Saturday, October 31, 2009


Holy Hannah! This was the craziest adventure yet...and that is saying something.

Sunday night: I was talking with Mom and Dad about plans for painting school. I have applied to the Florence Academy of Art, but am waiting to hear back (about 3 weeks to go...cross your fingers!). During this time of serious suspence, anxiet, doubt, etc., I have looked into other options. We decided that I would be able to make a better informed decision if I were to see the school in person and talk to masters, students, admins, etc.
So, I booked a ticket.

Monday: Ran into Frankfurt and met up with a friend from church, Dani.

(I received a request for pics of me...that is an awkward thing to accomplish when you travel by yourself...but I finally got one. See? I really am alive and well!)

(View of Frankfurt - the only German city, apparently, with a sygnificant skyline...this isn't the best example of it. Sorry...)

She is wonderful! We spent the afternoon just walking around the city and getting me ready for my trip. Thanks Dani!!!

5:00 pm: catch the shuttle to Frankfurt Hahn Airport

8:20 pm: arrive...2 hours late! Just (JUST) in time to catch my 9 pm flight.

10:30 pm: arrive in Pisa. The youth hostel where I had booked a room was supposed to pick me up. They didn't. Through the bustle, I had managed things so well that I had none of my itinerary, addresses, phone numbers, time tables, available. All I have to say is thank goodness for internet stations and taxis. I got there. I slept. Can't complain.

Tuesday: No phone = no alarm clock. Eh. At least I got some sleep! :-)

10:30 am: I took bus then a train into Florence (memo to me: one must verify one's ticket using the obscurly marked little yellow box at the end of the platform before boarding a train in Italy...otherwise those checking tickets get mad...)

12:00 pm: arrive, wander around the narrow narrow streets, try to ask for directions, and eventually wind up at my rather shady hostel. Drop off the backpack and head off to try and find the academy!

1:10 pm: FOUND IT! But students just started their figure drawing session, so I could only talk to the registrar for a few minutes and was told to come back at 4 (without a timepeace, mind you).

Enough of the play-by-play. I got there. The school was wonderful! I made friends immediately with a few of the students who told be that FAA even surpassed their expectations. Great! That helps narrow down options...

After I left the school, I had the rest of the evening to myself to explore:

There were SO many stinking bridges between my hostel and the school - maybe 6? Italian architecture and city planning seems to be MUCH different than German: more solid and angular, somewhat more colorful, and more packed! It was beautiful!

Here are the famous Baptistry and Bell Tower. I still can't get myself to admire this style as much as I am sure it deserves, but it truly was an impressive sight.


Here was a shocking moment for me. I had studied the Baptistry doors cast by Ghiberti in art history. I had been so impressed. Then I walked up to the doors, and saw this. Lovely, of course, but I felt like they were hardly awe-inspiring...

Then I walked around the corner and, BAM!

Oops, wrong doors. :-) There is no comparison! Oh, I am so glad I didn't miss them! I wish you could see how detailed, how precise each panel is. Each composition was perfect, and look how complex the figures in high relief are! And this had to go through the whole laborious and inexact process of bronze casting?!? OH! LOVE!

Here is, I believe,

1) Pont Verochio. A bridge lined on both sides with narrow shops, all/almost all of which sell ridiculously beautiful and outrageously priced jewelry. Would't expect have guessed that from the outside, would you?
2) Pitti Palace. I was too late to go in and see the gardens, but the square in the golden light was worth the walk.
3) Just a view from along the River Arno.

Narrow streets; inside a neoclassical church: more narrow streets.
I would just like to assert that I WAS in Italy, despite the random British flag which might lead you to believe otherwise. Odd...

The lonliest part of my trip was eating by myself in an empty little Italian restaurant. But it was calm, quiet, and warm, and the food was great - tortelinni with a lemon cream sauce. Mmmmm!

Along the river again. I fell in love with this arcade that lines the river side of the street right before you hit the Uffizi Galleries.

And here is the terrace on top of the Uffizi. Sorry, they don't let you take pictures of the interior, but believe me, the museum was AMAZING! That was my Wednesday activity. I got there when it opened and left just in time to catch my train back to Pisa, but could have done with a few more hours.

And below are views from the train:

Here is a marble quarry! Just randomly looming over a little town. Incredible!

Almost home. Though the list of things I like about flying has steadily dwindled over the past few years, I still have to say, I LOVE looking out the windows and seeing the world from a above.
This is Germany from some tens of thousands of feet above. Grandma, you were asking what the terrain was like. This pic is for you. See how organized and manicured even the forrests are? It is somewhat strange to see and very difficult to describe coming from the 'wild wild west' with our untamed landscape.

And clouds. How can something so unsubstantial as a cloud appear so...substantial? :-) Seeing layers of landscapes - earth, lower clouds, higher clouds - all at the same time is incredible - surreal even. I finally got over my self-conscious lameness (it's a little awkward taking pictures in planes...not sure why) and took some pictures.

9:00 pm: Home.
The end.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So, Nephi, this post is for you.

I've run into a number of ridiculously nice cars recntly.
For one, I drive a Mercedes van. Weird.

But then again, they are everywhere. One day, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the Mercedes symbol on the bus in back of me. I took a pick for you:

Then there was the lovely SUV I was dirven to church in be Melanie's mother - did you know Porsche makes SUVs? CRAZY - it just doesn't seem right! But, incase you suffered the same incredulity as I did, I made sure to take a pic for you the next time we visited her mother. Here you go:
(the car pic I took was lame, so here is a better one:
But my pic here is what caught my eye - I couldn't figure out the make...until I looked at the back and saw PORSCHE. I don't get it.

Then there are nutty dealers for Bently and Lamborghini that Sam pointed out on the way back to Bad Homurg from Frankfurt.

That's all. I just thought you would have had fun seeing them if you were here. I love you, and I miss you!