Thursday, March 25, 2010

Travel Woes

During our last travel week, a few friends and I decided to go to Greece despite all the warnings that it was a risky time to visit. I knew we would be mad at ourselves if we didn't go and then it turned out everything would have gone smoothly. So we decided to take a chance and made plans to stay in Santorini for five days. It ended up being one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on! The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and it was absolutely gorgeous. However, we definitely had our fair share of challenges getting there.

It all started off when our bus was late getting to Bassano from Paderno. Once we got there, we were told all buses and trains were on strike, even though they weren't. While we were figuring out what to do, we spotted a bus heading to Padova and hopped on. By that time, we were about 30 minutes behind schedule and hoping we could catch a train to Milan. We ended up being those people running to catch a train and missed it by a few minutes. The next train was leaving at 5:45 in the morning, so all 11 CIMBA students going to Greece decided to camp out in the Padova train station.

Literally five minutes after one of us said, “Well this couldn’t have started off any worse,” an Italian security guard walked up to our group. He said in Italian that the train station was closing in 10 minutes and that we had to leave. So we packed up and tried to figure out what to do next. We ended up begging a man in a local hotel to let 11 of us rent one room for four hours. He gave in and we pushed three beds together and crammed nine people in them and two on the floor. Once five a.m. rolled around, we “checked out” and caught the train to Milan.

Once again, we ran through the train station in Milan, jumped into a taxi and sped off to the Malpensa airport. With a few minutes to spare, our entire group all made it through security and on the plane to Athens. It was a crazy night, but once we made it to Santorini, it was all worth it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gaudi and Barcelona

For this past travel weekend, I went to Barcelona, Spain. My mom studied there when she was 19 and my sister spent a summer in Seville. They both loved Barcelona and so I was excited to experience it for myself.

Before going to Barcelona, I had heard a lot about Gaudi and his architecture, but I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew about La Sagrada Familia and I had seen pictures, but I didn’t know about Parc Guell and the other buildings he designed. I wondered if they would even be recognizable. I think his work ended up being some of the most recognizable architecture I’d ever seen.

We walked up to the Parc Guell area on Saturday and it was amazing. His buildings reminded me of Candy land: the tops looked like they could be made of frosting. Colorful mosaics mixed with huge columns, a stone walkway and palm trees made for a very unique combination.

We walked up to the top of the building and looked out over the city of Barcelona. Everyone was enjoying the view, soaking up the sun and listening to the music. If I could live in Parc Guell, I would move there in a heartbeat! It was a great day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

AC Milan Soccer Game

This past weekend was very different from the previous ones. A lot of us stayed in Paderno for the majority of the weekend instead of traveling around to other places. It was nice to relax and spend Saturday out in the sunshine and with other CIMBA people. On Sunday, though, a few of us took a bus to the AC Milan soccer game. It was my first soccer game of any kind that I have ever been to. Soccer isn't very popular where I'm from and our school didn't have a team, so this was definitely a new experience for me.

Right as our bus pulled up to the stadium in Milan, the men trying to sell scarves and jerseys were waiting for us. I gave in and bought a jersey to wear even though I knew nothing about AC Milan or any of their players. After shopping around a little bit, we bought amazing sandwiches from the vendors around the stadium. The food at a Milan soccer match was definitely different from a KU football game!

Before the game even started, the Italian fans were chanting and acting crazy. We walked into the stadium and it was a great atmosphere. Even though I know absolutely nothing about soccer, the game was still really exciting to watch. AC Milan ended up winning 3-1 against Atalanta. In some sense, the game was really similar to an NFL or a college basketball game in America, but it was also very different. For one thing, everyone was shouting in a different language, which I've never experienced before. But I also think the Italians seem to be more passionate about the game. Even though it wasn't a big match for them, they were still so excited to cheer on their team.

On a sidenote, it was fun to watch David Beckham play. Since he's on loan right now, it was interesting to hear how the Italians reacted to him. It's kind of apparent that some don't like him playing for their team. I heard one of them say in Italian that he should go back home. Personally, I didn't mind watching him play at all!