The night of Friday, March 16th, my roommate Becca and I left for our journey to Barcelona for SPRING BREAK!! Our flight got in really late, but it was of no concern to our host Colin because people do not even contemplate going out until 2am. Mind-boggling, I know.
Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day… a pretty crazy scene. We walked down La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian mall that goes on for about 1.2 km. All of the bars had green beer, which we tried out of sheer curiosity.
Tastes like beer.
Sunday we went to the Arc de Triomf. Yes, there is one in Barcelona as well! Looks a little different than the one in Paris though, as it is a reddish brick.
After passing some beautiful scenery, we spotted a Greek restaurant, Dionisus, which was not only affordable, but delicious.
Now it was time for the beach, as we had some great weather.
Sunday night, our host took us to a party where many of the attendees spoke Spanish. I was surprised at how much I could still remember from high school.
Monday, Colin had classes so Becca and I were on our own. We started off the day by crossing the street from Colin’s place and eating at Creps Barcelona. It was delicious!
From there we started to wander. We sat in the sun by a monument for quite some time. The we came to the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, where we again sat to admire the view.
We saw a large tower in the sky, resembling a bullet and I was determined to see it up close. We found out later that it was called Torre Agbar and it marks the beginning of the new technological district. It is about 475 feet tall.
Heading back towards the apartment we passed La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, or the church of the holy family, designed by Gaudi. Regretfully, we did not go in, as some sacrifices must be made to afford meals, but the view from the outside was not too shabby.
Finally, we met up with our friend Sam and his girlfriend in Placa de Catalunya. In her apartment there was actually a neat painting of the placa.
Tuesday morning we went back to Placa de Catalunya, widely known for the flocks of pigeons that gather here and its location in the center of the city.
Next on my list of suggested places to see was Casa Batllo, which was also restored by Gaudi. One of the most unique-looking buildings I have seen, so we paid for a tour of the inside and I think it was worth the 15 euro. The roof looked like it was from a movie set.
Walking back to the apartment we got exactly what I was craving at Sandwich and Friends… a turkey wrap. Then it was nap time after a long day. And when we woke up, we met up with my friend Tory at a popular sandwich joint, Bo de B. I’m beginning to realize that much of this vacation was spent eating.
Wednesday was a rainy day, but we didn’t let that bring us down. We went to Cien Montaditos because every wednesday, their entire menu is 1 euro. From sodas to hot dogs to tacos to french fries. Delicious. We met up with my sorority sister Maddy, who I had casually ran into in the street the day before and the rest of the day was extremely relaxing.
Thursday we sat by a dock for a long time when we woke up. Then we head in the direction of Placa d’Espanya, one of Barcelona’s most important squares. Here was saw the Quatre Columnes and the Venetian Towers.
We soon found ourselves tanning on the lawn of Palau Nacional, which houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art- NMAC). We saw a couple taking wedding photos on the steps.
We went to Caterina’s for dinner and Friday night we went to La Fira, which was alot of fun and alot of dancing.
Saturday we went to Park Guell, which is an extremely intricate garden complex with architecture designed by, yet again, Gaudi. The walk up was the largest hill I had ever seen in my life, but shockingly, there were escalators… for some of it.
These two buildings were at the entrance of the park. We spent hours wandering around here.
For dinner, we went to Taverna del Bisbe in Barri Gotic and then began a LONG night out. We went to Catwalk, which was really a fun club, but if you ever go there… bring nothing. No purse, no phone, and as little cash as possible. This place is a FEEDING ground for pickpockets, as are most popular clubs in Barcelona. I have heard far too many horror stories about thefts there. And I saved many people from experiencing having their wallets/phones/ids stolen on this occasion.
Before we knew it, it was 6am and the place was still open. We did notice that the crowd was dwindling down though so we decided since our flight was at 10am on Sunday that we might as well not sleep. So we went to the beach to watch the sunrise. And it was glorious.
Saturday night after arriving home from Geneva, Jessie was ready to go out and so I quickly reapplied some makeup and I also forced Kristy to come out with us.
And so began a new week of insanity- three of my sorority sisters staying with me in my apartment and three midterms in two days, but I managed to show them the sites, bring them to Gusta Pizza, go out with them a few nights, and ace all those midterms.
So when you are studying abroad in Italy, you get to go on field trips. These field trips are not like the ones I remember from middle school, but that’s mostly because of where we went, not what we did.
The first of these business trips was to Milan on the 2nd of March. We left bright and early in the morning around 6:30am. We took a metro to the Piazza del Duomo, where the Duomo di Milano can be seen, as well as Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. We then went to the US Commercial Office to hear some pretty boring speeches about international business. I believe our professor even caught some z’s. This was a bit reminiscent of middle school field trips. Then we were given some free time to wander.
We went to Il Museo del Novecento, which has contemporary art. From the museum there was a cool view of the Piazza.
After the museum we just had enough time to check out the Duomo. It was mind-blowing, especially the stained glass windows.
After our free time, we met with the Marketing Manager of Libreria Feltrinelli. I thought this might be interesting as I am a marketing major, but she did not talk about marketing much, only the book business. I saw a few eyes shut. After a long day we headed back to Firenze.
The following Wednesday, March 7th we left for Geneva Switzerland for a long weekend. We arrived very late Wednesday evening so everyone went straight to bed, I was thrilled by the fact that I had a queen sized bed for a few nights in Hotel Etap.
Thursday morning we went to the Permanent Mission of the USA where a few GW alumni spoke to us about economic, environmental, and trade issues.
While we were wandering around we came to the Place des Nations, where we found a 39 foot tall Broken Chair. This was meant to be a symbol of the fragility of humans as a way to educate the public on the issue of landmine injuries.
From there we went to the World Trade Organization, where we heard about some international issues, but mostly just enjoyed the free water.
Friday morning began with a visit to UNEP, United Nations Environment Program where we heard some of ideas on how to transition to a green economy. We ate lunch in a cafeteria and then we went to the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, where we a woman spoke to us about issues that WIPO has to get involved in. From there we hung out in city center for a while and then went to the 82nd International Motor Show. This place was HUGE. I’ve never seen so many cars… the boys were in their glory.
Saturday we had the morning to roam around the city for a little while, and then we were back on the train headed to Florence. When I got home, one of my best friends from GW was already waiting for me in my apartment.
Wednesday, February 22nd, after I attended my Italian class, I came back to the apartment to pack for a flight arriving in Paris at 6pm. When we arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport, one of the most interesting airports I’ve ever been in, it was rush hour so cabs were extremely expensive. There were all sorts of sketchy men trying to give us “good deals” for cab rides into the city, some were asking for 75 euro, some for 60 euro. It’s a solid cab ride but it shouldn’t be more than 45 euro. So we find a cab that says it should be between 45 and 50 euro. Sounds good.
(I didn’t tell you this story yet mom, so brace yourself.) About 10 minutes into the ride, we hear a loud banging noise coming from the back of the car… none of us knew what it was. About 4 minutes later we hear the sound of the tire completely deflating and the rim rubbing against the pavement. I begin frantically telling the cab driver to pull over, but he speaks zero English. Eventually, after riding on the rim for what seems like an eternity, he pulls over. We’re all having our own silent panic attacks as we are on the side of a highway, having just arrived in Paris, with a French/Asian cab driver and none of us speak French. He tells us, no problem, he is going to change the tire. So we wait. About 30 minutes. While he hammers the rim back into place and puts on a new tire. We are now ready to test the waters. I am petrified… and I could use a change of underwear. When we arrive at our destination, we refuse to pay what he is asking, and give him only the initial 45 euro, even though that was more than he deserved. We get to our apartment, kissing the ground we walked on, and we all just laid down in our beds and attempted to catch our breath. This apartment, mind you, was absolutely gorgeous Shoutout to Celeste Vossmeyer for hooking us up with that, thank you so much!
After some time relaxing, we ventured out to dinner. We found an adorable restaurant and club, Bizen. We enjoyed the environment and we were lucky enough to be harassed by a cute little old man who sang throw-back American songs all evening. He had a pretty impressive voice. The wine was so good that I could not resist getting a glass with my chicken dish- Médaillon de Suprême Forestière à l’Huile Truffée Et ses Quenelles de Risotto, which is basically chicken stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and cheese risotto on the side.
We were all tired from travel so we called it an early night.
Thursday morning we woke up and walked to the Louvre Museum, one of the world’s largest museums. I was pretty stoked to see the Mona Lisa. After we got our FREE passes into the museum (hooray for having a visa!), we got some pretty phenomenal chicken and spinach sandwiches on baguettes. And so began our love affair with baguettes for the remainder of our trip.
Inside the Louvre, we were able to see The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble statue of the Greek goddess, Nike.
After looking at some of the 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art, we head to the Mona Lisa, which was by far the most crowded area of the entire place, nearly impossible to see up close.
From the Louvre, we crossed the bridge to Notre Dame, a gothic Roman cathedral where the official chair of the Archbishop of Paris is located.
From here we walked to an eclair shop where Jackie had a delicious eclair and there was also a crepe place along the way that Becca stopped at before heading home to rest for a bit. Then I couldn’t take it any more, I had to see it… so we decided to begin a never-ending trek to the Eiffel Tower. We passed the Louvre, the Old Capital, the New Capital, and Notre Dame. For dinner, we bought baguettes for 80 cents, and Becca bought some really stinky cheese because “the worse it smells, the better it tastes!” We also passed Ponte de Arts, a bridge covered in locks that lovers place there to symbolize eternal love and then throw the key into the Seine River.
Now it was my turn to have a crepe. We saw a yummy late night place on our journey and we stopped and I got a Nutella crepe. Finally… we saw it. At first it was a small light in the distance, but as we grew closer the light grew larger.
Since we took the long way to the tower (approximately a 3 hour walk), we sat underneath for a while and drank champage and ate lychees, a fruit that was brand new to me but I am grateful to Jackie for the introduction! At around 1am we decided we should begin the hike back to our lovely apartment. Very near to our home we passed a 24/7 restaurant that we hoped would be a diner-type deal, but it was a legitimate restaurant. We split two dishes because we figured we deserved it after all that walking. Finally we were home, and I could rest my aching feet.
Friday morning started out right- with crepes filled with egg, ham, and cheese! We walked through the Louvre and came to a pond. The view was unreal, the sun was shining, and it was nice enough out that we could take off our jackets. We decided to sit and enjoy the view of a very distant Eiffel Tower for a while. Tanning in my boots!
We then continued our walk down the city’s most famous avenue, Champs-Elysees (french for Elysian Fields), filled with specialty shops and cafes. At the end of this avenue lies the Arc de Triomphe. Twelve streets stem from this monument, creating one of the most chaotic round-abouts I have ever seen. We wondered how we were going to get over to this monument. We saw many people attempt to run across, and soon after we saw them chicken out and run back to safety.
We sat and brain-stormed for a bit and I noticed people near the arc were coming up stairs… that’s when it hit me. We probably had to go underground to get over there. We found the tunnel and headed that way.
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, honoring those who fight and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer walls.
From here we headed towards the Eiffel Tower where we decided might be a nice place to have a picnic. We bought some baguettes and sodas and the like. I wanted to have a baguette fight, but apparently I was the only one with enough energy to do so. While we were there, I recorded a video for my little brother Anthony wishing him a Happy 17th Birthday!
We relaxed on a bridge with an unbelievable view of the tower on the walk home. After some distance, my friends found nutella waffles and we sat near the same pond from earlier while they finished their snack. We decided once again to have a relaxing night, with wine and “Wipeout” (the television show) in the room.
Saturday morning we ventured out to the Latin Quarter to see Luxembourg Gardens! We passed the Louvre, as that was part of our daily walk, then we headed past Notre Dame. We also did some souvenir shopping en route. I found some cute souvenirs for some of my family members (and some for myself)!
Finally we arrived at the entrance to Luxembourg Gardens, the second largest park in Paris. We saw the Medici Fountain and the Palace of Luxembourg, a gazebo used for performances, and over 100 statues throughout the garden.
From the gardens, we walked back towards the Latin Quarter. We passed the Pantheon, which was originally built as a church.
A little further down on our walk, we came to a beautiful church, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, so we took a look around inside. It was unbelievably gorgeous.
From here, we were all hungry and we went to L’Authre Bistro. We sat outside because the weather was so nice and our waiter was adorable. I had a ham and cheese crepe, which looked oddly like a sponge, and Becca got Escargot with garlic and pesto and let Jackie and I try some. I wasn’t even afraid! It was surprisingly delicious! If you ever get it, be sure to dip some fresh bread into the sauce- phenomenal!
We bought some more 80 cent baguettes on the walk home and we relaxed in the apartment while we waited for a friend to arrive at the metro stop nearby. She is studying abroad in London, visited us in Florence, and happened to be in Paris at the same time as us. When we met her there, we all went to an Irish Pub together. After an hour or two of listening to a cover band do rock versions of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ and ‘Shake That Booty,’ we started the walk home.
Along the way, we saw one of many homeless men who had his dog at his side to prompt donations out of pity for the animals. This man had puppies. And puppies, according to Becca, cannot be living on the street. For about 30 or so minutes, she tired to buy the puppies from their owner, and he was selling them, but the price was a little steep and eventually we got her to walk away… reluctantly.
Someone was having a crazier Saturday night than us, because we heard some LOUD American music until 4 or 5am. And when I say loud, I mean that we could feel the bass shaking our beds and the party was across the street.
Sunday morning we had a fairly early check out time so we packed up and were ready to go when the owner came to clean up for the next guests. He told us we could leave our suitcases and go grab some brunch since we did not have to leave for a few hours. We found an adorable cafe, got coffee and breakfast, and then headed back to pick up our suitcases. The cab to the airport was lovely… the flights went smoothly… and I was thrilled to hop back into an Italian-speaking cab. It felt great to be able to communicate once again.
This weekend started early because Wednesday night at Astor Caffe featured hot drink specials like Hot Chocolate with Bailey’s, Irish Coffees, and American Coffee with Kahlua. I went for the hot chocolate.
For dinner on Thursday it was back to Astor Cafe for another burger… some tasty meat at that place- the steaks were also pretty good. That night, Kristy and I went to Twice Club because a good friend of mine from high school was there. It was so nice to see her and catch up briefly. We hung out and had some red bull vodkas. After that we went over to Lion’s Fountain, which is always nice when you’re in the mood to hear some awful old school American music.
Friday the 10th when I woke up I was feeling like doing something spontaneous. Jackie and I went to the train station and hopped on the next train to Pisa. Just 45 minutes later we were in Pisa and only a 15 minute walk away from the Leaning Tower. We walked down Corso Italia, which is a beautiful road filled with shops that we could not get enough of. We crossed over a bridge and saw a little pointy looking church on the other side- Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina.
Continuing down the road, we passed the University of Pisa, and begin to see the tippy top of the Leaning Tower. As the path comes to an opening we see before us the Cattedrale di Pisa, directly to the right of the Leaning Tower.
Of course I had to take the classic “I’m holding up the entire Leaning Tower by myself” picture… and then some.
Then we decided it was time to climb to the top of the tower… I had no idea you could do this but once I found out, I knew I had to. Train tickets to and from Pisa… 14 euro, Tickets to enter the tower… 15 euro, The view from the top… priceless.
Finally after an exhausting journey, and an even greater appreciation for this opportunity I have, we were on flat ground. Then we went over to the baptistry, which is next to the church as you can see from the aerial view, to get a closer look.
We then went back to the pointy looking church we saw to take some pictures there.
After that we stopped at a wine bar, Bazeel, which was on the corner at Ponte Mezzo. We both really enjoyed the environment, and I certainly enjoyed my glass of Pinot.
Saturday morning I needed to get some work done so I went back to Astor Cafe… probably not the wisest decision for getting work done but I still managed to have some success. I also took this as an opportunity to try that “super breakfast” that they serve until 1pm. Who says Italians don’t do breakfast?
Saturday night we went back to Twice Club… this seems to be a pattern. It really is just a fun environment for dancing and meeting people. Sunday I caught up on sleep and prepared for my Italian presentation this morning… Don’t worry, I nailed it. My first exam is Wednesday, can’t wait. Something else to look forward to this week: getting fingerprinted at the immigration office!
It’s February!! Hooray! February in Italy has been colder than January thus far, so I can’t say I’m too fond of that. It has already snowed twice and a few classes have already been cancelled. It’s too cold to just wander around the city so we have been hiding indoors.
Thursday night we went to Bacco in Piazza Santa Croce for a little bit, but the crowd was lame so we went a little further up the road to Red Garter. I think my favorite club thus far. There was a little balcony lounge/deck area overlooking a stage and the dance floor, where you could watch people make fools of themselves. There was an especially awkward looking cover band playing on Thursday night which my girls and I happily scream/sang along to.
Friday night we finally went to Astor!! I’ve been looking forward to going here for a while (admittedly because I saw it on the Jersey Shore season in Florence). It is literally next to the Duomo so you have to be careful because that means it is a touristy place. Where there are American women drinking and dancing, there are Italian men watching and waiting. I really enjoyed myself here. There wasn’t much of a dance scene but we successfully created one. We met an interesting bunch of people… to say the least.
Saturday morning I went back to Astor for some coffee and ended up getting a burger there too. A fairly American menu, and the burgers were the best I’ve had in Florence so far. They have a pretty legitimate breakfast menu (french toast and pancakes!) so I’ll have to crawl out of bed before 1 some weekend and go check it out. Saturday night we took it easy, cooked some pasta, and just hung out around the house because Sunday… SUNDAY = SUPERBOWL!!
My roommates and I bought tickets at Space Electronic, which is a dance club… so we weren’t really sure what to expect going in. It was 10 euro for the ticket but it included 2 beers and all you can eat onion rings, french fries, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and nachos. Pretty sure we got our 10 euro worth. We went over to the nearby club at around midnight and made it in for the 12:30am start time. Don’t worry, I took a three hour nap in the afternoon so I would have enough energy for the game. Upstairs there were two huge screens projecting the game and we found a little unclaimed cage-looking area to sit in and watch from high up (as seen in the far left of the picture below). The ground of the place didn’t look like that though, instead there were chairs covering the floor for everyone to watch the screens.
We had pretty amazing spots for this phenomenal game. Unfortunately my viewing buddy, Kristy, was a Pats fan and she was fairly confident they would win so I received some facebook posts inferring that I’d be crying afterwards……. Well incase you haven’t heard, the Giants won.. and the Patriots lost. So I had myself a happy and cheerful little stroll home while she glared at me unforgivingly. Also incredibly jealous that mommy and daddy were there to watch the whole thing take place, SO COOL!
We made it home somewhere around 4:30am. Don’t worry, I made it to class this morning. But afterward, I crawled right back into bed and got 3-4 more hours of sleep. Can’t start off a Monday being exhausted because that’s not a good look for the rest of the week.
It’s snowing in Italy.. and it looks like that pattern will continue for the week. Perhaps some snow angels are in order?
Another beautiful city of Italy, Rome, is only an hour and a half away by train. We had a packed schedule but I enjoyed every second of it. When we got there on Friday we checked into Hotel Navona and shortly there after we began to tour the city. On our way to our first destination we passed The Monument to the Motherland, erected on an order form Mussolini. He used this building to make speeches.
Our first stop was the Imperial Forums, first built by Julius Caesar, added to by Augustus, and restored by Mussolini.
A little further up the road lies the beautiful Colosseum, which I have literally been waiting to see my entire life. It is the largest amphitheater ever built and it lies in the center of the city. It was mainly used for gladiator contests. I could not get enough of this place.
From here we were free to go to lunch. We found a cafe called Made in Sud. I saw Mozzarella in Carozza on the appetizers list and I knew I had to try it! This is something my family can always agree on so I was curious how it would be in ROMA! My friends were also intrigued so I shared quite a bit because it was phenomenal! For my meal I got Polpete Marinara (meatballs). Also quite delicious.
From lunch we returned to our group and visited a beautiful theater. From there we continued on to The Pantheon, located just around the corner from our hotel. It was built as a temple to all the gods of Rome.
From the Pantheon we were free to do whatever we wanted… so we started with a nap to gear up for the evening. We then went to dinner at Antica Enoteca. The food was of course unbelievable and the environment was even more enjoyable.
After dinner we ventured to The Spanish Steps (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti). It is a steep slope to the top, but when you get there a beautiful church awaits you. It is the widest staircase in Europe.
After hanging around at the top of the steps for a while we wandered around the city in search of La Fontana di Trevi. We found it. It’s hard to miss as it is about 85 feet high and 65 feet wide and the most famous fountain in all of Rome. Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the water (over your shoulder with your back to the fountain), you will return to Rome… here’s hoping!
Time for bed. We had to wake up really early for Saturday’s adventures, which began with a walk to the Vatican Museums, which is full of phenomenal artwork that no picture will ever do justice, but I tried. The first statue is ‘Laocoön and His Sons’. Laocoon was killed after he attempted to expose the ruse of the Trojan Horse. The second statue is Belvedere’s Torso, which is a fragment of the male torso and a highly influential piece for Michelangelo. These were two of the pieces that really stuck with me… the rest were just unbelievable to look at.
So after taking a million pictures in the Vatican Museums, we went on to the Sistine Chapel where not only was taking pictures strictly prohibited, but even speaking was. So of course this became more of a challenge for me than a guideline. As soon as the guard closest to me walked away, I snapped a few shots of the ceiling. The beauty of this place is definitely not something that can be captured by a photograph. Our professor (acting as our tour guide) told us that our use of the word awesome has been wrong for probably our whole life. This place is awesome… it literally inspires a feeling of awe. I also learned that Michelangelo was not lying on his back when he painted this… oops. He was standing… And I thought I had back problems.
From the Sistine Chapel we went straight on to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the church with the largest interior of any Christian church in the world- truly an amazing place to wander around and take pictures.
I also took many piutures here and then we were free to do what we wanted. Since we were already 3/4 of the way to the top of the dome, I wanted to finish the climb. For 5 euro they allowed me to spend 20 minutes climbing many many stairs to get to the top. Paying to work out is always fun… but then I got to the top and I immediately stopped complaining. The view was beautiful and we got to see the inside of the church from the top of the dome.
When we finally made our way back to the ground, we wandered the city for a while, stopping to take pictures at various fountains which flailed in comparison to the Trevi. We passed by the Castel Sant’Angelo and took pictures on the bridge, Ponte Sant’Angelo. The castle was built by an emperor for his family, was then used as a fortress, and is now a museum.
We went back to the hotel for a bit and then it was time for our group dinner at Trattoria da Luigi. While the food was not as aesthetically pleasing as many of the meals we have recently experienced, I found the risotto and ziti to be pretty good. Not to mention, the tiramisu that was had for dessert was unreal.
After dinner we went to a local club, Level, with some friends. We got champagne and a table and had a lot of fun dancing. I called it an early night because Sunday morning was scheduled to begin at 8am.
Sunday morning began with busride to Galleria Borghese. Cameras were strictly forbidden once again and this time I found it easier to just follow the rules. It wasn’t the Sistine Chapel or anything.
We learned alot about Gian Lorenzo Bernini and one of my favorite pieces that we saw was a work of his- Daphne and Apollo. I think the story behind it was what I enjoyed most. Apollo was cursed by Cupid when he made fun of him for carrying a bow and arrow. Cupid had an arrow of lead, meant to incite hatrid, and an arrow of gold, meant to incite love. He shot Apollo with the lead arrow and Daphne with the gold, and so began the chase. When Daphne’s father saw Apollo getting closer to Daphne, he intervened and turned his daughter into a laurel tree. The scene depicted shows Apollo holding Daphne as she goes through her transformation into the tree.
Another interesting sculpture was one of Pauline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte- the first Emperor of France. In this life-size portrait, she is shown semi-nude, which of course was controversial for a woman of such high standing. When asked if she felt uncomfortable posing nude, she replied that there was an oven that kept the room warm enough.
From the gallery, we began a Baroque walking tour, where we were shown a specific style used by artists that involved exaggerated motions and clear details to show religious themes, encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church. We ended the tour at the Trevi Fountain and I was happy to see it again during the daylight.
When we left the Trevi Fountain we thought it might be nice to see the Spanish Steps in the daylight as well. Be careful at the Spanish Steps because men will approach you with flowers, telling you they are free because you are so beautiful. Then they will ask for money and when you refuse they will tell you they just gave you a flower. When you try to give the flower back they will say no it is a gift. When you say gifts are supposed to be free they pretend not to speak english. I started telling them I was allergic and proceeded to fake a sneeze to avoid having to deal with the whole exchange.
In summary, I had an amazing time in Rome with jam-packed schedule for the three days I was there and I enjoyed every minute of it!! Cannot wait for my next journey.
My cousin Lindsay told me The Old Stove would most likely be my hangout. We walked by it a few times, saw that the menu was entirely in English and decided, nahhh, we’re too legit for that. Then I reread the message she sent me about it and I figured it was worth a shot (or maybe two shots). Thursday night we started there, but we started pretty early so there weren’t too many people there and we just got to know the bartenders (some of us better than others). After some time here, we went to Twice for some dancing.
Friday we finally did some grocery shopping and found a dollar store with some great finds. Two baguettes for only one dollar? Deal. It’s nice to actually have some food in the apartment. Our fridge was pretty bare. We also got gelato at Il Mio Gelato near Ponte Vecchio. FINALLY. Don’t ask me why that wasn’t the first thing I did, because I have no idea the answer. I got tiramisu, and it was phenomenal… so I created a new goal: try every flavor before I leave Italy.
While wandering around we also came across one of my distant relatives… Apparently he even has his own Piazza somewhere around here. I will have to find it.
Friday night was a slow night, but we did venture out to dinner. A little place called Il Mandarino Ristorante Cinese. Yes, I went to a Chinese restaurant in Italy. It gets better. I got Thai food- something along the lines of Ginger chicken. Thai food at a chinese restaurant in Italy.
Sorry for the lack of blogging this week, but I’ve been in school! I love all of my classes and professors. I know, I’m a dork. The classes are so small, for me the range is from 3-12 people, and I just love it. The professors look each of you in the eye and because the classes are so small they don’t mind taking time to answer questions or thoroughly explain things. The school is only a 7 minute power walk away from my apartment (or a 10 minute leisurely stroll, but I think I’ll take those extra three minutes of sleep). There is one big difference between classes in Italy and classes in America. What’s that, you ask? I’M IN ITALY!!!!
Something interesting that I discovered this week is that the infamous pizzeria, Pizzeria O’vesuvio, where the Jersey Shore cast worked during their season filmed in Florence, is located right next door to the university I am studying at.
The pizza was pretty good… a little too doughy for my liking, but enjoyable. I definitely think the Jersey Shore put this place on the map and they have no problem with advertising that.
But then again, I have no problem with that either. I was super-touristy and took a picture under the clothes that the cast hung on a line at their last day of work. But I promise it will never happen again.
Sorry that’s all I have for now, but I’m sure the weekend will be full of fun stories, and if not… you can always look forward to my trip to Rome next weekend!! Yay!
Friday night, Ellie came over and brought over some pizza dough, tomato sauce, pesto, and basil and cooked us a phenomenal pizza! The 4 of us also split a delicious bottle of chianti.
After a big meal, we were ready to hit the town! You know that disgusting American bar, Lion’s Fountain, that I mentioned in my previous post? We started there. Some of the people in our group had heard of it and wanted to check it out and I figured why not let them experience it for themselves. It was just as disgusting last night, but the bartender was a blast and he bought us a round of drinks, Black Velvet. We left shortly after the free drinks and went over to Club Twice. We had an awesome night of dancing and then we were ready to leave. On our way home we passed the Duomo and took a few pictures.
Yesterday morning’s orientation consisted of a tour to some beautiful cathedrals where unfortunately pictures were not allowed to be taken. We also saw Ponte Vecchio, though I had already seen it, it was still breathtaking and we were able to hear some history on the bridge. There was also a really cool art exhibit in the middle of the Piazza della Repubblica, which we walk through every day on the way to school- Firenze and Fashion.
We went out to dinner at Il Latini, a small place around the corner from our apartment, Il Latino, with some very good looking waiters. I got ravioli with ricotta and spinach and then it was back home to get ready to continue our first weekend in Firenze. We went to Colle Bereto, up to the VIP section of course and we danced the night away. Here there really is no dirty dancing. The men and women kind of just stand in a circle and sway back and forth, but it’s fun. It is already getting so much easier to communicate with Italians. I can’t believe this is my life for the next four months, I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave! I am on cloud nine.
Sorry to disappoint, but today was just a chill day hanging out inside for me. I have to gear up for my first day of classes in the morning!