Send Me On My Way -Rusted Roots

Aug 6, 2013

The Homestretch: Sailing, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bleeding Through the Streets of Matera. WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE

July 21st-August 6th
     Hey there my fine fellows. Guess who comes home tomorrow? That’s right. It’s me. AND Laura is tagging along. This isn’t my farewell post however; I still have two wonderful weeks to write about, so here they are.
Nico and the boat of bambini.
     Last post left off in my leaving the wonderful city of Venice to go to Santa Maria Di Leuca in the very farthest south part of the heel of the boot of Italy (Well that was a mouthful, huh?). It took all day by train to get to Lecce and then after an hour of exploring that cute little town, another bus took me to Leuca just in time for dinner (you know, at 10 PM). Gabriele, the owner of the sailing school, picked me up from the bus and then drove me to the school where I was immediately hoisted on the shoulders of two crazy Italian men. I quickly learned their names were Nico and Mauro, then I met Gabriele’s wife, Lucia, and the other sailing instructor, Arianna. I also met Ivan, a crazy awesome Frenchman who is sailing the world in a blow up sail boat with a tent on top. The dinner included a lot of accordion, dancing, and general happiness. I later found out they chose to have me because they saw one of my YouTube videos of me being crazy and thought I’d fit in great. So pretty much a GREAT first night.
Snorkeling and stuff.
Kayaking in some caves, yo.
     I slept in pretty late the next few mornings, but the first day I went sailing with Gabriele and a couple kids I called V and Fran. Gabriele asked me to steer and use the rudder, but what does an Oklahoma girl know about sailing? We’re completely landlocked! I nearly wrecked us, so he took control and then later attempted to teach me how to use it again, but I was slightly terrified. He also asked if I wanted to try sailing, but I said no because all of the lessons were in Italian and I didn’t want to capsize and be eaten by the jellyfish. I am a GREAT watcher. Heh… heh… So uh, instead, the next day I went Kayaking alone on the sea to some caves on the far side of the town. It was kind of scary since I am afraid of fish and I had never kayaked on the sea before. I nearly got knocked over by a huge wave and then had to bail water with an old sponge, but I lived to tell the tale! Sadly no mermaids, but it’s okay. Next time. Next time.
Sailing races!
     The following day I went sailing again and the following I went snorkeling and saw some really pretty purple fish. I also watched some smaller fish try and eat my feet, but in the end they just settled for the nasty dead skin on them instead. I also had an accident when the waterproof bag I had my camera in wasn’t completely waterproof. No problem though. I put it in some rice and then it was relatively fine. Ish. So everything I’ve told you about Leuca is all fine and dandy, but it was really the people who made the place so great (The mosquitoes are what made it not so great). 
     It was fantastic hanging out with everyone, going to bars, taking night drives, and trying new food (even if the tentacles had visible suckers still. GAG). Almost everyone could speak a bit of English and even though Mauro couldn’t, we still managed to have a few fights conversations with Arianna’s help. 
Sunny Leuca.
     It was a little hard to stay engaged in the conversations sometimes when they spoke in Italian, but I could understand some of it and many times someone would kindly stop the conversation and explain what they were discussing. Even though it was supposed to be a work stay, it was definitely more like a holiday. The only work I really did was wash dishes and make grilled cheese once. It was heaven. Every holiday must come to an end though, and after a glorious week (that really deserves a post to itself), I sadly had to say goodbye at 5 AM when Chiara, a friend of Lucia’s, took me with her to Matera where she works.
Matera! Where they filmed the Passion.
     Matera is a city that has been continuously inhabited for 1700 years. The houses are made of stone and there are hundreds of caves that used to be inhabited as well. Several of the churches are inside caves. In fact, you have seen Matera if you watched The Passion of the Christ. The town was used for filming and I visited the spot where Jesus was crucified in the movie. Unfortunately, I had just gotten rid of my sock tan so I decided to wear flip flops. 
Cave at Sunset.
     I realized about half an hour into my exploration of the place that I had made a bad choice because of the difficult and dangerous terrain. I thought to myself: I better go put on my tennis shoes so I don’t get hurt. I need to be careful. Then I promptly tripped down some stone stairs and split my big toe in half. I had to walk back a half mile with my flip flop full of blood, limping like a cripple and muttering to myself like a mad woman. I utilized my first aid certification on my toe and then met my CouchSurfer, Katia, who just so happened to be studying medicine. We had a good laugh about my idiocy and then she took me back to her place to meet her brother and mother. They were charming people and we had a great night, but only one as I was off to Naples the following day.
Seconds after I wounded myself.
After walking a kilometer back to the first aid.

Pompeii volcano victims.
Mount Vesuvius! The volcano that destroyed volcano.
     My host in Naples was a friend of Katia’s, Davide. During the day he worked, so I would go hang with another CSer named Francesco and during the night I would hang with Davide and have delicious pizza or pasta. The first day, I went to the ruins of Pompeii with Francesco and it was amazing! We even got in free thanks to him. The casts of people were quite unsettling as you could still see the terror on their faces. 
     After Pompei, we went to Fran’s house (which had the most beautiful room I had ever seen; It seriously looked like something out of a castle, with two pianos!) and had a lovely lunch, then went to the Amalfi coast with his sister, Roberta. The next day we stayed in Naples and he showed me Christmas traditions and artisans as well as the fish market. GROSS. The clams squirted me. -__- Davide learned of my castle obsession and took me to a few in town. One was called Elmo. Haha. Elmo. 
The Napoli underground.
     Anyway, the last day, I went with Fran intending to snorkel to the underwater ruins of Baia, but the mean lady didn’t get my reservation, so we didn’t get to go. Instead, we went to the beach and that night we mat Davide for a tour of the underground! It was wonderful! I wanted to wander off. REALLY BAD. But I was good and stayed with the group.
     I should point out, that all this time I was still injured from Matera and from leaning more on the left foot, that big toe developed a horribly painful blister. In turn, I leaned more on the right again and then my feet, which were super dry from all the ocean salt, cracked open in several places in the sole. So I couldn’t walk for a couple days without moderate pain. I pushed through the pain because I HAD to. 
Pompeii and me.
     I couldn’t let that stop me with only a week left. No way. So I left Naples and began my long trek back to England. First I stopped in Milan again and stayed with Darko who I had met last time. We met his friend, Nico, for sushi and a mini tour by scooter. 
Also gelato. Always gelato. But then, after meeting his lovely family, it was time to leave again. I actually told him my train left at 7:45 when it left at 7:25, so he raced me to my train and we barely made it. So, THANK YOU DARKO!! Then I was back in Switzerland: The land of people in parachutes and some of the most beautiful castles in Europe. 
PIZZA! And new glasses.
     But only for two hours and then I was back to Brussels where I helped a bawling girl find a train to Rotterdam after she missed her first one. Then I got lost. Apparently, I was on the completely wrong side of town when I found about 15 policemen outside and asked them for directions. They were very kind and drove me to the bus station, but not before they got lost themselves. At least I felt better about myself after that.
     After once again having no idea where I was (it was a parking garage/ferry boat/mall.I mean come on.You’d be confused too), I FINALLY I made it to England where I then got to wait four hours in a coffee shop for Laura to arrive. Then she did and the reunion was beautiful. Except not really. I said hi and so did she and then we hugged and left the station. We went to her wonderful uncle Adrian’s house and met him and his partner Darren for some dinner and telly and then bed. The following day, I met Paul, my first CS host, again and one of his surfers for some drinks and then it was time. I SAW DANIEL RADCLIFFE IN THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAN AND THEN I MET HIM BY THE STAGE DOOR, GOT MY POSTER SIGNED, PICTURES, I TOUCHED HIS HAND, AND HE SPOKE TO ME. It went like this:
Me: “DAN! HEY DAN! CHRIS RANKIN SAYS HI!” Dan: “Oh does he? Tell him hello back!”
My future husband.
Then I collapsed. Luckily there were so many people that I didn’t actually hit the ground. Truthfully, I had told Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the HP movies, that I was seeing Dan and did he want me to tell Dan hi for him and Chris said yes, so none of it was a lie. I still can’t think directly about the experience because I’m afraid I’ll lose it. After, Laura and I went to Platform 9 and ¾ for a quick photo shoot in King’s Cross before heading back to Adrian’s place. Then I saw a fox on a fence and skyped Kacy. Now I’m on a train to Birmingham. DANIEL. Sorry. Okay. That’s all for now. I’m too emotional about Dan to continue. WAHHHHHH. DAN!!!!!! More soon! x

He's smiling because he found his one true love. (ME)
Oh Dan. I am ready to get married now.

Aug 3, 2013

Rome, Redentore, and Rusty. (Because They All Begin With R And Alliteration Is Cool)

July 14th-21st
Coliseum and I.
     Welcome back readers! And me in the future when I try and remember the cool stuffs that happened. Or not so cool. Like when I got to Rome and I had to charge my laptop in a department store in the train station on the floor because I couldn’t contact the CSers I was supposed to meet. Actually, to sum this bit up, they offered to let me share a rented apartment with them and then COMPLETELY flaked and didn’t even get back to me so I contacted Stefano who had offered to host me after I accepted the other offer. He was a lifesaver and picked me up not long after. He gave me enough time to wander before he came and I saw a few awesome places walking distance from the station. I do have to say that the first night was awesome because he took me around Rome on a scooter and everything was beautiful! Since it was my first time on a scooter, I was pretty scared for like five minutes until I decided to not be scared anymore. We visited St. Peter and the Pantheon while they were lit up and gorgeous. Speaking of gorgeous, we all had gelato and coffee after. I wanted peach which is pesce in Italian, but I pronounced it like pesche which means fish. The ice cream man looked at me like I just set my hair on fire. Funny moment. I will not forget those words now. Ever.
Rome, a Roman, and a Scooter.
     The next day, Stefano had to work so I went to see some highlights during the day including the Coliseum (where a gladiator high-fived me and I met some German girls briefly), the forum (where I was run over by a jerk with a stroller), and St. Peters by day (where I melted because you have to wear modest clothing and all I had were sweats and a jumper). All in all, I probably walked about twenty kilometers in about 40 Celsius heat. Okay okay. Sorry Americans. That’s about twelve miles and about 100 Fahrenheit. Better? K good. Stefano and I met after his work and then he took me out to a few places that night and even treated me to true mozzarella. Apparently there is only one that is actual mozzarella while the rest are imitators. Tasty.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
     In the morning, I again went to the city while Stefano worked and saw the Pantheon again and went to the same gelato place because it was so darn tasty. I also went to the Trevi fountain, Piazza Venezia where they have the tomb of the unknown soldier (biggest in the world), and Piazza Espagna where I climbed the Spanish steps. Rome is overwhelming. Overwhelmingly beautiful, overwhelmingly crowded, and overwhelmingly hot. I was glad for the evening when Stefano took me to the Roman Globe Theatre to see Romeo and Juliet in Italian. I loved it! Fantastic acting, great directing, and a wonderful way to bring my time in Rome to a close.
Throwing a Wish to the Trevi Fountain
St. Peters and Me Wearing the Dress Code
The Spanish Ste
The Pantheon and my face.

Look! Florence!
     My next stop? Florence. Firenze in Italian. I met my host Francesco at the station and we walked to his flat where he made pasta for dinner and then he took me through Florence for a night tour. It was beautiful and a nice break from Rome’s commotion. Francesco was super kind and we visited a massive gothic church then sat on a bridge admiring the view and talking for a long time before we went back for some sleep. While he worked the next day, I retraced our steps and then let myself wander into every open door.
Hey Mom! When I grow up,
I want to stand in front of a map and look cool.
     I think Florence has the most beautiful interiors of churches in Italy. They were all remarkable. While walking to another church, I stumbled upon an open market where I went crazy and bought many wonderful things for people I love. Including myself. I love me too! But sadly, it began to rain and I had to make my way back to Francesco’s place or risk melting. He lives across Ponte Vecchio which means old bridge and it really is old. There are even stores on the bridge still like in the middle ages. Francesco said they used to all be butcher shops, but when the river ran with blood, they decided to change the shops to gold stores. So… really glittery… really distracting. For dinner, we had pizza! And then sadly, I had to leave the next morning.
Venice! I swear I am wearing clothes.
     Don’t be too sad for me! Next on the itinerary was Venice! I arrived and immediately met a German girl, Lena, who walked with me all around Venice getting lost and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We found many nooks and crannies of Venice and coffee for 85 cents in the coolest little coffee shop. We walked over so many canals and bridges that I couldn’t distinguish one from the rest soon. Eventually, our wanderings took us to the more touristy part of the city and we visited San Marco cathedral/piazza. I tried to go in the exit, but I got caught. Still! I got to look inside for free. I declare Venice’s souvenirs the most beautiful in all of Italy. 
The Streets of Venice.
     With the carnival masks exploding from each store, covered in glitter, papier-mâché, and hand painted décor; there is really nothing like it. Venice quickly became one of my favorite cities. Lena had to leave and meet a friend and I had to go to the luggage locker to retrieve my free gondola ticket from Eurail, so we parted ways and I ran like a mad woman through the streets of Venice, dripping sweat and wild-eyed to arrive at the gondola booth and terrify the poor souls working there.
I like Canadians.
     Before actually going to the gondola, I wiped as much of the sweat from my body as I  could in the bathroom and made friends with the barman to get free water. I also stocked up on napkins just in case I sweat again. Yeah I know. Gross. But shut up cause I was in Venice and you weren’t! (Sob. I’m disgusting.) Anyway, on the gondola at last! I met a cool Indonesian guy and Brad and Jane from Canada. THEY SAY EH. Heh heh. The gondola ride was great and we took tons of pictures of each other and the gondolier. 
     After the ride, we walked the entire island of Venice together on accident because we went the wrong way. Oops. Jane and Brad ended up without a place to stay, so they just took an overnight train to Rome instead while I headed to Verona to meet with Nicole (Welsh girl I met in Milan), Alvaro, and Andre (a Mexican girl who I proceeded to call Lena the next two days because she didn’t correct me). Alvaro took us all to a viewpoint and we admired the city by night. We also walked by the opera house/mini coliseum building and I decided Verona was also one of my favorite cities. Because it was already quite late, the four of us headed to A’s place and went to bed.
Castle of Verona.
     The following day was among the most remarkable of my trip. It began with me preparing grilled cheese for breakfast, going back to Venice, dropping our bags with another CSer that was to host us that night, and me painting my fingernails black. Nothing too special so far, but then Nicole and I got lost on purpose, then met with Alvaro and a couple of his Venetian friends for drinks and aperitifs (like tapas or finger-food). They were really nice and fun to be around and come on! They were REAL VENETIANS! I even got to go inside their house and stand outside on the balcony. Cool huh? That night was special because it was the night of Redentore. Google it. Basically celebrated like the fourth of July. Alvaro’s friends took us out on their boat for beers, food, and fireworks. I could have died and went to Heaven. The experience was phenomenal and the fireworks were better than any I’ve ever seen in the US and lasted over a half hour! We had great conversation and a great time. Then Nicole got drunk and decided to leave with some other people. Okay. Weird but she is a big girl and can do whatever she wants. Lena (Really Andre) and I returned to the other CSers place and went to sleep dreaming of fireworks and beer.
The following morning, Lena and I met Nicole at the train station and then hurriedly kissed goodbye. Once again, I was on the move. Destination: Smare Sailing School in Leuca! Jellyfish and Gelato in the next post. Stay with me! Four days until I’m home! x

Redentore. How can life get any better than this?