Go, Kristi!!!

My travels through life and the world.

Perugia to Florence: 2 women and 200 pounds of luggage! June 15, 2012

Filed under: Countryside,Daily Life,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 1:03 pm

Diana (my sister) was studying abroad in Perugia this semester to work on her Italian and I decided to meet her a couple days early for two reasons: 1. I don’t get to see her alone very much, and I thought it would be fun to hang out in Italy; 2. I wanted to help her get her luggage to Florence where we’d meet the rest of the family. Here’s a picture of us in Perugia. She (as usually) looks adorable whereas I look like junk. Oh well!



It was cool hanging out with her in her own space. I met her fantastic friends, and we took lots of scenic pictures.




She showed me around the town and I think my favorite part was the fortress where we got chocolate. It was REALLY good chocolate! We also had a sandwich at “Ciao Ciao’s,” which was a little deli next to her school. That’s not the actual name of the place, of course, but it’s what Diana calls it. As I saw, every time we saw the son (it’s family run, of course) he would smile and say “ciao, ciao!” It was a delicious sandwich. I got the one that Diana always got, it was cheese, capicola , and homemade pesto. Definitely delicious.


Her school organized a going away party for the last day of the semester. Although it was sad for Diana to see her friends leave, I was  happy to see how much fun she had and the fantastic people she met on during her semester. We sat on the “steps” which are the steps leading into the duomo in the center of town. That duomo, by the way, houses the wedding ring of the Virgin Mary, which turned out to be bone, I think. Here is the view from the steps.




We had an emotional night when her friends left, but I got some cool night pictures.




The next morning, we woke up early and hauled our bags to Florence. Basically I had all of my bags, which weighed about 70 pounds, and Diana had her 2 suit cases, which weighed about 50 pounds each, and her backpack. So here we are dragging these bags through the streets of Perugia, onto the mini-metro, and on to the train to Florence. It was difficult! We got on the train without incident (but with lots of stairs).


We got to Florence and then had a snafu. We were told to go to 40 via Palazzuolo to meet our landlady’s mother and then move to 44 via Palazzuolo, where our apartment was. So we get to the door and there are 5 bells. Diana and I looked at each other, and we decided to just start ringing the bells from the top down. Luckily, the top bell was the correct one and because her Italian had gotten so good, Diana was our spokesperson. Diana was trying to explain to the mother that we were here to rent the apartment at 44 but the mother insisted that we were there for the apartment at 40. Eventually we discovered that dad got it wrong (for whatever reason) and we were supposed to be in 40. All was well and we lugged the 200 pounds of baggage up 4 flights of stairs. I was very glad when it was over, however, it was merely a precursor to the number of steps we’d have to go up and down in the remainder of the trip.


Up next, Florence with the fam.


Bologna: la dotta, la grassa, la rossa! May 2, 2012

Filed under: Daily Life,Food,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 3:47 pm

After leaving Paris, I had to (eventually) end up in Italy to help Diana get to Florence where we would meet the rest of the family. To kill a few days, I decided to head over to Bologna for a couple nights.


I stayed at the Hotel Astoria, which was right in the middle of the old city and REALLY close to the train station. My first night I had been traveling for hours (I flew into Milan and took the train to Bologna), so I was exhausted. The next morning I got up early and left to wander into the city.


One really cool thing about the city are the covered walkways. The arcades cover almost sidewalk in the city, which is really convenient if it rains, snows, or is really hot. Luckily for me, the weather was RIDICULOUSLY beautiful!




I made my way to the Piazza Maggiore which has the city hall on one side. The red flags aren’t on the building all the time, but it was Liberation Day, so there was a parade and logs of people in Military uniform.




On the left side (facing the city hall) is the Duomo, the Basilica of San Petronio, which is apparently the 5th largest church in the world. Unfortunately, the interesting part of the facade was covered for whatever reason, so all I got was bricks. I didn’t take any pictures inside but I got some postcards, which I might post later.


And on the third side, across from the Duomo, were some cafes where I had a cappuccino.


After my cappuccino, I decided to check out Asinelli’s Tower. There are two, famous, leaning towers in Bologna built in the early 1100s. The shorter one was cut off in the 1300s because it was leaning too far over, and currently leans about 10 feet off center. The taller one (Asinelli’s) only leans about 7.5 feet off center. I climbed the 498 steps to get to the top (about 98 meters high), which gave me an amazing view of the town.


Since it was still early after I got down from the tower, I decided to wander around and go to San Stefano’s church which was really a complex of churches/cloisters/chapels haphazardly arranged around each other. The cool part about this was the Romanesque church that was SUPER old and may be the first Romanesque church I’ve ever been in.


I then wandered back to my hotel room for a little break. I really needed a siesta, so I hung out and read for about an hour before going back out to explore the town. I discovered, by accident I’m ashamed to say, that St. Dominic is buried in Bologna. Because he was Spanish, I assumed he was in Spain, but no, I was wrong. So I first went to see the Chiesa San Francesco, which wasn’t all that impressive, finally moving on to San Domenico.


After leaving San Domenico, I had a bit of a camera scare. I had put it down when I was in front of the saint’s tomb and forgot it when I left the church. I got all the way to the Piazza Maggiore before I realized that it was there. Normally, this is just something that stinks, but a camera is easily replaced. Unfortunately, because of my computer issues, the last week’s worth of work in the archives was on that camera and it really would have been a disaster. Luckily some one had turned it into the guard and I got it back with no problems.

I finished up the day having dinner at Trattoria Anna Maria on Via delle Belle Arti, which was delicious. I got a lasagna with a different kind of sauce and tiramisu, which was ridiculously delicious. I walked back through the Piazza Maggiori at night and it was really lovely.


The next day, my train to Perugia left around 1pm so I ended up wandering over to the university part of town. I didn’t take any pictures, for whatever reason, but it basically just looked like the rest of the city. Then I picked up my stuff, hopped on the train, and headed south.


Paris in a Nutshell April 29, 2012

Filed under: Daily Life,France,Research,Tourist attractions — Kristi @ 11:49 pm

I’m back online after a two week hiatus. Basically, my computer died and my charger stopped working so I had to access the internet on my nook. This was obviously awkward and didn’t allow for much work. Since nothing really exciting happened in Paris, I’m going to sum up my week and a half that wasn’t blogged in this blog and then move on to Italy tomorrow.


So, some highlights:


First, I found some really excellent marginalia. Because I work with court documents, I don’t usually find that stuff but apparently the court scribe in the 1380s was bored and a doodler. Here are some examples.




One of the highlights of my archive experience was the elderly researcher who was using a laptop with a floppy drive. It was very sweet, I thought. Here is a picture of the computer, how hilarious is this?!? The screen was the green and black and every once in a while I would hear the *wirr* of the floppy drive saving information. The next day he sat next to me and was actually very nice. He kept trying to get me things to help with my reading not understanding that my documents were too old.



One of the great things about the archives is that they are a walled complex with the reading room (where I spend my time), a museum, and some really lovely gardens. For whatever reason the gardens are always closed when I go, but this year they were open and I got to see them. Next time I go I’ll spend more time in them; they were nice.




Finally, a few random images from around town. I went to mass at Saint Severin, which is my favorite church. I had fondue for lunch. Went to the Luxemburg gardens and read a bit. Had coffee at Le Rostand. I wandered around a bit, but I only gave myself Sundays off so not a whole lot of time.




So there you have it, Paris in a nutshell. Tomorrow, Bologna!


Arches and Archives April 15, 2012

Filed under: Daily Life,France,Research,Tourist attractions — Kristi @ 12:10 pm

Sorry for the lack of posts, but in all honesty, not much has been going on around here.


Starting this past Wednesday, I have been at the archives each day (with Sundays off, of course). I walk the 2.5 miles to the archives and then walk the same back. I do try to vary my route, which brings us to arches. As I was walking to the archives on Wednesday I decided to go down Rue de Faubourg Saint-Denis. It looks like a normal side-ish street in Paris until… BAM! Arch.




I, honestly, had no idea this thing existed. On the top it says “Ludovico Magno” or Louis the Great, and I couldn’t figure out if it meant Louis XIV (Versailles king) or Louis XVI (French Revolution king). Well, thanks go google, it seems that it was built in 1671-4 to commemorate the military victories of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Apparently in the 17th century, this was the entrance through which the kings passed after religious services. It is on the site of the old toll-gate into Paris from the north. Anyway, the thing is huge and I first saw it as in the picture on the left, which meant that it looked like a giant wall, and it is taller than the 6-7 story buildings on the street, basically it is freaking huge (I may have even gasped). This is why I prefer to walk in Paris; I never know what I will find.


Either way, I made it to the archives and got my documents. As many of you may have read on facebook, I made a small breakthrough and may have made a HUGE breakthrough.  Basically, I discovered that the writing in the margin of my page might actually be useful. It’s one of those things where we assume medieval people are stupid. Of COURSE a medieval scribe would make searching easier! Why did I think he wouldn’t. So here is a picture of the reading room that I spend 5-6 hours a day in, the amazing coffee machine in the archives that gives me a 0.50 euro espresso (or two each day, why don’t we have these in the US?!?), and also a picture of a very useful marginal note. Can you read what it says?




Give up? Well, it looks to me like it says “Sinam in causa divorcii,” which roughly translates as “I will permit in the case of divorce.”


So there you go,  part of my breakthrough.


The archives close at 4:45 so I head out and trek the 2.5 miles back to my apartment, the only difference being that going back is all up hill (as I live right near Sacre Coeur). Now, on Wednesday, as I was walking back I decided to go up rue Faubourg Saint-Martin (2 blocks east of rue Faub. Saint-Denis) when suddenly… BAM! Another arch!



This arch wasn’t as big or as impressive as the first, actually it was a bit *yawn* after the first one that morning, but I had no idea THIS one existed either. It was also commissioned by Louis XIV in 1674, right after the completion of the other one and served a similar purpose. So there you go, arches and archives.


I will leave you with your Church du Jour: Eglise Sainte-Elisabeth. Built in 1648 it sits on rue du Temple not too far from the Place de la République.




By the way, I did not end up going to church this morning. I decided to have lunch with a friend instead. We’ll see how next Sunday goes. :) Au revoir


The Day of 3 Churches and my Apartment April 12, 2012

Filed under: Daily Life,France,Tourist attractions,Travel — Kristi @ 2:44 am

I arrived safely in Paris a few days ago with only minor injuries. As I was getting into the cab in Swansea to go to the train station, I kneed the car REALLY hard. Basically I have a bruise above my right knee that is 1.5″x3″ and REALLY painful! Other than that, I got here. One thing I have to say is that Charles de Gaule Airport is really creepy on Easter Sunday; it is empty and just disconcerting. Paris is also pretty empty and it was weird to show up and have no one around. Add to that the constant rain and it made for a Gotham City-like feel. Either way, everyone came back the next day and everything was back to normal.


As I came to France 2 days earlier than planned I discovered that my trip coincided with my friend David’s trip. David and I got our masters degrees together and I haven’t seen him since Kalamazoo last year, I think. I had a coffee with him and his wife at Cafe In, on the southeast corner of the square that holds the Tour Saint-Jacques. We didn’t have long as they were heading off to a tour of Notre Dame.


On my way to and from our date, I stopped into the churches I passed. As many of you know, I really like old, European churches. They often have some of the best art you’ll find, the architecture is amazing, and they are free and quiet. When I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in Paris I’ll duck into a church for some quiet time. On this day I checked out 3. First was Notre-Dame de Lorette. It was right down the street from my hotel on rue Chateaudun and was really quite pretty.It was built between 1823 and 1836 and was (according to the pamphlet) the most highly decorated church at the time.




The next church, on my way to coffee was Saint-Eustache, which is prominently outside of Les Halles. It was built between 1532 and 1640 and is much more what I’m used to when I go into old churches.




The final stop on my way home was Notre-Dame des Victoires. This church was built in 1629 by Louis XIII and became a major pilgrimage site for healing by Mary. One person in particular is St. Teresa, who was healed in the church in 1883 and is now a major part of the church (she has a shrine as you walk in). One interesting thing about this church is that the walls are covered with ex-votos, which I don’t see very often. These pictures aren’t as good as usual as I came in the middle of a chapel service and when it was done I didn’t want to disturb anyone.




The next day, I walked to my apartment (about a mile from my hotel) with my pack on (about 60 pounds) uphill. It was pretty rough, honestly. My apartment is about a block from Sacre Coeur, is adorable, and VERY tiny. So here are some pictures of that. The first two are of the apartment itself, the third is the view out my window.




Hiking in the Gower April 9, 2012

Filed under: Britain,Countryside — Kristi @ 3:49 am

Cloe is an archeologist for the National Trust and got wind of a guided walk through the Gower (the peninsula on which Swansea sits) looking at wildflowers. It sounds terribly boring, but it’s amazing how many flowers were out that I normally would have just walked past, or, as Cloe said, thought was just grass. The walk was along the cliffs and it some places it was fairly treacherous, but because we were bent over looking at flowers for 2.5 hours, we only got about a quarter mile. I asked Cloe if she was interested in hiking back as until we were tired.



So we started at Southgate, cut through the woods to Bishopston, then south to the coast and took the coastal path to Langland and had a tea, in total about 5 miles through fairly rugged and hilly terrain. Happily, Rhian, Luke, Elle, and Shaun were there having tea so they gave us a ride home (about another 5 miles).



Here is a slideshow of some of the pictures from that trip. All of the pictures up to and including the one of me on the cliff are from the wildflower walk. All of the ones after that are from our epic journey. We ended the day with some pizza and then went out to a house party and had a couple glasses of wine. Overall, way fun.


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Bosworth Field and off to Wales April 7, 2012

Filed under: Britain,Travel — Kristi @ 12:19 pm

On Thursday I headed off to Wales to visit Cloe, but before that happened Tim and Becca were nice enough to take me to Bosworth Field, which is where the (conveniently named) Battle of Bosworth Field took place. It was the end to the War of the Roses in 1485, between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians. This was the battle between Richard III and Henry Tudor where the former died and the latter became Henry VII, the father to Henry VIII. There is a rather nice visitors’ center with some really nice information. At one part of the tour there was a “war table” which showed where the armies went and it was really quite good. Here’s a picture of me in a helmet. You can tell it’s me because of the glasses.



After the visitor center, Tim and I went for a short walk around the area but because it’s just a field the pictures are basically just the countryside, with a boar flag thrown in for good measure.




After our little hike, they took me to the train station and I was on my way to Swansea.


I arrived in Swansea at 8:30 Thursday evening and Cloe picked me up at the station. We didn’t do anything that evening but sit in the kitchen and chat, but it was a really nice chat.


Friday, we decided to have an easy day. Tash, Val, Cloe, and I drove to Mumbles and had lunch and ice cream at Verdi’s.


Then we walked back to Swansea down the sea path and it was really pretty (and windy).




And then Val, Elle, Shaun, Cloe, and I went to Rhian’s house for some curry and a nice, calm evening. Here is the view from Rhian’s patio. Finally, we went home and went to bed. It was a nice relaxing day.




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