Thursday, September 29, 2016

why listening to books gets an A+++

I really liked this audiobook. It was officially my first book-listen (besides when my family would listen to Harry Potter read by Jim Dale in the car) all the way through and I'm pretty much in love with audiobooks now. I signed up for Audible, and this book was the first suggestion it gave me. So I downloaded it with my free credit without really knowing much about it besides that Emily Blunt was going to be in the new movie version, and then my headphones were in permanently for like a week. While cooking, doing dishes, folding laundry, and basically all evening instead of watching tv or something. Shae was probably wondering why I wasn't bothering him to hang out with me ... heh heh.

Besides enjoying stories and becoming a better thinker etc., audiobooks are good for me because they actually motivate me to exercise!!! Can I get a round of applause?! Thank you, thank you. I've never been a big fan of listening to music while exercising. I don't really know why. But as soon as I started listening to The Girl on the Train, I was trying to find all the spare moments possible in my day to listen to it. I woke up at like 6:45 to listen to it one day and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to make this productive." So I went on a run. And I woke up early every single day to run/LISTEN TO THAT BOOK FOR HALF AN HOUR. So all I'm saying is if you struggle with motivation to get up early/exercise/do chores, then pair it with this book or any other audiobook and the job is fun. 

I also listened to about half of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (but then I went on a trip to New York last week and it expired so I couldn't finish), but I'll let you know how that one goes when I re-download it. It's read by Kirby Heyborne for all you Best Two Years fans out there. I know, I was like whaa? I like it so far.

My library also checks out free audiobooks via the Overdrive app to keep for two weeks, and now I'm kind of addicted to downloading tons of books on there ... because I can listen to seven books simultaneously, right? 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chapter Three: London

Norwegian Airlines is cool and interesting. You can find great cheap flights to Europe from select US airports. When we were shopping for our Italy tickets, we found some really cheap return tickets back to LAX from London, not Rome. So we thought, "Hey, why don't we just have a stop in London on our way back home to the US?" So we did that. I think London is one of the greatest places ever and I was stoked to go back and visit!

The first stop, of course, was Pret. My favorite place to eat in London. I don't know why I just like sandwiches and bite sized brownies ok?!? Also it's hard NOT to stop here in London because there is one every 100 metres.

 Bikes in Hyde Park <3 p="">

One thing we were super excited about was the Sherlock Holmes Museum on 221b Baker Street!!

We also got to go to a Rugby League game at Wembley Stadium, which was one of our highlights for sure. Reasons why rugby is better than American football: it's simpler, the clock doesn't stop, the players don't wear pads or helmets, they sing God Save the Queen before the game.

Then we flew home and made it back in time for Shae's 4 o'clock class.
The end!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Chapter Two: Rome (+Florence)

After Napoli, we took the train back up to Rome for a few days. I have A LOT of pictures of Rome already, so I actually didn't take a ton on this trip. I just tried to take it in with my eyes and enjoy being there again. However, we go out and see a lot of the coolest tourist things at night. Out past 9:30pm this time woot woot! Monuments and buildings are so much more awesome at night!

Gelato/granita in hand always. Shae complimented the gelato man on his panna (whipped cream) so he gave us extra the next day when we went again. #winning

Piazza Navona is probably my favorite piazza,
 and that fountain was even more gorgeous lit up at night.

Same with Trevi. Maybe this is my favorite fountain actually?
 How can you actually pick one? I don't know.

The vatican at night is empty. Guess those missionaries gotta be home at 9:30 too.

Shae taught me that all the angel statues on this bridge in front of Castel Sant'Angelo are holding a different object attributed to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Look at that, me taking a lesson from Shae in art history! So proud.

No shortage of Colosseum pictures in my library.

The cool thing about Rome is that while it's super huge and there's so much to see, you can actually hit all the main tourist spots in one night, like we did here, because everything is well connected with the metro, and it's actually not very far to walk between some of the key spots.

Shae has a v special talent of ALWAYS ordering the very best plate at the table when we eat out. 
He just has a great talent for ordering the best dish possible (even though he does take a while to settle on his choice haha), and his meal is always better than mine. 
He went for the gnocchi this time, which was the right choice. 
My pasta was good too, of course, but I thought about that gnocchi for days after.

We got to take a little trip up to Ladispoli, which is a city on the coast of Rome where I served for six months. We got to spend the evening with one of the best families ever - The Giorgianni Family. And lucky for us, their mom was in town who we knew from Messina, so we got a taste of Sicily in our trip as well! And the I got to meet the baby S.lla Giorgianni was pregnant with when I served there! Such a great night with the greatest people.

Here's the part about the EARTHQUAKE. While we were in Rome, there was a 6.2 earthquake in central Italy, so just north of Rome. We woke up in the middle of the night to our entire building shaking (our Airbnb where we stayed was on the 6th floor of an apartment palazzo). It felt like we were on a bumpy train ride. Shae thought I was just being annoying and shaking the bed, but yeah that wasn't me buddy. All the italians were out on their balconies yelling and freaking out, but really, Rome didn't have any damage at all. The damage was up in the smaller mountain cities on the very northern border of our mission, and it was so devastating! I'm praying for all the people up there.

So that was my first earthquake experience, and sometimes even now when Shae rolls over at night and makes the bed shake a little bit I wake up all worried that it was a mini earthquake. Yeah ... So hopefully I get over that soon haha.

We took a train ride up to Florence for a day because that wasn't part of our mission, but it was one of my favorite cities I saw on my study abroad.

That duomo is almost too much for real eyes to handle. It's so beautiful and intricate and HUGE.

Italy tip: if you don't want people in your pictures, go out between 1-4pm and it will be a ghost town. Pranzo naps are real.

Florence was a cool time.

One thing that we didn't really expect to have happen while visiting our mission is that it gave both of us a really good sense of closure. Being there felt like being at home, but it also felt completely different from when I was a missionary there. 

When you leave your mission, you're pretty sad about it. You think about it all the time and you miss it and you want to go back. Going back to visit after the fact, with a new mission president in place and new missionaries that are too young to remember that you even served there, you definitely feel like you aren't meant to be there anymore. I don't feel this longing to be out there anymore. And I think that's a really good thing. 

I will always love Italy and love to visit there and miss the people I met, but it's nice to finally know that that chapter can be closed now and I can feel totally good about it. This trip gave me a really good ending to what I started there. Italy will always feel like home, and I'm so glad I got to go back and reminisce about how much being there impacted my life.  Italy, ti voglio bene.

Next is Chapter Three: London.