"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tuscan Tales Day 1: Siena


Get ready for some Italy fun AND that contest I was telling y'all about :)

My flight to Italy was ... interesting.

The woman in front of me had 1: obscene halitosis. I could tell every time she turned her head. I was wishing the oxygen masks would fall. 2: a desire to lean back the entire trip. They had to tell her to raise her seat when they brought dinner because there wasn't enough room to set the food in front of me.

My seat was a problem because 1: It wouldn't recline. Of course I didn't discover this until it was at a point where I couldn't do anything about it. *sigh* So I had a very small area to be in for 8 hours. 2: the headphone jack was crackly so I couldn't really understand anything that was being said so I couldn't watch any movies that I hadn't seen before because I had no idea what was going on.

Oh! And guess what! Before I even got on the plane they put me in the body scanner (Which went like this: "step in here. feet on the prints. Hands over your head. Come out." Read that without pauses between the sentences and that's how fast it went.) and apparently I moved. Hm. Well maybe if they had actually told me what was going on or NOT TO MOVE it wouldn't have been a problem. So I got the full body pat down too. Oh joy. AND just as they pull me to the side this ear-splitting alarm went off so she's having to yell the instructions. It ended up being more ridiculous than anything else and i just went with it. Until they didn't return my sweater and then almost lost my laptop. I was putting my shoes back on and this guy starts waving my laptop over his head yelling, "Who's is this?" Really? They gave me back my case, but not my laptop. I was glad to take my stuff and run after that.

So that was a fun adventure before I'd even gotten on the plane.

I went with a group from my university. There were 9 undergrads (all girls), 5 grad students (3 girls, 2 guys), 2  professors, and one of the professors brought his wife and 3 year old daughter. So it was a pretty big group.

We all met up in the airport and then climbed aboard a bus to drive 3 more hours to Siena. Our bus driver was insane and I'm pretty sure we almost died about 20 times. But somehow we made it to the hotel.

We spent our first week in Siena, which is an absolutely gorgeous town. It's a small, walled city with a really strong sense of its historical heritage and a fierce pride amongst its inhabitants even today. It's built into a hill, so your legs get a serious workout no matter where you go. More about Siena tomorrow. Get ready for a bunch of pictures!

Oh, yeah, the contest... I picked up a few little items in each city we stayed in to put together a little Italy prize pack for one lucky winner. I'm also going to make an Italy owl. So come back each day this week for a chance to enter.

For today I want to know a little bit more about you! My lovely followers. So, leave a comment on this post and tell me something you are proud about your hometown or state or the place you consider yourself to be from.
(p.s. the contest is limited to those of you in the US and Canada, because, as much as I adore my overseas friends, it's just a little too costly to mail things to you :( But I'd love to hear your answers!)


 See those little raised areas on the left and right. Those are pretty much the only thing keeping you from sliding all the way down the hill. Absolutely wonderful for someone like me who is afraid of steep inclines and hills.
 The cars are what amazed me. How they drive and park on these crazy hills!
 Our travel agent had contacts in the area and through that we got to meet a lovely Senese woman named Ninfa. She showed us around the city a little bit and even had us over to her house for homemade Senese lasagna, which was pretty much the most amazing food I had on the trip. She lives in the city with her husband and they have a patio/balcony with a view similar to this (I forgot to take pictures at her house). It was amazing. I would love to be able to eat while looking out over the Tuscan countryside every day.
 The tower is town hall. More pics of that tomorrow
 This is me in front of the Duomo. You could climb a spiral staircase to get up to this panoramic view. So worth it. More pics of the Duomo tomorrow as well :)
 Me and one of my friends at a cafe. I got Marguerita pizza here and it was SO good.
I kept saying that I was done taking pictures and then I'd come across a view like this and not be able to resist pulling the camera out for "just one more shot."


Elena Solodow said...

Wow, the lasagna sounds amazing - must have been fantastic! I had to go thru my first body scan on my trip to Alaska recently. It was really strange, I agree, b/c they didn't tell you what was going on, where the picture was coming out, what the heck they were doing with it...kind of sketchy, I'd say.

Let's see, something I'm proud of my hometown for? The fact that our school mascot is Cornhuskers.

Yes, people who husk corn. Very intimidating, I know.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

omg, i'm not going to lie. When i went to italy and ate margherita pizza, it literally changed my life.
AND i also forgot that our bus ride after we got out of the airport was a crazy death defying stunt to! I had forgotten all about that.
One thing i love about Minnesota is the lakes, natch. And the forests. I love that i could drive less than 5 minutes in any direction and litterally have a choice of over 10 big lakes to hang out at.

Talli Roland said...

Gorgeous photos! I do love Italy... sigh...

Marebabe said...

I love all the little details of your trip. More, please!

Wichita, Kansas is where both my husband and I were born, raised, and educated, and it is still home. We bought our house here in 1980, and we’ve put down some serious roots! Even while moving all over the country for various jobs, usually in the aircraft industry, Wichita was home base, the place where we could always return.

Wichita is known as The Air Capital of the World, and that is its major claim to fame. Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Bill Lear all started their companies here. Stearman, Cessna, Mooney and Beechcraft were all founded in Wichita in the late 1920s to early 1930s, and Wichita has been called the Air Capital ever since 1927. Aircraft workers contributed greatly to the war effort during WWII, and by 1945, 4.2 bombers were being produced daily in Wichita plants. Today, Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, Hawker Beechcraft, Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, and Airbus all have major manufacturing centers in town. Obviously, the aviation industry is the largest industry in town, and (as of 2005, according to Wikipedia) Boeing was the largest employer. I’m not sure, but Spirit AeroSystems may be the largest employer now. Anyway, the emphasis in Wichita has been on aircraft for a very, very long time. We also have McConnell Air Force Base here, so we see lots of military jets constantly flying over the city.

I visited Wikipedia to check a few facts before typing the above. Wichita has many other fascinating historical aspects, which you can check out for yourself, if you like. Just type in “Wichita, Kansas”.

Jessica said...

Looking forward to hearing your Italian adventures! I was lucky enough to go to Rome, Florence, and Venice on my honeymoon (my husband's idea! HE ROCKS.), and our first meal in Rome was magherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella... oh, I still dream about it...

As for my hometown, I grew up in Richmond, VA. I like to ignore our civil war past and instead choose to focus on Edgar Allan Poe, since he grew up there too! I'm also proud of a kid named Michael Robinson who plays for the Seattle Seahawks. He went to my high school, and he's just all around a good guy. I hope we hear more things from him in his years in the NFL.

Mia Hayson said...

Ohhhh Italy looks gorgeeeeous. OMG.