Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's official...we're engaged!

On our final day in Firenze [yes...I know this post is out of order, but I wanted to save the best for last!] Monty and I visited several Basilica's and then headed across the river to see the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Boboli Gardens. The views were spectacular and what we saw of the gardens [we refused to pay the entry fee, so just peeked in.] On our way back across the Ponte Vecchio bridge, we saw this view and I had to take a picture. We thought it was a pretty view and Monty had been wanting someone to take our picture for several days and we thought this would be perfect...
So...I hopped up on the side of the bridge, gave my camera to Monty and he handed it over to a woman standing near us. Now...keep in mind, I just think he wants someone to get a picture of us...I have no idea what's going on. The next thing I know...he's down on one knee holding up a ring. As you can see...I'm totally surprised!
As Monty's standing up, he realizes that he had an audience and is getting embaressed. Not only was the woman taking a picture of us, but so were probably 50 others and a couple were cheering him on! His face was priceless when he finally realized!
Of course I said yes and he is thrilled beyond belief! The planning is in full force, but no date has been set yet!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Milano - our final day in Italia...Boo!

After 2 wonderful days in Firenze, Monty and I hopped on our final train to Milano. This is a picture of the enormous Milano train station, you can't even see the wings on either side of the main entrance because they wouldn't fit in teh picture! Although I was ready to come home after being away for more than 6 weeks, I was still very sad to leave Italia.

After we arrived and checked into our awesome hotel room. No was the nicest one by far and all by accident via online booking! Check out the name of the hotel. That's right, it says it's the white Monty and how true that is!

We headed to the Duomo. Monty and I were awestruck when we came up from the Metro at it's size and beauty. It's absolutely huge and I think the white marble makes it look even larger than it is, if that's possible. The inside was incredible and absolutely beautiful. This is a picture of me standing next to the Duomo, but of course means very little because I'm so short.
Right next to the Duomo is a mall. Monty loved the tile floor and had to take a picture!
The children's toy is actually a bee! We saw it on a playground in one of the city parks! Monty and I had a great time in Milano and were very sad to come back to reality.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Views of Firenze

We spent two wonderful days in Firenze. Somehow I lucked into booking a hotel, one of Rick Steves' favorites, right in the heart of the old part of Firenze within walking distance of everything we wanted to see! The hotel was perfect, the people were so helpful and cheerful, we had a room with our own bathroom and we didn't have to treck our luggage up any stairs! Monty was the most excited about no stairs.

The guy at the front desk pointed us to all of the sites and we were off. Thankfully, Monty and I headed first to see Michelangelo's David. You are supposed to be able to reserve a time to see the David, but unfortunately for us, the computer was down so we had to stand in line. But...much to Monty's relief, the line moved quickly and we got into the museum quickly. Just like most of the museums we visited, taking photographs was prohibited. I was immediately bummed! But, when we did see the David, everyone else was taking pictures, so I snapped one too! I figured if the Asian man with the professional camera wasn't getting kicked out of the museum, that I could definitely snap one before I was thrown out and it's the first picture on the slide show!

The David was very impressive, but I was most struck by the disporportionate size of his hands and feet in comparision to the rest of his body. I thought everything was to scale, except the hands and feet, but what do I know?

After seeing the David, we headed over to the Duomo to climb the 414 steps to the top [the tower on the right is what we climbed]! It was an interesting climb to say the least. The higher you go, the narrower the stairs and it seemed the more people trying to go both up and down. I was a little on edge the higher we got because I'm petrified of small spaces and getting stuck, but I made it and Monty was a trooper. Climbing was 100% my idea and I really think he just humored me with agreeing to go.

Later that evening we attended our second Italian Catholic mass in as many days at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore [the cathedral next to the Duomo]. This time however, the scripture portion of th e program was printed in several languages, including English so Monty and I were able to follow along. The inside of this Cattedrale was much simplier than Basilicia in Vienze, but was absolutely beautiful. And...we sat right up front. We arrived about 15 minutes before the mass began and sat in the wooden pews under the dome. I can't imagine how many people sat in those same seats over the years.

The next day we decided to visit some of the Basilicias. We went to Basilicia di San Lorenzo and Basilicia di Santa Maria Novella. They were both very beautiful and completely different. Of course, pictures inside were prohibited, but Monty did get several great ones outside of each. Despite the plain exterior of the Basilicia di San Lorenzo, the inside was extremely ornate and beautiful. My only complaint about the 2 is that no air moves inside and even though we were there early in the morning, the heat inside was oppressive. The final picture is of the gardens outside the Basilicia di Santa Maria Novella.

Firenze has several Basilicas and after visiting 2 Monty and I decided we had seen it all. Boy were we wrong...the one we considered visiting and decided against was probably the most important of all. Why do you ask? Well...because Michelangelo, Dante and Galielo are all buried there. Moral of the story...Monty and I failed! I guess we'll just have to go back to Firenze again...

After visiting these Basilica's, Monty and I headed up to Piazzale Michelangelo and the Boboli gardens. The views from up there were spectacular of the city. While up there we walked through the cemetary outside Chiesa di San Miniato al Monte which is just up the hill from Piazzale Michelangelo. We didn't go inside the Chiesa, but the cemetary was beautiful and peaceful.

We had planned to tour the Boboli gardens as well, but decided against it when we got there and saw how much it cost to get inside. So instead we headed off down a small street and into an Italian grocery store to get some lunch. It was interesting trying to order sandwiches at the meat counter, but fortunately for me, the man that helped me spoke some English! Although, Monty's bread for his sandwich was good, he may have chipped a tooth if he hadn't been careful! We took our sandwiches and a bottle of wine and had our first picnic. It was memorable in that it was in Firenze and I sat in ice cream and who knows what else on the stoop we found.

Firenze, although completely different from Vienzia, was awesome! We both loved it and will probably go back at some point!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our First Tuscan Feast in Firenze

After we saw Michaelangelo's David this morning we trecked the 414 steps up the Duomo for some picture perfect views of Firenze.

We then ate some pie and came back to take a nap before heading to our second Italian Catholic mass in as many days. This was even better than yesterday because we sat right up front like we knew what we were doing. Monty and I guess that the 'pews' we were sitting on are circa 1700 at the youngest! They were so cool, but unfortunately photography inside the church is forbidden in Italy, along with shorts, although some Canadian was taking pics and decked out in shorts. But...I think my relationship with God is good and I didn't want to taint it by taking pics in Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore!

Next Monty and headed to Guido's. Seriously...that's the name of the restaurant we ate at and it was fabulous! I'm uploading a picture of our wine, one of Monty and our first course and a final one of me. I'll upload more pics from Firenze later in the trip because the Internt is pretty slow right now!

First Time in 6 Weeks...

...I've dried my hair! I'm just a little excited about not looking like a raga-muffin. Seriously, I never thought I'd miss drying my hair until I hadn't done it in 6 weeks. What do you think? Get past the fact that my dress is wrinkled and I have on black flops with a navy dress and just focus on the awesome hair! Woo hoo!

No high 5-ing in Venezia

At least according to Monty that's what this sign means!

Cindarelli, Cindarelli…

…we can help our Cindarelli. I’m not sure how many of you know the movie Cinderella as well as I do, but there’s a part of the movie where the mice are making her a dress for the ball and singing about it. It’s pretty funny.

Anyway…on the train today from Venezia to Firenze an alternative lifestyle couple got on the train in Bologne and sat right next to me and Monty that were sitting across from one another. We were sitting in a section of seats for 4 people and Monty and I were sitting across from each other next to the window. We had the 4 seats to ourselves for more than an hour of the ride and just assumed we would be alone for the entire trip.

But…in Bologne this couple joined us. The rotund one that sat next to Monty was the most interesting. He had his shades on the whole time…I guess his future is bright! With a pink belly shirt, neon pink nail polish, white man-capris and a rodeo-esk belt with bling! I’m not sure what he had on his feet because I never made it that far, but I do know the he shaves both his arms and his legs, because both were touching Monty as soon as he took his seat!

I was blessed with sitting next to the smaller of the 2 men who was a mouth breather! Monty and I just loved the remainder of our trip trying our best not to touch either of the 2 men!
The most exciting part of the trip was when the rotund partner’s phone began to ring playing the song from Cinderella. Neither he nor his mouth breathing friend awakened to the chorus of the song, but the rest of the cabin heard it loud and clear. To my amazement, they both awoke when the mouth breather’s alarm on his cell phone went off. Awesome! I know y’all are sad you missed it!

A gondola ride and an Italian Mass…a First Class Day

Today Monty and I headed for Piazza San Marco in the morning. It was of course bustling with people, as I’m sure it is 24 hours a day. While we walked around we inquired as to the times of the Saturday afternoon mass in Basilica di San Marco and decided to come back later for the mass and to see inside.

Then we walked around, had some lunch and found a gondola for hire! Woo hoo! The ride was all I had imagined. The parts of the ride in the Grand Canal were hot because there was very little shade, but there was so much going on that we hardly noticed. It was a great way to see Venice and relax. Our gondolier did not talk much, but did tell us about a couple of the buildings along the Grand Canal, including the courthouse. If you ever go to Venice, you need to take a gondola ride. You can negotiate the price, which we did and I loved it. I think Monty enjoyed himself although I think he’s been secretly fearing it since I mentioned it months ago.

After a wonderful last day in Venezia, Monty and I headed back to our hotel to get ready for our Italian mass. We were a little late getting to the Basilica, but enjoyed what we did see. William, we’ll need you to translate the program for us because it’s all in Italian. All Monty and I understood were some Alleugiah’s, Amen’s and the Apostle’s Creed, but it was fantastic. The Basilica was absolutely beautiful and much more than I thought it would be. It was incredibly ornate. Also, the floor was like waves on the ocean. I’m assuming that is due to the settling of the building.

I absolutely loved Venezia! It was a little smelly, but that was mostly the French and Italians that fail to bathe on a regular basis. In fact, the canals were much less smelly than I was prepared for. I absolutely loved Venezia and would love to go back some day. There is plenty to do and so much Monty and I did not get to see. BTW…the water buses are fantastic. Monty kept laughing at me because I couldn’t ride them enough…what a great idea!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wine is cheaper than water…

After my final yesterday afternoon Monty and I hopped on a train to Venice! Woo hoo! Although I do love beer and have loved all of it that I’ve had over the last 5 weeks, I’m thrilled to be in Italy with all this wine!

We had an uneventful train ride here, with the second train even having air conditioning which is almost unheard of on the Italian trains! We were smart enough, however, not to tempt the bathrooms.

Last night was rough to say the least. Because I booked our hotel about a month ago not knowing we could arrive on Thursday instead of Friday, I had to call at the last minute to get a room for last night. The best thing I can say is that we weren’t sleeping on the street, although it might have been cooler.

When we arrived, the guy at the front desk told us we were in the annex. Meaning, we went outside and walked to a completely different building. After walking up 4 flights of narrow stairs we arrived at our room. At first blush it appeared there were 2 twin beds, but upon closer examination it was really 2 twin cots with some sort of IKEA-esk type erector set around them. Seriously, we paid 58 euro last night to sleep on a cot made to look like a twin bed.

The best part of the room was the temperature. I don’t think it got below about 85 degrees all night long. The problem is, the buildings in Venice are so close together that if you’re not on a wide street, you get no breeze. Basically, we poured sweat all night long.

Did I mention we also were able to share a hallway bathroom with the other lucky ones relegated to the annex? Yep, I’m not sure this bathroom had been cleaned in months. I touched nothing, took a shower in my flops and only brushed my teeth because my breath was so bad, I could smell it. Basically, I would rather have bathed in the Grand Canal than our bathroom!

Our ‘wake up’ call was eye opening! Most people wake to the sun, their alarm or maybe even a rooster, but we were awakened by the banging of pans and hocking of loogies by the old lady across the window from us. It was a joy and one I’m very sorry you too will not experience.
We have now been moved into a room with A/C that is smaller, but at least clean. Things are looking up! One final mental image for y’all. The trash can in our room last night did have a bag, but had trash in it! Awesome!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My comparative tort class

...has been very interesting. I absolutely love torts! It was my favorite subject during my 1L year, so of course when a tort class was offered on this program I signed up for it.

Apparently we lucked out too because our professor is one, if not the, foremost authority on comparative tort in Europe. He has so much knowledge of torts and how the different European jurisdictions as well as the EU deal with tort cases that he sometimes winds up on tangets that have nothing to do with the material. He also gets very worked up when it comes to issues and/or cases he thinks are ridiculous. I love it!

Well, today we talked compensation for tort cases in various countries and learned that a Greek court allowed a fetus to recover under a bereavement theory for the loss of his/her grandmother. Apparently, the grandmother was killed in an accident with the mother-to-be in the car and the Greek court allowed the mother and the unborn fetus to recover bereavement losses for the injury. Are you kidding me? That is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life! Fortunately, even with all of the squirly verdicts and payouts in the U.S. we don't have anything as ridiculous as a bereavement theory of recovery. What will they think of next?