Clearly... I haven't posted in awhile. I think the lax schedule and endless amounts of free time have just been wearing me out.
On a completely unrelated note, I've begun to notice that Europe has heightened my sense of sarcasm. If I'm being honest, it's totally changed my perspective on a lot of things, and I think I can already tell that certain facets of my personality have changed It's not often that you can see and feel yourself growing and changing, but I consider it a great blessing to have some notion of it right now. I'm changing the way I relate to people, getting out of old ruts and bad habits, learning all about the world, and becoming more and more open to new experiences as each day passes. The feeling is remarkably liberating, although the part of me that aches for home is also getting bigger, so there's a bit of a war going on in my psyche at the moment. Pretty soon I will be so full of emotions that I'll explode!
Where to start...
I don't think I made it to our day on Capri, and I would certainly be remiss if I didn't spend at least a little time elaborating on it, because it was possibly the best day of my life.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2011
We started out the day with a boat ride. A 45 minute, windy, rocky boat ride during the vast majority of which I slept; this was due in part to my proclivity toward motion sickness, and partly to my aversion toward watching awkward couples attempt to be lovey-dovey while their foreheads knock against each other because of the waves. Needless to say, I was more than happy to disembark from the cruiser and begin my day in paradise. I wish I had adequate words to describe what the atmosphere of the town of Anacapri felt like. Just know that nothing I can ever say will do it justice, and if there's one place in the world that I would pay any price to go back to at some point in my life, it would be Capri. Everything is breezy, and mostly white. There are linen shops and baskets brimming with seashells and overflowing flowerpots and quaint benches and fruit markets on every street. The people are all friendly and will talk your ear off (most speak passable English) if you'll let them. The cobblestone streets wind around the top of the island like little ribbons on top of a wedding cake. There's so much to see and do; it's impossible to experience it all in one day. The first thing we aimed to do was get our handmade sandals. We shopped and put in an order to the precious Antonio Vivo, who promised to have them made around lunchtime. By then it was around 10:30am, so we took the opportunity to explore what we could of the island. We walked and shopped some more, and bought fruit to eat as we walked. The boys bought this HUGE lemon (the size of a canteloupe) and we all took turns tasting it. By itself, the lemon was naaaasty, but a small piece eaten with a cherry tasted rather like pink lemonade. We had fun experimenting with different tastes after discovering the delectable cherry-lemon duo, and also we had fun getting lost in the meantime. Our group was not one to gripe, though, and we made it back to the town with only a few laughs and sore feet. Allison, Wade and I decided to grab lunch at a little cafeteria (BEST salad I've ever eaten), while Maggie and Matt ate some leftover pizza they'd brought and finished up the fruit. Next we picked up our shoes, and explored this huge villa/castle thing that, as a result of my tragically tardy posting record, I can't remember the name of. It's not important. We didn't even go inside because it cost 15 Euro and we were already over-budget because of the shoes. However, we did make a lifelong friend in a young and feisty black lady who took pictures for us. I think in a previous life she was some kind of magazine photographer, because with an air of complete professionalism, she kept yelling "Get it! Love the camera! Show me sexy!" and annoying all the Asians around us. Her name was Cassie and she was from New York. Also, her bikini kept almost falling off and making the boys feel awkward, but that's beside the point. After that energetic experience, we made our way to the chairlift, which was my absolute favorite part of the day. It took around ten minutes to make it all the way up to the highest point on the island, and we were suspended about 50 feet in the air the entire time, in a rickety little wooden chair with nothing but an iron bar across each of our laps to keep us from falling to our doom. I was actually convinced at first that I would hate it, what with my history of severe acrophobia (had to google that one), but once I got used to the slight sway from the breeze, it was completely enjoyable. I was alone with my thoughts to observe and contemplate the beauty of the island. I took time to pray, and just sit in awe of God's creation. When we made it to the top, there was a perfect little cafe and we all got cappucinos and put flowers in our hair. We sat on comfy bench swings and just talked and laughed and marveled at the fact that we were practically sitting in the clouds. I never wanted to leave. Eventually we had to, because the last boat left before sunset, but I couldn't have been more reluctant. We ate dinner later that evening in Sorrento, after picking up Dillon from the hotel, and then we ended the night with a game of hearts (as usual), and hit the sack. I was exhausted in the best way possible, and certain that nothing could ever live up to that day.
Regarding the last day of the trip I have very little comment, except to say that I never thought I'd get so tired from walking DOWN stairs (over 500 of them) to the beach, or so miserable while traveling in a place as beautiful as the Amalfi coast and Positano. It POURED the entire time, I had on white pants, we had to ride this awful, tiny boat in the middle of the storm, and I kept singing "Jesus take the wheel" in my head.
Compared to Tuesday, our Wednesday might as well have been straight out of Dante's Inferno. But we made it safely back to the villa and dried off, and were excited to realize how much the villa had started to feel like home. For the next week, we attended classes in the morning, and had several fun activities in the afternoon. My personal favorite was the afternoon we went horseback riding. I especially enjoyed watching Allison get hit on by our trail guide and resident horse expert, Fabio. He kept coming out of nowhere and smiling at her awkwardly. At one point, when she was first getting on her horse, the lady that had been helping her stepped out of the way suddenly and Fabio appeared, shoving her tiny little hiney up into the saddle with a grin and some incomprehensible Italian words. Allison was not impressed. I took lots of pictures and although it was a little drizzly, the panoramas we saw of the Tuscan countryside were breathtaking. My horse's name was Skipper, and he was as ornery as the day is long. I complained at him for being too stubborn and he immediately stopped in the middle of the trail and started taking a dump. I griped and scolded him for eating the grass and he started messing with the tail of the horse in front of him. As I said, he was a character, but we became friends eventually. I also enjoyed the afternoon we spent drawing at the Pitti Palace with Mike Weismeier. He used to be a cartoonist for Disney (some of his more notable projects include Beauty and the Beast, Pocahantas, The hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Fantasia 2000), and as part of our humanities class we got to take a few hours and go around learning how to sketch like a true artist. I think Hannah would have been much better suited for the task; all I did was attempt some crooked-looking urn things and get really frustrated at how awful I am at making art.
We've also taken many different field trips into Florence in the last few weeks. Here's my list of my top 5 favorite things I've seen:
1. The David at the Accademia
2. The Birth of Venus and Primavera at the Uffizi
3. The statues of Dawn, Dusk, Night, and Day in the San Lorenzo church
4. The statues of 2 of the Medici dukes in the San Lorenzo church
5. Fra. Angelico's Annunciation at San Marco Museum
Google them if you haven't seen them. They're amazing, and I couldn't take pictures of most of them, although I snuck my camera into the Accademia and the Uffizi.
Tomorrow I will try to tackle the Casentino and Siena/San Gimignano trips.
Goodnight for now.