Saturday, June 26, 2010

The frustrations of foreign travel

Okay, this is the KVETCH post. If you don't feel someone traveling in Europe has anything to complain about, you may want to skip this post!

Monday, June 21st.

After the wedding on Sunday the 20th, everyone pretty much left town the next morning. Cierra and I left Santa Therese area and headed to the West side of the Island to Alghero, where our flight would leave the next morning AND which is thankfully the same airport where Cierra’s backpack was sent. We got a ride there with my brother’s friends Scott and Laura. The trip to Alghero took a few hours, but was pretty much uneventful. Except that Scott was really cranky and didn't try to hide this from the rest of us. We went straight to the airport before heading into town to find a hotel, because Cierra and I were desperate to find her backpack. Something as simple as picking up a backpack took over an hour and went something like this:

We found a baggage department and waited in a line, only to be told to go to another office related to the airline holding the bag. We waited there while a screaming African man took about 15 minutes of time, well, screaming, at the young woman sitting at the desk. When it was our turn, we showed her the bag receipt and she looked confused, told us in Italian that the bag was not there but with the police? Or maybe she said security. So I asked where we should go and she went in the next office and talked with another woman, and then got a key out of a drawer. I was really kind of holding my breath through all of this, hardly daring to believe that we would actually get the bag. She then walked across the hallway to the security office, but she came right back without the backpack!! Then she talked again with the other woman in the office next to hers, who told her to make a call. She made the call, and tried again to go across the hall to the security office, but no luck. Then she talked with the other woman again, and then told us to follow her. We followed her across the airport corridor toward departing flights and she told us to go through the security screening. So we did, but of course they wouldn’t let us through because WE HAD NO BOARDING PASSES!!!!! She was gone by then, and we were stuck trying to explain to the Italian security guards that we had been following a woman to get our bag back, and he looked around and said “What woman?” Finally, realizing we could not follow her, our woman, (whom I was seeing as the incompetent woman by then), came back and rescued us, only to be told that we did not have to go through security, so we then followed her around security and went outside where the planes are, then back inside another door, over to a closet which she unlocked. I immediately spotted Cierra’s backpack there. It was one of maybe 4-5 bags there, and I tried to point it out to miss incompetent but she shooed me out of the closet in Italian. She finally looked at and matched the numbers on her paper with Cierra’s backpack, and gave it to us. PHEW!!!! We hugged and kissed the backpack and made our way back to the main part of the airport, found Scott and Laura, and left. So that was the saga of the lost luggage. THE END.

We later found a pretty nice hotel in Alghero and spent the night there because all of us left early the next morning. Scott and Laura were flying home from Rome, and Cierra and I were flying into Pisa where we would get a train to Cinque Terre. Laura was really helpful because she and Scott had already been traveling through Italy a while before the wedding and she had some very helpful information about the hotels for us. One thing is that you have a card attached to the key ring, which has to be placed in a slot near the door for the electricity to work in the room. This way, when you leave, there is no way to waste electricity or air conditioning because you leave your room key at the front desk. She gave us her Italian phrase book, which has been very useful at times, and she and Scott gave us some tips about finding places where they sell “Kababs”, a kind of wrap with meat and lettuce, kind of like gyros which are greek food. These kebab places are relatively inexpensive and "to go", so they can save money when one is hungry.

But I must pause here to talk about the food. There is not much in the way of vegetables to be had when you are on the go. Of course, if you can cook, there are plenty of ways to eat veggies, make salads, etc.. But without a kitchen, it’s hard. Combine this with trying not to eat gluten or dairy, and you are in trouble. Since leaving Sardinia, we have struggled with how to eat so we feel healthy, avoid foods that cause us to have bad reactions, and not spend a fortune at restaurants. I’m sorry to say, we are pretty much failing at all of the above. One success was a “kebab” place across from a train station in Viareggio, where we stopped on the way to Venezia. It was kind of like Indian food, and we had rice, chicken, and potatoes in a curry sauce. We have also been able to find some rice cakes which we can eat with Nutella for breakfast, or with meat and cheese, tomatoes and olives for lunch. We usually have yogurt, fruit and coffee for breakfast. But dinner is not easy. We have often been exhausted and starved by dinner, and that’s when all the places with foccacia or pizza start calling to us. It’s also hard to find places to go to the bathroom, so often you have to pay for something to eat or drink if you want to pee. EVERYTHING costs money here. Going to the bathroom in Venice cost us each 1.50 Euros each time, which is about the equivalent of $2.00, so aside from when we ate in restaurants and used the bathrooms there, I spent $8.00 for us to pee!! The other money issue I discovered is that since I bought all our train tickets in advance through RailEurope, I paid around $650.00 for both of us to ride trains for a week. Now that we are here, and asking the price for train rides on the local trains, it appears I was charged almost three times what we should have paid for these train rides!!! It makes me nauseous just thinking about the "helpful" woman who sold me these tickets. I feel like someone should sue this company for what they are doing to innocent and ignorant tourists!!

But back to the food. It’s really good, and very fresh. There is amazing fruit, cheese, fish, wine, yumm. But each time we eat out, because we try to avoid pasta, we spend about $50.00 to get some fish and maybe some potatoes. A grilled fish, with nothing else, can easily cost 10 – 15 euros, and so we have to order French fries or salads so we don’t end up hungry. The salads are usually just romaine lettuce, maybe tomatoes and carrots. They cost about 5 euros, or about $7.00. So if I had no concerns about money, this might be a bit easier, but that is not the case. Once we get to Paris we are staying with my brother so we can cook. But otherwise this is turning out to be another difficult part of this trip. I should stop complaining though. I know it’s such an amazing reality that we are even here, and yet I have to write what my experiences are, or this blog will not happen. So I will move on from the food issue.

Okay, one more thing. The Italians can be rather gruff at times. Not all, and when people are nice and helpful, it REALLY makes a difference, but there are some who just can be downright mean when you ask for help. I think the traveling experience is helping me get a little thicker skinned. I have to ask for assistance at each new place we go, often in a mixture of Italian, English, or French. It seems like the people who work in the informazzione booths at train stations or airports really DONT want to give you any information! The post office experiences have been the best so far. Actually kind of hilarious. The people we have had helping us have actually been very nice, but I don’t know if we will ever see the things again that we mailed home. We really brought too much and have also bought some things so it became clear pretty quickly that we needed to send some things home. The funny part is that we get very different responses depending on the post office. Today was crazy. We wanted to send home 3 books and a pair of sandals. They made me separate the shoes from the books for some reason, which one woman tried to explain to me in French. It costs a small fortune to send anything, so it was probably not worth it, but after you spend 30 minutes trying to get a box and then trying to understand what they are saying, I have found I just want to be done with it all. I spent about 47 Euros which is about $60.00. OY!

I had a funny experience the first post office we went to in La Spezia. I waited almost an hour in line, and then the man helped me put everything in a box and tape it. (By the way, he didn’t mind that there were shoes and books in the same box). But after all this, it was 1:30 and they were closing for the day. So I had to leave with all my stuff in a large box because they wont postpone their lunch break for anything, and he said they would not reopen until the following morning at 8:00 a.m.! So we had to mail it from the next town on our journey. It's all rather exhausting, but definitely a learning experience!

I will have to explain about the bus and train strike that occurred on Friday, but it will have to wait for another time, 'cause again it is late and we need to sleep. Thank you for reading this. It helps me to have all these new experiences and then say to Cierra, "we have to blog about this!!"

Things I will blog about in the next several blogs:

Cinque Terre, the train/bus strike, a very bizarre bathroom experience at the train station in Viareggio, Venice and the incredible shabbat evening, and my thoughts about being a fearful person in the world, (me), Vs. a trusting person in the world, (Cierra).

Buonanotte! Ciao!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The WEDDING, and other stuff..

Photo from 6/15 - Santa Theresa, Sardinia.

6/20/10 - Mical And Claudia's wedding

WOW!! What a day!

After a final effort to reach SOMEONE at an Italian airport, I finally found out that Cierra's pack is in Alghero, and that since we are driving there tomorrow, we can pick it up then. PHEW. What a relief. I think I will hug and kiss the backpack when I actually see it.

We spent most of the day helping with decorations, name place settings, and trying to help make the whole event happen as best we could. I don’t think I’ve ever been so involved in a wedding that was not my own, and it felt really good to help and to be part of this new international family. I may not have mentioned before how much I value family, community, and feeling “part of” some kind of group effort. I really believe that this kind of involvement is what gives us meaning in life. So for me, to come to such a far away place and being surrounded by people from all over the world, I felt included and was happy to help, despite the stress.

My brother, Mical, married Claudia Canu, who’s family is from Sardinia. Mical is a pretty incredible guy, having been on his own since the age of sixteen when he decided to move out to CA from Maryland as an emancipated minor. He has lived in South Africa, Chile, France, and now he has just gotten a job in Sardinia, so he and Claudia will be moving to Cagliari, Sardinia in August. Having had this connection and experiencing the culture here, I can honestly say I might even consider moving here someday if it works out. But who knows what the future brings?

There were friends and family at the wedding from Italy, USA, France, Norway, Germany, and England. I was able to fully enjoy myself , (finally), having had a phone call from an airport official in Alghero, Sardinia, letting me know that Cierra’s bag was there and thankfully, this is the airport we had to fly out of today. So knowing we would actually be able to get Cierra’s bag was a huge relief and I was able to be fully present for the festivities. The wedding was beautiful and translated back and forth between English and Italian. It was beautiful!! Cierra took some amazing pictures during the ceremony. I decided not to take pictures so I could just enjoy the moment of ritual focused on love and family.

After the ceremony we went to a restaurant and a few of us, Cierra, myself, Sheila and Katia, spent a very harried 30-40 minutes frantically placing name ‘cards”, which were actually leaves we had picked and written names on with a silver pen, and we finally got everyone placed while the wedding party drank wine and had their hors d’oeuvres outside. It was also the coldest and windiest day we had on Sardinia, so everyone was happy to finally come inside and sit at their tables. Cierra sat with a small table of three teens incliding her. One seventeen-year-old girl, Sylvia, who is a cousin of Claudia’s, was placed with Cierra on purpose because she really wants to visit the US. They became friends over the course of the evening and we invited her to visit us in the future. I think they are already Facebook friends. I had a fun evening and loved watching my nephew tear up the dance floor. I had no idea he was such an awesome dancer. I'm sure my brother Lucas has it on video. He also has Cierra's song, which was amazing. She sang with one of Claudia's cousins, who played guitar. It was the perfect bringing together of both families.

There has been a lot going on since the wedding on Sunday. I did hug and kiss the backpack by the way. We were in Cinque Terre, which I have to say is probably the most shockingly beautiful places I think I have ever seen. We stayed in Manarola, and I will post pictures possibly tomorrow night. I have much more to say, but it's 12:20 at night and I'm sitting in a hotel lobby in Maestre, just outside of Venice. The mosquitos are eating me alive here, and Cierra is up in our room asleep. We had a long day of train and bus rides today, ending with a few hours in Venezia tonight. Seeing the Grand Canal, for the first time since I was eighteen, I couldn't believe I was really there and kept saying so to Cierra. I will have to pay more to use the internet tomorrow night, but had to get this posted tonight.

I'm feeling a little homesick. This is not an easy experience, but still one I will never forget. Cierra is a wonderful traveling companion. She continues to impress me.

More tomorrow..



So Many Ideas, So Little Time

June 24, 2010

On a train going to Venice

For those of you who don’t like reading, (you know who you are. You’re the ones who know us in some way or another, and therefore feel obligated to read this and are probably in denial because you are actually enjoying it) this is going to be another long post, so consider yourself forewarned! The reason for my EXTREMELY (yep that’s right!) long post is that so much has happened in the past few days, and I have LOADS to share about and plus, a few days gave my mind plenty of time to cook up some good ideas that could probably be spread out over at least three posts. So, here it goes.

First I would like to go back to a week ago to explain what happened to my lost bag.

June 15, 2010: Still no bag

June 16, 2010: Still no bag

June 17, 2010: NO BAG

June 18, 2010: (you guessed it!) NO BAG!

June 19, 2010: We find out that my bag has been sitting in Rome for 5 days

June 20, 2010: (The wedding) we find out that my bag is in Alghero (YAY!)

June 21, 2010: We FINALLY pick up my bag at the airport (with a bit of a hassle)

So, yes I am finally reunited with my bag! But still, WHAT A FREAKIN’ NIGHTMARE!!!!!

OK. On to my next subject. (You got through the first one, so you may as well keep going!)

In honor of Father’s Day, (yes, I am well aware that it was several days ago but I’ve been a little busy) I wanted to write to my dad. (For all the rest of you reading, feel free to read this too. If I had wanted to write something for my dad’s eyes only, I would have sent him a letter!)

Dear Daddy, (yes I still call him daddy, along with various other names. You got a problem with that?)

I miss you so much! Everywhere I go, I think, “Wow! My dad would love it here!” And you know what I decided? We are going to travel to some exotic place together (I’m not sure when but that’s ok…)

Just the two of us! Oh! And we still have to go on that air balloon ride. Don’t think I forgot about that!

But anyway, I wouldn’t exactly say that we’ve had bad luck so far, (although from our previous posts, I guess it sort of seems that way) but we definitely haven’t had the best of luck either. The whole trip has been pretty full of ups and downs but I guess that’s what traveling to foreign countries brings. You know, like a packaged deal. Speaking of packages, when I finally did get my bag, I discovered pretty quickly that I had brought WAAAAAAYYYYY too much stuff! (Which everyone probably expected me to do!) So, my mom and I had to send some things home yesterday (which was also pretty difficult) and are thinking we might need to send even more things home tomorrow. Mom has been a giant stress case about pretty much everything and continues to be amazed at my positive energy. (But how could she not be)

I also wanted to wish you a happy (late) Father’s Day and tell you that I love you. J I can’t wait to see you again and tell you about all my adventures in detail.



P.S. Keep reading Dad.

Next section. (I guess that would make this section 3?)

Cinque Terre was GEORGEOUS!!!!!! We stayed at the very tipy top of Manorola (the second town) and explored Riomaggiore, Vernazza, our little town, and Monterosso. We got some fabulous pictures and though you might want to see them so here you go:

Ok, so, yesterday, we had dinner in Vernazza and then had some gelato and when we got back to the train station it was like 9:00 P.M. Now, first let me tell you that we had heard a little earlier that there was going to be a train strike here in Italy and we were (of course) worrying about it. So, as we’re worrying, along comes this gaggle of guys (21 and up I think) who walked right up to where we were sitting to look at the train schedule and they overheard us worrying about what the hell we were going to do if the trains went on strike! So, that sparked up this whole conversation because we were all there waiting for our trains (which we ended up having to do for like an hour!) and eventually, one asked (just like they always do) how old I was. Well actually he asked if I was in collage or high school and I said, “I’m actually just going into high school this year.” And then he said, “No!?” and then I was like, ”Yep!” And he was like, ”Wow!” and then I said, “ Ya, I get that a lot.” And the whole thing was just hilarious! Oh and It turns out that the strike probably won’t effect us at all.

On to section 4!

I’m pretty sure most of you know this, but I LOVE to read. And I’m not taking about the reading that you do for school, because I HATE that. It’s a total waste of time and paper and the books usually suck. But anyway, as my mom mentioned a while back, we have this favorite author. And I, just today, finished another of her books called Runaway. Now the coolest part about this book was that it was about a girl, Holly, from another one of her books in the Sammy Keys series. So, Runaway is Holly’s story about losing her mother, going into foster care, running away, and being a homeless twelve-year-old, up until the point in her story where Sammy finds her and helps her out. And I LOVED it! After I finished it I started thinking about why I love these books so much and this is what I came up with:

Oh, but first I just wanted to say that if you ever read this Ms. Wendelin Van Draanen, this part is for you. I really wanted to thank you for writing and inspiring the way I write.

  1. I like the style in which the books are written. First person narrative. My favorite! And the way she writes, totally inspired my style of writing.
  2. The books make me believe in finding my own mysteries, giving people a second chance, fighting for what I believe in, and making the most of the life that I have.
  3. They are SO fun to read! And I can’t put them down once I’ve started them.
  4. And they are definitely one of the reasons that I love to read.

Last section:

Despite all the ups and downs, I really am enjoying myself. I STILL can’t believe that I’m here and I am so grateful! And I know that some things will continue to be difficult, but I feel like this is all worth it. I am on the trip of a lifetime! And the best part? This is only just the beginning.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Um, is this a vacation?

Sorry to have been so long in posting. The past week was difficult in so many ways.

Monday night, June 14th, midnight, Italy time, Sardinia.

Now my turn… Second night in Sardinia. It was HELL getting here, but Cierra has summarized the hell fairly well. The only thing I would add is that I had hardly slept the entire week before leaving for this trip, so you can imagine the end-of-rope-ness by the time we had the security issues trying to get to Sardinia. I only shed a few tears of exhaustion. But things got much better as soon as we cleared immigration in Alghero. Everyone was there to meet us, and we all got into cars to head to a little town on the ocean for dinner. There were probably twelve of us, and we all had a fabulous meal and tried our best to speak Italian to the waitresses. My niece, Magnolia, is really painfully cute, and was so happy to see Cierra that she made all the badness go away.

Of course, there is the family stuff. This is, after all, a wedding. I’m sorry to say that there has been some drama, some awkwardness, and some issues with who is staying in which apartment with whom. But I love my brother’s fiancĂ©, Claudia, and her family. Her mom, Juliana, is a very warm and strong woman from Sardinia. Her stepfather, Jacquie, is French, always smiling, friendly and warm. And although he seems to understand English, he speaks mostly French and Italian. So at 1:30 a.m. when I was trying to explain the problem that we had seven people and six beds, he didn’t seem able to communicate with even when I explained it in French.

Somehow we got through the night and into beds. Today, I actually had moments of feeling like I have truly arrived on a vacation. Especially lying on the beach listening to all the languages being spoken around me. Italian, French, English, and something I couldn’t quite determine.. I had a nap in the afternoon, and was woken at about 6:00 pm to the sound and drama of a thunderstorm. We all had dinner together at one of the apartments tonight, and I had fun talking and getting to know everyone.

Tuesday, 6/15. I’m still jet lagged. It’s hard to hit the wall and feel like I still need to be functioning and pleasant. Mostly I’m tired, woke up at 6:00 a.m. again today and feeling the effects of lack of sleep and still not having Cierra’s bag. We are staying in the far northern part of Sardinia. You can see Corsica from the beach here. It’s beautiful, although, just like it has been in northern CA, they are having strange weather and more cold and rain than usual for this time of year. We went with several others into town today, and went to a regular Italian lunch at a restaurant on the ocean. We went with Benjamin, “Beni”, who is German, Katia who is Italian from Northern Italy, and Dave who is from Northern CA and met my brother Mical when he was seventeen in Northern CA. I took pictures of two of the dishes we got at the restaurant, because of the presentation of them, one grilled vegetables, the other of a fish dish. Everything we have eaten here has been delicious, but I can’t actually do the “EAT” part of Eat Pray, Love, because I am highly allergic to gluten and get hives if I eat it. I also wont fit into the dress I got for the wedding if I eat too much this week! Since the bread, pasta, pizza, and pastries here are such an important part of Italian cuisine, I can’t talk a lot about the food, but today I ate pickled thistles for the first time and liked them a lot.

After lunch we hiked along the coast a bit, even though it was raining off and on. And then later in the evening all 25 people in our group went to have dinner at a family like restaurant near here where you had a choice for your multi-course meal of “Mare”, or “Terre”, Sea or Land – meaning meat or seafood. Again, delicious food, but much bread and pasta. I had a slight melt-down. Couldn’t keep the tears from coming. Mostly because we still can’t locate Cierra’s luggage and everything is so difficult here – difficult to find phone numbers or Internet access. We found one Internet cafĂ© in a town about 30 minutes away, so it has been hard to get there. We are a large group of about 25 – 30 people and we are sharing about 5-6 rented cars. I am not one of the drivers, so I have to depend on others to get anywhere. I feel so out of control, mostly about Cierra’s lost luggage. Also, the money situation is stressful because for each text I send or call I make, I have to pay. I realize how easy we have it at home. Not just with having phone and Internet access, but really with every kind of business or establishment. Here you are lucky to get anyone on the phone, anyone who is willing to go out of their way to help look for things, I went online to search for Cierra’s bag and all I found was that they say it was delivered. We have given an address of a hotel near here for them to deliver it to, but it’s still not there, and I’m afraid we are in too much of a remote place for them to find us.

Wednesday – still no backpack. We went to the hotel twice today to check, as well as my calling Dublin Airport twice to speak to the lost baggage department. They told me it was sent via Air France through Rome, and then to Cagliari, the farthest airport from where we are in Sardinia. Supposedly it arrived in Cagliary yesterday. Cierra seems much less upset about this than I am, which surprises me. She seems to be able to let go and stop worrying about it, whereas I can’t let go and trust we will get it. I’m also perturbed about other little things – how we will afford to get through the rest of the trip, how to manage in each of the places we plan to visit since I forgot our book on Italy! I can’t believe I left it at home. And managing in situations where I feel so helpless and not in control is not easy for me. We went to a gorgeous beach today, and I finally got some sun. Then we came home and cooked a good dinner for those of us who are here. I love spending so much time here with Lucas Sheila, Magnolia, my niece and Josiah my nephew. At home we don't get to spend a lot of time together even though they just live in Berkeley. But to spend the week with them in the apartment has been great.

Wednesday night – Thunder just hit while I am waiting up for Cierra. Several people from the wedding party went to the other house where many of the group are staying about 25 minutes away from here. It’s midnight and they are not back yet so I’m waiting up. It sounds like we will get another storm. I must get to sleep. Hopefully the luggage will arrive safe and sound tomorrow. I’m still worried. How will we get through the trip if she has no clothes? How can I relax and enjoy myself when I am still worried? Cierra is able to forget the fears knowing I will take care of everything. She’s happy and connected, safe in the knowledge that all will be handled. But I feel the weight of the problem – no place to stay our last night here, not quite enough money for the trip, no car to get to the airport on the last day, and trying to handle it all without help. I think sometimes foreign travel magnifies what does not work for us in our lives at home – in my case, being on my own for everything on a daily basis, and here, I have to take care of things that I am completely powerless over, and also to depend on people I don’t know.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You wont believe this, but there is still no backpack for Cierra. I have been pretty upset, and still trying to enjoy my days while feeling frustrated and fearful that we may have lost her backpack full of all her summer things for good. Aer Lingus has told me we can spend up to 180 Euros to get Cierra some essentials. The problem is that if the bag is delivered to the hotel in Sardinia after we leave, then we may never get it back! I don’t cope well with situations like this. I’m actually feeling depressed, and then aghast that I could be depressed while on the vacation of a lifetime!! So I’m stuck – calling Aer Lingus and getting different stories every day – today they said that the backpack was in Rome all week and was supposed to be sent to Sardinia today. But it’s Saturday so unless it got here this morning and couriered to the northern tip of the island, then we definitely wont get it tomorrow because it’s Sunday and NOTHING happens here on Sundays. So if Monday it’s still not here I may have to drive all around the island going to all three airports because we leave here Tuesday morning. The drive alone will be about ten hours, and that’s if I don’t get lost. But what else can I do? I can’t seem to let go of the backpack. It’s more than just the clothes and makeup. It’s deeper for me. I’m feeling like it’s such a huge loss, and I keep going over and over in my head what was in the backpack to determine the exact loss/contents. I have to learn to let go!! I'm s impressed with Cierra's ability to let go and still trust that everything will work out. She is so mature about all of this. She even said, when we first discovered that it was missing, that it was a good thing it was her luggage that went missing instead of mine. She's right too, which doesn't make me feel very proud of myself...

Monday night, June 21st, Alghero, Sardinia

We are in a hotel tonight and paid for internet access which is how we are finally able to upload all of this. Tomorrow we fly to the mainland so it will be easier to blog daily. I'll also be uploading pictures from the past week. Must give my impressions of the wedding, the family, etc.. But since we have to leave for the airport at 5:30 am tomorrow, now it is time to sleep.



Freaking Out

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ok so we are, as of right now, on our way to The Logan International Airport, Boston in the U.S of A. Yep that’s right. I, Cierra Potter, am blogging to you from United Airlines and am on my way to ITALY!!!!!!!!! And all I can say is that I am FREAKING OUT!!!

I haven’t been this excited since……… last night. Which, as it just so happens, was the night of my eighth grade dance.

Now first, you have to know that I enjoy school dances. I love hanging out and dancing with my friends, listening to good music and waiting for the perfect song to come on so I can bust a move. But what I never really understood was why in the world, people (not just teens, but people in general) feel the need to “Freak”. I mean come on! Are guys really such bad dancers that they need to resort to that?! And girls, come on, really? Are you really willing to do something THAT degrading, just to dance with a guy?! But that’s just my opinion. Anyway, back to last night.

So, I spent like three (maybe more) months trying to find the perfect dress, and boy, was that a nightmare! And then I made these super elaborate plans with my friend Victoria so that she could do my hair (which ended up looking gorgeous! You can see pics on my facebook page) AND, I spent $30 on a mani pedi just to go to a stupid dance that SUCKED! (Well I had a pretty good time), But the music was horrible, it didn’t get dark until like 8:45, (the dance ended at 10:00) and there was SO MUCH STUPID, MIDDLE SCHOOL DRAMA!!!!!!!!!

So, I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment. But I got over that at about 8:30 this morning when our plane took off. And as of now, I’m still excited but I am so ready to be off this flight! Ugggggg. It’s going to be a long day.

Monday, June

14, 2010

You know how when something goes wrong in the morning, the rest of your day seems to unfold in exactly the same manner? Well, that was pretty much exactly what happed yesterday. We arrived in Dublin, Ireland at 5:00 A.M. (their time) only to find that my luggage had been left in Boston. Yep. That’s right. All I have is my shampoo, conditioner, and my toothbrush. (I brought that in my carry-on) But the day just kept getting better, and better. My mom and I took a bus into the city, at like 7:30 in the morning and we wanted to go look around, but of course, nothing was open at 8:00 on a Sunday morning! So, we basically walked around in the freezing cold for an hour!!!! But I did get some pretty cool pictures!

So anyway, after walking around for a while, we decided to go and wait for a bus to take us back to the airport. So we walked to the bus stop and we waited… and waited… and waited… and waited… until we had been waiting for an hour and a half, and then, FINALLY our bus came. So we got back to the airport with about 4 hours to spare and therefore, had to do MORE waiting. So, on this particular flight, we were supposed to check three bags, but because I didn’t exactly have mine, we only checked two; our dress bag and my mom’s luggage. (Oh and I forgot to mention that we had paid $50 to check the third bag.) So we checked our bags and went to go through security, but apparently, any liquid carry-ons have to be labeled 3 oz. or less ON THE BOTTLE. So, we had to go back to check in a third bag with all of our “non-labeled” shampoo and such. Then we go to our gate (gate 109) and did some more waiting, and right as we were getting up to start boarding, they changed our gate from 109 to 103! So once at gate 103, we had to wait like 45 minutes more, and then it started pouring down rain. And I’m not talking like a California rain. I’m talking about a full on, pools of water on the ground, Ireland rain. And you might think, just as we did, that by then, the bad luck was over, but no. No, we had obviously done SOMETHING wrong to piss off the gods because they sure were not happy with us! But back to my story. When we finally got on the plane, we were so tired that we could hardly function and I could barely keep my eyes open and we were planning on getting some sleep, but every time the flight attendants walked by, they would say,” EXCUSE ME! Arm rests down!” or “Window open please!” And it got REALLY annoying! (To put it bluntly, the flight attendants were all bitches!)

When we got here, our family was waiting for us and we all said our hellos and gave our hugs and we all went out to dinner (which was INCREDABLE!) And afterward, we got gelato, (Also INCREDABLE!) after which we started the long, and I mean LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG, drive to where we would be staying. When we did get to our houses, it was about 1:30 A.M. (Sardinia time) and I had wanted to get straight into bed, which didn’t really happen, and when I did get in bed, I read a whole bunch of my book. So, I didn’t actually get to sleep until around 2:30 A.M.

So, as you can see, my first experiences out of the country were not the best, but today was better. We went to the beach, and just a little while ago,

I got to watch an amazing lightning storm, and I’m still marveling at the fact that I’m in Italy with my friends and family.

I do have absolute faith that things are going to continue to improve despite my day yesterday. I mean how could they not? In an attempt to stay positive, I have made a list of the highlights of my time in Sardinia.

  • Having an AMAZING dinner and gelato last night
  • Seeing my uncle and aunt-to-be
  • Going to the beach
  • The storm
  • (And my personal favorite) seeing at least 35 hot Italian guys so far! ;)
Anyway, I have to go now but I’ll keep you all posted!




Thursday, June 3, 2010


Well, yes, waiting for June 12th arrive, obviously, the day we fly outta here. But also waiting for Cierra to write her next blog. She started it, but she is really incredibly busy, and has had no time. I actually am quite pissed off, as is she, at her English teacher!

I have nothing against English teachers, mind you, (although recently an English teacher at the high school where I work stormed into my office and yelled at me, but that's another story...), so Cierra's English teacher is a recent sub placed in her school about a month ago when her regular English teacher had to leave for health reasons. This new lady, if you can call her a "lady", seems to think it is her responsibility to cram as much reading and homework into the last month of school as she possibly can, and has no sense of how her class is not the only class the kids do homework for. Cierra has had an average of 1 hour of homework a night this year. This is so much better than it used to be, when she started middle school and was doing at least 3 hours a night! So I've been relieved that this year she has had a lighter load. But suddenly she is back to 3-4 hours of homework a night! And to add that to her very busy life has not been easy. This teacher needs to get a clue. I'd make a big stink and complain about it, but really there is only one more week, and then it's all over, Arrivederci!!

Cierra may not have mentioned to you that she does A LOT of extra-curricular activities. (By the way, why is it that kids are supposed to make school their priority and have everything else be "extra"?? I certainly don't like making work my main focus in life, so why should we expect kids to do that about school?). I don't ever force Cierra to add activities into her life, and have often had to remind her that she needs time to rest and do nothing, but she is so in love with everything she does, that she can't seem to let anything go. The following are her "extra" activities, which are really her passions:

Irish dance, tap and jazz, voice lessons, choir, singing with our band (The Sugar Shakers), musical theater productions, indoor soccer, writing songs, writing her blog :-D, being with her MANY friends, shopping, fashion, make-up, and babysitting. PHEW!! And guess who drives her everywhere? Here is Cierra in a rare moment of rest:

Cierra mentioned that she has diagnosed herself as having OCD. Being a therapist, I can't actually say she has all the necessary characteristics of someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but she definitely has some "features". For example, she mentioned that when she was two-years-old she organized all our shoes in the closet. This is not an exaggeration. I was in the kitchen and went looking for her one afternoon only to find her sitting in the closet having matched up every pair of her dad's and my shoes, VERY neatly and in perfectly straight lines. When we would go to the vet when she was a baby, she could barely walk but would re-organize bottles and boxes on the bottom shelves in the exam room. She used to do this with her crayons and markers too, organizing them by color and ranges from red through indigo, and then into the blacks, grays, and browns. Even when drawing she would make sure to place them back in the exact order in the box, and would get very upset if I didn't put them back exactly as she had organized them. With her clothes and shoes, she has also been pretty orderly, wanting things in the drawer in just the right places, and folding her underwear. (I'm pretty much the opposite. I'm lucky if I get to folding my clothes at all!).

Another thing about Cierra is that she never loses things. You know all those mom's who are constantly having to buy new jackets for their kids because they never remember to bring them home? Cierra has lost a total of ONE article of clothing in her entire fourteen years of life, ONE! This is even with having to go back and forth from her dad's house to my house since the age of four. I have many more examples, but I think you get the idea.

The one area where she has lightened up is her room, which is now pretty much always messy. But I really can't complain. I actually think it's GOOD for her to let her room be messy! (Sorry Cierra, but here it is):

So when Cierra gets homework assigned, you can imagine what happens right? She has to do it all, and she has to do it perfectly, and she would rather go to the dentist than turn in an assignment late. Needless to say, this is all an explanation for why she has not had time to blog, and told me today that she plans to do lot's of writing on the plane, if not before :-)

So be patient, as I am trying to be. June 12th is coming up fast! OMG!!! You should see my to-do list!!

Ciao for now,