Hey all!! I am sorry, sorry, sorry!! I have been having such an awesome time the past week and a half that I haven't had time to do anything...haven't checked email, haven't posted on my blog (don't ask me when I'll make up the past couple weeks worth of funness!!)
So, let me give you a brief rundown:
I had a fab time at the Cinque Terre with Janelle and Natalie. I spent the next 4 days in Florence. I love Florence. I can't get over how amazing it was!! I saw so many wonderful places, beautiful works of art and architecture, and met some great people! Mark, an American guy that is living in Florence going to art school, showed me the city through a semi-Florentine's view (he's been there 10 months). Part of that semi-Florentine advantage: some of the most amazing gelato I´ve ever tried!! He took me to Vestri, a place that sells dark chocolate gelato with cayenne pepper in it. Sounds strange, but it was awesome! Gelato that bites back!
I took it easy in Florence, just enjoying the city. Finally, Friday came and I decided it was time to leave. I caught the train (not without plenty of difficulty, of course! If it's me and a train, you know there has to be problems). I looked at my ticket wrong and thought my arrival time was my departure time...so, AGAIN I changed the ticket. While I waited for my train to arrive (and it was delayed over 1.5 hours), I talked to two girls in the station who were also waiting. They were playing Uno, so I asked if I could join. Come to find out they are from Washington, DC. So, we had a nice chat about how amazing it is and how I should definitely move there. It was great.
I arrived in Rome and got to the hostel: BellaRoma. I felt dirty and tired. I took a shower...which didn´t really help because Rome is HOT! There were a couple of Americans in my room. One kid was from Tulsa, OK and it was his first time traveling...and he was traveling alone. You could see it in his face that he wasn't too sure about it. I assured him that traveling alone is fun and that there´s no reason to be homesick. I don´t think he believed me.
The next morning we all got up pretty early. There was one person who´d arrived late last night that finally stirred because we were so noisy. His name is Kristian and he´s from Denmark. I started talking to him and asked what he was planning on doing in Rome that day. He said he´d see the ancient sites. I had planned on seeing the Vatican, but I figured if I could have some company, maybe the ancient sites wouldn´t be such a bad idea.
So, we saw the Colossuem (pretty cool!) and Circus Maximus...and a bunch of other ruins. I really wish I knew more about Roman history. I think I would have enjoyed the ruins more. But, it was just really hot and looked like a bunch of rubble. Next time I go, I will read up on the history.
We walked all through the city, saw the Memorial to Victor Emanuel II...it´s also their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It´s an incredible monument!! We saw the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. I threw my coin in over my shoulder, so I´m sure to return to Rome someday.
Which is a good thing...because I didn´t have barely any time there! I went to church on Sunday. It was quite an ordeal trying to find it! There I met Rosa Rodriguez. She´s from Peru and was just so sweet to me! She invited me to her house for lunch and we had a great time. She´s in her 40´s and lives alone. It was just fun to talk with her...and her Italian is as Spanified as mine (Spanified meaning you slip in Spanish every few seconds). We spoke this mix of Spanish/Italian with each other...but, we knew exactly what the other was saying.
That afternoon Kristian and I walked around the city some more. It's just an incredible place! Rome overwhelmed me a bit...especially after being in Florence which is so much smaller and more manageable. I hear that Siena is even better than Florence! Something to look forward to!
Monday morning I packed up and headed to the airport. I thought I left with plenty of time to make my flight...but, true to Amy fashion, I cut it SO very close! There was a big problem with my luggage because it was too heavy to be a carry on and the line to pay for your luggage (you have to pay for each bag you check on Ryanair) was insanely long...and I was stressing like no other because my plane was going to leave in less than 10 minutes!!! I finally got my bag checked and sprinted to the gate...which had been closed. They let me pass...and had to take me out to the plane in a special little car. They were practically lifting the stairs to the plane as I was walking up them. Phew! I don´t know what I would have done if I´d missed the plane!
I arrived in Sweden...and it is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!!! It´s so clean and beautiful! I love it! I managed to make my way into Stockholm...and was just in awe of the beauty of the city and its buildings! From Stockholm I took the train to Enkoping where Fest I Nord would be held. Fest I Nord is a big young single adult conference that the church in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden holds every summer. Kids from 18-30 are invited to attend. It´s a week long party! And I loved it! I saw my favorite Finns (some of the kids I met in college) and met some great people!
One girl, Lindsay, an American working as an au pair in Denmark, and I became fast friends. I think it was the fact that we are both Americans, foreigners...the shared experiences, etc. She was wonderful! She and I are about the same size, so she outfitted me the entire week (her clothes were WAY cuter than my backpacker wardrobe that never seems to look clean now--note: the picture to the right is from the Decades Dance...her clothes weren't all 80's style) and she and I shared a double air mattress since I didn´t know you were supposed to bring your own blankets and bedding. She definitely made things easier on me this week! We had fun!
I met lots of Swedes and Finns. I wasn't sure if the Norwegians existed...and I met a few nice Danes. It was tons of fun just to meet new people and experience new things...and immerse myself in a new culture! We had dances every night, a sports day, a day of lectures, and plenty of time to socialize.
It went so fast! Before I knew it, it was Friday and we were packing up and leaving. I decided to stay the weekend in Stockholm...having made some good friends here. So, that´s the rough outline of my last week and a half. I hope that I can find time to write more consistently. I am sorry for those of you that thought I´d been snatched!!! :) Sorry for no pictures...I´ll work on it!
Love you all!
Photos from Fest I Nord and Stockholm:
Me and Otso, one of my favorite Finns
Me and Karoline, a fellow American
Me and Mikael, my date for the Gala Dance
Such hansome boys!! Michael (USA), Niclas (Sweden), Luke (New Zealand), Ami (Finland)
My Swedish friends: Evelina, Malin, Ilona, and me
Evelina showing her Viking roots!
Me and Lindsay...giving our Swedish boys a salute!
A walk in Gamla Stan: Kent, Evelina, Ilona, Alexandra, Mikael (as you see, the viking hat was a favorite of all!! It was a gift from Lindsay to me :)
Kent, Raul, and Janne
Janne strikes a pose...sassy!
Lindsay and I DID find Norwegians!! Bjarte, Martin, Eva, Moses, Trond, James, Rebekke, Daniel, and Lindsay
Me, Jenny, and Christina
My Swedish family: Christina, Katarina, and Chris