Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This Halloween was surprisingly one of the best I can remember. Kimberly's Mom sent her a Halloween party in a box, apparently Halloween parties are Kim's thing. So she decided to throw a party for our branch. I'm not going to lie, I was a little skeptical. First of all, we have very limited costume resources here and no one is really willing to spend any money on such things. The results were amazing. I was simply a hippie, nothing exciting. I just kept on the outfit I was already wearing that day and fashioned a headband out of a belt from the dollar store. Here are some of my favorite costumes.The missionaries fully delivered with borrowed and homemade items. Shannon and Autumn created angle costumes out of purses and wooden spoons from the dollar store.
Salt and Pepper

Kimberly whipped up some baked potatoes with chili...thank you American food. It was absolutely delicious. The Italians were complaining about the food being heavy...explain to me how the three course meal they eat daily isn't too heavy?

Then we busted out some games
First, the classic mummy wrap. I helped wrap Eve, Peter's daughter, and we blew our competition out of the water. They were Italians however and somehow I get the impression that they don't have as much experience as we do with this kind of thing. Yes I may have tp-ed a few houses in my lifetime. Tic Tac Toers please remember that time by Whitney's house when we used poop bags and ended up trying to hide in bushes on that main street...
Second, an Italian version of the donut on the string, biscotti on a string. Due to the slowness of my eating I opted to be a string holder for Shannon. Unfortunately she may have been as bad as me...the only person she could beat was a child.Third, bobbing for apples. I don't think I've ever participated in this game. 1. I have a small mouth and a jaw that likes to pop out of place. 2. For many years I couldn't even bite into an apple for fear it would break my beautiful teeth. Luckily others were pretty passionate about it. Most just went for the full head in the water...definitely entertaining. Karli was one that went all out.Lastly, some sort of Halloween relay that involved popping a balloon and eating the candy inside. Popping my balloon not a problem, eating the candy was just not going to I cheated. But everyone knew, so that isn't really being dishonest right? This is me trying not to puke afterwards...
So I know you're all thinking, "Wow, that sounds like the most childish Halloween party ever!" And maybe it was, but it was the most fun Halloween I've had in years. Thank you Italians and dollar store costumes.

Fiasco of the Day: Okay I have to catch the last bus in five minutes so no time to type something really good, but I will leave you with this little fiasco. I am fat. I've never gained extra weight in my life and here it goes...but it is all worth it. And now even when I'm controlling my food, Paola isn't shoving it down my face, I think that I need more because I'm used to eating so much!! Good thing I'm coming home just in time for Thanksgiving. I'll be getting thirds and fourths this year!!!

Au Revoir

First things first. I'd like to give a little shout out to Picasa. First of all it's free...thank you Linx for introducing me. Secondly, it has saved me soooooooooooo much time here. I simply highlight a folder of pictures and press upload and next thing you know you are all enjoying my pics online. So easy!! Also, for those of us with horrible internet connections, if the connection times out, it saves what has been uploaded and automatically continues the upload next time you get on the internet. Thank you Picasa for making my life easy.Here comes the end of our adventures in Paris. Saturday was actually probably my favorite day because we didn't have anything big we had to do. We started off the day at the pastry shop that we got lunch at our first day. I ate my croissant and lemon turnover by the river again. Then we made our way up to this beautiful park right by the river...can't remember it's name. We decided to rest from our rough morning in front of this fountain.We ended up at the Luxembourg Gardens...absolutely beautiful. We finished off the day eating underneath the Eiffel Tower. I had the most delicious chocolate eclair of my life. Saturday was so relaxing and pretty. Unfortunately we had to leave at like 4 p.m. The trip back was fairly uneventful compared to the way there.

Fiasco of the Day: So Shannon and I live outside the city center and we take the bus. Normally the bus is awesome and it is a crazy experience that most of the girls miss out on...but some times it's sketchy. I actually live pretty close to the train station, but walking at night is not a good idea because it's all on back roads. So I opted to wait for the bus with Shannon even though it wasn't supposed to come for like 45 minutes. So we go down to the bus station, this one is underground and really strange/sketchy. Unfortunately, or so we thought, there was a man down there. We were keeping a close eye on him as well as our bags. Then after a few minutes of being worried about him this car pulls up, which is weird considering that only buses are supposed to go underground. The window is open and the guy drives by STARING at us...that look will haunt me. Then like 20 yards, or should I say meters, after he passes us he stops, puts his hand out the window and waves us over. Does he think we're stupid?! At this point we are so thankful that the other guy was with us. Creepy car guy gives up and drives away. Then the bus stop guy gives up waiting and leaves. So Shannon and I decide to leave and just grab a taxi. Luckily there are a billion people waiting by the train station because as we were waiting for our taxi, creepster car guy drives by AGAIN. This time he passes us and then throws the car in reverse and just sits there waiting. Italian men are idiots. Do I look like a prostitute? No! I look like an innocent American girl waiting for a ride from a legitimate source. He drives away. Our taxi pulls up. As we are driving up the rode we have to stop because there is a car stopped in the middle of the road. Don't worry, this other car was the creepy stalker. So I'm freaking out because I'm like...does he know we're in here? Shannon has no idea what is going on because she is trying to find money in her purse for the taxi and doesn't understand what I'm freaking out about. So he gets to my street and I just hopped out and RAN. At this point the stalker was out of sight but I wasn't going to take my chances. Normally Siena is not scary at all...I feel safer than in Provo, but that man was just not okay.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Since all my pics are already up I'll skip pics on this post...
Okay, Paris day two started off with a messy attempt at washing my hair in the sink in our 1 sq. ft. en suite bathroom. Why I even tried I'm not sure, my hair was up after like an hour. So we went to this info desk that morning to ask directions and of course made Shannon go up since she "speaks" French, obviously she just spoke in English. Anyways, at the end of the conversation I looked up and noticed they were clearly talking about us. Then this man waves and winks at us. I gave him and smile and a wave back...he was probably 40. Apparently he told her that her traveling companions were very beautiful...oh silly Europeans.

So we hit up Les Invalides because Eiffel Tower Missionary told us it was cool. It's Napoleon's palace and so pretty! Highlights included checking out Napoleon's coffin, sweet WW2 uniforms and other memorabilia, and the armory full of sweet weapons and armor...Gabe would have loved it! Side note: Autumn insisted on saying Napoleon, NapoleON, like Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite. You know how much I love that movie.

Then we went to see the Paris Opera House. Oh my gosh!! I had visions of Phantom of the Opera and myself dressed up in some amazing gown, going to see the Opera. Someday I will see something there!!!

We went to the Galleries Lafayette to see a free fashion show we read about on the internet, but the internet didn't mention anything about reservations, so that didn't happen. But we stumbled upon a really good view of the city on the roof of the department store. Oh and I was in shopping heaven. So many beautiful things. The wedding dress section was AMAZING. One of a kind dresses...I took a catalogue so I can copy stuff. I felt like they could tell I was a poor American living out of my backpack so touching was unfortunately out of the question.

Next we looked for the museum that the 40 year old flirt had given us directions to, but he was all wrong. I can't complain about getting lost in Paris, this was when I stumbled upon my coat as well as some delicious bread.

Friday night is student night at the Louvre...we got in for free!!! The Louvre is absolutely out of control huge. We made a beeline to the Mona Lisa just to get that out of the way. I wasn't disappointed since everyone had already warned me it was a let down and let's be honest, I don't even care for that painting anyways. So I took some pictures from 20 feet away from it...great. I saw some really cool paintings that I've studied and some sweet Egyptian stuff, but overall I would say that the Louvre is highly overrated. I've been to 50 museums better than it. Oh and here comes our Mormon connection of the day. I saw a girl from my hall freshman year twice in the Louvre...what are the odds. Sydney Smart for those of you who know her and no I didn't speak to her, don't act like you're surprised.

This kid Jeff from Canada "slyly" added himself to our group at the beginning of the night while we were waiting in line. Autumn and I ditched the rest of our group to see art that we thought they might not appreciate...including an entire room of Rubens, that room was really cool. We were surprised , or maybe not so surprised to find that Jeff was still with them when we met up at the end of the night. So unfortunately, in my opinion, we were stuck with him for the rest of the night. He was actually nice but he threw off the dynamics of our group, boys. We went to a restaurant by Notre Dame and had a legit three course meal. French Onion soup, es cargo, streak, and chocolate mouse. Oh and the water was free...awesome. Dinner was really fun. All three nights we had hilarious waiters that made for a good time.

Saw a guy pass out on the subway...that was an adventure.

Fiasco of the Day: So on Saturday Paola started talking to me while I was still half asleep, meaning my second language brain was not warmed up. Anyways, she tells me something about her brother and sister-in-law and monday....since I wasn't thinking I just kind of told her okay and that was that. Well Raquel and I returned home Saturday night to find her brother and sister-in-law here and no Paola and Marco. Apparently we are being babysat. So even though I was tired, I know she didn't tell us anything about where they were going. Raquel asked at dinner and our babysitters simply said...South. So we may never know where they were. The best part of our time with them is that the man, can't even remember his name, was quizzing us on things like agriculture in the U.S. Do people even farm anymore? I don't know. We had to make up where cotton in produced. We knew AZ and then just threw out stuff like Mississippi. Who asks that kind of crap? Does he realize how large the U.S. is?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


This is awesome...looks like you can just go to this link and look at any of my albums whenever. I love Picasa.

Paris Day 2

So our first day in Paris was jam packed. We started off in Monte Mart which is a beautiful area surprisingly just a few blocks away from our hostel. We saw the famous church Sacree Coure. Here’s a pic of Autumn being accosted by the bracelet man just outside the church. He was making her a bracelet and telling her crap about how since she was American she could have 5 babies and something about wishing on this bracelet would give her babies or something...I’m not really sure. Then we walked around the neighborhood and checked out the artists painting on the cool. Had my first French croissant....these have nothing on Costco, I nearly died.

Next sight was Notre Dame. This lady was outside and thought it would be cool to be attacked by birds? She was holding bread in her hand and they were flying all around her...I hate birds and she is crazy. Notre Dame is awesome because the architecture is so amazing. I’m used to seeing really old Italian churches with beautiful art and okay architecture, it was a nice change.

Next we found this awesome pastry shop and got quiche for lunch...I love quiche. We ate it overlooking the Seine river. Then we made our way to the Musee D’Orsay. I ordered my ticket in French, okay so that is like two words, but I was proud. It was my favorite museum thus far. Lots of impressionists which I must love because of my mother. I saw the dancer!! Tons of Degas, Monet, Picasso, Manet, Van Gogh...loved it.

By this time it was way sunny outside and we hit up the Eiffel Tower. I think we spent like four hours there, many of them spent trying to get the perfect picture. Apparently with this whole European Union thing like each month a new country is in charge or something. Anyways, I guess it was Italy’s turn so there were these ugly stars on the tower as well as a gigantic map of Europe on the grass in front of it. Obviously I had to take a pic standing on Italia. Now it’s time for the Mormon run in of the day but this story requires background. Starting in Rome, Autumn made up this game called My Team, Your Team. Upon spotting a really good looking guy you call My Team. Upon finding someone really gross, these people are often shirtless or something, you call Your Team, meaning the other people who are with you. So we are waiting in line to go up to the top and Shannon calls My Team guy with the blue tie. I take one look at him and I’m like, why? he looks like a missionary. So we’re joking around about how Shannon is attracted to guys who look like missionaries and then Anna is like “Guys, he is a missionary!” We get a glimpse of his tag. So we start predicting his story, just got off the mish yesterday, his parents came to pick him up and they’re from Utah. So Autumn being the fearless girl that she is, goes up to him on top of the Eiffel Tower and she’s like, Hey! We recognized you. Which doesn’t actually make any sense and she keeps talking while this kid and his parents are trying to figure out how they should know us. Finally it hits her that they don’t understand, so she explains that we were from BYU. Sure enough we were dead on on all accounts about these people. Small world! So we saw the sunset on the Tower and let me tell you it is soooo much prettier at night all lit up, I loved it.

We ate dinner outside on the Champs d Elysses...I have no idea how to spell that. French Onion I’ve ever had. Our waiter was a goofball. Did I mention that French people are awesome? I thought they were supposed to be mean, but there were so many good ones.

Just check out my online album for the rest of the pics...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Hostel from Hell

Paris. Where do I begin. First there is the part where I was checked in as an Italian citizen and we thought they weren’t going to let us on the plane. Then there’s the part where we had to take a crazy ride in a taxi and sprint to catch each of our three trains. I’ll leave those stories for another time, but we made it. I think this is going to take more than one blog. Maybe I’ll do one for each day. So we take a bus from the airport into the city and as we roll off the bus...BAM there is a BYU tour bus. Thus begins our daily Mormon run ins. Sadly there were no people with the bus.
We found this awesome place to eat and I had my first steak frites...steak and fries, delicious. Then we made the trek to our hostel. We have to give our director our itinerary, including our hostel, so we have to book one in advance. Problem is that we never actually know where it is going to be. Well, turns out we were staying in the red light district, just a stones throw from the Moulin Rouge. Our hostel’s neon sign blended in well with the rest of the signs, but they were attracting a different crowd. As the guy is looking up our reservation a young Asian girl comes up to the desk and tells him that the hot water isn’t working. I can’t even begin to explain via blog this guy’s reaction. First he just looks at her like he doesn’t speak English and asks her to repeat. So she repeats. Then he’s like...where, what room. She tells him. His response: “Well it normally works. Maybe you should just wait or something.” So basically we’re off to a great start. The hostel is painted three colors: black, neon orange, and bright purple. Luckily we have our own room. It is 3/4 the size of my dorm room with one normal bunk bed and another bunk bed with three beds. Clearly I choose the top bed so I’m sleeping like 25 feet off the ground. The bed consists of one sheet tucked around the mattress, the pillow is like pillow fluff formed into a square underneath the sheet in the middle of the bed, and one gnarly blanket, reminiscent of the dorm blanket that was washed once every five years. Luckily I brought my own pillow case and I stuffed it with clothes...didn’t touch that blanket. Our ‘ensuite’ bathroom consisted of a shower and sink. Upon opening the shower an intense smell of sewage took over our room. We decided that showers would not be possible. For this reason I would like you to disregard if I look gross in pictures, I washed my hair in the sink one time and that was it. I’m sure we smelled fantastic, but we couldn’t tell.
Seeing as heat rises, I was perfectly fine up high, but apparently everyone else was freezing. Each night the other girls would layer on scarves and extra shirts. This is what Autumn looked like when I awoke in the morning. Oh and anytime anyone flinch the entire bunk bed moved. Needless to say the first night was a little rocky, but after that we were so tired that it didn’t even matter. The last night we were there we heard sirens outside our window so we ran over and witnessed some sort of fight literally next door to us. There was an ambulance, police, a woman screaming and then slammed against a wall, and people running...the usual.

So pretty much that whole thing was a fiasco but I’ll add this little tidbit: One day we were walking down our street and came across a window full of dozens of what can only be explained and hooker boots. They were simply amazing: red, white, and black cheap plastic patent leather, some lace up, many thigh high. So as we’re exclaiming about finding this gem and I’m whipping out my camera this guy comes out of the apartment behind us and says, in a thick New York accent...and I quote: “Hooker boots. What do you want hooker boots for? You know what those are for...the girls up the street!” He proceeds to tell us his story of leaving NY years ago blah blah, but I never really figured out why he chose to live next the hooker boot store.

Cinque Terre

I'm alive! So it has been forever since I've written on here...that sounded like the beginning of every journal entry I've ever had, but I have good excuses. First, two weekends ago we went to Cinque Terre. I loved it! Definitely one of my favorites so far. I was bummed because I thought it was going to be too cold to go, but we got AMAZING weather-that's what you get for clean living. It was hot and sunny everyday and I got one last dip in the Mediterranean.

So Cinque Terre in the Northwest on that curve of Italy that goes over to France and it is made up of five cute little towns on the cliffs. Friday we rolled into the first town, Riomaggiore and took the walking path up to the next town. This path is called Via dell'Amore. I'm assuming it's romantic because of the intense graffiti? Not sure. Obviously we took this opportunity to tag the wall with ball point pens. Everything here is covered in graffiti and the usual phrase is: Ti Amo ????? By: so and so. Since we frequently make fun of this we obviously copied it. Guess you'll have to go to Lover's Lane to figure out who I love. So turns out it was not only sunny, but I was very warm and uncomfortable so Anna, Autumn, and I decided to take some stairs down to the water and hop in. I changed in some little cove under the stairs-I'm getting used to feeling homeless. We spent a lovely day on the rocks and in the Med....I love that ocean. A bunch of the other girls we were with went to a real swimming spot and they got stung by jellyfish...suckers. We spent the rest of the day walking around the first two towns. For dinner we had focaccia with pesto on it, Cinque Terre is known for it's pesto and let me tell you it was the best thing I've tasted here. This was where I ate dinner as the sun set.

Saturday we rode the train to the third town. We were with the group of girls who were stung by jellyfish the previous day. As we are taking pictures at a lookout this cat wanders up. The feline proceeded to sniff around Kimberly's bag and she mentions that she hates cats. Seconds later the cat begins peeing on her backpack. This was one of those moments in life where I could have died laughing but the victim didn't think it was funny...dang it. Then as we are walking down some stairs, Rachel makes a joke about what is going to happen to her because she avoided the jellyfish and the cat pee and as the words are coming out of her mouth she falls down the stairs and sprains her ankle. Again, I could have died laughing. So long story short, Anna, Autumn, and I ditched the bad luck group and took the hike from the 3rd to the 4th town...names are now hazy. It's hikes like these that make me enjoying hiking. From the 4th to the 5th town we took the boat, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach. We always laugh at how all the Europeans are nearly or fully naked and we are lounging in our hot one pieces. So as 22 of us are sprawled out on the rocks/sand we hear a lady walking on the sidewalk above us say "Look! All of those girls are wearing one pieces!" Awesome.

I had to get my hands on some more pesto so Anna, Autumn, and I went on the hunt for some pasta. We were starving and everything decided to be closed. As Anna would say..."Dang Italian nap time." Just as I thought I would be eating gelato for lunch again we happened upon a miracle. A restaurant overlooking the water, English speaking and good looking staff, cheap pesto pasta, no sitting fee, and, brace yourself, ICE! I haven't seen ice in my glass for months. Dad, I thought of you. So that was a heavenly experience. I purchased a jar of pesto and if you're lucky I'll share a spoonful.The train ride home that night was definitely a high light. At this point Anna, Autumn, and I were on our own because the others decided to go home earlier...fools. We hopped onto a deserted train and immediately decided we had to take advantage of this. A dance party via ipod proceeded to take place. This was the first dance party I've had since I've been here, and it has been killing me considering that in BA 6 we danced at least 4 nights a week. It was good to be back in my element. I should also mention that due to something about a car and a BOOM! the girls that left before us got back to Siena only ten minutes before we did. So basically that weekend I avoided jellyfish, cat pee, sprained ankles, and late trains...I'm a lucky woman.

So the moral of the story is Cinque Terre is a must see...beautiful.

Fiasco of the Day: So this one is a frequent occurrence. Since they don't use AC we have the windows open at home all the time and instead of screens we have prison-like metal things. So the windows are wide open meaning flies are very common. Without fail at least 3 times a week during dinner, a fly makes itself known. I feel like normally when I see a fly it is simply ignored, and only the most annoying get the fly swatter. Well if Marco sees a fly, often even a small gnat, he is immediately out of his chair, tripping over chairs and people around the tiny kitchen to get that sucker. Weapon of choice: hands. The first time this happened Paola's head ended up getting smashed between his arms. During dinner I have seen the death of a least 5 flies and many others have survived. I love Marco.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Old Stuff

Herculaneum with Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Autumn testing out the facilities

As promised this blog is dedicated to the old ruins that I saw over a month ago...sorry this took so long. So after Rome we made our way down to the south and hit up Herculaneum. This city is actually better preserved and slightly cooler than Pompeii but it is way smaller. For those of you who aren't up on your Italian history, these cities were destroyed when Mt. Vesuvius erupted some long time ago. Because of the lava slash ashes covering everything, they were pretty well preserved and just plain cool.

In Herculaneum I got some amazing views of Mt. Vesuvius and obviously played the Zoolander dialogue related to such volcano numerous times in my head. Now, unlike Hansel, I HAVE been to Mt. Vesuvius. I'm constantly trying to related things we do here to interior design. Let me tell you Herculaneum was a jackpot! I am currently obsessed with having my house in an updated Herculaneum style. Mosaics, mosaics, mosaics; floors, ceilings, tables, walls, you name it. I can see in the future getting myself elbow deep into a- 'mosaic my entire house by hand project'. Those of you who have lived with me know that I would do this. I'll do a tenth of it and then give up and hire someone. But really I am obsessed....I took a thousand pictures. Then we have the whole fresco with reds, yellows, and oranges all over the walls. It reminded me of the stained cement floors at the Theos house. Love love it. So if anyone wants a Herculaneum house...I'm ready to go. This one is for SAC!

The next day we went to Pompeii and I'll be honest, it was hot. Did I mention how disgustingly hot it was my first week here? The only acceptable clothing to wear in this kind of humid heat would be no clothing, which with this BYU group was unfortunately not an option. If i wasn't in shade or being doused with water I was contemplating the positive sides of death. Yes it was that bad. So as you can imagine walking around through dirty old ruins with no roofs was slightly unappealing. But Pompeii was cool, totally huge and I probably only saw 10 percent of it. My favorite part was the casts of the bodies that they have. Once the bodies rotted away there was a just an empty space in the lava of their bodies, so they made casts of them...awesome.

Okay, last day in the south we hit up Paestum. Let's be honest, don't make a special trip for this one. Once again so flaming hot and it was cool, but I was all ruined out and the other places were way better. Oh and I had just been at the beach the day before so the memories of that were still fresh in my mind.