Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall 2011 Trips...so far

So far we've taken the Fall class on two trips, and they've survived 10 Day on their own.  And so far they haven't given us any major problems and they have been really fun to travel with.  Our first trip was to Campania where we visited Monte Casino, Pompeii, Paestum, and the Amalfi Coast.  The second was the Greece trip.  Right now we are gearing up for Northern Italy (we leave in less than 36 hours!)  And as I was running around frantically trying to get everything done that has to get done in order to ship out 109 students, not to mention packing my own stuff, I realized that I should probably recount for you those first two trips of the semester.

This semester we mixed things up on the Campania trip which was great.  We stayed in Paestum at a really nice hotel instead of at our usual place outside Naples.  And we took a day long cruise up the coast with stops in Amalfi and Positano which was a huge hit with both staff and students.

This semester's Greece trip started off a bit rocky with screwed up bus lists and missing passports, but after the first day things fell into place.  Dr.Hatlie changed up the itinerary a bit.  We left out of Ancona, Italy and landed at Igoumenista, Greece.  Our first stops where the archaeological site of Dodona and the Greek Orthodox Monasteries of Meteora.  The monasteries were amazing.  They are located on top of huge sandstone pillars and used to only be reached by baskets pulled up by ropes.  Due to an ankle injury suffered playing soccer barefoot just before the trip, Ryan could not climb up to the monasteries but I did and I loved them.  The view was incredible.  Our bus driver was very eager to point out that a scene from the Roger Moore James Bond film "For Your Eyes Only" was filmed at Meteora.  After visiting the monasteries we stopped for a photo op and to let our kids rock climb.  Needless to say I was a nervous wreck envisioning them falling hundreds of feet to the rocks below.  And I was not alone, Joey couldn't even look at the students he was so worried.  In the end we got a great photo and everyone made it back on the buses in one piece.

After Meteora it was on to the usual stops; Delphi, Athens, Nafplion, and Olympia.  The day we left Athens for Nafplion there were some major strikes planned.  The sites and museums that we were scheduled to visit were all closed, so while the Greeks were rioting in Syntagma Square ours students got a whole free day at the beach.  Which was pretty sweet for them, and us.

The rest of the Greece trip was uneventful.  We ended in Olympia, where Ryan was unfortunately unable to defend his title as Men's Foot Race Champion due to his aforementioned ankle injury (but at least he did not throw up from over exertion this time.)  I always enjoy the Greece trip and cannot wait to go back next semester.  Gyros, saganaki, and loukoumades await!

(I will have to post pictures from the trips later.  Right now I need to do laundry for Northern Italy!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sardegna

Because we had so many visitors over the summer, Ryan and I did not get a chance to take a real summer vacation.  We made up for it by sneaking away one weekend in September to Sardegna.  Silvia (our business manager) and Sergio own a small condo on the northern end of the island in a place called Stintino.  They graciously offered to let us stay there on our trip and we cannot thank them enough.  We hopped a 45 minute flight from Ciampino, rented a car, and were in paradise.
The condo.
The view from the front porch.

Looking down to the beach.
The beach.

The beaches were white, the water was crystal clear, and the people were way tanner than either of us.  Despite not being one of the bronzed beautiful people, I had a  fantastic time, laying out on the beach, reading, swimming etc.  Ryan on the other hand had a slight run in with some of the wildlife which put a damper on his beach experience.  Literally within the first five minutes of being in the water Ryan was stung on the neck by some kind of jellyfish.  He had decided it would be a good idea to swim out to where the water turned dark blue and see why that was (see above picture.)  It was out in the dark blue water that Ryan was so viciously attacked.  Meanwhile, I lay oblivious on the beach soaking up the sun, though I quickly sensed something was wrong as Ryan came roaring out of the water loudly uttering a string of obscenities aimed towards all marine life.  It was actually a pretty bad sting (the welt lasted for several weeks), but after his initial outburst Ryan soldiered on with only a few threats of never vacationing at a beach ever again.

The sting.
So pitiful.
But...still enjoying himself.
We will vacation at the beach again or else
Ryan is in for a very unhappy marriage.

During our stay we visited the town of Alghero and had dinner at an out of this world agriturismo.  An agriturismo is generally a working farm that has B&B like accommodations and a restaurant that serves only what the farm (or nearby farms) produce.  The place we went is called Sa Mandra.  They served us roast suckling pig that basically changed my world.  I can't even begin to describe the juicy tenderness of the meat and the crispy saltiness of the roasted skin.  Needless to say if you ever go to Sardegna you have to check this place out.

Alghero at sunset.

The piggies!
Mouth watering....
Excitedly waiting for my roast suckling pig!

Ta-dah!  It was amazing.
It was just an incredible trip.  It was so great to get away and relax in such a beautiful place, even if it was only for a few days.  Thank you so much Silvia and Sergio!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A new semester, new students, & new RA's

I can't believe the semester is already half over!

Things have gone really well so far.  And with 3 new RA's and 110 students that's saying something. 

I do really miss Jon, Mary, and Hannah though.  Living and working with someone for a year in Rome can go one of two ways; you either come out really liking each other or, well, not.  Luckily for us we all clicked really well and the result was an awesome year of work, fun, and friendship.

Jon, Mary, and Hannah; I wish you all the best in your current endeavors.  Know that you are greatly missed here in Rome.

Here are some highlights of our time together... (I tried to get them in chronological order and failed.  Sorry.)

Ryan's homemade limoncello.
Gyros in Delphi.
Med kits!
On our way to a wine tasting in Tuscany.  Poor Jon.
The infamous Tex poster in the back of the raper van
with the presidential mattress.
Beer pong at the forno over 10 day.  (Don't tell the students.)
Burgers and beer at Open Baladin.
Mary was on her second burger here, haha!
Hannah freezing her bum off at the Geek Olympics.
SANGRIA!
Oh, the night we put the lamb's head in Hannah's bed:)
Enjoying Old Bridge with Hannah right after she arrived in Rome.
Fire Safety training...this was after Jon almost
burned down campus:)
More Fire Safety...this was after Ryan wrecked the car.
Jon with a fruity drink...standard.
Croquet & mint julips.
Note: Never play croquet with Jon Polce.
He will repeatedly send your ball  into the vineyard.


"Ever been on a boat before?"

video
Towards the end of the spring semester we really got into playing Scategories.  So much so that there were penalties imposed on the losers of the round.  In this case, having to eat tablespoons of Tabasco.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Playing Catch Up...Summer 2011

Alright, time for me to catch you all up on what has been happening here in Roma.

The summer was busy but fantastic.  It was FULL of visitors which we loved!  Here is a quick run through.


First my Grandpa came to visit us for a week.  We toured around Rome, saw the Pope, celebrated Ryan's bday, and enjoyed the beautiful Castelli.  Grandpa has a very old and dear friend who lives in Via Reggio, Italy so he was able to go and spend a week with him.  All in all it was a wonderful visit and we were really happy that Grandpa could make it.


After Grandpa left the UD Trustees showed up.  There was lots of work involved but also lots of good food at some of Rome's best restaurants.

Ryan's Uncle Mark, Aunt Karen, and cousin Lauren were the next to visit.  Ryan led us all on a death march tour of the city.  I think we literally walked from Trastevere to the Villa Borghese and back.  But we managed to soothe our sore feet with plenty of good wine and good food.  (Notice a trend here?  Basically we just eat and drink our faces off.)


Next came the newlyweds, Carrie and Cory AND Shane and Gena.  Both couples stopped through Rome on their honeymoons and paid us a visit.  LOTS OF FUN!



My mom, dad, and brother Danny arrived just two days later.  They stayed with us for two weeks and we got a four day trip to Tuscany in.  It was awesome to see my family, travel around Italy with them, and have them see the Rome campus for the first time.


The summer wrapped up with visit from Teddy & Caitlyn!


There is definitely no rest for the weary, but we were delighted to have so many visitors.  We even managed to go see the Beach Volleyball World Championships and fit in a 4th of July party for our Italian friends.  (Did I mention hanging out with Joe Montana while in line for St. Peter's?)

Misty May & Kerri Walsh




Joe Montana

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Things I currently like...

Just a few things I like at the moment, in no particular order.

Peter Lee Johnson.  Check out his music on Youtube or on his blog.  He does violin covers of pop songs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLosf1gOCKw

Thread Ethic.  Two sisters from the The 5 Browns have a fashion blog called Thread Ethic.  They are all about current runway trends that are suitable for the girl who does not want to bare it all.  I don't know if I would wear everything come up with but they do have some cool outfits/ideas.
http://threadethic.com/

My new JCrew necklace.  Ryan is still unsure about it but I love it.


Homemade lemonade.  Lemons are dirt cheap here and there is no Country Time so we (Ryan) have been squeezing our own lemonade.  Perfect!

Prosecco by the pool.  Pretty self explanatory.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

24 Hour Forno: VIDEOS

Video #1:  Ryan being "amazing."  You have no idea how many takes this took to get right.  They are all super funny but alas I am having enough trouble uploading the good video as it is so I will have to save the bloopers for another time.  You will note Jon's excitement at finally getting a good take.
video


Video #2:  Jon Polce's magic trick.  It will blow your mind.
video



Video #3:  The grand finale.  Sorry if we look a little worse for the wear.
video



24 Hour Forno

(Note: This post a is a LONG time in coming.  I think I have about 4 posts in the draft phase right now.  My apologies to Jon and  Ryan.)

Summer is not all fun and games around here.  Though I must say there is nothing quite like coming back to campus after dropping the students off at the airport.  The delayed exhaustion from the semester is slowly setting in and the campus is so quite and serene.  All you want to do is make a gin and tonic and sit on the lawn listening to the quiet.  That lasts for a few days and then it is back to work.  This summer the bottom floor of the villa is getting redone, so work meant boxing up books and moving furniture.  Then it was on to cleaning out the RA offices and prepping them for the various summer programs.


After all this taxing manual labor Ryan decided we should unwind with a 24 Hour Forno.  What is 24 Hour Forno you might ask.  It is 24 straight hours spent at the Forno, cooking, drinking, playing games, and keeping the fire roaring.

We started at 12noon on Saturday and went till 12noon on Sunday.  Three of us managed to stay the full 24 hours but we had lots of friends popping in and out, mixing things up.  Here is a recap...

Lunch...hot dogs (Hebrew National bc Kosher hot dogs are the ONLY way to go) and burgers complete with American bacon, dill pickles, and cheddar compliments of Jon Polce's friend who is stationed at a military base outside of Venice.  You have no idea how exciting this was!

Then it was on to bocce and dinner preparations.

Dinner...pizza! Ryan has a reputation for over buying on the food and true to form he went out and bought 10 kg of pizza dough from a local bakery.  THAT'S 22 LBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He was instructed to put it in the fridge to keep it from growing too much.  Unfortunately that did not work so well and the dough broke through the two plastic bags it was in and grew to the size of a 6 yr old.  When Ryan opened the fridge to get a beer it was like attack of The Blob.  In the end we managed to overpower the dough and make some delicious pizzas.


The Champions League Final was on that night so there was brief pause for some soccer watching and then it was back to the forno for s'mores.  It was the first time our Italian friends had ever heard of or had a s'more so that was pretty fun.

As the night wore on we kept ourselves awake with various games (yahtzee, darts) and movie making.  See below...











I had planned on going to bed whenever I got tired.  Surprisingly I was still going strong at 3am and decided that I should bite the bullet and stay up for the whole thing.  6am on was the hardest for me, and for Ryan and Jon too.  The sun had risen and the novelty was starting to wear off.  (And we had been joined by a particular resident of campus who came to see the sun rise but then stayed passionately talking non-stop for an hour or so about the decline of our university and the need for us all to stand and fight.)  Our saving grace was when other people started showing up for breakfast.  They provided us the infusion of energy we needed to make it though the last several hours.

Ryan's sun salutations.


Breakfast...for breakfast we made breakfast pizza.  Yum!  By this point in time Ryan, Jon and I were practically delirious from lack of sleep and over consumption of caffeine/red wine.  The Watermaidens arrived and surveyed the scene somewhat disapprovingly.  They asked me how I could let my husband do such a thing as a 24 Hour Forno and why would I partake in it.  To which I had no real answer other than "Well, he's not hurting anyone..."  (I don't think I will tell them about Farmapalooza.)

And FINALLY is was noon again.  24 hours spent at the forno. The whole campus turned up for the final moments.  It was almost like waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve in Times Square.  There was a countdown and we celebrated with a champagne shower.  Then it was off to bed for the next two days.

I am trying to post the videos from 24 HR Forno, they should be in the next post.