Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dubrovnik and a funny story I never told!

Today is the 22nd day of rain here. Its unbelievable! Its my last weekend before I leave and I was planning to spend the day walking around the city and enjoying down town Sarajevo one last time. Obviously my plans have changed. So here I am surfing the net, facebooking and blogging.

In May (yeah, we have already established how badly I suck at keeping my blog up to date) I went to Dubrovnik with the Ashford family. Max is a little boy in my class and I have loved teaching him. He is adorable. I have gotten to know his parents Anna and Charlie pretty well, they are way cool, and so when they asked me if I wanted to go with them to Dubrovnik I was so excited. They had friends getting hitched there and so they wanted someone to watch the kids (Max has a little sister Mia, also a cutie) while they were enjoying the wedding.

Me and Max

Here is a little lesson on Dubrovnik for those of you who have no clue what and where it is. Don't feel bad, neither did before I came to the Balkans. Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the coastline of the Adriatic Sea. It has a walled city with fortresses at each corner built in the 10 century. As you know from my last post, I like old stuff so I am was completely fascinated.

The drive there was so gorgeous. We traveled through the mountains and then down the coast. I loved it!

the Adriatic Sea

When we arrived, we went to the flat that we were staying in. It was right on the harbor. Beautiful view! Huge, I mean gigantic cruise ships were coming and going during the whole trip and the kids loved watching them.

a view of the bay

the Franjo Tudjman Bridge , right across from the flat we stayed in

The next day we went to the old town. Before going into the walled city we had some lunch. I have mentioned before how I feel about the pizza in Sarajevo. But Charlie was insisting that the pizza in Europe is much better than what you find in the states. I was very skeptical! I guess it depends on how you like your pizza, but for me if you have to eat it with a fork, its not right. Anyhow I order pizza to prove I was willing to give it a try and it was a bad as I had imagined. While I was at it (showing my open mindedness) I also tried a piece of Charlie's OCTOPUS. I have texture issues and eating tentacles just grossed me out. Not something I will try again anytime soon.

an island fortress

outside the walled city

After lunch we explored the walled city for a few hours. So cool! The architecture was unreal. We didn't have time that day to walk the city walls so we planned it for the next day.

can't recall what this building is, awesome architecture though

a cool fountain that was built in the 1400's by some Italian guy

pigeon square, Dubrovnik style (Sarajevo has one just like to come in next post)

The next day it rained. And the day after that. And the day after that.

I never got to walk the city walls or go to the beach, but even so the trip was really fun. I am easy, I am happy just hanging out watching movies or reading a book. I was wonderful just to get out of Sarajevo for a few days.

Okay, so here is the funny story that I never told, but just for you to have a laugh...its never to late I guess. This happened way back in January when it was cold and snowy and miserable. Flor and I were on our way to work, Eskimo jackets, snow boots and was bloody cold this winter. Normally we walk through the park but the paths were so icy we decided to go the other way, down the stairs. I wanted to be extra careful, I was not about to have a broken leg. So we are walking along and then...BOOM!!! I am down! It happened so FAST, it took me a few seconds to realize what had happened. It's not what you are thinking, I didn't slip on the ice, I fell into a HOLE! The look on Flor's face when she turned around was priceless. Of course she was concerned that I was okay, but I must have looked like such an idiot because she couldn't help laughing. After I climbed out of the pit we were both laughing hysterically (luckily I wasn't hurt) and then we started wondering how it was possible. We figure out that the hole was covered with a lid, but it wasn't fastened. I must have stepped on the corner or in the exact right spot to change the balance and make the lid flip up. Later, I jumped back in to take a photo for your enjoyment. This reenactment, Flor can assure you, is nowhere near as funny as I really looked. I suppose there is a good reason why Jenna always calls me "clumsy Hayley." That moment started a chain reaction. I think I fell like 3 more times that week. Good thing I want to live in California for the rest of my life, I'm sorta safer there.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

London! And my BEST post ever!

I was thinking that since I will be coming home is less than two weeks I should probably finish writing about all my adventures here. So here goes. Warning, this is gonna be long so if you have something better to do...but I am fairly certain that this will be my best and most interesting post. Lots of pictures!

Well, I finally got out of Sarajevo and visited another European city! YAY! I was very fortunate to go on a short trip to London in April. One word...AMAZING.

I arrived in the middle of the afternoon on Friday and took the tube, which is so well organized and so easy to use by the way, straight to Oxford Street. I met up with Flor (she was already in London doing a training) and then we went to Starbucks for a sandwich and a chat. What a pleasure! Like a little piece of home. LOL, not that I got to Starbucks often, only when I feel like splurging on a $5 hot chocolate, but you know what I mean, its just comforting. Later we dropped my luggage at Javi's (Flor's boyfriend)and then the 3 of us went for a walk along the Thames River. I caught glimpses of the sites I was desperate to see. It was lovely to see them from a distance all lit up and it got me so excited for the rest of my trip.

For the record, I did not take this photo. I forgot the camera that night but this is exactly what I saw.

Saturday morning Flor had training so I spent the morning exploring the Tower of London, But first I had to walk across the Tower Bridge to get there. It's very impressive. The detail in the architecture is unbelievable.

How cool was it to be in the actual royal palace? Obviously I have heard the stories and seen the movies about the Kings and Queens of England, but then there I was, where it all happened. It's the craziest feeling thinking that you are standing in the exact place where Anne Boelyn was executed or where a battle was fought. I have always loved history but this experience gave me an even greater appreciation for it.

The White Tower (the central keep at the palace) houses the armour of King Henry VIII. It was really interesting to see the evolution of the armour worn by the knights. Some of the helmets and shields were like works of art, super cool!

My favorite part of the Tower of London...the Crown Jewels! Forgive me, I am a girl and what girl doesn't love huge diamonds. Wow, the crown jewels are brilliant. Of course you are not allowed to take picture so you will have to see them for yourself someday. Outside the Jewel House there is armed guards and then the vault doors are seriously like 2 feet thick, no joke. Inside the vault the jewels are in glass cases in the middle of the room and then on either side they are those flat escalator things like in really big airports.(what’s the official name for those things, anybody know?) So you just stand there and the thing moves you along and you just gawk at the enormous diamonds and gold and silver plates and goblets and basins and all those things they use in the different ceremonies for the Kings and Queens. Its incredible really!

The Jewel House

The Armed Guard outside the Jewel House

After I had my fill of looking at old stuff I decided to get some new stuff. I went to Oxford circus and did a little shopping. I got great deals at Gap and H&M! I also checked out Selfridges which was stupid expensive but I picked up a few things at MAC of course! I met Flor for lunch at Pizza Hut. Okay, I know what you are thinking, you are London why in the world would you eat at Pizza Hut of all places. Well I will tell you why, because the pizza in Sarajevo looks so nasty that I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole and because I love pizza and especially pepperoni, which they don’t have in Sarajevo, and because anything from home is golden even if its just mediocre greasy deep dish. Anyways, after we ate I did a bit more shopping and then Flor and I met up with Javi for the evening.

That’s when it all began, the non stop walking and walking and walking. I really felt like I should have been singing that primary song about the pioneer children. LOL. I make it sound like a bad thing now, but in reality it was fantastic. I realized when we were walking that London is pretty small and you can get anywhere by foot. I saw everything while we walked.

The Houses of Parliament

Big Ben

The London Eye

And much more. Then we came to my favorite place of the whole trip.
Westminster Abbey.

When standing directly in front of it I was completely overwhelmed...yes I started crying. Not just because it's that beautiful but because I had seen the paintings and photographs of this place so many times before and had dreamed about being in London and seeing it for real for forever. I was actually there, finally, and that was just too much for me to handle I guess. The crazy thing is that I didn’t even get to go inside, it was closed, but still it was an amazing experience that I wont forget.

Flor and I (tiny specks in comparison)

I took my first ride in a double-decker bus on Sunday. It was cool and a bit scary being up so high on the road. We rode to Hyde Park for a little picnic. A note about the parks in London...they are HUGE! I loved it, there were so many people just hanging and talking and since it was the first day of sunny weather since I had arrived, we soaked up the sun. We ate our strawberries and dried mangoes and then laid down in the grass for a little nap.

Flor and I in Hyde Park

When we were rejuvenated we took a walk that lead us to the famous Harrods.
Harrods is unbelievable. It’s so gigantic that you totally get lost. Its decorated in an Egyptian theme, I loved it. They have anything and everything you could imagine. Food, clothes, toys, sporting equipment, make up, perfume, purses, and shoes...whatever you want! Most of it is much to expensive to even think about purchasing but I did manage to get a few more eye shadows from Mac and some yummy treats.

What can I say, I am a huge dork!

Next we headed for Buckingham Palace. So, I was just a tiny bit disappointed with Buckingham Palace. I expected it to be grander, more royal looking. Maybe it's just me but I wasn't as impressed with it as I was with the rest of London's sites. The tulips on the grounds were gorgeous though!

Monday was my last day in London, Flor had training again so I planned to do some more shopping before I took the tube back to the airport. First we ate a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast (again something I cant find in Sarajevo)and then we headed for Oxford Street. I shopped plenty that morning and got some summer clothes. After that I was off. My trip was so much fun but not long enough. I will definitely be going back to London in the near future!

Just because every person who tours London should have photo like this!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sick Day!

So as usual I have been horrible about keeping my blog updated...this time has been the worst though. There has been some kind of stomach flu going around at the school and I finally caught it (probably from cleaning up vomit...I know that's nasty but it comes with the territory of being a preschool teacher). Last night I started feeling so nauseated and then this morning I couldn't get out of bed. I called in sick at around 7 and then went back to sleep until 10:30. 12 hours of sleep later and I still feel like I'm going to throw up any minute, but at least I am rested. Anyways, since I am just lying here in bed I thought I could at least manage to do some typing.

So, what has been going on since last I wrote??? Dang, that was in December. It doesn't seem like that long ago, time really passes so quickly. Well, I went home for Christmas and for my little brother's wedding. It was so fun being home!!! I hung out with my mom a ton and we had a blast decorating the house and shopping the after Christmas sales. Got tons of great deals on clothes and Christmas decorations for next year. My mom is so awesome, I loved spending time with her.

I also got to hang out with all my best friends from HS. It was great having Brenda and Andre in town with their darling Sophie. One morning the girls came over for breakfast and my mom made us her famous french toast. It was like old times.

Of course I also went to Heather and Chris' a lot. We ate Pizza Bell and watched T.V. That's pretty much what we do. They have a little darling too. Paisley is adorable. I spent a few days with my sister and her beautiful sons. My favorite place on earth is where ever they are. I can't get enough of them! I even got to meet up with some old roomies from college. I was so good to see the those girls!

Then there was the wedding. Pat and Cat got married in Tahoe. It was so cool to see my little brother making such a big commitment and taking on so much responsibility. He is a man now! :) The ceremony was really special since Jon was the one marrying them. He was nervous I think, but he did a fantastic job.

After the wedding in Tahoe we had a party in Elk Grove at our house so people could come and say congratulations and stuff. Maybe some of you dint know this about me, but I love party planning! Pat and Cat allowed me to be in charge of everything and I had so much fun organizing everything, the food and decorations etc. Pat is a picky eater so I didn't want to do fancy food he wouldn't like. Maybe the food wasn't traditional for a wedding, but it was good and I think everybody really enjoyed it. We served little smokies, pizza rolls, mozzarella sticks and popcorn chicken. There was also a variety of dips for chips, crackers, fruit and veggies. And of course yummy desserts. My mom's friend Julia helped me set up the food on risers and the presentation was awesome! Everything looked so good. I also spent a lot of time decorating. The wedding colors were black and white and since it was January there was also a snowflake theme. I decorated the white Christmas tree with black, white and silver and then I hung snowflakes and snowballs from the ceiling. There were candles everywhere. It turned out really beautiful and I was so happy about it. Of course I had moments when I was totally stressed, but overall I loved the whole process from beginning to end. The experience got me thinking that maybe I will be a teacher during the week and a party planner on the weekend. (I will have to post pictures later...they are on my mom's camera)

All in all, my trip home was amazing and it was difficult to say goodbye yet again to all the people that I love so much! It only took me a few days of being home to realize that I couldn't stay so far away for very much longer. When I arrived back in Sarajevo I decided that I would finish out the school year and then I would be going back home for good. Of course it will be a bittersweet parting. Although I miss my family and friends terribly and believe that I will be much happier at home, it will also be hard to leave Sarajevo. I have met many wonderful people here and have come to care for them a lot. I love the kids I teach. I know that I will always wonder about them. I guess this is how most people feel when they return home from an adventure. Anyways, I still have 3 months or so to enjoy my time here. And that's what I intend to do!