Alex’s Page

HELLO EVERYONE!!!!!!

Welcome to Alex’s page, the coolest one on the Blog!

Look here every once in a while for awesome new pictures and information about our travels in Italy!

POLAND—July
On the first day in Poland, we got to Katowice (pronounced cat-oh-vi-tsay) on a plane. The flight wasn’t bad, and we got in pretty quickly. We took a bunch of trains to get to Krakow, our first destination. The funny thing is that we had paid extra for our train passes so we could take 1st class the whole time, but we only took one train first class (and even then we only took first class for half the time, because there was a mix-up reserving seats in which the people specifically said that there were no first class carriages even though we proved there were). Krakow was pretty cool. We found out that there was a vegetarian restaurant two doors down from the place we were staying, so that was good. However, we had a bunch of luggage and we had to meet with this person who would show us the apartment (we didn’t get any hotels, because apartments are cheaper and we need a big space to accommodate 6 people). My mom and I were starving, so we went to the vegetarian restaurant. Unfortunately, it was closing time, so we had to scarf down the few things they had left. I had only eaten soup, so later, when we were settled, I went with everyone else to get dinner. I had pierogi ruskie, which are the center of Polish cuisine. They are dumplings with potato and cheese, which are very good. The next day we saw Krakow. There was a really impressive Old Town, which had been completely rebuilt after WWII. We heard this trumpeting thing in the main square, which stops abruptly because it is in memory of a sentry who saw another army attacking and started playing his horn to rouse the Polish, but was pierced in the throat with an arrow. The Polish army was still able to assemble, and the other army was defeated. Since he was killed halfway through playing the horn, it must have stopped abruptly, and they still keep the tradition.
After seeing Krakow, we went on the train to Warsaw. It took a long time, during which Annalise annoyed me nonstop. Finally we got there, and went to our second apartment. It was really nice and modern, and was probably my favorite. We went looking for a place to eat. I really wanted to go to an Indian place, but I was kind of alone in that. Instead, we went to this traditional Polish place that seemed kind of obsessed with pierogi. On the menu under “drinks” they had a “Lemonade XXL.” Annalise and I ordered this, and everyone was amazed when these bowling ball-sized goblets came. I was really thirsty, so I drank the whole thing.
The next day we saw Warsaw. THere was a really cool Old town there too, and this cool palace that we went to. It had been rebuilt, and had all kinds of amazing things inside. After seeing the palace, we went to this little restaurant for a late lunch. The menu had some interesting things that had been translated badly into English, but the best was this thing called, “Ed in the tradional hunter’s pot.” We all went crazy laughing about it, and my mom even ripped out that section of the paper menu so she could keep it. After we were done seeing Warsaw, we took the train to Gdansk. That was the one where we got first class half the time. The apartment there was not that nice, but felt like a real living space and not a hotel-type-thing. There was a wheelchair ramp on the stairs, which Annalise decided was a great slide. I found out that if I slid on my back while wearing a fleece jacket, I could get serious speed. After sliding for a while, we met our Polish relatives. We went to their house, where there was a huge amount of people. Some of them were visiting (there was one guy and his mother visiting from Germany). They were all really nice, and everybody was talking about the Goetz heritage. (My dad and aunts have been obsessed with setting up a flawless family tree for a long time.) The next day we saw Gdansk, accompanied by one of the Polish cousins. She told us all about the history, and we were all blown away by the architecture. We saw this really big church which is said to be the biggest brick church in the world, and climbed 400 steps to the top of the tower. there was a great view. Afterwards, we went to Elblag and saw more relatives. We saw the Elblag sights with everybody, went to a restaurant which used to be a mill in the 13th century and was rebuilt like everything else. The food was really good, probably the best fried fish I’ve ever had. We saw some more Elbag sites and went to someone else’s house, where we saw even more relatives. There was this little kid who was so funny. HE was two years old, but acted like he was in his forties. When everyone was shaking hands, he insisted on shaking hands. He always had this really serious expression on his face, and was really into cars. He showed my mom his toy cars, in a very serious manner. Then we went out to the garden, which was really nice. There were actually two current bushes out there, and we could just eat the currents straight off. We found out that black currants were Poland’s main agricultural product, because they are so suited to the environment there. They also taste good.
After seeing everyone, we went back to the train station, where we caught our overnight train. Mom was stressed out because she found overnight trains cramped enough with only 4 people, but it was really okay. The bathroom was really awful, though. It probably had germs dating back from 1954. After that, everything was fine. In the Katowice airport, which we were flying out of, we had a bunch of extra zlotys (Polish currency) that we had to get rid of. I bought about a ton of gum, as well as pretzel sticks. Mom bought a bunch of t-shirts, and was panicking because she couldn’t figure out the sizes. Finally, we got on the plane and everythign was okay.

ROME 1—March
We saw St. Peter’s Basilica and climbed up to the dome on top, which had a great view. We also saw the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Art Museum. It was amazing to see the church, and especially the altar; that is the Catholic church. We even got to see the Papal Apartments (from a distance, of course, but it was still cool to see where the Pope lives.) Afterwards, we saw the Trevi Fountain, which is said to make you come back to Rome if you throw a coin in. We actually might be going back to Rome in two weeks, and definitely are going this summer, so I guess it works! 🙂
Today we were going to see the Colosseum, but there was a marathon going on so it was cut off. We still got to see the marathon though. There was actually someone with no legs who was running. We got gelato and pasta, then had to go to the train station.

PARIS—April
We are in Paris now. We took an overnight train here a while ago, which was fun for everyone except my mom, then went to Normandy to see Omaha Beach and the rest of the WWII stuff. There was a cemetary maintained by the US government which had several thousand perfectly aligned tombs. We actually saw the tomb of someone with the surname of Snyder–do you have any relatives who died on the beaches in Normandy in the war? After Normandy we went to Brest, a quiet seaside town. We were in the rental car for about three hours, and then we got lost. Everything was closed, and the only way we found our way was that some people who had just finished eating at a Chinese restaurant let us follow them to the hotel. In Brest we saw this really big aquarium. My mom was really hungry and kept saying that she was dying, but “oooookay, if you don’t caaaaaare……..” It was very annoying. Also, that was the day before Annalise’s 7th birthday, so everything was “Oooh, can I get that? But it’s my biiiiiiiiiirthday present!” She spent like a half an hour in the gift shop. We didn’t get to eat until 7 that night, and with no lunch. The next day we went on a 6 hour long car trip. The good news was that we got to go to this big church/village on an island, which is called Mont Saint-Michel. There is a poster of it in the French room upstairs (The one that leads to Kevin’s office). if you ever see the poster and think “that’s really cool”–I’ve been there. There were great views, and the fact that it is so precisely built on the rock is really amazing. We also got swindled into paying for these overpriced “museums.” The first one actually had an English audioguide and I liked it because there were really detailed model ships, but the second one was a prison they used long ago that seemed like it was going to be bursting with history but was just a few rooms with some wooden statues. The next one was a multimedia show. We asked if there were English headphones but the people just scoffed–“It’s a show, so of course there aren’t headphones for it.” We thought maybe there was no speaking and that was why, but no–they explained all about the superstition and mythology of the place in French. As most of French class at Ricks was spent watching dubbed Disney movies because Abbie, Ellen and Isabel were too fatigue–*yaaaaawn*–to do any real work (God forbid! Doing work in class!), I barely understood anything. We got sick of the museums, partially because they all ended in gift shops. However, the gift shops not only had little cheap souvenirs (“I neeeeeeed that as my birthday present!”) they had medieval and renaissance weapons. I saw a mom getting her 8-year-old son an actual spiked cudgel. She actually had a person open it so that the kid could hold it and decide if he wanted that or a flintlock pistol. Some mothers give their kids cuddles, others give them cudgels. After seeing the church, we decided to get some lunch for the car. in order to get to Paris on time, we decided to get things to eat on the way. For me, this consisted of a small piece of bread with melted cheese and tomatoes on top and a tub of French fries (actual French fries from France) with waaaaay too much ketchup. at some point we stopped at a 7 eleven type place and got some snacks. Annalise got this really bad gum, i got caramels, and my mom got these hard candies. She hated them, especially the purple ones, and everyone else loved them, especially the purple ones. The good news was that from that point on I got the front seat in the car. Later, when we were closer to Paris, we stopped at this little cafeteria. The only thing they had there that didn’t have meat was fruit. At the hotel in Paris, I really wanted food. I had seen an Indian restaurant a few blocks down, and felt I desperately needed some Indian food. Unfortunately, my dad had gone to take back the rental car and my mom was worried about going out so late at night in a big city. I was so hungry and in need of a legitimate meal that I was rolling around on the floor. My mom made me take a shower, and the shower was the type that doesn’t actually attach to the wall. And it’s reaaaally pleasant putting shampoo in your hair and holding a water-spraying showerhead at the same time. Also, there are about 5 giant pipes going along the bathroom walls, so you can definitely hear when someone else turns on the water in their room. The bathroom is also rather drafty, so you can hear and feel the Parisien weather and street life while you try to dry off and brush your teeth.
Today we went to Notre Dame and heard the end of the Easter Sunday service (again, it was in French, but it was still really cool) and saw the church itself. Afterwards we saw the bird market, which is very famous. There were all these different exotic birds as well as some ducks and large chickens. They also had the odd rodent or two. My mom hates all rodents, and my sister decided we needed a pet mouse. You can imagine how that went over. There was someone with two rats on his shoulder. Each had a little knitted hat. My dad started looking at the parakeets, because he had had pet birds when he was a child. Right near where he was there were some birds perching in the open on a fake tree limb. They let people just pet them and feed them. After the bird market, we saw another church–St. Chapelles. There was amazing stained glass upstairs that told the entire Bible story in order. On the way downstairs, I could hear someone speaking Italian. I could understand what he was saying! (applause) When we left St. Chapelles, there was this building with a bunch of steps. annalise and I were timing each other going up and down. The last time i did it, I tripped over my shoelace and slid on the ground. It hurt, but I still got a pretty good time. : ) We went back to the hotel for a bit, then went to the indian restaurant i had seen. My sister has hated all things Indian for forever, but tonight she decided that she liked it and that we needed to have it tomorrow as well. Of course she couldn’t have said that when she was torturing us and the waiters…Maybe her maturity has really gone up as a result of turning 7. After that we had popsicles, but Annalise accidentally got a cola flavored one and we had to get her another.

Responses

  1. Can’t wait!
    Your friend in CO

    Erin

  2. So, where are the cool pictures and info about your adventures? Thnx to mom’s help I finally found the family blog. You have quite some shoes to fill if you plan to follow in mom’s footsteps writing. I’m sure her entries will make a great, hilarious book.
    I hear you’re eating your way thru Modena as a typical teenage boy would. I can’t imagine how tall you’ll be when we see you next.
    Who already called you from the states? Was it Aunt Paula?
    It finally got above freezing temperature today after weeks of below freezing. I had my car washed because it was quite dirty & when I pulled into the supermarket parking lot, the guy next to me admired my “new” car and we had a whole conversation about transportaion and gas prices. Everyone’s car is dirty because no car wash works well when it’s below freezing; the water just freezes on the car.
    How’s school? Easier than Rick’s? Are you going to write about some of your first impressions of Italy? You’ll never have “first” impressions again. Of course, you’ve been here before so I guess even these aren’t first. Still this is a great time to write down some of your thoughts. Hope to hear from you soon. Enjoy the adventure!
    I wasn’t planning on seeing the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, but it got 16 Academy Award nominations for film, the most of any movie, so I decided to see it today on my day off. It’s based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story and it quite good. It’s about a man who is born old and grows younger physically as he ages. It sounds weird, which is why I had no intention of going to see it, but it really boils down to a story about people & how they relate to each other, no matter how different they are. It was worth seeing. I will read the story now, except I can’t get the library catalog on my computer to reserve the book.
    What are you doing in school? What are you reading? How are you doing in picking up the Italian language? How are your classmates?
    I’m going to watch a DVD now–The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He was an early black rights American leader who was murdered when he was 39 by a rival black Muslim group. He was brilliant and charismatic, even tho’ he only went thru formal schooling til 8th grade. He did the rest of his education in prison, reading, reading, reading. I just finished reading the book and really enjoyed it. He was a fascinating man and led a more than interesting and meaningful life.
    Did you see any of the inauguration? I know you don’t have TV, but you do have a laptop. Did you celebrate a little bit? I know mom tried to buy roses for the apartment neighbors, but that didn’t exactly work out. But what a wonderful idea it was.
    Bye for now. Hope you are well and enjoying the experience.

  3. Alex, it’s already July and we’re coming to visit you. It’s so exciting. But not much is happening on the “coolest page of the blog”. So I guess we’ll have to find out in person what you’ve been up to in bella Italia. See you Thursday.

  4. Super Thank’s

  5. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, let alone the content!

    • Thanks, Sandy – there are a lot of funny stories – I hope you like them!


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