28 April 2005

Finland!

I made it to Finland in one piece. No big surprises there. I did, however, spend the marjority of the day traveling yesterday. And got lost in Helsinki because someone lied to me. Me: Is this the train station? Stupid lady who may or may not have been Finnish: No. LIAR! It was the train station. Luckily, some nice Finnish woman helped me out. We're just going to assume the lady who lied to me wasn't Finnish, because I've been told they're all supposed to be nice. As a means of comfort, I reminded myself of what my mother always says, "liars go to hell." So, some of you may be wondering why I'm in Finland, besides the fact that Don goes to school here. Well, I also have some 'family' here. Paulina Rossi was an exchange student who stayed with my Uncle Dale and Aunt Cheryl. Like most of our exchange family members, we've remained close to her. The last time I saw her was about 8 years ago at Pam's wedding. Anyway, I decided that I would have to visit her when I came to see Don. She lives just outside of Helsinki with her husband, Ahti, and their 4 children. Tomorrow we are going to Helsinki to stay with them until Sunday. And here's something to impress everyone_I've been to the largest building in Finland! Impressive, I know. Don's apartment building is the largest Finnish building. Which, you might say it was a shame to waste that honor on such a building, but whatever. I've seen worse, I guess. It's better than the house he lived in last semester. More later when there's more to write about.

25 April 2005

So that's what that thing is...


csa_bldg
Originally uploaded by holacola.
This is the view from my dorm window. Everyday, for the last 2 months, I have looked at this building and wondered, "hey, what the heck is going on in there?" Now I know. This building is the Czech Airlines office, namely the sales & booking office. How did I figure this out you ask? Well, I'm flying to Finland on Wednesday, and I ordered my tickets online. I said I would pick them up at the sales office because I saw that it was in the same district as my dorm. Turns out the darn thing is right behind my dorm! Can I get to it through the courtyard/parking lot? No, but that's ok. Not much else to blog. Finally making progress on studio, and my professor seems to be pleased. Have to do some laundry and reading for other classes. Tomorrow holds classes and packing. Then, I'm off to Finland on Wednesday to see Don! Yeah, it's only been about 2 weeks since I saw him last, but I sure do miss him. Will give some more info about Finland tomorrow.

24 April 2005

How are the purple berries, Ralph? Good?


green_prague
Originally uploaded by holacola.
So yesterday I went to take pictures for my photography project. This is of the green [who knew it] ravine below the castle where the moat once was. Not only is it remarkable that I went on a wilderness hike of my own free will, but this is actually the second time this week. My language partner, Radim, took me here earlier in the week on our weekly excursion. There is this great tunnel under the entrance to the castle which was designed by a Czech architect. It won the 2004 award for brick construction in Europe. It's great. Really fun space. Until you enter it, it appears to be your average gigantic drain culvert.
Anyway, I doubt today will be so exciting. I have to work on the dreaded studio project. In case you didn't know, I'm in an urban design studio this semester, which is like regular studio, but bigger. To top it off, I have ZERO urban planning/design experience or knowledge. I'm pretty lost, but hopefully I can manage to pass. However, it does beat doing the same thing I have been for the last 7 semesters.


tunnel_3
Originally uploaded by holacola.

tunnel_1
Originally uploaded by holacola.

22 April 2005

Where's your flair?


I just wanna dance
Originally uploaded by holacola.
I should be ashamed, but I'm not. Last night, I ate dinner at TGI Friday's. Had a skillet dinner consisting of grilled pork loin, rice, green beens, and tomatoes with pico-de-gaio. Drank a Shirley Temple!!!! and had an ice cream Oreo dessert. It was delicious and also ridiculously expensive. I paid $18. Amazing what you'll do for old favorites.
The weekend brings homework, and supposedly warm weather. Plan to work on my final project for photography. Haven't decided what I'm doing yet. I have 3 options. Since I know you kiddies like pretty pictures, I'm posting the collage I made for my first photo project. And, you can see that I have, indeed, done some work here. [Click on the picture to view larger] Oh, and for those of you who seem to need incentive to visit my blog [you know who you are, Lee Perry!], how about a comment every once in a while. It's not nice to be selfish with my blog. Contribute.

21 April 2005

absence

So, hopefully most of you have brought yourselves up to speed on my fabulous Italian excursion. If not, you'll have to see the rest of the posts on this page, and some in the archives. As you may have concluded, I had a wonderful time. Infact, I wish I could just travel instead of going to classes. Such is life. Started doing homework since I haven't really done any up until now. Little frustrated with the school 'system' here this week. Not much I can do about it. As long as I pass, all will be well. And if not, at least I had fun in Europe, right? I'll keep telling myself that.
Pretty homesick this week. Really miss all my friends, and am sad they will be gone next year. Not that I don't love my architecture friends, but I will really miss my Seaman and Classy Cat and roommate friends! It will be the first time in 17 years that I haven't gone to school with some of them! The weather in Prague has been a little chilly again. It's supposed to be warming up, but nothing in the 60's yet. The past few weeks it was warm, but I don't know what happened. The Scottish presentation was last night, and most of it was pretty boring, until John and Greig's dance at the end. They both wore skirts [not kilts], sparkly jackets, and sunglasses. Not to mention that John was sporting his new 'do_the mullet/afro/mohawk. It was so rad! I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Note to self_take pictures of the people I talk about to post online. Going to Finland next Wednesday to see Don for 5 days. Looking forward to it.
Oh, and for those of you wondering, here's what I got for my birthday_scrapbook for our italy trip, pearl ring, and gondola ride from Don_travel/hiking backpack from my mom [let's be honest, I won't ever use it for hiking], plus chocolate and granola bars!_some money from my Dad and grandparents_love and good wishes in emails and facebook posts! Love and miss you all!

17 April 2005

Look out world


Hotel Lory
Originally uploaded by holacola.
Here are all the stories from my 10 day trip to Italy with Don. We had an amazing time, and wish we could stay in Italy forever.
April 6
Don flies from Tampere, Finland to Frankfurt, Germany. Seems the hostel Charis found for him is in the red light district of Frankfurt. Thanks alot, Charis! Made for some interesting stories, though. I boarded the bus from Prague to Frankfurt and rode overnight.
April 7
Don met me at the train/bus station in the morning. Spent the day walking around dowtown Frankfurt - there's only so much to see. A british architect named Norman Foster designed a building there, and that was about all there was to note. Took the 2 hour bus ride from downtown Frankfurt to the small airport that we flew out of, in Hahn. Because we flew on Ryanair, a cheap airline, we had to fly out of the small airport. It was quite the experience, because our Irish pilot gets on the PA and tells us a 5 minute story about why the plane was delayed. So that was funny, but then, instead of a normal airplane, the seats for Ryanair planes are fake leather, and have bright yellow plastic on the back of the seats. The whole flight, you stare at the emergency instructions that are pasted to the seat in front of you. We sat right in front of the wing, so we could hear the engine humming. And it's like a circus, because people just get up and walk around during the flight. Very amusing, but for 0.66 euros each way, who can complain! Arrived in Forli, Italy around 11:30 pm. Took taxi from airport to Hotel Lory [this was my first taxi ride!]. Was pleasantly surprised by our hotel. Don made the booking online, without seeing any pictures. It was listed as a 2 star hotel, but was very nice! When we got there, they didn't have a reservation written down for us, but we got a room anyway. Had to point to phrases in my Italian phrasebook. Although we couldn't speak any Italian yet, it was still easier to communicate than in the Czech Republic. And the people were very friendly and helpful.
April 8
This picture is the view out the hotel window. Forli was such a cute town. Walked through several markets to find the train station. Saw a church filled with people watching the Pope's funeral. Ate at a little sandwich and coffee cafe while waiting for train. Saw Alfa Romeo's all over the place! Wished I had mine to drive. Rode a train for the first time ever [sorry Uncle Dale, I'm not counting the Decatur County fair train as a real one]. Caught the train from Bologna to Florence to meet Don's mother, Cynthia, stepfather, Dean, and stepsister, Melanie. The countryside between Bologna and Florence was beautiful_full of mountains and hills. When we arrived in Florence, Don's family wasn't there yet. So, we left our bags at the hotel and set out to explore Florence. Was really fun. Saw the Duomo, Ufizzi courtyard, Michelangelo's David statue, the Ponte Vecchio [bridge full of houses], and lots of other famous beautiful stuff. Ate at a mediocre restaurant. I'm sure it's hard to find the good ones in Florence, since it's such a big city. Anyway, the city was beautiful at night.

I have been to Heaven-I have been to Siena, Italy.


siena_arch
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 9 & 10
WOW! Took train to Siena and was amazed! So surprised at how beautiful it is. Stayed in a hotel that was once an estate. Very homey. Not only are the countryside views gorgeous, but the whole town is just amazing as well. Everything is preserved and the spaces and the streets just feel so cool. The large square is amazing_it slopes down towards a big government house, and is filled with people. The Italians really know how to design a public square, and they're successful for hundreds of years. The weather was rainy, but it didn't matter. Don bought me a fun little pearl ring at a jewelry store, and we stopped in a wine bar and drank Chianti out of the biggest wine glass in the world. Whole family ate at a restaurant that was very good and very small. Spent Sunday morning walking around Siena, before heading back to Florence. Weather was cold and rainy again. Rode bus back to Florence. Rested in hotel room before eating dinner at pizza place down the street. The 5 star hotel was where Cynthia's conference was supposed to be, but it was cancelled. They decided to keep the reservations anyway. It was amusing because everything cost an arm and a leg [30 euros for continental breakfast], but the windows leaked. We played cards in the room after dinner and drank a bottle of chianti. Was a fun time.

Firenze to Venezia


duomo tower
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 11
Spent the morning in Florence walking around with Cynthia and looking at some of the famous buildings. Saw Santa Maria Novella, which was filled with beautiful art_the famous artist Michaelangelo is buried there. Then, went inside the Duomo, which is a really large cathedral with a huge dome. It was the first of it's kind and an engineering marvel. Also saw Ospedale, by Bernini, which is a building that marks the beginning of the Renaissance period of architecture. Train ride from Florence to Venice was beautiful! Was really interesting between Bologna and Venice, because the landscape looked like western Kansas! Very flat farm fields with grain silos and barns. Weather turned from sunny in Florence to overcast to rainy in Venice. Arrived in Venice, took water taxi to side of island that our hotel was on. Don navigated the narrow little streets to find our hotel. The room was so small, I guess like most hotels in Venice. There was room for 2 twin beds, 2 feet on each side, an armoir, and the door. The bathroom was more like a camper bathroom, as it was only 3 feet wide, max. It was very cozy and cute. Ate at a little family restaurant recommended in my guide book. Food was amazing! We were the only English speakers in the restaurant, which was our first clue that it would be good. Had salad, canneloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and asparagus, and fried calimari, cuttlefish and prawns. Plus the house red wine and tiramisu for dessert. Now before, I was not fond of asparagus or calimari, mostly because I had never had any that was good. However, the asparagus was full of flavor, and the calimari wasn't rubbery at all and was also quite tasty! So delicious! Walked back to hotel over the Rialto bridge, and heard a man playing his guitar [actually, I think you call it a lyre or something, but it was pretty].

Bella


domes
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 12
Great spring day. A few morning sprinkles made for a nice day. Decided to fill the day with buildings. Went to Querini Stampalia to see the work of Carlo Scarpa, one of our favorite architects. Also saw his Olivetti showroom. Then, we headed to several different churches that were rumored to be beautiful inside. They were, and as we were sitting in one sketching, several people walk in, is suits and dresses, and the women were holding flowers. An American couple was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows in Venice. Their closest friends came, too. We got to watch their little ceremony. It was so sweet. Walked around some more, and I was distracted by some goodies in a store window. It was the studio of a local artist, who makes lights and mirrors and other pieces of art. Bought a small mirror from him. His website, if you want to see some of his pieces, is www.amanovenezia.com Watched the sunset from a small boat dock. Decided to try restaurant in my book that was labeled "creative cuisine." The restaurant was called La Zucca, and they had a menu full of vegetable dishes that were grown in the Venetian gardens, as well as a fine selection of meat and seafood. The food was amazing! Might have been the best meal we had the whole time. Lent my phrasebook to the couple next to us who were having trouble translating the menu. Turns out they're from Wales and were vegetarians. They said they had been disappointed with the lack of vegetarian friendly meals in Venice. Were very nice people. We talked to them for a while, and they offered for us to stay at their house if we're in South Wales this semester. Walked home and came across the man playing his guitar again. Good ending to fun and busy day.

Happy Birthday


gondola_bw
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 13
Beautiful sunshiney day in Venice! Went to San Marco to see the inside. Cool, but not as beautiful as some other churches we've seen. Decide to go to one of the smaller islands, either Murano or Burano, and walk in the direction of the ferry station. Got lost and ended up in an area close to the train station. No big deal, the day was beautiful and we got to see other parts of Venice. Rode water taxi to Murano and saw one of the glass factories. Also saw alot of beautiful glass pieces we couldn't afford. Returned to Venice and walked around some more. Found a quiet place to sit and painted some watercolors. Don took me on a gondola ride for my birthday. It was fun, and our gondolier kept shouting to other gondoliers and singing sometimes. Was a cool way to see part of Venice. Ate at another restaurant recommended in my guide book. Had seafood menu, and we ate some pasta with shrimp and some more fried calimari. Very good. Also had tiramisu and meringue cake for dessert. Saw man playing his guitar again, and stopped to check it out this time. Bought two of his CD's. Walked through San Marco Piazza at night and stopped to sit and watch. This was definately the most memorable birthday I've had thus far. Thanks everyone, for sending me birthday emails and messages. I really appreciate everyone thinking of me while I'm gone. Great last night in Venice.

Ciao, Venice


gondola_sunset
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 14
Woke up to another beautiful day in Venice. Checked out of Hotel Ateneo and boarded water taxi to train station. Put ticket stubs and other items into scrapbook on train ride. Spent a few hours in Bologna walking around to kill time before we headed to Forli to catch our plane. Found some great old buildings in Bologna, including a church that had a piece from the year 100! Pretty cool. I think it's the oldest thing I've ever seen. Rode train to Forli and caught bus to airport. Met an American in the airport who is a retired United Airlines pilot and had just spent a few days at the Ferrari factory watching Formula 1 testing. He was very nice and interesting to talk to. Decided to get a room near the Frankfurt-Hahn airport instead of riding the bus for 2 hours to stay in the red-light district again. Good thing we did, because Don had to leave earlier than we thought the next day. This place was much cleaner than the other one, anyway.

Language confusion


Santo Stefano
Originally uploaded by holacola.
April 15 &16
Spent a few hours in the Frankfurt-Hahn airport with Don before his flight back to Finland. Was a sad goodbye. We had so much fun that it was hard to leave each other. But, at least I'm going to Finland soon, so we should survive. Waited for bus into Frankfurt city. During my wait, I saw a man wearing a jacket with a powercat on it. I asked the family if they were from Kansas, and they said they used to live there. Anyway, told them I was a KSU student studying in Prague, and they said that they had lived in Manhattan for 13 years, but have lived in Germany for the past 3 [military]. The bus situation was a little confusing, and a girl came up to me and asked which bus went into Frankfurt City. I wasn't sure, but we figured it out and ended up sitting together. She's from South Africa but lives in London now and was going to Frankfurt to visit her boyfriend. Stowed my bag in a locker at the train station, and set out to find something to do in downtown Frankfurt. Found the mall and spent a few hours in the Esprit store! Very fun. Killed some more time and ate. At this point in my trip, I had been using about 4 different languages, and was starting to get them all confused. I know how to say "do you speak English" in about 5 different languages now. Then caught my bus back to Prague. I might add that this bus ride was one of the most miserable transportation experiences of my life, mostly due to the fact that the bus was full, and I was sandwiched between several obese people. And there were some hooligans at the back of the bus that talked the entire time [I believe they may have been intoxicated]. Anyway, I made it home to Prague in one piece. Slept for several hours yesterday, as the bus ride provided little slumber. Time to do laundry and catch up on homework, etc. Was a really great trip and had the time of my life. One I won't soon forget. It was also really great that I could share it with Don, partly the reason it was so much fun, I think.

05 April 2005

pasta and gondolas, here i come!

Yep, tomorrow night at 10 pm [Prague time] my bus leaves and I'll be on my way to Italy [via Frankfurt]. Meeting Don in Frankfurt Thursday morning, and we'll spend the day exploring Frankfurt, then we fly to Bologna, Italy on Thursday night. Stay in Forli, Italy [that's where the Bologna airport actually is] on Thurs. Travel to Florence Friday morning, meet Don's mom, stepdad and stepsister there. Sienna on Saturday and part of Sun. Back to Florence for Sun. night. Monday morning, Don and I travel to Venice! Spend 3 nights in Venice, including my 22nd birthday on Wednesday! On the 14th, will return to Bologna to make journey back to Prague. Hopefully we'll be far enough from Rome that the funeral activities won't affect our trip. I'll be back in Prague on April 16, so I'll have lots of new pictures and stories.
As for Prague lately, let's see..... Photography class on Monday was good. We learned about lighting techniques, and we had an assignment due. The assignment was to take a picture of an object at a very close distance, so that only a portion of the object was visible. Then, we were supposed to manipulate the image, either digitally or with the lens to make 36 different images. Anyway, I chose a strawberry for my object, and manipulated one single image using Photoshop. It was very Andy Warhol, and the teacher liked it alot, so that was good. It's nice to have a class that's different than the usual. Um, the weather here has been very nice, 64 for the last 3 days. Don't know much else for now.

04 April 2005

Vote NO, please

Now usually, I'm not that politically 'involved' or vocal, but this is something I really believe in. For all of you Kansas voters, please vote NO tomorrow against the Kansas Marriage Ammendment. Despite what your beliefs are about homosexuals, this law discriminates against a larger group of people, not just gay couples. It would eliminate common law marriage, among other things. I realize that the beauty of our country is that we are all free to vote as we please, and that is the value of our democratic system. But think about it. Do you believe that discrimination is wrong? Would you want someone to force their different beliefs upon your life and daily choices? Would you want someone harrassing you like you were a social paraih if they didn't know you and you hadn't harmed anyone? Is it a 'brotherly love' quality to turn fellow humans into outcasts? This should not be a religious issue, especially since it involves goverment. Not only is it uncostitutional, but if you consider yourself to be a decent and loving human being, then voting for this law should be against your code of conduct. When will people start worrying about their own lives and actions instead of concerning themselves with the lives of others? When will politicians realize that funding our public schools and healthcare are more important than wasting our tax dollars to support discrimination? Please help keep the goverment out of everyone's personal lives, and vote NO.

By the way, I'm doing fine, not much to blog about right now. Going to Italy in a few days, will blog more later. This was most important to me, though.