maybe i'm a hopeless romantic...

while we were in verona sitting on some church steps just people watching a couple of us started playing "GUESS WHO'S AN AMERICAN." people passed by and soley based on their outward appearance we decided if they were americans or europeans, and sometimes we just made up stories for them. most european have pretty good style, suits with caramel colored shoes, dresses with high heels, basically just really put together. most of the americans were tourists and were pretty easy to spot, but i've got to give credit to some of them b/c they really stepped up and were dressed impeccably.

after really getting into it, we spotted the couple above. they were strolling down the street, in their sunday best, holding hands (the right way, interlocking, not hands clasped together) just enjoying the late afternoon. it seemed like their weekly routine, but they never got bored of doing it b/c they loved the city, and it was a way for them to remember how they met, and how they fell in love, raised their children and built and amzing life for themselves. like they came full circle.

but looking at them reminds me of one of my favorite movies, notting hill, when william and anna sneak into the private gardens and they see the park benches with inscriptions on them. anna says:

""For June who loved this garden from Joseph who always sat beside her." Some people do spend their whole lives together. "

as lame and sappy as that sounds, sometimes it is true...


attack of the BIRDS!!!

after tiring day of drawing and hiking, we awoke to the soft sounds of rain tapping on the rooftop of the villa. sitting down at the breakfast table with my toast and orange juice, it felt really relaxed. it could have been that i wasn't fully awake yet but life up here seems to go at a slower pace.

so after the group headed up to the studio to pin up our drawings, but something caught our eyes before we could pin up... BIRDS!!!

they were flying through the rain, like a dark cloud, changing shape and then heading towards our windows!!! so what else did we do but take out our cameras and start taking pictures. something like this would never happen in la. it was pretty amazing...

one of our studiomates was telling us to close the windows b/c if one of the birds got into the house, that it is bad luck. and the only way to reverse it was to have another bird into the house. so has anyone heard of that before. it's new to me!

it did feel like the Hitchcock film "birds" but it was just too amazing...


goodluck? badluck?

i usually tend to think that when a bird poops on you it's good luck. think about it. this bird could be anywhere, in the air, on the ground, sitting on a wire. and a person could be anywhere, we're very mobile creatures. and bird poop is so small, usually. so what are the chances that a bird's poop and you will meet? pretty, pretty, pretty small (usually). but pigeons are a different story...

i'm not sure if you've noticed, but i really don't like pigeons. i basically think, and i'm sure i'm not alone on this one, that they are RAT with WINGS. so as we are walking in venice we hit up st. mark's square (or plaza san marco). and the place is infested with these winged rodents. they're everywhere.

people holding out crackers and they're jumping all over them. but it looked kinda fun to do. how many times and i going to be in venice and let these little shit monkeys on me? probably never. so i decided to face my fears and walk amongst them...

f' it, i don't want to be that lucky. luck happens when you least expect it, not when you invite it and let it poop on you jackass...

we're in venezia, give me a drink...

(aka venice, italy, not california)

alright well i guess this is where my little semester abroad, vacation, whatever you want to call it, gets kind of sad.

so after our dinner in verona with the accordian and violin player, the people who drove in the new fiat ducato van (ross, jody, stephanie, lisa, kari and myself) are joined by john and yoolee to go back to the hostel. so we get back and we see coy,our instructor, with leili and the back door of the bmw is open. coy is sitting in the back door and we're like "what's going on?!" and he's like "the car got broken into."

at this point everyone's jaw is on the cobblestone road, and questions about what got stolen are asked. basically the car was parked on an open street outside of verona and a rock was used to break the window and all of the stuff in the back was stolen. everyone's stuff was stolen, including an ipod, clothes, camera chargers and cameras. the only things left were kari's luggage but they went through her bag and stole her shoes and make up. i think the saddest thing was that yoolee's computer was stolen. if you dont' know yoolee she's probably one the sweetest girls. she's got the charm of any asian girl, but she's got this undercover side to her. i think she's working on getting a new one to use here.

coy thinks that it was a group of gypsies that broke into the car and stole the stuff. just another reason to be angry/scared/mad at those people. hopefully this is the only instance of this happening to us (knock on wood!). i would have been crying...

that night a few of them go to the police station to file a report in the hope that they're stuff could be found, which was doubtful, but so that maybe insurance could replace the stolen articles.

so after having a really horrible night and a not so great rest the group decides to head out to venice. we get to the hostel and first of all, all of us are kind of bummed and pissed off that we get accommadations at hostels, not even hotels!!! dude, we're adults, graduate students, not 18 year olds or young kinds that just got out of high school or college and are backpacking through europe! (no offense if you did that, i think that great) but i think that most people our age are passed that and want some decent, not fancy, accomodations. so we get to our hostel in venice and we actually dont' know where it is. we have an address and when we find it it's this big mideval looking door. and a small ass sign that says "BAXPAX HOSTEL." all i got to say is, if you're ever in venice don't go there. anyways so we're knocking on the door and i'm almost waiting for one of the panels on the door to open and have a hunchback stick his head out and say "WE DON'T WANT WHAT YOU'RE SELLING!"

and then just shut the door. but that doesn't happen. so we continue to knock on the door for like ten minutes and then this black guy with an italian accent goes up to us and says "are you de group from swiss?"

and all of us who are just emotionally drained go "yes."

so he goes "follow me."

so we follow this guy and he leads us to this back alley. we're all thinking, about how non-legit this guy seems and how he's going to kill us and take all of our money. he leads us to the top of this building and shows us our accomodations. there is a seperate boys and girls room with mattressess that are stained with blood and what ever other fluids and black satinish, non cotton and non comfortable sheets. the walls are also covered in bad art, like this jackson pollack wanna be painting, and dead bugs. so basically we spend the rest of the day looking for hotels and not really enjoying the city. and we end up eating at this restaurant at like 12am that is italian but run by some northern african people. what a day!!!

at least the sun setting was beautiful...


fair verona...

ahh verona! the backdrop for shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. i wasn't sure what was here, expect for the carlo scarpa building (banco populare di verona) but it surprised me...

this was one of the first images that i got from there. i <3 nikon!

lisa enjoying gelato, nothing makes the day better than a gelato!

this is the fabled balcony where juliet utters "romeo, romeo, where forth are thou romeo?! deny they father and refuse they name, for if thou will not be sworn my love, i will no longer be called a capulet!" or something like that. for the romantics out there, legend has it that when you are under the balcony you should make a wish, and it will supposedly come true... =)

this is where people leave their numbers, hoping to get lucky...

after an exhausting day, we sat down for dinner while this violin and accordian player serenaded us

day 1 and 2: melide and lugano

on that day after realizing that i needed supplies to survive, and hoping that my luggage would arrrive the next day i went down the hill, which took about 1.5 hours to the market, which was basically a convenience store and got the necessities, tooth paste, laundry detergent, shampoo and soap.

i waited for lisa to arrive and then we went to dinner and after i went to bed in my dirty clothes...

the next day when more people arrived we went to lugano and i had probably the best gelato ever...

pistachio and stratiacella, yummy!

and we walked by lake lugano

and rode segways. those things are pretty hard to ride, but i think if i had an hour on them i'd be alright on them

and then later that night every one arrived and we had dinner in our little outdoor patio

sitting under the canopy with the scent of concorde grapes and kiwi's in the air (l to r) leili, ross, jody, yoolee, stephanie, john, kari, coy, lisa and me


the best thing i've seen so far...

okay, i know what you're thinking... suitcases? so here's the story...

a few months ago, when i made the decision to go abroad again we were given a packet that laid out what we should bring with us. without an art supply store within the small resort town of vico morcote, and the nearest one in milan, the packet stated that we should bring any and all of our architecture supplies. x-acto knives, olfa blades, cutting mats, straight edges, computers, and cameras filled my bags. our instructor also advised us to bring drawing pads, graphite dust, pencils (hard and soft leads), pens, and artist tape of varying sizes. my luggage became a small art supply store, it also became a small khiels store, and diesel store.

i packed so much stuff that i had to pay extra... yikes...

so i left lax and arrived at dulles without a hitch. but that's where it stopped. i had a 1 hour lay over to catch my next flight, but i was so confused in the airport. apparently dulles airport is composed of parallel terminals, all of which are connected by these big trams (think hummers and prison buses combined, but not as cool). i walked the length of one of them, on the advise of a airport information worker, to find that i needed to go another tram. at this point i had about 20 minutes to get on my flight. it might sound like a lot of time, but i had never been at this airport to gage time. at this point i'm sweating and rushing towards the ticket booth to alitalia airlines (which apparently isn't that great to fly on). they totally know my name b/c i'm one of the last people to arrive. everyone has already boarded...

so i get on the plane and sit right by the wing and the emergency exit. things are looking up, i have all of this leg room!!! i'm also sitting next to this old, but friendly italian man who starts to tell me how he's going to show his friends around milan and how he flys between d.c. and milan. he also suggests places and things to go see in milan. in the middle of our conversation he starts to tell me about watching my back and beware of the gypsies.... (which totally reminds me of the time we were in chinatown in london and these kosovo gypsies started begging for money. i think it was a diversion so that they could steal our wallets and money...) he also tells me to watch my back in with the swiss people, he doesn't trust them b/c he's italian.

anyways, i get to italy and wait for my baggage for like 30 minutes and apparently, IT'S BEEN LOST!!! it might have had something to do with all of the liquids that i brought and they thought it was a bomb, or they're just kind of incompetent people and didn't get it right... in any case, i got lost in milan, but found my way to the lugano via a tram, that seemed kind of shady, got lost in lugano and basically took a $50 taxi ride into vico morcote. the funny thing is that even though the taxi driver had a gps in his car he still couldn' find the villa.

so i get in the villa and no one is there except for the cook beppi. so far this trip has been great.

and what makes it worse was that there was no internet, and i had to share a room...


goodbyes... part 1.5

The night before I left, I had a little visitor,

Matthew, my nephew,

he came with his papa.

He wanted to say goodbye to Uncle Andrew and show me he could...


goodbyes... part 1

the wednesday before i left i had a little going away gathering, nothing fancy, it wasn't my birthday! lol i didn't know how many people to expect, but once again i have the best friends and family... EVER!!!

thank you all for wishing me well. it makes it hard to say bye, but i know it will feel good to return...


bev, andrew and ja

lori, andrew, alex

here you go jason... happy now? you can put it on myspace... LOL

blaine, andrew, katie, jonny

fernie and andrew

jeff and tin

leia and andrew (thanks for the new tunes!)

charito (one of my dad's new dance partners) and jason

monz, jackie and andrew


I made it to the villa safely!!!

the view from my room

after a long sleepless night, well i took about a 45 minute nap, a nice little visit from somebody at the airport (THANK YOU SO MUCH STEVE!! =-*), security check, a flight to dc, and then a hurried boarding on to alitalia airlines, missing luggage, getting lost in some town in switzerland and taking a $50 cab ride to the villa, i'm here!

i'm a little overwhelmed right now, but i'm sure that once i get settled and people start arriving i'll be fine.

btw, you know how i was all saying, "it's like 30 minutes away from milan!" well.... it's not quite that... i'd say it's about a 45 minute bus ride, and a 10 minute local bus ride after that and then about a 20 minute taxi... but it's all good, the drive was pretty nice.

it's pretty amazing...