I am embarking on my next long-awaited adventure in a little over 48 hours. With immunizations complete, one carry-on bag filled to maximum capacity, and a passport waiting to be stamped, I will fly to a country in Africa the size of South Dakota. Dakar, Senegal is the westernmost point in Africa and a popular destination for French vacationers.

I don’t quite know what to expect, but I am unbelievably excited. Stay tuned!

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When I was back in the states and saw that Coldplay was touring Europe while I’d be abroad…. I was stoked! Maybe I’d travel to another country to see Coldplay …And then I saw the dates in Italy… in Bologna–only an hour’s train ride from Florence! I bought 2 tickets, hoping I’d make a friend who liked Coldplay enough to pay $86 and a buy train ticket to come with me.

Fortunately, I found a girl in my ceramics class. Her name is Mo (aka Maurine), she’s from New Jersey, and she’s a total goofball. We didn’t really know each other going into it, but we got along great and had a fantastic time!

Waiting for my panino with my free beer. The 50-something man next to me was trying to expl

Waiting for my panino with my free beer. The 50-something man next to me was trying to explain to me how this vendor worked.. Italians are very gesticulate people. He knocked his beer off the counter and spilled it all over my arm and a bit on my pants. He felt terrible and so he bought me and my friend Mo some birre! (birre=beers, birra=beer)

As I hoped they would be, Coldplay was ..incredible. I nearly cried I was so overwhelmed with joy haha. Well worth the adventure! The venue was fairly small–definitely not as big as Key Arena. The Italians by me all seemed to be quite ecstatic and enjoying the music as much as I was. Pretty much everyone knew all the words, even the girl next to us who spoke absolutely no english. It really is amazing how music can be so universal and affect someone the same way it affects me.. even though they don’t understand the words, they can feel the emotion and the excitement through the music.. They can feel overtaken by the sad yet content and comforting feeling of “Fix You” …or a rush from the marching beat and triumphant strings of “Viva la Vida”…. Perhaps they might be moved by the atmosphere of live music, ..the rhythm physically pounding in their chest…

Coldplay

Coldplay

Mmmm, sigh. End ramble.

Allora, after the concert there weren’t any trains to take us back to Florence until 5:15am, so we had to kill some time. We slowly strolled into an expensive hotel and used their bathroom.. taking our time.. enjoying the warmth.. filling our waterbottles..
 
Anywho, so we went back out into the dark, cold night to try and find another “shelter” and grab some food. Low and behold, the great Golden Arches appear down the street! Yes my friends, we went to McDonald’s. While eating my curly fries and Crispy McBacon, I swatted at the flies landing so gracefully in my ketchup and tried not to glance at the sketchy, staring dudes sitting in the corner. I was not about to sacrifice my warmth and shelter to get away from a creeper. Give them a split-second of eye contact and you’re in for it!
 
How silly is it to bring in your 21st birthday eating McDonald’s in Bologna, Italy? Pretty silly I think. I was okay with it though, Coldplay made up for it. After McD’s closed, we went 2 blocks down to where many interesting people gather at night, the central train station. Let’s just say it was such fantastic people-watching, if I closed my eyes I would regret it (because I would either, a) be attacked by a strange individual, or b) miss something hilarious. There were many a-stumblin’ homeless crazies who were, quite possibly, using mind-alterin’ substances that in fact, could lead to a combination of police, unconscious drug-users on the ground, ambulances, and run-on sentences… no need to go on really. Well there was a woman who ran by outside while removing her brassier. I’m not sure why she would do that in such cold weather. We watched a short man with a hunch-back in a purple sweater try to pick-pocket everyone in the station. And some old dude slapped another dude and then flipped him off while yelling some obscenities in Italian. OH!! There was another old dude who was legitimately crazy. It seemed as though he was preaching something to the people in the room.. he was so intense.. like he was trying to prove something to everyone, make them believe something. I asked my new Serbian friend, Aljosa, what the man was saying, but Aljosa said he couldn’t understand at all because he was using a different Italian dialect. He stomped around getting close to people’s faces like he was angry, but he wore a huge psychopathic grin on his face.. His eyes darted all over the room looking for someone to acknowledge him…. it was the most interesting thing to watch. Even I knew it was psychobabble and I didn’t even understand the words–the guy was a serious whacko!
 
Aljosa's shoes. Yes, they are Sonics colors, but nonetheless, the Seattle skyline.

Aljosa's shoes. Yes, they are Sonics colors, but nonetheless, the Seattle skyline.

Okay new topic. Aljosa! (al-ho-suh) Aljosa is my age, from Serbia, and is also studying in Florence but at a different school. He speaks Serbian, Italian, English, and wants to learn Russian. He told me his major was something to do with tourism but I couldn’t quite understand if that was correct… In any case, he was wearing shoes that had the Seattle skyline on them!!!!! I was so stoked to see that!! We were instant friends haha. He has never been to Seattle but he liked the shoes and started to ask me lots of questions about where I am from and what it’s like. …Likewise I asked him about Serbia. Anywho, cool kid, super kind-hearted, soft spoken, new friend. We will try to meet for an “aperitivo” this week so I can practice my Italian. (Aperitivo is basically an appetizer with a drink. You buy a drink for 6 or 7 euro and then there is basically a buffet of snacks.. At least that’s how someone explained it to me, I haven’t actually tried it yet.)

Basta! Enough!
 
In conclusion, I have 2 new friends (Mo and Aljosa), I can now confidently navigate the train station, I had an awesome day before my birthday (which gets its own post and comes next), I went to McDonald’s in Italy..?, and ..I can check something really awesome off my Bucket List… “Go to a concert in another country.” SUCCESS!
The only thing I regret is not buying a tshirt to add to my collection. Maybe Coldplay will swing through Seattle when I’m back…. though I’ll probably be in Pullman. Hmm. We’ll tackle that one when it comes. Ciao ciao!