Sunday, February 24, 2008

Excuse me, where's the Castle?!

Okay folks, let's play catch up. I've been a terrible blogger since my journey here in Florence has began. However, I'm making some effort and trying to keep you all (all two, maybe three of you who read this) updated on my adventures so far. :)

So, I went to GERMANY two weekends ago with my roommate Katherine. I never thought I would have the opportunity to go there, but we found a cheap flight into Frankfurt from Florence. Now, when I saw cheap, I mean we flew roundtrip from Italy to Germany for 40 euros, or about $60. I love how easy it is to travel in Europe!

Katherine and I visited Frankfurt, Wurzburg and Rothenburg, Germany. Although Wurzburg and Rothenburg are fairly small towns, they might sound familiar to you if you've ever heard of the "Romantic Road" in Germany. This road, which actually stretches through several towns and several hundred miles, is famous for it's Castles and idyllic, small towns.

This is a view of Wurzburg, Germany, home to some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

When Katherine and I arrived in Wurzburg, we met an angel. Katherine and I had our huge tourist map out and we were looking for which bus to take when this little, old German woman came out of nowhere. She took the map from us and asked us where we needed to go. After we told her, she pointed out the correct bus to take and then she bought Katherine and I two bus tickets to our destination!! We were blown away. We pleaded with her to let us pay her back, but she refused. She simply said "have a beautiful time in Wurzburg" and then she was gone. We felt so blessed. God is good.

Needless to say, we loved Wurzburg! It is such a beautiful, quaint town. The people there are so welcoming, helpful, and kind.

This is a famous cathedral in Wurzburg.

The only negative comment I could make about my time in Germany was that I was freezing cold. I guess I'm just more of a warm weather kind of girl. Despite the cold, I am in love with Germany.

After climbing several hundred stairs in the freezing cold, Katherine and I were thrilled to see this famous Castle in Wurzburg! Built in the 13th century, this Castle was home to several generations of German nobility. The Castle was almost destroyed in the 1940's by a bombing during World War 2, but was rebuilt in the 1990's.

This is Rothenburg, Germany. No picture could really do this town justice. It is the most idyllic and peaceful town I have ever seen in my life. Imagine the mock German town they have in Disney World. It's way better than that!

A view down Rothenburg :)

These are called schneeballers. No really, they are called schneeballers. They are delicious! They are kind of like the German equivalent of gelato.
My time in Germany was delightful. I am so blessed to be seeing all these different parts of the world and experiencing so much beauty!
More to come...
I love and miss ya'll!


Here are a few photos from a day trip I took with some friends to Pisa, Italy ...

Pisa is a beautiful town. It's only about an hour train ride away from Florence. We had a wonderful time while we were there! Let me tell you something, was so odd to me that I was actually standing next to this famous leaning tower. I couldn't really believe it. It was a great experience.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Finally.... After almost three weeks in Florence, I am finally writing a blog! Goodness...I didn't think it would take me this long.

So...Florence, Italy is simply an amazing place. It is absolutely beautiful here! I live on the Arno River, near the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge in the Santa Maria Novella district. My apartment is very European and full of character. We don't usually have hot water and we line dry our clothes because we don't have a dryer. However, I really don't mind it. I'm learning to embrace these differences! :) I live with my good friend Katherine from Baylor, as well as one girl from the University of Alabama and another girl from Colorado State. I really enjoy my roommates! I think it's a great experience to live with girls I would never ordinarily have the opportunity to live's teaching me a lot. Having Katherine here has also been a huge blessing for me. We are able to be there for each other if we're ever feeling homesick or want to talk about friends and familiar things back at Baylor.

I walk about 20 to 25 minutes to school each day from my apartment. This is becoming one of my favorite things. I stop by the same cafe each day on my way to school and have my cornetto (croissant) and my espresso shot (Italians love their morning espresso). I walk along the river each day, passing the Ponte Vecchio bridge and the famous Duomo cathedral. I literally pause at times, just to admire the beauty and remind myself how blessed I am to be here this semester.I am forming relationships with store owners at the cafe and restaurants I usually go to, and at the local market I shop at. I love that about Florence. This is a community and the Italian people here definitely view it as that. People here are very relational and intentional about their time with one another. For example, when someone says "Comestai?" (How are you?) -- they really want to know how you are doing. I think this is a foreign concept for most of us in America. "Hi, how are you?" in America is simply an everyday greeting. We don't usually care how someone really is. We just ask as a formality. It's not that way in Florence at all!

A few interesting things I've noticed about Florence so far...
1. The streets and sidewalks are very narrow here and sometimes you have to jump out of the way of cars, taxis, motorinos (mopeds), and intimidating Italian women.
2. Italians, and Europeans in general, love nutella (a hazelnut/chocolate spread). If you want peanut butter here, you can except to pay about 5.40 euro for a very small jar. This is about $7.20 in America!
3. Italians generally have pretty small refrigerators and so they usually go to the market every day.
4. Italian guys really do say things like "Ciao bella" when they pass you on the street. I thought people were just joking when they told me that.
5. Already mentioned this, but no dryers here for your's all line dry.
6. People love their dogs here! You can bring your dog into just about any cafe, hotel, or restaurant...they actually encourage it.

Overall, I can not believe I am really here most of the time. I saw THE David (yes, Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture) at the Academia museum here in Florence about a week ago. I also went to the Uffizi museum here in Florence and saw paintings like "The Birth of Venus" by Boticelli, paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello...I could on and on. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing these original works of art. It was a very surreal and incredible experience. I am taking a class here called Renaissance Art in Florence and I am so excited about this class because we are learning all about these famous artists and their work and then going on site to visit these galleries. I feel so honored to learn about these things and then see them in real life.

I have dealt with a little homesickness and culture shock the past few weeks I’ve been here, but it seems to get better each day. I find myself missing the little things like…
1. Being able to pick up the phone and call my family and friends anytime I want
2. Peanut butter
3. Hot water
4. Driving my car

Just those little conveniences and nuisances about America we can often take for granted.

However, I am just pushing through any sadness I might feel at times and embracing the very short time I have here. I know this time will fly by and I don’t want to miss a minute of how interesting and beautiful Italy is!

More to come…!

Much love,

Katherine and I on the Ponte Vecchio

The Duomo Cathedral