Coming Back To America On Thursday
That’s all there is to it!
That’s all there is to it!
That’s seriously it. I wanted to go outside all day, but there’s no internet outside. Technology is death. I had a really good hamburger on Friday though. This photo was the most fun I had all weekend…
Woohoo! I think I’m basically done traveling. Honestly, having been traveling almost every week since September, I’m ready to not travel. I’m also ready to see some America. I’ll definitely miss the city of Florence, but I’m a little tired of pasta.
So I went out to Heidelberg this weekend. It was a great, relaxing weekend filled with the best food I’ve had in Europe. Seriously, Weiner Schnitzel is the best thing in the world.
I went and saw Alice In Wonderland in 3D and once again in English. It was freaking awesome. A lot of people don’t appreciate the insanity of it all, but it’s a true surrealist experience. The movie itself is amazing purely because of the graphic effects.
The only problem was getting back. Needless to say, I ended up in Bologna until 2:22 AM. I’ve never quite smelled the smells that I experienced that night. Well, maybe I should say that I’ve never smelled them all at once or at that threat level. I’m pretty sure it was toxic. TOXIC. I’m free now.
Berlin is an amazing city. I don’t really know enough about the rest of the country to say I’m a big fan of Germany, but I definitely would go back to Berlin. I had Bratwurst everyday and even found where to buy Dr. Pepper!
Highlight of the Trip: I saw the greatest movie ever created. In 3D. In IMAX. In English. Avatar. I happened to be wandering back towards my hostel from West Berlin. I figured I’d make a stop at Potsdamer Platz, a glass and metal re-creation of Mt. Fuji, and see what was happening. Turns out a German movie premier was happening. German actors and actresses were walking down the red carpet; people were yelling and taking pictures, looking for autographs and reaching for interviews. Naturally, I joined in the fray and started taking pictures. After a few minutes of pushing and picture-taking, I got over it and stumbled inside the theater. I happened to see a sign which had three significant, stand-out words: Avatar, 3D, English. I had had yet to see these three words put together in one sentence so naturally my excitement was slowly rising. I went to the ticket desk and saw that the next showing was at 9 PM. It was 8:45 PM. I asked the ticket man, “Is the 9 PM showing of Avatar 3D in English?” He answered me with a yes. Immediately, I forked out 11 euro and bought the ticket. I settled down into the most comfortable theater seat I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing which also happened to be in the center of the row in the center of the theater and slapped on my 3D glasses. The movie started, and my life was changed. I left the movie, kept the 3D glasses, and fully intended to someday buy the soundtrack. I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD. Everyone who hasn’t seen it yet should go see it. Right now.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historic aspect of the city. It’s hard to talk about all the different things I saw because of how much I was able to get around to. Maybe because I really enjoy history seeing the Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, and Checkpoint Charlie were the most exciting parts of the trip to me, but it seems to me that people don’t seem to share the same enthusiasm. One of the museums on Museum Island has the Gates of Ishtar from Babylon set up completely on display, and it was mind-blowing. These are the same gates the Israelites walked through when they were forced into exile. I stood above Hitler’s Bunker which has since been collapsed and filled with cement. I walked amidst the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. I walked past a remainder of the Berlin Wall which happened to be directly in front of the now defunct SS Headquarters. I walked on what was formerly the most feared street in the nation which contained the Ministry of Ministries, SS Headquarters, and the Death Strip. All these things, no one could have done a little over 20 years ago.
I took a free walking tour the second day I was there. I really had a good time since the tour consisted of a 3 1/2 hour excursion through the historic parts of the city.
On the day I waltzed over to the heart of West Berlin, my first stop was the Zoo Station. This is the same Zoo Station that inspired U2’s Zoo Station / Zoo TV tour. That’s right. I walked where Bono walked. While in West Berlin, I was able to obtain a smoothie, speak English, and purchase “Faust: Die Rockoper.” The Kaiser Wilhelm Church was the most amazing part of West Berlin; it’s a church that was partially destroyed during the wars, but it was left how it was after the damages were done so there’s a huge chunk missing out of the top of the spire. The new church building right next to it is equally impressive. The cultural division between East and West Berlin are unavoidably apparent. In the West, I was able to speak English to everyone while in the East I had to rely on hand signs since I knew absolutely no German. Berlin’s a great city. I recommend it. Stamp of Approval given.
Look at pictures!
The Germans invaded Florence this weekend. It was off tha chain. People should come to Florence more often. Duomo Burrito.
Israel is more indescribable than words can indescribe. It’s like being in California only everyone reads from right to left and everything’s kosher.
As I sit to write about this blog, I ponder what I should write about; I could talk about all the places we went to or I could talk about the food we ate, but I would be on here for hours as would the reader. Even then, I don’t believe I’d be able to capture the essence or image of what I experienced in Israel.
If there’s somewhere you wonder if I went to, the answer is most likely yes. Eight days of traveling can get you to a surprisingly vast amount of locations. We road a boat on the Sea of Galilee, walked the Via Dolorosa, and prayed at the Wailing Wall.
I’ve been trying to think of a way to illuminate some of my experiences for this blog, but I really don’t have any idea what to write. The best way to find out would to be to look through all my pictures and a few by others as well as to simply ask me specific questions. Maybe one day I’ll be able to wrangle in all of my thoughts and put them in a nice, neat row, but for now my brain is shooting all over the place.
Here are the links for the pictures:
Took place in Venice. It was chill. There were tons of people there with tons of masks. I’m leaving for Israel in 2 hours so this post is going to be a little brief.
Despite how hard I tried to plan a trip this past weekend, I came up with nothing. That’s alright though. I ended up hanging out in Florence. Who can really complain about that? I went to the Boboli Gardens for the first time, and they’re spectacularly beautiful. I’d really like to head back there by myself, with a group, in a shoe, with a kazoo…
The area where the gardens are located actually has a ton of things to see. With my trusty Amici degli Uffizi card, I can get into all of those things for FREE. Woohoo!!! Fortunately, I have my next two weeks planned (Carnivale in Venice and Israel) so I’ve got three weeks to try to get another trip together. I’m also still trying to figure out Spring Break. I’ve talked to some people, my mom suggested Zurich or Greece, but I still haven’t quite picked a set thing. I should probably jump on that.
Here’s the deal: blog posting takes more effort than I expected to have to put forth. Statistically speaking (for all of you mathematical people), I expected a 5%-10% energy output ratio, but what I keep ending up having to commit is around 60%. I just do too much! I haven’t even made it out of the month of December in the blog world while in reality January is coming to a close. In the words of Capital Lights, this is an outrage.
My theory is this: I’m going to do a post about the rest of Christmas Break so that I can catch up to the real world. You may say, “Aaron, what about all of your clever yet subtle nuances and your magical ability to weave enamoring stories???” To this I say pshaw. You may love my magic, but magic comes at a price. You don’t see David Copperfield cutting himself in half and then reattaching himself everyday. Being severed at the torso takes some recovery time. Secondly, I refuse to prostitute out my services. If I was always so wonderfully unique and hilarious, I know you all would soon grow tired of my stories and then this blog would have no purpose. I like purpose.
Now to the meat. In the next few to(o) many paragraphs, I am going to cover the events that occurred in London, Madrid, and Paris. Or as many as I can remember and discus briefly. I may even talk a little about Florence. I’m not sure yet, but I’m not going to come back and delete this sentence if I don’t. So there.
Here we go:
London was great although my initial experience was a bit traumatic. Flying on cheap airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet is cool and all, but what ends up happening is that they place you in, for instance, not London but rather London-Stansted. Ryanair is under the confused impression that an hour bus ride outside of the city is the same as actually being in the city. Whatever. Well, the ride would have been just like any other normal experience if it had not been for a) the drunken Swedes who were under the delusion that they had a football team who could even play on par with the worst team in the English Premiership and b) the very very very large, warm man who sat next to me. I don’t like to be cold. I had on all of my lairs. The bus began to move, and the heat of the sun as well as the bus’s heater were immediately intensified. I began to die. The sizable man had me stuck against the blazing window. I felt that I had reached the fulness of suffering and Christ’s second coming was nigh. Somehow, I managed to rip off all of my clothes leaving me in nothing but a t-shirt and jeans. And so, I survived and remained to see yet another day.
In London, I saw everything such as Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. If there’s anyplace that you wonder if I went to, like the world’s largest toy store and book store, feel free to send me a message and I will describe them to you! We went and saw the Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables on West End, and they were mind-blowing. I love musicals. A lot.
My favorite part of the trip though was going to Holy Trinity Brompton and seeing Tim Hughes lead worship and then heading to Hillsong London and going to church there twice! Three church services in one day is fantastic. You should try it sometime. It makes Sunday more exciting and lively!
The last day, tragedy struck. We went to the London Eye (which is an enormous, overpriced ferris wheel that takes you above the entire city which is great for a while, but it’s sooooo sloooooow) and stopped by a cafe. At this cafe, I purchased a Chicken Caesar wrap. Worst mistake of my life. That night I hurled.
Continuing on to Madrid, I was still sick from a small cold and from this newly developed stomach virus, and once again I felt my life being quickly drained and taken from me. We got to Madrid. IT WAS SO WARM. I miss warm weather and even though I was sick a lot of the time, I loved Madrid purely for the fact that it didn’t try to freeze me to death. I bought a kebab. Threw it up. I bought chicken noodle soup. That worked fantastic. I bought an empanada. Threw it up. Ugh. Christmas was kinda interesting! OH, and Pepperdine sent me a notice that my scholarship had been cancelled on Christmas Eve. Great timing right?? Well, God came through big as expected and promised, and now I have a grant for the same amount for the rest of my school years! God is awesome. He is always faithful to His Word and He always provides!
The coolest part of Madrid was going to the Prato and seeing tons of famous art pieces like Diego Velasquez’s “Las Meninas” and Bosch’s “Garden Of Earthly Delights.” The jazz cafe we went to that night was pretty bangin too. The cats were playing were swingin hard.
We did so much. Like, incredible amounts of things. Here are the links to the albums so you can see all we did.
1) The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Opera House, Hotel des Invalides
2) Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, Versailles (especially Marie Antoinette’s Peasant Village)
3) Crepes, Escargo, Omlettes
Honestly, my favorite part was walking up to and being at Sacre Coeur. You walk away from a city center up a steady incline until you reach this beautiful green, grassy hill with elegant and imposing stairs while sitting at the top is the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ of Paris. When you get to the Cathedral, you get a panoramic view of the city that is breathtaking. Inside, they have 24-7 prayer and worship. The presence of God on the place is unmistakeable. I was in a great mood for the rest of the day after being there despite how exhausted we all were.
After having to wake up at 5 in the morning, hop on a train, walk, hop on a bus, and get on a plane at the smallest airport in the world, we made it back to Florence safely. The rest and relaxation of being back in a familiar place is great. Unbeknownst to me, I happened upon the last day of Advent which is known as Epiphany. There was a huge parade that stretched from the Arno River/Ponte Vecchio to the Duomo. Google map it to get an idea of how long that is if you haven’t been to Florence or don’t recollect the distance from your previous trip here. Best parts of the parade: eating a burrito and drinking a smoothie while watching, a cannon being shot off in the middle of the procession, and of course, the cows that were bigger than horses. They were the height of one and a half of me. They were unnaturally large. Moo.
I also strolled through the portion of Florence that used to be the Jewish Ghetto. I went over to the Synagogue and the tabernacle still has visible marks from soldiers’ bayonets during the Fascist Regime’s reign. The building is a bit of an anomaly architecture-wise, but at the same time it perfectly fits in and boldly represents Jewish solidarity and triumph. They’ve taken a lot of crap over the years, but still they press on and overcome.
Regardless, I’m fully moved back into the Villa and the school year is underway. We daytripped to Assisi and Volterra which aren’t half as exciting as you’d expect when you have to wake up early in the morning and walk out into the freezing cold rain. The churches in both cities were lookers though, especially the one in Assisi.
I have waved battle flags with Florentines and played soccer in below zero Celsius weather. Life is good. I just got back from Lausanne, Switzerland too.
I didn’t really do too much sight-seeing there because I’m kind of traveling/sight-seeing-ed out! It was good to see all of my old and unseen Pepperdine friends though! We walked around the city and ate chocolate and went inside of bathrooms that are made of glass but fog up whenever they’re in use so that you can’t see inside. Amazingly Astounding right? The day after, we went to this beautiful Castle Chateau thing on Lake Geneva and then to a Hot Air Balloon Festival city. While we didn’t do much and there weren’t too many events going on, hanging out with the backdrop of the Swiss Alps can’t help but make you feel like you’ve accomplished impossible feats.
And so, we are all caught up. Feel free to ask me about anything you, dear reader, may have a question of. I’m always available to answer your questions! This is my masterpiece to date. I hope I have wrenched your heart and taken you on a wonderful emotional rollercoaster. Go recover. Have a nice glass of Dr. Pepper. I wish I could, but they don’t believe in Dr. Pepper in Europe. They don’t really have Root Beer either.
-Aaron the Dowler