Tuesday, March 24, 2009

P.S. I love you...

So as I'm sure all of you have heard by now, and I'm also pretty sure it's no surprise that me and Nick are engaged as of March 14th, 2009. He came to visit on the 13th, and about 24 hours later, I had a ring on my finger. It's absolutely beautiful and more than I ever could have asked for. I can't get an entirely clear picture of it, but I tried my best.

Anyways, after walking across the river and up about a million stairs, we reached Piazza di Michelangelo, which is where it happened. We were up there for probably 2 hours just walking around and relaxing and admiring the view. Then when we were sitting in this cute little alcove with fishies, and people started to dwindle away, and the church bells started to ring, he popped the question. I wasn't even sure if it was real at first because we always talk about it, but then he pulled out the ring, and my heart almost jumped out of my chest. I wanted to cry, and can't even remember if I did I not, because I was trying to remind myself to breathe. Everything that I've ever hoped and wished for came true in about 30 seconds. The chunk that was missing from my life was filled the second that Nick walked into it.

Traci Lynn Colby is going to be my new name. :o)

Our time in Italy was a blast, but I found my favorite place in the whole world, and that is Ireland. It was kind of a long journey to get there seeing that we had a 4 hour layover in Scotland, which turned out to be one of the most fun times we'd ever had together. We had a 4 hour layover and somehow still managed to almost miss our flight because they went and changed the gate without announcing it. I got this magazine there that came with a bag and a free candy bar and lotto tickets. Nick and I were thrilled to see that we could have possible won money because we got "3 kangaroos". All we had to do was call a number to see how much money we won. That should have been a warning signal right there, but us caught up in excitement called the number right away that was charging us about 1.10 POUNDS per minute, and by the time we got to the end of the 6 minute call, the kangaroos were the last thing to be announced only to show that we had won 10 pounds. hahaha As if we didnt lose enough money, we tried to win it all back by playing slot machines in the airport.

Needless to say, 10 pounds poorer, we arrived to Dublin in one piece. I was thrilled the second we stepped foot into the cab because not only was the steering wheel on the other side of the car, but our driver had the BEST Irish accent I have ever heard. We couldn't see too much at night, but he dropped us off at Maeve's school and she met us at the entrance. After welcoming hugs, congratulations, and catching up in her room for hours, we went to sleep. When we woke up, we grabbed sandwiches at her little school cafe and a much missed STARBUCKS. haha quote from Maeve. "They have sandwiches. Sandwiches are delicious. I've never had one here, but just in general". I love her. We ate them outside in this little courtyard and were pretty amused by a bird that we named Simon for about 20 minutes. When we got back to her room and were trying to decide what to do, we watched this animal show that had to be the most depressing thing ever allowed on air. Like every story about an animal, ended terribly. I was in tears at one point.

Nick and I packed up our stuff from Maeves and took a bus into the city center of Dublin where we then had to navigate our way to our hotel. I'm so proud of myself for be able to use a map. ha. We checked in, and then went exploring. We found the cutest park. It was soooo beautiful. It had a huge pond and a bridge and rocks and trees and fountains and gazebos everywhere. We were entertained by ducks for probably a half hour. There was one girl duck, and the rest were boys, and we stood there making up stories about them as we went along. The girl duck was me, and there was this one boy duck that never left her side, and that was Nick..then there was a really skinny one that kept sneaking up behind us, and he gave that one to Toph. The other two were Milky and Ian. But anyways, for legit 20 or 30 minutes we were going on and on and like making up scenarios for them.

We ate dinner at burger king, and then went back to our room to get ready for the night. Maeve and her three friends met us there and they came bearing gifts. Maeve is sooo sweet. She brought us champaigne, and wine, and chocolates and cookies as a congrats/birthday present! She is so cute. It was so good to see Maeve, I missed her terribly. We laughed A LOT, and sang "that's not my name" A LOT. The night was definitely interesting. Irish men are by far the worst about touching. They didn't even care that Nick was 2 feet away from me.

The next day was def. one of the best days of my life. We got on a bus and went about an hour south to Wicklow. We wanted to see Wicklow National Park which is where Holly and Gerry met in P.S. I love you, but we unfortunately only got to Wicklow Town. This was far more beautiful than I imagined. It was like the best of ALL worlds. Cute little town, right on the ocean AND in the mountains. Look behind you it's a mass of water, or look in front of you and you see miles and miles of rolling fields and mountains. This town is everything I wanted Ireland to be. I compltely plan on coming back and exploring more because I still want to see Wicklow National Park, Galway, the Blarney Stone, and so much more. Ireland is the best country that I've been thus far. I could have sat on the cliff for hours over the ocean, and staring into the mountains.

streets of Ireland


We got back, ate burger king again, and went back to our room, laughed over pictures for hours, listened to the live music downstairs, and went to sleep. Nick left at 5 A.M. in the morning, and had to leave in such a hurry that I thank God, didn't have time to cry. A few hours later, I had to get up and get a bus to the airport to leave for Rome.

I met mom and dad in the station, dropped off our stuff at the hotel, and went out to eat and then the Trevi fountain. I made a wish in it and got to throw coins over my shoulder, so I now have that too, to cross off of my bucket list. The next day we went to Vatican City which wasn't as terribly boring as I expected. Saint Peter's Basillica was really cool, and it was crazy knowing that we were liturally walking through a building full of tombs of past Pope's. We also got to see the Piate, which I am still awestruck that Michelangelo sculpted when he was 23. The sistine chapel, once we got there, wasn't at all what I expected. We had to climb up stairs, down stairs, through tunnels, through art galleries, long hallways, and lots of security, and it ended up being a very small room that didn't look like a chapel at all. The paintings were amazing and popped out at you, but for the amount of chlosterphobia I felt, I still haven't decided if it was worth it. We ate at this cute little hidden cafe, and then were so wiped out that we had to go home and nap before we went out again to see the Colluseum. That was crazy too. I didn't get to go inside, but I'm not sure that I would have liked to. It's beautiful from the outside, but I'd imagine it to be eery on the inside knowing that millions of people died in there.

We went to the cutest restaurant that night. The atmosphere is what made it fun.I loved the Italian music playing and our waiter loved his job and kept coming back to our table with a new prop every 5 minutes. He also brought us shots. The first one he gave me was cocacola, and I KNEW it didn't taste like anything. I said this to mom and dad, but when he came back i pretended like I loved it, and then he gave me another one, which sure enough, was much stronger. He thought he was hilarious. He was.

So back to Florence I am for the night, only to get up at 4 A.M. and be off to Germany. Last destination before I have seen every country of my heritage. I'm very excited. Post again in about a week :o)

Friday, March 13, 2009

pictures stolen from Nick

Align Center drinking out of the fountains in Lucca. We saw people from the town filling up their water bottles here.
Me in front of Notre Dame

Arc de Triumph

Crying on the Metro because I was about to see the Eiffel Tower
In front of the gates of Versailles
Eiffel Tower on my birthday

Pop Champaigne at midnight!
People break dancing in front of the Eiffel Tower

I wrote our names on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower
Me being me...I think on the second floor?? of the Eiffel Tower
So happy :o)


Monday, March 9, 2009


Let me just start off by saying that all the good pictures are in possession Nicholas Hess and he's not uploading them until Wednesday soo just bare with mine for a little while.

Ok where to begin. The bus ride to Pisa airport was the most frustrating and obnoxious ride of our entire life. Lauren and I (Nick went a day early) wanted to strangle this group of girls that wouldn't stop talking extremely loud about guys, and makeup, and how tubetops surprisingly don't prevent your camera from water damage. We were trying to sleep...and couldn't. Then we got to the airport and I was furious because they confiscated all my cosmetics and I was freaking out because I did not want to break out.

So anyways, the flight was quick and I slept the entire time. When we landed this feeling came over my entire body that I can't describe. I couldn't believe I just landed in the city that I had been waiting to go to my entire life. We easily got on the bus into the city center and as we were driving we caught a glimpse of the eiffel tower all lit up from far away. That's when I knew it was real. We got into the city center and had to take the metro to where our hotel was, and Nick and his friend Emily met us at the exit and walked us to the hotel. It was soo cute. There were these two cats Gabby and Maxi (who we called maxi pad), that just sat on the counters all day and soaked up all the attention that they could get. Lauren hates cats, and hated them. We put our stuff in our room and Nick showed brought us outside and showed us the Moulin Rouge, which we were steps away from. We walked around a little bit and were intrigued by the "peep shows" that lined the streets. I also saw my first prostitute, BUT Nick seems to think that it was a man in drag, so I'm not really sure if that counts. We ate french fries and went back and got ready for bed. Let me describe to you our bathroom. So we open a door, and you walk into a shower, but also in the shower was a sink AND a toilet. HAHA, we got a laugh out of it, but didn't complain. Everything's an experience.

The next morning we went to a beautiful church at the top of a hill that overlooked the entire city of Paris. There was a harpest player up there and it was BEAUTIFUL. I was sooo tempted to buy a CD. Next we went to Notre Dame, and it made me really want to watch the hunchback of Notre Dame. I think that was the first gargoyle I've ever seen and it was really cool. I lit a candle inside and took a picture. After that, we met Emily's friends, who study in Paris for lunch. We had delicious sandwiches and crepes and a drink for 6 euros each! The crepe was soooooo good with Nutella inside. We parted ways with them because they had class and then took off towards the Eiffel tower. When we were one stop away from getting of the Metro to the Eiffel Tower, my heart started beating soo entirely fast and all Nick had to do was say "This is it, this is what you've been waiting for your whole life", and I started crying. We got out and walked up the stairs to outside, and Nick covered my eyes and led me up the stairs and then when we got to the top he let go, and it was right in front of me. I cried into Lauren for about 5 minutes, and then we started walking closer to it. We climbed the first two levels and then took the elevator the rest of the way. I wrote mine and Nicks initials at the top so there's another thing I can cross off my bucket list! I still can't believe I was there. After that we went and saw the Arc de Triumph which was also beautiful, but after seeing the Eiffel Tower I was really hard to impress.

We made our own sandwiches that night, and then went to a hookah bar. It's totally legal and something I had to say I did in Paris! Then we went to a salsa club, which would have been a cool concept if 1. I knew how to salsa dance and 2. if the men weren't so creepy.

The next day we went to Versailles. There was gold everywhere and it was really beautiful. Lauren took the inside tour of the palace, while Nick, Emily and I just walked the grounds and saw the gardens which would have been a lot more beautiful if it was spring, so we had to use our imaginations. Allison just happened to be in Paris that weekend so I called her to have her and one of her friends Annie come meet us for my birthday dinner. We went to go pick them up at her stop and it was the scariest thing of my life. Guys SWARM around you as soon as you leave the metro station. One of them grabbed me from behind and I whipped around so fast and screamed NO! with my finger in his face and said DONT TOUCH ME! NO! with the most angry look on my face. Thank god Nick is always there to protect us. Anyways..dinner was really good. I had vegetable lasagna, and water! HAHA on my 21st birthday I got water. It's fine though, we got champaigne afterwards and went and waited by the Eiffel tower as it was all lit up. Every hour on the hour it sparkles, so thats how we knew it was midnight and we popped the champaigne and had a huge celebration. Then these french guys came up and were like "Happy birthday, I love you. You are beautiful" and then asked if they could take a picture with me HAHA. Then we were watching these break dancers in front of the tower. They were just doing it for fun, and one of them is doing his moves, and lets out the biggest fart. HAHAHA we were laughing sooo hard. It really was the most amazing birthday ever.

The next morning, we went to the catacombs which was really cool, but kinda creepy. We walked soo far down into the ground and through so many bones it was unreal. I was so tempted to touch one, but then I decided that I didn't want to be haunted for the rest of my life. Afterwards we had a quick lunch and then were off to The Louvre. Seeing the Mona Lisa was also unreal. I couldn't believe the most famous painting in the world was right in front of my face. It was soo much smaller than I imagined..it was only about an 11x14.

The plane ride back was kinda annoying. They almost didn't let Nick carry on his bag...and then the whole boarding thing was insane. They didn't give us a gate number in Paris and people just swarmed from gate to gate until the destination above the gate showed up on the screen. It seriously like herding cattle. This stupid old Italian women was probably the most persistant out of everyone-- shoving her way through the crowd. HAHA she ended up sitting in front of us and Nick wanted so badly to pluck a hair out of her head for his scrapbook. HAHAHAHAHAHA best thing ever.

Paris was great, but it's awesoommmmee to be back.
Again, I post Nick's pictures soon..they're so much better.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lucca and Milan

so I haven't updated in awhile but the past few days have been quite eventful. Since Wednesday was the start of my weekend, Nick, Lauren, Stella and I decided to go out. At first we were all tired and a little weary, but about 5 minutes into our walk, we could already tell it was going to be a great night. We're on our way to a disco and we see this huge crowd forming outside of this back door, all like waving pieces of paper and CD's in someones face. Turns out its an Italian celebrity named MANGO (pronounced mongo)that everyone was going crazy over. So we took a picture of him, and continued on our way.

Shortly after we ran into these 4, 40 year old tourists who were just looking to have a good time. They were looking for the disco, TWICE, and we were like nahhh don't go there (cause its terrible). So they're like, "well where are you going?" and we tell them 21, and they're like "ohhh wow, thats twice our age!" But, disregarding their age, they came with us. The people at the door thought it was so cute that we were "bringing our parents out". So these people were definitely the oldest ones in there by far. One of them was on his two week leave from Iraq, so I'm guessing that his wife and friends met him in Italy for vacation so it would be easier for him. Anyways, they were dancing like fools, and everyone was staring, but it didn't matter because it was great for a laugh. On the walk home we pass a police car, and our feet really hurt so we asked them for a ride home. HAHA they were like SURE, but proceeded to tell us that if anything happened, we had to jump out of the car, and if anyone asked, we were lost and didnt know how to get home. So they dropped us off at the end of our street, took a picture with us, and were on their way.

Thursday was a day of homework. Friday, Lauren and I got up somewhat early and went to the trainstation to meet Nick in hopes of going to Verona, where the Romeo and Juliet platform is. The train times were too late, and we wanted to be able to spend enough time there to see everything and not have to rush. So we picked a random place, and decided on Lucca. The train ride there was interesting seeing as there was a man sitting my himself, making farting noises with his mouth for his own entertainment, and then laughing at himself. When we got there, we were a little concerned because it just seemed like a quiet, dead town, with nothing to see. We were wrong. A few left turns and we were brought into the most BEAUTIFUL picture we have ever seen. It was more country-ish, and just amazing. We ate lunch in a cute little pizzaria, and then decided to rent bikes. It was only 2.50 for an hour. Lauren and I thought it would be a good idea to get one of those 2 people bikes. It wasn't. We got on and stuggled for about 5 minutes to even get it going, and after nearly falling twice, or steering straight into traffic while Nick was laughing at us, we brought back the bike, and each got our own.

After Friday, I realized that the expression "it's like riding a bike" doesn't make sense, because you can TOTALLY forget how to ride a bike. It took me soooo long to get used to it. I was jerking all over the place and having a really hard time balancing and slowing down when I needed to. But despire that, the bike trail was beautiful and made a complete circle around Lucca and we were able to do two laps. Such a pretty place, and no tourists. The underestimated places seem to have the most hidden treasures.

We did not go out Friday night seeing as we had to wake up extremely early the next morning to meet for our Milan train at 6:45. I slept the entire train ride there. I have to say, I wasn't impressed with Milan. I mean the Cathedral was beautiful because its one of the only Gothic style churches in Italy, but I wasn't that fond of the city itself. It reminded me a lot of NYC, and I felt like everything I saw there I could have seen at home. People were rude everywhere we went and we had TERRIBLE seats for the ballet. What i saw of the dancers were beautiful, and the opera house was insanely gorgeous, but it's not something that I ever need to do again. It was some sort of carnivale in Milan that day, and there were kids EVERYWHERE in every sort of costume you could imagine. Confetti and silly string everywhere, and absolute chaos. Stella, Lauren and I got sprayed with sillystring towards the end of the day, and were not happy about it.

My favorite part of the day though was when, these people ran up to us on the street and grabbed our hands, and put corn in it and raised our hands up in the air, and had pigeons swarm around and eat out of our hands. I at one point had 3 pigeons perched on my air, eating out of my hand. After that they of course tried to get money out of us, but our trip leader yelled at them in Italian and they left us alone. Then people would come up to us, tie a string bracelet on our hands and be like "ok now give me money." HAHAHA, NO! So we all have a bracelet, and needless to say, they did not get any money.