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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Here Comes the Rain (23 July 2010)

Tonight was opera night in Verona. Unfortunately, it was also stormy night in Verona. We’ll get to that story later.

Yesterday was our last trip to Florence. I was pretty excited since I’m not a big fan of it. It’s hot, sticky, and dirty. There are lots of great churches (San Maria del Fioria) and the David, but overall as a city, I think it blows. Before starting on our bi-weekly death march, the entire group headed up to the Piazza de Michelangelo for a group picture looking out beyond the city. I must say, for not liking Florence, the skyline is beautiful. I do believe I mentioned that in a blog a couple weeks ago. I took a fantastic panoramic of the city and a couple close-up shots of some awesomely large landmarks. I’m quite happy about the pictures I have taken and am incredibly happy with this camera. It’s done wonders!

After the group picture, MOST of the group got back on the bus to drive into the city. Who didn’t? Wouldn’t you know it, Bartlett’s group…our group. We had to walk up further from where we were to a church that sat on top of a few dozen stairs. Walking is fine. Up hills at this point in the trip are okay. But stairs? Still not prepared for those. There’s a totally different muscle group in use for that one! We hiked up the stairs and into this church and it was pretty amazing. Honestly? All of the churches have been. Bartlett has been really good with that. I’m not pissed off at all about seeing so many churches. Sure, they are all churches, but each one of them has a pretty interesting history and they all bring their own beauty to the city.

As we were heading back down the stairs we got a brilliant idea. One of the professors is putting together a slide show to present on Wednesday before dinner. We each are supposed to send in our top 5 pictures that sum up this trip. We thought of a pretty good one. What better way to sum up the death marches than this picture? Bartlett was standing at the top of the stairs laughing maniacally while we are all lying over, sprawled out on the stairs reaching out to him. Some of us were just lying across the stairs and one girl acted like she was pouting. Kayla took the picture so as soon as that’s posted, it’s being tagged!! I’m pretty excited about it!

Our Thursday was (as always) filled with fast walking and lots of churches. I was pretty excited to be over with that and get to the train station to Verona! Two of the girls in our group (Christina, Ellie, Ashley, Jessica, and me) got lost from their class and just met us at the train station. We took their bags from the train. We had a 5:30 EuroStar to Bologna and then a Regionale at 7:10 to Verona. We managed to make both trains and got to Verona at about 9 last night. From there we took cabs to the hotels. Ellie and I are staying in a Holiday Inn and the other girls are staying in Hotel Maxim. Our reservation there ended up falling through. :(

We dropped off the other girls first and then headed up the road to Holiday Inn. As we were pulling in, Scott and Nathan were walking out. We walked up to the desk and I handed the guy my passport. He typed into his little computer and nothing. He said there was no reservation. My heart stopped and I thought I was about to cry. Apparently there are two Holiday Inns in Verona. Now, I know, for a DAMN certain, I clicked on the Holiday Inn that was near Hotel Maxim. That way we could be closer to the other girls. Ummm, no. Apparently my reservation was at the other one, about 3 miles down there road, on the outskirts of the city. Hello, lots of taxi fare!

Despite all the crap that we encountered so far, Ellie and I were very glad to get into our hotel room where we have SOME A/C, but a VERY tiny shower. I miss our hostel in Sorrento!! We ordered room service last night (which cost an addition 7.50 Euros on top of the food) and started to watch a movie on my laptop. We hit the hay pretty quick. Traveling is pretty exhausting.

This morning we woke up, had breakfast down stairs, and headed to Verona to wander. That was a 20 euro taxi fare. Ugh. We were supposed to meet the other girls around 10, but they had issues with getting a taxi. So Ellie and I wandered. We did go into a few churches on our own. Bartlett was very proud of us. Some were pretty remarkable!! One of them, St. Anastasia, we had to pay for, but it was beautiful on the inside. Very gothic church. We ended up meeting up with the girls shortly after.

I can’t believe I’m actually going to admit to this, but we did go see Juliet’s balcony and house. No, it’s not like in the movie, Letters to Juliet. That part was not shot in Verona. The walls are COVERED in writing and the place is constantly packed. Also, you cannot put notes into the cracks in the wall. There’s a guard rail around it. The girls took pictures with the statue of Juliet that we literally had to elbow people out of the way to get to. We did go into the house which was actually pretty lame. Ellie didn’t go up so she took a picture of us on the balcony. The only cool part of the house was the bed and costumes from the 1968 movie. There was one room set up with computers where you could email Juliet. Wow. We went into the gift shop and I’ve never been more amazed to see so much Romeo and Juliet paraphernalia. For being a fake story, it’s pretty ridiculous how real some of these people take it. And no, I did not buy anything.

Ellie headed back to the hotel for a little nap and to get ready for the OPERA!! A group of us got tickets to see Carmen. I did buy the script (and English translation) book at the Romeo and Juliet store, but that was out of necessity. We got all dolled up and headed out to meet up with everyone. We had dinner with the other girls and some other friends that were in town. We rushed over to the Arena (an open-air ANCIENT arena) just in time for the wind to start blowing in. It seriously felt like a tornado was coming in! The sky was getting darker by the minute and the wind was picking up. We went up to our seats which were almost to the top. If you can imagine, the wind was worse up there. Luckily, they sell ponchos in the stands. We armed ourselves with a little bit of insurance. Even if it didn’t rain, it would be worth the 5 Euros.

We waited for about an hour. The orchestra started to warm up. The wind kept up and there was awesome lightening in the sky…which is kind of scary. As long as the rain held off, the SHOW MUST GO ON! Well…it went about 5 minutes in and the heavens opened and rain came down. It was CRAZY! We huddled up under our ponchos in the fetal position for a good 20 minutes. Running under the seating didn’t help most people because once the covered area underneath was filled, no one else could get in. So we waited it out. It was so cold and at one point the rain came down so hard it was painful!! It was kind of a frightening moment.

When the rain stopped they announced that they would clean up the stage, get the orchestra back out (they booked it to get out of the rain) and would start back up. About 30 minutes later they picked up where they left off. Fifteen minutes later…more RAIN! At least it was only for about 5 minutes. But regardless, the orchestra had to book it again. Thirty minutes later they announced they’d clean up the stage and come back out. The actors were coming out on stage as the orchestra was warming back up. I swear the orchestra felt two drops of rain and we just see them book it again. Then…the rain. Five more minutes of it and finally we gave up. We headed back to the hotel. Shortly after they finally canceled it. You’d think that if this was something that happens often, they’d try to install at least a tarp that can be pulled over the orchestra so they don’t have to haul ass off the stage. It’s kind of ridiculous for them.

We saw 15 minutes of the show, which is kind of a bummer. There’s no “rain check” here. I really wanted to see it. But now we’re back in our hotel where it’s nice and warm, yet slightly cool with the A/C. I’ll sleep well tonight! Tomorrow we get up early to head to Venice. We’re going to try to find the Hard Rock Café there. American food. MMmmmm….

¡Ciao!

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