Friday, June 29, 2012

#WhenInRome: Beginning

Several reflections on my first real day living in Rome...

*Seriously, gelato is the best, most refreshing thing on a sweltering hot day.  Mix strawberry gelato with cream gelato if you ever get the chance.  To quote Scar, "It's to dieeee for!"

*My favorite thing about Rome (so far) is that oftentimes I stumble out of some random side street only to be faced with an ancient and super famous landmark.  Like the Pantheon, for example.  Just strolling along down a little alleyway, and then...WHAM. Hello M.Agrippa! Magnificent.

*I wish water continuously poured out of street fountains in Albuquerque...

*I hung my clothes out on our clothes' line.  There are no dryers in our apartments. Or basically anywhere in Rome.  I think this is valid.  Actually, I think it's extremely practical, and I think the U.S. should take notes.  Only people in Seattle and Oregon are allowed to have dryers. That's my contribution to the energy crisis.

*I want to ride on a Vespa.  Even if this seriously endangers my life, I feel strongly that it is an experience I need to have.  I don't want to drive one because that would give me a heart attack, but I would have no qualms about being driven around by an attractive, not sketchy, young Italian man ;)  As long as I have a helmet.

*I went inside Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio today.  It's a church dedicated to St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order.  It's beautiful. The inside is incredible, and the "dome" over the altar isn't actually a dome at all. It's painted in such a way that from the vantage point at the entrance of the church, the roof looks like it arches up! And as you move around and toward the front of the sanctuary, the dome flattens out, and the apex moves around the circle.  It's wild and really cool.

My program eats a true Italian meal tonight aka four courses of heaven.  Good thing my shorts are kind of big... ;)  Pace e benedizioni a tutti voi!  (I used Google translate for this, so if it's wrong, please help me!!)

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Previously, I wrote about all of the craziness of my trip.  Now let me tell you some of the amazing things I’ve seen and done while being across the pond…

Rome, as always, is incredible.  The history, the architecture, the FOOD.  The Italian language is beautiful; I love the lilt and flow, the animation, the intonation.  I’m eager to begin my residence here!

Spain.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I LOVE SPAIN.  That’s a good start.  There is an intangible and indescribable feeling prevalent there that exudes relaxation, joy, and life.  That’s it.  Spain is alive.  The people don’t want the day to end, so it doesn’t.  Simple as that.  Valencia is a magnificent place.  One day we spent the whole afternoon lounging on the beach, took a boat ride to watch the sunset, then sat on a rooftop terrace until three in the morning listening to the raging block party in the street and watching fireworks over the city.  WHATT?? Is this really my life??

Gaudi has to be the most incredible architect in the history of the world.  His Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is otherworldly.  I got goose bumps from looking at this building – twice!  I didn’t even know that was possible.  Every single detail holds some significance to the story of Christ.  For example, the pillar spiraling up to hold baby Jesus in His manger lists the genealogy of Christ from Abraham to Joseph.  Or the sculpture of Judas kissing Jesus has a serpent slithering at their feet.  It’s amazing.  I’m already planning a trip back to the cathedral when it’s finally finished!

My first impression of Paris was that I knew a whole lot less French than I thought I did.  My second was that pain du chocolate is WAY better than anyone ever told me.  Actually, French food in general is way better than anyone ever bothered to inform me.  The Grand Marnier soufflĂ© and then this apple pastry (Chansonne Pomme? I think?) were to die for.  I’m convinced the flaky butter crust on the pastry was made in heaven, possibly by the angel Gabriel himself.  Also, the Eiffel Tower is bigger than I expected, Versailles is impressive, and I could spend weeks in the Louvre.  Our sightseeing was cut short in Paris by Abby’s maladies so I need to get back there again at some point in my life.

When I’m around Americans now – or any group that’s speaking in English – I find the fact that I can understand their conversations almost abrasive.  It’s so strange how quickly I adapted to being secluded while still being surrounded by people.  I also need to learn more about the French medical system – whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it well, and if we’re not already, the U.S. ought to take some notes from them. 

My next post will be the first in my Rome series:  #WhenInRome.  And if you’re wondering why I’m using a hash tag, well, I do what I want. J  Ciao!


My mom had said to me before I left for Europe this summer, “You know, I think I get why a lot of people don’t go to Europe; it’s not really a vacation.”  I dismissed her comment which should have been my first red flag – when I don’t listen to my mother, she’s always right.  Little did I know what was in store for me…

1) The stress began before I even left my house.  I (stupidly) left most of my packing until the morning I left, only to discover the backpack I planned to take was WAY too small.  Praise God Jenny came to my rescue with a larger pack.  What would I do without her??

2)  Abby and I began our time in Rome with a 70 taxi ride to the northern outskirts of the city – our hotel’s actual location NOT the advertised location of “near Termini.”  I felt the need to punch something while we road in the taxi, watching the money meter tick higher and higher…

3)  The same hotel lied about the bus number to get back to the city center, so Abby and I trekked around Rome for a good hour and a half trying to find a nonexistent bus stop with our monstrous backpacks.  This hotel is not getting the best review from me.

4)  Our hostel in Barcelona gave off illegal vibes.  We stayed in a random apartment in a back alley of the city.  They only took cash.  We’re also pretty sure someone shot off a gun in said alleyway the last night we were there.  Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend this lodging sight either…

5)  And this is where the real fun begins!  Our last night in Paris, Abby didn’t feel well, but we just thought it was some type of food poisoning.  The next morning Abby felt that the pain was pinpointed right around her appendix scar, and she was throwing up uncontrollably.  Here ensues 36 of the craziest hours of my life:  figuring out how to operate French payphones, calling Mom and Dad, getting Abby to a Paris emergency room, sitting in limbo for 7 hours with limited contact to anyone who speaks English, a solo taxi ride to my hotel, navigating the Paris metro at midnight through throngs of drunken Parisienne concert-goers, meandering into a hospital afterhours with no clue as to where I’m going or what’s going on with my sister, and not eating for most of this (and anyone who knows me knows how poorly I operate while hungry).

[Update on Abby:  She has now undergone two surgeries.  The first was to remove a leftover appendix piece from her appendix surgery in 2009, the second was to drain her abdominal cavity of infected fluid and remove an infected piece of her colon.  She’s currently recovering (and recovering well according to doctors – praise Jesus!) in the Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris with my dad by her side. Keep them in your prayers!]

6) The whole situation with Abby has been beyond stressful.  If it hasn’t given me an ulcer, it’ll be a(nother) miracle.
Anyway, as my mother predicted, this has NOT been a vacation.  But looking back on everything that has happened, I can so clearly see God’s hand working faithfully in every situation.  The 36 hours of limbo was full of miracles and people I’m pretty darn sure were angels.  I didn’t realize it at the time, and I still haven’t fully come to terms with everything that has happened in the past two weeks, but I’m so thankful for a God who cares for His children and acts on their behalf.

Psalm 112:7-8  “He does not fear bad news nor live in dread of what may happen.  For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him.”