Thursday, November 20, 2008

Krista in Italy

Krista Tunnell is spending the fall semester in London. As part of her studies she spent a recent weekend in Italy - Enjoy the trip along with her . . .

I kept a written journal of every activity I did, every food I ate, and every penny I spent while in Italy and preparing for it. I will not attempt to write all of that information on my blog, but I will share with you the most enjoyable and interesting bits.

I arrived in Rome on Friday night, and we took a bus to the metro station to get to our hostel. "hostel" is an interesting word. This turned out to be a "bed and breakfast" or, rather, a nice apartment where all of the bedrooms are for guests, a small kitchen, and two shared bathrooms. I enjoyed our stay there, it was a very cheap price. I was traveling with my friends Tasha and Ellen.

Saturday morning we woke up early and went to the Vatican. We met up with our friends Jenna, Megan and Sally. We went into St. Peter's Basilica and saw the tombs of the previous popes, then we also went into the actual building which was artistically astounding. I also got to see some Swiss guards in their funny uniforms. After St. Peter's we stood in line for over an hour to get into the Vatican Museum. Now, a word of advice, go to the museum first thing in the morning. Or, try not to go on a sunny saturday. The crowds are overwhelming. It feels like you're in a can of sardines, you can only move as fast as the people in front of you, and if you get there too late you need to rush to get to the Sistine Chapel, which is the only thing that I knew about in the Museum. I was very confused about this, because you go in one door, go through a lot of halls with art and papal artifacts, see lots of domes (that i kept thinking were the Sistine chapel...) and then you finally follow the signs and the crowd and end up in the chapel itself. Maybe it's just me, but on tv the ceiling looks round, and really big. The sistine chapel is rectangular, small, and.. it's a chapel. You're squished, silent, and craning your necks upwards. I couldn't take pictures, but it was beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't have gone to Rome without seeing it, but I just wish it were a more relaxed setting.

Rome overall, is very touristy. And, that's probably because I wanted to do all of the touristy things, obviously, but don't expect to go anywhere without crowds, rediculous prices, and aggressive souvenir vendors. Sunday we went to the Colloseum. We got there early so didn't have to wait in line, and it was really great. The weather was fabulous. One thing I forgot to mention, is in Italy they love cats. I love cats. I saw three at the Vatican, and two in the colloseum. There was also a cat sanctuary by the Pantheon for homeless cats.

On Monday we continued wandering around Rome, we went to the Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Stairs, the Pantheon and the Forum. .
Tuesday morning we got on a train (note: don't be dependant on trains to be on time, they aren't). Ellen and I went to Florence for the day. Then we got on another train and went to Venice. Venice was my favorite part of the trip. They also had cats, and lots of gelato, but they were on the adriatic sea too. We stayed on the island of Lido in a nice hotel and so we had to get a waterbus pass (big waste of money, they don't check your tickets on public transportation in Italy). We went to the island of Murano and saw how they made glass, and bought a lot of glass as well. We also went to the Doge's Palace, which I believe to be the most beautiful building I've ever been in, and I was even more impressed by this place than I was by the louvre or the vatican, and that could be because there was hardly a crowd, and I actually got to look at stuff. (but, alas, no pictures allowed).

These flowers are made out of glass and they are so gorgeous.

my attempt at being artsy.

I didn't actually ride in a Gondola, but they are pretty!

okay, that's it for now. I'll attempt more pictures later. I have a lot of school work to do, and I just registered for classes for spring back at SMC...crazy! My only trip left is a weekend to Ireland which I haven't confirmed yet. Hopefully tonight I will go see High School Musical 3!

Krista In London/ Italy

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another Update from Ghana

Enjoy another adventure as Zack Nolan travels around the African nation of Ghana - Zack works on an archeology dig, travels by bus across Ghana, and attends a political debate. Thank you Zack for sharing your adventures with us.

Good morning,

Since i only have a month and a half left in Ghana, i decided to start
sending out emails more regularly, especially when this is only the
third update. Ive also had a pretty exciting week.

As i may have mentioned, due to my internship and develoment studies
classes organized through my program, im only taking two classes
offered by the university, archaeology 403 and 405. the latter is a
field studies and methods class which only meets for the first 6 or so
weeks and then the students have to fundraise for their own
archaeological research in january. since the americans in the
class, including me, arent going to be in Ghana in january, we were
allowed to go with a grad student to his archaeological dig this past
weekend. myself and 4 other americans travelled up to Wa, which is in
the northwest corner of Ghana, with the grad student, Malik, in an old
landrover. We left at 4 in the morning, were in the car as the sun
rose and set, and got to the village outside of Wa at about 7. We
stayed in the house of Maliks aunt, since he was from this village,
which was mostly made of concrete and had a big courtyard in the
center with a groundwater well.

the dig site was a 10 minute ride away at the house of a village elder
who lives right across the river from Burkina-Faso. the 6 of us,
another grad student, and one of the professors cleared a field next
to the house with the help of some relatives and villagers, surveyed
and divided the field of about 30mx30m into 3x3 squares, then malik
chose two plots and we started to dig. Using trowels, then small pick
axes we dug 10cm down the first day and then 30cm more the second in
even smaller areas, sifting through all the dirt we dug up. we found
alot of pottery shards, malik thinks theyre from around the 12th
century, some animal bones, oyster shells, and grinding stones. not
much, but the experience was worth the blisters.

While the other 4 stayed until thursday, i went back to accra on
monday, which is a story in itself. due to the fluid nature of time
and schedules in rural africa, my tro-tro to Wa was late and then i
missed my bus, which meant i had to take a night bus to Kumasi and
then a dawn bus to Accra. After spending the day with a friend of
Maliks, and riding around on the back of his moped, i left on the
night bus, which was very old, full of people and babies and random
packags, and without a/c. as you can imagine, not all the roads are
paved in northern Ghana, and by the time we reached Kumasi i was
coated in dust and not exactly rested after trying to sleep with my
head bumping against the window for 8 hours. the trip to accra and
then legon was a little better but by that time i was so dirty and
tired that all i could think about was taking a shower and brushing my

the reason i couldnt wait for the direct route bus (with a/c) was
because i needed to get back for the ghana presidential debate which
the IEA, where i intern, was hosting. the debate was on wednesday in
accra, and about 300 people attended but almost the whole country
watched on television. after helping out with the preparations i got
to sit in the back and watch the debate. it was more like a question
and answer since there were four candidates, but it was still very
interesting to listen to their ideas and actually watch a debate like
this going on. i even had about 2 seconds on ghana national
television when the cameraman was focusing on someone important
sitting in front of me. a couple of ghanain friends even called me to
tell me they saw me on the tv. it probably wasnt aired in the US, but
the debate was still a big deal in ghana, and this will be a very
important election for ghana. i can finally relax this weekend, and
celebrate halloween with all the other americans here, im still trying
to think up a costume. well, ill leave it at this, my email is already
long enough. i hope everyone is doing well.