Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yet again I have literally come close enough to the Coliseum to touch it, but did not enter. Sigh. That's what happens on one-day school trips. Also, failed to see Stone Henge. Again. But that's a different adventure - upcoming Oxford post!

My friend Lauren was the HAPPIEST person I have ever seen be happy in a religious way - she's a devout Catholic and actually got to confess (in English!) in the Vatican! For her, this was literally one of those things on her list of life-goals, and she was so ecstatic. Much like I imagined I would be to see Stone Henge. Hmm... I suspect I'm a little bitter about what happened in Salisbury.

I found it amusing in the Vatican, because I ended up walking around with another friend who wasn't in such religious spasms of happiness, and had a chance to surprise her with Michelangelo's Mary and Christ - and the story of the crazy axe-man who attacked it. Can't see any problem nowadays with Mary's nose, despite the violence she saw... But she is certainly behind some tough glass, and a railing. Also got to point out the decomposing popes in glass tombs to this friend, making her squeal in surprise/disgust. I found them as amusing now as I did when I was 16 - as my dad pointed out, their bodies are incredibly well-preserved, a common side effect of arsenic poisoning. Then again, he's a bit of a disillusioned Catholic, so I don't know how seriously to take that bit of info.

This image was me attempting to take a picture of just how incredibly crowded the underground was, and instead almost got eaten by the escalator. Oops. Saucy girl winking (or closing one eye?) at me is THE fellow Reedie in this program with me :D

Night-time Vatican, shiny. The girl I walked around inside with said it looked like a hotel in Las Vegas. Footnote: she's a Russian Jew. She'd like to see the Vatican stripped of its gold embellishments in order to feed starving children. A touch suspicious about extravagant displays of power and devotion... nah, I can't tell she's a Russian Jew.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last weekend I visited Sean in Catania - it was lovely. Traveling was a bit of a hassle, but fortunately none of my modes of transport were late. Due to the nature of Ryanair, a cheap airline in Europe, I had to fly Pisa to Palermo rather than Florence to Catania. This requires: bus from Florence to Pisa airport, fly to Palermo airport, bus from Palermo airport to Palermo city center, bus from Palermo to Catania. So, a two hour flight turns into ten hours of travel? Well, I made it roundtrip for less than 100 euro, so I think it was worth it.

I gave Sean a list of things I wanted to see/do: Mt. Etna, the Mediterranean, the fish market, limoncello. The only thing I didn’t get to was Mt. Etna, but I certainly saw a lot of it from afar, so I feel pretty satisfied. The night I arrived we checked me in at Bianca B&B and headed to Capoiera at the local kommie community center. I had a lot of fun dancing, but man oh man... we then went out to a nightclub for 80’s night. The rest of the weekend I walked funny, my legs were so sore. Sunday we hung out with some of the people from Capoiera - originally we were waiting for a ride to a practice out in the woods by the ocean, but it turned into us jamming together (I actually played musical instruments!) and eating tasty tasty pasta with pepporicino (sp?). I also saw an old Roman ampitheater that mostly exists under the streets of Catania, but they have one small portion of it excavated and open to the public.

While I was there I met most of the people in Sean’s program, saw Nigel Nicholson, and ate horse meat. There was much drinking and hanging out in the evenings, and much sunshine and wandering around during the day. Catania was almost completely rebuilt after an eruption of Mt. Etna back in the 1600’s, so all the architecture is very similar, and pretty. But, because the city is much more poor nowadays it’s also dirty and filled with stray dogs. People were more prone to riding scooters on the sidewalk, there weren’t any actual crosswalks, and everything was cheaper. I met a mini-pony that goes into coffee bars with its owner.