it is so hard to keep this updated with such limited time on the internet. We have one computer at this hotel with the SLOWEST internet connection. Real quick, I wanted to write an update. Since I last blogged we finished up in Florence, went to Venice and we are now in Milan.
Florence: The last day in Florence was so much fun. We saw a few churches in the morning, had free time in the afternoon, then went to the Uffizi gallery. During our free time we hit up the leather market. I haven't spent much this trip on souvenirs, but i may have made up for it today... I bought a really cute pink leather wallet, a leather keychain, and (the big purchase) a pair of super cute off-white heals. I bought them thinking I could possibly wear them for my wedding, but they prob wont go with a white dress. they are adorable though, and i prob just thought about the wedding thing to justify the purchase. no buyers regret there though! Yje Uffizi was wonderful; I enjoyed it so much more than last time I was there. when I was with my family, all Mitch and I wanted to do was leave and get pizza, while Brad had to ask my Dad for an english interpretation of every painting description. we wanted to kill him! i did notice that they now are in the process of having english descriptions now, too. I loved seeing Botticelli's "birth of venus" and Parmigiano's "Madonna of the Long Neck." We spent our evening wandering Florence for one last time. While natalie scarfed down 3 gelatos in an hour, I dined at a cute restaurant facing Palazzo Vecchio and ate Carbonnara, my favorite Italian dish. We crossed Ponte Vecchio (the famous bridge) ans hiked up to the Michaelangelp lookout spot. It was such a beautiful view of the city at night. I wish my camera were capable of taking better night pictures! (wow, so much for a brief update...oops)
Venice: One of the things that was most notable to me in Venice was the complete lack of cars. I loved the sound of silence in the evenings when the shops closed and all the tourists went to bed (except us, apparently). Thursday evening we had our "date night." The 6 of us girls wanted to go on a gondola, but all agreed that we needed dates, so we did just that. :) we used the candies in the lobby to choose dates. we put 6 pices in a bowl (2 each of 3 flavors) and went on the date with the person who chose the same flavor. I chose well and got to go with Torrie. This prpbably seems silly, but we had a blast. Of course I would have much rather been with Colby, but Torrie was a great substitute. We went to a candle light dinner on a small canal and then took a gondola ride on the Grand Canal. We were given 50 euro instead of the 10 we normally get for our museum choice day, so the expense seemed tiny. Oh, and we all paid for our own dates. It wouldn't have been a date otherwise. Of course that means each person's date paid for theirs too. worked out wonderfully. ;)
My other favorite parts of venice were seeing glass blowing on Murano, feeing pigeons and getting fabulous pictures in St. Marks square and going to the Peggy Guggenheim museum. I really appreciate renaissance art, but I love modern art, which is what the GUggenheim was. I got to see several Pollocks, a Mondrian, clader mobiles, and Brancussi's "bird in space." I know how much I love modern art simply because I was able to identify artists before reading the name plaques on works I have never seen. I know individual styles to the pint I can do that. I felt pretty cool, sometimes knowing more than the art history majors. (sorry, not trying to sound stuck up...)
Milan: So far we have seen the Milan Cathedral, a church by Bramante, shopped and gone to church. The Milan cathedral isone of the 4 largest cathedrals in Europe. It was really cool architecture because it was designed by a group of architects from all over europe and constructed during the transition period from late gothic to early renaissance. I loved the thought and conversations I had here contrasting our temples to all these cathedrals. I find it weird that we are there as eagar tourists, with cameras out, while people are in the middle of worshipping or confessing sins. I always notice the darkness within the buildings compared to the clean, crisp white we have, or the unadorned walls of our churches. So much emphasis is put on the art and decoration as opposed to the people and the teachings as we do. The other contracst I saw was the surrounding area of the buildings. I never metally noted how beautiful our temple grounds are compared to other places as I did today. The Milan Cathedral is surrounded by hecklers, vendors, crazies, and ritzy shopping centers. You step out of the doors and are engulfed in the hustle and bustle of the world. I love how you can be outside the temple, but within the gates, and really be "in the world but not of it." I think this is one thing I will take away from this trip and think about often.
Milan is known more for its shopping than for its art, so of course we hit up some shops. I made a few great purchases at mango and H & M (first experience at H &M...wonderful). I got a blue and white striped dress, a white top, and a gray linen skirt. The skirt was a must, at 14 €, and will be a good change from the one sunday outfit I brought.
We were planning on going out to see DaVinci's Last Supper today, but won't be doing that anymore. When MJ checked for reservations in December, they were gone. He told us we could go out in small group and try and get in with other reserved groups. Some tried that and after waiting for several hours learned how impossible it is to get in. The extra seats even have to be taken online and those are booked out several weeks as well. Its a let down, but I will survive.
So, basically I am loving this trip. Heading home will be a bittersweet thing as I leave places I love, but return to things and people I love as well. But, I guess I still have a few weeks so shouldn't think about the end yet. Buena Sera! pictures will come later