiful it should be amazing.

Posting is getting harder and harder to do, and I'm not sure why. The trip posts are just overwhelming because it's hard to put feelings and adventures from a whole new country and city into one post. One of the most exciting things about Europe that I've discovered is how each city really has it's own unique personality, not even countries, but each city. This makes exploring them so much more fulfilling and exciting, because you never know what to expect. I also am really glad I visited cities where my friends are studying abroad, it's the closest thing to getting a tour by the locals that I can get!

Well I need to go to bed, just some random thoughts that I will probably end up deleting when I reread this tomorrow.
Much love love love

Monday, May 4, 2009

When in Rome

Pretty cliche title, but extremely appropriate.

I met up with Carolyn in Rome on a gorgeous, sunny, Thursday afternoon at the Colosseum after a bus ride, flight, flight,bus ride followed by one more bus ride. On my bus ride between the Ciampino airport and Rome's city center I sat next to an older woman from Girona who, after seeing the terror on my face when she tried to speak to me in Catalan, spoke Spanish with me for the entire half hour bus ride. It was really fun, she told me all about how much she loves Rome, we talked about Girona and Granada, and she said that my Spanish sounded pretty good (even though I think that's obligatory when you speak with someone trying to get a hold on your own language). Ironically, by the end of my weekend in Roma I had used more Spanish than I did throughout my entire week in Barcelona. Oh, Catalonia.

Anyways, while waiting for Christian to finish classes, Carolyn and I explored the area. I experienced my first Italian gelado, which surpassed all my standards on deliciousness I once had before this trip, and then we split a plate of pasta at a little outdoor restaurant. This is also when I had my first experience with Italian men, our waiter confessed his love for me and said we should come back when he got off of work, all the while confusing our laughter about the clear language barrier with flirting and as Christian warned "if you give Italian men an inch, they take the night." Finally after two hours we convinced him that we weren't going to be worth his time and he reluctantly brought us the check. Spanish men will forever seem unflirtatious after this trip to good ol' Italia.

Carolyn and I met up with Christian and his girlfriend Liz (who is such a sweetheart!) and headed the whole block away to Christian's apartment. His apartment is pretty gritty, but at the same time the coolest thing I've ever seen. It's right on the street level so when we sat in the kitchen with the windows open you literally felt like you were right there on the street! It's a small, boy filled (and therefore pretty messy) apartment but it's got a lot of homey quirks that just make you feel perfectly comfortable the moment you sit down, like you've always been sitting in that kitchen. Anyways, Christian and Liz made us a huge dinner of pasta with spinach and sausage, bruchetta (SO GOOD), five bottles of wine for four people, after dinner espresso and hazelnut wafers. Dinner was so much fun, we just sat around and caught up and laughed and ate for over three hours.

Because dinner went so late Carolyn and I ended up sleeping on Liz's pull out couch because we couldn't find alternative lodging (the nuns wanted 50 euro a pop for us to stay with them, which until learning this had been our shelter of choice for our Rome trip). Liz's apartment is on the opposite end of Rome, in a residential area and therefore a lot nicer and cleaner than Christians. In the morning Carolyn and I made our way over to the Vatican City (after getting lost in a park and ending up on a high way for a decent chunk of time, it was hilarious at the time AND in retrospect). We visited St. Peter's which was overwhelmingly huge and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museum, where I have never seen so many museum goers in all of my life, all the halls, corridors, and rooms were filled wall to wall with people! But the Sistine Chapel was gorgeous, and well worth the trek.

After our morning of site seeing Carolyn and I met up with Christian for more gilado(I have no idea how to spell that by the way, sorry!) and some delicious pizza in a local store he loves. And just walked around seeing all the sites all day. The weather was absolutely perfect. Rome has a similar aura to Granada, it must be that Mediterranean sunshine, but the only difference is that Rome as a city makes Granada seem like it runs like butter efficiency wise. The buses are basically free, even if you wanted to pay to ride them by the time you figured out how to actually do so you have arrived at your final destination. Because of this lack of funds, the buses come pretty sporadically, but you can't really complain because you're paying nothing for them! Also, the drivers are insane. And I have never seen so many mo-peds in my entire life. Spanish drivers seem incredibly tame now after Rome, and I have a new found appreciation for all the cars here the stop to let you cross.

For dinner Carolyn and I went to a little restaurant on a side street where I had the best Gnocchi I've ever had in my life along with more delicious bruchetta. After lots of calls Carolyn and I had decided to use "couch-surfing" for our lodging, where you use a website to find people in whatever city you're visiting who have a free room and enjoy hosting visitors for a night or weekend, they usually cook for you and take you out. Francesco is the name of the guy we looked up and a bunch of Christian's friends had stayed with him and gave him tons of good reviews so we figured he wouldn't be too sketchy, even if he is Italian.

After a lot of chaos (high and low points: brain storming alternative places to sleep at a gay bar with all our luggage, fighting with Italian pay phones, waiting in random metro stations) Francesco ultimatly picked us up and drove us around (he ended up not having room in his house because family was visiting) and ultimatly put us up in a four star hotel for the evening, only after making sure that there was a free buffet breakfast in the morning. He was really hospitable and sweet, and made me see that Italian men have some silver lining in there, you just gotta hunt it down.

The next day was a holiday so it took us awhile to get back into the center city to see Christian. We had consumed enormous amounts of food at breakfast, and arrived at Christian's apartment in time to eat another homemade, gigantic, pasta meal. After wards we hit up the Colosseum and other various ruins. Everything was free that week, so we lucked out big time. The Colosseum was one of my favorites, even though it's hard to pick since everything in Rome is so rich with history. It's incredible to just be walking down the street and look to your left and oh, there's the Colosseum, walk some more and oh, there's old ruins, keep goin and you pass a church that has the steps Jesus walked up when he saw Pilot, no big deal right? Mind blowing.

We walked all around the city because it was yet again another perfect day and eventually went out to the most cliche dinner of my life. We were on a little side street, on a perfectly temperate night, eating a huge Italian dinner of pizza (we each had our own, no joke) and wine under the stars, while a man played the accordion. I kid you not. It was such a nice dinner and way to end our stay. After our huge delicious dinner we wandered around, sat by the fountain ( I always forget its name, its a big deal, and gorgeous, and when you throw a coin in it means you're going to return to Rome) and watched all the tourists and locals, and threw a coin in over our shoulders, assuring a return trip at some point in our futures. Then, even though my stomach was on the verge of exploding thanks to a day of marathon eating, Carolyn and I got one last gelado just because the next time we will be able to get REAL Italian gelado may be years from now! I have never felt so full in my life, I was actually in pain, but in the best way possible :)

We went back to Christians and got our stuff and headed towards our hostal (yes, we actually booked a hostal room! and it was right by the bus stations since we had early flights and therefore early buses to catch). But of course we didn't write the address down completely and we didn't have the hostal's phone number so we ended up wandering around with two sweet italian women desperately trying to help us despite all language barriers. Ultimatly, after learning the police didn't have internet and that the closest thing to it a nearby hotel had was the 1996 yellow pages, we went back to the two italians' flat, used their internet, found said hostal and made it there. In our defense, the hostal was unmarked and in a huge apartment building, and therefore hard to find even after we figured out where we were going.

By the time we made it to our hostal, it was almost five am, and our bus was at six thirty, so we decided to save ourselves twenty euro and walk to the bus station and just hang out. That walk was a whole new adventure of getting a little lost and asking for directions in this standard format: English? Espanol? Duetch? (second part changes language based on reply) how do we get to the bus station?

Finally we made it to the bus station on no sleep, caught our flights ( I had a miserable 8 hr lay over in the Girona airport where there is absolutely NOTHING to do, I'm not bitter at all, I swear) and made it home safe and sound.

Rome was an amazing trip and I loved all of it, the city, and especially being back with some of my Haverford friends. You never realize how much you miss someone until you spend some time with them and realize how much they mean to you!

Next stop: Athens!