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Monday, June 7th

Okay, I have a few days to catch up on, I believe.

Saturday we had classes all morning. They were all kinda dull, but that's all right. Not much to comment on there. Then we had lunch, of course.

Right after lunch Greg and I went in to the Scandicci market, which is where the locals buy stuff like shoes, clothes, fruit, and lots of other stuff. There wasn't much that we were interested in, though, so we left and went into Florence. Once in Florence, we tried to take another bus over to the Ponte Vecchio. It took us about 20 minutes trying to decipher the bus map, and then we got on a bus that went way way over to the other side of Florence before arriving near the bridge. It took us about an hour from the time we came into town to the time we got to the Ponte Vecchio. That was pretty frustrating.

Then we just walked around and browsed the markets. Greg and I really want a tapestry now, and we found some we really liked for under $100, but we decided to wait and see some more before buying one. Not to mention that many of them have yet to be tapered on the ends--you're supposed to do that yourself--and I'd prefer the ready-to-hang kind. We also made the mistake of falling in love with the inlaid marble. Unfortunately, a picture about the size of a postcard is $200 or more. Well, we added that to our list of things to get when we come back years and years from now.

We then had dinner at a ristorante in the Republic Square (yeah, I forgot the Italian name). It was nice, but certainly not high class. But the view was nice, I suppose (it was outside). We got some "ham and mozzerella" appetizer that turned out to be raw--or practically raw--thinly sliced ham and a bulb of mozzerella. Not only was it not very good, but we weren't sure how to eat it, either. But I guess we survived. ;-) For our main courses, Greg got some sort of lamb chops that he said were very good. I thought they just tasted like any other meat, though. I had gnocci (sp?), which was dumpling-like things in tomato sauce. It was ~so~ good. However, that was all we ordered (with water to drink), and the bill came out to be just over $30. Not something we're going to do often, I guess. But it was a nice treat.

Then we found our way over to the internet cafe, but it turned out to be closed. That made me angry, because it was the chief reason we went into town. Though we did learn that it's not in a great part of town, so I'm going to try the other locations soon.

All that done, we came back to the villa around 9:00 or so and just collapsed.

Sunday morning we got up and left for church--yes, we had to walk down the hill in our dresses--about 7:45, which was pretty early. We then caught one of our regular busses, though we got off in different place. We then walked to catch another bus, and walked a bit more when we got off of it. Greg and I had no idea where we were, but later learned it was really really close to the train station.

The church building is pretty old, and has columns and a dome in it, making for great acoustics. However, it made the lesson pretty hard to hear. We had to concentrate just to understand in our class in English. Dr. Jones is doing a 6-week series on Revelation--a course he teaches back in Searcy--and I'm really looking forward to it. Sadly, everyone else seems to find him boring and they just sleep through it all. :-(

The class started about 9:45, which tells you how long it took us to get there. Church service then started about 10:45. There weren't very many Italians that I could see, but the Avanti Italia (missionary group) people were there. That was neat to get to talk to them; most of them have been here for several months now and had some advice for us. The service was done mostly in Italian, but Robbie Shackleford translated everything important. Scriptures were read in Italian, but he told us where he was reading from. We also sang in Italian, which really took me back to choir days, since the tunes were unfamilar too. The tunes which we ~did~ know were still very hard to sing, but it was fun to try.

After church was a potluck lunch, which I sadly didn't like much of. Most of the dishes were cold, and I just don't like cold pasta or cold rice. But there was bread, so I survived. ;-)

Right after church, Greg and I rode the bus into Florence. We might have already been in Florence, but we didn't know. From the train station we walked back to the internet place, where I bought 5 hours and got 3 free for a total of 40,000 Lire (about $22, or 5 cents per minute). Their rooms were air conditioned, which was a big plus. They don't have a normal setup of programs, but they had enough for me to work with. They even had ICQ, but Greg wouldn't let me spend the time to use it. It took about 30 minutes to email my parents, get my journal entries up--using Fortunecity's upload service, unfortunately the place didn't have a FTP client--and post on the NWT message board. Hopefully I won't have to spend as much time on uploading from now on. The keyboard was also frustrating, because they have keys for their weird letters in places that we use for other things. The @, /, ?, and ' were all in weird places, which made typing that much harder.

As soon as we were done there, we came back and took a nap. Dinner that night at the villa was pizza. It turns out, though, that Italian take-out pizza is very different than sit-down-and-eat-now pizza, which was kinda disappointing. It was still good and all, but just not the same.

Okay, that was Saturday and Sunday. Today we got up early again and rode a chartered bus--yea, seats!--to Pisa. There we saw the Leaning Tower, of course, and the cathedral and baptistry. The tower wasn't that impressive because it has these cables attached to a nearby building wrapped around it, and a bunch of weights on one side. All in all, it looked kinda funny. The cathedral was really neat, though. There's a really ornate pulpit inside of it that was just amazing. Also, the whole thing was just huge. The baptistry was really, really cool, though. We weren't impressed until an offical guy came out in the middle of it and started singing. Just one note, really loud for about 5 seconds. Then he sang another note, and another. The acoustics were so incredible that when he got done, you could hear an entire chord which lasted for maybe 10 more seconds. It was so awesome. He did that a couple of times with different chords, too. Did I mention that it was so awesome?

Greg and I bought a small plate of Pisa for 8000 Lire (just over $4) in the shops along the road just before we all got back on the bus and drove to Lucca. When we got there we all had sack lunches on top of the old wall, which was pretty nice. Then we met our tour guide who made us walk all around the city, stopping at every small square to tell us how old it was or something. It might not have been so bad except that it was quite hot with the sun shining on us. There was one church that looked very much like the cathedral at Pisa that we didn't go inside of, but we did go into two other churches. They were nice and cool inside, but they sort of looked like all the other churches we've seen.

So then we drove home for about an hour--nap time! We got back to the hill going up to the villa about 6:00, so it was a ~long~ day. We had ravioli with cheese for dinner, which I got seconds of--and am regretting now, too. Then I took a nap and Greg studied a bit. We have a quiz in Italian tomorrow, and I'm not sure how I'm going to do. Mrs. Casey is picky on spelling, and I'm having a hard enough time coming up with the Italian words. Italian to English is pretty simple, but it doesn't benefit you much down in Florence.

Well, goodnight! I hope to go back to the internet place tomorrow or the next day and spend a bit more time catching up with all my emails!


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