Friday, April 27, 2007

Life and Knitting

So many changes have taken place in my life in the span of one year that I sometimes have trouble taking it all in.
It is often hard to feel really settled here in Italy.
I know that it is temporary and I am constatly battling the cultural differences that tend to chip away at my well-ingrained perspective of how the world should run.

I had to find sanity somewhere.
From spring of senior year at A&M through this year in Italy, one thing has remained constant.


That's right.
And I stand proudly by my grandma-like hobby.

I may have moved from every comfort of home: family, friends, Tex-Mex...
But, knitting is a worldwide phenomenon.

After a lengthy search in the fall for someone who could continue to teach me how to create something out of a ball of yarn and two sticks, my hobby was restored to it's rightful place in my life.

Daniela has been a huge blessing to me this year--and I doubt she even knows it.
She is my refuge from the city, my quiet place to practice Italian, and make a fool of myself as I make mistake after mistake.

Currently, my project is still in process.
I started working on a sweater with Daniela around the end of October.
At this point, I will be displaying my handiwork when I am 40.
I really hope sweaters are still stylish in 2024.

But, much like other things in life, it's the journey that counts, right?
And I love having an excuse to go see Daniela and the other ladies that knit with her.

We're a very multi-generational, international little family.
I admire their work, they laugh at me, and often they give me candy.
I feel like that little girl in the Worhter's butterscotch commercials getting candy from her grandpa.

Knitting has not only supplied me with a creative outlet, but I have caught glimpses of culture thorugh my time there.
Daniela normally charges for each lesson, but I started helping her with translation for her website and she said we were even.
I haven't done any translating this semester and she refuses to let me pay.
Once you are friends, all is taken care of, it's about the relationship now, not the money.
It may take longer to make a friend in Italy, but once they trust you, they respond with extreme loyalty.

I have learned so much from living overseas this year.
I have learned some of the things that make me tick: creativity and friendships.

Knitting and Daniela makes me feel like I really live here.

But, I think next time I'll make a hat.
Surely that will be finished before I really am a grandma.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sarah’s Guide to Southern Italy

I have certainly clocked some mileage this week.
And taken more modes of public transportation than I care to recount.
But, in the end, it was all worth it.

Our little crew of four set out for Amalfi on Thursday morning.
The Turners, Ryan’s friend Ryan, and myself were under the impression that we would be soaking up the sun in a mere 4 hours.
We were stoked.

We were sadly mistaken.
Our trip ended up taking about 7 hours.
But it was adventure-filled, so we were entertained.

After a euro-star to Naples, we got on a ghetto above-ground metro thing to Sorrento, and then boarded a bus for the most insane ride of all time.
I don’t know who was crazy enough to make the roads along the Amalfi coast, but I bet you a round of Limoncello that they never meant for a greyhound to go free-wheeling around these hairpin turns.
Between my nausea and gasps of fear, I managed to snap this picture of Franco, our rock-star of a bus driver.

Not only did he think it was hilarious that I would grab onto anything around me when I saw my life flash before my eyes, but he had no problem driving the bus monstrosity with one hand as he wedged between cliffs, walls, cars, and people.
Here are the two Ryans, smiling because they can’t see off the edge of the cliff from Lea Anne’s window.

Our hotel was perfect and Lea Anne and I easily spotted where we would spend the entire next day.

Amalfi really is so cute and it was the perfect spot to soak up some sun, mentally rest, and spiritually recharge.
It was also a great place to enjoy the culture of the South of Italy.
The South is famous for ginormous lemons.
My roommates had requested a large lemon for our apartment.

But after seeing them, I was greatly disturbed and just couldn’t bring myself to pack that freak show in my backpack.
Sorry, girls.

During the day, Lea Anne and I laid out and had a really yummy lunch of salmon pizza.
Trust me—it was great!

The boys were not exactly into the laying-out scene so they rented a boat and drove to Positano.

I know you can’t tell, but that little speck on the water is them.

This is what the boys and the boat looked like up close.

They were gracious enough to come pick us up in the harbor and take us to see some scenery along the coast.


Even though we only had one full day in Amalfi, it was perfect.
I highly recommend this adorable, relaxed, rustic beach town.
If only the travel time was a little shorter…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sarah's Guide to Northern Italy

I want to keep all you wonderful people updated about ministry here.
But, let's face it, I live in Italy.

So, I'm gonna channel Rick Steve's on this one and just tell you about cool places and pretty things.

I get to do this because it's vacation time for Agape Italia.
And I have never been more ready for a vacation.
My feet hurt and I can't think anymore--literally.

So I devised the perfect plan for the unthinking, indecisive me--two trips!
(Part Two soon to follow)

The first was to Milan and the Lakes in Northern Italy.
I went with Katie and her parents.

It was great to see Milan--it took about 30 minutes to see the sights.
The Duomo, the old castle, and the galleria (above).
And that was it.
We had wonderful tour guides in some old friends from Aggieland.

My final word on Milan: It makes me love Florence even more.

But it does have location going for it--only one hour to Lake Como.

If you have time to get up north, Lake Como is worth the effort.
Precious little cities scattered about on the lakeshore and really fun ferries to get you around.

Adorable places to eat on the water.

And super cute shopping streets that have an uphill maze quality that is charming and good for the hamstrings all at the same time.

Also, Como is famously known as the place where George Clooney owns a villa.
Katie and I were on the lookout for him, but we only managed to run into Hilary Swank.
She smiled at me and then I calmly walked out of the store so I could freak out!

I thought Lake Como would be hard to top, but the next day we went to Lake Maggiore.
I had never even heard of this place before.
It's like this secret little Italian getaway--and I think the Italians want to keep it that way.
We were the only foreigners there.

Lake Maggiore has three adorable, tiny islands in the middle of it and those are the places to go.
We only made it to one island, Isola Bella, but I could have spent all day there.
It has a beautiful garden you can tour, and great views of the other islands.

It maybe the affects of prolonged city-life, but I go crazy over water and trees these days.
My daily life of crowded buses and narrow sidewalks may make me prone to obsessing about open spaces, but I'm pretty sure anyone would love these lakes.

So, from your seasoned traveler, I say...
One day in Milan to shop--(H&M anyone??)
And then at least two days to relax at the Lakes.

Katie and I give them a big thumbs up!
(Good choice, George!)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tanti Aguri Laura!

One of the sweetest friendships the Lord has allowed me to invest in this semester is with Laura.
And this sweet girl just turned the exciting age of 20!
So, of course, we had to throw a party.

I was in on the planning with her best friend, Giulia.
To make a long story short--everything I planned didn't happen.
Oh well.
We're gonna chalk it up to cultural differences.

We decided on a restaurant kinda far away for us, but no big deal.
Here, Cassie and I have decided to sit down because of another cultural difference.
Party at 8pm.
We show up at 8pm.
No Italians to speak of.
So we sit down.

Notice how happy we are despite the waiting and the hunger pains.

Unfortunately we have not adjusted to this devaluation of time.
The Italian girls do not show for another 45 minutes.
This is how we really feel about it.

Finally, we have Italians and pizza is on the way.
Let the party begin!

Laura loved her presents.
This girl is an accesories fiend--so she was ecstatic with her bracelets, necklaces and scarves.
Plus, her parents pre-ordered chocolate cake and spumanti for us!
Katie was stoked about the free drinks!

After dinner, we drove with Laura into the center.
Laura is potentially the worst driver I have ever met in my entire life.
So, the night wasn't complete until she scraped past a parked car.
Good times.

All was forgotten when we went "in giro"--(walking around) and landed at Friend's Pub.
A few late night coffees and a few bilingual Disney song renditions later, we wished our little birthday girl "Aguri" and hit the sack. I feel so old and tired with 20 year olds!!