Saturday, May 14, 2011

When in Rome...

Sorry I haven't been able to post lately. We stayed at a Convent in Rome and there was no internet service! But Italy was absolutely wonderful. We are in Spain now but I'll backtrack and write a little about Italy.

Our first stop in Italy was in a small town near Venice, Padova. (sadly Venice was too expensive to take our large group). In Padova we saw a church that has some beautiful frescos that are in the process of being preserved. We couldn't take pictures in the Church but seeing the damage and then seeing the vibrant restored frescos was breathtaking.

After the morning in Padova we drove to Florence! Where we got to see Michelangelo's David. There are no words worthy to describe that piece. His magnificence and determination is stunning. Florence was beautiful, it was small and the streets were crowded but it was such a busy vibrant town. Our first night in Florence we went to a concert that was held in the main square. There were local performers, all performing around several world renowned statues, and me and some friends got to see it! Some other things I did in Florence:
  • on the first day I ate about 4 cups of Gelato....don't judge that stuff is AMAZING! You thought ice cream was good....just wait till you get a hold of Gelato; it will change your life....literally!
  • Hiked the Duomo, (I have hiked 3 domes, 2 towers and I have caluclated to have climbed over 3,000 stairs in just hiking domes and towers!)
  • Ate more Gelato
  • Went to several museums and churches
We were only in Florence for a few days but it was splended! After Florence we drove to Rome.


Rome is awesome!! We stayed at a little convent with Nuns! It was probably one of the nicest places I've stayed at here! (except for our little Hostel on the lake in Velden, Austria). Anyways the Convent was right in between ancient Rome and the Vatican, so we could walk EVERYWHERE!!! My feet have never been so tired!

The first day in Rome we went to ancient Rome. Saw tons of Churches, including my favorite the Idgnazio Cathedral. I love the illusion created on the ceiling. We ate Panini's in front of the Colosseum and walked through the Roman Forum. After we went to the Spanish Steps and went into an Crypt that has been entirely decorated with bones. At first they may seem gruesome and disrespectful but the more I learned about the reasoning behind this skeletal art the more moving it became. The churches lands were being conviscated and developed and in order to preserve their dead from being tilled into development they dug them up and had to find a way to fit them into the crypt in the church. So a little morbid but incredibly fasinating!  (Wish I could show you a picture of it but I wasn't allowed to take photographs).

The Second day in Rome, we went to the Vatican. Saw all the sights from the movie Angels and Demons. haha no we did a lot more than that. We went thorugh the vatican museum and at the end of the museum is the Sistine Chapel. That ceiling is aboslutely astounding. For how much Michelangelo hated to paint and disliked the commission for the chapel he did an incredible job. It was such a spiritual experience to see it and to see the connections and how much understanding he possessed of the gospel. After the Sistine Chapel we hiked another dome!!! Saint Peter's Basillica, and then went into the chapel and saw Michelangelo's first Pieta. This Pieta I though would be my favorite but I wasn't as moved as I had been when I saw the unfinished Pieta, the David, or even the Sistine Chapel.

My favorite part of Rome was going into the Borghese Museum, this museum hold Burnini's scuplutres. I don't have words to describe them, but the detail and the delicasy of those scupltures took my breath away and carried me to the story he depicted. It was incredible

On our final day in Rome we went to see the Pope speek in Saint Peter's Square. That was quite the experience, it was really long so we ended up leaving half way through because we had other places to see.

Rome was so much fun, it was beautiful. Less stressful than Paris but full of culture and good food :P Acutally the food wasn't quite as amazing as I expected in Italy, but we think that was becase we didn't really have the time to discover real Italian food, we were stuck with touristy foods :(

The final thing in Italy was the beach and the ruins. We went to the beach in Italy, so I have now swam the Mediterannean! After the beach we drove to Ostia. I loved the ruins of Ostia that we visited they were so neat. We found ancient paintings that had been left on the walls in some buildings.

(Sorry theres not pictures on this blog, the internet here won't let me add them. So check facebook for photos!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


View from St. Paul's Cathedral
So I don't really have anything to say, which it kind of strange since so much has happened. I just don't know what to tell y'all!  We have seen so many churches but they're not very interesting unless you understand the various saints and symbols but here are some of the pictures that I have taken of these magnificent buildings. My photos don't do them justice they are so grand and magnificent. One of the grandest Cathedrals we went to was Saint Paul's Cathedral in London. I went there three times! Once to climb the dome (which was literally over a thousand steps!), another to eat dinner on the steps, and then again for the Eucharist service. I wish I could have taken pictures of the cathedral but photos weren't allowed :'(

But enough of trying to catch up on what I haven't been able to tell! Today was so fun! Its so relaxing here in Vienna. We woke up this morning and went to the Spanish Riding School and watched the Lipizzaner Stallions practice.  It wasn't super exciting but it was really fun to watch them practice technique, you begin to realize how much work it takes to train and get to the caliber of performance they are known for. After that we went and bought fruit, bread, and cheese (fruit is SOO EXPENSIVE here) but we had a little picnic. After we walked by the Hapsburg Palace, and then traveled out to their country palace (I can't remember how to spell it and am too lazy to look it up). The palace was beautiful! It supposedly rivals Versailles, I believe it! Well I need to go pack, we are going to Velden tomorrow.  Exactly two weeks till CA!

The Sound of Music

The past few days have been full of Music! From two musicals in London, to Bach Baroque concert, to a ballet to hundreds of street performers. Originally in London I had planned on going to see one play, Les Miserables (because it was the one I hadn't seen yet). But almost everyone else in my group signed up for two plays, and most of the sites I wanted to see were closed because we were in England the day of the Royal Wedding (yes we watched it in a little souvenir shop in Salisbury with some of the locals). But I decided I would go to the discount ticket office and see if they had any good shows that I could attend that night.....THEY HAD TICKETS FOR PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! So I ended up seeing two shows in London! Both were absolutely wonderful, it was funny hearing them with French and English accents.
Last night in Vienna we saw a Bach concert. It was beautiful and enjoyable to listen too. At first we were the back row and I was stuck behind an incredibly tall gentleman, but I guess they didn't realize that there was an intermission because they never came back! So even though I was in the back row I had a full view of the stage with the musicians.

Bach Concert
Vienna does an interesting thing, they have what is called the standing room at the Opera theater. It is where you pay a smaller fee and can stand under the balconies and boxes to watch a show. So instead of paying a huge sum for a seat we paid 4euros and were able to see the show. This is so everyone, even the lower class in the old days or us poor traveling college students can still experience the beauty of music and culture. We went to the opera house and got in line early, and found that we weren't actually going to see an Opera....but a ballet! I was so excited. We weren't planning on staying for the whole Opera, they can run up too 3 hours and we weren't sure we could handle standing for three hours watching an Opera in German. But the ballet was so wonderful! The beginning was a more modern/contemporary ballet (it was very interesting, but I enjoyed it), then there was a more classical with beautiful storylines and then a more comic act. Its fun because you go early, save your spot by tying a scarf to the railing by where you will stand and then we left and got dinner (Bratwurst) and then returned for the show! It was a wonderful experience and we had a blast! (I think we may go again tomorrow because its show cheap and there will be a different show tomorrow, we'll see if we have any better ideas). Well thats the music experience I've had for the past few days, it has been so much fun.

Oh just a random fun story for music, we were walking in the subway in London. One of the street performers started to play Mama Mia by ABBA, and us crazy LDS kids started singing all through the subway...even when you couldn't hear the musician anymore. (Ya we got some crazy looks) :P

Also they play a lot of American music on the radio, so we sing on the bus all the time.

            How many of you recognize this???
                 Yes I've been there!!!