Now, you guys have probably understood that I have become a true Game of Thrones fan. And as a fan, I wanted to have all the fictional historical facts I could find. Therefore, as a birthday gift, I got this amazing and quite extensive book which tells the story of Westeros and Essos.
At the beggining, I could not put it down. The facts about how the Seven Kingdoms started were too amazing to read later, but after a while you get confused with all of the various Targaryen kings and start losing track of who did what. That is why I advise you to read it casually and then reach for it (at least for the first, historical, part of the book) once you encounter the names in the actual books.
After that part, you get into the actual Seven Kingdoms and their respective history and description, one by one. My favourite is Dorne, as it reflects the social and political values I would like to find in the world of today. Equality between sons and daughters, true born children and bastards, wives or paramours, that is why Dorne is so ahead of its sister kingdoms. A sentimental favourite I would find in the North, where true values seem to never have shifted through the centuries. As much as I love the Lannisters, I did not fall in love with the Westerlands.
Now, the third and last part of this book is dedicated to Essos, and since it is the lesser known territory, it was destined to be my favourite.
I am fascinated with all of the tiny islands that we still do not know enough about and with the three guardian cities (Kayakayanaya, Samyriana, and Bayasabhad) that divide the Vaes Dothrak from the Bones.
Above all, I thirst to know more about Asshai by the Shadow, which only has 2 pages in this book. It is so mysterious and unexplored that I was really dissapointed it did not have more space here. Maybe we will find out later, if George RR Martin feels like delighting us.
All in all, this felt like reading a very entertaining history book, extremely realistic (besides the dragons) and believable.
In March I went on a trip to New York City, which lasted about 9 days. This trip was the culminating event of a course I have been taking since November. This course is called National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN). It is a branch of the Model United Nations (MUN), aimed at high school students.
The whole course lasted from November until February and it focused on diplomacy, diplomatic language, modern history, geopolitics and such. We then did a simulation in Rome, in a parliamentary room, where students from Central Italy came together to work as one.
Finally, we had to go to NYC to take part in the big simulation, which brought together students from all around the world. I was part of the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN) and I was representing Mauritania, alongside a girl from another part of Italy.
Let’s get started with the trip.
We left on the 13th of March from Fiumicino Airport, in Rome. All of our flights were operated by Iberia, so naturally we had layovers in Madrid.
The flight from Rome to Madrid lasted 3 hours and was uneventful. There we had about an hour layover, but since the gate was pretty far, we had to run there to catch our flight. The next 9 hours, strangely enough, passed quickly. I saw the film “Arrival”, which was neat.
Finally, we arrived in NYC at about 7pm. It was quite late, I had no internet on my phone, thinking that I could catch some wifi. That did not happen. It was very very cold as we waited for the car which would take us to the hotel.
We finally arrived at our hotel, Hilton Midtown. It is a very nice hotel and the room was cute, once you figured out how the heating worked. The elevators were also quite a challenge.
We were 4 girls in the room and let me tell you, it was such a mess that the cleaning lady refused to clean it. That was quite a hint.
That night we went out for McDonald’s in Times Square. It was so so cold that it started lightly snowing. We got back towards midnight and then we went straight to sleep, too tired to function.
The next day, on the 14th, we were faced with Snow Storm Sally. At the beginning it was cute and new, but then we had to face the cold and the metres of snow. We had breakfast at Joe & the Juice, near our hotel, where I had a protein smoothie.
We then tried to go to the Museum of Natural History, which was closed. I was on the verge of a nervous crisis as we walked through Central Park, in the snow storm, with our guide who was not a good enough guide and did not know where she was going. Fortunately, I made a new friend who I am still on touch with and we took a taxi back to the hotel, instead of walking.
I was so cold I felt like crying. We ended up just staying in the hotel for the rest of the day, since it was so cold.
On the next day, we actually started working. But before that, we finally visited the museum! As always, we had to hurry to make it in time for the Opening Ceremony, so we only had an hour. A friend of mine and I managed to visit almost everything.
After this, we got dressed up and we attended the Opening Ceremony, after attending a couple of briefings on the rules of procedure and such.
The 16th was the most intense work day, since we had to attend 2 sessions in the afternoon, while in the morning we attended a conference. That evening most people went to the Empire State Building, but I was not feeling well and remained in my room.
The next day we attended our last two sessions and we were finally free to go. We visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), that was close to our hotel.
That night we also attended the Delegate Dance, but I only stayed and danced for a bit, since my feet were killing me, having worn heels all day.
The next morning we left for the UN Headquarters and we attended the Closing Ceremonies. It was nice, being seated in the front row, and watching people make their speeches.
In the afternoon we visited the Guggenheim Museum. I liked the way it was structured on more floors and how there were little to no stairs.
On the next day we went to visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and then the Brooklyn Bridge. We had to walk quite a lot to get to the subway station, since there was a marathon going on.
Before going to the Brooklyn Bridge, we visited Wall Street, where I was excited to see the statue of the Fearless Girl.
After that, we visited the 9/11 Memorial. It felt surreal. All the names written there really gave it a spectral atmosphere, and despite there being hundreds of people, it was silent.
Finally, we arrived at the Brooklyn Bridge, and we walked all the way to Brooklyn. It was tiring, but it was most definitely worth it.
On the 21st of March we left. Unfortunately, our layover in Madrid lasted 6 hours and I fell asleep on the table. I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. We finally got home on the 22nd.
What I left out of all this diary entry, so to say, was a very deep emotional experience which saw its beginning and end in the same week, only to leave me heartbroken, then mend my heart and then break it again a couple of days ago. But this experience would not have been the same without my heart experiencing a whole array of emotions, from love to panic.
This is the second time I am making this post, since wordpress decided to delete everything that was in it. You have no idea how how pissed off I am right now and how much work I put in.
Anyways, this is part 1 of my school trip to Sicily, where I am going to show you the first two days of the trip.
We left at about 6am from home and we went to Fiumicino, where the main airport in Rome is. We flew with Vueling and there were no problems. It took a bit less than an hour.
So we got to the airport in Catania and from there we went directly to Taormina, a very beautiful and expensive town situated quite high up on the coast. I ate for the first time in my life an Arancino, a typical Sicilian street food. It is basically a mixture of rice, tomato sauce, peas, meat and cheese, all deep fried. It is amazing. We also visited the very old Greek Theatre, built in the third century BC.
After that we went and entered a church nearby, called Church of Santa Caterina. It was mostly white and modest, besides the gold details, of course.
We strolled around the main street of the town, which had a couple of shops here and there. We saw an interesting flight of stairs and we decided to go up, but nothing was there. The view was, of course, quite neat.
After finishing up our visit of Taormina, we took the bus and went to the most famous volcano in Italy, Etna. It was a very long drive, since climbing up on the volcano is not easy and you have to circumnavigate it quite a few times. As soon as we got off the bus, the most intense wind hit us. We then climbed up a hundred metres by foot and when we got where we wanted, a couple of skinnier girls almost flew away. The wind was so intense and scary, but fun at the same time. You can see the force of the wind in the selfie below.
After our adventure, we went to the hotel. We went and had dinner, socialised a bit and then we went out in the town. We stayed at a hotel in Aci Trezza. The town was very small and it faced the harbour.
The second day we got up, had an amazing breakfast (my favourite part of staying at hotels is the breakfast) and we took off to see Syracuse the whole day. We visited an archaeological park, where we saw the Ara di Ierone, a huge altar probably dedicated to Zeus, where ancient Romans would sacrifice animals.
Right after we saw the Greek Theatre, which would have been very nice, had it not been for the workers setting it up for a future representation of some play. It was very white and quite, since there were not a lot of visitors. If you want to visit a quiet Sicilian city, Syracuse might just do it for you.
Then, in the same park, we entered a very paradisiac garden, similar to the Garden of Eden, according to some. We also entered a cave, the Ear of Dionysius, which has great acoustics. Of course, everyone started yelling and it became unbearable.
After visiting this park we went on an island nearby, called Ortygia. It is separated form the mainland only by a bridge, which is 20 metres long. It is a beautiful island with great places to visit.
We unfortunately could not get in the main church of the island, the Cathedral, since it was closed. Nevertheless, it was beautiful on the outside. Of course I had to climb on something, I could not stand still (a hobby of mine, as you may remember from here).
We then entered a church right next to the one above, called Church of Santa Lucia all Badia. Unfortunately, we could not take pictures inside, although I really wanted to, since they were displaying a panting by Caravaggio, the Burial of St. Lucy. You can check the painting out here, but it is nothing like looking at it from ten feet away.
We then went and saw the Fountain of Arethusa, which has a great legend behind it. Apparently the nereid Arethusa, in her escape from the god Alpheus, trying to remain a virgin since she was dedicated to Artemis, asked for the help of the goddess herself, who transformed her into a cloud. Fearing Alpheus, she perspired and became a course of water, flowing into the Fountain we can see nowadays. We can also find here the one of two homes for the Papyrus plant in Europe, since it cannot grown anywhere else, its home being Africa.
We then walked along the coast and took some pictures, since the light was perfect in the afternoon. Excuse the selfie and the climbing.
We then headed back to the hotel.
This is what we did for the first two days. Stay tuned, since next week I will post part 2 of this trip, with the last two days. Thank you for reading.