Wednesday, May 4, 2011

arrivederci roma!

Jana here:

Well, Rome, its been a blast. You have introduced me to a world of history, beauty, culture, frustration, language barriers, pasta, extra weight gain from so much pasta, annoying street vendors, travel skills, confidence, and friendship. I completely admit to the love affair (sorry Jon) I have had with you for these past few months. But the time has come to say: arrivederci! It is time to take this experience and bring it home with me. I am ready to embrace my family, tackle my sweet friends to the ground, kiss my boyfriend and eat some chipotle! All vital and important things to my little heart. I am ready to share pictures and stories,while reflecting on my time here. I will miss this place, there is no doubt in my mind. I will miss having the opportunity to walk to the Vatican on any given day, pray in these ancient churches filled with relics from Jesus, bodies of Saints and and the pure beauty and grandeur they encompass. I will miss seeing Papa B (because yes, I got to see him 6 times!) I will miss having the opportunity to travel all around Europe. I will (eventually) miss the perpetual supply of pasta. Oh sweet baby Jesus, i will miss the cappuccinos of perfection i indulged in every morning. I will miss the people, the friendships that I have been blessed with this semester. I will MISS ROME.

I have been living in this tension all semester: soaking up every ounce of goodness Italia has to offer while missing my people back home. But now that I am leaving in 2 days eeeeeekkk the tension is heightened. Will this really be the last time my taste buds indulge in some Old Bridge nutella Gelato? Will this be my last annoying 45 minute wait for the 990 bus? Will this be the last time I see some of these people who I have lived with for the past 4 months? Rome has become such a large part of my heart that it is going to be terrible to say goodbye to it. I am not saying 'Ciao' forever though, because obviously i have thrown multiple coins in the Trevi Fountain, ensuring my return to Roma. But this opportunity to spend 4 months in this eternal city was a one time deal. And hell yes, I know how lucky and blessed I am to have had this fantastic experience. I will forever be grateful for my parents for providing me this immense opportunity. It has been the best experience of my life. I am one lucky girl.

It is amazing to look back on some of the first pictures we took here. I never would of thought I would look back and think "wow, I look so different." And its not my physique per se that has changed (although the pasta may or may not have gotten to me a little... slash my hair has gotten long and luscious-errr)  but I'm different. I feel so much more experienced through these four months. I feel like I look more mature, like I can tackle the world and whatever it has to throw at me. Pretty powerful stuff.

So now, I'm signing off for the last time. I guess its time to say "Send Me On My Way" again. But this time I'm heading back to the Land of Oz, good ole' Kansas for another wild, crazy, and quite different experience: another summer at Camp Tekakwitha. Bring it on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lets Kick Holy Week off RIGHT

8 feet away from PAPA B at Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican. Holy Week is going to be chalk full of activities and amazing opportunities around Rome. We will update with more information soon about our last couple of weeks in Rome. But for now, just check out this picture. Words cannot do it justice!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Caserta, Pompeii, Capri, Serrento and Naples

Hi friends!

Unfortunately it's just Adrienne reporting this time.  Jana was unable to attend the journey because of a concussed head. dang ittttt.  but never fear! she is doing better!

Last weekend was yet again amazing; it could only have been better if Jana had been there and if motorcycle thieves hadn't tried to rob my family on the walk back to the train station in Naples.  Not a nice area...

But in contrast to the glass shard, trash and graffiti covered city of Naples, Capri was one of the most beautiful places I have yet witnessed!!  We took a ferry there on Saturday for a day trip to the breathtaking island.  We got on board with a bus tour led by a tour guide friend named Luiggi, who sung Italian songs almost constantly throughout the trip.  We were in the land of Limoncello and beautiful coasts.  The bus tour took us to the hopping areas of the island.  First thing we did was take a chair lift to the highest point of the island.  It was peaceful, and we were looking down on clouds!!!  We had some Caprese salad and pizza for lunch and continued our tour through the eclectic island towns.  Next we took a boat loop around the entire island and saw the shimmering blue water reflect the impressive rock formations that the tour guide insisted looked like animals ("if you look to your right, you'll see a rock that looks like a turtle climbing a elephant... a piece of salami").  I thought the salami shaped rock was particularly creative...

Friday was a packed day, we started with a tour of the palace in Caserta and ended the day walking through the ruins in Pompeii.  What contrasting things- walking through a grand palace and then ruins!  The palace was larger than Versailles and the gardens stretched for miles.  So long in fact, that we took an enjoyable and scenic horse and carriage ride to see more of it.  In Pompeii we walked through the remains of what was once an impressive and lively town.  Now the columns are left crumbled, the paint on the walls chipped, while some casts of humans trapped in lava remain.  Yet it is not all too difficult to imagine what this town once was.   

We also stopped in the town of Serrento, which I'd seen before on an overcast day with the wettest feet.  It was nice to see the town of music boxes and hand painted plates with the sunning beating down and illuminating the water.  The food the entire weekend was incredible, filled with pizza, pasta, wine, oil and vinaigrette.  It was absolutely wonderful being with my parents, little sister and adopted sister Sarah for these journeys.  

Earlier in the week, Jana and I met up with my family and climbed to the top of Castel San Angelo and had dinner in Trastevere.  The next day we gave a grand walking tour of several famous churches, showing them the original masterpieces within them by Bernini, Borromini, and Caravaggio.  Here is St. Therese in Ecstasy done by Bernini in the Bel Composto style:
It was wonderful to see family and friends and Jana nor I can't thank them enough for visiting! 


Note: We apologize for our lack of blogging. A lot has been happening in our lives in the last couple of weeks! We will try to catch you all (our five followers :)) up on the adventures of our lives here in Italy

Thursday night we left on a train for Florence! Throwing us for yet another loop, Rome was on another transportation strike and we had to spontaneously transfer trains. The image of Adrienne running into the cabin and startling Jana out of her comfortable book reading realm by saying “we have to get off NOW” will forever be implanted in our minds. We arrived in Florence and put our Italian to good use, finding the hotel and reuniting with Adrienne’s pajama’d parents and jet lagged sister + sister’s best friend, Sarah.  On Friday we got an early start, free breakfast at the hotel and pulling the typical college student shin dig, we grabbed extra croissants and put them in our pockets, and our pockets in our pants(?). (Thank you Adrienne for your nonsensical child babble.)  We first climbed to the top of the famous Duoma of Florence. The enormous architectural dome was calling our name and Mrs. Edson was a trooper by climbing through her knee pain and making it to the top to enjoy a beyond beautiful view of the spectacular city.  We went to a Piazza where the tight-butted replica of the David statue greeted us. We traveled through the Florence museum space time continuum seeing the Birth of Venus and other famous religious and mythological paintings. Cool beans mcgee.

Next we walked across the Pontio Vecchio and climbed high to Piazza Michelangelo to a view that overlooked the entire city. We searched for our friends signature that simply stated “I love Celine Dion” but alas! Never found it. blast.  We sat on a bench for a long time, lost parents, and made our way back to the hotel before a delicious night out.

The next day we made our way to Pisa to see the incredible architectural phenomenon of the famous ‘Leaning Tower.’ Good job guys on that architectural fail. There, we took the typical touristy pictures of holding up the tower. We also went into the beautiful cathedral and baptistery. Next we hoped on a train and headed to Lucca! It was a beautiful, gorgeous day outside and Lucca was fantastic. Adrienne and Jana put there limited Italian to use and navigated the way to a restaurant that was highly recommended! Jana quickly fell in love with the homemade pesto pasta that she ate and will forever remember that delicious taste in her mouth. Boom. The rest of their time in Lucca they enjoyed the cute medieval town and sensational weather that was provided. Yeah Italy sunshine!
The food and wine all weekend were fantastic. The company was even better and Adrienne and Jana VERY much enjoyed their weekend in Florence, Pisa and Lucca with the Edson’s!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

So Swiss

Last weekend we went to Switzerland with our friends Lily, Conor and Mike.  We were embraced warmly into the arms of Lily's family who lives in France (right on the border of Switzerland). Lily's cousin, Amir, met us at the airport and helped us navigate our way to a mountain because it was beautiful outside and we had every intention of going on a hike. After getting off the bus we walked to Switzerland (no big deal) and found out that we could take a gondola (or telecubby as some weirdos call it) to the top. When we got there we explored and climbed some more, playing camp games and messing around in the beautiful weather. After we were done bedangling on the mountain Amir picked us up and we had an incredible homemade swiss meal. Potatoes, melted cheese and meat galore. It was so nice to have a change from pasta central here at the Jforce and to be treated with such hospitality. We played with his two energetic kids, and despite the language barrier they loved us and we loved them, of course!

The next day we got tips from Lily's family about what to see in Geneva. After escaping a near credit card machine eating experience we were on our way to exploring this beautiful city.  We walked around the Old Town, flatten pennies on the tram tracks, talked to a 'toothbrush-in-afro haired' man about peace while getting free coffee and chocolate, climbed to the top of S. Pierre Cathedral and saw the whole city, walked through parks and played more games. Miniature tanks.

Coming home to the cloud-like soft mattress and Iranian home cooked meal, Saturday ended with a bang. On Sunday we were treated to croissants and coffee and made our way to more parks. The boys left at 6 that morning so it was just us girls.  Amir drove us to the airport and we made it back to Rome without any trouble. Praise God for no traveling issues. Aw yeah.

Today, Adrienne's family is flying into Rome! We are meeting them in Florence tomorrow and will spend the next 2 weekends with them! We are very very excited to see them, yay family :)

37ish days left in Rome. Holy SMOKES.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Home in Rome

After a busy Spring Break, we enjoyed the turning of the weather at our home in Rome! We know that we usually just update after big trips, but this past week and weekend have proved to be very eventful! Here is a run down of our life.

The SLA's who are the 25ish year olds that are our RA's/parental figuresish planned a rocking party for us in the basement of our center! It was 80's theme and we had fun dressing up in bright colors, thick lipstick and obnoxious side ponytails while we danced to the fun familiar 80's songs that everyone loves. There may or may not have been a point where we simultaneously did the worm and everyone cheered/chanted our names. Slash, there may or may not have been a point where we rocked the Camp Dance, its practically in our blood, we can't help it.

Wednesday at midnight there was a huge celebration in Rome being the 150th Year Unification of Italy. It was comparable to the 4th of July but even more people packed into the streets dancing, throwing balloons and belting out songs of Italian Unity. At midnight fireworks went off besides the Colosseum. It was a very memorable occasion!

For St. Patrick's Day we went to an Irish pub that was absolutely packed and enjoyed some live music being brought back to the wonderful Irish memories we have from Spring Break.

Friday we took a day trip to Tivoli. It was a beautiful small town and we plan to go back! We had a long and wonderful Italian meal for cheap! We arrived at this beautiful villa but the sky unleashed a downpour and we decided that on a nice Spring day we would come back, picnic and frolic through the park.

On Saturday Adrienne spent the day exploring the giant and beautiful park of Villa Borghese gaining inspiration for a short story for class! It was a beautiful day and wonderful to be immersed and lost in nature again. Jana spent the day working on a theology paper indoors. Sweet.

Saturday night Jana had a new experience and went to a chocolate bar in Roma. The shot glasses were completely made out of chocolate and the bar tender gave the instructions to put the entire shotglass into her mouth at once. It was a delicious mouthful.

On Sunday, we made it downtown despite the streets being closed off for the Rome Marathon and ran into St. Peter's Square just in time to see the Pope give his blessing. It was funny to be packed in the square with thousands of people when we have experienced the square at night, more or less alone! Later that night a group of JFRC students got the opportunity to see a play, The Betrayal, in a small underground theater.

And believe it or not, we actually do go to school here, and have classes. We are keeping on top of our studies and mostly enjoying the classes that we have here! Adrienne really enjoys her voice lessons that she is taking with a renowned opera singer, and is now working on her second Italian art song.  In her Introduction to Opera class she has been immersed into the art, learned about it's history, and already watched eight recordings of famous operas!   Her favorite class is her on-site Writing Fiction in Rome.  The teacher is down to earth, cynical, but one of the most fascinating and thought provoking people of all time.  The class is a walking tour of neat niches of Rome, and sitting down along the way to write fiction stories. Actually Adrienne and five classmates met up with their cool teacher for a long dinner last night in Trastevere!

Jana is having a blast in her classes because of the amazing professors that are teaching her! Her Theology class is taking a look at the Jewish Christian Encounter and is lead by the sweetest Priest she has ever met. The class is fascinating and only meets once a week! Check.  Jana thoroughly enjoys her history of Rome class because she is taught by an intriguing professor. He is not only down right hilarious but he has written books, speaks five languages fluently, has a British/ Dutch accent, and is a knight of England. No big deal.

Jana and Adrienne take Italian class  and Art in Rome together.  Italian is a must take class when one is in Rome, and although we are focusing on the nit picky grammar we know that it is necessary to learn! Art in Rome has given us the opportunity to learn about the ancient world we are living in. The last 2 weeks we have gone to the Vatican Museum where ancient sculptures and famous paintings by Raphael and Michlangelo reside. This week we went to the Church of Saint Clemente which has 3 levels of building and rubble built on top of one another over the centuries. The first level underground was a Roman house built in the 1st Century and became the foundation for the first Church of S. Clemente in the 4th Century built on top. The now standing church was built in the 12th century on top of the previous buildings. We got to go down to the levels and experience the excavations. Not a bad Wednesday class if you ask us.

Up Next: Switzerland. 40 days left of this Roman experience. Holy Smokes, its gone by fast already.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cheers to a Great Adventure.

We left Thursday night for a ten day long spring break in Dublin, Galway and Paris with our friends Katie and Kristin. Arriving in Dublin we were incredibly happy to experience the lack of language barrier and we soaked in the friendly Irish people with their cool accents as they willingly helped us navigate to our hostel.

Our first full day in Dublin, we went on a fabulous day long hike through Wicklow national park.  It was a less known tour with a small and intimate setting of 8 people and a very knowledgeable and amiable tour guide.  We hiked beside the still and glassy ponds of Wicklow, where the mountains reflect so clearly into the lakes like a mirror.  We hiked a path through old mining ruins and stopped for a sack lunch and watched as distant groups of mountain goats butted heads.  
The hike was filled with pretty tough terrain, but we just had a blast foraging our way through it!  To finish a wonderful hike, they gave us Irish tea and chocolate- yum. 

 At night we enjoyed all of the live Irish music that echoed into the streets from nearly every pub. Stopping in at the pub that P.S. I love you was filmed in and enjoying some authentic Irish food, aka bangers and mash, we then headed to the famous “Temple Bar” in Dublin. We enjoyed the scene and atmosphere of the entire pub singing along with the band. It was a cheery top o’ the night to us. (what?)

Day two was the Guinness factory tour, which was fascinating.  After taking the tour and sampling Guinness’ secret recipe, we instantly gained greater appreciation for beer.  After that we walked around the city, stopping in enormous and ornate churches like Christ’s church, St. Patrick’s, St. Augustine’s and even saw St. Valentine’s bones! 

Galway- our next adventure. Traveling by bus we arrived and met our hostelmates – girls from New York and Jersey. Hello accents. Then we got kicked out of a pub. For not drinking which may be the first time in history that this has ever happened. But things turned around as we traveled to the beautiful Cliffs of Moher the next day. We were left speechless and awe inspired by these beautiful cliffs. As we laid on our stomachs and peered over the edge we were taken back by the immense drop and beauty of it all. The Galway night life did not disappoint as we enjoyed the beer and live music again. We sang this song the entire time we were in Ireland:

Back in Dublin we said bye to our friends with every intention of meeting back up with them in Paris. (more on that later…) We decided to spend our last day in Ireland in St. Stephens park as well as people watching for hours in a coffee shop. Picturesque.


We are cheap people, trying to find the best deals, cheapest flights etc. Welp, 8 Euro plane ticket to Paris sounds nice and 10 Euro a night hotel rooms sounds like the cherry on top. Turns out they were in opposite middle-of-nowheres. Congratulations Jana and Adrienne for good planning. So… long story short we landed at 10 p.m. and didn’t find our hotel until 5. In the morning. After several long waits for buses that didn’t take us to the right places and metros that had shut down for the night and broken bags we had experienced our first travel flaws. But ALAS the trip turned around!

Our first day we scaled the Eiffel tower like stair climbing monkeys and picked up some cereal for dinner. We didn’t eat well in Paris. Not important.

So, remember how we said we were supposed to meet up with our friends in Paris? Well, the prolonged route to get to our hotel and the closing of an essential train prevented us from being at the Eiffel Tower at noon on Wednesday. We never saw any of our friends. Yet, through this difficult reality we happily sang this song and took on the city:

The rest of the trip we soaked in the FREE museums thanks to our 6 month Visas. We saw the famous original works of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci along with the HUGE palace of Versailles. We enjoyed the beauty of Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur. We were stair climbing monkeys again as we ascended the arc de triomphe and watched the Eiffel tower glisten in its five minute long night light show. We stopped along the way for multiple nutella crepes and realized that there is a limit to how much nutella one can consume without feeling sick, and that we reached that limit. We walked by Moulin Rouge and the plaza around it that was filled with local painters and artists.

We successfully beat the strict regulations of Ryanair and lived out of one small bag each for ten days. Smelly, tired and yet extremely fulfilled we are happy to be back at home- in Rome.