S: MY EUROPEAN LIFESTYLE
BC: Until we meet again, you will always be on my mind.
FC: MY EUROPEAN LIFESTYLE FROM THE OZARK MOUNTAINS TO THE RUINS OF ROME AND THE OLIVE TREES OF SPAIN
1: When in Rome! | Our first stop was XNA airport in Arkansas where Adam, Kristin, Calli, Joey, and I all boarded the plane to Europe. I arrived to Rome with Geronimo a few days later. Within the first few days we had the pleasure of visiting the likes of St. Peter's in the Vatican, The Arch of Constantine, The Colosseum, and many other famous sites and ruins.
2: Just Rome-ing Around | Here are some of the many monuments we visited around Rome. Obviously, there are hundreds more, but these all represent important and memorable moments while I studied in Rome. Above, Geronimo and I are at one of the upper levels in the Colosseum. Luckily, it was a bright, sunny day to help take our minds off the chilly temperature! Two the right, Geronimo and I are at the Trevi Fountain, known to many as the "fountain of LOVE", what?! It was a very beautiful as well as massive fountain. Below is the Senate Building on top of Capitoline Hill, which was designed (the facades and paving) by Michelangelo himself! Below that is a picture of the Pantheon's obelisque with snow coming through; a rare sight which I had the wonderful privilege to see. And of course the last one is the Tempietto which was designed by Bramante within the walls of a church courtyard. Unfortunately, because it was snowing, the area was deemed unsafe and closed until the snow went away.
4: Napoli-Bound: First Field Trip | Oh, Napoli. Our first field trip that was complete with miserable weather 24/7. Above are my roommates and myself looking saying our temporary goodbyes to Rome. Below, right is me standing in front of the Casatel Nuovo which we saw on the day we arrived. Obviously, it was cold and raining all that day, thus I got a terrible sore throat and had to stay in all that night while the rest went out for dinner. But anyway, the next day we went to Pompeii on the other side of Mount Vesuvius. The below left corner are a few summary photos of the still intact ruins of the forum, theater, and the remains of one of the very unlucky people who didn't make it out in time. Apparently, Pompeiians were given an early enough warning to evacuate. Many followed orders and survived, but others did not. The top to photos are of us with Vesuvius in the distance.
6: It's All Greek To Me! | So Geronimo and I decided to take a trip to Athens so we could get away from the gang for a little bit and finally get some alone time. It was a nice little vacation within a vacation (considering that's basically what Rome was...a vacatioin!) Considering we were there for a total of less than two days, we only got to see the main attraction (i.e. the acropolis). Luckily, our hotel was right at the foot of the acropolis/in the tourist center, so walking was a piece of cake. We hiked up to the top of the acropolis our first morning there. The Parthenon was pretty cool but covered in scaffolding, so pictures were pretty much ruined by that unfortunate metal. But fortunately, the Theater of Dionysus was clear of that (as seen above). We ate a LOT of great food. Tzatziki and traditional Greek kebabs were out of this world! Above is one of our receipts all in Greek. What can I say? It really is all Greek to me!
7: Back in Italy Duomo of Florence | Florence was our second field trip of the semester. Even though the weather wasn't completely up to par for parts of the trip, it was much better than what we found in Napoli. The most important architectural feat we visited was obviously the duomo. It's known for both its dome and Baptistry doors (which I didn't include on here, sorry). The doors of the Baptistry were designed by Ghiberti after beating Brunelleschi in a competition for the specific door design. Fortunately, for Brunelleschi, he had the honor of designing the dome of the actual cathedral whose front doors are directly facing those of the Baptistry. Brunelleschi's dome was the first/largest dome built since the Pantheon, which was built in Rome during Hadrian's rule in during the 2nd century. So, from the 2nd to the 15th century, no dome of this size. That is quite amazing, if I dare say. Of course, after this, domes of this scale were built everywhere in Europe and perfected with growing knowledge and technology.
8: Florence continues... | So as a continuation of my trip to Florence, here are some images of very key architectural works we visited. Above, we have the stairs of the Laurentian Library which, along with the library, are one of Michelangelo's many masterpieces. To the right, is Ponte Vecchio, famous for the building which are literally built on top of the bridge. It is the only original bridge left in Florence, because the rest were destroyed by the Nazis. Thanks to Hitler, he decided to spare this special one from destruction. The churches below were designed by Alberti (left) and Brunelleschi (right).
9: Under the Tuscan Sun | Ahhh...the beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy. During our nauseating bus-ride down the mountains on our way back to Rome from Florence lent great views to the landscapes as seen above. We were also able to visit various towns along the way such as Siena, Pienza and a cute little medieval town that's nearly fully intact whose name I cannot recall. The bottom landscape is taken from Pienza looking across the valley. The two structures are from Siena. The medieval tower is located in the main piazza and the cathedral is yet another architectural feat of Italy's architecture.
10: Where ya goin? Barcelona! | Barcelona was our last of three weekend field trips. It was such a fun trip, and best of all!...I got to see the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe (modern pavilion to the right). This temporary structure which was designed and built for the 1929 World Exhibition re-defined modern architecture. Oh, it was amazing. Even though now, it is only a reconstruction (it was torn down with the rest of the exhibition 6 months later),it was still quite a surreal moment during my stay in Europe. Above is a tower by Spanish engineer/architect (no, not Geronimo) Santiago Calatrava as well as Montjuic which is the center built for the Olympic games years ago. Sometime while we were there, we all visited the AMAZING fresh market which are EVERYWHERE in Europe. These fresh markets have everything from fresh meat (and yes, it's hanging and bloody), fresh fish to fresh fruits and non-edible items such as...well, all that comes to mind right now is the awesome aromas of food that I miss. Last on our trip to Barcelona, we stopped by Antonio Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, which is his life's ultimate and most famous work. It was a pretty awesome and psychedelic cathedral that is still unfinished.
12: From Paris with Love | Our trip to Paris was the first stop along our European Spring Break extravaganza. We were only there for a weekend, but that was more than enough time spent here. I must confess, Paris was not my most favorite trip in Europe, but it definitely had its high points...one literally being the Eiffel Tower. Above, is Geronimo and me at one of the highest (if not the highest--can't remember) level of the Tower. I'm not afraid of height but man did that soaring height create a lot of discomfort in my stomach. Paris was by far the most expensive city we visited for the duration of my entire European experience. Luckily, we happened upon what I like to call "Culture Town" which is seen in the bottom image. This section of Paris had restaurants, bakeries, and many other shops that were Greek, Oriental, Italian, German, etc. It was much cheaper and more unique than much of the Parisian cuisine. Unlike Rome, Paris is extremely spread out. In Rome, if you walk four bridges down along the River, it was like a ten minute walk, but in Paris, four bridges down was like an hour and a half walk...it was exhausting. Not to mention the Louvre garden was a 15 minute walk in itself...and that is before you even get to the pyramidal entrance! Oh, and Notre Dame is the top image at night. Needless to say, it was still a place worth visiting and experiencing.
14: From Berlin... | Ah...Germany. Even though I only got to experience to cities, this country was absolutely amazing. There is great architecture all over, Germans as a whole are just so efficient, and did I mention their bier? The best beer I had during my stint in Europe. As you can see me above with the fantastic meter of beer. Like Paris, Berlin was a huge scale and not as dense as Rome. But luckily Geronimo and I rented bikes and road all over the city. We were able to hit up many great monuments and works of architecture that we otherwise probably wouldn't have seen. The above is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews by Peter Eisenman. This was a great monument to experience. Geronimo almost got arrested for trying to ride his bike through...silly. Over to the right, you can see us in front of the Brandenburg Gate which was the original city gate and is now a praised landmark and/or monument of Berlin. The below image is of this lovely park behind Potsdamer Platz (not shown). It was massive and so peaceful that I didn't even realize as was still in a large city. I wish we could have spent more time in Berlin, but when Europe calls, we must follow. There is still so much to see and experience in Berlin, so I can't wait to go back!
16: ...To Dessau | During our little stint in Berlin, Geronimo and I took a two hour train ride to the quaint little town of Dessau, Germany where the one and only Bauhaus, by Walter Gropius is located. This was the first school to combine all the arts under one roof and administration which was an unprecedented idea of the time. It also stands as a monument of inspiration to the highly acclaimed and criticized Modern movement. Many architects were inspired by the architecture and principles of the Bauhaus. During Hitler's rule, the Bauhaus was closed and neglected over many years. However, It was renovated decades later and now sits as it was originally. This is one of my most favorite works of architecture, even though there is still much that I need to learn about it. We got to Dessau around lunchtime. Luckily there is a little cafe in the basement of the Bauhaus, so Geronimo and I ate sanwiches and drank beer in the Bauhaus...how many architects and architect students can say they've done that? Even though this trip lasted barely four hours and we only saw one architectural work, this was by far one of the most rewarding days of my time in Europe. Something about seeing, feeling and experiencing what inspires you most. It's priceless.
18: The end of my Roman Journey has come. | Rome, you will forever hold a special place in my heart. You showed me landscapes, cities, towns, monuments, foods that I had never seen or experienced and will never anywhere else. You taught me what I could never learn back home. You have broadened my horizon and points of views as well as my design thought and processes. The last week of Rome was one of bitter sweetness. I finally went to a European football (soccer) game which was pretty fun and something that should be done by every American who goes to Europe. After school was over, a few teachers took 16 of us on a cookout way up in the mountains that surround Rome. The above image is one of many mountain-top towns we passed on the way to the cook-out grounds. That was one of my most favorite days spent relaxing and just having a good time with friends and faculty. The night before many of us left to go back to the States or around Europe one last time, we all got together to enjoy the sunset over Rome with some delicious Italian wine. Then we all went and sang the night away in our favorite karaoke bar one last time. Early the next morning, Geronimo and I left for Spain, never to see our Roman-American friends again.
20: Taking a Holiday in Spain | Luckily for me, the end of Rome did not mean the end of Europe for me as it did so many of my friends. I spent the next three weeks in Spain with Geronimo...luckily I was with a Spanish-speaking boy, because unlike Italy, most places in Spain are Spanish-speaking only (i.e. not many people know/care to know how to speak English). So, I lucked out. Instead of doing rigorous traveling and site-seeing around Spain, we decided to take it easy. The first four days, Geronimo showed me around Madrid and some of its neighboring towns and monuments. As you can see to the right is one of the oldest, most intact aqueducts left in the world, us two in the snowy mountains outside of Madrid, and down below is the Valley of the Fallen. We spent eleven wonderfully relaxing days lying on the beach of the Mediterranean and eating all the wonderful (mystery) meats and tapas of Spain while washing it down with the signature mixture of wine and coke. Oh how relaxing. Just us two, the sea, and the wine. With only a week left, we spent the time in Geronimo's little town of Urda. I met all his friends and we had wonderfully broken Spanglish conversations. Above are the windmills that Cervantes used in his great story, "Don Quijote de la Mancha". They're located in the town next to Urda. Unfortunately, my three weeks in Spain passed quickly. Before I knew it, Geronimo and I were saying our goodbyes at the airport. I was about to spend a good thirteen hours or more traveling back to the States. I look forward to the moment when I will be standing at the airport again waiting to return to Europe once again and to relive the best times of my life.