Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 29: A Turnaround

I've had some bumps and bruises during my time in Firenze, but things are beginning to look up.

Monday was one of the best days I've had here, and it was very unplanned and simple. One of my roommates was going to retrieve her phone, and I asked to join because I planned on roaming around anyway. She wanted to go to Museo Galileo, and I thought it sounded interesting, even though it wasn't one of the free sites included on our museum cards. I just wanted to explore anywhere new. We picked up her phone at the school, stopped to get her a panini, and made our way to the museum. Thankfully, it wasn't packed as I had expected, and I was pleasantly surprised at how intriguing the place was. It was full of nautical instruments, ancient globes, and other gleaming gizmos that would be any inventor's dream.

I was glad that the other roommates were in Paris because we could take our time through each exhibit and not worry about rushing anywhere. This was the experience I had been wanting here without worrying about what five other people wanted to do or were complaining about.

This great bike exhibit explaining the origins of the bicycle and hands on activities dealing with space and physics completed our tour. It was an incredible experience, and I learned so much. It was nice that the museum wasn't overwhelmingly large, and visitors were sparse. After all of the walking, though, we were ready to grab some food.

Lorena and I headed to the restaurant where I had eaten previously with our program director and other roommates because she desperately wanted some Carbonara. We were the only ones in the restaurant, and our server was quite cheeky. Many of the Italians are; I love it. That is actually defining factor of my personality, but I usually stay quiet because I'm always afraid of offending someone. You never know when people will take offense to something, and my sense of humor is certainly an acquired taste.

The food was just as scrumptious as the last time, and we were ready to continue on our spontaneous adventures. As we walked out of the restaurant (I never remember the names, just the locations), Lorena pointed out the doors across the street. We're almost certain we found the apartment the Jersey Shore stayed in when they were in Firenze. We'll have to watch that season to be sure, but I think we found it. I have a picture, and I will certainly be comparing it to the one seen on the show. Unfortunately, their wild behavior contributes to the awful stereotypes us Americans get, but I will admit it's entertaining.

After our revelation, we headed to the Fortezza (fortress) because it looked interesting. It turned out we couldn't actually go in, but we parked in the grass outside of it. A bunch of people were napping or relaxing, and we figured why not? I'm not sure how long we stayed there, but it was blissful. The air was fresher, a pond twinkled behind us, and everyone just kept to themselves. I will certainly be going back again to study or just take in the scenery. It would be perfect for a little picnic date; where is my Italian stallion?!

On the way home, we stopped to get Lorena a smoothie. Unfortunately, the juice bar had literally just closed, so she said an iced coffee from Astor would suffice. Little did we know, we'd get more than just an iced coffee. Free Korean aperitivo! That's right: chefs in training cooked some classic Korean dishes, and we got to sample them without paying a cent. It was delicious, and the Korean chefs were very hospitable and kind. It made me want to travel to South Korea, so that may be in my future travel plans.

A full belly and some exhausted feet later, we hiked up the eighty steps to the apartment. I relaxed awhile, then decided I wanted to go for my first run in the city. I thought for sure I would land on my face because of the cobblestone, but I found my awareness has increased dramatically. I felt like those superheroes who have just discovered their powers, and the world looks completely different. They can maneuver around obstacles stealthily like a badger and sense incoming objects from miles away. That has become my life. Okay, maybe I'm not that advanced, but I'm definitely more aware of what's going on around me, and I don't trip as often; that only happens when I have a little too much wine.

The night was beautiful, and it was exhilarating to finally exercise after being a slug most of the time. I'm going to try some yoga tomorrow night because I'm certainly not hitting any clubs before we head to Rome. Being drunk and hungover in the same day is not a goal of mine (been there, done that).

The next day (yesterday), I attended my two classes and napped - world's most interesting story. Lorena then asked if the roommates and I wanted to eat dinner at her new friend's place. Free dinner again?! Count me in. His apartment was modest and had an antique collection that he sells from. Four of his friends were also in our company, and I was apprehensive that they were born-and-raised Italians, but after awhile, we all had enough wine, good food, and great music that diminished the language barrier. They could all speak quite good English so communication was possible and fun. I received an odd compliment from one of the guests. He pointed to my nose and asked if I was Greek. I'm usually apprehensive about it because the bridge rises first instead of dips under like a typical American nose. He claimed that mine was most beautiful and rare, though, and that everyone else's was insignificant at best. I'll take it. I love how Europeans appreciate the natural beauty in people and not the plastic Barbie wannabes that litter the U.S. - all the more reason for me to move to Europe.

The night was wonderful, and I'm so thankful we got to spend time with some natives because that's what I've been wanting all along. Risotto, pollo con birra (chicken with beer), Sardinian cheese, and lots of wine. That sounds like a good time to me. I crave more of these authentic experiences, and I'm hoping the next few weeks bring them. I wonder if I can get any Italians to start saying "Strugglebus"...

I did randomly run into a member of my honor fraternity today. What are the odds?! Neither of us knew we were in Firenze at the same time, and I couldn't have been more shocked. She and her boyfriend have been backpacking around Europe this summer and are moving to London later this year (Yeah, I'm really jealous...). We got to talking and decided to run around together. I was initially planning on going to a museum, but obviously plans changed pretty quickly. Instead, we climbed up to Piazza de Michelangialo. This was lovely as I hadn't made the climb yet. The sun was in a prime position for pictures, and I loved having some great company. Their adventures sounded incredible, and I still can't believe we ran into each other. I showed them my apartment, from which they departed to eat dinner and explore more.

I need to study for an exam tomorrow anyway, make dinner, and catch up on this thing. I've been slacking, and I'm well aware. I'll try to keep up for the last half of my trip at least. This is my point of reference for all of the stories I have to share when I get home, which I can't say I don't miss. I think it's just my friends I really want with me; if it weren't for them, I'd probably never want to leave Europe. I still plan on moving here when I graduate, so that gives me three years to peruse my own country. I really can see why foreigners aren't fond of Americans, though. Truthfully, I'm not either now. That's a rant for another time, though. It's time to actually study (you know, because I'm "studying abroad"). Buonanotte!

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