BA Word of the Day: You alright? (and similar variations). So, when I got to the UK and got to know everyone that I live with, someone asked "Are you alright?" and I got really insecure all of the sudden. My reply was, "Yes, I'm alright. Does it seem like something's wrong?" The phrases "You alright?" or "You ok?" or other similar expressions simply mean How's it going?, What's up?, How have you been?, etc. The biasedness of the question does make me giggle when I think about it sometimes, though.
And it was the one major culture shock moment when coming back to the UK. Along with all of the drunk people that I rode the bus with Thursday at 2am when I finally made it back to London. And the whole driving on the wrong side of the road. Why why why why why? No other European countries that I went to do it. But I am very happy to be back in London :)
I've been avoiding this blog post a little because I figured I would either have to do a post for each of the places that I went or one massive post. So... I'm going to attempt to give you the short version of what happened on Easter break. Then I will be doing a second post as a bit of a diary post on some reflections on being in London and traveling since there are less than 50 days until I come home... scary, I know!
My Easter Break Trip
And this was my awesome hotel room!>>>
A protest about federal taxation was going on right where we were at, so we decided to just hang out at Frankfurt central train station before our bus to Frankfurt Hahn.
Sunday 1 April: Chelsea and I went to Verona to meet up with her friends that were in Milan.
We visited Juliet's balcony. You know, from the movie Letters to Juliet. Yea... the illusion of the movie has been broken. First of all, it's a lot smaller an area than what I remember from the movie. Second of all, it seems a lot dingier than what the movie makes it out to be. Third, you don't stick letters in the wall. You put them in this dorky mailbox. But oh well, we still had a good time rubbing Juliet's boob for good luck and writing notes about our love and all that jazz.
Oh, and eating gelato. Gelato in Italy is really nice. I had chocolate and 'fin del mundo'
And then we went onto VENICE
And we finally made it. Oh, on a side note, if you need to go to the toilets when you are at San Marco Square, prepare to either find somewhere with a toilet to enjoy lunch or cough up 1.50 per use. Yup.
Oh, and the lions at monuments in other cities, as opposed to Trafalgar Square, are small and a lot easier to climb onto and take goofy pictures with.
We went onward to our hostel in Florence. We got to hike for about 10 minutes through a beautiful path in the woods to get to our hostel... ok, not ideal after walking around Pisa with our backpacks on, but still very beautiful.
Our hostel was an old 15th century villa surrounded by vineyards. It was cheap and cool since the room we stayed in was an 8 bed dorm room. But we had to leave to go to Rome.
Oh, and our hostel has a deal with a place across the street where we could get a plate of pasta and glass (plastic cup) of wine for 3 euro.
Me at the Colosseum >>>
On Friday night, we went to the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. The guy in red in this sad sad picture is the pope. When I was in Catholic school as a kid, they did a living Stations of the Cross where someone actually pretended to be Jesus carrying the cross. I learned Saturday from a guy studying to be a priest that the living Stations is a Spanish thing. At the one at the Colosseum, a group of people just carried the cross. It was an incredible experience... except we don't understand Italian.
Sunday 8 April: I only had one day to explore Milan (which was more than enough). I went to a couple parks, saw ANOTHER castle, and rode in the world's smallest elevator up to the hostel. Oh, by the way, why does every city insist on having some weird, massive arch? Is it a historical thing or is it an ego thing for which city has the biggest arch? Anyways, I left Milan early Monday morning.
Oh, and you can get off brand beer for 37 cents at Carrefour (a grocery store in Barcelona).
I traveled for 12 days with five shirts, four tank tops, one set of pj's, one cardi, two pairs of jeans, 12 pairs of undies and socks, one small plastic bag of toiletries, and one pair of shoes on 20 buses, three metros, six trains, and five flights across three countries. By the end of it, I was even missing Chester, my teddy bear.
I guess trips like this are supposed to change your life. There was definitely a lot of time for reflection and observation. Here are a few of those observations: dogs. Everyone in Europe takes their dogs everywhere. They love their dogs. And people don't mind it. Next, girls traveling alone. When we stayed in the hostel in an 8 bed dorm, a couple of the girls there were traveling alone. And it was no big deal. I was really worried about the part of the trip where I was going to be alone (Milan and Barcelona). But after meeting them in Florence, I decided it's no big deal. I just had to be careful. Additionally, PDA and nudity. People are always making out on park benches everywhere. It gets annoying sometimes, but I guess it's ok. Different. Oh, and in Spain, you can be naked anywhere as long as it doesn't cause a public disturbance. Now THAT would be something that would be difficult to get used to. But, it's just different.
A few things that I have reflected on. First of all, language unites (and divides) us more than I ever realized. The only way I talked to anyone when I was traveling alone was if they were speaking English or if they worked somewhere where I was trying to buy something and figured out that they knew English. All of the sudden I was talking to any stranger I heard speaking English. Especially with the Stations of the Cross event, I really felt like I was missing out on something since all of it was in Latin/Italian. And I barely even knew enough Spanish to get by speaking it in Barcelona. I really wish I had more opportunities to learn languages and had wanted to and pursued it. I don't know if I will ever act on the discomforts that I felt on this trip, but it really made me think about how big a barrier it is.
I've been back for three or four days now. I haven't really done much since I got back. A couple Nerf wars, waiting for everyone else to get back, recovering from the sunburn. I'm not sure what the next adventure will be, but I'll be sure to let you guys know. Until then, Cheers!