Published: May 11th 2009May 10th 2009
Before I forget, it has come to my attention that people would like to comment on my blog but they don't know how to do it. Let me walk you through it. Scroll to the very bottom of the page. At the bottom, you will see a dark-grey rectangle with the number of photos in the blog displayed, as well as the option to go to the next page. Directly under that rectangle are two blue highlighted options, send private message or, if you are feeling daring, add public comment. Whichever you choose, please write your name at the bottom of the message. I'd love to hear from you all and know who I am hearing from.
After all of the work on the last blog, I am starring once again at a blank page. And so it goes. Be prepared for Ragaeton, reproductions, zombie hordes, hordes of Americans, and... a West Virginian! The Plan of Action
Entry 1 - Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria
• March 30th - arrive in Berlin
• March 31st- tour Berlin and Potsdamm
• April 1st - leave Berlin, stop in Dresden, and arrive in
• April 2nd - tour Prague
• April 3rd - depart Prague, arrive in Vienna
• April 4th - tour Vienna
• April 5th - depart Vienna, arrive in Lido de Jesolo (Venice)
Entry 2 - Italy, Southern France, and Monaco
• April 6th - tour Venice
• April 7th - depart Venice, drive through Tuscany, and arrive in Montecatini Terme (Florence and Pisa)
• April 8th - tour Florence
• April 9th - tour Pisa, spend the afternoon at the beach in Lucca
• April 10th - depart Montecatini Terme, drive along the Mediterranean Sea, and arrive in Nice
• April 11th - tour Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Nice
• April 12th - depart Nice and arrive in Lyon
Entry 3 - Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany
• April 13th - depart Lyon and arrive in Paris
• April 14th - tour Paris
• April 15th - depart Paris and arrive in Brussells
• April 16th - tour Brussells
• April 17th - depart Brussells, drive through the Netherlands, and arrive in Hamburg April
5th - continued
Our Bus Driver
He was an important part of our group. He often toured cities with us.
As we crossed the Italian/ Austrian border, the bus was jubilant. The energy permeated even the most tired. A wave of Regaeton music blasted from the back of the bus, and for the first time on our tour, none of the English speakers complained about the loud incomprehensible music. Though, I don't think that they would want to understand the lyrics. Regaeton has themes akin to rap and hip hop. The music itself is a fusion of traditional latin music with Caribbean and electronic influences.
We arrived at our hotel in Lido de Jesolo at 6 PM. Our hotel was less than 100 meters from the beach - comfortably within the range that the salty sea air permeated our nostrils when we exited the bus. Everyone dropped their epic-ly expanding luggage in their rooms and moved to the beach using whatever method suited them best. I ran, others piggybacked, and yet others were shake-the-bus-sleep-off stumblers. Of the group, only Josephine, Danny, Alex, and Mike went the whole way into the frigid sea water (I kept my head above it). The others lined the beach and watched Alex and Danny, two of our three lifeguards, compete
to see who was a better Bay Watch lifeguard. A.k.a. who could run from the beach to the "drowning" French girl faster. I won't tell you who won. Totally unrelated fact, Alex plans to study next year be a professional lifeguard in San Diego.
After, we ate a three-course dinner, hit the streets, and landed ourselves back on the beach again. I was with the Australians - Mike and Russell. While on the streets, I bought a German flag from a tobacco store. I proceeded to wear it as a cape like the Brazilians always do with their flags. As we walked down the street, a well put together Italian man approached me. He asked me in damn good German if I would give him the flag before I went home - a much better response than I expected I would receive walking down the street with a flag on my back. Then again, a popular backpack brand in Italy adorns their backpacks with prints of different countries' flags (I didn't see any American flag backpacks). I told him that I had just bought the flag. After I explained to him that I was American, he complemented my German
Danny from Arizona and Victoria from Argentina
and proceeded to heckle us into bringing our friends to his karaoke bar. We turned the corner and found ourselves once more on the beach.
This time, we didn't go into the water. Instead, we just walked along the water and enjoyed the silent serenity. Mike, Russell, and I took the time to relax on one of the nearby docks. Coming off the dock, we ran into a group of Americans from Phillie. They were on a class trip through France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. I hadn't been in an extended conversation with non-exchange student American teens in eight months. It was different. I didn't handle myself the same way. They were between the ages of 14 and 18, but I felt much older... even than the ones who were just a year behind me in school. It doesn't feel so long ago, but maybe it is. Anyways, Mike and I entertained the group. We would run into each other again the next day in Venice. Further groups we ran into included: A Hungarian group, an Italian group, and a Spanish group - who I attempted to speak broken Spanish to. Victoria met up with us while we were
speaking to the Spanish group and had to retell them what I had said. It took me twenty minutes to tell them about our group. We're not an easy concept to grasp, I know... It took Victoria two. April 6th
The next day, we left Lido on the bus in route to a pier. There, we spent thirty minutes searching for our private ferry to Venice. Günther described the boat service as "mafioso organization." I just like to think that it was badly marked. The sun was already hot on our backs, and it was only 9 AM.
The boat carried us to a dock near the Piazza San Marco, the cultural center of Venice. Upon arriving at the Piazza, we split into two groups for our guided tour of Venice. We all wore our flag capes, which not only drew attention to our group, it distinguished us from the hordes of tourists. I didn't absorb a lot of the info that the tour guide imparted on us. There was too much hubub all around and too many camera flashes to make the concerted effort to pay attention. We entered the Basilica di San Marco, took
back streets over canals, and ended the tour near the Grand Canal.
We split into groups based on the criteria of whether one was willing to pay for a gondola ride or not. I was ready and willing, thus I found myself with Shang Han, Victoria, and Alex. On the way, we felt hunger pangs. Augmented by the smell of gelatto, those pangs couldn't be ignored. Two scoops later and a meeting with some of the girls from Phillie, we found ourselves across the Grand Canal. We then took a gondola ride for 100€, to be divided by the four of us when our thirty minute excursion was up.
The gondola ride itself was pleasurable. If you find yourself in Venice, regardless of who you are in Venice with, take a gondola ride. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just a romantic thing to do. A gondola ride is a great way to see the city from another perspective. And if nothing else, it's thirty minutes that you aren't on your feet or constantly being harrangued on all sides by tourists who can't walk in a straight line. The gondoleers are also very interesting people. Our gondoleer spoke
4 languages; English, French, Italian, and Spanish; seemed to be a chain smoker; and was great at avoiding questions. I asked him how much he makes in a year.
"Depends. If it rains we don't work," he answered.
After the ride, Victoria split from our group to go shopping, and Alex peeled off as we made it back to the Piazza San Marco. That left Shang Han and I. We decided to go questing. Shang Han's (real) mother is an art teacher, so he wanted to buy her an ornate Carnival mask. We darted between the many shops, because you have to be picky when you are buying art for an art teacher. Along the way, we ran into two of the girls from the Phillie group. They joined our merry band until we had to catch the ferry back to Lido at 5 PM.
We hit the beach again before dinner. Yet, this time I went all the way into the water. Dinner was at 7:30. That night, I brought my host brother's guitar out to the peer, and I played it into the morning hours. My audience included Mike, Russell, Juan, and the Phillie
I now know what I want to do with my life... I want to own the public restrooms in Venice! The bathrooms cost an unfathomable 1.50€ each use... I could be a millionare! That got me thinking about who I was before I came to Europe. Before I came to Europe, I used to hate the idea of the "evil fast food corporations" like McDonalds and Burger King franchising all over the world. Now, I realize that it is the lesser of two evils. If you find a Burger King or McDonalds in Europe, it means free bathrooms. Nothing is more evil than having to pay to use the bathroom. It's an unnoticed form of terrorism. April 7th
We were on the bus at 9:45, a bit later than normal, because the ride to our hotel in Tuscany wasn't a long drive. That is, it wasn't supposed to be. We exited the Italian interstate in Bolognia. As we reached the edge of town, the flat farmlands gave way to mountain vistas not so unlike the hills I left in West Virginia. The road snaked, twisted, and turned with grades sometimes reaching 14%. It definitely wasn't
Piazza San Marco
is on the left hand side of the picture
designed for charter buses! Chloe from New Zealand and some of the others became carsick. They wanted to stop, but Günther assured them that we would press on until we reached our destination, the Futa Pass Graveyard for German Soldiers of World War II. But, an overturned dumptruck blocked our planned route. Günther caved, and we took a break on the side of the road.
With leveler stomachs, we got back on the road and drove the eight Kilometer detour. We arrived at the graveyard at around 2 PM. I wasn't sure what to think of the graveyard ( but at least I was thinking!). These were "Nazi" soldiers. But, if anything I've learned this year holds true, that may not be so. Just because a man died with a gun in his hand doesn't mean he supported the philosophy that put him there. For example, my host father's father was in Italy during WWII. He deserted the army and ran for Switzerland. My host father's grandfather was hung in Hamburg for disobeying the Nazi's. Do we see this side of Germany in America? Numbers hide personalities. 30,000 men are buried in that graveyard.
After the Pass, the
The Piazza San Marco is aswim with visitors. The Piazza is/ was the cultural center of the city.
road leveled again. We pulled up to our hotel in Monticini Terme at around 6 PM, where the hotel fed us a displeasing meal. Tuscan bread is unsalted. We took to the streets to find something to do. On a back alley, Emily, Mike, Russell, and I found a group of singing American girls. They looked to be about fourteen, as exhibited by their sheepish, full of themself attitudes when we asked them where they were from. They looked us over and walked off. So much for countrymen.
We ran into the Brazilians near the town square. As we were planning on leaving, a cheering match broke out between two to three groups of drunk Italians. Each group was screaming their soccer team's traditional cheers. We had to participate. We broke out in our battle cry, "Allee Allee Alee Allee Allee, eine Straße, viele Bäume, das ist eine Allee." When directly translated that means "Boulevard, a street with many trees. That's a boulevard." We then followed it up with a Hamburg soccer cheer and departed the scene as the two or three Italian groups moved together like they were going to rumble like in West Side Story. April 8th
My 7:30 alarm was too early, and it was followed by a breakfast that wasn't worth waking for. The hotel provided us rolls and marmalade, which is nowhere near enough food to feed teenagers that are going to be on their feet all day. Günther was furious, and he let it be known to the hotel staff. Though they didn't speak a word of German, English, Spanish, or any of the other languages the group spoke Günther still gave them the impression he wanted. Rage is a universal language.
We rode the train into Florence's Central Station and began our tour at 11 AM. From the train station, we walked into the town center, travelling past tons of history that I had never truly studied in school. Florence was the birthplace of the Renassaince, the rebirth of learning after Rome was sacked by German barbarians("?") in the 5th Century. Luckily, I had learned some of the history of Florence in my class at the Governor's Honors Academy. That information helped me to digest some of what was around me, or at least to ignore waves of American tourists. Then, our tour took us to Florence's
The Corner of the Piazza San Marco
The Church tower on the right is nearly 800 years old.
Duomo, the Santa Maria del Fiore, the object of my class at the Governor's Honors Academy.
Construction began on the Santa Maria del Fiore in 1296. But, the Basilica lie incompleted for over a hundred years. The architect had planned for the dome to be 42 meters in diameter, but at the time, it was physically impossible with the building methods available to build the dome. Then, the renassaince master Brunelleschi found a way to solve the problem. In 1419, a contest was held to seek designs for the dome and cupolla. The two competitors were Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, who was a famous artist at the time. He'd designed the "Gates of Paradise" across the piazza. Brunelleschi was supported by the Medici family, therefore he won the competition. His model was intentionally incomplete so that he would remain the head of construction. He couldn't afford some booboo head (like Ghiberti) messing up his chance to shine.
Brunelleschi's dome was made out of bricks, because the recipe for concrete was forgotten at the end of the Roman times. And, he'd searched ancient Roman crypts and discovered a long forgotten art, perspective drawing. This allowed Brunelleschi to build his dome
so that the weight of the dome rested not on pillars but rather on the drum of the dome. Workers laid stones in a ring, and each ring brought a sharper angle to the dome. Because the weight was equal on all sides, the dome did not topple in on itself. Bricks were hoisted using a machine that Brunelleschi invented, and scaffolding was built to allow workers to lay bricks along the ever increasing slope of the dome. Work began in 1420 and was completed in 1436. It was the first dome that was not built with a wooden support frame.
The tour brought us next to the Piazza della Republic, square of the Republic, where we examened many reproductions of famous statues. Some of those included: Michaelangelo's David, a statue of Medusa, and a statue of Poseidon. Apparently, even reproductions wear down. David was currently getting his areas scrubbed when we rolled through. While on the piazza, Juan brandished his "free hug" sign, scoring countless embraces from the huge crowd. The people he hugged came from Italy, America, Belgium, Rotary... the list would go on forever if I didn't make Rotary it's own country, and France. They also
The Parade of Nations
We wore "our" countries flags on our backs. It made it really easy to find one another, and in the process attracted a lot of attention. From the left, Shang Han from Taiwan, Goretti from Mexico, Mike from Australia, Alex from California wearing the Argentinian flag, Juan from Canada wearing the Venezuelan flag (where he was born), Junior from Brazil, and I (wearing our host countries flag).
belonged to both genders.
The tour ended at the Ponte Vecchio, Old Bridge. We had four hours to spend exploring the city, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to climb the dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore. But first, I needed to eat. I joined up with Josephine and Lauren from France, Ricky from Portland, and Hannah from Minnesota. We crossed the bridge and went to a sit down restaurant, because we were tired of being on our feet.
About an hour later, Shang Han, Josephine, Lauren, and I returned to the center of town. Josephine and Lauren kept wandering into shops, a clear detriment to my goal of climbing the dome. Therefore, Shang Han and I said our goodbyes. We reached the line with two hours to spare, but we looked at the line and knew there was no hope. Faced with the tragedy at hand, we had to do something to improve our mood. As we both come from capitalist countries, the answer was simple. It was time to go shopping. Along the way, we found ourselves at Dante Alighieri's house. Dante (1265-1321) is famous for writing the "Diving Comedy."
We payed four Euros to enter his house to find there was just about nothing there! And that's just the thing, life must have been Spartan in the 13th Century.
"Oh well," I said as we exited. "Maybe we'll received divine writing inspiration by coming here."
Working our way back to the central train station, Shang Han and I passed by a Giorgio Armani store, a high line fashion store for men. I convinced him to enter by telling him that we'd get a kick out of reading price tags. Boy was I right. Belt 120€. Tobogan with as much material as some women's underwear, 65€. Jeans. How can you walk in those things? They are much to tight.
Further along, we found ourselves out of the typical tourist areas. I suggested we enter another store for kicks. It was an Italian army supply store. The front room was dark. Green army jackets and pants hung on the racks. Two men were purchasing at the counter. We continued to the back room where we saw the glint of a weapon rack. In the room, a group of men were standing in a circle speaking italian. One was
For the most part, she was a really good tour guide.
inspecting the stock of a large caliber rifle. The conversation stopped as we walked through the doorway. The man holding the gun looked up for his work with an unfriendly look. We were out the door before the conversation started again.
Happy to have escaped with our lives, Shang Han and I hurried back to the train station. Our group returned on a crowded train to our hotel in Montecini Tempe. Then, we ate dinner. After that bland moment, we went to the grocery store to buy supplements for the dreaded breakfast the next morning to come. I bought bananas!
That night, rather than wonder around the town again, we shared photos and videos that we had taken during the Eurotour. The most popular video was of Ricky from Oregon. While we were in Venice, he fell into the canal as he was trying to take a picture. The guide told us not to step on the monstorous clumps of green algae on waters edge! Most of the pictures shared were mine. By that point, I had taken 1,000 pictures of Eurotour. April 9th
It was that dreaded moment again: meal time in the
Inside the Basilica di San Marco
I wasn't supposed to take pictures inside... Anyways, it was way too large a place to take a photograph of. The Basilica isn't as long as most churches, so th width of my picture was limited.
hotel. But, Günther had broken heads yestereday, and the hotel staff remembered that. They opened the cupboard a tiny bit more to us and gave us cheese and meat. But, I was still glad to have bought the bananas...
We were on the bus at 9 and in Pisa at 10. Pisa was an even bigger tourist trap than Venice or Florence! The minute the bus pulled into the parking lot, we were swarmed by African street vendors like zombies following the scent of fresh human flesh. I just wanted to sunscreen! But instead, I was approached for offers to buy counterfeit belts, sunglasses, and other unneeded accessories. One impressively large guy even flipped a knife out on me and asked me how much I would be willing to pay for it. He then started showing me all of the other accesories on the knife: a compass, a cork screw, a big salesman rape whistle.
We met our guides near the Leaning Tower and the cathedral. The town was bustling with tourist activity and priests leaving the cathedral. We walked through the spectacular cathedral and back out onto the streets of Pisa. Our tour ended at the University.
A Pretty House
In a less touristy area of Venice
Shang Han, Emily, Victoria, and I wandered part way back to the Leaning Tower to eat at a pizza place that our guide had recommended. Without thinking about how my stomach would take it, I ate a whole 30 cm pizza and half of Victoria's. I was more than full. My stomach looked like a turtle shell as I waddled down the street.
The group met back up at the bus at 3 PM. We had to fight through the counterfeiter zombie horde again. I must admit, they took me alive. I bought an "Armani" belt for 7.50€. But, the salesman went as far as to make eye contact with me as I sat on the bus. I'd told him that I wouldn't pay 8€! We pulled out and continued going west until we reached the Mediterranean Sea at Lucca. Again, the mood of the group was instantly brighter. Sheißbreakfasts and the lack of internet in the hotel suddenly weren't on everyone's mind. The sun was going to be on our bare backs.
I went in the water when we got to the beach, and let me say that it was a good thing that the sun was
Mike Tries to Ruin My Picture
Little does he know he makes it.
so warm. The water was ice! Mike, Jake, and I dug a hole to bury Celina in, but we had a change of heart before we finished the plan. We rejoined the main group who were listening to music and playing beach soccer with no shoes on. Someone got the idea to tie a flag to a piece of driftwood, and from that idea stemmed Ricky's "Mexican Border Crossing" video and the picture of the row of flags.
We left Lucca at 6:30 and were back at the hotel for dinner at 8:30. Another group was dining at the same time as us: a recipe for disaster. We became excited as the waiters began to roll out cake on their serving trolleys. Finally good treatment! But then, they served all of the cake to the other group. A few minutes later, they rolled out our dessert. Canned pineapples. At that point, I'd had it with the hotel. They couldn't even explain to me where the internet cafe was located. "It's near the church at the plaza," the receptionist said. I don't know what near means apparently. It was behind the church. Sorry, I am being vindictive. But you know
what they say? When in Rome... okay, that was inappropriate. April 10th
We always had a deadline. Today's was 9 AM on the bus. I ate my last banana and got on. I was wiped out, but I couldn't sleep. Instead, I talked to Emily and Mike, took pictures of the surroundings and people sleeping, and updated my notes about the trip. Writing was a challenge. We kept travelling through tunnels, because the mountains that we were moving through border the sea*. And, there wasn't any space for a highway, because the land above was prime real estate*. I just wanted to watch what was passing me by, but Genova didn't disappoint in that respect. Genova is probably one of the few towns in the world where you can spend the morning skiing and the afternoon at the beach. (That was one of the most German two sentences I've wrote on this blog. That would be half a sentence in German.)
At some point during the ride, Alex came through and slapped everyone on the head who didn't make the drinking symbol and utter "schultz" when he burped. "Schultz" is a German drinking game. The object
As We Make it to the Grand Canal
From left: Sherry and An Pei from Taiwan, Danny, and Tooko from Japan
of the game is to annoy the hell out of your comrades, thus it should only be played when drinking. When someone burps, he or she initiates the game by saying "Schulz." Everyone else then has to respond by tilting their heads back, putting their thumbs to their mouths, folding their middle three fingers in, and pointing their pinkies towards the sky. Then, you say "Schulz." Anyways, everyone was angered; some of the kids were sleeping before he whacked them on the head. I was sitting on the aisle, so when he came back I "Shultzed" him in the nuts. Another popular exchange student game. And everyone cheered, because I had defeated the Wicked Witch of the West.
We got to the hotel in Nice, France at 4:30. We'd spent nearly an hour circling on the bus trying to find a place to park. The roads were so tiny! Our hotel in Nice was wedged between two other thin buildings, because space is tight on the Cote de Azur. We paid for our nearness to the beach with semi-discomfort. We were only four or five blocks from the beach! The hotel did not have a restaurant, so we took
The Grand Canal of Venice
the biggest canal of them all
our meals at a restaurant a kilometer or two down the street. I was thankful to eat once again in a real restaurant. Like the hotel in Italy, the restaurant served us a three course meal. I spent the meal with Juan and Mike making “that’s what she said jokes,” which not everyone found as funny as us. We were sleep deprived… “That’s what she said jokes” are akin to your momma jokes. When someone says something that can be inferred as a sexual innuendo, the jokester completes the innuendo by adding “that is what she said” to the end of the speakers statement. No, I won’t give examples. It’s lower form of comedy than puns or fart jokes.
After dinner, I found a spot on the beach with Emily, Jake, Mike, and Russell. We played my host brother’s guitar and watched the waves roll in. A storm was blowing in from down the beach; the black clouds were distinguishable even in the darkness of night. Later, Mike and I left to find something to eat. In route to the hotel, we found a Döner place. Döner is a “Turkish dish” that was invented in Berlin. It consists of
A Mask Shop
The masks are traditional to wear at Carnival (the equivalent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans), but the mask shops enjoy year round business from a never ending sea of tourists.
chopped up beef, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, and Turkish sauces on something akin to pita bread. Mike and I devoured most of our Döner before we reached the hotel. What was left I gave to some other ravenous mouths in our group. April 11th
the day before Easter
The upside of our hotel was that the staff brought us breakfast in bed. Breakfast was supposed to arrive at 8, and we were to be in the lobby at 9. But, that of course didn’t work out. I was on the 5th floor, so I received my breakfast at 8:40. The last rooms received theirs at 8:55… They had to eat in five minutes, because we pulled out promptly at 9.
Our guide met us in the hotel lobby. It was going to be another marathon day; we were going to tour Monte Carlo in the morning and Nice in the afternoon. The drive to Monte Carlo was indescribably beautiful. We began by driving through Nice and ascending the Northern Cliffs of Nice. The first thing the guide pointed out to us was a large box shaped house on the hill - Elton John’s house. We continued our
The gondola ride is one of the central experiences in Venice. The ride doesn't have to be romantic for one to enjoy it. From left to right: me, Victoria, Shang Han, and Alex.
drive, hundreds of meters above the sea, yet just a stone throw away from the blue churning oblivion. It's a stone throw given that I wasn't throwing the stone... About twenty minutes later, we found ourselves in Monte Carlo, capital, only city, and 100% of the land mass of Monaco.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, after the Vatican, and it certainly plays to a different audience. Monaco is famous for its casinos, 36€ Coca Colas in the clubs, and a F1 Race that looks like something out of a street racing game - they probably model street racing games off the F1 Race. Monaco also has no taxes on its citizens. Though finding a place to live in Monaco and gaining citizenship are not easy tasks. One must live in Monaco for x number of years, meaning that you will already lose your fortune to your former government, or be of the female variety and marry a Montegasian man. They've gotta get some variation in the gene pool. Otherwise, it would be the Cote de Azur for different reasons. Government revenue comes in Monaco from the casinos and the boat docks. 1/3 of the money
He spoke four languages: Italian, English, French, and Spanish. And he looked like he could keep hold up in a fight as well. Victoria and Shang Han in the foreground.
comes from boat docks! But, that isn't suprising when you see the yachts parked there. The whole place is also crawling with cameras.
As we got off the bus, I made sure to make good use of the free bathrooms - that were not funded through income tax payers money. We'd parked in a small cave under the Innenstadt. The Innenstadt is built on a rock that juts out into the sea. Directly above the parking lot, sits the aquarium where Jacques Cousteau did a lot of his research. And that was exactly where the elevator brought us up. I thought that I recognized the little yellow submarine outside the aquarium. It was Jacque's one man vessel. The wind roared through the streets, and the sun that had followed us the whole trip slipped behind the dark rain clouds I had seen the day before. But, it didn't rain. The clouds held, even though they threatened to make our day miserable.
At the Royal Cathedral, a little ways up the street, we ran into another Rotary District on Eurotour. They came from Lyon, our next destination. To my pleasant and complete surprise, one of the girls in their
Another Gondoleer Speaks to Ours
Of course with the hands! I think that he's asking a question.
district came from Martinsburg. Our tour guide forced us to move on to the Royal Castle. There, we were given an hour or two of freetime. The guard was about to change, but I had no desire to fight through crowds of people taller than me to see it. So, I left with Josephine. We walked around the nearby shops for a while, and then decided to grace another set of public restrooms. It was there that we met up again with the other West Virginian. She was with a girl from Florida and a girl from India. We spent our freetime together. We spoke English mostly. If they wanted to say something that they didn't want me to know, they could speak French with Josephine. And when I wanted to ask Josephine embarrassing questions like how is their French, we could speak German. The group woke well.
We ended up on the docks. The girl from the other district were nearing the end of their Eurotour but hadn't been wet, because their Rotary appointed guides wouldn't allow them to do such a thing as go to the beach. I took pictures for them as the girls were bowled
Back on the Grand Canal
The main bridge is in the background.
over by storm strengthened waves.
To each their own ends.
My Rotary District was back on the bus at 1:30. On the way to Nice, we stopped at an overlook to admire the town. There was a ferry in the harbor that runs to Corsica every two hours! We then drove into the heart of town, past museums and castles, to a Russian Orthodox Church. Nicolas the II used to attend this church when he was vacationing in France. I snapped a picture or two, grabbed Emily, and ran a few blocks away to take a picture of a street sign that I'd seen from the bus. It was called Avenue Gay. I found the name of the street almost as unfortunated as the street in Switzerland. On an unrelated note, there was a strong gay presence in Nice. Speaking of presence, there was a kosher market across the street from our hotel. If it wasn't the Sabbath when we were in Nice, I would have entered.
Anyways, the tour continued in the center of town. I was too tired of listening to pay attention. You can only absorb so many facts in one day! As the
Back on the Piazza San Marco
Traffic has died down a little.
tour continued, we travelled through a fish market, by the City Hall, and into the thin inner city streets. Apparently, they had been restored recently by an initiative to clean up the city. The houses dated back quite a long ways (nothing that I can remember to quantify). Along the tour, I stopped for a scoop of ice cream at a shop that boasted 99 flavors of ice cream. I was feeling exotic and bought rhubarb ice cream. A few minutes later, I bought a chocolate croissant to keep my going. It was 5 PM, and I was running on empty. But, we had two and a half hours before we were expected in the restaurant.
Mike, Russell, and I found ourselves together again. We wandered aimlessly along the main market street in Nice - it's got to be at least three kilometers long! We were so exhausted by the time we made it to the other end that we stopped in a cafe. Mike bought a coke, and we killed an hour. Then, we rode Nice's brand new street cars back to our side of town. A little more aimless walking brought us to the restaurant at the
appointed time. Dinner was as good as the night before's dinner, but I wanted to fall asleep in it.
When dinner was over, I walked back to the hotel and grabbed my guitar. I joined yesterday's midnight beach group in the lobby, and we went to the beach. As we were sitting there, a group of four teenage kids passed us by. They were speaking with a heavy British accent. Mike and Jake chashed after and ensued in conversation. I put the guitar away and came after. Three of the four were Brits (2 girls and 1 guy), and the fourth was a Swiss girl. They were studying French in a language school nearby. The only thing striking about the conversation was how hard one of the British girls could hit. I must have said something somewhat rude in an attempt to be funny.
We were given permission that night to go to a disco, so long as we could get out of bed in the morning. The Argentinians insisted that I come to the club with them, despite my insisting that all of the clubs would be closed for Easter. I was fatigued, but I went anyways.
An Inconvienent Accident in Tuscany
An overturned truck forced us to take a detour on our way to the Soldier Graveyard.
Our group was fifteen strong. We walked at least a kilometer or two and only found one open club. The French bouncer was too snoody to let us in... I was right. End of story. Four or five of us turned around and went back to the hotel. April 12th
Breakfast came at eight o' clock like it was supposed to, but I had trouble waking my roommate to eat it. He'd continued looking for more clubs. I dislike waking people. It reminds me of waking my sister Jackie when we were kids. My methods of waking her used to get me into trouble...
Again, I was exhausted, but I didn't sleep on the bus. My priority was to write about the Eurotour so that I would have notes to write my blog from. And it paid off handsomely.
Stay tuned for part 3!
There are more photos below