Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Halfway Across the World

Today I spent a long time in the air. I rode three different flights, and each one was radically different. The first was an "Express Jet," and immediately I knew we were in for some excitement. It was only an hour and a half long flight, and I am so glad that it was not any longer. The plane itself was a tiny, 60-person wind-up jet. It whined through the air all the way to Chicago, there was barely enough room to stand up in the aisle (and I'm only 5' 6"), and the seats were packed in there. But the redeeming factor of this flight was the spectacular view upon our descent.

Before leaving the cloud cover for earth, we flew through a sculpture garden of clouds. Each cloud structure was a detailed image, exquisitely crafted. One depicted a horse god, mourning the death of his children lost in war, while another evoked a graphic and passionate love affair. They were all painted with rose and steel, and were beautiful to behold. I was upset that my camera was stowed away, out of reach, so I am unable to share the majesty of the event.

And as if the pilots were loathe to disrupt the beautiful fields around them, they played fighter jet for a while, swerving around one cloud and dropping suddenly to avoid another. It felt much like a roller coaster ride, and had there been room, I would've thrown my hands up and enjoyed the ride.

However, all good things must come to an end, and we descended below the clouds. It was as if the clouds has deflated and lost their magic; they were mere shadows of what you could've seen from above. It seemed as though you lay on your back, looking up a skirt and trying to recall the subtlety and beauty of her face.

The second flight was my long-haul international flight on Swiss Air, and we were on a giant airbus. They treated us well, entertaining us with games and movies, feeding us surprisingly good food, and (for some) providing free alcohol. The seats were not too comfy to sleep in, but it's a plane, and unfortunately I wasn't flying first class, so it's forgivable. I was impressed with the service and quality of the flight overall.

The final flight was on a standard 100-110 person airplane. It was what you would expect of a mediocre domestic flight, and when we arrived in Florence, the pilot had to circle four times to lighten the plane for landing, and still did a terrible job. However, the rest of the flight was unremarkable.

During my flights, I met many of my fellow peers on this trip, and once I arrived, met many more, both from my apartment (which is amazing; pictures of it will be up tomorrow) and from walking around with other kids from the program or sitting with them at dinner.

Dinner itself was incredible. It was a five-course Italian dinner, complete with wine, for only 20 euros. The food was fantastic, I met a whole bunch of new and interesting people, and I learned that wine and limoncino are not things my palette particularly savors. Not to mention I tasted the wine on an empty stomach. I didn't photodocument dinner because I figured I would be biased due to my extreme hunger and fatigue, but soon I will post delicious images of the things I eat (and cook!).

Today was a long day, and tomorrow I have orientation, so hopefully I'll be able to figure out this city and work my way into a schedule so I can start planning my European adventures. But for now, I am going to pass out in my bed and hopefully wake to another exciting day.


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