...went by with a tragic quickness. This country is a delightful mess of new and old, and it never left me bored (and I must say, I am quite fond of pasta, pizza, and gelatto). People speak of getting "museum-ed out," but so far I have experienced quite an opposite effect. Passing through the Guggenheim in Venice, the Uffizi in Florence, and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, paintings seemed to come more and more alive by the day. Maybe it is because I have not seen a film in so long, but I have never sensed such overwhelming drama and even sexuality from visual arts before (is it weird to be aroused by depictions of the virgin Mary? Some of these Madonnas are hot!). My visit did have its rough edges... The heat was sometimes miserable (mandating culturally appropriate siestas), the Romans seem to prefer throwing trash in the gutters and bushes, and Italian beer realized how much I have been spoiled by Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic (and damn my eyes, I should have realized the Colosseum and the Roman Forum were covered by the same ticket!). And my night train from Rome to Switzerland... The air conditioning was broken, making the cabin quite like a sauna, the water system was broken, making it difficult to brush our teeth or soak our shirts to battle the heat, the electricity was broken, so we could not charge our phones or ipods, and the train was an hour late by the first stop (pssh... Italian trains). My bunk was at the top of the ladder - three beds high. Heat rises. After stipping down and still feeling the sweat rolling down my sides, I threw all my sheets down and slept on the floor.
Bern is cute - and served as a pleasant return to the refreshingly brisk environment I had learned in Germany and Austria. A fine place to recharge my batteries after my challenging pace in Rome. It is strange though, to walk into a shop and not know if you will be greeted with a "Guten Tag" or a "Bonjour." German and French are pretty interchangable there.
A meaningful shock took hold of me when I realized I would be much upset if I lost my notebooks than if my ipod were stolen. My notes I hope to use as an index to help bring me back to these beautiful day I am having... my ipod is just a nice toy (but a helpful one at that - prior to leaving I loaded it with a handful of language guides, cultural podcasts, and walking audiotours).
I am now in Barcelona. I came here to swim in the Mediterranean. And it is raining. It has been raining all day. Tomorrow, rain or shine, I am swimming in the Mediterranean.