Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amstedam, Rome, Tirana, OH MY!!

Greetings from Albania!

Sorry it's been so long since I posted, but it has been quite a week. When I last posted, I was in the wonderful city of Amsterdam. We ended our time there by having a free day to explore the city. We hit the Anne Frank Museum on Saturday evening, which was so moving. I am a book nerd, so being able to see the actual place where Anne and her family and other persecuted Jews were living was exciting and heartbreaking. Man's inhumanity to man is really something else. We also got to go to two of the best museums ever: Rijksmuseum, which is like the national museum of the Netherlands, and the Van Gogh Museum. It's one thing to learn about these works in school and know their history, but to see Rembrandts, Vermeers, and Van Goghs up close and personal is simply breathtaking. Our last night in Amsterdam was spent having a great dinner with Bram at an Indonesian restaurant. We did an Indonesian rice table, which was pretty cool. Kristy, Amy, George, Bjorn and Bram: thanks for the wonderful memories of a great city. Things that surprised me about Amsterdam: it is very clean, it is very walkable, the people are very nice, and it is very diverse. I will be back!

There are so many ways in which I feel myself growing and learning. I feel everyday that a new part of my life is opening up. I can't describe the exhilaration at knowing that my life is changing and that so many wonderful people are now a part of it.

On Monday Kristy and I left for Rome and joined Anton, Stacey and Jason. We had one really great day in Rome. We got to see the Collosseum, some ruins, the Pantheon, and the "track" where the chariots used to race. We then had a great dinner with our hosts and some Italian MMF alums. Days 2 through 5 were rainy and cold, which was unseasonable for Rome. I had some amazing professional appointments, and we got to see a Caravaggio exhibit. Our time in Rome ended with a wonderful dinner at the home of Giuseppe, an alum, and his wife Francesca. My observations about Rome: a beautiful, very old city, amazing food (especially gelato), and very elegant people. I want to go back when I can explore on my own.

On Friday, we left for Tirana, Albania. I have to say that I never had Albania on my list of go-to countries, but it is really a nice surprise. the weather is beautiful, our city coordinator is very organized and has provided some great programming for us, and I have met some wonderful people. Stacey and I joined Tony and Bjorn for this leg of the trip. Friday night we had a welcome dinner and yesterday we toured the city. I am including some pictures of the old Communist buildings that were repainted after Communism fell. This was done in order to make them more cheerful. Today we go to the neighboring town of Kruje.

Well, that was a lot of information, but it's been a heck of a week. I appear to have a decent internet connection, so, I'll be able to post a little more.

Until later...

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