Roma

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Word to the wise… If you’re visiting Italy for the first time, make sure you plan a trip to see the wonderful city of Roma. Heck there is so much to see I’d suggest making several visits. Whether you’re just traveling through or being a full blown tourist, this city will be sure to entice your creativeness and appreciation for history. Just make sure you wear comfy shoes! My poor Tom’s have had it pretty rough with all of my journeys… I’m afraid they’re going to have to be retired soon. (Free advertising [Toms.com] your welcome)

Everyone has seen pictures of famous temples, piazzas, and fountains, but being able to experience these historically infused monuments for yourself is truly a beautiful thing. I’ve been lucky enough in my short 23 years to see some pretty incredible things but Roma has surpassed them all. It gives you a sort of indescribable feeling. Or maybe thats my “wish I was creative” side coming out, who knows.

Anywho on with the story:

My two roommates and I were up at the crack of dawn to catch a morning train to the Roma termini. Us being the girls that we are, happened to be running late (surprise). None of us speak Italian and we still had to buy our tickets which can take some time with a language barrier, so we were pretty nervous we weren’t going to make it on time. Unfortunately for us, the only cheap ticket was the earliest train as well and none of us wanted to pay an extra 50 euros. We finally arrived on time all nice and awake after our jog to the station and boarded without any problems.

Caserta is south of Rome, so after a couple of hours we pulled into the station and hoped a metro to go sight see. With a single map and not much of a plan, we started at the Colosseum. Once we got into the city we were bombarded with tour options; but after seeing the ridiculously long line to enter the Colosseum we opted to go with a guided tour. Definitely worth it, mainly because there was a minimal wait.

Once inside, you are able to see a lot of the original staircases and get a good sense of what it would have been like when it was first built. Yes yes, you all already know this but the passageways which were under the arena are fascinating to see. I loved the historical side of this monument and all the stories that come along with it, but I wish I knew more about architecture to really appreciate the craftsmanship behind this masterpiece. *Tip: Read background on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire before hand.

After the Colosseum, the tour went over to the Palladium. Which personally I didn’t know a lot about, but found it just as interesting if not more. Mainly because we had a great guide who had a lot of side notes and things to offer other than dates. Go if you have time.

Around about this time we got a call from some teammates that live in Roma, they heard we were coming and decided to meet up with us. *If you have the opportunity to experience Roma with a local, take it. You won’t be disappointed.

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From the Palladium, we walked to the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II, which contains the tomb of the unknown soldier. I couldn’t help but stop and stare at this one for quite a while. The only downside was that it was so big I couldn’t get far back enough to get a great picture to give it any kind of justice.

We met the rest of the Roma group at the Trevi Fountain, (you see this one in almost all movies containing Rome), for pizza and gelato. Once a couple wishes were made, we trekked our way down towards the Pantheon. It was beautiful. *Tip: Read up on legends of the Pantheon and Raffaello before going.

Next was a couple of shops and street art exhibits and a long walk to the Trinita del Monti, which contains the famous Spanish steps, and the Barcaccia fountain. Then on to the Piazza Navona and Piazza Popolo.

Definitely didn’t get to see all Rome had to offer but we knocked out a big chunk. Hoping I’ll have time to see the Vatican before having to leave this country!

After walking around and exploring for 9 hrs straight, this is about the time of the trip I began to get tired/information overloaded so I’ll spare you the details and facts because I’m sure most of the readers on here are feeling the same way at the moment.

Almost done!

At about 8 pm we called it quits and all seven of us ventured back to one of the girls places for homemade Carbonara and Sangria. All in all I couldn’t have asked for a better trip and way to experience the city. Good food, good weather, and great company that was so hospitable. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make it up to these girls!

Hoping all of you who read this and are planning on traveling get to have an equally amazing experience! If you need any travel tips, I’m not a pro but I might be able to give ya some good insights so don’t be afraid to ask.

God bless and happy travels 🙂

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Catching up

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It’s hard to believe a whole month has passed since my last update! Crazy how fast time flies during softball season, especially when you are traveling for away games so often. Fortunately, most of our games we needed to travel for are over with except for the Euro cup in August and a which trip back to the northern region.

In this post I’ll try to give a brief update on everything going on around here without boring y’all to tears with too many dead end stories that I’m so great at telling. So here we go:

– One of my old college teammates was backpacking through Italy and made a pit stop to visit in Caserta, so glad I was able to see her! Going to different restaurants and cafes while she was in town was the first time in Caserta that I have been treated as a tourist. I guess together we looked like big time foreigners. 

– Naples isn’t so bad/scary as it sounds if you’re with the right people.

– Play offs are right around the corner and we are still unsure who will be the top two teams from the south. It’s a really close race between Bologna, us, and Fermana. So the next couple of games will be very important; really glad we will have a home field advantage. Surprisingly, the field reminds me of our field at Tech; hard as rock for the most part with dirt poured on top so there are a couple areas that are too soft, and you never know what kind of hop the ball is going to take. Our field here is located right behind a cement factory so I’m pretty sure that plays a role in part of it. Oddly enough the weather around here has been extremely windy with shifting temperatures, so this week I have felt extremely at home! Thanks LBK for teaching me how to adapt to all kinds of weather conditions.

– Our other roommate arrived last Thursday, making it a grand total of seven girls in a three bedroom apartment. Very thankful to have her here though, she has lived in the states for the past five years so its almost like having another American in the house.

– Our “team” car, the old Suzuki, has broken down on us twice and unfortunately come back from the dead both times.

– The panel above our window in the bathroom has broken off completely, exposing the inner workings of the wall and wooden slats that come down to close the window. On a better note at least I can see how parts of Italian apartments are constructed. 

– We returned last Sunday night to find that our wash machine was leaking. The next morning our bathroom, where the washer is, was completely flooded. 

– My parents are coming to visit in three weeks, CANT WAIT!

Life in Caserta

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Well I have been overseas for a month now and it is starting to feel like I actually live here. Caserta is a little different than most cities I’ve been to, but I’m in a different country so I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s a good in between size; the town center is fairly big (enough for me to get lost, but I’m learning!) and the city itself kind of staggers around the palace. Fortunately, there is still a small town feel to it; like being able to walk to grocery stores and have the local vegetable shop owners know your usual purchase. There is also a farmers market every Wednesday and Saturday mornings kind of on the outskirts of town. It has been a fairly easy transition with the help of teammates especially, but I have to say that having my bat bag stolen out of the car last week was really the “welcome to southern Italy” moment. For the record, if you’re traveling down this way, don’t leave ANYTHING in the car… even if you are running into the store for ten minutes. Stupid on my part, but sometimes I guess you got to learn the hard way.

In one of my previous posts I mentioned something about the driving around here… hopefully I will be able to snap a picture to explain just how crazy people are on the roads, but until then just take my word for it. I have driven in Houston traffic and I’ve driven in Dallas traffic… I hate both, but I am literally nervous to drive here!

**Side note: The only car we have for our apartment to share between six girls is a super old Suzuki that more than likely wouldn’t pass most inspections. So between that and learning how to drive a stick TODAY, I’m not ready to go anywhere besides parking lot practice 🙂 Anyway…

Road rage: n. Violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle.

If you are a person who experiences this, DON’T DRIVE IN SOUTHERN ITALY! If you don’t experience this much in the states, driving here will bring it out of you. I don’t see cars going near as fast as back home unless it’s on a straight away, but when you have people constantly pulling out in front of you its impossible. Seriously though, I’ve watched people pulling out and they don’t even check left and right they just go. And lanes, forget it. It can be a two lane road but four lines of cars. There are speed limit signs, but police don’t pull people over here so you can pretty much drive how you like as long as you don’t play bumper cars. Coincidentally, every intersection looks like a game of bumper cars that you’d see at the fair… I’ve seen cars get so close to us I can touch them while sitting in the front seat. There are a couple street lights, but people only pay attention to them unless its a one way road going under a bridge. Otherwise, if the coast is relatively clear they go. Needless to say I feel like I’m in a real live video game every time we get in the car to go somewhere… you just never know what’s going to happen! Moral of the story, even driving here is like an art.

It’s kind of a joke, but here is a video that explains how I feel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q6aLxxsoqU

Condolences

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It was Thursday afternoon and I had just finished folding laundry out in the veranda when my roommates started yelling for me to come quick because “Texas was on the news”. I ran excitedly into the next room to see what was going on, but when I saw the television my heart sunk.

Everyone has always heard that bad news travels fast, well being in a different country has really opened my eyes to just how fast that is. Thanks to the Internet and modern technology I’ve been able to stay up to date on all of the tragedies that have plagued individuals, families, and our nation this past week and my heart goes out to everyone involved. I know I am a little later than most with my acknowledgement about these matters, but I have been at a loss of words and way to comfort. I don’t believe there is anything one individual such as myself can say about these series of events to heal anyones hurt, but I pray that these next couple of sentences can give someone hope.

The past week and a half have been filled with devastating news of fellow classmates passing away too soon at an early age, unexpected bombings, and disastrous explosions which leaves everyone heartbroken and asking why?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer, but I do have faith. And in times like these is when that faith is tested. In times of adversity, in times of suffering, in times of tragedy… We find out what we believe in because we question everything, and rightfully so. It’s our human nature.

But I hope for everyone who’s faith is in the Lord that these words ring true to you during these times as they do so for me; “…The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31: 8.

Long ago I learned that without suffering there is no compassion, and whether or not your a believer in Christ that statement has truth. I’ve found that our thoughts can either align us with the Lord or set us against him, so I urge you to stand strong in knowing that God’s hand is at work and to find peace in him. People… if God is for us, who can be against us?

Proverbs 16: 4 says, “The Lord works out everything for his own ends – even the wicked for a day of disaster.” No one can understand the bigger picture, but there is a plan. These words don’t make the series of events any easier but I hope they bring some sense of peace and encouragement to those hurting. I continue to pray for our nation and everyone involved with such tragedy.

God Bless. 

 

 

 

Casertavecchia

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Casertavecchia

Family photo, minus two! My roommates and I took a trip up the mountain to Casertavecchia, which translates into Old Caserta. It’s an old Italian medieval city, and ya’ll… its so beautiful.

 

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We walked around for a couple of hours going in and out of shops and old alley ways. Great way to spend the afternoon, but the best part was the view from the top that overlooked Caserta. I don’t have a ton of room on here to post as many pictures as I wish I could, so if you’re interested in seeing more of the city and different trips check out my instagram page: embledso

Sunrise to sunrise

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As I sit here on the couch this morning writing todays blog I can’t ignore the fuzziness lingering in my head; who would’ve thought that at this level we would take a seven hour bus trip, play two games, and then take another seven hours home all in the same day. Very rarely have I been up enough to see the sunrise for two days in a row without any sleep in between, but in the past two weeks it seems to be an unknown hobby of mine. Not fun.

 

I know most people reading this are going to be more interested in cultural interactions while traveling across the country, but softball is what brought me here so softball is going to be blogged about as well, sorry!!

 

I’m still learning how the whole league is set up but from my understanding there are six teams in the northern division and five teams in the southern division. In the north there are teams in Torino, Milano, Verona, Nuoro, Olodi, and Parma. The southern division consists of Bologna, Roma, Forli, Ascoli Piceno, and us (Caserta). For the first part of the season each division plays each other in two separate double headers. One of them will be away and one will be at home so that each team gets a fair home field advantage. To sum it all up we will play each team in the south a grand total of four times. Once that is complete, we move on to playing each team in the northern division in a double header. The top two teams with the best record in both divisions will move on to a tournament in which we play each other. The winner of this will be the Italian league champion. I could be wrong about some of this because the way the league is set up changed this year, so all of us players are a little unsure.  We just kind of show to play when we’re told… typical life of softball. After the league concludes, the European cup will start August 18- 25th in Prague.

 

Last night we had a double header against one of the stronger teams in our conference, Bologna. They are the northernmost team in our division so the bus trip was pretty long. Thankfully I’m from Texas and am very used to making 7-hour drives. However, trying to interpret Italian movies was not an easy task. Luckily the countryside was breathtaking so after a couple of minutes of failed interpretation I was able to lose myself in the scenery. It’s just a little bit better than the West TX background I’ve grown accustom to over the years!

 

The first game we were able to shut them down pretty easily as we ended up run ruling them in fourth inning, 12-0. The second game went into an extra inning and we ended up losing 1-0 in ITB play. It was a heartbreaker, but the team is really starting to come together and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I was really happy with the way everyone played and am looking forward to our next couple of games.

 

We play pretty much every Saturday so for those interested in watching a play by play online go to:         http://www.fibs.it

Just an everyday drive around town

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Just an everyday drive around town

It’s hard to capture the beauty of things in a picture, but this is one of the many gorgeous sights I get to pass everyday driving out to the field. Caserta is located at the foot of the Campanian Subapennine mountain range so its pretty enclosed by rolling green hills and mountains. The weather has been extremely rainy this month and has resulted in floods across the country. Hopefully, it’ll clear up and I’ll be able to travel and see more soon.