Edit Blog Post
Published: December 1st 2006
I took the bus to the train station and bought my ticket to Assisi for 1.60 euros. Now, I didn't know much about this city besides that fact that everybody said I should go and check it out. Also, there's many churches including a very large one for San Francesco, a noble man (I forget what he really did...oops).
The train ride was about 20-25 minutes. I walked out of the train station and up to a bus stop sign. The route map and schedule was the hardest thing to understand! I stared at the map for about 10 minutes and couldn't figure out where the train station was on the map in relation to the bus route. Fortunately, a lady was standing next to the stop as well and I asked her if she poke English. Nope. Okay...I rummaged through my brain to the French section and decided to take a wild guess and see if "bus" in Italian was the same as in French "autobus" (pronounced otto-boos). I then said "autobus," pointed to the map and then raised both my palms in a questioning way. I might as well have done the chicken dance and spoken to the
lady in Hebrew. She still didnt' understand a word.
Well, since it was only 9am and there were only 3 buses in the whole city of Assisi, I figured I'd just hop on the first one I saw and see where it takes me. I got on bus C (bus A and B looked like their stops were further up the hill on the map) and tried to keep my eyes open for anything church-like. About 3 minutes into the ride I saw what looked like a church so I pressed the red stop button and got off.
I'm writing this a good week after I returned and embarrassingly cannot remember the name of the first churh. I know I wrote it down somewhere but I think I stupidly threw all the random notes I took on the back of napkins and invalid train tickets...
After marveling at yet another Italian Catholic church, I waited at the bus stop for bus C to pick me up again. I boarded the bus again with the same driver (I think not only are there 3 bus routes, but also only 3 buses and 3 bus drivers), and rode up
It's San Francesco!
Nope, it's actually St. Pietro. =)
a long and winding hill. At the top I could see a massive church. I wonder if this is San Francesco's? I got off at the church and immediately noticed a parking lot for greyhound buses. I must be at the right place.
The church was massive and I took lots of pictures. The streets of Assisi were small, narrrow, and each tourist shop had a little glass showcase box near the doorway that had a variety of little Catholic figurines and rosary beads. Every shop I peered into was bursting with Mary, Jesus, crosses, rosary beads, and pinocchio - I swear, the little puppet is everywhere!
I walked down a street to another church and walked up to a stone wall to take in Assisi's landscape. There was this interesting iron bell that looked pretty old near the church. I was walking around it to get a closer look and then this short elderly man walks close to me and says something in Italian. "Sorry, parla engles," I say and so he surprisingly switches to English. He explains to me that the top half of the bell is made out of an old bomb and the bottom
half is a real bell to symbolize the struggle between war and peace. I thought this was really neat, thanked him, and preceded in returning to the bus stop. He unfortunately started to follow me and told me I should go into the nearby church. I said I would think about it and was feeling a bit annoyed by him continuing to talk to me. He then started to ask me why was I here in Assisi and how long I was going to stay. Ding ding ding!
the man now crossed the line and rightly volunteered himself for the title of: creepy pesky elderly man that won't leave me alone. I might have felt this way because I was a girl, alone in a foreign land and all, but I wasn't going to take any chances. So to reply to his questions about why I was in Assisi, I said, "I'm meeing my friend's big Italian brother here. He should be here at any moment." Well, those were definitely the golden words and after I said that, the man greeted me farewell, turned around and slowly walked away. I'm in Assisi, but I'm not a sissy girl. yay
Popular religious wall art and shops
I spent enough time wandering around and was ready to get on the bus and see something else - if not, I'd just head back to Perugia. The trusty bus C picked me up and we continued up the hill to the top. I wasn't sure what really was up there but I was getting a bit tired so I stayed on the bus and rode it down to to the train station. On the way down, we passed the big church and I saw a sign saying "St. Pietro" - hm....was the big church I saw not San Francesco's church!? Crap! I guess I was taking lots of pictures of St. Pietro and at the top was San Francesco's church - the real reason most tourists visit Assisi in the first place.
Well, I just go with the flow and although I didn't end up seeing San Francesco, I paid more appreciation to St. Pietro, a church that probably lies in the shadows of popularity compared to San Francesco. Oh well, I enjoyed Assisi a lot anyway.
Back in Perugia
I spent a bit more time at the internet cafe before meeting Marissa back
at the apartment. We ate some of the leftover pizza and then went on a 20 minute walk to get some groceries for the following day. Marissa said that evening there was this informational meeting at the Catholic church Antonio goes to and she wanted to go. She said I could go with her or stay. Normally, I'd pass, but I figured it would be a good way to me out of my comfort zone and experience something completely new.
Overall, not much to describe about the meeting. There were about 40 people varying in age from infant to the elderly. At the head of the room was a monk actually dressed in monk clothes! He had a really warm smile with white sparkly teeth, rosy cheeks, and deep grooves around his eyes from smiling a lot. We all stood up and people started to sing. Oh my god, what am I doing here?!
I was feeling pretty uncomfortable in a good way. The bad uncomfortable feeling started when Marissa told me this was a special meeting where every single person in the room had to go around and say something. When it came time for Marissa to say
something, she said her piece in Italian and then I pretty much understood what she said afterwords about me - something about how I am her friend and I don't speak Italian. Great. Red flag on the outsider. So long for slipping in unnoticed! haha.
The meeting lasted an hour an a half (Antonio and Marissa had no idea it was going to be so long - they were not so happy either). The three of us went to a restaurant and ate some dinner. I had the most amazing ravioli and split it with Marissa along with a small salad.
Perugia Day 3
Marissa didn't have class this day, so we woke up, had some breafast and headed to the train station for a short trip to a nearby lake in a town called Tuoro. I didn't actually see a town...more like the 1 room train station with a cafe out back.
The lake was really pretty and deserted. The summer season is over, obviously, but Marissa told me that the lake is the place to be for the summer. She said that the beach is set up like the beaches were in the 50s
Not San Francesco
St. Pietro's garden reading "T Pax". I wonder what the T means...I think Pax means Peace?
with little cabana huts with yellow, blue, or red stripes. You can also rent paddleboats and canoes.
We also saw some stone statues that were arranged to make a spiral. Some of them were really weird looking and Marissa told me that each statue/pillar was designed by a different artist. After walking around for an hour, we had our lake fix. Back to the station!
Since nobody came to check our ticket on the way to Tuoro (about 15 minutes), we decided to wing it and not buy a return ticket. We were the only ones sitting at the train station and then the loudspeaker said that the train was going to be 25 minutes late. By now, this was not a surprise at all for me. 25 minutes later an ugly orange train appeared in the distance. The loudspeaker announced that the train will arrive on platform 1. Uh...there's only 1 platform. =)
The orange graffiti-covered train stopped and we got on. Unfortunately this must have been a replacement train because there were only 2 carriages - the chances of the ticket man passing us was now going to be a problem. Luck was again, on
our side as the ticket man passed us five
times in the 15 minutes. He was busy hopping on and off the train, controlling the door, and blowing his miniature silver whistle.
Back in Perugia ticket penalty-free, we met up with Antonio to go to a large supermarket to buy food for Thanksgiving dinner that Marissa was going to cook the next day. This supermarket was like a huge Fred Meyer and definitely reminded me of America.
There, I also had my first gelato icecream. We spent 10 minutes staring at the 20 different flavors - I couldn't decide! But finally I decided on hazelnut and Baci flavor. Baci means kiss of course in Italian, but it's also the little chocolate candy that Rob (the Australian) in Florence bought me and Ally after we left the Uffizi Galleria. The gelato was delicious but rich - the very small cup was enough for me and my taste buds.
Returing home, we got right to work and baked 3 pies: one apple and 2 pumpkin. Really, I enjoyed just being with Marissa and didn't care where I was. It was actually quite nice to stay inside the apartment and
Top half is made from a bomb shell, the bottom half is from a bell. War and peace
do a familiar task - baking pies. Now, I'm not some major pie baker but I've done it before and it was relaxing to do. The pies were successful and Marissa's roomates were getting really excited for their first Thanksgiving dinner.
Bye Bye Perugia!
5:00am wake up = pain. Woke up, tried to eat breakfast, and we both set off to catch the bus at that ungodly hour. My train was to arrive in 30 minutes (supposed to at least..) and I said goodbye to Marissa. It was SO good to be with her and discuss traveling, living in a new place, finding yourself, yadda yadda girl talk. She was somebody I could relate to and it helped to talk about the culture shock, adjustment and sometimes frusterations that we both experienced since moving from Seattle. I will miss her and hopefully see her in the summer.
Train: 10 minutes late, go figure. I had to take the train to Florence where then I would take a train to Pisa Central. I didn't see an option to take a train straight to the airport, but I knew there would be a bus or something. Arriving in Florence,
Most of the paths are narrow and look like this. Really beautiful
I saw a sign for my train but it said "Pisa Aeroporto" and not Pisa Central...meh, I decided to take one last chance and just ride the train to the airport. The train arrived at Pisa central and I stayed on board - the ticket man already passed me so I was safe! 3 minutes later, I was at the airport. No more Italian trains for a while.
The rest is same old, same old. Waiting for the plane, it's late of course. I was quite tired and when I found my seat near the window, I settled down and actually fell asleep. I managed to fall asleep before the plane even left the ground! I woke up kind of confused and 10 minutes before arriving in Eindhoven. Took the bus from the airport to Eindhoven train station and bought my ticket to Enschede.
It was a weird feeling to arrive in Eindhoven. It was like I was relieved - almost like the feeling when you arrive home after a 12 hour workday or something. But really, it was a familiar feeling. I was familiar with the unfamiliarity of The Netherlands, my home away from home.
A better view of San Francesco..no wait, St. Pietro
To continue on with my good and back luck with trains, I missed the next train to Utrecht from Eindhoven by 2 minutes. Another 30 minute wait and I was set to Utrecht. There, I missed the train to Enschede by 5 minutes because the train from Eindhoven was 7 minutes late. Once on the train to Enschede, everything was smooth and I was so happy to finally make it home to house 51 Goudenregenstraat - which means Golden Rain Street. Welcome home, for now.
Tot: 1.808s; Tpl: 0.065s; cc: 12; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0292s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb