In continuation.. so we saw the Duomo, and the rest of Florence for that matter. It was beautiful and I loved it. The rest of the evening was spent in purchasing my first taste of gellato (pistacchio and tiramisu) and celebrating Lauren and I's 20th birthday all over Florence and Livorno. It was an excellent evening. Lauren ended up purchasing several euro's worth of pastries while we were sitting at a bar/bakery along the beach.. it was quite wonderful. I definitely enjoyed my birthday to it's full extent.
As a side note, you should know that nearly any cafe, restaurant, bakery, etc is basically a bar as well. For Europeans, drinking really seems to be a part of their culture. Like the British, where they have pubs, these people have cafes. And alcohol is everywhere, but as I think said before it doesn't seem as though they have the alcoholism problems the Americans have. Also, children do not get ridiculous when they end up drinking simply because this is their culture and it isn't as big of a deal as the U.S. makes it.
The next day was the Super Bowl, and considering I was on an American military base, of course we are going to have a party for it. The only issue was, for us here in Pisa, it didn't start until midnight! But we definitely made up for the time. It was fun because most of these people were older than myself and it made me a lot more comfortable than those whom are my own age and having a party. We played poker, and I actually stayed in for quite some time! I was awfully proud of myself. We spent the evening just hanging out and bull shitting for the entire evening, not going home until the wee hours of the morning. It was quite nice, and just a bit of a taste of America right in the middle of Italy. While this was what I was attempting to get away from, I did enjoy it.
The train ride back to Torino was ridiculous. Six hours, but only because that was the cheapest one I could find. This was the first time I had taken such a long train ride on my own. I discovered that these are not necessarily the safest places to be, and not to sit where no one else can see you. Italian men are ruthless! They seem to have no boundaries whatsoever and it's a good thing I have no problem getting up and walking away. Or smacking the man. Good grief.
Today I spent time walking around Lauren's apartment. I also felt the need to do some sort of exercise, since I spent the entire weekend doing nothing but consuming solids and liquids! It really is frustrating to not know how to communicate with the majority of people around you. At times I feel that all I want to do is hide in apartment and not go anywhere. But I know that this is not the point of the trip and refuse to have spent the money to get here and only hide out. I went to a supermarket today, and even with British supermarkets they were more difficult than what you would find in the U.S. until you get used to their system. But good grief, let's add a language barrier. I had forgotten that when you buy produce you had to place it on a scale and put a little sticker on there. I felt bad because the woman was asking me how much they weighed and I didn't know how to tell her, so she got up and took care of it herself. Ahhhhh....... at least I know how to say "I'm sorry" and "Thank you." Now I'm safe at home, cooking up the pasta I bought trying to get some food into me in order to have more energy to go out and do more exploring!
As a good deal of you may know, I really enjoy red wine. Of course, it's difficult to get a good red wine without it costing an arm and a leg. Today I bought a bottle for just under 3 euros, which is probably around $4 or $5 and it's better than bottle's I've had that cost four or five times that! I was told it was like this here, but I didn't believe it until I had actually experienced it.
It is difficult for me to think of coming back. It's not that I'm having the vacation experience of a lifetime, because half the time I don't even do the "tourist" kinds of things. I just enjoy experiencing the culture, soaking it all in. Half the time I think I just don't belong where I'm at right now, that I can definitely fit in but that eventually I am meant to move on to greater places. I have realized a lot, and gone through a great deal of experiences that have made me come to more clear conclusions about who I am and what I require from life, what choices I need to make. I know right this second that I could never spend the rest of my life in the U.S. in one place. Perhaps eventually, but I have got to spend time traveling and seeing the world. I need the constant influx of new experiences, of places where I'm uncomfortable to make me an even more educated and open individual.
Just as a quick ending note, I'm headed to Barcelona, Spain tomorrow and will be back on Saturday. Lauren and a few of her friends are going, so I decided to just go on ahead with them. I appreciate all the support everyone has been sending! Miss you all!