L’Ultima Settimana

4/24/18- Rome, Italy

Hello everyone, I know it has been a while since I last wrote a post on here, but things have been busy here in April. From Easter on, school really picked up in pace and intensity barreling toward finals which happen to be this week.  With a few presentations, papers, an oral exam in Italian and just enjoying the final weeks here in Europe, writing an update was not in the cards, so I figured as this would be one of the final posts of this collection of stories and updates from Rome and Europe, I would update everyone on the past few weeks of travel.

Following Easter weekend, we decided to head back to the British Isles and visit London. Yes, part of that decision was wanting to see the city, all of its history and all of the points of interest, but our main draw was visiting Duncan, whom many of you know, but is our friend from school back in Kennett.  As he is so busy with his acting, it was great we were able to connect.

In addition to some nice sit downs for coffee (no tea for this guy) and nice conversations, we got to tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theater as well, which felt like a nice and necessary way to tie a bow on the KCSD English curriculum.

We did visit other go to sites like the London Eye, Harrods, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace. And though we did all of this, we also felt it necessary to go to the movies and see a film in English!

The weather was actually nice and spring like in London which was such a great feeling, since back in Philadelphia, the weather was terrible, and in Rome, things were fast approaching late May temperatures, which made it nice to stop and enjoy the fabulous spring days that weekend.

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The following weekend, we made our way to Barcelona for our last weekend away from Rome. Though it was sad to have our last weekend getaway, I think the consensus was that we were ready to rest.

The great thing about Barcelona was just that. A relaxing weekend, mainly because of the uncommon weather they were experiencing of cold and rain while the rest of Europe was warm and sunny. Go figure.  It wasn’t the worst thing though, because we ended up not fighting the rain, sleeping in, eating lots of tapas and churros, while still getting to enjoy las Ramblas, the harbor, and Sagrada Familia in dry patches of the day.

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Though writing papers, taking tests and presenting has put a damper on the final week here in Rome, the upper 70 degree days have made things just feel better. Hopefully I can come back to the USA with good grades and a bit of a tan.

Pasqua

4/6/18- Rome, Italy

Things are starting to come to a close here in Rome. Yes, we still have about 3 weeks left, but the papers, presentations and other goodies from school are starting to pile up.  If it weren’t for good time management, I don’t know how I would be able to travel on the weekends with a clear conscience. Though things were hectic this week, it was a very relaxing, but special weekend here in Rome.

As it goes, Rome is a pretty big tourist destination around Easter. And maybe one of the biggest bucket list moments, for me, was going to the Vatican for Easter mass.

So we got up at 5:45 AM to get ready, pound a cup of coffee and some toast before making our couple block walk to Vatican City. We got there around 6:45, and there was already a ton of people for the 10:15 mass.  It was definitely worth the wait as we got a nice seat right along the aisle, which to us, was the back, but it turned out being right along the path of the pope-mobile!

As for the mass, it was something really special seeing that many congregated from around the world. It was truly a representation of a world at peace.  Though I was there with friends, I did miss the normal traditions of seeing family and friends.

All told, I would highly recommend attending some sort of event around Easter at the Vatican, as it will make your trip to Rome.

Holy Week Update

3/29/18- Rome, Italy

Hello all, just another update. All is well here in Rome this holy week. The city is packed with tourists, but the rain has stopped and were now enjoying mid to upper 60’s on a more consistent basis.

This past weekend, I was in Trento Italy, which is an area that was previously Austrian before the end of WWI. In addition to the Alps being beautiful, it was a cool region with a blended German/Italian culture depending on where in the valley you were situated.

It was a good weekend to learn about the Italian front in the Great War, which is something that I feel was overlooked in a lot of my other classes, making it very interesting to hear about World War I from the Italian perspective.

After coming back from Trento, I somehow scratched my eye and had to visit a doctor here in Rome. Though it was set up through Temple’s insurance and medical network, it was yet another of what I am calling “real world experiences” here in Rome. In reality, it is just little headaches like having your Mac break or visiting the doctor that ruin the illusion that this trip is reality, when it is really closer to a fantasy.

The doctor wasn’t any different than an American office, but that could also be because the doctor was an American national.

Going to the pharmacy or farmacia was a different experience as the store specializes exclusively in medication and does not double as a supermarket, RadioShack, and Hallmark store all in one.

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Though things have been somewhat hectic and probably will continue to be going into the final push toward finals, I have had the time to reflect this week on the fact that, at the time of publishing this to the web, I will have 29 days left on my excursion through Europe. Yup, for those playing along at home, that’s 11 days of classes, 5 days of finals (only 3 of which I have tests on), 4 weekends, 2 holidays, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Things have gone fast here. Looking back, we have done a lot of memorable, fun, and at times, crazy things here, but the first three months of this trip flew by.  There is still a lot planned for the next 29 days, still places to go, people to see, and memories to be made.

That’s all for now folks. I’ll be sure to post about our Easter festivities next week. Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everyone this weekend!

-DJ

Class Excursion I

3/21/18- Campania, Italy

This past weekend, I had a class excursion down to Campania, south of Rome.  Yes, this is the land of buffalo mozzarella, and the Amalfi Coast, but this was anything but a leisurely trip. Rather, it was what my professor called the “death march” so on Friday, our bleary eyed class made our way to meet a 7 AM bus, which for many was just the continuation of events from Thursday night.

We worked our way south, stopping at various towns on the way down the coast. We stopped in both Terracina and Minturno, both Roman settlements along the famed Appian way, which was cool because we stood on 2000-year-old stones making up the I-95 of its day.

After that, we made our way to the area around Naples where we saw a very well preserved Roman Villa, covered from the eruption of Vesuvius.

Saturday and Sunday were no different as we basically jogged around Pompei and Paestum for hours each day. I will say as tired and as soaked as we were from the rain, it was a very informative and exciting trip.  Seeing homes, temples, and many other structures dating way back, it was nice to be able to contextualize life and what we are learning about in class.

Happy spring to everyone, stay safe in the snow, and I will keep everyone posted on this weekend in 5 days or thereabouts.

-DJ

Update From Rome

3/14/18 Rome, Italy

Its, been a minute folks. Since my last update, I ran into some computer troubles last week. Long story short, Apple was repairing my computer until yesterday, but were back in business and better than before. Thank goodness for AppleCare.

While on a tech hiatus of sorts, we took advantage of a sunny, 60º F weekend to see a lot of the important sites that we had neglected to visit, mainly the Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon.

It was so nice to finally see the sites, though it seems that tourism is starting to rise along with the favorable temperatures. Though it was crowded, both sites were amazing to see and alleviated the guilt of living in Rome for 2 months and not seeing such important sites.

Alex, Dave, and I also attended a A.S. Roma soccer match on Friday night which was quite the experience.  The club plays in the old Stadio Olimpico, which seemed to sit around 80,000 by our estimations, but was only about 1/3 of the way filled.  What I found amazing was the sheer volume at such a marginal capacity.  It rivaled that of Beaver Stadium (sorry Penn State fans) in atmosphere and volume. It was also such a wild sight to see the sea of flags through the sections of the stadium as well as the occasional flare thrown onto the track.  It was definitely a memorable experience and was nice to attend a sporting event again.

Otherwise the weekend was rather relaxed. Over the course of lent, I have been practicing my pizza making skills to avoid eating meat, and it has been a learning experience, but I am improving week by week.

This weekend I have an excursion South to the Naples region.  I’ll be sure to update everyone accordingly.

-DJ

Swiss living

3/6/18- Switzerland

To finish out our Spring Break, we visited Switzerland.  While it was the most scenic country, that beauty came at a price, Switzerland is very expensive.  It was hard to find meals at a sit-down restaurant that fit in our price point. Even McDonald’s was pricey there.  Though we were blowing through money, it was a fantastic time.

Our first day we spent the evening in Luzern after our train ride from Paris.  The town was on the lake and looked like something out of a Medieval fairy tale.  While we enjoyed our time in Luzern, our stay was short lived as we made our way to Engelberg.

Engelberg was a town about 40 minutes south by train. Our original plan was to spend two days skiing, but as Wynn, Alex and I have the combined experience of one ski trip between the three of us, skiing the alps did not go as planned.

After a fiasco of embarrassing ourselves, and possible endangering our own wellbeing on the mountain, we had to refund our skis and our second night in our Airbnb.  The trip was something out of a slapstick comedy routine than an actual ski trip, but we did officially ski the Swiss Alps, which did help our very bruised egos after failing miserably at skiing.

Luckily, we were able to get a room at the hotel we stayed at in Luzern a day before. We made the return to the town where we meandered the streets, filled with little shops, and some chains. We did make it to the KapellBrücke, a covered bridge crossing the Reuss river, which feeds into Lake Luzern.  It was incredibly scenic and maybe more importantly, part of a nice day to relax and recharge for the rest of the semester.

All in all, Spring break was a fantastic trip, that exceeded every expectation and was worth every dollar, euro, and franc spent.  For now, its back to school, and back to Rome, which hopefully will be snow free and much warmer than this past week.

Stay tuned for our next adventures.

-DJ

While in Paris

3/1/18 Paris, France
Well, I don’t know what to say about Paris.

After a few delays on the train from Germany, we made it to Paris Tuesday evening.
Though we lost about 2 hours of our time, we still made the most of our time by going to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at night, which lent itself to some cool pictures. Though I brought a tripod on the trip, I neglected to bring it out with us. I had to get creative with how I would stabilize the camera with various benches, hats and at one point my shoes. Though it was freezing, the pictures came out alright making the pain of cold concrete to my socks worth the while.
The following day, we set out at 10 AM for a very busy day of tourism.
We stopped by Notre Dame, which may be my favorite church we have visited so far, the Louvre to see some art, both famous and not so famous before we had lunch. Of all places we settled on Italian, which may have been foolish, but was still very good, and more importantly filling for the price.
Following lunch we spent some time on the Champs Élysées and shopped around for a while.
To cap our day off, we did go back to the Eiffel Tower to go to the top, and grab some more pictures. Though I am not keen on heights it was quite a view and something I am glad we did.
Overall, Paris was a really remarkable place to visit. Though it may not have the same history as Rome, or the same beauty as Venice, the city’s wide, tree lined avenues, and the cultural landmarks made it a really fun place to visit.
We’re now off to Switzerland for our final leg of Spring break. It should be a fun time.
-DJ