Thursday, May 24, 2012

Italy in the Spring

Spring Break...Semana Santa...No School...Milan Verona....

It's amazing how wonderful two words can sound, especially when it's two words like NO SCHOOL or MILAN and VERONA. Adventure Buddy and I spent a great deal of time on (one of my favorite websites EVER), looking for inexpensive tickets. We figure since we live in Europe, we might as well SEE Europe. I had found $80 tickets to Milan (and then discovered how close it was to Verona, home of Shakespeare's star-crossed couple, Romeo and Juliet).

Anyway, after buying our plane tickets, booking hostels, researching good places to eat, and finding out what we wanted to see, we set off on our grand adventure. We got to Milan pretty late at night Adventure Buddy claims it wasn't worth it because we had to get a taxi and pay for an extra night in a hostel. I say that it was, because it gave us an extra full day on the trip--totally worth it for that! (I also enjoy taking taxis every once in a while--it reminds me of Korea. Plus taxi drivers can be highly entertaining.) So, Adventure Buddy and I will just strongly disagree on whether or not getting there late a night was worth it or not. It just depends on whether you like taxis or not. I do. It was totally worth it!

So, the next morning we were off the explore Milan (and try to make our scheduled visit to see DaVinci's The Last Supper). After figuring out how to buy transportation tickets, we caught the the wrong direction. Finally, we started in the right direction and made it to the Piazza di Duomo, and we caught our first breathtaking view of Milan's splendid Duomo It's the 4th largest cathedral in Christendom and took about 6 centuries to build. And while we were busy gazing at the duomo, we were accosted by African men who grabbed out wrists and tied bracelets around them before we could even think, all the while telling us, "Free gift! Free gift!" And then they tried to get us to give them money "for Africa". Hmmm...yeah...sure...and I'm not quite sure they understood the meaning of the word "free"...

Adventure Buddy and I soon learned that we would have to spend our time in Milan dodging the men (we used "Africa" as a code word and whenever we saw on of the guys we would be like "Africa to your left! Watch out Africa is coming over"--it wasn't anything against the continent--it was just a lot shorter and easier to say than "Hey those guys who claim they have a free gift but then want your money to give to Africa are coming towards you right now!")

After getting lost and wandering several times, Adventure Buddy and I made it to see The Last Supper. It was awesome. It was huge. Enough said.

We also climbed the roof of the Duomo di Milano. That was cool too--except the raining part. Oh--and had panzerotti (kind of like a pizza pocket only MUCH better) from Luni's Panzerotti. If you ever venture to Milan--go there! Only, please be aware they are not open Sunday. Adventure Buddy and I tried to go there on a Sunday, but they were closed. Thankfully, we had already eaten there twice, so it wasn't completely devistating. We also took the Hop On-Hop Off Bus tour, which is an awesome way to see the city. You can get on or off the bus at different stops, and while you ride the bus, you can listen to a tour guide give information about different places of interest, as well as interesting historical facts. There were several languages to choose from, so I may or may not have listened to the Spanish version for a while.

The fashionista in me (that doesn't always make an appearance, but does sometimes) was very thrilled to see the Galleria Vittorio Immanuel II, as well as to stroll through Fashion District. Seeing all the designer labels may or may not have made drool, and everyone was dressed so nicely! And I may or may not have dragged Adventure Buddy all over Milan on our last day there, so I could buy a purse...just so when someone says, "Hey, I like your purse!" I can reply, "Thanks! It's from Milan!"

 After spending two days in Milan, Adventure Buddy and I caught the train to Verona. After rainy Milan, we both fell in love with sunny Verona. Actually, after big and bustling Milan, we fell in love with the much quieter Verona. One of the first places we headed was to Juliet's House. I recognize the fact that it is a tourist trap, but I couldn't help it. I wanted to stand on her balcony and quote "Romeo, Romero, where for art thou, Romeo!" And I did!

Adventure Buddy and I discovered that there is much more to Verona than Romeo and Juliet. Verona also has many Roman Ruins. In some places, they had sections on the street excavated and fenced off so you could see the ruins beneath. In one cathedral we visited, you could see ruins of a Roman Bathhouse.

They also had a Roman Bridge, a Roman amphitheater, and  THE THIRD LARGEST ROMAN ARENA STILL IN EXISTENCE! That was cool. Today it is used as an opera house, but it was still fascinating to look out over it and wonder what it would have been like during the days of the Romans!

Verona was also home to this amazing gelato place, Gelateria Savoia. It's incredible. If you ever go to Verona, get gelato there! :D We also stumbled upon a delicious restaurant called La Griglia. It was by happenstance that we ended up choosing it. We were famished and finally decided to just go into the restaurant and eat, regardless of price. We were a bit concerned when they brought out soup without us even ordering, but it turned out to be one of of our less expensive meals--and one of our tastiest!

After spending two days exploring the beauty that is Verona, headed back for Easter Sunday in Milan (which is when we went on the "Great Purse Hunt").  And the really nice thing about Spring Break was that Easter Monday is a holiday in the Czech Republic, so after arriving home on Easter Sunday, we had the day to rest from

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thank You

Dear Father,

Thank you! Thank you that I know that you are in control of my life!
Thank you that I know that You have a plan and I don't have to worry about the future--where I'll live, what I'll teach...anything...because it is in Your capable hands!

And as I look at my Facebook newsfeed full of pictures of babies and I see the pins on Pinterest all about wedding ideas....thank you for the incredible blessing of singleness that I have right now.

Thank you that I had the opportunity to spend three months students teaching in South Korea...without the time I spent there, I probably would not have chosen to teach internationally.

Thank you for the three amazing years I had in Guatemala...for the absolutely wonderful children that I got to teach, the amazing men and women I worked along side, and for the amazing missionaries I had the chance to partner with--the numerous ministries I got to be a part of because I taught missionary kids! Thank you for the time I had to fall in love with the Guatemalan people! Thank you chances to snorkel in the Caribbean, to climb breath-taking volcanoes, and marvel at your might while strolling along black-sand beaches. Thank you so much that I have those memories to cherish for a lifetime.

And thank you that I finally have had the chance to come to Europe! After years of dreaming and wishing, I am here! I am teaching at a school I love! I have a class full of children who have stolen my heart! I have the chance to travel on vacations and see more of this world you created! And I get to live in one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen!

Thank you these blessings! Thank you that I get to serve you, that I have a life and a ministry--that You fulfill me as no one else ever could! Thank you for walks along the Vltava and for vistas from the castle! Thank you that I am right where You have placed! Thank you, Father! Thank you!

And even more than that, thank you, that in You I have a purpose for being and a reason to live! You are my everything, and for that, I thank you.