Monday, December 7

The Northern Field Trip

A long, long time ago we went on a field trip to Northern Italy.  I'm finally stopping the craziness of school and life over here to write about it.  Here's a little bit about what went down over here November 3-9... it was quite a trip full of everything from yummy traditional German food to scary no star hotels!

Tuesday, November 3 : Roma
-Our graphic design class met at Termini train station to take an overnight train to Bern, Switzerland.
-The train cabins had 6 beds each and were about 5ft x 6ftx x 8ft... a tight squeeze is an understatement!
-My cabin roommates were Bridget, Besty, Jamie, Erin, and Colleen.
-We had planned to get lots of homework done while on the 12 hour train ride... but that failed.

Wednesday, November 4 : Switzerland & Germany
-We arrived in Basal at about 8am where we had an hour wait for our next train.
-It was beautiful there just because of how clean and tidy everything was.  We hadn't even left the train station to go outside, but I could tell that I was going to love it there.  From the immaculate train station to the perfect wayfinding, it was a wonderful site.
-The bathrooms at the station cost 2 franks to use, but they were the best bathrooms that I'd ever been in.  Even better then the one in my apartment here in Rome.  They had a cleaning lady in there and she cleaned each stall after someone used it and did it with a smile.
-We jumped the next train to Basal, where we dumped all our stuff in the lockers at the train station and stubbled into the start of a very rainy day.
-That morning we went to the Basal School of Design to see a private graphic design poster collection.  This collection houses some of the most famous and influential designer poster from all the big names, and they date way back to the early 1900's.  We were presented them by a man that has taken care of these posters for the last 35 years, and we were luck enough to here his last lecture that we will give before he retires in the end of December.
-Our day didn't stop there, as we then grabbed a quick lunch at McDonalds.  This was the first and last time that I've eaten at McDonalds since leaving home and here's why... IT'S EXPENSIVE!  It cost me 16 franks for a Big Mac meal!
-That afternoon we took a bus across the border to Germany to a small town called Vitra.  This is home to a very famous furniture company that is known for having extremely architecturally interesting buildings.  We took a tour of the place there and I've decided that when I own my own firm someday, I want to use only their office furniture (which they are well known for) to decorate my space.  Maybe I'll get myself a replica of the custom made chair they designed for President Obama...
-Back on the bus we went into Switzerland for the night.  The rest of the night was free time for us to have dinner and relax.  We ate at a cheap little restaurant near our youth hostal, but I had the most delicious mixed salad and creamy tomato soup.  It was a nice change from pasta!

Thursday, November 5 : Basal To Zurich
-This morning we had free to do as we pleased, so we decided to go back to the area of town where the Basal School of Design was located.  It was a quaint little neighborhood with lots of fun little shops.  We had lots of fun getting souvenirs and Christmas presents for people.  Watch out when I get home, one just might be for you!
-That afternoon, we went as a class to the Basal Paper Mill.  It sat along the river that flows through the middle of Basal and is one of the only paper mills left that uses it's original water wheel for power.  While we were there, we were able to make our own paper with a watermark in it from slurry (the slushy, water mixutre) and put it on the press to dry.  We also able to see how lead type is made, set our own lead type and run it through a letter press, marble paper with pretty colors, write calligraphy with quail pens, and see a bunch of other really neat things.  It was such a fun place and I wish that we could have spent more time there!
-That evening we took another train to Zurich, Switzerland, a bigger city then Basal, but it still had the same clean, safe feeling.  We checked into our hostal there, which turned out to be more like a nice hotel, which was a nice change compared to many of the places we have stayed over here!  We all had a glass of wine at the bar there and then we were off to bed!

Friday, November 6 : Zurich
-On Friday morning, we went as a class to another collection viewing.  This one was called the Zurich Graphic Design Collection and it too housed many famous pieces of work.  From books to posters, to business cards and pamphlets, it was all there in their original forms.  The collection was held in a special room that was set at a specific temperature and had special lighting.  The lady that was in charge of the collection gave us a private tour and lecture on many of the famous pieces.  It was so incredible to see all these pieces that make up the roots of graphic design and to realize just how amazing they really are!  It was a lot better then just looking at then in an art history book, and that's for sure!
-After our lecture, we had a few hours of free time, so of course we went shopping AGAIN!  And of course I had to get more fun clothing and junk.  At this point, it was starting to become a joke as to how I was going to get everything into my bag to make it back to Rome-home...
-That afternoon, we had yet another lecture, but this one was a very special one.  We were lucky enough to have Rosemary Tissi come speak to us about here life as a graphic designer.  She is one of the pioneer women designers that became very famous in the 1960's and still is today.  She went through many of her works, and then fielded questions from us about anything we wanted to ask.  She was so cute and sweet and loved talking about her cats!  I was able to buy a book of hers and she autographed it for me afterwards.  What a women to look up too!
-That evening, we went out around the town, looking at how beautiful it was all lit up.  Bridget, Carolyn, and I went to a very famous traditional German restaurant there for dinner.  The setting was so German, form animal heads on the walls to dark wood beams to family style seating.  We walked in and they sat us in the middle of a long table, a couple on a date on one side of us and 2 business men from London on the other.  It was such an experience sifting through pages of traditional German dishes in the menu and trying to decide what would be yummy.  The night was so much fun and the memories made there will never be forgotten!
-After dinner, we walked around a little bit more, found a few fun shops, and took pictures down by the river.  The best was when we say a cute elderly couple at the bus stop, and the man had a bouquet of flowers hiding behind his back for the lady :)

Saturday, November 7 : Zurich to Milan
-We caught an early train from Zurich back in to Italy and landed in Milan for the day.  The train was a four hour ride through the Swiss Alps, and it was so pretty.  The views were incredible and I would love to travel back there someday and stay atop one of the many mountains that we rode by.  What a view that would be, looking down over a valley with waterfalls dropping into the stream below!
-This was the end of the school portion of the trip, so now it was down to the adventures of the Gianni 7 Girls for the next 2 days.
-We staying in Milan for the night at what we now consider the worst place yet!  We walked through the streets of Milan to a small alley where our "hotel" was located.  As we walked in, we found a women sitting behind a card table with greasy hair and a stained white t-shirt.  Not only did it smell awful, it was a little on the dirty side, but I guess that's what you get when you go cheap!  As she was giving us the keys to our rooms, we heard a baby start crying from behind a beaded curtain and a cat came prancing out and jumped up on the card table onto all our paperwork... another erie feeling!  Our rooms were interesting as well, but they worked just fine for our one night there.  Oh and the other creepy thing was the spooky, cob-webby staircase that was hidden in the bathroom cabinet... who knows what was up there!
-We spent that afternoon and evening wondering the streets of Milan, shopping and seeing all the sights. We came upon the famous Duomo church there and it was beautiful!  What a site and place to see in the evening with lights shining upon it!  There was even a show going on in front of the church, but the crowds were so large that we couldn't figure out exactly what was going on... plus it was all in Italian!
-Bridget, Carolyn, and I did a little more shopping that night, and the joke continued that I'd never be able to fit everything into my bag on the way home, but at this point it wasn't so much of a joke anymore as a reality!
-All of us girls got back together and finished the night with a nice dinner at a small, family restaurant near our hotel, that is after we finally managed to figure out the crazy subway system to get back there!  At the dinner, we had the best old man as our hostess and waiter... he was so funny and kind to us.  It was another night of great Italian food and wine before we hit the sack in the scary "no star" hotel!

Sunday, November 8 : Milan to Venice
-Sunday morning led us back to the train station for the last time where we headed over to Venice for the day and night.  It was an awful rainy day and was very cold and windy!
-We arrived in Venice around noon and after figuring out how to take the water taxi to our B&B, we made there to check-in at about 1.  The B&B was so cute and a far cry from what we had stayed in the night before.  We had large rooms that had tables in them and our own bathrooms, which is very rare to find in Europe.  It was warm and very inviting on day with such bad weather.
-We spent the afternoon out and about, hitting up the little shops and trampling through the puddles.  It was so fun to go over all the little bridges and to see how close the water was to all the buildings doors and windows.  It was pretty flooded there at that point and many areas of the town had risers built up for you to walk on.  We made it to the famous church there, but it was so flooded and hard to get too, that we just saw it from the outside.
-We decided at that point that we were all tired, freezing, and soaking wet, so it was time to go back to the B&B.   We found a grocery store on the way back and stocked up on food and wine for the evening and had a blast just hanging out in the room all together.
-It finally stopped raining at about 11pm, so we decided to go out to the famous bridge there and take pics of all the building lit up at night.  It was a fun walk and all was great until we got halfway there and it started pouring on us again!  And even worse then that, we lost 2 girls on the walk back home, so Leah and I had to go out looking for them again in the rain.  But no worries, we all made it back safe... dripping wet, but safe!

Monday, November 9 : Venice to Roma
-It was off to the airport in Venice at this point.  We had to take another water taxi there, and everyone was so tired at this point that it was making most people sick.  We were already to get back to Rome-home where there were clean showers, beds, and the comfort of know where we were!  When we arrived at the airport at noon and took the train back into town, it was a great feeling.  I'm not sure any of us had ever walked that fast home from the station!
-As for me being able to fit all my purchases into my backpack on the flight home, let's just say that I had to wear a few extra layers of clothing that morning...  three tanks, two shirts, a sweather, two pairs of leggings under my jeans, and three pairs of socks is all!

It was a fun trip, but it is always nice to get home and back to your normal routine... wait... there's nothing normal about living and traveling over here for us!  Just another one of the many adventures during my four months away...  Time is flying by and I'll be home before I know it!  Can't wait to see everyone... love you all.

Friday, November 13

Mom & Dad's Adventure In Italy

It was a bittersweet Thursday morning, a day that was so exciting for me, yet so sad for the Rome ISU program.  Exciting because mom and dad were about to arrive, sad because just the day before we were informed that one of our art history professors had decided to take his own life.  I was on an emotional roller coaster as I stood in the pouring rain outside Maison Guilia Hotel watching taxis drive by waiting for the one with mom and dad inside.  Then I saw dad's big hand waving at me and all my sadness went away and I became filled with smiles!  I knew that it was going to be a great week and one that I had been looking forward to since August!

We started out the day with a quick, very Italian lunch at one of my favorite little pizza joints.  After that, I had to head to class for the afternoon, so I handed mom and dad a map that I had color-coded and set them out on their own.  I think that they headed to the hotel for a quick nap and then walked around the area near their hotel called Campo Di Fiori.  I met them later that night for dinner in the same area, and then we headed back to the hotel because they were exhausted from traveling.  I made them go to bed early because I had planned a busy 5 days for them and at that point, I'm not sure they quite knew what they were in for!

Friday morning I had to go to class until noon, so I showed mom on the map how to get to the Pantheon and how to get to my school and set them out again.  I know they loved the Pantheon, but I wish that I could have been there with them to see their reactions!  Pretty sure that was first in line for the audio tour, and know for sure that dad skipped out on that adventure.  I had them meet me at my school after class so they could have a tour of our studio and see how we do things over here in the ancient city. After that, it was off to visit my apartment.  Mom had brought me a huge suitcase full of American goodies, including Oreos, brownies, tortilla chips, and homemade hot cocoa (which is now an apartment favorite late at night!), so we grabbed that and headed for the public tram.  It was their first ride on the tram, a tram that is so wonderful for getting us around Rome, yet so awful because of how it's so crowded and smelly and dirty!  Lucky for them, it was very empty and we even got a seat, which is a very rare occasion.  After a quick tour of my place, we headed out on a quest to see a couple hot spots that are popular at night.  I took them on a long walk that went by the Vanician Palace, down the big shopping streets, to the Spanish steps, and the to Trevi Fountain.  Of course we had to stop for dinner and shopping along the way, but we did that everywhere that we went!  Mom make the walk all the way up the spanish steps and back down, resulting in tired and sore legs, but that's just a minor detail... and I'm pretty sure that they were blown away at the sight of the Trevi fountain.  It is by far one of my favorite places here in Rome; it always amazes me every time I see it!

Saturday rolled around and we set out for a full day of sight-seeing that included a walk through the Jewish Ghetto to the ancient gates of the city called Port O'ctavio.  We then wondered by the Theater of Marceles, the first theater in Rome, and one that was made in honor of Emperor Cesar Augustus' nephew.  We then climbed the steps to the top of Capitaline Hill, designed by Michelangelo.  After that we climbed the to the top of the Vanician Palace to overlook the city center of Rome, Trajan's collumn and markets, and the Roman Forum.  At that point, dad was starving, so we stopped to rest our feet and grab a quick lunch.  We started the afternoon in the Roman Forum, walking through the very first street ever built in Rome, seeing the remains of Julius Ceaser's Palace, the arch of Constantine, etc.  Then we headed up the Palatine Hill and say the very first buildings ever built in Rome, as well as the huge palace where Augustus once lived.  A quick peek at the Circus Maximus, which was the first sporting area ever built seating over 360,000 people, and we headed to the Coloseum.  Mom had been loving everything all day, but I know that she had been waiting for the Coloseum for the past 4 years!  Completely amazed and blown away she stood on the upper level overlooking and absorbing everything inside.  It was so much fun to be able to take them to all these sights and tell them what I've learned.  We finished our walk down by the river with a quick stop on Tiber Island for gelato.  It was back to the hotel for a quick rest and then we met a few of my roommates for dinner in Campo Di' Fiori.  We ate at a very popular restaurant called La Cabanara and had so much fun!  We then went for another round of gelato with all the girls to end the night with dessert.  Another successful day in Rome!

Sunday and Monday we spent traveling to the Tuscan region in Italy.  We rode the train Sunday morning to Florence, home of the Italian leather!  I was excited to go shopping there and get lots of quality goodies!  We walked through all the little streets looking for the markets, but most of them were closed because it was Sunday.  After seeing the outside of the Acedamia, statues of David, and a ceremony with drummers and dancers, we wondered down to the river flowing through Florence.  It was very beautiful, but better yet, it lead us to a great little leather store.  We met one of the best salesmen I've ever seen named Fabio.  He was hilarious and after a long time eventually got dad to buy a couple things, including a fabulous new leather coat.  It was a great place, in fact after lunch, dad went back there and sat in the comfy chairs and talked to Fabio while mom and I shopped all around.  It took me a long time to find just what I wanted for a purse, but eventually I did and I love it!  Strange enough, we wondered upon another location of the same store that Fabio worked at.  We ended up finding a couple good deals there including purses for both mom and I, and an awesome new weekender bag that I absolutely love!  I love it so much that I don't want to use it, but rather just look at it!  I can't wait to be 50 and come back to Italy with my weekender bag and think of how I got it when I was so young and all!

That night we took another train over to Siena to spend the night and see that town on Monday.  When we got there that night, we were recommended by our hotel lady to go to a quaint little joint just a short walk away.  It was delicious!  Probably the best meal I've had since being in Italy!  Off to bed we went and up again we were for another full day of shopping and exploring.  I really enjoyed Siena, even more then Florence.  It was so quaint, clean, quiet, and relaxing.  It was so much fun just to wonder the little streets and stop in all the shops for little goodies.  I found my dream pair of black leather boots at a little store there and love them so much!  I wear them all the time now... so excited about them!  Mom also found a nice pair of brown leather boots there too... she's going to be so sassy and hip now!  It's a good thing that we were the same shoe size so that I can steal hers every now and then!  We also wondered to the Duomo that afternoon, a beautiful church that was gigantic!  It was decorated with the coolest black and white marble stripes, and housed tons of very famous paintings.  It was one of the best churches that I've been too and I've been to one heck of a lot of churches throughout Italy!  That night we headed back to Rome, exhausted from our two big days of traveling!

Monday was our last day together before they had to go home, so what better thing to do then visit the Vatican City and it's Museums!  But before that, I took mom and dad to my favorite little cafe called Bar Del Cappuccino for lunch.  They make the best sandwiches to order, and they loved it!  It was only a short walk to the Vatican City from our hotel, but little did I know it was another mile to the Museums!  We just kept following the signs that took us way outside the city ways and around a few corners that ended up being an extra hour worth of walking.  A little more then we expected, so everyone was a little cranky about that!  But those feelings quickly left when we entered the huge museum and were taken back by all the incredible paintings, sculptures, busts, and tapestries.  It was insane how many building were consumed by the museums, and how each room you went into had a new design that occupied everything from floor to ceiling!  So beautiful and breathtaking... the sites are indescribable!  Later that day, we were going to go to St. Peter's but the lines were huge, so we decided to wait and do that when mom comes back at Thanksgiving.  We shopped through a little outside market filled with scarves and jewelry instead and stopped for yet another round of gelato.  We then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel, jumped on the tram down to my apartment, and went for dinner at a pizzeria right around the corner.  By this point we were so exhausted from the week and ready for bed earlier, especially since the alarm was going to go off at 4:00am the next morning!

Our 5:00am goodbye left me with a bittersweet feeling, just like I had when they got to town.  Sad that they were leaving and our week of family fun was over, but excited because I'm one of the only students here who is lucky enough to have two sets of visitors this semester!  I'm so excited for another week-long adventure!  But before that, let's wrap up with a few of my favorite things that happened while mom and dad were in Rome...

  • Eating gelato at least once a day, sometimes twice
  • Having a glass of wine with every dinner, even though they don't like it
  • Dad's quote one night while he was half asleep, "Tomorrow I'm going to have to put ice on you two's throats from all the swelling.  you two talk waaaayyyy to much!"
  • Mom having a little trouble while walking and turning around to see dad picking her up off the sidewalk... it was a good thing that she had just finished her gelato!
  • Dad thinking that it looked nice outside the window, so he wore shorts and froze to death walking around
  • Dad and Fabio becoming good friends in Florence at the leather store
  • Mom and I stuffing sweet waffles down our throats real quick before we picked dad up at the leather store so he wouldn't know that we had a treat without him
  • Dad tripping and breaking the bed a the hotel, resulting in me sleeping on the floor
  • Dad trying to get mom to makeout with him at the trams stop, just like all the Italians do
  • Mom giving me a big while in the Colosseum and being so happy to be there

Monday, November 9

Long Over Due Updates

So, it's been a crazy few weeks and I haven't had time to do much besides school and travel!  I guess that's what I'm supposed to be doing here, but I've sadly neglected my blog.  So here's 3 weeks worth of updates!  We'll start with school in this post...  It's been pushing us to our limits every second of everyday!  I'm a little overloaded and overwhelmed with all that STILL has to be accomplished in the next 39 days!  Yes, that's right, I'll be home in 39 days, which actually means that my projects have to be completed in 36 days for our exhibition and let's take out the 7 days that Jason, Leslie, and Mom will be here, so now I'm down to 29!  Ahhhhh!  No worries though, I love working under pressure and pulling all-nighters with the roomies, especially when we have 4:30am Michael Jackson dance parties!  We have decided that cappuccino-fest has begun and that the little coffee shop below our apartment is going to love us this next month when we triple their business!

Here's a look at my type project that I finished the day after mom and dad left... it was for sure an all-nighter, completed to perfection at 6:30am :)  I showed a couple different pictures of it before in the process, the ones that were black and white type and shapes.  It looks a little different now, but still has the same elements within it.  It has a long story behind the projects and each element has a certain meaning.  There are four different poster plates, each having a specific list of requirements.  All in all, to put is simply, the whole project tells the story of when I got to Rome and how it has made me feel so far.  I can explain more later, but here's a peak at it!

For another class, our main studio, we are working on a project all semester long that is the branding and corporate identity of a location here in Rome, which is called Isola Tiberina.  I know that I've mentioned things about it before, but  here's a glance at finished logo mark and signature.  It took a cursive "i" and a "t" and combined them with a wave like splash to create one quarter of this mark.  I then twisted the letters around, moved and smoothed parts of the form until it became just what I wanted.  I then repeated the image and rotated them to create the four piece logo.  I wanted my final form to be an organic cross to represent both the hospital and church that are located on the island, as well as have the feeling or presence of a snake, which is what the history of the island is based on.  It doesn't seem like it should have taken lots and lots trials, hours and a couple all-nighters, but I got just how I love it!  I'm currently working on the website, stationary, maps, and wayfinding for the location as well.  Plus there is a whole bunch of other things still to be completed for this project too!  But we'll get there... someday!

For another class, I'm working on a packaging project that is called Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  We are to create a packaging that after it is bought and used up, it can transform to have a new use and purpose.  I decided to do a packaging system for hair styling tools, such as curling irons and straighteners.  It will transform into a package that is heat protector for the storage of the styler, as well as a travel kit for hair supplies, and a wall-mounted storage container.  It is a little hard to explain without showing pictures, but just think of it as a container that will store all your hair products and protect all your surfaces from becoming burnt.  For the identity of this project, I decided that the brand name will be  "Dangerous Damsel" and with that, I want to create a personality or personal identity for each type of styler.  An example may be a skinny 1/2" curling iron with the name "Sultry Scarlet."  I want it to be fun, sassy, and appealing to girls around my age.  We'll see how it actually turns out...

Those are just a few highlights of main project that I have going right now.  Of course there are a million other things going that I'd love to tell you about, but I think that maybe I should actually get some work done on them now instead.  Can't wait to tell you more about what happened in these last few weeks, so look for more a little later!  Love to all from far away!

Sunday, October 18

Oded Ezer Weeek

Last week, we had a special quest come work with us for 3 days.  His name is Oded Ezer and he is a famous experimental typographer from Israel.  (A typographer is someone who specializes in working with letterforms.)  Let's just say he was so crazy and out there that he wore a letterform hat during his lecture the first night!  But, the more and more we worked with him, we all realized that he was just a cool guy with crazy ideas about type!

The first task that he gave us was before he even got here.  Here's the stipulations:
1. Get a partner
2. Choose a letter
3. Construct a letter that was 3D and at least 3 feet tall
4. Give it an identity or purpose
5. Take it to various locations around the city, take photos, and record people's reactions

So, Betsy and I made a big "b", drapped it in scarves and called it "B the Begger".  You can see from the pictures above that we took it to many places were you might typically find beggers here in Roma.  People starred at us like we were crazy, but we just laughed.  We then had to present these images to Oded and the rest of the class.

We quickly learned that Oded is a big fan of simple ideas.  He kept telling us, "Let the letterform and materials work for you, not you work for them and force them to be who they're not."  It sounds simple, but that is a hard concept to work with!  It's something that many people struggled with on our next assignment!  Here's the stipulations for exercise two:
1. Work individually
2. Everyone choose a different letter from the alphabet
3. Chose a celebrity or famous personality that's name starts with that letter
3. Creat a 3D letterform of any size to represent that personality
4. Turn that 3D form into a 2D form on the computer.

I choose "w" and after searching through famous names, settled on the Wright Brothers.  My idea and concept... a paper airplane.  How simple is that?  I didn't have to change the paper form in anyway besides folding it.  I experimented with about 10 other ways of making a "w" but they just weren't as successful, so back to my original idea I went.  Oded loved it!  I was so excited to hear his thoughts on it, and later found out that my paper airplane idea was the talk at his dinner that night with our ISU professors!  How exciting!  Who would have thought a simple paper airplane would create a personality profile on the letter "w"!  You can see in the pictures above a bunch of pictures of the airplane "flying in the dark", which was actually the plane tied to a light fixture in the bedroom and me trying to snap a picture so that the "w" was in center front!  It as quite the project...

Next, was the challenge of making that 3D form have the same feeling in 2D.  Once that was figured out, Oded challenged me to take my project one step further, so I created a funny, short video that contrasted my paper airplanes first flight against the wright brothers first flight.  Let's just say that I'm not the best paper airplane maker in the world, as my flight was a failure...

It was a week that only us students in Rome will ever be able to experience and a week that gave me a whole new perspective on typography!  Everyday I'm more and more thankful for this opportunity and realize that it's a once in a lifetime deal!  I think that there are a few other pictures of projects in the gallery above, the black and white on is more progress on my type project and the sketches are for my logo for Tiber Island!  Homework, homework, homework!  I thought that this was supposed to be 4 months of vacation!  Just kidding mom.  Love to all, back to homework now!

Monday, October 12

Birthday Week Travels!

It's official, I'm a bad blogger!  I am terrible at keeping up with all that is going on over here!  Where oh where do I begin with what has happened over the 9 days surrounding my birthday week?!?!?  It is what is now known as Bethany's Birthday Extravaganza by the Giani 7 Girls... an adventure through 12 towns in 9 days that has led to so many incredible memories and new friendships that will last forever.  There are far to many things to tell about, but here are a few bullets about each adventure:

ASSISI : Saturday, September 26
*Class day trip on double-decker bus
*Quiant town with cute little shops and restaurants (I bought presents!)
*Famous, beautiful Church of St. Francis
*Saw his tomb 3 stories underground
*Ate genni hen and frech fries for lunch (first genni hen ever and fries since left the States!)
*Back to Rome-Home for 1 hours to pack and head to train station

CINQUE TERRE : Sunday-Tuesday, September 27-29
*Took the midnight train Saturday night and arrived at 5am in Cognila, town 3 of Cinque Terre
*Was homeless for 4 hours, so we rested at top of 346 steps to watch the sunrise (freezing outside!)
*Hostel check-in at 9am, yummy fresh fruit crepes, and naps in Riomaggiore, town 1 of Cinque Terre
*Spend the afternoon laying on the beach and shopping at the beachside stands (more presents!)
*Dinner at sidewalk cafe and hike to top of hill that overlooked beautiful Riomaggiore and Mediterrainian Sea
*Day 2 adventures = hiking from town to town, absolutely the most beautiful place I've ever seen
*Make it through 2 trails, 3 hours of hiking just great, stopped in Vernaza, town 4 for a break
*Karen slips on rock and rips the toenail of her big toe, ending her, mine, and Bridget's hiking for the day (we went shopping instead... dang!)
*Met up with all the girls, got a couple bottles of wine, and headed to the beach for a relaxing girls night (turned out to be one of the best nights of my life!  we had so much innocent fun!)
*Woke up early the next morning for the sunrise and breakfast
*Caught the train back to Rome in the afternoon for a class lecture on Tuesday night (boring!)

ROME: Wednesday, September 30
*Class like usual, catching up and getting updates on our South Field Trip
*Crazy laundry and packing to leave again early Thursday
*Started the real birthday countdown, hour by hour! 

NAPLES: Thursday, October 1
*22 Birthday, woke up to streamers and ballons decorating our apartment
*Off to train station to meet class and teachers for day 1 of South Field Trip
*Arrive in Naples around noon and spend a couple hours at the National Archeological Museum of Naples (quite boring...)

SORRENTO: Thursday-Sunday, October 1-4
*Arrive by train at 3:30 and check into Hotel Savoia (Roomies = Karen, Bridget, Carolyn, Me)
*Class dinner at the "Lemon Tree Resturant"  (not it's real name, but what we call it because you sit under lemon trees to eat dinner!)
*We were served a 4 course meal by funny old man waiters that was fantastic!
*Off to the Hollywood Discotech for an American dance party with crazy lights and music
*I like to claim that this was all planned just for my birthday night!
*When we got back to the hotel, all 4 of us girls slept in one big bed together (it was the birthday snuggle!)
*Friday morning homemade breakfast at the hotel... we all ate like 10 rounds!
*Off to St. Angelo, a town practically connected to Sorrento, to check into our hostel (had to hike up this crazy long, curvy, coblestone road to the top of a hill to get there!  We all though we might die!)
*Spent the rest of the day and evening shopping the streets of Sorrento, buying lots of goodies for everyone at home!
*Met up with some other girls from ISU for wine and grapes in the park, then went to dinner in the square of Sorrento... a very relaxing evening!

CAPRI ISLAND: Saturday, October 3
*Took a ferry from the port in Sorrento to Capri Island, about 30 minutes away
*Hung out on the beach, shopped around, and ate lots of snacks from the fruit stand
*Went on a boat tour around the island that was so much fun (it gave us so much info about the island how how popular it is)
*A few of the things we saw: The Weber Resort, Bill Gates House/Yacht, The original lighthouse on the point, The Blue, Green, & White Grottos, The president of Ferrari's House, The owner of Tod's Shoes Yacht, and much more!
*Took a ferry back to Sorrento and ate dinner at an outside resturant on the pier (so pretty!)

POMPEI: Sunday, October 4
*Headed on the train to Pompei ruines (Pompei is the famous town that was covered when Mt. Versuvius errupted a long time ago... now has been part of an ongoing archeological dig)
*Crazy, big place with tons of tourists!
*Wondered through, trying to image this place as an actual city
*Saw body forms in the positions they were in when the town was covered, many were all curled up trying to hide from the erruption (so sad to see!)
*Back to the train, back to Naples, back to Rome-Home at 11:00pm... exhausted!!!

These are just a few details of what all went on during these crazy days of travel!  It was so much fun, and an experience that I will never be able to fully describe to anyone.  Oh how I wish that all my friends and family could have come along too, but maybe next time ;)  I will put up the pictures of the second half of our trip shortly, and then you'll be able to see many of the things that I have talked about here!  Can't wait to tell you more!  Love from Roma!

Wednesday, September 30

Assisi & Cinque Terre

Here's a look at my pictures from this past 4 day weekend... Assisi was very cute and Cinque Terre was unbelievable.  The pictures do no justice to what we actually saw and experienced in Cinque Terre... it was an indescrible adventure!  I'll tell you more about it later, but I'm off to bed for now because we are up again at 5am tomorrow to head out to Naples, Sorrento, Pompei, the Amalfi Coast, and Capri!  It's going to be a blast these next 4 days... rounding out what will be the most memorable 9 days of my life!  Can't wait to tell you all about them when I get back to Rome next week!  Love and miss everyone back home!

Friday, September 25

All For Mr. Trent!

This is a very special post dedicated to the one and only Mr. Trent!  I want to make sure that he knows that I'm always thinking of him...  Here's a few of the ways how I do so.  Every morning I wake up to his studly senior picture... it's only 6 years old and a "few" pounds ago, but it's so handsome.  Lucky me, I get to go to bed looking at the same picture sitting right on the nightstand beside my pillow.  What a hunk in his black and red letter jacket :)

I also like to pretend that he gets to travel with me all around the city everyday and see all the amazing views that I get to.  What better way to imagine he was here with me then to actually make it seem like we are here together!  Photoshop is amazing... look how happy we are here at the ancient entrance to the city of Rome.  These collums were part of the original portico facade that held the iron gates that lead into the city from the port on the Tiber River... these are things that we learned from signage on the site :)

Not only these things, but we now have left our mark on the Abintine Hill outlook point that spans the entire city.  Our initials are now engraved into the stone at that point and everyone will know that we were there!  Maybe if we come back in five or ten years, we can see if they are still there... I remember exactly where I put them into the stone!

He's been there through my ups and downs over the last few weeks, always suppoting me in all that I do, and there to make me laugh.  What can I say... he's pretty good to be!  Love you!

My First Weekend Travels!

Watch our Assisi and Cinque Terre... the Iowa Staters are coming to town!  It's our first school day trip this weekend... as in tomorrow... and we're headed to Assisi!  It is supposed to be a beautiful town with a very cool art museum and very famous church.  About 50 of us are headed out on a bus early in the morning and will get to spend the day in this fun little town together.  Let's hope it goes smooth and that we don't lose anyone or anything like that because traveling with a group of 50 people could get interesting!

Then, on Sunday early morning, my roommates and I are headed to Cinque Terre for 2 days.  Cinque Terre is an area right on the coast that is made up of 5 small, quaint towns surrounded by huge hills and cliffs.  We are going to hike through the hills from town to town (don't worry, they are close together otherwise I'd be taking a taxi because I'm out of shape!) all day one day.  It's kinda the popular thing to do there... apparently some of the cliffs are really steep and crazy, but the views are going to be incredible!  The next day, I'm planning on shopping at all the fun little trade store in each town to stock up on goodies.  We also are going to go to the beach for awhile, but it's rocky so not the best for laying out!  I'm really excited for the trip and know that we are going to have lots of fun!

I am putting up new pics from this week so far.  We took another 3 hour art history walk that led us to the very first entrance to the city of Roma, a few churches, and up to the top of the Abaline Hill that overlooks the entire city.  In the pictures you'll see some large, carved wood doors... they are the oldest in Roma and were beautiful!  Also, I threw in the final comp of my volumetric prototype that I talked about earlier and there are a few sketches and the comps of our Primo project.  Hope you enjoy... miss and love everyone from home!

Primo Angeli Workshop Week

Well we have almost made it through yet another week of classes here in Roma, and this one was crazy!  We had a special quest come this week to do a work shop with us on packaging design and his name is Primo Angeli.  I think I told you about him in the last post, but he was so awesome.  Funny, inspiring, and incredibly knowledgeable.  We worked in groups of four over the past four 3 days to completely recreate the identity of a product from an Italian supermarket.  My group was lots of fun and we chose to redesign the packaging and identity for a spice company called Italpepe... and inturn we became the Spice Girls ourselves.  (I of course was Baby Spice because of my blonde hair.)  We created a whole new look for our company, trying to make them appeal as a more upscale company with richer spices.  It has been a long three days with VERY LITTLE sleep trying to pull this project together, but the end product and presentation this morning was a success!  We wanted our product to be more enviornmently friendly, so we switched not only the shape and look of the package, but also the material from glass to bioplastic.  We also made the product work as a system and fit nicely into a kitchen cupboard.  These are just a few of our changes, but here are before and after pics of our product... we like ours a lot better!  Primo and all of our professors were extremely impressed with everyone's work and said that they have never worked with students that were so dedicated and advanced in their skills.  What a completement to our program and hard work!  We finished the morning with pictures and a little recpetion with Primo and his wife, Deeni.  She was so sweet, and before they left for the day, she gave me a hug and said in her sweet, soft accent, "You are so sweet and wonderful."  Ahh... what a great opportunity to work with such amazing people!

Saturday, September 19

Family Weekend + Homework!

Another week down!  It was a crazy busy one yet again, but the time is starting to fly by!  I feel like it was just Tuesday morning, rolling out of bed at 7 preparing for 9 hours of class that day and dreading the tought of having to do for 4 days in a row!  Now, it's already Saturday night, and we are well into Family Weekend here in our apartment.  All 7 of us are here for the weekend, so we planned out a whole weekend full of family events!  Today we had family homework day and tonight Karen and Becky made us family dinner that was amazing!  They made lettuce wraps with chicken and veggies and a fruit salad... so yummy!  Tomorrow morning we are going to the market early, coming back to make family brunch, having homework session in the afternoon, and going to a sidewalk resturant called La Cabanara for dinner!  It is going to be lots of fun, but I got to make sure that I get my homework done too!

This week in class, we pushed through a lot more work to keep our projects going strong.  For packaging, we started a new project that is to be completed by Tuesday called a volumetric prototype.  What that means is that we have to design a unique packaging option based off basic geometric shapes that can contain enclosed space, yet have a lid that will allow it to open.  We each chose 2 nouns out of a jar that we had to use for inspiration.  I randomly chose a garden hose and Hawaii, and came up with a design that spirals into itself to represent the hose and has 7 sides, one for each island in Hawaii.  This is a picture of a mock up that I have in the works... now I have to create the final product and pattern!

In our regular studio class, I have been working on a completely new identity mark/symbol for the Tiber Island.  The island is home to a chuch and a hospital, so I am playing with the idea of interlocking the "i" and "t" letterforms to create a cross shape, which has dual means for both the church and hospital.  I'm still in the sketching/research stage, so we'll see where it will take me.  I also having been watercoloring images and details of the island for my sketchbook... it's a lot of fun and a good way to release your feelings without anyone else knowing what you mean!

For my advanced type class, we started creating a serious of 4 posters that have to work together as one and seperately as well.  Each poster has it's own set of rules to follow and the first one is that it can only have type and letterforms within the whole composition.  It also has to be based on the architecture of the 1000 paces that we took last week, so I have been trying to make use only type (words of things that I saw on my walk) to create a composition that can still represent building structues, but be abstract at the same time.  This is a little glimpse of what is happening so far... not near done!  It's quite a process to go through, but it's going to be such a cool project when it's done because we get to ad 3D elements to make the poster pop even more!

This week in art history we took a four hour walk through the ancient Roman Forum and down near the Colosseum area.  It was so incredible and unbelievable to see such insane sturctures and to think about how they were build over 1500 years ago.  I can't imagine building something so incredible and doing things such as importing marble slabs from Turkey without all the equipment that we have today!  It's really indescrible and my pictures do it no justice, but everywhere you see low brick walls, imagine them multiple stories high and faced with solid marble in varying colors.  Totally incredible!  We didn't have time to go into the Colosseum during class, but our tickets into the Forum gave us free admission, so a few of us decided to go there after classes on Friday.  Another indescrible structure... so big, so perfect, so dang old!  We all just stood in awe when we entered, now having been taught all that went on there and went into buidling such a structure.  You'll see the pics above, but it's so much better in person!!!

I am SO excited for this coming week... Primo Angeli, a very famous graphic designer that is known for this packaging, so coming for the week to do a package redesign workshop with us.  It is going to be so awesome to work with such a successful man (one of this famous packages is the Sunkist pop bottle/label), but we are also so nervous!  For my package redesign, I chose a popular Italian spice company called Italpepe.  They have a very 80's style of design to their current label and their spices come in glass bottles.  I created a new packaging design that can be make from bioplastics so that the containers will be more sustainable and eco-friendly.  My design is a very simple shape (think of a deck of cards, only taller and skinnier) but will stand in a kitchen cupboard very easily and will line up in a perfectly straight line to keep things organized.  The package will be a type of frosty white plastic, with a spout on one side and a shader part on the other side.  Against this clean-lined package will be a very ornate, old-world label... which is still in the works.  Add that to my list of this things to complete this weekend!  I think that it will be a simple, yet neat package and I hope that Primo thinks the same!

Sorry for the ridiculously long posts lately... I need to do a better job of posting more then once a week!  I hope that all is well with everyone at home... Miss you lots and think of you often!

Sunday, September 13

A Weekend Of Relaxation!

It's been a great 2 days here in Rome, just Bridget and I doing whatever we want!  All of our other roommates went away for the weekend, so we had the whole place to ourselves and we milked it!  We went grocery shopping on Friday night and loaded up on snacks for the weekend and we've just about ate them all!  We slept in on Saturday morning for the first time in ages and it was awesome!  Then we woke up at the exact same time, super excited because........ we were going SHOPPING!  We had a blast on our day out!  We walked around the city for four hours, just wondering into any stores that we wanted and buying all kinds of fun little things!  While out, I also took the time to take some pictures of these really cool graffiti faces that are for part of my handmade book.  It was a great time out that led to coming home to do homework... what a Saturday night!  We made it fun though with a movie and good dinner in the middle of our big homework session.

This morning started off by waking up early to go to one of the largest markets in Rome.  We had been hearing all about this place and how cool it was, but we were sadly disapointed.  It was like a huge flea market combined with a bad garage sale that had random underwear stands mixed in.  We were totally confused as to why people thought this place was so cool... oh well though.  We each bought one thing today to use for parts of projects, when we were totally hoping to find all these cool steals.  Maybe next time...  Since we were up so early to go to this "cool" market, we were home by 11 this morning and started right in on homework!  It is now 10:00 at night and we have been sitting on the couch in the same position working on homework all day!  The only time that we have gotten up is to go to the kitchen to get snacks... we are lazy piles today, but we are getting lots of work done!  I spent the last 5 hours glues 1000 pages of a book together into 20 page chunks... biggest pain in the butt ever!  When the project is completely finished, it should be really neat, but the process will take a long time!  We've also been sketching, watercoloring, reseaching, illustrating, and of course skyping!  Tonight I got to skype with Nillie!  She could totally here my voice and kept looking at my picture on the screen.  She knew it was me and was so confused why I wasn't there... it was so cute!  It's been a great day of relaxing and doing homework!  Also, it's been rainy and stormy here all day, so it was the perfect Sunday afternoon in.

Tomorrow morning we are planning to get up and go to another little fresh fruit and veggie market and to hit up the cute little stores in the area... we are hoping for better luck shopping tomorrow because we want nice Italian purses, shoes, and jewelry!!!  Wish us luck... but for now, it's back to more homework!  Love from Roma!

Saturday, September 12

One Week Of Classes Down, 14 More To Go!

Well, it's finally Saturday morning and I've now made it through one whole week of classes!  My conclusion for the semester... I'm going to be crazy busy!  I decided to be a little extra ambitious this semester and take 4 studio classes! (For those who don't know what that means, it's double what normal sane people take!)  This means that I am going to class from 9am-7pm four days a week!  Studio classes are 6 hours long, which seems insane, but you can actually get a lot of work done!  I'm thinking that it will keep me on my toes and focused so much that the time will pass fast!  I took a few pics during class one day this week to show everyone what our studio in Rome looks like... it's in an old palace that is the only original building still standing in what is known as the Jewish Ghetto.  Don't worry, it's not a ghetto like we have in America, it's actually a very safe place.  There will be more pics above in the photo stream!

This weekend, a lot of the girls that I live with decided to travel to varying places around Italy, but Bridget and I decided that we should stay home and get a jump start on all our projects and research (and to go SHOPPING!).  After just one week, I already have 7 different projects underway... and lots of our projects are based on the incredible art and architecture here in Rome, so this means that I am traveling all over the city to gather information, pictures, sketches, etc. A few of the projects include: A total identity creation of the Tiber Island, which will include a logo, stationary, website, information packets, wayfinding, etc;  A series of four 3-D posters that work together and individually and are based on a path of 1000 paces that I took throughout the city;  The creation of sustainable packaging and labeling for a pre-existing spice company; And a handmade rustic 'altered' book based on my photography, comparing and contrasting the modern and ancient art here in Rome.  I'm very excited because these projects are unique to the Rome program and will always have special meaning.  Let's just hope that I can get them all done in time and that they turn out decent!

For another class, art historty, we go on 3 hour walking tours each week of buildings around the city.  This week, we visited 3 different churches and we able to take some amazing pictures of the artwork inside.  I'm hoping to get more pictures up soon, and those churches will be included.  Also, a lot of the other photos were taken for the purposes of varying projects, so don't think I'm weird if you see 30 different road signs, strange detail shots, or anything else that might be in there!  One more thing... this week we broke the 100 days until I come home mark!  I believe that today is 98!  Can't to see everyone again!  Loves!

Monday, September 7


Well, I finally got my first set of Rome pics up!  I thought that I had taken a lot of pictures so far, but after compiling them, there doesn't seem like many at all!  I have another 100 days of picture taking, so I'm sure that I'll get plenty!  I made a few other updates on my blog as well.  Now, anyone can post comments.  You don't have to be a registared member and you don't have to type in a silly code.  Also, when it comes to the pictures, if you don't already know, you can click on the slideshow to view the pictures one by one on a bigger scale.  Just some quick notes... that's all I have for now.  Love from far away.

My Apartment!

Well, as I promised, here are a few pics of my apartment here in Rome. It's pretty good sized compared to some here, but there are also 7 of us living here. It's got 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and is decorated with things from Ikea. So, here's a look...

Sunday, September 6

Weekend One!

So Friday was our first official day of studio class, and luckily it only lasted an hour! We just had a quick overview of what all our classes are going to entail this semester. After a relaxing afternoon, all of the graphic design students over here... around 20 of us... all headed out to find the famous Spanish Steps once the sun went down. These are the steps where Julius Cesar was stabbed around 30 times and left to bleed to death. They are very popular to visit at night, as they were completely packed with people. Everyone sits on the steps, looks at the water fountain below, and drinks their bottles of wine. It was a fun night, but an extremely long walk there! I'm going to really have to get used to all this walking!

Saturday was a roommate of mine's birthday. She wanted to go to the beach, so that's exactly what we did! It was a long trek there, but after a 45 minute walk, a 10 minute train one way, a 30 minute train another way, and a 10 minute bus ride, we finally made it to Lido di Osti beach. It was right on the Mediterranean Sea and it was gorgeous! It was an absolutely perfect day outside, just the right temp with a little breeze every now and then. The water was a beautiful clear blue and the perfect temp for swimming! We had fun trying to find seashells to bring home, which was actually really hard! Also, we learned that most Europeans are very proud of their body... no matter what size or shape it may be! We'll just say that there were a lot of ladies who forgot the wear their tops! We all came home with the perfect kiss of sun on our skin, cleaned up, and went for dinner to continue the all day birthday celebration. We ate at a nice little resturant on a cobblestone sidewalk. It was the picture perfect Italian resturant... iron chairs, large stone pots with tapestries, and single light bulbs strung from a rope that was tied from one tree to another. The nights here have cooled down drastically since we first arrived, at about 70 degrees and breezy, making our dinner outside very peaceful. We were a little disappointed in the food, as we all came home still hungry and broke, but we'll just say that it was a learning experience!

Sunday started with a nice morning of sleeping in... well more like laying in bed until 10:30 listening to cars, vespas, trams, buses, and ambulences fly by on the main road right outside my bedroom window! When Bridget and I finally got up and around, we set out to accomplish our first assignment for the start of a class project. It was the daunting task to do a scavenger hunt all around the city of Rome. Now, that may not seem to bad, but Rome is HUGE! We were given a list of 8 well known places in the city and we were to find each of them and take our picture there to prove we had done so. So at 11:30 we set out with our camera, a map, and our tennis shoes on with hopes to accomplish this task in record time! We walked and walked and walked! At one point, we were over 2 1/2 hours away from our apartment! By the time we finally made it home, it was after 4:00, but our mission had been accomplished! We were both completely exhausted, sweat completely through everything, and starving! After a quick snack and some much needed water, we both conked out for about an hour! We decided to make it a nice night in to catch up on emails, get organized, do laundry, and just relax! I really think that I've walked more in the last 10 days then I have in all of 2009!

Well, I'm off to bed now, as it's 1:33am here. I'll try my best to get more pics up in the morning. Also, I'll take picture of my apartment here so you can check out how lucky we got with our place... it's pretty nice compared to some of the other students! I really need to be thankful because I'm so blessed! Love and miss everyone!

Thursday, September 3


So yesterday was our first day of orientations. It was supposed to start at 9 am... but we got a little lost on our walk to class. What should have taken us about 45 minutes turned in to an hour and a half of wondering that eventually led us to the area of town where many of the foreign embassies are located. We say this nice lady walking our way, so we decided to make our best a speaking Italian and try to ask for direction. Little did we know, we she was the United States Ambassador's wife. She was so sweet, gave us her map, and pointed us in the right direction. Needless to say, we missed the orientation, but oh well. Later that afternoon, we took a walk to visit our friends apartment that is across town and next to the Pantheon. They lucked out and have an awesome location for their new home. We ended up walking for about 5 hours straight yesterday... leaving out feet with blisters galore! Bridget, Carolyn, and I decided to make it a night at home, while the other girls when out to hit up the bars for a good party. Not really my style, so I'll probably be staying in quite a bit.

Today we had another orientation that included a breakfast and the passing out of our keys. We decided to try the tram today, and it was a lot better! I'm definitely taking that from now on... even if it is hot and stinky and full of thieves! I got my package from home today that had all my books and supplies in it, so that was perfect timing to start class tomorrow! After our orientation today, we walked up to the central area of the city where lots of the ancient remains of the old city stand. There is a long shopping district there, and my roommates were on a mission to find H&M, a cheap, but decent eclectic clothing store. It was a long walk, but we finally made it there and back to our apartment a little before dinner time. Everyone but me conked out on their beds for a couple hours... apparently they aren't having troubles sleeping like I am! It looks like it's going to be another night of all the girls drinking and me hanging out on the side! Fun, fun... but I guess that's what you get for standing your ground about your values. Well I hope all is well for everyone back home. Can't wait to update you again. Maybe I'll get some good pictures this weekend, so look for some more soon. Loves.

Tuesday, September 1

We Made It To Rome!

Well, we finally made it to Rome Monday late morning. Everyone got their luggage with no problems so it was a success! Our apartment is quite nice, a lot better than we had thought it might be! It's extremely hot here, and I say that as I sit in the living room with sweat running down my face. It's also so noisy here! It's quite annoying actually to have to yell at someone sitting right next to you to even hear what they are saying! We are going to hope that it cools down very quickly so that we can close some of the windows a bit! I've quite homesick right now, not hardly eating or sleeping, so let's hope that goes away fast! I'm trying to think positive about things right now... that's all I can do at this point I guess! Pray for me to feel better because right now, Rome isn't all that I'd hoped! Miss everyone and love you too!

Saturday, August 29

Dublin Craziness!

Well it's been a crazy three days doing all the typical touristy stuff! On Thursday, like I said in my last post, we visited the Kilmainham Jail. It is the oldest jail in Dublin, and was very creepy! We found out that it was supposed to be able to hold 100 prisoner, but at one point, there were over 9000 housed in it. It was very cool, though the tour was way to long, especially since we were all exhausted from flying all night! Also, it has been used as the set for many movies, including the recent Charlie Wilson's War (which starred Julia Roberts, my fav!). After that tour and a long walk home, we all had to take a nap! We are going to have to get used to all this walking... I'm going through withdrawl without my car (Leroy) and cell phone! How did people live before these things!?!?! :)

The last two days, we have been on 2 different bus tours, one of which took all over the city, and the other out into the countryside and through the mountains. They were a blast, and the pictures that you see above are from those adventures! Friday we took the bus tour throw the city, and it was called a hop-on-hop-off tour, meaning that there were 23 stops, all of which you had the choice as to get off the bus there or not. Buses would come to each stop every 10 minutes so you could stay at any one place as long as you would like! We started our tour in the Temple Bar area, an area that we found out is very popular for tourists.

We got off on our first stop at a park called St. Peter's Green. It was beautiful! You can see more flowers, greens, ponds, and swans above. It was so perfectly groomed, and there was no trash anywhere! Also, there were really cool scupltures throughout the park, most of which we tried to imitate for pictures. We met 2 crazy couples from Chicago, celebrating one of the ladies 50th birthday, and they volunteering to take pictures of us. Some of the poses are quite funny to say the least! It's really hard to be a sculpture!

Our next stop was at the Dublin Castle. This housed three huge sand sculptures that were incredible! We couldn't understand how they didn't wash away in the rain storms, but who knows! The structure of the castle itself was very beautiful! Not quite like the one that I saw in Scotland a few years ago, but still very detailed and impressive!

Next came the Christ Church Cathedral...AMAZING! This was like the church of all churchs out there! There is no way for me to describe the intricate wood and stone carvings! You can see in some of the pictures above the archways, windows, and sculptures, but these are just a few of the many and the pictures don't do the real things justice at all! It is hard to believe that these sturcture were built so many years ago, as the details, symmetry, curves, etc. are all so perfect! There was an organ at the front of the church that went from floor to ceiling and was probably 12 wide and 8 feet in depth. Huge! The cathedral is still holds between 3 and 5 services everyday, and is apparently full at every one of them! We were able to go down into the basement, where the walls and ceilings were bunches of archways made of crumbling stone. There were many sculptures, important documents, gold plates, and the like housed down there. There was even a mummified cat and mouse that were very famous back in the day. Frankly, they were just really grose and gave me the shivers!

From there we hopped on the bus and headed to the best place all day... the Guinness brewery. Now don't think that it was the best because of the free beer we got the the 11th floor Gravity bar, it was the best because it was the most interesting, well designed, largest, and just plain cool place ever! There were at least 8 floors to this place, each of which were designated to a certain topic (ie. the history, the process, the ingredients) The signage and graphics in the entire building where orange and white and very oversized in all regards! They incoporated a simple arrow design throughout the building to lead you on a self-guided tour of the brewery. There was a huge displays of each of the actual ingredients used in the brewing process, one of which included a large waterfall with a wishing pool at the bottom. Other floors had cafes, bars, resturants, movies, gift shops, and all the tools and machines needed to brew Guinness. We loved this place so much that we stayed there for four hours (but only drank one beer)! I don't know how many times I said that I wished I could have been in on all the planning and design of this place... it was so neat!

From there we hopped back on the bus and headed to the Jameson Distillery. We quickly learned that we say the name of this all wrong... it's not Jame-i-son like we say, it's Jam-son. After a quick tour through the old distillery (it's no longer in use because it's too small!), we ended up with a free drink yet again! A shot of Jameson, a spritz of ginger ale, and a squeeze of the lime was my choice... I could not do it straight up like some of the girls... I'm a whimp!

After a long walk back to the hostel and a quick fix of the make-up, we were off yet again for dinner out at a local pub called Faringtons. This time we were lucky enough to meet up with all the Iowa Staters visiting Dublin right now, so there were 12 of us out together. It was a blast, and some of the best food we have had all trip long! After dinner, we went to a small local pub called the Stag's Head and sat down in the basement just in time for the start of some live, tradtional Irish music. It was very cool... we felt like we were truely in the of Ireland that night!

Saturday was consumed by our second all day bus tour. This time we traveled out into the countryside to an old monestary called Glendalough. The roads were very narrow, very curvy, and very steep! We drove up through the mountains and stopped at a couple little quiant towns along the way. One of them was a morning coffee break stop at the cutest shop ever! There was a big store filled with darling, girly merchandise that I absolutely loved, but it was so expensive! I couldn't bring myself to pay 60 euros for a little purple polka-dotted coffee mug! Also, in the back was a coffee and pastry bar... I have the most incredible fresh fruit tart ever! It was like heaven in my mouth... almost like a berry cheesecake, but even better! After that we were off on the little roads again, where we stopped a few more times for pictures and lunch and then we arrived at Glendough... finally. Oh, and at one of the stops along the way, the bus driver gave us shots of Jameson whiskey. I looked down at my watch, thinking that it was a little early for this, and it said 12:01. I guess it's never to early to drink in Ireland!

When we arrived in Glendalough, it was so pretty! The old churches from 600 were still standing and we were able to walk right into them, not having to worry that they would come crumbling down on us! It is insane to think that these stone that were simply stacked on one another, with no mortar at all, can still be standing some 1400 years later! There was also an extremely old cemetary on the property, with tons of old gravemarkers still standing. Many of them were worn down to flat stones, but some of them were from recent years. The only way that you can be burried in the land is to have been grandfathered in hundreds of years ago, long before you were even born. Today, there are still 5 people that have to be laid to rest there before the cemetary will offically be closed for good. Another fun little fact about the cemetary, given by our bus driver, was that no headstones were put into place before 1720 because nobody was able to read or write before that time!

The surrounding land was beautiful, filled with forests, lakes, waterfalls, streams, and the like. It was an indescribable sight, best to be seen for yourself. Soon, there will be more pictures at the top, so you can see for yourself what I am talking about! You might also see a few picture from our adventure out on the town Saturday night when we returned for the country. It was a fun night out to dinner at a famous pub in Dublin called Oliver St. John's Gogarty. We must be very good at timing our dinners because for the second night in a row, we arrived just in time for some live, traditional Irish music. It was very good food, very good music, and lots of fun for all of us! We decided to hit up the Stag's Head again for just a bit, and once again we arrived just in time for the live music! Bridget, Carolyn and I decided to make it an early night back to the hostel, so that we could upload photos, get things organized, and make it to bed at a decent hour! Everything went as planned, except the whole get to bed early thing! I believe it was almost 4am before the lights went out, as we heard some exciting stories from the other girls that stayed out to have too much fun!

Sunday was a real laid back day, starting by sleeping in until noon! That was very needed by all of us, as we were exhausted from going nonstop for the past 4 days. In the afternoon, we took the DART (Dublin Area Rail Transit) train down to the southern coast area to a popular festival that happens once a year in Ireland. It was a type of cultural festival, that was supposed to be very fun and filled with food stands and music and dancing. Well, there was music and dancing, but the food stands were scarce. Katy and I decided to try some chicken lo mein from the one Chinese stand because it looked and smelled very great and we were starving because it was 3:30 and we hadn't eaten all day! Bad mistake on our part! We tried our best to choke it down but were gagging the whole time! After a short stay there, we headed back to our hostel to meet up with everyone and decided that our last meal in Dublin should be one that we all knew we would love... McDonalds! A quick Big Mac and fries, back to the hostel we went to try to pack up our bags so that we could get everything into the suitcases without being overweight! That was a task that took packing and repacking to say the least!

Well it is now the wee hours of Monday morning, and in about 3 hours we will be off to the airport for our flight to Rome. Wish me luck with everything at the airport, and let's hope that my suitcase doesn't weight more that 44lbs! I'm so happy to be able to share my adventures and pictures with everyone at home... the next time I'll write, I'll be in Rome in my new home for the next 4 months! Love to all at home!