Rome is everything you think it is.  Their is a bit of renaissance left in the air that makes you feel like you should be writing the next great novel or sculpting the next David.  The buildings are so aged, it makes Mount Rushmore look like it was built yesterday.  The pope is treated like a rockstar. And the delicious food makes you envy the Italian’s ability to stay so thin.

Florence, on the other hand, was just a big party.

Rome photosFlorence photos

Italy Index

The Good

  • All Italians wear great shoes.  Yes, that is a blanket statement. +50
  • The Colosseum is about as awe-inspiring as the idea of breathing underwater. +140
  • After a weekend in Northern Ireland with the pound, it was refreshing to use the Euro again. +60
  • There is a life threatening abundance of pasta and wine  +120
  • The weather in Italy was much warmer than it is in Ireland.  I bet it’s not snowing in Italy. +100
  • Wine tasting is a common pastime. +350

    gorgeous handmade Italian leather shoes



The Neutral (the positive and the negative)

  • You WILL go broke spending all your money on leather goods.  Don’t fight it. It’s inevitable.   +/- 500

The Bad

  • No I did not read “Eat, Pray, Love” and any references to it are unwelcomed. -100
  • The guys in Italy like to introduce themselves by touching you inappropriately. -70
  • The acclaimed ‘leaning’ tower of Pisa is not worth your time unless you can’t live without a hokey photo of yourself pretending to lean against it. 50


Total 650

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Amsterdam is not what you think. It’s quiet. And simple. And charming. And surprisingly normal.  Walking the streets of Amsterdam makes you forget it’s home to the infamous Red Light District.  The city doesn’t reek of marijuana.  In fact, we rarely smelled any (except outside the coffee shops, of course).

Amsterdam is universally known as a city of acceptance and tolerance.  Historically, various religions, ethnicities, and political ideas have coexisted in Amsterdam.  I think that’s the only reason Amsterdam can be intrinsically unlike any other city in the world but function just like any other.  That is the draw of Amsterdam; It is such a conundrum to the human mind.

Amsterdam Index

The Good

  • Watching undersexed men leaving prostitute’s rooms in the red light. +250
  • Visited Anne Frank’s house.  I had a serious obsession with her in grade school. I forgot how relevant her words are. Her diary is one of the most read books in the world. +150
  • The Van Gogh museum was much more impressive than the Picasso museum in Barcelona. +80


  • Our tour guide was from New Zealand. She looked like Muffy from the cartoon, Arthur. +50
  • Amsterdam is one of the most innovative and globally conscious cities in the world. Sorry, Baton Rouge. +40
  • Desserts like fried donuts and belgian waffles smothered in strawberries, powdered sugar and whipped cream +55

The Bad

  • Everyone in Amsterdam is cooler than you…even the grandparents. – 50
  • Three days was not enough time to eat as many delicious pastries as were available. – 40

Total 535

Jordan and I enjoying Pancake Corner, our favorite restaurant in Amsterdam


Amsterdam photos

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left luggage

I’m one of those people who hates being lost.  Whether it’s deciphering meaningless symbols on a foreign public transit map, searching for a lost object, or playing around with a pesky Rubik’s Cube: I do not like guessing. I despise the feeling of not knowing the answer.  There is no such thing as an educated guess.  If you’re guessing, then you still don’t actually know the answer.  I’ve never understood why scientist enjoy testing and re-testing hypotheses or why math teachers always advise students to ‘think it through’ and ‘figure it out for yourself’. As if students enjoy the feeling of pure stupidity.

I have this theory that there is only one right way to do things and countless wrong ways.  When I find myself doing something the wrong way, I find someone who knows the right way.  And I’ll ask any number of agitating questions about every detail of the situation until I know exactly how to fix it.

I usually avoid doing things wrong by following the lead of those who know how to do things right.  So far it’s worked well.  But there are certain times when I have to figure things out alone.  This weekend I lost my passport in the Dublin airport.  Turns out some kind soul returned it to the lost & found.  But I had to go back to the airport to get it.  This was my very first question to the airport alone.  Usually I tag along with friends who’ve learned the times and locations of the airport buses.  But when I tag along, I remember nothing.  I get from point A to point B without every realizing what happened in between.  Subsequently I had no idea which bus to choose.  I finally found the airport bus after walking up and down O’Connell street where a lot of the city buses run.

As we neared the airport I realized I had no idea where lost & found was located in the airport. I immediately found the information desk inside baggage claim.  I was directed to a building across the street.  Inside this building was a cafe and nothing else.  There were overhead signs pointing to 3 things: ‘cafe,’ ‘bathroom,’  and ‘left luggage.’  I disregarded each as impertinent to the quest for my passport. I spent 15 minutes walking around the tiny building until I decided to ask the cafe owner about lost & found.  Turns out ‘left luggage’ means luggage one has left behind.  It is not a collection of luggage located to the left.

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GAGA: glitter & grease

There were 2 things I was sure of before going abroad. Regardless of rain, sleet, snow, or quadriplegia I was going to:

1. Witness Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour
2. Attend the HP 7.1 midnight premiere in the birthplace of The Boy Who Lived

A week ago, Gaga did 3 performances at the O2 theater in Dublin.  We went to the second show, on Wednesday.  It was THE electro pop opera of the year.  Gaga is innovative in so many ways.  The Monster ball was no different.  It was 150% Gaga-rific with a dazzling set and couture costumes, both created Haus of Gaga, a handpicked group of desingers.   But it was the obvious influences from her icons and contemporaries that made the concert sparkle.  There was a little bit of Madonna in her constant referrals to the importance of peace, acceptance and freedom.  And a little bit of Beyonce and Britney in her use of every inch of the stage as a dance platform.  But make no mistake:

“Gaga does not fucking lip sync”

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I don’t know if it’s just my love for Gaga but every concert show I’ve seen up until this point doesn’t even compare.  This bitch was crazier than New Year’s in Times Square.

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