So we went on a vacation finally. This summer has been really hectic and so it was great for us to get away for a few days. We stayed in a hotel in Rimini (about an hour North of Ancona) that had a large swimming pool. We spent each afternoon at the pool, enjoying the cool clear water. Hotels in Italy work a little different, especially in the high vacation season. They have many activities for you to be involved in, such as water aerobics and game night. They have organized kids' games at the pool everyday and beach volleyball is available a few days of the week, among many other things. We were at the pool one day when they came around asking about volleyball one day and as the lady in charge was asking people she yelled over to me across the pool and said,"hey, you should come play volleyball with us, you're white!" I assume this latter statement had to do with my lack of tan rather than anything racist. However, I did have a tan, I was just not dark brown like she was. I declined gratefully, so I could stay relaxing in the pool. On the last day of our four day vacation, we went to a small theme park called "Italia in Miniatura," which means (you guessed it), 'Italy in Miniatures.' Basically it is a huge walking path on a mini island in the shape of Italy on a big cement pond. It had recreated famous buildings and locations on the island in the spots where they are in Italy. You can check out the park at www.italiainminiatura.com. They also had one of those simulators that you can choose virtual roller coasters, time travel, ice caves, etc... We went to do that and as we were paying the ticket guy asked where we were from (not an uncommon question for us). We told him and we talked for a bit about what we were doing in Italy and how we liked it. We went to sit on a bench and wait for our turn on the simulator. All of a sudden over the simulator guy's loudspeaker we heard him say (in English), "and now an American song." We laughed as we looked and caught his eye. Then we smiled as we heard the "Star Spangled Banner" start. At first it was funny that we were there in Italy listening to that song. And it almost felt a little embarrassing, since it felt like all eyes were on us...THE AMERICANS. However, as we listened to the words about the country we love, we became aware of the fact that we were the only ones that it meant anything towards. At that moment we were at the same time a little lonely, very patriotic, thankful and homesick. Lots to feel in a short time. At the end of the song, we felt a little sheepish about the tears in our eyes, but then he broke our serious state by announcing it was now time for "the Scottish song." Bagpipes started blaring and we were jolted out of our somberness. Afterwards, we rode the ride, but it was the song we'll remember.