Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Cinque Terre

Shaffer Girls Take Italy: Cinque Terre

Sunday: Sunday we planned on taking the earliest train to Manarola, one of the five towns included in “Cinque Terre.” With luggage in tow, us four girls rolled our way to the train station, right up to the big screens displaying the train numbers, times and bins. Happy that I located our train on the … Read more

Sunday:

manarola

Sunday we planned on taking the earliest train to Manarola, one of the five towns included in “Cinque Terre.” With luggage in tow, us four girls rolled our way to the train station, right up to the big screens displaying the train numbers, times and bins. Happy that I located our train on the board, I continued scanning to the right to find which bin number to head towards. “Cancellato” I read. “What does that mean?” Laur and Linds both asked. This was news to me. I had never seen “cancellato” next to any train number before. I rolled my way to the ticket desk where I was informed that there was a strike in the Tuscan region and no one was sure when it would be over. Panic began to set in. We had planned for only one day in Cinque Terre. We needed time to get there to hike along the towns. We already bought our train tickets. We already booked our hotel for that night. Where else could we go? I normally would not have been so upset, but since Linds, Laur and Val were only here for less than a week, I was pretty flustered. I knew that I could go on one of my free weekends in April, but what if they never got a chance to see it?

“Go another day,” the lady at the train station told me. After seeing my face probably close to tears from disappointment, she then suggested taking a train to Pisa, followed by a train to La Spezia Centrale, and finally another to Manarola, but she wasn’t sure this would work either because of the strike. However, we all agreed to make the attempt. So, we made an unexpected stop in Pisa! Once there, we found that we had one hour until the next train to La Spezia Centrale, so I told the girls to go check out the Leaning Tower. I had already seen the Tower when I took a weekend trip to Siena, and I wanted to make sure they had their chance. So, I stayed at the train station with all of the luggage while the girls literally ran across Pisa to the Leaning Tower and back. They made it back with five minutes to spare and we hopped on the train and were on our way.

While getting on the train, there were two men that began helping us lug our luggage on board. We said “no grazie” repeatedly, but they continued to help anyways. I thought that the men were being nice, but as soon as we were seated, they came up to us with their hands out. The girls all looked at me confused, and from my time here the past few months I knew immediately that the men wanted money. “Two euro each,” one of the men said. I was frustrated and upset because this was not the first time that someone had helped me in Italy and I fell for it. I am so naive, always believing that they are just being nice. Each time though, they end up following me, demanding money for their help. I gave the man two euro so that he would walk away, but he kept repeating “Each. Two euro each.” It was already a rough morning so I said “No! We thought you were being nice,” and looked out the window so that the men would go away.

hiking

By 12:30 p.m. we successfully arrived in Manarola and were already exhausted from the morning’s activities! However, we were SO happy that we made it to Cinque Terre. Laur picked out the absolute cutest hotel. Although the hike up the steep hill to the hotel with all our luggage was quite humorous, as we were all gasping for air at the end, it was well worth it. As if the ocean view outside of our window wasn’t enough, we also had a pink-painted room with flower petals scattered across the bed.

vernazza

Although some of the trails were closed due to a mudslide, we didn’t let that stop us from making it a perfect day. We did some hiking, took tons of Pinterest-worthy pictures and hopped on a train to Vernazza, another of the five towns. Once there, we grabbed some gelato and relaxed on the rocks overlooking the town and the ocean. Vernazza and Manarola were the cutest of the five towns and I loved experiencing both. I fell in love with Cinque Terre and had the best time with my sisters and Val. Last stop for the Shaffer girls: Rome!

Southern Italy Field Study: Naples & Pompeii

Southern Italy Field Study: Naples & Pompeii

I have been waiting anxiously since January for the Southern Italy Field Study and it surprisingly came so soon! Throughout this past week, I had the opportunity to visit Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi and Caserta. I was so excited to find what the south had to offer. Day 1: Naples A 6 a.m. wake up call, … Read more

I have been waiting anxiously since January for the Southern Italy Field Study and it surprisingly came so soon! Throughout this past week, I had the opportunity to visit Naples, Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi and Caserta. I was so excited to find what the south had to offer.

Day 1: Naples

margheritapizza

A 6 a.m. wake up call, five hour bus ride and a bus transfer later, we finally arrived in Naples around 1 p.m. Our first stop was a restaurant for the famous margherita pizza for lunch. It was hands down the best pizza I have ever had! EVER. It was thicker than pizza in Viterbo and so fresh. A full, straight out of the oven, mouthwatering pizza was placed in front of each of us. Most of the students finished their entire pizza but no matter how delicious it was, I could only stuff myself with two large pieces. The boys were more than happy to take the rest off of my hands though.

graffiti

The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent with a tour of the city. We saw many piazzas, a pretty cathedral and an archaeological museum. One thing I noticed about the city was how much graffiti there was! It covers so much of the city. It is so sad that there are ugly markings covering beautiful fountains and buildings. We now have a two hour bus ride to our hotel in Sorrento. We are going to Pompeii tomorrow and I am most excited to hike Mt.Vesuvius!

Day 2: Pompeii

vesuvius

I just hiked up Mt. Vesuvius! I can’t believe that I can now say I climbed up a volcano in Pompeii! My first thought: freddo! Brrr. My second thought: bellissima! It was well worth the time and cold.

pompeii

After breakfast at the hotel, we made our way to Pompeii and got to see the ancient ruins. It was really interesting to see the old town and get a glimpse into how they lived back then. We learned that since there was no drainage for rain or sewer water, the water ran down the deep sloping roads. The citizens used large rocks as crosswalks, so that they did not step in the dirty water. In the rocks on the side of the road, we saw holes cut out, which were used for “parking spaces.” The citizens would tie up their donkeys or horses there when they were going into a shop.

pompeii2

One difference I noticed today between Pompeii and Viterbo was the many, many orange and lemon trees lining the roads. Since the weather is warmer here, I am guessing that it provides more ideal weather for them to grow. It was so nice outside today and I hope the sun is shining again tomorrow!

Wilderness Experience

Wilderness Experience

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This picture is of my friend Stephen (Paul) while we were camping. I only brought my phone with me to take pictures and to let my mom know I was OK.

I recently applied and was accepted to go on the Wilderness Experience. I remember reading Zak’s blog about his wilderness experience and it only encouraged me more to apply for it this year.

I’ve only gone hiking/camping once in my life and that was this past summer with my friend in Allegheny Park. We hiked about 20+ miles in two in a half days, but this experience is tiny compared to the one I’ve signed myself up for. This trip is 10 days long and with about 20 other people as well. There also is a portion of the trip where we supposedly go rock climbing, split into 3 smaller groups and spend a day on our own.

After hiking only one time, I loved it. The reality of being completely alone for miles is a feeling I’m not used to since I’ve always been able to spit on my neighbor’s house from my house if I wanted.  Sure, sleeping at night was a little scary, especially when raccoons were stealing my food, but there was no harm done. I like going back in time, without actually going back in time. Oh, the simple days of water, shelter and food.

UMU Wilderness Trip in the Adirondacks

UMU Wilderness Trip in the Adirondacks

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This past summer from August 5 – 14, I was fortunate to participate in the Mount Union’s wilderness trip in the Adirondack High Peaks in New York. For some course credit, myself and about 20 other students went to the woods to discuss environmental ethics and to lead a rather simple life for a week.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

My smaller group of eight was given the name of “Team Donut” when we decided to make a rest stop at Dunkin’ Donuts rather than McDonald’s. We quickly embraced this name, and we referenced the hilarious video of former Cleveland Cavalier Delonte West. With our team motto being “I don’t care if you gotta fly…planes, trains, and automobiles you better have my donuts,” we adopted some crafty nicknames like R-Nut, K-Sprinkle and D-Hole.

Aside from having too much fun, laughing most of the day and engaging in unforgettable conversations, we had a pretty eventful trip. Our group was fortunate to hike through Cold Brook Pass, which is a stretch of trail that few hikers pass through because of its tough terrain. We also made it to the summit of Mt. Haystack and Mt. Marcy, the highest point in the state of New York. We hiked a total of about 40 miles on the whole trip, 10.1 being our longest day when making both summits. It is crazy to think that people hiking the Appalachian Trail average about 20 to 25 miles a day hiking! We also had some great nights while staying in lean-tos at Bushnell Falls and Lake Colden. Awesome views!

“Take nothing but memories, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints.”

What made our trip even more exciting was that we got to rock climb, repel, swim, visit Lake Placid and Inlet and some of us paid to go on a half hour charter plane ride. While flying out of Long Lake, we were able to see the mountains we climbed and Vermont ranges in the distance, which made for incredible views. I hope you enjoy some of my favorite pictures because words can simply not describe this wonderful experience.

Right when I got back to school, I read an article about A Semester in the Woods from St. Lawrence University. The program is about “Students who swap cell phones and indoor plumbing for handwritten letters and a composting toilets.” This doesn’t sound like too much fun to many, but you should definitely read the article.

Through this wilderness trip, I was able to meet and create everlasting relationships at Mount with people I thought I never would have. This is just another way to get involved on campus and a great way to meet new people.

Someone take me back to the mountains!