Sunday, March 15, 2009

just a little longer.

i've been having such vivid dreams here. realistic and vivid. last night i woke up and i was in grand junction (or somewhere that felt like home) and there was a massive window letting the sunlight fly in and give me a wonderful tingly warm and tired sensation. i had fallen asleep on the floor watching anne hathaway in the princess diaries on my laptop. i knew that dustin would be coming over soon and i could hear my mom doing crafts or cooking. it was wonderfully calm. i remember smiling with my eyes comfortably sealed, "please God, if this is a dream, can i just stay in this a little longer." i laid there in contented anticipation of seeing my best friend.

48 more days. and only 2 days until i see my mom and sister!

midterms are looming! i have mountains of studying and project-ing to finish for this week... it will all be over wednesday afternoon!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

it's just like riding a bike. tuscan style.

SENSORY OVERLOAD in the very best way possible!!!!

I just got home from a 12 mile bike tour through the Chiante region. I met three friends at one of the bridges over the Arno this morning where a rickety old (totally american) looking red van picked us up and we were off! To our delight, no one else had signed up for the tour today! Our guide, David, was from COLORADO!!!! there is just something about meeting people from your state. You feel connected, you can refer to Palisade peaches, the hot springs, and Colfax and they are right there with you. He had started his tour business on an "i don't know what to do with my life after college" trip to Italy.

The drive up was spectacular and i knew i was in for a memorable day. We got our bikes, helmets and took off. i am totally embarrased to admit that i hadn't been on a mountain bike in a few months and was a little shakey. I even tripped off the bike at the first rock :(

P.S. the weather was incredible! The sky could not have been more blue. I think it's finally jacket, not coat weather!

We rode for a bit and stopped at a stunning winery where we toured the cellars and the house where Machiavelli wrote the prince. The views of the surrounding villas and vineyards were unreal. We had a wine and olive oil tasting (all winerys also make olive oil.) of a Chiante Classico and Chiante Reserve. SO wonderful. Antico Ristorante in Sant' Andrea in Percussiva. Gosh, i'm turning into such a wino slash food and wine critic. We rode a few more miles to lunch! We ate at a very nice lunch at the (name to come) . I had a garlic/pepper pasta and the most incredible pear/chocolate/custard/pie desert. It gave me chills. The wait staff was wonderful and let us into their cellars!

The next nine miles was breathtaking, through the vineyards and open spaces, looking over villas and natural open area. There is such diversity in the vegetation, cyprus trees right next to olive tree groves. I got such a good workout and came to sad realizations about how out of shape i have become here (MOTIVATION to fix this!). We stopped at a cafe after a long uphill, sweaty but beautiful journey. After we finished our all-day trek, i wasn't ready to leave. I can't believe i almost didn't do this!

We stopped at an American World War II cemetery/memorial. GO HERE! my camera died. But it was beautiful and deeply moving. 4,407 (i think) men died and are buried here. It is so green well manicured. Not going to lie, i started crying here. reading lists of names. i'm sure they had girlfriends, wives, moms. to think that they died in this country that is so rich with beauty and history. it's unbelievable, so powerful. To think that we would ever be ungrateful americans...

today was so peaceful. i needed that. good for my soul. God is beautiful, can you believe He created this? He is so diverse. This is the Tuscany that I wanted to see. I would rather do this than go to the Academia. Is that bad? ask for David. you will learn A LOT!

Friday, March 6, 2009

black feet.

just finished cleaning my apartment for 3 hours! generalization: People at this school are extraordinarily flaky. THEY DON'T CALL! i am determined to do my part to be on top of commitments and calling people (which is really good for me as i have been flaky with the best of them... sorry tyler!!!) anyhow, here it is, 11:41 pm and i am just finishing a little dinner in one of my last weekends in Florence (i have travel plans for the rest.) tonight was supposed to be the "secret" bakery... it opens around 2 or 3 am and is the bakery for all of the cafes and such. you go and silently point to what deliciously fresh and piping hot "wholesale" treat you want. hmmm... we'll see. it's in a sketchy area, so i can't go alone. waiting by my phone like a 13 year old girl.

last night i had dinner with some lovely colorado girls and their friends. man, i miss that. same humor, same references. dinner was amazing!!! i brought a desert that got rave reviews :) we had made it in my pairing food and wine class. i modified it a little.

two nights ago one of my roommates and i got ready to go out to a French/ Moroccan restaurant/bar/live music. after a soggy walk in the rain, we find it: closed. :( we settled for Turkish falafel at around midnight. at around 1am we went to take the recycling to bins (a few blocks away.)

"do you have the keys?"
"ummm.... shoot. really?"

our other roommate was gone until 7 the next morning. we walked and made new friends for the next 6 hours. i had nothing with me, no phone. we met up with some little Dutch boys from school. (my roommate has a little crush on one, so she had a wonderful time.) i was just along for the ride. both of our umbrellas broke as we were trying to fashion them into weapons.

a long and memorable night.

i'm headed to Hamburg, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark next weekend!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

self portraits and cemeteries.

doing a self portrait for digital photography has not been fun. I got too scared to do my critique today in class. :( i was playing with my camera, amelie, and i didn't really capture "karen." around 2 am last night i found myself sadly looking through my creative efforts and thinking about what would reflect "me" the most. i started photoshopping my wonderful friends together. there. that's me. this is what i'm made of. this is what i reflect. looking at their happy faces, thinking how they've shaped me.
i am blessed. so loved. so blessed. God is so amazing. this trip, this adventure could never ever compare to the feeling i get laying on the kitchen floor with becca laughing and acting our shoe sizes (NOT our age) or playing in leaves with danika, or holding dustin's hand, or laughing with lisa at things that only a humor cultivated over 20 years or sisterhood could understand, or seeing tyler get so excited about his new job, or floating down the the river, or hanging out with people way too late at danny's house, or having the most amazing dinners with carrie and seth, or going to bible study, or having gilmore girl and starbucks nights with roommates :), or having hilarious theatre memories (i miss this a lot!), or laughing at(with) my parents, or going on a midnight hike, OR praying/worshiping with friends.

i wouldn't trade them for anything. italy doesn't hold a flame next to the people that make me "karen." i knew this, i didn't need to come here to find this out, i'm just saying; i love my peeps.

when in florence:
1. obviously Piazzale Michelangelo. (probably the most romantic spot EVER that begs for young men to pop the question under the stars here. BUT... most people probably don't go up to the church/monestary that is up further on the hill. it is hidden. if you go at the right time, you can here the monks singing (Saturdays i think.) the cometary is breathtaking! unbelievable. Inside, the Portugese Cardinal is buried and there is amazing mosaics and frescos from the 14-16th century. (i learned this from my new 78 year old Italian friend, Giulio.
2. go to Sienna. don't overlook this town. cheap bus ride (13 euro) from florence. the chianti vineyards are so peaceful. Sienna is very very gothic yet eclectic. It's kind of a quirky little medieval city. Like Rome, it was built on 7 hills and it seems that none of the roads are flat. (you could get some nice calves.)
3. i found out where the secret bakery is! this bakery opens at midnight and is in an unmarked alley. no signage, just follow your nose. i plan to go soon. report to come.

well, world. it's 2 am and i have completely procrastinated about three more hours of homework...