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S: Gonzaga-in-Florence Fall 2010

BC: It's been a thrilling ride to say the least. The past 15 weeks have been the most unpredictable yet eye-opening, busy yet carefree, and expensive yet rewarding weeks of my entire life. I am truly blessed to have taken part in Gonzaga-in-Florence-a remarkable experience in an extraordinary city with unforgettable friends.

FC: Gonzaga-in-Florence Fall 2010

1: Berlin, Germany | OPENING TOUR... | Checkpoint Charlie | Concentration Camp | Gates of Berlin | WWII Monument | Berlin Wall

2: Dresden

3: PRAGUE! | 5 story club

4: Vienna | Schloss Schonbrunn | Opera House

5: Off to Florence.... | 85 Cavour | Dante's | SI-in-Florence | calcetto | Finnegans | Grom | Intro to Florence Tours at 8 am | oil shoppe

6: Florence is unreal. After waking up at 3 am in Vienna to catch our 5 am flight to Roma and a 4 hour bus ride to Florence, we all planned on sleeping because we had school the next day. But I couldn’t help myself but not sleep on the plane, bus, or once I arrived at my pensione because I was too excited! We arrived at our school where we met our pensione family and they walked us to 85 Cavour! Guissippi our pensione leader walked the people in 85 Cavour and Hotel Colorado to the pensiones. When we got to our pensione we climbed so many stairs, which will be great exercise everyday. Guissippi showed us to our rooms. WE HAVE A BALCONY!!!! At the pensione Guissippi introduced us to Ramona who prepares all of our meals for us. The bathroom is like dorm style. I was on the first Rome flight, there was another group coming in at 11pm and a group following at 12pm. We arrived around 2pm! So we had time to explore before dinner at 7! Dinner was a group of 7 of us! We were like a little family eating dinner and then explored FIRENZE!!!! We saw the Duomo, the pointe vecchio bridge, and watched many street performers and hung out in the pub down the street that has pictures and signs of GU’s students outside of it! My other roommate Megan and all the others in out pensione arrived around 1 am. I was already asleep, so exhausted. School started the next day at 8:30, BIOLOGY. The next class I had was Operations Management with Alessandro. He walked into the class room and called me out and picked on me all class! He told the class that first impressions mean a lot and his first impression of me was being a pain in the ass. My next class was Marketing and then Italian. I really like all my teachers. I’m really eager to learn Italian! We got our suite cases and a box Christina left for me, unpacked, and went on a run. Thursday night I ran into Adrienne Cole and Jacqueline Taylor at a bar. It was so good to see them! The weather has been so nice, except for this weekend its been thunderstorms. Mia Palari came into town on Friday. I meet her Friday night and went to bars with her and her friends. I got home at 3:30 and had to wake up at 5 to catch the train to Cinque Terre! There were about 10 of us, guys and girls, sprinting to the train station. It was 5:55 and our train left at 6am. We barely made it. We slept the whole way to Cinque Terre. We walked on the path hiking 5 towns. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Then we ate lunch at the beach, I had fish raviolis, delicious! We swam in the water until it started thunder storming! We hopped back onto the train (about 2 hours) and headed back to Florence. School starts back up again on Monday, and we leave this weekend for our camping trip in Venice!

8: VENICE

9: ""Heyyy Babyyy ooohhh ahh, I wanna know, if you'll be my girl!" | Hofbrauhaus

10: MUNICH, GERMANY

11: PARIS

12: BARCELONA

13: Amsterdam

14: Cairo

16: Starting out our Cairo trip for thanksgiving 8 guys and 7 girls, we woke up at 5 am to catch a train to Rome. Once we got to Cairo, we has two shuttles waiting for us, naturally all the boys jumped into one van leaving us girls to fend for ourselves. We got in our van and experienced the craziest streets, with cars driving everywhere: In lanes, in the middle of two lanes, honking, people running across the street, Egyptian men waving to us at intersections (that's when we realized the significance of the curtains in the creepy van). Finally we got to our hostel in the heart of downtown Cairo where stores were cluttered with shoes, clothing, watches and more in the widows of each store. Egyptian men sitting at every corner in lounge chairs enjoying the 70 degree weather. Arriving to Cairo at night gave us a scary feeling. We were told to be so careful, and we were. We were approached my Egyptian men saying, "welcome to Cairo," and "do you need husband!" The women glared at us but the "welcome to Cairo" from the men and boys got old fast. We never forgot wherever we went, we were welcome to Cairo. We got to the hostel and walked up the scariest stairs (the elevator only worked up to the 7th floor) with pipes coming out of the walls and cats running up a down the stairs. Thank god when we got to the 10th floor to enter on our hostel the rooms were so clean! Except that we couldn't drink the water, it was like any other hostel we've been to. We dropped our bags and went out to find some food. After seeing the trash lined streets, collapsing buildings, dirty sidewalks, cigarette smoke air, heavy smog, sewer scent, and glass everywhere, I realized that I was in a third world country. We ate Egyptian salad and chicken the first night as the people at the restaurant stared at us in awe of fifteen 20/21 year old Americans at this hole in the wall restaurant with no menus or checks for the bill. We ate till we were full and each paid 4 American dollars. We headed back to the hotel and went to sleep. Our 5 am wake up call from the mosque by our hostel was alarming. They pray 5 times a day, 5 am being one of them. They prayed over a loud speaker. It sounded like half singing/half moaning in Arabic over the loud speaker. That continued 5 times a day for the rest of our stay. Day 2: Russia, our tour guide! Russia picked us up outside our hostel in a van and we started our day of slight seeing by taking pictures on the Nile. Then the 15 of us and Russia (who spoke perfect English!) picked up our security guard for the day. We headed toward the other side of the Nile, Giza. Giza is more spread out, traffic is less, and it's filled with palm trees and water wells. We saw water mules, horses, and donkeys trailing men and produce on the side of the road, women carrying barrels on their heads, and young children working as well. Interesting things Russia told us about Cairo were 1) the cars in Cairo are in bad conditions because people in Cairo drive crazy and there no car insurance so when they get into a car accident, the men get out of the cars, yell at each other, and then each man pays for the damage of their own car no matter who's fault it is 2) there are police men on every corner with huge guns! (our security guard had a huge gun) if a foreigner were to get hit by a car, the police man would pull the Egyptian man out of the car and beat him 3) oil for cars is in abundance 4) don't listen to anyone suggesting you to do anything, day 3 we asked a police officer where the market was and he told us his brother has taxis and would give us very good price to take us there! I saw people slipping money to police officers on the streets for things and guards at the Sphinx. Everyone is everyone's brother and they "give you very good price" We arrived to our first pyramid, Dashur. Our tour included entrance to the pyramid. Russia warned all of us that if we were claustrophobic not to enter. I never thought I was claustrophobic until I entered this pyramid! First you hike up stone stairs outside the pyramid where the men ask you if you have a camera (which is not allowed unless you pay them, everything is not allowed until you pay). We entered with our cameras (without paying) and climbed down into the pyramid. We had to completely duck our heads in order to fit through this tiny tunnel! This tunnel was about 3-5 minutes long. One by one we climbed down the tunnel into the pyramid where it smelled awful. Russia later told us that bats live in the pyramid and that is why it smelled so awful! I felt so weak and light headed (the hard boiled eggs, hot dog buns and jam for breakfast at our hostel that I did not eat, did not suffice) all I wanted to do was take some pictures and get out of there! The air was hot, thick and musty! We had to climb out the same way we got in, two way traffic in this small tunnel I was so happy to see light. Then we went to the Giza pyramids (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world) As Russia gave us the history of the three pyramids, who were built by King Khufu, all the Egyptian teenagers took pictures of us in awe as if we were Hollywood movie stars, and young boys asked us if we needed wives. My friend Scott told the boys that all the girls were his wives. Russia told us that the pyramids were built like that because they were pointed toward the sun rays. She told us how they mummified the people and how they entered into the pyramids. At the Giza pyramids all 15 of us rode camels and took lots of pictures! I paid the man 10 Euro and hopped on the camel as the man told me to lean back and he hit the camel and it stood up, i thought i was going to fall because it got up so fast! My camel, Charlie Brown, was super lazy, and could not keep up with the group. Charlie Brown kept putting it's head back towards me for a head rub, I refused to touch Charlie's head. The men who walked my camel took pictures of me on Charlie with the Giza pyramids in the background for "special price." He took like 8 photos and basically told me that he needed his tip now or else I would be walking back. I looked at friends Zach and drew who were on their camels attached to mine and we all agreed we needed to tip him now I guess, even though Russia told us only to tip 5 pounds (90 American cents) I had to tip him 20 pounds (little less than 4 dollars) because that’s all I had and I wasn't walking back. After our camel rides we went to the Sphinx which is the largest monolith statue in the world and is right in front of the Giza pyramids.

17: After the Sphinx we ate an Egyptian lunch and went to see how papyrus was made. That was very interesting, watching the man cut the stem of the plant and weave it into paper. That night we went to the hard rock cafe for American food! Happy thanksgiving to us! We went around the table and we each said what we were thankful for. We also talked about what we would be doing if we were back in the states and how next thanksgiving we will be talking about "this time last year I was at the hard rock cafe in Africa!" We ate cheeseburgers and headed back to the hostel. Everywhere we went, including the hard rock cafe we entered through security. Day 3: A struggle without Russia We started off with the Egyptian Museum which was a couple blocks away from our hostel. Our first struggle without Russia was that we didn't have a van and had to cross the scariest streets with the craziest drivers. We got to the museum and saw King Tuts tombs, hyroglificks, statues, mummies, jewelry, and basic things they had like shoes and chairs. After the Egyptian museum we headed on the subway to get to the market, the second struggle without Russia. We got experience the different cars on the subway separated for men and women. The train pulled up and of course we all got on the closest door to us, the women car. The women yelled at the boys and then we realized as we looked around seeing only women and children on the train we all jumped off the train and waited for the next one. Without Russia we got lost about 5 times and ended up in Old Cairo and saw the hanging church which is one of the oldest churches in Cairo. After our visit to old Cairo we finally made it to the market where all of us girls were harassed by men "awww beautiful women," "welcome to Cairo," "do you need husband" and "Obama!!" everyone took pictures of us, and the women glared at us. We walked with the boys but Russia and our security guard were missed by all of us girls! This day we saw more of Cairo and the filth of the streets and sidewalks. I thought the air in Florence was bad with all of the cigarette smoke, but this air was awful. After the market we headed back to our hostel and waited for Russia to pick us up for dinner. Night 3, Russia picked us up and we went to the Nile for a sail boat tour on the Nile for an hour. We timed it perfectly so that we were on the Nile at sunset. The weather was in the 70s. It was perfect. After our sailboat tour we went to dinner at a nice restaurant on the Nile and then to a beer cafeteria for some Egyptian beer. We hired Russia and our guard with our vans for the night so they were able to drive us everywhere the whole night. Drinking is against their religion so this cafeteria serves beer and potatoe chips so we had two beers. There were Egyptian men there who were in awe of us playing drinking games. Then we headed back to the hostel. Day 4: good bye hostel, hello hotel! We woke up early, and went to Muhammad Ali's mosque. Women need to be covered head to toe (and toe I mean no shoes for anyone) we rented Muslim garments for 3 Egyptian pounds (60 American cents) and went into the mosque with people praying on the floor and again, everyone in awe of us taking many pictures of us girls and the children and teenagers asking to take pictures with us. After the mosque it was time to check into the hotel and lay by the pool. 4 boys out of the 8 of them, Megan, and I checked in around 11 and laid by the pool till 5, ordered room service for lunch, swam in the pool, and got a nice tan. Our room was so nice, the hotel was on the Nile and our balcony off our room looked over the Nile and Cairo tower! We ate dinner in the lobby with everyone and then went back to our room to watch tv (first time watching tv since I was in the USA). We woke up (best sleep ever in my own queen bed) and ate the BEST AMERICAN breakfast since being here. Omelets, fresh fruit, real orange juice, pancakes, waffles, whatever we wanted and we made sandwiches on baguettes to take for lunch and headed to the airport hoping we would make it in Cairo without a car accident (i thought we were going to get sideswiped many times) This trip to Cairo is definitely my favorite trip and experience yet. The trip could not have come at a better time, Thanksgiving. Thank you mom and dad for giving me this opportunity. Cairo has taught me a lot about how privileged I am. Seeing the poverty, the filth of the streets, and the children working so young, I am so grateful for the life I have. There were definitely times I was scared for my life, and times I was having the time of my life. I would not have changed anything about my experience, well, maybe have stayed in the hotel all 4 nights instead of the hostel. But all together it was an eye opening experience, culture shocking, and at some moments unbelievable.

18: The last of Firenze....

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