Wednesday, February 1

Wednesday morning I attended a survival tour.  We met at the Ponte Vecchio at 8:30, luckily I went to bed early the night before.  It has been an exhausting week.  I feel like I haven't stopped moving.  That is one of the reasons it is hard to keep up with my blog posts... when I am home I usually have so many things to organize and put away or I have to shower and get ready for the next place I have to be.  

The Ponte Vecchio is right out my apartment entrance to the left.  It takes two minutes to get to.  We are on the side of the river that is less touristy and I wouldn't change it for anything.  Here it is easier to immerse myself into the Italian culture.  In the touristy area it is harder to find places the locals like to go to for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or out at night.  I would rather do like the locals do than go to the places that cater to Americans.

I made it to the meeting place to meet the API directors and I was the first person to arrive.  When I left my apartment all of my suite mates were still sleeping after a late night out on the town.  It wasn't mandatory to go on the tour so I got nervous that I was going to be the only one who showed up.  Luckily, people slowly started to show up.  

I am glad I went.  I learned a lot about where important places were.  On the tour we went to the post office and learned what to do if we needed to send mail out, as well as how to get euros from the machines in the post office.  From there we saw where the hospital was, the API center, the Basilica San Marco (where we meet for excursions), the library, and where the San Lorenzo Market is.  The library was amazing compared to what we have back home.  It had many open areas where you can study outside or go to the bar for coffee or an afternoon snack (I wish I had pictures to show you). I most definitely will be going back to the San Lorenzo Market.  I had a molto bene (very good) margarita pizza there that I shared with a new friend I met on the tour.  She is a sweet girl from Texas and her name is Emma.  AND get this, her last name startes with an 'H' as well.  Two Emma H.'s on this trip and she is a friendly girl with class and a sparkling personality!

On our walk from the market to the San Lorenzo Square we walked through the all the vendors selling leather purses, belt, wallets, scarves, etc.  As you walk passed the vendors they try to get your attention by saying ciao (hello), hello, prego (Please!), excuse me and so on.  This time on of the particularly short vendors said "I wish you were shorter" as I walked past.  The group I was walking with and I died of laughter.  I mean what are you supposed to say back to that??

At San Lorenzo Square I met Kathryn, Didi, Kelsey and another Emma!  That is three Emmas.  I have never know any girls my age with my name, only two little girls named Emma.  What are the chances.

At night the third Emma, Emma C., invited me over to her and Kathryn's for dinner and Kelsey joined us.  They made pasta and I brought a bottle of wine. After that Didi came over with her wine.  Instead of going out to a bar we stayed in and played Heads Up.  I had a riot.  These girls remind me of my friends I have back home.  I feel comfortable and at home when I am with these girls.  This is exciting for me.  I have been nervous that I wasn't going to find girls to hangout with and plan trips with.  We are all on the same page about how we want to spend our time while we are abroad.  I am looking forward to making memories with these girls.  Once again my prayers were answered!  I had no need to worry.  

Here are my girls! (Middle picture is of all three Emmas)