Friday, May 25, 2012

Aaron and Elyse Adams

So I want to give you all a quick update on what has been going on since the last time I wrote a blogpost. The only problem is that I have been so busy I haven't had time to, and today I probably have the least amount of time out of any of them so I will try to get to that next week! Today however, is far more important to me; I have the great honor of being in Aaron and Elyse's wedding!

Elyse and Aaron
Just to give a little bit of back story on this all so that the things that I say about the two of them seem valid;

I met Aaron in High School just through being active and involved in some of the same things. He was a cool guy to me that I hung out with just a few times, but never really got to know. It wasn't until about two summers ago when I got a hold of him about some God things that I really got to know him better. One of the greatest things about Aaron is his burning love for God! I find it awesome to have a friend like him who lives his life for God and has never been afraid to show or talk about it!

Aaron at camp with some students
I got to know Elyse, as well as Aaron even more, when a group of us created a small group that met every Wednesday. My first impression of Elyse was that she was far too quiet and reserved for me so the only way I was able to overcome that was by asking her all kinds of questions all of the time that she had to answer and slowly but surely she came around! In fact yesterday was the first day that I say her since I have returned to America and she greeted me with the lovely comment of "I was excited for you to come back because I have missed your hugs!". - This made me smile!

Elyse with their dog Bowen
All of that is somewhat unimportant unless we were just talking about two people independently. RATHER today I am in their WEDDING... so I think it is much more important to talk about the two of them together.

I have never told either of them this before, but after looking at the two of them and the amazing relationship they have I am sure that I would not be able to get married to someone if I didn't feel like our relationship was in the same level of theirs. They have one of those relationships that you look at and just say "they know how to make it work" and by being observant I can see that it is out of love and grace towards one another. I love to take small tips from their relationship to help me learn and improve my own.

The one thing that amazes me the most about the two of them is when you talk to them about each other separately. Because I have been abroad for the past 9 months I have missed ALL of their engagement, however one of the last things I did before I left for Italy was spend a day with Aaron frisbee golfing and some other things. It was ironically a day or two after Aaron had bought the engagement ring for Elyse. I was blown away about the way he talked about Elyse. The way he places her on a pedestal and lives to honor her is in its own way honorable. Elyse is ironically the same way! She talks so highly of Aaron and respects him so much. I am amazed at the way in which she trusts him and turns to him to make the right decisions for the two of them. She looks to his leadership to lead their relationship and having that open ended trust is awesome.

When you see the two of them together it is very easily to recognize how meant for each other the two of them truly are. It is the way they communicate, the happiness that the two of them bring each other, and most importantly the way the two of them complement each other and make each other better people. They have this burning love for each other that I have seen in very few couples.It's difficult to describe it all without ever seeing because so much of their connection and relationship has to do with just seeing the connection in between the two of them!

I am just incredibly happy for them and excited for them and their future!

The day of their engagement at Hawking Hills State Park.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Nicest Hotel I Have Ever Stayed At

After traveling around for the past 9 months staying in hostels and eating paninis and all the other cheap food in the world, anything that has a nice shower, you don't have to worry about people stealing your money, and you have food for free then is a great place. However, today we checked in to the Rome Cavalieri and I must say that LIFE IS GOOD!!

The main lobby at the Cavalieri
Three paintings, 7 Million Euros, one awesome sitting area in the lobby!

Because of my parents status with the Hilton hotel chain it allows us to have some really cool benefits. For example; today when we got to the hotel they moved us over to a different lady to check in to the hotel. She gave us fresh orange juice and water. It was highly unneeded, but I enjoyed it very much. The complex here at the hotel is suitable for the Queen of England, but rather we are stuck with hanging out with the ATP tennis players in the Imperial Club at the hotel while they are competing in their tournament here in Rome.

Relaxing in the Imperial lounge overlooking the Vatican this afternoon.

Speaking of the Imperial Club, I am right now seated at an outside table with my Mom, Dad, and my older sister Kortney in the Imperial Club overlooking Rome by nightlight. We are enjoying some desserts, fresh fruit, and Kortney and I have some hot tea as well. It contains some of the wealthiest people I have ever been around and to be honest it makes me a tad bit uncomfortable even though I love it! Perfect example; on our way back to the room (4 minutes ago) my mom and I ran into Maria Sharapova in the hallway.

Aunt Gail and Mom on the outdoor patio.
Kortney up on the rooftop terrace.

I am not saying all of this to sound  like a stuck up, too good for everyone else type of guy because I would never consider myself like that, but rather to say that in the last 2 weeks I have really recognized how fortunate and lucky I am; I have been to 9 countries in Europe and 45+ cities in Italy in the past 8 1/2 months. Now compare that with the fact that I just turned 21 this January and my parents are (well my mom doesn't look a day older than 35) just under 50 and this is their first time in Europe.... BLESSED!

I am going to continue to enjoy the time I have left here (6 days) and be thankful for it all, because unfortunately it is all coming to an end. It has been an awesome 9 months, and I am excited for the next 5 days as well. Rather, this has been an absolutely amazing way to finish up my time here in Italy.

My view while writing this
The Vatican from our hotel

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

La Mia Famiglia

I apologize that I have not written anything in the past week and a half to two weeks. I have been incredibly busy with last minute activities, and sucking up the last bit of my life here in Italy. With that being said, this blog post is going to be a bit out of order (still need to write about Prague and my last couple weeks of school), but its super important and really exciting so I hope you will let it slide!

Wednesday morning my family arrived in Torino for what is the start or our two week journey around Italy. I had not seen them but through Skype for over 8 months and to be honest it was a tad bit weird when I first saw them. It was sad that they were as tired as they were because they could only last for about 5 hours in Torino, but in that time I was able to show them around the heart of the city and take them to all of my favorite places in the city that were open.

Picking the family up from the bus stop.
We had lunch at what potentially became my favorite place to eat in Torino; a panini shop named I Love Panino. In the last 3 1/2 months that they have been opened I ate there a lot (I was actually their first ever customer) and I have my own panini there! I also took them on a nice 3 hour tour of the city. We stopped off at all of the main piazzas and buildings in the city as well as my favorite gelatoria and visited the river Po. It was nice to show them the city that I had lived in for 9 months in person rather than just through photos or behind me in Skype.

Myself and Claudia and Max.
Showing the family around Torino (Piazza Castello)
Eating at my favorite Gelateria in Torino one last time!
It was a huge teaser to have them show up for 5 hours because after that they left for Milano to go to Venice the next day. I on the other hand had to stay back in Torino to complete my last couple of exams for school. We ended up meeting back up Saturday in Deiva Marina (a small beach town west of the Cinque Terre).

We happened to find out that from Saturday night at 9pm to Sunday night at 9pm there was going to be a train strike and for me it was in some ways a comical way of introducing them to Italy! Either way we managed to get some time in at the Cinque Terre, and made our way to Florence today. I will be going back through once I get back to America to actually blog about these separately, but I just wanted to give a quick update on what all has been going on!

The family in the Cinque Terre
Mom and Dad enjoying themselves!
Boats in dry dock in Manarola.
Aunt Gail and I both on the walk of love... lonely and wishing our better halves were with us!!!

Today we spent the day traveling between the Cinque Terre and Florence, but we were lucky enough to be able to stop off in Pisa and have a look around at the leaning tower as well as the Duomo and baptismal house! Before I had gone to Pisa I had heard a lot of mixed reviews; "stay for 1 hour, take that classic tourist photo and go home." or "Pisa is really cool. You can hang out on the lawn and just soak up the sun and people watch." I must say that it was more like the second to me. I really enjoyed the time we spent there, and in fact after we left I could have spent another 2 or so hours more!

Sibling fun with the tower!

On top of the tower.

The angle on the first floor looking out towards the Cathedral.
I will be writing another blog post when I get a chance. Right now it is 12.17am and tomorrow we have a tour starting at 9am from our hotel. We are going to do a private tour of the Tuscany countryside as well as a vineyard.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prague At A Glance

So last night we arrived in Prague around midnight. Because of how late it was we had to catch a cab into town and we also didn't really feel like going out that much; The day before (Thursday) was Marcus's 21st birthday and we were out pretty late and he drank a lot and we were all a bit tired.

However we did manage to make it out to a bar last night for A beer. It was a wonderful 26 CZK or the equivalence to 1 Euro!!!

We are headed out now to explore the city and really see what Prague has to offer!

OOOO before I forget;

We flew Lufthansa over here which was my first time on that airline. THE RUMORS ARE TRUE; you do get free alcohol and food even if your flight is 55 minutes long! On the first flight Joe and I actually made friends with the stewardess on the first flight and she ended up giving us extra sandwiches (I had 3 and Joe 2) as well as my beer and Joe's wine, BUT then as we were preparing to land and she came to sit down in her seat next to ours she handed us two bottles of wine!!!! One sparkling and one white... IT WAS AWESOME! And we are flying them on the way back!

Moral of that story; fly Lufthansa because it is sooo worth it!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Best Place I Have Been So Far!

I know that it seems like every time that I travel somewhere I come back, write a blog post about it, and call it my "favorite" place so far. Actually when we got back from our trip this weekend I was so excited that I Skyped my parents and was informed of this exact thing by my mother who was hard pressed to believe that Crete was my favorite because I have a hard time not calling everywhere I go my favorite... 


This past weekend I traveled to Chania, Greece on the island of Crete for 4 days with my roommate Marcus, the girls; Ellie, Erica, Cierra, and Sara, as well as Jerelle and Emily! The eight of us had to spend what was easily my worst night of sleep since I have been in Europe in the Milano train station, but after that slight hick-up we had an absolutely awesome weekend.

This photo was taken before I left for Crete;

Notice not only my pale skin but my excellent household skills; chopping tomatoes, wearing an apron and all!

This is a photo of me taken on the third day in Crete (remember this is 5 days later);

Notice my amazing tan, but almost my exquisite fashion sense!

Not that we have established the fact that I got super dark (yes that photo looks like I am red, but really its just straight DARK now!), but I figure I would talk about some of the really cool things that we did while there.

When we arrived the first day and a half we spent just relaxing on the beach and loving life! The water there was absolutely amazing and SUPER clear. Our hotel was less than a five minute walk from three different beaches! One was amazing for sunrises, but was a tad bit windy, another was what I liked to call "squash ball heaven" where almost every Greek on the beach was in a speedo and paddling balls back and forth with each other! And the third beach was our favorite!!! It was a nice and relaxing beach with some amazing rocks surrounding the cove. It is really hard to describe how beautiful Greece actually was so I apologize but I am going to be using a good bit of photos.

The beach we spent most of our time on.

One of the cool things about the beach was the cliffs that we went hiking on that were off the right side of this beach. It was a connection of 3 or 4 caves as well as straight drop offs right into the water below. One day Jerelle, Marcus, and I took a few hours to go explore the caves and check out what was over there, and we were not disappointed at all. It turned out that we came across some cool caves as well as some small lagoons that housed some pretty warm water!

Headed to the second lagoon from passage between the two.

Exploring the edge of the rocks that separate the ocean and the lagoons.
 We spent a few hours climbing around and checking out the rock ledges that surrounded the beach there, and actually went all the way to the point where the ledge turns and heads back towards shore.

I also got a chance to do a little bit of free climbing. The rocks there had lots of grab holes and decent foot support spots to be able to free climb myself all over the ledges. Although the water wasn't deep, where I was climbing was not high enough to have done any real damage if I had fallen!

It is hard to tell in this photo, but right there I was hanging over that second part of that rock and then directly over the water. The bit of rock that is at the bottom of the photo was actually a separate rock where Marcus shot this photo from.

I was very happy that I had brought my Vibram Five Fingers because if I hadn't I wouldn't have been able to climb on such course rock!

One day we rented bikes and took a really cool biking trip inland and to a really pretty lake positioned just under the mountains. In fact besides the overall beauty of Crete the one thing that surprised me the most was the fact that the island had such big mountains on it! To put it in perspective it was 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit everyday and there was still snow on the mountains. Actually, there was a gorge that I wanted to go hiking in but because the ice was just starting to really melt off the gorge was full of water and closed off! So rather we took the chance to rent bike and it was my favorite thing we did during the trip.

Renting the bikes and heading out for a day on the trails.

The lake ended up being AWESOME! We had a really good lunch there and hung out and just looked over the lake and back at the mountains. The food there was really good and it was a great place to just hang out for about an hour and enjoy the time that we were spending in Greece.

The city itself was a really beautiful place and I was really glad that we were able to spend some time there walking around, the girls went shopping, we explored a castle and the lighthouse, and we had lunch and dinner there two nights. The port itself reminded me a lot of Portofino, but much prettier and a lot warmer! The city itself was much prettier at night

It was an absolute blast and I really enjoyed myself. It was really hard to take photos that showed how amazing the views truly were.Truthfully the one thing that I am starting to recognize more than anything else is that regardless of how many photos I take I can never seem to capture how amazing it truly is, and really the amazing part about studying abroad is the experience of the things you do with the people you do them with because you can't actually capture those inside of photos.

O and I won't even say anything about the sunsets.... I'll just give you a few photos!

Headed to Prague, Czech Republic tomorrow for what will be a 5 day 21st birthday celebration for my roommate Marcus whose birthday is today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAN and I am really fortunate that I got the chance to have you as a roommate and experience some of the things that we have done together!