Monday, June 27, 2011

I lost a day somewhere. They're all blending into one at this point. On the 13th I actually went to the Eiffel Tower (and did not climb to the top), and then I did all the cathedrals on the 14th and 18th Century Palooza on the 15th. Not that it matters but I'd just like to set the record straight.

ANYWAYS. Addie Jo is actually writing about the churches she's studying in her blog and it's making me look bad, so since I got this scholarship to study the interplay of fashion, architecture, and politics in major 18th century European empires I am going to write something about that.

I have a tentative theory that may be total crap but I'm going to share it with the world anyways. This would be an illustrated theory but I'm having some Issues uploading photos (@&#%!!!!!!!) so we'll just have to wait on pictures.

In my humble opinion, I think the difference between Austrian and French 18th century politics is definitely reflected in the architecture. And when I say architecture I really mean interior design because it's far easier to update an interior to the atest fashion than an entire building that's been around forever. Schonbrunn palace in Vienna was the imperial summer residence and most of the rooms are still in their rococo state. What really struck me about the gilded wall decorations was the naturalness of the designs. The walls and ceilings were decorated with beautiful creeping rose vines that were symmetrical in terms of the entire room but individual walls had their own unique persoality (the rococo was big on symmetry). Sometimes there would be a muscal instrument tucked into the decoration, but it was mostly natural, floral motifs. The woodwork on some of the flors was highly decorative, but that isn't something I noticed right away. Even the orientalist rooms, which were extremely lavish and overdecorated, still carried a snese of the natural and organic.

The Hotel Soubise in Paris, the rococo rooms in Versailles, and the rococo rooms which have been transported to other museums in Paris have been quite different. The symmetry is complete not only in the overall rom but in the individual designs. Rather than lighter floral motifs many of the rooms had classical references and instruments and giant bursts of swirlies and the nature imagery was far more heavy and ordered. In all there is a sense of power and order and structure. Teh French rococo interiors have been just as, if not more, elaborate than the Viennese interiors, but it's a different kind of elaborate. More heavy and formal. There is the slightest tint of the baroque if you squint hard enough.

I think this is a reflection of the political systems. Both France and Austria were powerful players in the 18th century, as can be seen by the lavishness of the interiors. But political life was different in each country. France took absolutism to the extreme, with everything meant to glorify the power of the monarchy and control the nobility. Court life was highly ritualized, even the act of getting out of bed and dressing (the morning toilette which I could go on about but I wont) was ritualized. Political life was an expression of the power of the monarch and therefore the control he had over everything, even nature (thats why French gardens are so structured, another thing I could go on about). I think this is referenced in the interiors with their more elaborate and tightly controlled designs. While the Austrian monarchy was still powerful, political life was far more relaxed and the nobility was not held under such tight control. Which is reflected in the lighter, more relaxed, and more natural style of the interiors.

This is just something I've been thinking about as I've been making my way through Europe. Next academic post: How Swedish politics are reflected in Swedish fashion.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 15th

Today was an 18th Century Palooza!! All days should be an 18th Century Palooza. I started by going to the Musee Cognacq-Jay which is in the Hotel Donan on the Rue Elzevir. It says it's a museum of 18th century Paris, but what it really is is some dude's collection of 18th Century Stuff. No complaints here! An entire museum with my favorite art!! They had Fragonards and Bouchers and Vigee-Lebruns and a bed belonging to one of Louis XVs daughters! I give it four out of five macarons because their selection of postcards in the gift shop left much to be desired and most of the guards were literally asleep in their chairs. Which firstly meant that I could have stolen my very own Boucher as a souvenier, and secondly meant that I couldn't ask questions. One guy was awake and he didn't speak much English but he did his best to tell me about the bed and the beautiful portrait of the woman who used to read to Marie Antoinette. Definitely one of my favorite museums of the trip so far.

Then I went to the Hotel de Soubise which was a little disappointing because they didn't have that many rooms open. But the ones that were open were full out rococo splendor, which just happens to be my favorite so that was exciting. This Hotel, and its neighboring Hotels, house the national archives, so some exciting papers were on display. Like Louis XVI's and Napoleon's wills, a letter written by Marie Antoinette while in prison, the Edict of Nantes, and Something Important written in 612. They also had a very cool exhibit about something, possibly counterfitting or treasonous plots or something. The displays were very cool, but as there was no English translation anywhere I couldn't tell what was going on.

Now I'm pretty sure the Hotel de Rohan on the opposite corner is also a museum, but it wasn't open which was disappointing. So I headed down the street to the Musee Carnavalet, which is the museum of the history of Paris. It's in two Hotels, so there's no staight path to get through so you end up doing a lot of doubling back, and the 17th century section was sadly closed, but other than that I give it five out of five macarons. The 18th century section is made up of rooms from various Hotels and the like and their all painted different pastel colors and are so so beautiful. Someday when I have a house I'm making all the rooms full out rococo. And there was lots of art to look at! I also liked the French Revolution floor, which had some stuff belonging to my ancestor the Marquis de LaFayette, some revolutionary cockades and other assorted paraphenalia, and an actual lock of Marie Antoinette's hair. There was one really interesting painting, so I asked the guard if he could translate the info plaque for me. He had a really thick accent so it was hard to understand him, but it had something to do with people being angry about Necker. He asked if I knew who that was and was impressed when I said yes. Then he took me to another painting and said "Now this is very interesting. You know how they wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man? Well this is the Declaration of the Rights of Women, which most people haven't heard of. It's about-" And I said "Oh yes, I know, I've read it." He was so surprised and very impressed.

The 19th century rooms were cool too, one had allthese little statues that were charicatures of famous people. The Franz Lizst one had this huge flowing mane of hair. I laughed out loud. I didn't do the 20th century rooms because the museum was closing and modern stuff is boring.

June 14th

I had a very busy day today! I started by going to Sainte Chapelle, which is my favorite gothic cathedral and one I've wanted to see since we studied it in AP Art History. After waiting in line for forever and going through airport security I finally got inside. You go into the basement area, where all the vaulted ceilings are painted blue with gold stars and all the columns are painted red and blue. Then you walk up the narrowest stairs on the planet and emerge into the cathedral proper. I cant even describe what its like to emerge into that room. For those of you that haven't googled it by now, Sainte Chapelle doesn't have walls. It has stained glass windows. It's like if some one filled a crystal bowl with jewels and then you dived into the middle of it. It was absolutely breathtaking. I know religion has been responsible for some horrifying things, but you cant stand in a place of such beauty and say that religion is completely bad. Not when it produces something like that.

After that I went to Notre Dame. The cathedral itself is fine, but the real fun is going up to the top. The wait was like two hours, but it was so completely worth it. I have all the Sherlock Holmes stories on my ipod so I amused myself by reading The Hound of the Baskervilles while I waited (I finished it last night- AMAZING). Then you climb 400 terrifying narrow worn down steps and you're there. I'm really glad I switched to sneakers at the last minute this morning instead of my slippery flats.

Now, like most of you, when I went to the top of Notre Dame I expected this to happen:

As it turns out, the gargoyles do not in fact come to life and make wisecracks and sing songs. DISNEY LIED TO ME YOU GUYS. But despite the disappointing lack of musical numbers, the top of Notre Dame is really cool. You can see the whole city and the gargoyles are incredible.

Then I walked over tot he Hotel de Ville, which is Paris' city hall and therefore not a museum like it should be, the pillar marking where the Bastille used to be, and the Place des Vosges which is a nice little park and the oldest city square in Paris. They used to have jousts there! I think a knight on horseback charging through the picnicers would have been an amusing addition to the scene.

June 12th

Today I hit up the Paris flea markets. The Paris fleas are a magical place filled with beautiful things I cant afford. Whole shops filled with chandeliers and golden furniture hundreds of years old and candelabras and crystal vases and there were whole stores just for old fans!! I adore old fans. And then there are the stores with all the old books with beautiful leather binding and that old book smell. When I'm rich I'm going to furnish an entire house solely with stuff from the Paris fleas.

To get to the fleas you walk through the ghetto, past the sketchy dudes standing under the concrete overpass selling sunglasses, past the stands with the knockoff perfume and bags and African carvings, and then you turn a corner and suddenly everything is peaceful and you're surrounded by antiques.

What I really wanted was some old letters. I had been led to believe that there were plenty for cheap. There are old postcards out the wazoo, but I could only find one lady who sold old letters and they zere €20 to €30 a pop. I didn't leave empty handed though. I got a fashion plate from the 1820s, one from the 1870s, and an illustration from the 18th century, all for ridiculously cheap. So I'd say it was still a very successful day.

June 11th

I woke up this morning a little sad because I had an amazing birthday and I didnt't want it to be over. Then I remembered that I'm in Paris. !!!!!!!!!

Today I mostly did a bit of exploring. I toured the Paris Opera House wich was beautiful. And I found a nice American couple to take a picture of me doing an arabesque in the grand foyer. Then I tried to find an affordable lunch and ended up at this restaurant where the guy tells me that the cheap menu actually isnt available anymore AFTER I got all settled and so felt obligated to order. I decided to go for the smoked salmon salad, because I like salmon, so surely I must like smoked salmon. Smoked salmon is cold and slimey and tastes like snot. And the "salad" was made up of like three pieces of lettuce and twelve salmon so its not like I could just eat around it. I did the best I could, because it cost me €13 and there are starving people who would have been happy to have smoked salmon, but I could only stomache about half. I left feeling very grumpy. How do people eat smoked salmon? Fortunately there was a Pierre Herme around the corner so I cheered myself up with a few macarons. Pierre Herme puts so much cream in between the two cookies I made a total mess eating them but they were soooooooo good.

That evening I went to the Ladurée bar for a belated birthday cocktail and to meet with Chloe, an Australian I met at the hostel in Stockholm. I had a very fancy and very delicious macaron cocktail and had the most lovely girly evening chatting with my friend.

June 10th

It's my 22nd birthday today!! And my hair magically looked nice enough for me to wear down. My first stop of the day was the Champs-Elysées to go to Ladurée for a birthday lunch. Parisians apparently don't believe in labeling their major roads. After walking in circles (literally) for like half an hour I finally got my bearings. It was cloudy and cold, but just as I spotted Ladurées green storefront the sun came out. After years of longing I was finally there! I've had dreams of going to Ladurée multiple times- even my subconscious wanted to go.

The restaurant is made up of a bunch of beautiful salons. They all have the same general decor theme, but in different colors with slight variations. It all looks very 18th century/second empire. For lunch I had leg of lamb with new potatoes and it was the best meal I've ever had. There was some sort of thick deep red sauce with some kind of berry in it and it was AMAZING. After eating all the delicious lamb (it was so tender it almost melted in my mouth) and the delicious red potatoes (I don't even like red potatoes) I used the bread to soak up the remaining sauce. Then for desert I had hot chocolate and this pastry with all these fluffy pastries with light pink frosting stacked on top of each other and rose flavored whipped cream and fresh raspberries and topped with a rose petal and I have never had anything more delicious in my life. It went way beyond your ordinary sweet pastry. It was a culinary masterpiece.

Everything at Ladurée is beautiful. The butter is cylindrical shaped and comes in a Ladurée green wrapper (and is the best butter in the world). The bill has flourishes and cherubs on it. The ladies working the pastry counter wear aprons shaped like pink pastries. It's my favorite place in the world. It's absolutely magical. Holly Golightly is to Tiffanys as Katy is to Ladurée. It lived up to all my hopes and dreams.

After lunch I was full to bursting, so naturally I went to stand in line for more pastries. I finally FINALLY got two boxes of macarons of my very own. And the most beautiful cake in the world. The lady said it feeds four, but she clearly underestimated my cake eating abilities. She also wished me a happy birthday!

As I was walking out of Ladurée and down the Champs-Elysèes I almost started crying. I don't know if I can handle this much happiness. I love Paris. I have found my soul city. I just feel right here, I feel at home. In no other city have I felt such belonging and contentment. I am going to learn French and get a job in a museum and stay here forever.

Then I walked over to Cire Trudon to get some candles. Even the little side streets are beautiful here. Cire Trudon has been making candles for the monarchy since the early 17th century and I'm pretty sure they still use the same recipe. I would be a poor 18th century scholar indeed if I did not have some candles like the aristocracy. I'm a bit disappointed though because the sales lady wasnt enormously friendly andi nstead of wrapping my candles in the pretty black paper with the fancy gold sticker she used plain white paper and tape. A blogger I follow talked about how lovely Cire Trudon was, but I guess I'm not rich enough for star treatment. She could at least have asked me if I needed any help!

When I got back to the hostel I did a little photoshoot with my cake, macarons, and candles. The wallpaper is AMAZING and provided the perfect backdrop.

In the evening I went to the lobby and shared my cake with everyone. I was a little nervous, because I bought this beautiful pink pastry in Vienna and it tasted like nail polish remover. What if my beautiful cake wasn't any good? It was good. Even the fondant was good. Fondant is NEVER good. And it wasnt filled with cake. Oh no, it was filled with thick rose flavored cream and raspberries and lychee and you'd think that a mouth full of that would be too sweet and overwhelming, but this aint no crap Harris Teeter cake so it was just perfect. And so rich! I ate like half of it anyways.

It was the most wonderful birthday in the whole entire world!! I feel just like Marie Antoinette. Before all the bad stuff happened.

June 9th

I give up. I'm doomed to problem trains. This time we're stuck for an hour minimum. We're only like an hour from Paris, it's so close!! And my phone battery is punking out on me despite the fact that I charged it all night and my ipod is dying. FML. At this point we'll get into Paris at like 2 am and I'll end up sleeping through half my birthday tomorrow. I'm getting so many macarons after this. Have I mentioned that I didnt eat today? WHAT DOES THE EUROPEAN RAILWAY SYSTEM HAVE AGAINST ME?!?!?! And I finished my book but at this point I'm going to start over because I'm BORED. And I'm tired and my feet are cold and I just wanted to get a good nights sleep for my birthday tomorrow.

After a couple hours waiting we finally made it to Paris at like 11:30. I was a little worried about taking the metro that late, but I made it to the hostel without any incident.

They say Paris is the city of love, but I rather think its the city of stairs. There are 112 steps to get out of my metro stop. I know because there was a sign that said 'just so you know, there are 112 steps so old people should probably take the elevator'. Then there was another staircase up to my street. Then my room was on the 5th floor. And all this happened with me carrying like 50 lbs of stuff. I could feel the sweat dripping down my back. And it didnt help that the guy at reception was more interested in watching a movie on TV than checking me in. I got to the room, hopped in the shower, and passed out in bed. I fell asleep trying to make myself believe that I was really in Paris at last!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today I'm 22 and in Paris!!! And about to go to Laduree after years of longing to. Best birthday ever!!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 8th

Last night sucked falling asleep because 3 smelled so bad and was hocking up spit and mukus into a cup. Do you know how unbearable that sound is? I almost puked which would have given me a panic attack because I had had a salad for lunch and was already freaking out about e. coli.

Then this morning I was woken up by a manager yelling at some one that they had to check out and leave. This person didnt want to leave. Then the manager was arguing with some one else about a reservation. I kept hearing "Then where did you sleep!!" Then my own bed is being shaken. I sat up to see 6, 8b, and an angry manager. She demanded to know if I was checking out today, I said no, then she demanded to know if I had a reservation, I said yes. THIS HOSTEL IS FILLED WITH CRAZY PEOPLE AND THEYRE ALL IN MY ROOM. 6 and 8b were back in new beds, I was being interrogated about my reservation, and I looked over and saw a cup half full of spit and mucus next to bed 3.

At exactly 15:30 when the front desk opened I asked to change rooms.

June 7th

today I went to the art museum and the paper museum. The art museum was OK, I didnt really like it. The paper museum was awesome!! Its a real working paper mill so the gift shop was awesome. The museum itself wasnt very well organiyed but who cares because you got to DO STUFF.

First I made two sheets of paper. I made my own paper!!! Then I went upstairs and got to use two kinds of printing presses. One stamped the paper with a picture of teh museum. The other, I got to arrange letters to write my own message (I wrote my name). In the next room, I learned how to fold this one kind of envelope, which I then wrote on with a quill and ink. Then a woman sealed it for me using my choice of seal and sealing wax (gold). Tehn she made a bookmark, sealed it (blue wax, fancy K seal), and I got to put it in a machine and emboss it with a nautilus shell shape. In all I made six things. SO COOL!!

On the way home I stopped by a chocolate shop and bought all sorts of chocolate. It tastes so amaying, I dont know what I will do without it. Best chocolate Ive ever had. It would be worth it to move here for the chocolate.

Bed 8: A Play in 2 Acts

The setting: YMCA Hostel in Basel Switzerland.

The players:
Narrator- a roaming redhead who is travelling through Europe and likes to be the thimble or top hat when she plays monopoly. Sleeps in bed 1.
Bed 2- older Italian man, a teacher, loves the fine arts
Bed 3- a very smelly hipster who thinks appropriate quiet night time getting to know you conversation inolves ranting about how the first world is terroriying and robbing the third world
Bed 4- friendly Asian girl
Bed 5- No one
Bed 6- deaf-mute Bulgarian artist who decorated his bed with pictures of himself
Bed 7- grumpy Asian man
Bed 8a- blonde German biology student named Suzanna
Bed 8b- the artists creepy friend

I checked ina nd got settled inb ed 1, while 8a did the same. 8a then left to go explore. 6 brought in a manager and through miming asked whow as staying in bed 8. Manager explained it was a girl.

Act I, Scene i (June 5th)
I was on the computer in the lobby when I see 6 walk up to the front desk with a friend, 8b. The manager explained that bed 8 was already reserved by 8a, so 8b couldnt stay there. 6 was not happy. 8b didnt have a rservation but the manager said he could stay in bed 5.

Scene ii
I returned to the room after dinner to see 8b lying in bed 8. Thinking he and 8a had arranged a bed swap, I didnt think anything of it. He asked whose stuff was in locker 8, because he wanted to put his stuff there and seemed offended that some one elses stuff was there. This should have made me suspicious but his English was so broken I thought there was just a misunderstanding.
8b: Where are you from?
Me: America.
8b: Are you here on holiday?
Me: Yes.
8b: Do you like pot?
Me: No.
8b: Its good!
Me: ??????
8b: Im going out for a smoke.

Scene iii
8a returns to the room and freaks out because she sees that some one has been sleeping in her bed and taken the key to her locker so she cant get her stuff. Turns out 8b stole her bed, Im guessing at the request of 6. 8a gets a manager, and I inform them of the conversation I had heard in the lobby, where another manager explicitely told 8b that he couldnt sleep in bed 8. After much fuss, 8a switches rooms for the night and the manager opens her locker for her.

3 introduces himself to me as Im settling in to go to sleep. We get to chatting and I mention how expensive food here is. He starts ranting that all the wealth in the world is only owned by 20% of the population and the Swiss and American armies are going into poor countries and robbing and terrorzing them and somehow I am a part of all this. Dude, its not my fault Im an American, I havent robbed or terroriyed anybody, shut up because Im trying to sleep.

Act II, Scene i (9 AM on June 6th)
A manager is in the room and 8b is packing to leave. 6 is asleep.

Scene ii
8a returns to claim her bed, with the support of a manager, 4, and me who was woken up and dragged into the whole mess. 6 wakes up and refuses to let 8a into her bed. She tries to explain that its her bed and using very violent sign language 6 refuses to let her have it and demands she takes bed 5 instead (which she couldnt because 1. you dont give in to rude demands like that and 2. the hostel was full that night). 2 wakes up and can apparently communicate with 6. He tries to explain that 8a needs the bed. 8b is nowhere to be seen. After mcuh fighting everyone goes downstairs to work it out. 4 informs me that 2 and 6 actually live in the hostel. 7 starts banging on the side of the bed and making angry shushing sounds.

2 and 6 had to switch rooms anyways so 8a got her bed. I was still stuck next to smelly 3.

June 5th

So far I have had two experiences with people. I go up to them and ask "Do you speak English?" in their language. Response 1: They smile and say yes and ask were Im from and help me read the menu or whatever. Response 2; They snap no and glare at em for daring to ask. Im sorry Im not fluent in Swedish, Danish, Italian, German, French, and Swiss German but I think thats a little much to ask of me. Two out of three train station people that I talked to did not speak English and I managed as best I could but it was still frustrating. It would have been one thing if they tried to work with me, but they just glared at me and waited for me to magically gain fluency. With the help of a nice man sitting across from me I did eventually make it to Basel.

We drove through the Alps, which are so beautiful I cant even handle it. Theyre covered in lush green pine forests and soemtimes the gray rock will peek through on steeper areas and there were waterfalls and clouds swirling around the peaks and some were topped with snow. I wanted to write a poem or paint a masterpiece or something. When I look at nature thats so beautiful I see G-d. Not that I dont believe in evolution, but I just feel the presence of G-d. Its a spiritual feeling to experience that kind of grandness and beauty. I dont really know how to explain it. Everyone should take a train ride through the Alps before they die.

June 4th

Today I took a sketchball but cheap train to Milan. After having some lunch at a resturaunt where the birds were not afraid to hop right onto your table, I went to the big gothic cathedral. Theyd just finished doing renovations so unlike the cathedrals in Vienna it was gleaming white and not covered ins caffolding. The Italians never really got the whole gothic thing, so it wasnt very elegant, but it was still beautiful. The inside was lit by really harsh flourescents which gave a sort of cold and clinical feeling to thep lace, but the stained glass windows were lovely and softened the mood.

After that I went to La Scala, which I completely forgot was in Milan. Fortunately nothing was playing that night (although theyre doing Romeo et Juliette!!), because if there had been something I would have bought tickets, ran back to Como to change clothes, ran back to Milan, and then gotten back to Como at like 1 AM and been locked out of the hostel.

I toured their museum, which allowed you to go into one of the beautiful boxes and look into the theater. The otuside of La Scala isnt very impressive, but the inside is breathtaking. Red velvet drapery and gilding and chandeliers. Photography wasnt allowed but I snuck a few pictures anyways. Theyre showing the movie Metropolis tomorrow evening, so they were testing the lights (I got there just in time to see the theater illuminated before it went dark) and the projection equipment. The contrast between the film and the tehater was really striking. I think these dystopic worlds are often a reaction to the over the top luxury embodied by La Scala, but the emptiness of the world in the film was frightening, especially when compared to the individual beauty of the theater. I know luxury comes at a price, but the thought of losing that beauty terrifies me. And my budget interior designs are proof that some luxury doesnt need jillions of dollars.

The museum was fun, they had lots of portraits of famous singers and composers and old costume jewelry and instruments owned by famous composers. In the library they had some costumes on display from recent productions, including some gorgeous tutus and masks and Papagena! The costume was the same as my idea- the pannier were a cage and then a skirt underneith was painted with pretty birds.

As it was too difficult to get a picture of myswelf pretending to sing opera in the theater, I got one of me outside the building. A tour group was very amused, and one person was very nice and took several pictures of me being silly. I attracted quite a crowd and one guy started taking pictures of me. It was all slightly embarassing but mostly funa nd Im realy happy about the pictures.

When I got back to Como I went to this Boldini exhibit at the Villa Olmo. They had art not only by Boldini but by a few of his contemporaries and I loved it. It was all new to me and was just marvelous. I want the exhibition catalog. The Villa was amaying too- every surface was covered in frescos in a classical style and gilding and it was all so colorful. There was even a little theater! I wish the other floors had been open for touring. I want to go to a grand ball there. I emerged to see Lake Como at night. The mountains were dark against the sky and all these little lights were twinkling from the towns. It was so lovely. For some stupid reason, until that moment the thought that Lake Como might be equally gorgeous at night hadnt even entered my mind.

June 3rd

Since it was nice out in the morning, I decided to take a boat tour of the lake. Lake Como is truly gorgeous. Lush green mountains dotted with little towns. At one point the boat stopped at this gorgeous little island and I saw fish swimming in the water. There arent any beaches, its just mountains rising directly from the water which is really lovely.

I didnt know if I was supposed to get off the boat or if it would circle round back to Como. I saw two girls from my hostel, so I asked them. This was how I met Erin and Kelsey, the west coast version of my best friend Sarah and I. It had taken two hours to reach this point, and I didnt fancy another two hours at least to get back, so I got off at Bellagio with Kelsey and Erin.

They invited me to have lunch with them, and then we walked around the town and did some shopping. We took the bus back to Como which went along one of those windy narrow mountain roads that has a steep cliff on one side. And it was supposedly a two lane road but there were a lot of narrow squeezes and I feared for my life.

When we got back to Como we went to a silk museum, which was really cool! They had all these old machines used for silk thread and fabric production. And they had huge spools of silk thread in the gift shop for only two euros.

As an early birthday present, Erin bought me dinner and Kelsey made a donation to the Paris Pastry Fund. We had only known each other for a few hours but at this point we were all eating off each others plates and fooling around like we had known each other for years. When we got back to the hostel I pulled out my regency dress and sewed some sequins and we had a nice long conversation about all sorts of stuff. Ive met a lot of people on this trip, but these are definitely two friends I will actually keep in touch with.

June 1st

I thought Id be travelling all day, but since it takes like 12 hours to get to Lake Como, I had to take a night train. Sleeper car number 2. I hung around the hostel and napped and read, then caught my train.

We went through part of the Alps which were so stunning. The other lady in my car was telling me ab out the history of the region. 100 years ago, this was wehre the rich Austrians went for vacation, so theres still gorgeous villas scattered through the mountains. And the train went over this 100 year old bridge thats the longest bridge in Austria or something like that. We went through the most beautiful part at twilight.

I had to change trains in Milan, and there was almost a riot in the ticket office. There were two lines: one for the regular train and one for the special train. The special train line had like no people in it and six people working the counter. The regular train line curved way out of the ticket office and only four people working the counter. One old lady started yelling about it and then another one joined in and then everyone was yelling and the police were like "yall need to calm down" but no one did. The ticket desk people looked really nervous. But besides that it was a completelz normal and boring train ride. HOORAH!!