Saturday, August 30, 2008

OMG Italy (or, I almost packed up and went home last night)

It's Ok. I got here. ^_^

After what felt like at least 24 hours in airplanes we arrived at the airport in Rome- granted, I spent a good portion of that time asleep, but on the first plane the guy next to me couldn't keep his elbows and knees in *his* seat, so it wasn't totally asleep like I wanted. But still, some sleep. There's a bunch of people that didn't get any and they're all buy dying on our first real day in the town.

These are the Alps. I woke up on the Frankfurt to Rome flight long enough to take some great pics.

So, we get to Rome, and someone lost a bag, so we had to wait at the airport for a while, hoping it'd show up, but it didn't so we set off... in our Mercedes Benz tour bus. I'm not kidding. The carpet inside had the logo all over it. By then I guess it was... Noonish? We had a delay in Atlanta, then one at Rome, so we set out late. They've got some really great roadsigns here! There's one that looks like a coffee cup, and another that looks like a fork and a knife, and one that looks like a six legged fire breathing dog.

For real. Six legged fire breathing dog signs.

They're for a gas station company, but I didn't know that at first.

This is Montepulciano, from outside the main gate.

About an hour or two of countryside, which sometimes looked like those stacked up box houses in Rio, and sometimes looked like big fields with tree-lined drives, and we got to the bus station where we'd walk to Montepulciano from. Thankfuly some nice locals and the lady from our school here came to pick us up with some trucks! I tried to pack light, but once you see the streets here a straw hat looks like something too heavy to carry around.

This is the view in my room if you kneel on the desk and jam your head out the roof window. Great view or greatest view? ^_^

Our flat (I share it with about eight other girls) is the first of the flats we're using in the town, so it's a short hike from the main gate. It's got a massive, MASSIVE wood door on it, something out of a castle. And then you go up four flights of stairs. Then into the flat itself, and my rooms are on the floor above that, so it's five for me... With my suitcase. But the flat is huge! There's eight of us, but you'd never know it, and we've got a nice kitchen off one way that seems like it's a whole different building.

So, we're in, we're getting settled, we've got about an hour and a half to dinner and we've got maps. I've already put away my stuff so I figure I'll go out and take pictures. There's a lot of houses here built out of other houses, or with bricked up doors and windows, so I walked to the restaurant and took pictures all the while. And then it's time for dinner, so I kinda hang around outside for a bit but no one shows up, so I figure they're all running behind so I start walking back down towards our flat, but there's no one from class anywhere. They're not even in the flat, when I hike back up the stairs! I kinda started to panic then because it was past dinner time, and I hadn't really eaten except for some little sausage links I got at our way station on the bus to Montepulciano, and it's getting dark, and I don't know where anyone is now. It started to feel like the Outer Limits. I hiked back to the restaurant, peeked in, no one. Hiked to the top of the town where the big square is, still no one. Back around the town to the restaurant, and it's getting darker and there's still no one from the trip. So I walked back to the flat and was heckled by an old man, and sat down to a cold dinner of the rest of my sausages, part of a bottle of water, and a little of a Kinder bar I bought while we were in Germany.

I felt really, really miserable and that coming on the trip had been a mistake. I couldn't find anyone from the trip, I missed dinner, I couldn't even speak enough Italian to find them or ask where they were. Or tell what the guy had yelled at me, and I figured I was probably in trouble with the teachers.

Eventually, after I'd gone to bed, my roommates came home to ask where I'd been. Apparently I went to the right restaurant, but they were eating in a downstairs area that you had to go into the restuarant, then down some stairs to find, which was why I hadn't seen them.

The Plaza Grande.

The next morning, this morning, we had to meet at the top of the town in the largest plaza for a tour with our teachers. Turns out the art professor, Joe Remmilard (probably didn't spell that right...) was looking for me for a bit, so that made me feel better. All my roommates and I rushed up the streets (and I mean UP) to see if we had time for a coffee at Cafe Poliziano. Two of us stopped at this little fruit vendor to buy breakfast (apple = 53 euro cents, and after no real dinner was possibly the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten). Once we made it into Cafe Poliziano I chickened out on ordering anything. I feel incredibly horrible that I don't know nearly enough Italian to get by, and even though any is generally enough to get the good will of the locals, I couldn't even figure out how to put the sentence together. I stared at everyone else's coffee and sort of basked in the smell of it.

Then we hiked back up to the Plaza Grande, which is a serious hike up. Imagine the slope of stairs, and you won't be wrong much. A bunch of my classmates were sitting on the church stairs there and a lot of them asked after me, which made me feel a lot better than last night. Around this time I remembered I'd brought my pedometer and clipped it on- it's closing on five miles right now, and it's not quite dinner time. Cliff, you would love this place for the walking alone! We went all around the city seeing where the laundry mat is (none of the men's apartments have a washer- we're not certain what that implies- either they don't wash clothes, or can't hehehe) and the bankomats (ATMs) (one has a black widdow living on it) and the grocer's.

One of the things you notice about the town when you're hiking it like this is all these colored flags they have on the buildings- they've got shields on them, lots of heraldry stuff. They're all the different contrada (not sure if I spelled that right, but that's how it sounds- they're the different neighborhoods)- we're here just in time to see the ritual Barrel Rolling contest which is a way that the neighborhoods all fight. You have to start at the bottom of the town and two men roll a barrel up the street, racing men from all the other neighborhoods, and a lot of people wear renaisance clothes. Our flat is in one of the green and black, tiger striped, with a gold shield with a lion on it streets. I bought one of the flags since they're so awesome looking. It came on a stick so I can wave it to cheer on my neighborhood tomorrow morning during the barrel race.

There's another area of town, by the restaurant that has a blue and silver flag with a she-dog and her pups on it- this is also where one of the steepest hills is- little wonder they've nicknamed the street up the hill "bitch road".

Hrm. I have to head to dinner now- I'll come back to the Cafe where I'm posting this and do some more later. Oh, and if you have Skype, I'm on there as redcurllaptop.


Monday, August 25, 2008

All Systems Are Go

Despite the drama at school with my student loans, I'm leaving on time. Which is Thursday around dinner time. ^_^

Now that all the ducks are in a line again, I feel all jittery about going and keep sneaking furtive glances at my not packed suitcase. We've got most of the clothes laid out, and we had to weigh my text books the other day... Apparently I only get about 50lbs of luggage and my text books amount to ten of it, which is kinda scary. Clothes never seem to weigh anything until they're wet coming out of the washer or you're packing a suitcase. Then everything seems to weigh too much.

I can't seem to get over that Friday morning I'll be in Frankfurt. Or I'll wake up there, I guess. Fall asleep in Atlanta, wake up at a German airport. We've got just long enough of a stopover for me to get my passport stamped and buy some cheap souvenirs. (hehe. i have a passport! like jason borne!) My Professor warned us we might not get our passports stamped in Italy, since we'll have entered the European Union in Germany, but if you ask you can get it stamped anyway. Allison got me a swank looking passport cover. It's leather and has a sixteenth century map of the world on it- America is correct as far as Florida and the coastline goes, but then blobs out into the unknown on the western shore. There's even cherubs and stuff in the margins, and I'm betting there's at least one sea serpent.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Apparently my birthday's number one song was Culture Club's Karma Chameleon. Woot.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Fire Mitts

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These make me feel awesome, like I'm John Brinegar. Even though it's the yarn doing all that pretty color pattern stuff by itself. Hehehe.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Four Needles at a Time

Spent most of Friday learning how to use Dual Point Needles, which (before Friday) made me think of holding a fist full of knives or juggling thorns. They're actually really simple to use (sometimes they even feel like they're simpler to use than just two normal needles). And you can make a 3D object with no seams, all at once. Like the body of a sweater or a sock or a glove, like I'm doing now.
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That last bit is the ribbing I just started working on. Despite loving the yarn, the fingerless gloves are a bit plain looking so I made the ribbing really chunky. 3x3. I'm so happy with them and keep terrorizing non-knitters with them. "Look! Look at this thing I made!"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breaking Dawn....literally....

In two more hours I could have finished the book. But in two more hours I'd have gotten two hours of sleep before work. Choices, choices.

Sweet god, is it good. It has a certain buckets of blood factor the other books didn't, but then again there's payoffs that weren't in the others too. And some of the plot twists..... *sigh*