Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quick Trip to Pisa

This Saturday, Alli, Doty, and I made a quick trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. We caught the 9am train to Pisa, its only an hour, on the way there I read Kant, not a fun way to spend an hour. From the train station it was a short bus ride to the Pisa complex. Pisa's only real attraction is the complex, it contains the Leaning Tower, the cathedral, and the baptistery. The complex, being the only attraction, overcharges its patrons. It was 15 euro to climb the Tower and see the cathedral. The tower was worth it, I enjoyed the climb, and it had great views.

View of the entire complex

View of the Leaning Tower

View of the Cathedral from the tower

Alli and I at the top of the tower

Shoving match

Christmas Dinner

Last Monday the entire program got together to celebrate Christmas, the end of the semester, and the fact that some of us are leaving. We ate at a nice restaurant in town with the school covering a over half of the bill. Dr. Burke gave a short speech, "Santa" made a brief appearance, there was a silent auction, and a raffle. I won 4 euro worth of gelato from Gelateria Carabe, it is close by and quite delicious.

Emily Pyne and I, she is staying for another semester

Tim and I, (he is wearing my shirt and tie)

Kepfer and I with Santa (played by Spencer)

Dr. Burke and I

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gift for my Mom

I looking for a gift to get my mom from Italy, so I took some pictures of some scarfs that she might like. Mom, if you see something that you like, cast your vote, everyone else can vote as well.

Dutch booth at the Christmas Market

Cashmere-silk scarfs

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day trip to Venice and inside the Duomo

This is my last free weekend before finals, so this Friday I went to Venice on a day trip to see the last city on my list of places to see. It was an early start, up at 7:30 and started to walk by 8, the train left at 8:40. It was a 2:40 train ride to Venice, we arrived around 11:30, right on time. It was raining in Venice, but I didn't care, I had been wanting to go to Venice ever sense I got to Italy. Venice was beautiful, as we arrived the ocean was right next to the train tracks. The Grand Canal runs right out side the train station and we got to see that right away. It was a fun walk from the train station to the Rialto and San Marco. The Rialto bridge is one of the world's most famous bridges, it spans the Grand Canal in a single arch, it supports a number of shops as well as those who are crossing. From the Rialto, we walked to San Marco, which was flooded. They had walkways set up to allow visitors still see the sights. San Marco is the square and church that can be seen in The Italian Job. It houses the San Marco's Basilica and the Doge's Palace. We were still able to see both of these sights by way of the raised walkways. The basilica combines different styles, eastern and western. The Doge was the duke of Venice, the palace is full of art, weapons, and is where the Bridge of Sighs is found. After we left the Doge's Palace, we went to find lunch at a restaurant that Rick Steves recomended, it was tasty. I had bean soup and grilled prawns. After dinner we split a bottle of white wine to pass the time while we were drying off and waiting for the train. We took a Vaporetto, or water bus, from the Rialto to the train station bought our tickets and waited for our train, we were back by 8pm.

Grand Canal


Inside San Marco

As close as I could aford to get to a Gondola

Two pillars in Piazza San Marco

Largest oil painting in the world

On the Vaporetto

From the Vaporetto

Saturday was a lazy day but Doty decided that we couldn't just sit around all day so we went and grabbed lunch and headed for the Duomo. I had not gone inside of the Duomo yet and Doty is a tour guide so he took me through it and we climed Giotto's Tower, the bell tower next to the Duomo.

Inside the Duomo

The dome

Doty on the way up

Ring my bell

View from the top

Doty and I made it to the top

Me and the Duomo

Ben and Jerry's for everyone who made it to the top

Monday, November 30, 2009


It was a long trip, but I will try to keep the post short. The first day we traveled all day starting at 2 pm, first by bus to the port and then by boat, we were on the boat all night. The next morning we landed in Croatia and it was back on the bus to take us to Medjugorje and our hotels, we arrived at 11. On the first day there, we stayed in Medjugorje for the first day. We toured the two miracle sites that they claim to have. The first is the statue of Jesus that is near the church, it is leaching an unexplained oily substance from the knee. The second site is up on a hill where six children claim to have seen the Virgin Mary many years ago. I touched the knee and it had a fluid substance bubbling slowly out of it but there are non miraculous theories that may explain what is causing the liquid. After the tour we went back to the hotel for a break. That night for dinner we celebrated Thanksgiving dinner at our hotel, it was veal with potatoes and green beans, but it was still thanksgiving because I shared it with a family of sorts, my Gonzaga family. After dinner we went to the only pub in town, almost all the students we had a great time.

Statue of Jesus

Apparition Hill

The next day we went to Mostar, it is known for all of the violence that occurred during the conflict during the 90's. On the way there, our bus celebrated the start of the Christmas season by playing Christmas music. We toured what is left of the old city, seeing a famous bridge that was rebuilt after the conflict. After the tour we went to lunch at a restaurant where they served us a traditional Bosnian lunch, which was a giant pita filled with sausage and french fries, it was quite good. After lunch one of my friends, Andrew Doty, played the piano. He is quite good, he did a lot of contemporary pieces, including the theme to The Office. We didn't stay long in Mostar because it was a Muslim holiday and many stores were closed. For dinner that night we went back to that pub, upstairs there is a restaurant that was quite good, we stayed after for a few drinks but called it an early night because we had to be up earlier the next day for our trip.

Evidence of the Conflict

The bridge in Mostar

Bro pic with Me, Grant, Kepfer, Doty, Dorman, and Larry

Doty on the piano

Saturday, we went to Dubrovnik, which is in Croatia. It rained all day but I still had fun, it took a little while for all of my stuff to dry out after. Once we arrived we had a short tour of the city followed by lunch. I went to The Admiral with Doty, Tim, and Larry, I had cream soup and shrimp risotto. After lunch we tried to find our way on to the wall that surrounds the old city, but we got there to late and it had been locked up for the night. We explored around the city and found the Jesuit Church and a playground. It was a long bus ride back, everyone was wet. When we returned to Medjugorje we didn't have a chance to dry off, it was a race back to the pub for dinner, I had the stuffed chicken, it was delicious.

Jesuit Church

Us at the playground

By the water in Dubrovnik
(I need to shave in this pic)

Sunday was the start of our trip home. We went to Split and had time to kill so we found a place to eat. I had pizza amerikana and a local dark beer, the beer was a little heavy for my liking but it had good flavor and I am glad that I tried it. We got on the boat for another 12 hour adventure with little to no sleep. Arrived in Ancona at 7am where we boarded the buses for the last leg of our return.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When in Rome...

We had quite a weekend in Rome, I'm glad that had been there before on opening tour, even though I stayed in another part of Rome this time, it helped. The school put us up in a pretty nice hotel this time, not a premium location but in a city with as much history as Rome, there really isn't a bad place to stay.

We left for Rome at 9 am on a Friday, it was an early start. We had a four hour bus ride to our hotel in Rome, we arrived right on time and took an hour for lunch. I didn't explore to far from the hotel for this meal because I didn't want to miss the tour of the Colosseum. After lunch we were to go on a walking tour of ancient Rome. This meant a trip to the Colosseum and the Forum, which I enjoyed immensely because I hadn't gotten to see either of them on my first visit. After the tour we went to the Pantheon to find the gelato place that Father Brian likes so much, I got chocolate with orange and egg cream (tastes like eggnog), the combination reminded me of Christmas. From the there it was off to the Trevi Fountain, another site I missed on my first trip, of course I threw in the coins for good luck or whatever it is worth. After that we returned to the hotel to rest before dinner. For dinner we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, burgers and shakes, so good! We had a late meal so after dinner it was back to the hotel to call it a night.

Me in the Colosseum

Better View of the Colosseum

Trevi Fountain

Me with my Shake

Mel, Emily, and Kate

The next morning it was off to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel... but the Sistine Chapel was closed, the good news is that they wouldn't have let me take pictures in there anyway so you aren't actually missing much. We still enjoyed the museums and made the best of the morning that we had. We had lunch at the cafeteria at the museum sat in the garden until our tour with Fr. Brian was supposed to start. We met Fr. Brian in front of St. Peter's. He took us through St. Peter's and down through the tombs of the Popes. From there we went on a long walking tour of trastevere, the Italian neighborhood across the Tiber from most of the city. From there we went to the longest continuously operating hospital in the world, I believe that it was called St. John's. From there we went into Rome's Jewish ghetto, one of the oldest Jewish communities outside of Palestine. Not far from the Jewish ghetto was the room where the Apostle Paul was held while he was in Rome. After that we walked to the original Jesuit house that was next to the original location of the Vatican, both the previous and the current Jesuit house in Rome are located specifically because the leader of the Jesuit order always wanted to be able to see the Pope's window, as a reminder that they should be working together. This is where the tour ended, some went on in search of canoli that they would never find, Tim and I returned to the hotel to rest before dinner. Fr. Brian tried to give us directions to a little restaurant near the hotel that he though we would like, we couldn't find it but Tim and I were sure that we could find our way back to the Hard Rock, different burger and a margarita, same result as the first visit... bliss.

In the Vatican Museum courtyard

Statue from the Vatican Museum

From the Egypt Exhibit

St. Peter's

Paul's room from when he was held in Rome

Sunday was our day on our own, we had the Roma Pass which would get us into one more museum for free and there was the blessing of the Pope at noon outside of St. Peter's so we picked an interesting museum that happened to be close to the Vatican... Tim and I did both. We went to the Museo Nationale di Castel Sant' Angelo, this museum houses a collection of old weapons and much of the art that has been recovered by the Carbinari, the Italian national police. It is a beautiful castle, I got some great pictures. From there it was off to the Vatican to see the Papal Blessings, it was quite a crowd. We went from there back to the hotel to have lunch near by before catching the bus back to Florence, on the way we watched Talladega Nights, fun for me.

St. Peter's in the Background

Top of Castel Sant' Angelo

Crowd waiting for the Pope

Pope giving the Blessing