Saturday, July 14, 2012

Out of the loop

Apparently there were a few things I missed while in Europe:

Vilcan was very surprised that i'd never heard of two popular movies in theatres now: Ted and Magic Mike. Apparently one's about a teddy bear and te other's about a stripper. I'd seen posters for American movies in France, but i guess only a small selection of movies get transplanted across countries.

Also, I missed bath salts zombies. Apparently there have been a few incidents of people high on bath salts running around with super-energy and gnawing people's faces off. Sounds pretty crazy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Realized Why My Wallet Was So Fat in Europe

American coins are way thinner than Euro coins! Score one for the USA

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

American vs. European beer

Just had a Sam Adams, my first American beer after my European beer experience. It seems... Very watered-down in comparison. That actually fits with what every European told me while I was there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dallas (tv show)

... was the first Western TV show allowed in Czechoslovakia after the change in government, so our tour guide in Prague had told us that lots of Czechs know it. Some big businessmen even adopted the Texan clothes style to seem as cool and powerful as the people on the show.

Also I learned from a British woman that there is currently a remake of the TV show being produced.

I've never seen the show... maybe I'll have a look at it.

Sprinting through the airport

A little less than 2 hours before my flight, I saw that I had received an email saying that the check-in time for international flights is 2 hrs before departure, a piece of fine print I'd never read. I freaked out a bit, checked in on my phone, and crossed my fingers hoping they'd let me printthe boarding passes at the airport. They did, and the woman at the desk said, "run, your plane is already boarding."

Had to run through the airport, brainstorming what I would do if I got stuck in Europe, but I finally made it to the gate a full 10 minutes before my zone started boarding! On second thought, being stuck in Europe might not be so bad, aside from the ridiculous price of another plane ticket this time of year.

Watched Hunger Games and The Artist on the plane. Hunger Games's acting was sub-par, but an interesting story nonetheless. The Artist was way cool. I'd never seen a (mostly) silent film before.

Now I'm in North Carolina killing a few hours.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rome in a day

Got to Rome, and my hostel (Hostel Beautiful, which is the only one I've stayed at that I would not recommend) wouldn't let me check in since it was the morning, so I had to go yet another day without a shower. My feet are turning black!

I went to St Maria Maggiore bascilica, but as soon as I accidentally wandered into the gift shop, the woman closed the exit door "so I wouldn't leave and interrupt mass," which was aboutto start. I was like: no lady, you're not gonna lock me in this gift shop for 3 hours till I buy something. I See right through your scam, let me the hell out of here.

Anyway, after leaving, I met up with this guy Vincent, a retired Louisianian living in Rome, who Doc Voorhies introduced me to, and he showed me around during the day. He showed me the Victor Emmanuel II monument (way more epic than the Washington monument!), the place where Julius Caesar was asassinated (there's a stray cat colony living there), then the Pantheon (nice to see, after doing a presentation about Paris's Pantheon).

On the 64 bus (the crowded touristy one), some lady with a baby and a shawl over her hand tried to take Vince's wallet, and he warned me about her.

We also went to Vatican City, although most thigs were closed b/c it was Sunday. He showed me St Peter's Basilica, which was really beautiful. But the wax-dipped pope corpses on display were a bit creepy. Michelangelo's statue of Mary holding Jesus was pretty cool. I had never notice that Mary is younger than Jesus in the statue. In general Vince's explanations of things were really nice. He explained, for example, how the missing bronze roof of the Pantheon's patio was taken to be melted down for use in St. Peter's Basilica's giant altar-cover.

We went to lunch at a non-touristy, empty restaurant in Vince's neighborhood. I had gnocchi, a plate of delicious dumplings that gets really hard to chew after a while. There was also a really nice lemon sorbet, some italian toast, and some untopped pizza bread served like pita.

After lunch he led me toward the Colosseum and Forum, which I visited alone. The Colosseum map was terribly designed (they used numbers instead of symbols for things like stairs and bathrooms, and those numbers got mixed up with the audioguide order numbers), so it took me a while.

After all that I checked in to the hostel and took a much-needed shower! This hostel has no good key system, so getting in was frustrating: i had to buzz in at the bottom, walk up to the 3rd floor (called 2nd in the European floor ordering system), tell the guy to buzz me in on the 4th floor entrance door, knock on my room door and hope my roomie was there to answer (there's only 1 key per room). He didn't, so back on the 3rd floor the guy said, "He's probably in the bathroom. Just wait." Back up to the 4th floor, waited, and finally got in. Also there was no shower water pressure, just a trickle, since the hose was leaking.

Afterward I ate dinner at a place with awesome lasagna and terrible veal. Plenty of street vendors kept bothering us with their trinkets,and the waiters did nothing about it. A guy came by the restaurant patio with an accordian, and a man with his family asked him where he's from. When he said Romania, the man said, "Oh, a gypsy!" I was under the impression that that was a racial slur or something.

Then saw the Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, and the spanish steps. Lots of cool sculptures, but it seemed all a bit overhyped, especially the Trevi fountain, which a Czech guy in the train specifically recommended: "Promise to see the Fountain of Trevi, it is beautiful."

Bought a metro ticket for the way back since my feet were killing me (soreness, blisters, and athlete's foot :X ). But it was closed (12:30 am), so I had to keep walking to my hostel, which is south of the train station.