Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day in Florence

We just got back from our long day in Florence. It was a good day, but we are both extra exhausted today, I think all the walking and lack of sleep is catching up to us but since we only have 4 days left we are determined to keep on the move. We saw some amazing art and sculptures today. We agreed that our favorite part of today was seeing Michelangelo's "David." The sculpture is HUGE...a lot bigger than I realized. I thought it was life-sized, like the size of a normal human, but it wasn't at all. It was seriously beautiful. It looked brand new, not like it was 500 years old. It was so perfect, even up close too, down to the veins in his hand. I couldn't believe that I was actually seeing the real David, I have seen my whole life in pictures.
"David" is in the Accedemia, and we had a tour there. When you enter, there is a longish hallway, lined with what looks like unfinished sculptures, and it ends in a bigger part of the room with the "David." The ones that look unfinished are actually called "Michelangelo's Prisoners" or something to that effect. Each are carved out of stone, and look like they are escaping the rock, and their bodies are all twisted, and they look painful, and in bondage. They look unfinished because some of them have bodies, but not finished, and it looks like their arms or heads or feet become the rock. Anyway it was really cool. We saw a lot of Michelangelo, and Donatello, and even some Leonardo Da Vinci today. Can you believe it, it was so fun and amazing to see work that was actually done by them. There were a couple of things that were not there though because it was being restored. Sad for us. But we saw a lot of cool things, and they were in 2 big Museums called the Uffizi Gallery and the Borggello Museum.

So we went to our Thanksgiving Dinner at a place called Trattoria Za' Za'. It was actually REALLY good. We both got a starter and then Steak and Rosemary potatoes, and we loved it! It was good good good.

On another random note, at the Villa where we are staying it has a pool/pond with geese, and we thought it was so beautiful, until we got a little closer. When we left this morning, Alicia said, "Jerilyn, those geese are looking at us weird, and they seem a little scary" and I said, "No Alicia, they are fine, what can they do to us?" Then their beak radar kicked in and they started squawking their little goose heads off and waddled with acceleration towards us, so Alicia ran away. around the back to the car, and left me to battle alone. They aimed their beaks at my shins, so I tried kicking toward them, but that just made them more determined, so while screaming, I swatted uselessly at them and ran to the car. They blocked our car, and started pecking at the car, like little devil geese. After almost running over them trying to back out we remembered we had some little crustini bread packets in the car from our last hotel breakfast, so we threw it out the window and they went running and we finally made our escape.
We are going to be going to Rome on Friday and since it takes almost four hours to get there we may go to a place called Sienna for a few hours if we can.
I hope your Thanksgiving dinners were great!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cinque Terre

Wow! Sorry it has taken me so long Family! We had a hard time getting Internet ANYWHERE!!! Our last hotel didn't even have the option of Internet, and for the past 2 days we have seen Internet cafes but they are closed for the season. Seriously, we are really in like, small OLD, old towns. We have had the funniest, scariest adventures out in the middle of random hills and mountains with no railings, and SMALL, teeny, little one-way streets that are apparently in denial and think that they are two-way streets, but they are actually even too small to be a one-way street. Yeah, and cars like to fly around those hairpin, switchback, blind curves. (There is one, like every 5-7 seconds). Oh, and people like to park on that street just to make things even more exciting and challenging. We have basically been screaming, laughing and repeating for 2 days straight, and we have some funny videos to prove it.
We had a great last day in Venice on Monday, aside from the freakin’ cold weather! We woke up and it had SNOWED! Yes, snowed. It was windy and yucky, and we were so grateful that the weather was a lot better the 2 first days we were there. We saw the Accedemia building and art museum, and then the Frari Church, which I LOVED. It was so beautiful, and it was probably my favorite church so far on the inside. The outside was blah, but it had many shrines, and lots of cool history. Then we went back to San Marco Square (Saint Marcs Basilica) and walked around the streets of Venice one last time. I was so sad to leave Venice, but enjoyed every second of it, even in the freezing cold.

We got up early yesterday to get ready to drive to the Cinque Terre region. It took us about 4 hours to drive from Venice to Cingue Terre. Between the maps of Italy, and the Garmin GPS that Alicia bought, and my amazing and articulate sense of direction, we got there just great. Ok the latter of the 3 actually is a big lie, and we did struggle a bit getting there. We usually do great on the Autostrada (freeway), but the second that we exit, it is a winding nightmare of small roads with fast mini-BMW's with really annoyed Italian men behind the wheel, and signs that don't mean anything to us, and lots of options to turn down wrong roads. So we turned down the wrong road, probably because of the pressure of the screaming Italians flashing their lights at us, and ended up....well, up on the side of a mountain with a train of mad people behind us. So we pulled over and cleaned our ridiculously dirty windshield, which actually made it worse. Anyway, we made it, and got to the "Best Western." It was cute, but hard too find, but a perfect, AMAZING location and view in the city of Santa Marherita Liguere. Small rooms teeny beds (two that were stuck together), but the most amazing view that you can imagine!! It was gorgeous!!! I loved that part of it.
Anyway, we didn't get there and checked in until about 3pm so we didn't have time to go to the Cinque Terre, so we decided to just stay in town and enjoy it there. It really was a cute city all on the beach in a cove-like setting with clumps of old houses and churches and restaurants lining the harbor, with boats on the docks, and a winding road on the coast. We went to Saint Margherita church, and it was SO gorgeous. There was not one square inch that was not gilded or carved or painted. It was so pretty, but we were the only tourists and there were several older people that were there praying or kneeling, and lighting candles, and in one corner there were people reciting what sounded like the Hail Mary prayer in Italian. We just sat amongst them, and I took a probably illegal video of it, while we pretended to be praying and meditating. We're so irreverent. Then we ate at a Gelateria that was delicious of course, and we were freeeeezing, but it was totally worth it. After the ice cream we ate dinner! Just how I like it. We basically had this little heated room outside, just to ourselves. It was yummy. We both got pizzas, and Alicia got some Mozzarella al Capprezze, which is her favorite here in Italy, and she has gotten it a few times.

Today we were up early and checked out by 7:45 am, and after we ate the free yummy breakfast and enjoyed one last look from our 4th floor balcony, we drove off to the Cinque Terre It was quite the drive, I really can’t even describe it. It was over a ½ hour off the freeway, of the crazy turns and small roads and mean people, and getting lost. When we got to the first town, we were trying to park so that we could take the train to all of the 5 beach cities (that’s what Cinque Terre means), but in November we are discovering that we are apparently the only tourists in Italy, so the "police guarded parking lot" we planned to park in was actually a deserted square of dirt with soccer goals in it. So we had to improvise and find a place to park by driving back around the town another way because there were no real streets to just drive through. Anyway after a series of unfortunate events, we parked and toured the 5 cities. Mostly it’s done by hiking between towns, or taking the train, and we did a little of both. They have bridges on the sides of mountains to connect the towns, and they are AMAZING sights, like I have only seen on National Geographic, and never thought I would experience myself. Today was A LOT warmer, so it was actually perfect for walking outside all day today. Each town was VERY deserted feeling, and we stuck out like sore thumbs, in my yellow jacket and blonde hair, and only saw a few other tourists. We had gelato 2 times again today.
By 3:30 pm we were on our way to Florence, and we got here in good time, but again, off of the main road on to small scarier than ever roads, in the hills of the Tuscany region, and did a lot of screaming, sweating, and laughing, till we found the hotel. Ok, it’s actually not a hotel, it’s an old castle type house from the 1500's!! It’s amazing. Well, at first it was SCARY, and we didn't know if it was the right place or where to go in or how to park, but once we were in, we decided it’s amazing. So I am sitting from the bed writing this email. They just got free WiFi, lucky us, so we have free and unlimited Internet for another day !! Oh, and we went back down the mountain a little ate dinner at this place that was really good. I had the best, diced potatoes I have ever had, and a grilled chicken that was divine (it was 20 euros though). Alicia got a Mushroom pasta and enjoyed it too. We are in Florence tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and then sleep here again tomorrow night, and then most of Friday in Florence and then of to Rome for the rest of the trip till Tuesday!
Bye for now!

Sunday, November 23, 2008



It still feels surreal, but we are actually in Venice right now! I am LOVING it so far, and I am so grateful to Alicia for bringing me here! We got here yesterday at 9 in the morning (1 am Utah time) and I had a hard time sleeping on the plane, but for the last 5 hours I took a half an Ambian that Alicia gave me and I was OUT! It was great and I didn't feel yucky or groggy. So I got really only about 3 hours, but it was fine. When we got here the hotel let us check in 5 hours early (we were so grateful). So we took an hour nap, and showered and were in Venice by 3.

We just basically walked arfound and enjoyed the scenery, and it was just AMAZING being there! I can't even tell you how much I love it. I seriously felt like crying! Anyway we just got our bearings around town yesterday, and got to bed by about 10, and were up at 7-ish to start the day today. I slept like a rock last night, and Alicia was jealous because I have adjusted perectly to the Jet Lag, and she had a hard time sleeping last night, and isn't as adjusted yet. Maybe staying up all night the night before you leave is the key to beating jet lag!!

Today was a perfect day! We left by 10-ish, and oh....lemme tell you, its RIDICULOUSLY cold here! I was actually considering not bringing my warm coat but I am SOOO grateful I did. Unfortunately that means that we will both look like we are in the same outfit in every single picture.

Anyway, so today we went to Doge's Palace, Saint Marc's Basillica, and the museum, and walked around, ate at a restaurant that Rick Steves (our famous travel book guide man) recommended for us. (which actually wasn't that great—don't get all brave and try mixed mystery meat skewers, you'll regret that decision.) And at the end of the day we went to a kind of Opera!! It was a last min decision that was really cool. It was about 12 people playing orchestra instruments, and 3 opera singers, and they were all dressed in Opera Garb, and sang from a bunch of different operas and composers, like Mozart, Offenbach, and the Opera Carmen. I knew a lot more songs than I thought and loved it! They were surprisingly good and full sounding even though they were few in number, and they didn't need props or scenery because we were in a gorgeous old building with 16th century architecture and art and beautiful acoustics. We also ate Gelato twice today (YUUMMM!!), and did a bunch of shopping—a bunch :)

OK, and lastly are random things I am discovering that are different that I never knew were different in Europe (call me naive!) So the toilets have the smallest little rims to sit on, and the travel toilet seat covers we bought don't stay on them :) OK and also the way to flush the Toilets is all totally different and they are never actually attached to the toilet itself, and they are huge weirdly shaped plastic plates or lever thingys that look like bowls stuck to the wall. Sometimes I have to just assume it's the lever and start pushing or pulling it in hopes it will somehow flush the toilet. There is also the option of a whole flush or a half flush....guys I assume that’s for you. Also guys and girls share bathrooms. Well, we use different stalls but we wash our hands next to each other, kinda weird. Oh, and most you have to pay for to get in 1 Euro. OK so all of that was directly related to bathrooms here...sorry. Oh and the cars are rad, they are small and cute, but quite spacious actually. We rented a car, but are only using it to get from city to city, and only drove from the airport to the Hotel so far. That was about a half a mile, and it was an adventure already. Drive, neutral, reverse and everything else is a little diff here so it was interesting just getting started.

Well, I love everything about Venice so far. I love hearing the different languages, and not being able to understand most everyone. I love that EVERYTHING is beautiful, totally and ridiculously beautiful, and just OLD! I love the fashion here, especially the guys, they are so sleek and suave :) It’s amazing. I also love the Italian accents when they are speaking English. Anyway so far so great, and I am looking forward to the rest of the trip. We are spending all day and night here again tomorrow, and then will leave really early the next day to get to Cinque Terre by noon (takes 4+ hours to get there).

OK, it's midnight here, so goodnight and enjoy the pics! I will have to caption better later... it was hard to get the pics up at all with this Italian Hotel Internet!

I love you and miss you all !!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yeah, maybe I'll regret it....

SO I totally saw Twilight at 12:20 am this morining, and I am leaving for ITALY in 15 mins. I haven't slept a wink, but hopefully I can do that on the 12 hours of Air time I have. :)

I decided I was going to go, and then I decided I was not going, and then I decided to go, and then I decided not to...and well...I went.

Overall it was a lot better than I expected and also kinda worse than expected. So I guess that means it was just what I expected. Lets just say its great until Edward goes into the forest and gets all glowy and shiny and actually kind of creepy. Other than that it was mostly really good.

***note: If you haven't read the books, or at least the first one, do NOT go and see this movie. You will likely hate it and wonder what we all liked about it. Especially if you are a male.

Anyway enjoy the picts of us freezing in line for 2 hours outside, and of one of the "Edwards" there.

I will try to Blog if I can in Italy!! SO look for stuff, if not I will see you all in 2 weeks!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Grandma

As most of you know, I am living with my Grandparents right now. I get my own little "wing" downstairs, and even have a kitchen to use. My Grandparents are 2 of the most amazing people that I know, and I LOVE living here with them, they are the most loving, giving, uplifting people.

Every morning, when I get up to get ready, I hear my Grandma playing the piano. She gets up and starts playing by about 8am. Its far enough away upstairs that it never wakes me up, but I get to enjoy the soft melodies that she plays, and I just LOVE it. I seriously love that part of my day. She has an amazing talent that she has been using through her whole life, and she just keeps getting better and better. It amazes me how well she plays, and how complicated some of the songs are. She is currently playing "The Warsaw Concerto," its amazing! It seriously inspires me and makes me feel motivated to always improve on my talents. (or lack thereof)

When I walk by her as I leave, she always looks so beautiful at the piano, and we exchange "I love you's" and I tell her she sounds amazing. I hope she knows that I mean it! I often wish I could just sit down and enjoy it instead of going to work! :)

I love my Grandma so much, she is amazing in so many ways, but this is just one of them. She has endless faith, and is so humble and has the purity of a child. I WISH I could be more like her, and love that I get to see her and my Grandpa every day! I haven't been able to to that for as long as I can remember. I am blessed with the most amazing family! I love you Grandma and Grandpa!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Girls Nites are healthy....

Me, Brittany Johnson, Kristine Hansen, Patricia Nagagta Noel

So last night I went out with 3 good friends from the mission days. Even though its been 3 years (ahhh!), I still have a hard time calling them by their first names. Worse than that, one is married, and I have a hard time calling her by her new married last name, let alone her first name. Apparently I have a hard time with change. Maybe I should see someone about that.

Anyway, we went out to eat at Red Robin, and then off to a Comedy show in Provo. Apparently 2 of the guys are the improv comedy champs of the Nation this year. They even beat out LA which is hard to do. I found myself enjoying myself immensely, and laughing pretty much the whole time. These ladies are top quality, and we have such fun, and can totally be ourselves around each other. They are hillarious, and we all decided that we were so funny that we should join the comedy troupe---OR just become their groupies, one of those. We went and got some Italian Gelato afterwards, and that can be summerized in 4 words..... De-lect-a-ble.

I have decided that even though french fries and ice cream were involved, it was healthy for me to have a fun girls night in the middle of the week. I felt uplifted by thier goodness, and since we all have a history together, it was fun to remember all the good times, and crazy times, and remember the amazing feelings of serving a mission. Even the bad memories seemed to be hilarious. Its healthy for the soul to be amongst people who have common goals, and people who love you for you, and can strengthen you just because of who they are. Its rare to find such people, and I am greatful for those people in my life. Even though we all get busy with life, I love being able to stop and enjoy eachother when we can. Thanks girls, I love you!!

Whilst these are terrible pictures of yours truly, they are the only ones I have, and the rest of the girls look fabulous.

Hansen, Johnson, Me, and Nagata (Noel) with all the funny guys.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My attempt at blogging...

Lately I have been very thoughtful, and have wanted an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. So since I am not an artist or a poet, blogging seemed to be the obvious answer; and since I have about 12 journals that have only the first 2 pages filled, I figured a journal obviously was not the way to go. So this is my attempt at expression, and while I make no promises about the excitement content, I do promise to attempt to make it non-boring. :) What a promise.

My first non-boring happening was my weekend....

I went to the temple yesterday and loved being there, I really needed it, and learned a lot. I am always amazed at the clarity that I find there. Its strange that I can feel so confused, distracted and impatient, and then the moment I enter the temple, I wonder what all the confusion was about. I LOVE that there is a place on earth to find that peace and clarity. Seriously, I am a fool for not taking advantage of that more often. So I will go again next week, and I am thinking about working in the temple, even if it is just twice a month.

After the temple I went to my bff Emily's house. (I use the term bff any time I can) Lets just say she has 2 of the cutest kids ever. Parker (2yrs), and Garrett (9 days old!) Here are some of the precious pictures.

Emily calls this "My 2 Boys"

I had to put this one on because you can see how freakin hyper Parker was, he pretty much was a blur that night :)

I believe he is trying to re-arrange my face, and laughing his head off.

OH and I got my hair cut on Friday night.....

BEFORE (sorry its the only recent 'before' pic that shows the length of my hair)

And After.....

Its SHORT!! Well short, for me at least...I don't think its been this short since I was a wee child.