Catching Up

I haven’t blogged since my Italy trip and I am sorry for that.  I have been trying to catch up on homework and have finally gotten back into somewhat of a routine.  A few weeks ago, Amelia and I traveled to Sigmund Freud’s house for Art History class.  We had an audio tour, which told us about his life, work, and family.  I found his house quite creepy and I cannot imagine how people were comfortable sitting in his lounge and speaking while all these mysterious religious figures were scattered all over the room.  Also, I leaned on a chair while I was there to read a sign lower on the ground.  The sign read that that exact chair was where Sigmund Freud had died.  I think this was quite disturbing as well since I touched it and quickly left after.  Here is a photo of the house:

I do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

Next we went to Lloyd’s of London.  This insurance company is the most respected in the world.  What I found to be crazy, is that they don’t even sell insurance!  They rent out their building to other companies who sell insurance, and want the prestige of doing business in Lloyd’s.  This was one of my favorite tours this semester.  An interesting note about Lloyd’s is the architecture.  The building is designed with all of the pipes on the outside of the building, so it is easier to fix when problems arise.  This is what it looks like inside and out: 

i do not own the rights to this photo

i do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

I do not own the rights to this photo

That same day we visited Inns of Court.  These are the associations that lawyers have to be involved in.  There are only four and we were able to see a few of the dining halls, and historical desks and learned about the queen of hearts and the legend of who she is.

 

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Rome, Pizza, Gelato!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?  Well we tried.  Here is how it played out.

The first night when we got there it was quite late.  We knew time could possibly run short, so we went to the Trevi fountain that night.  And it was absolutely spectacular.

Making a wish

Making a wish

Gelato!

Gelato!

Amelia & I at the Trevi

Amelia & I at the Trevi

The four of us

The four of us

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

Apparently, if you throw one coin in, it is a wish to return to Rome and two coins is to fall in love.  We stayed there for about an hour then decided to head to our hostel.  The next morning we planned to adventure to all of the other sites besides the coliseum or the vatican.  I went downstairs to grab everyone towels and I ran into one of my friends from St. Johns!  Out of the blue!  He is also studying in London, and was on his break, which happened to be in Rome in the same hostel as me!  He has an internship with PwC as well but for the summer.  Here is a picture of Bobby and I a few nights later.

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After I talked to him about his plans, we all got ready and headed off towards the spanish steps.  I’m not sure as to why they are so significant, but one street vendor said it had to do with how it connects the church to the common people.  I was surprised as to how small the steps actually were.  I was expecting another flight of 500 steps like other churches we have been to.  After we walked up, we went to the Pantheon.  This was one of the cooler places we went.  It was actually a pagan church built in 608 and later converted to Christianity.  Here are photos of the stairs and the Pantheon.

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We walked by the Coliseum that night, and got really excited for our tour, which was the next day!  We went to bed early that night preparing for our early morning.  And it sure was an early morning…. Our hostel room had six beds and the two other occupants were some of the loudest snorer’s I have ever met (even louder than you used to be dad!).  The fact that they both snored didn’t help and all four of us woke up in the middle of the night very irritated.  We all had a pair of ear plugs but those didn’t even help much!  It was so frustrating! 

We woke up early and I wasn’t quiet at all, just hoping that the other two roommates might have to wake up and suffer like I did.  We arrived at the coliseum early enough to avoid the line and I picked up an audio guide for an extra 2 euro.  The audio guide had an overwhelming amount of information.  Here is some information:

The coliseum was used for celebrations and holidays.  At one point the Romans had 180 celebrations and holidays a year.  There were fights between humans and animals and then in the afternoon they would have human vs. human.  The ground floor of the fighting area was filled with trap doors, which allowed for the element of surprise.  Underneath the coliseum, fighters would train and then walk underground to where all the gladiators slept.  There were many artifacts which included human and animal bones, equipment which helped build the coliseum, statues of governors and a few gladiators, and name carvings of important people.

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With this pass, we also were able to visit Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum.  There were a few items and stones there that have been dated before the year 1 B.C.

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Romans take baths too

Romans take baths too

 

That afternoon, we also walked by the Piazza Venezia, which I thought she be something named in Venice, but it was still cool.  Looked a lot like the white house, huh?

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia

She's so strong!

She’s so strong!

 

Saturday was our walk around day, and also JJ’s 21st birthday.  Instead of getting wasted, JJ tried an even harder challenge.  He was going to attempt to have 21 scoops of 21 different flavors of gelato.  Gelato is very similar to ice cream, but I think it might have more sugar.  Either way, he completed it by midnight!  He was definitely sick of it by that point, and I don’t think he will have ice cream for at least a year.  That night we went to the Hard Rock Rome, and I would have to say it was one of the best nights of our vacation.  We all had a little wine, but then it was so fun just to reflect about our trip!  We talked about what we liked best, worst, and then continued about our St. Thomas program and what we liked about our semester abroad.  While the conversation was great, I would have to say the nachos were almost just as good.  We started with those and then I tried a local burger, which was topped with fried onions and avocado.

As I said that night, I did not have a favorite part of the trip.  I thought I liked Venice because of the relaxed atmosphere of the people, and how great the weather was.  I really enjoyed the beauty and artwork of Florence, and how the city has preserved their history.  In Rome, I loved the Coliseum and the dinner at the Hard Rock!  It was all great!  I  could not have asked for a better vacation with some great friends.  We thought there could have been a few changes to our itinerary, but we were still very satisfied with our trip.  On the negative side, we all said how much poverty there was in Italy.  It was very sad, but at the same time frustrating because the beggars would bother us while we were eating and I would see them walking away talking on their cell phones.  Later that night we headed off to the Trevi fountain for the fourth time in Rome.  Still spectacular.

The final day, we woke up early to go to the Vatican.  JJ’s mother let us stay in a hotel that night, for his birthday, which was very nice of her.  On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican museum, and St. Peter’s Basilica are FREE.  Arriving, I realized we might not even have a chance to get in either part.  I would guess I easily saw 100,000 people as I got off the metro and got aboveground.  We almost bought a fake tour, until we realized the guy was just trying to steal our money, and hopped in line.  After about 45 minute wait, we got into the Vatican museum!  The real highlight, and only thing I wanted to see in here was the Sistine Chapel.  No pictures were allowed, and it was supposed to be absolutely silent, but hey I was at the Sistine Chapel!  I had to snag a picture.  Here was the best I got.

The creation of Adam

The creation of Adam

SILENCIO! SILENCE! SHHHHHHH!  This was being shouted the entire time we were in there by the security guards.  Once we left, we met some Canadians and realized we missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The Pope only gives Mass about once every four-five months and he did it that morning!!  I could not believe it.  Then the lady emailed me a picture and my heart sank.  I would have loved to witness that, even if it was spoken in Italian.  We waited in line to visit St. Peter’s basilica for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  This church was the most and will always be the most marvelous chapel I have ever seen.  

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Yup, me being weird again.

Yup, me being weird again.

Lastly, we finished our vacation by arriving to the airport four hours early… Our flight was delayed because of the horrible storm in London, but we landed at about 2AM.  Because most night buses were closed we were in bed by 415AM but safe!  I didn’t notice any damage in any area around us, but I believe this was one of the worst storms London has had in awhile.  Here are other random photos from Rome.  

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Selfie abilities

Selfie abilities

It was a tiring break

It was a tiring break

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Hehehe

Hehehe

Trevi and Gelato.  I don't even like ice cream!

Trevi and Gelato. I don’t even like ice cream!

Coliseum by night

Coliseum by night

Trevi - Night

Trevi – Night

Trevi - Day

Trevi – Day

Hard Rock Rome

Hard Rock Rome

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

Done with midterm!  I will post about my most recent week as soon as possible.  We visited Inns of Court, Lloyds of London, Sigmund Freud House, O’neils pub in Leicester Square, and Kensington Gardens.  And then I realized I should probably focus on some school work!  Love you all,

Tyler

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Florence

To get to Florence we took TrenItalia and it was only about an hour and a half.  I played Minesweeper the entire way on my phone.  Once we got there, we walked to our hostel which looked more like a hotel.  We had a huge room that we were sharing with four other people, but there was a huge bar, pool table, all you can eat breakfast buffet, swimming pool and gym.  It seemed like that was the place to be.  Anyways, we ended up buying a few bottles of wine that night and sat on “the bench.”  Although we didn’t do anything else, I still thought it was really fun just because we were all together drinking wine in Italy.

The next day we explored Florence.  We first went to the Duomo which is a massive church.  Kayla wasn’t allowed in because she was wearing shorts, so JJ, Amelia, and I walked through quickly so she didn’t have to wait outside alone.  It was absolutely beautiful though.

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Next we headed to Piazzale Michelangelo which overlooks the city of Florence and has the David replica.  If I could say only one word about our Italy trip it would be Stairs.  The amount of stairs we walked is astronomical.  We went to the top of almost every building which all had to be climbed, and going to the Piazzale Michelangelo was no different.  I have actually heard some people call it a hike.  The comedy from this was that Amelia really made it known how much she hated stairs.  Here was the view once we sweated our way to the top.

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I really was enjoying it up there, but the sun was in my face in that last picture.  Anyways, that day we covered almost everything with the exception of the real David, which was on our list for one of the following days.  That night we were drinking wine on top of the hostel when we met two interesting people, Caren and Carmen.  One was from Canada and the other from Australia.  Caren had been traveling for 6 months already, and had no future plans of returning home.  She basically would go to a city, stay as long as she needed, and then would pick the next place to go, with no plans whatsoever.  I thought this was insane.  And she was 20! Her plan was to graduate college hopefully by the time she is thirty, but didn’t know when she would start.  She did recommend though that we try MedSailors, which is a type of island hopping program that I would love to do one day.

Next day we did the Duomo tour and Kayla was wearing pants this time.  There is actually a church beneath the Duomo which they discovered recently.  The original church was built in the 600’s I believe.  We also got to climb the Duomo, which seemed to be built for a five year old.  The walls were so narrow that only one person could walk up or down at a time and the ceiling was a few inches higher than my head.  This is the first time I had a sense of claustrophobia.

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The old church

The old church

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View from the top

View from the top

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That night we had our nice meal and it was recommended that we try Florentine steak.  Everyone knows I like rare meat, but wow, they definitely have a different interpretation of rare.  JJ’s steak was completely raw on the inside and he ordered medium! The waitress came over and when JJ questioned how well it was cooked she yelled, “This is medium!” She happily brought the steak back to get cooked more which helped a little bit.

That day I noticed three little bumps on my hand.  I thought it was nothing, but they itched quite a bit.  We ran into Caren and Carmen that night, and one of them told me she got bitten up really badly by bed bugs.  Her shouldered had so many little bites, it was quite disgusting.  I thought since I only had three little bumps it must have been something else, and I didn’t want to freak the girls out.  The next morning though I did noticed three more bites right above my butt.  Definitely a bed bug, and thankfully not more of them.  As much as they itched, we checked out before I told Kayla and Amelia who were very happy we were leaving that day.  That was the day we went and saw the real David.  It was eleven euro to get in the tiny museum, but well worth it.  There were a lot of plaster molding replicas of statues in the museum, but then we finally saw what we were there for.  The first thing you notice is how big the statue is.  It towers over everything else, and we weren’t supposed to take pictures, but I managed to take a quick one.  If you are up close to the statue and had a ladder, you would notice that his hands and other features of the statue are disproportionate.  Michelangelo knew this, but wanted to have the statue placed somewhere high and so from the ground, it looks correct.  I cannot believe the detail that was put into that statue, but it was remarkable.

David

David

 

That was my version of Florence summed up.  I also did find my favorite statue.  Once I saw it, I was stunned.  If anyone can somehow find this as a poster it would be a great Christmas gift and I would be so happy.  I believe the title of the statue is called Perseus and Medusa.  Here are a few photos.

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I do not own the rights to this photo.

I do not own the rights to this photo.

Pretty graphic, but I still think it is the coolest statue I have ever seen.  Okay! One more city to go! Hopefully, I will catch up blogging today but we will see.

 

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Venice

Ok, here we go.  I will try to remember as many details as possible about the trip.  If anyone has any questions, please ask!  It might spur up a memory or two more!

Day 1.

Almost two weeks ago now JJ, Kayla, Amelia and I boarded a flight to Venice, Italy.  It was only about an hour and a half flight.  Once we landed (another RyanAir landing that is…) we took a bus to the outskirts of the city and then walked to our hostel.  The Italians we met that night were very friendly and directed us to hostel perfectly.  The hostel was very low key and seemed to be a large house that rented out rooms.  We got one large room to ourselves, which was very nice and quiet.  We went to bed pretty early in preparation for the next ten days.

We woke up and made ourselves toast with jam and ate fruit from the local grocery store.  Here was the view right off of our hostel.

Hostel view in Venice
Hostel view in Venice

One specific detail I remember is that the ladies working always demanded exact change during every purchase.  No, I’m sorry I do not have exactly 2.04 for this bread and banana.  They would always get so pissed off, which was ridiculous.  Anyways, our main mission that day was to make it to San Marco square, which is perhaps the most famous and touristy area of Venice.  Here are a few photos.

Gondola Rides
Gondola Rides
Saint Mark's Basilica.  Unfortunately, it was under construction
Saint Mark’s Basilica. Unfortunately, it was under construction

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Saint Mark's
Saint Mark’s
Doge's Palace
Doge’s Palace
Torre dell'Orologio
Torre dell’Orologio

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That day was very relaxing and we actually had a few hours to just sit by the canal.  That night we bought some pasta, pasta sauce, bread, wine, fruit and carrots and made a meal ourselves in the hostel.  We also managed to meet some students from New York who are basically doing the same program as us with Ithaca College.  It is always fun to meet other people from the United States here.  Brings a little sense of home back to memory.

The next day, we took a boat tour of the islands around Venice.  It was a four hour journey for only 20 euros and well worth it!  We went to Murano, Torcello, and Burano.  Here are some cool photos:

 

Glass blowing in Murano

Glass blowing in Murano

He made a horse!

He made a horse!

This is where we drank water from everywhere

This is where we drank water from everywhere

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When we got back to Venice, we went to the top of the tallest building.  Here are the photos from that.

 

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And finally Gondola ride!  Our guide told us that there were 118 churches in Venice; one for every island in the area.  We went by Casa Nova’s home, Marco Polo’s home, and also learned that the water has risen a total of three feet in the city since they have been recording.

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Oldest building in Venice

Oldest building in Venice

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Now these bottom doors are used as boat garages!

Now these bottom doors are used as boat garages!

Casa Nova's house

Casa Nova’s house

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To finish the night we went to a fancy dinner, where I again, ordered pizza.  We had spritzer to start, which is a famous mixed drink in Venice to have before you start your meal.  To finish, a few other people from our trip, who were also in Venice came to our hostel and had a bottle of wine with us.  (Doug, Jessica, Allison, Lauren)

Venice has been one of my favorite cities so far.  Although the population is only 50,000, there were quite a few tourists, but we managed to avoid those areas for the most part.  It was a very relaxing time, which was just what I needed and I got to spend it with some amazing friends.  Here are a few more random photos throughout those three days!

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Crazy pigeons

Crazy pigeons

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Last Night

Just a quick post about yesterday, and then I will begin about my semester break.  My class was postponed until today, so I had the entire today to do laundry, get some journals done for ethics, do some research, and get my next month organized.  Amelia and I hung out last night and walked through Regent and Hyde park.  We saw a film being shot in one of the parks and then decided to eat at a chinese restaurant named Royal China.  It was the best chinese food ever! It was an amazing night though and I am glad we finally got to spend some time just together doing what we usually do…. eat.

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I’m Back!

Hey!

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged for about a week and a half now, but I was a little busy visiting Italy.  I took some notes and will start blogging this week when I have down time.  Even with weather, we managed to make it back to London safely, but it happened to be at 4AM this morning.  I emailed my professor telling him that we would not be in attendance for our 8AM class, which was ok with him.  I also survived a mild case of bed bugs this weekend and I will talk about that more later as well.  Hope everyone is great!  I’ll be blogging soon!

 

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Irish Celebration!!

Hola,

It is about ten at night here on Monday.  Update from school (since many of you don’t believe I am doing anything here): Had our Midterm for COJO tonight which was basically cultural miscommunications and how it could affect business.  We have a marketing test on Thursday which is covering product differentiation, positioning, and basic market strategies.  Art History, our project this week is to make our own art with the following materials: glue, paper, and trash.  Sounds like this project is going to stink (No pun intended).  Lastly, but most favorite, business ethics.  We are discussing Absolutism vs. Relativism lately, which has created great conversations.  The scenario we discussed today was about a company who was receiving gifts and at year end was even receiving cash in order to further business practices into the new year.  We wrote an essay about this topic, whether it was acceptable to receive the money, and what sort of plan the manager should implement.  If anyone wants the article, just shoot me an email.  Thursday night, JJ, Amelia, Kayla, and I are going to Italy for our midterm break.  It is ten days long and we are planning on spending three days in Venice, three in Florence, and the final four in Rome.  I am so excited! I won’t blog while I am there, but I will make sure to remember as much as I can and take about a million photos.  Now on to my weekend in Dublin.

JJ and I left our class at 2PM on Thursday and rushed to the tube station.  Our flight was at 5, and we had to take a train from the tube to get to the airport.  We made it in time, and landed in Dublin about an hour later.  Once we found our hostel, we set off to have our first pint of Guinness in Ireland.  Wow, I could not believe the difference in taste even from England.  It tastes like a completely different beer.  The next day, JJ and I went on a historical tour of Dublin.  I found it interesting how the country progressed based on religion.  The city was very run down, but we found some really interesting sites.

Inside Christ's Church

Inside Christ’s Church

Weir Family!! Didn't know you were in the Rolex business!

Thought this was pretty cool. Almost the same. Miss you guys!

Christ's Church

Christ’s Church

Street art

Street art

That night, we headed to O’Neills Irish pub.  The nationalism was very apparent and that was very cool in itself.  We drank a few pints of Guinness there, then headed to the Temple Bar area.  By that time, Megan, Clare, and Bailey (three friends from our Saint Thomas group) met up with us at a bar with live music.  We could barely stand because it was so packed but it was amazing!  We had to be on a bus at 650AM so we left quite early though.

The next morning, I woke up to the stench of six hockey bags.  The hostel room I stayed in had eight beds, and I happened to be with the seven most foul smelling guys I have met in awhile.  I packed up and headed to our tour bus which was going to take us to the Cliffs of Moher.  All five of us went on this bus ride, and the cliffs reminded me a lot of Scotland.  Simply breathtaking.  The Cliffs didn’t have any barriers to the 750 foot drops into the Atlantic Ocean, which made me nauseous more than a few times.  I couldn’t believe how close some people were standing next to the edge!  This was probably the scariest moment in my life.  I was about to crawl to the edge when this Asian stood on the very edge and jumped up in the air, legs sprawled.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  After he landed safely, I told him he was crazy.  He didn’t speak much english but all he got out was, “…imitating…suicidal.”  Yeah, that freaked me out.  I still did manage to get pretty close to the edge, but I wasn’t that wild.

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Wicked, huh? That was about as far as I would go to the cliff.  That night, we headed back to the Temple bar area.  This was by far the best night in Dublin.  We went to a different bar called the Quay’s where they had live music again.  The band was absolutely terrific playing Bon Jovi, Queen, Eagles, Van Morrison, and many other of my older favorites.  We stayed until close, which was about 230AM.

The next morning we woke up and headed to the most anticipated part of the weekend, the Guinness Factory.  It was seven stories, and each level had it’s own unique experience.  It starts with the ingredients, the family of Arthur Guinness, the marketing throughout the years, how to pour the perfect pint, and ended with a free pint on the bar on the top roof overlooking Dublin.  Quite a remarkable experience.  The beer was very malt-like but I thought it was great.  At the end of the tour, I went down to buy a magnet and managed to break four of them because they all fell when I was reaching for one.  At least the manager said it was ok, and it happens all the time!  I was worried I would be paying an arm and a leg for broken souvenirs.  We got back Sunday night at about 1130PM.  I finished the business ethics journal at about 130AM and proceeded to wake up at 630AM for my eight hour class schedule today.  One could say I am pretty tired, but I wanted to blog!

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Me, Clare, and JJ

Me, Clare, and JJ

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Quick note:  I know I look very greasy/crusty in these pictures.  That is because I did shower, but did not use shampoo all weekend! Ha! Maybe I should bring some of that stuff for my ten day trip to Italy.  Goodnight everyone!

 

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