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.

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