Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rusk Family Reunion: Spring Break 2010

It seems like I just returned from Spring Break, and already tomorrow I am heading to Holland! (Amsterdam, specifically) I figured I should post a quick summary of what went down over Spring Break!

On Thursday March 25th, my family got to Madrid! My Mom, Dad, Sister, Aunt Cheryl and Cousin Tim all made the long journey over here. They arrived Thursday night, so we only had time for dinner (Mexican, yum), but we had a long time on Friday to see the sites. First we walked to my school, then I took them on a big ol’ walking loop around the city- we hit up some of the major spots: Plaza España, the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, San Miguel’s Market and Puerta del Sol. We also made a Gelato stop… which prepared us for our daily gelato consumption in Italy : ) After spending some time in each of these locations, we were on our way to the airport to go to Rome!

We arrived after midnight, and after a few luggage and taxi related anxieties, finally got to our hotel! We would be staying in a different hotel EVERY NIGHT (except in Switzerland, where we spent 2 nights at the same place), so I didn’t get to “settle in” like I love doing at hotels. Oh well… after the door handle came off in my hand a few times, I was fine with moving on!

Saturday was our first day to explore Rome… and it got off to a horrible start! Some yahoo in a souvenir shop decided to start talking about an explosion (a supposed terrorist attack) that occurred in the O’Hare airport! He said that almost 40 had died, and there was also a threat on the White House. We were all freaking out. I immediately sent a text to my cousin, Angie, who lives in Chicago to see what was happening, and we made some calls back home… well, as you know, nothing really happened. Either that guy was SERIOUSLY misinformed, or he was playing a sick joke on the Americans. Horrible.

Once we got word from home that nothing really had happened, our preoccupation with the “attack” subsided and we were able to take in all of the culture and beauty we were experiencing. We went to St. Peter’s Square and spent hours in the Vatican Museum. I was finally able to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Raphael’s “School of Athens”. The Sistine Chapel wasn’t like I had imagined it to be at all… it was much smaller than I had thought. We were the last people to leave the museum, and we were all exhausted afterwards!

The next day we signed up for a guided walking tour and saw St. Peter’s Square (again), the Trevi Fountain, the “Spanish Steps”, the Pantheon and many sculptures by Bernini and other artists. Since it was Palm Sunday, the city was full of people and there were palm stands everywhere. I even saw some people selling little palm crosses like they make at my church for the holy day. Later on, we went to the Colosseum and saw other architecture that remains from ancient Rome.

At 5:30 am on Monday, we were on our way to the airport for Venice! Alysia and I were lucky we made it though… we didn’t wake up until 5:18!!! I’m happy we did, because Venice was every bit as magical as I remember it being. We walked all around the city and saw the canals, bridges, and narrow, winding streets. We did a little shopping, spent some time in St. Mark’s Square, and all piled into a gondola for a relaxing journey through the waters.

Bright and early on Tuesday, we were off for another leg of our journey… Lucerne, Switzerland. On the train rides we were able to catch up on some much needed rest and were excited to get to our hotel where we would be (finally) staying two consecutive nights :)

After checking in, we went to look at the town. After a few minutes, I realized how much I loved Switzerland. Walking across the bridge to where all the action was, I could see the Alps, a river and the cutest, most “Swiss” looking buildings you’ll ever see in your life! It was sooo beautiful. There wasn’t too much going on in Lucerne, so our days there were chill- just what we needed after our go-go-go attitudes in our other locations.

The first night in Lucerne was the best night of the whole trip, in my opinion. We went to Stadtkeller, a Swill Folklore dinner show that had disgusting cheese-fondue, but a great performance. The Alphorns and yodeling took my attention away from the ass smell invading my nostrils, and it was an amazing time. Alysia and Tim were able to give the Alphorn a whirl, Cheryl and Tim tried some traditional Swiss dancing, and Dad was able to put his yodeling and beer-drinking skills to the test.

On Wednesday, we spent a few hours at Mt. Pilatus. We took little “gondolas” on cables up to the top, and the views were beautiful… if you could ignore the blizzard going on around you! We had lunch up there, took in the sites, and warmed up with a little hot chocolate and dessert before heading back down. That night I had my best meal of the trip: Meat Fondue (way better, and way different than the cheese one).

On Thursday morning we bid farewell to Lucerne and were on our way back to Madrid. We did make a 6ish hour pitstop in Paris, though. We had enough time to visit the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Then we boarded our overnight train to Madrid. GROSS. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that our cabin had the cleanliness of an airplane bathroom. YUCK. And almost as annoying as the disgustingness of it, our room was only big enough for one of us to stand up in it at once. Thank God I was asleep for most of this ride. BLAH.

I was rejoicing when we pulled up in Madrid Friday morning, but sad because I knew that my time with the fam was almost at an end. We were planning on going to the Prado Museum that day, but because it was Good Friday almost everything in the whole city was closed. We went to Retiro Park and to Sol again, then ATTEMPTED to go to a Flamenco dinner show… but because of religious processionals the cabs couldn’t drop us off right at the place…And since we were in two different cars, we got separated. Very long story short, we were swept away in the crowd, it took Mom, Dad, Alysia and I over 45 minutes to find the restaurant and since Tim and Cheryl didn’t turn up, we left… turns out they showed up 5 minutes later! Well, we were still separated. But finally, probably 2 hrs later, we were reunited at a little café across from our hotel- where we had our last meal together.

On Saturday I rode with them to the airport and said goodbye to them… it was sad since I had gotten used to being with them again, but knowing that I would be seeing them in less than 6 weeks made it a little easier.

Sunday was Easter. Blah. I was sick. And on Monday I was back to school… and today’s Wednesday. Jeeze that was supposed to be a short summary! Sorry Charlies.


  1. Two weeks ago right now we would have been returning to the Tirol 3 hotel from a great mexican meal. I wish we could turn back the hands of time and be able to do the trip all over again! Miss you and love you! Have fun in Amsterdam.

  2. What a great recap! I enjoyed all the pictures on facebook and was surprised to see the pics from Paris. That's great you were able to squeeze it it! I am excited to hear the rest of the fam's recap!

  3. Sounds like great fun, I am jealous!! Wish I could have been part of it. The count-down to your return begins...hope you are as excited for that as we all are.