Sunday, December 1, 2013

463 Stairs to my Heart

This is my second to last post, and probably my last post while I'm here in Italy. This past week and weekend have flown by faster than I thought they would and hoped they would. Not gonna lie, I've been hoping these days would past by fast, but after the last two days I don't want this journey to end. I've been hanging out with the girls in my apartment and I love it. They remind me of my friends back in the 802. This past Friday and Saturday compete with some of my best days abroad and would be considered my tourist days. 

Last weekend I had a super relaxing weekend, didn't get outta bed until 12 or 1 everyday. Pretty much all I did was sleep and relax and walk around Florence taking pictures. On Sunday I woke up and went for a 4 mile run, nothing compared to the people that were taking part in the Florence marathon. However, I ran where I typically don't and saw a different and beautiful part of Florence. I swear each time I go out, I see something new and different. There are times where I can't wait to go back home and other times I wanna stay here. I guess this is pretty common for those who study abroad. 

The view of the Arno River on my run

This past week I got two written finals done with, that leaves 2 more written finals and one photography final which I finished tonight.

Last weekend we celebrated one of my friend's 21st birthdays and it was one for the record books. I ended up meeting up with the girls at Kikuya after our pizza making class ended and we came home and got changed. It was a fun night at Kikuya filled with dragoons, wine, fish bowls and alot more alcohol. Basically majority of our program took over the bar's back room, everywhere you looked you saw Richmond students.

Wednesday night I went out around dusk/sunset to take some pictures for my last photo project. I decided to do Florence at night and it was my best decision. I love seeing Florence lit up at night, especially if I'm near the Arno river because the lights reflecting on the river are beautiful. It's almost like an illusion, it's kinda like being able to flip the picture 180 degrees and never knowing that you flipped the picture. 

The carousel at Piazza Repubblica 

Thursday night we celebrated Thanksgiving here Italian style with some American flair. Our program put on a beautiful spread for us at Palazzo Borghese, I truly can't even describe the place. It was gorgeous, people use this type of building to get married in or have their reception. It was hugeee and had so many rooms. We started off with pumpkin risotto served out of a pumpkin. I'm not big on pumpkin flavored food but this was so good. After that we had spinach and ricotta cheese raviolis. Then it came time for the bird, we had turkey with chestnut stuffing and gravy, mashed potatoes and carrots. We ended the night with pumpkin pie, apple pie, and brownies. Honestly it was all soooo delicious. It wasn't like Thanksgiving at home but it is definitely a Thanksgiving I will always remember. 
The beautiful room we were in

The girls at dinner

SMC takes on turkey day via Firenze 

The bird

This past week the Christmas markets opened up in Santa Croce, they are unbelievable  The whole piazza is filled with different booth selling sweets, to German pretzels, hot dogs, cheese, meats, jewelry, pretty much you can find anyting at the market. We made it to the market on Friday after we climbed the dome of the duomo in the center of Florence. There are about 463 stairs to the top of the dome, and they aren't your typical stairs. They are straight up, spiral etc. The climb is easily worth it because the view is AMAZING. It looks all over Florence and we went up on a clear day so we could see the mountains in the distance. It was such a great way to spend part of the day, seeing the city that holds my heart. After climbing the duomo we made our way to San Lorenzo where all the leather vendors and scarf vendors. This is always such a hard place for me to be because it's so tempting to buy something. All I'll say is I came out with one purchase that I LOVE. After San Lorenzo we finally made our way to the Christmas markets where I was on the hunt for a German pretzel. We found a booth that had at least 10 different kinds of pretzels, I opted for an asiago cheese pretzel, it was sooo good. Germans definitely do make the best pretzels, and the Czechs. After our day spent out wandering the city, we made it back to our apartment for naps, shows and in my case editing my pictures. For dinner me and Nicole did Gusta Pizza, which was amazing. We both got the pesto pizza, and I don't think I've had a better pizza minus the one we make when we make our own. 
Candy on candy on more candy at the Christmas market

The view from the top looking at the bell tower


A view through one of the peep holes making our way up to the top

Pesto Gusta Pizza


Saturday a few of us girls got our act together for 1:30 and headed to the Uffizi, a must see museum which I saw the last weekend of my trip, but at least I'm getting there…It was cool to see some of the paintings I had talk about in some of my classes and actually knew some stuff about it. But the museum is HUGE, so of course more or less I knew nothing about what I was looking at. After walking around the entire gallery, which took us some time. We headed to this place that my photo teacher showed up for lunch. This place I struggled to find since the first time I had it probably the first or second week I was in Florence. But 2 weeks ago when we had lunch at a restaurant 2 doors down I was in heaven, I could finally find my way back to this tiny little shop that is always filled with super nice older Italians. I got a rosetta bread with what we think is goat cheese soaked in hot olive oil with peppers, and prosciutto. It's so good. We followed up the paninis with mouth watering gelato from Vivoli's which is right across the street, yet another place my photo professor showed me. He went there when we was a kid and still goes there. I got tiramisu, I've never had such amazing gelato before. After feeding ourselves full we headed back to the apartment and chilled before we headed to dinner around 7:30. We went to Tarocchi, which was so good. I got the penne with spicy tomato sauce, so good and eggplant parm. After dinner we came back and some of the girls got ready to go out so we all hung out in the living room drinking some vino, prosecco, and birra. 
Tiramisu gelato

Sunday we didn't do much because it was so cold. We postponed seeing the David until Tuesday, I didn't mind. All I wanted was my bed and to spend the day watching movies. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

CzechInn the lyfe: Castles, Lennon and Starbucks

Old Town Square

Right now I'm sitting on a coach bus on my way to Prague, I'm only two
hours deep into the trip, and the ride is 12+ hours....This is a bittersweet trip for me, it's my last one while here in Europe. I leave in about 2 and half weeks. I can't believe it. Recently I've been dying to go home. Being abroad makes you realize how much you value the relationships and friends you have at home. Honestly if someone doesn't wanna go home anytime soon then they don't have the kinds of people like I do in my life. Don't get me wrong I've made amazing friends over here but it gets to a point where all you want are the people you love. I've meet great people and have made memories I'll always have. I've seen places I never thought I would and have had the time of my life the past 3 months. But I miss SMC so much and the community there. To anyone who doesn't go to SMC and is reading this and considering, come. Choosing SMC was one of the best decisions in my life and I would do it over and over again. Vermont is a place like no other, people are so laid back and open, coming from Massachusetts it's a nice change.

Looking out into the Old Jewish Cemmetary

View of the Prague Castle

Where to start with this weekend, it's been one hell of a trip that's for sure. For starters I came on this trip alone and ended up meeting up with 3 other girls here in Prague that I go to school with. My bus arrived to my hostel the CzechInn around 9:15 am on Friday morning which wasn't bad timing. After getting some food I headed out to meet up with Liv in the Old Town Square to do some adventuring and grab some Starbucks. Prague was a lot colder than I thought it was going to be but it was nice considering this is like the weather at home which I miss. So on Friday we went to the Jewish quarter of Prague and saw the cemetery where over 12,000 tombstones are but over 100,000 people arr buried. Apparently the graves go about 10 people deep because they ran out of space. It's crazy to think about. We also visited one of the oldest synagogues in the world which was cool but we didn't make it in too far. After that we headed to a huge mall so I could look for an iPhone charger because mine broke a few hours before I was to leave. After spending 900 Czech about 47 American dollars on a new charger I was back in business. We then went and got lunch at an amazing bar. I got a steak and it was mouthwatering, I haven't had a steak since I left the states. Yeah, that's a veryyy long time. After lunch we continued to walk around and headed to the Charles bridge and made our way to the Lennon wall. I wish I had brought some markers with me to leave my own touch. We then went our separate ways to get ready to go out. I faced a little issue when I went to go meet up with Liv that night, I found out that my Italian phone didn't actually have international minutes, yeah that created some chaos for me. I was at the right building but on the other side, I ended up going into a restaurant getting a coke and using the wifi to find Liv. That night we met up with Abby and Allycia and their friend who is studying in Prague to go out. Prague nightlife is apparently crazy, we went to a 5 story club where they played 80's and 90's music, it was awesome. I had a great time minus losing the girls I was with at one point and had to find my way back. Oh and I think I sprained or dislocated my thumb, super awesome….

Just a nice view….

Lennon Wall

Support all the way in Prague #BOSTONSTRONG

On Saturday I didn't wake up till late and wasn't feeling it. To say the least Saturday was a struggle. I met up with Liv around 1:45 and we headed over to see the Prague castle which holds the best view of the city. We got to see a beautiful sunset and take our typical tourist pictures. After we went out to lunch/dinner at a cute Czech place. I got this sautéed chicken in some type of sauce with potatoe pancakes, it was soo good but I struggled to get the food down which sucked. After getting food I headed back to the hostel for the night, yea grandma didn't go out last night. I wouldn't have made it and plus I have a 12 hour bus ride ahead of me. There was no way I was going out. I got back to the hostel showered and got into bed and later on that night I went down to the bar to grab some food, I was finally hungry. After dinner I went to bed and woke up with morning feeling refreshed and ready to go back to Firenze.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

View from the top

Hands down the greatest pretzel of my life

Prague was an amazing visit, had some down times but it was a trip well worth all the bullshit. Oh and I forgot to mention my 800 Czech fine I got for losing my train ticket on Saturday with liv. The officers was an asshole and super rude.

I'm in the middle of Austria right now and we passing a ski mountain, all I wanna do is go boarding. I'm jealous of you kids back in the states specially all my friends who send me pictures/videos of them boarding but then I just remember that I spent 3 months in Europe traveling causally...ohhh yeah that's right

Goodnight Prague

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chillan with Papa Francis

Trevi Fountain

Pantheon at night with some random lady!


So Thursday morning we left for Rome at 8:30 in the morning a faced about a 4 and a hour a little longer bus ride. Effing miserable, I'm so over buses and traveling at this point. But when we arrived in Rome we checked in got food and headed off to see some sights. We saw the Spanish steps which were cool, but really am not sure why they're are so significant. Maybe because the road in front of them is the most expensive road in Rome, it's like the 5th ave of New York. But along with the Spanish steps we saw the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. All of the sights were really pretty. We saw the Pantheon at night so it was all lit up. After we finished doing the tour about 4 hours later some of the girls and me got apertivo in front of the Pantheon before heading to dinner. It was amazingggg, we got champagne when we arrived there and I got some tasty white wine to accompany a cheese plate followed by a pasta with red sauce and bacon. It was so flavorful and delicious. After dinner we took a taxi back to the hotel because we stayed no where near the center on Rome. I went to bed super early ready for 6+ hours of tours and field trips the next day.
The outside of Saint Peter's Basilica 

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Because a selfie thats totally illegal is of course what I wanted to do 

Friday we woke up at 7:30 to leave for 8:30 to head to see the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basicilla. It was all amazing, every time I enter  churches and buildings so old my mind is blown. The Sistine chapel was beautiful and of course I didn't follow the no picture rule and was snapping away. I even got a selfie with Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling and specifically the part of the painting when God is giving man "will" aka the fingers touching, no big deal. And I'm not sorry for taking all those pictures. After that we had a field trip that lasted "only" three hours according to my fashion teacher, it was miserable and all the girls in the class wanted to kill themselves. It was at Annamoda which is a costume house that provides the costumes(dresses) for all the movies. It was neat to see some dress from Marie Antoinette and many other movies. We met with a famous costume designer there as well. And if I understood correctly, Annamoda is one of the leading costumes houses there is. After we finally got back to the hotel at 6, we went out to dinner and came back. I didn't go out because I didn't want to and there was no way I would be function the next morning.
Saturday we got up and went to the Colosseum, state house, and a church that held Michelangelo's Moses. The Colosseum was unbelievable, I wish I got to watch the gladiators fight back then. Now that would be sick. After seeing those sights I decided not to do the second part of the day seeing more churches but we ended up walking around Rome and eventually came back to the hotel and I took a solid 2 hour nap, followed by dinner and wine and bed.
Sunday I was able to "sleep in" till 9 and we left to go see the Pope talk. Not gonna lie, it was a blessing experience, and amazing to be able to see the Pope talk especially since I'm Catholic. There were so many people freaking out and crying though, it was great for my photo project I'm working on. Whoopsss. After that we headed back to our hotel area and ate at a Japanese place which was bomb. It was so nice to eat food other than Italian, it's getting so old. Now here I am on the bus back to Florence. Where I have to get my butt into gear working on a paper due on Wednesday and I leave for Prague on Thursday night. I have so much that needs to be done. 

The "State house"

Roman Forum with the cutest man ever, Peter <3

Saint Peter's Basilica one of the largest churches in the world


Coliseum at night

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Red Light District: A learning experience

I had written a better beginning blog while I was sitting in the lounge the other night but I accidentally deleted it while adding on. Whoops..but to begin to describe Amsterdam I honestly don’t think I can do it justice. Some of this blog was written while in Amsterdam and some when I got back, so it jumps around.

But first off, I went on this trip with 3 of my guy friends Zach, Brett and Nolan, all who are in the same program with me here in Florence.

On Thursday when we arrived in Amsterdam we hit a little bump, Nolan lost his passport. So there was that but most importantly I had an amazing Starbucks when we got off the plane, it was so good, and I’ve missed big coffee over here. But after that ordeal we headed to Amsterdam by train and continued to our hostel by foot. Being in Amsterdam is just so different; the people are super nice and just doing them. When we finally checked into our hostel, which is a street over from the red light district. It was a good and central location and if I ever got lost all I had to say way “red light district?” and everyone could point me in the right direction.

Something I noticed in Holland were how the men acted. They were nothing like the Italian men and really not like American. They're super courteous, pleasant and friendly. I had no problem making friends when I was out and they didn’t creep like the Italians do.
Heineken Brewery

Friday morning we woke up on the later side and I had this Dutch pancake for breakfast in the lounge, it was with cheese and bacon and it was amazing, like nothing I had ever had before. After that we walked to the Heineken brewery to take a tour and it was actually really cool to see how it's made. I even stomached drinking a beer and it was pretty nice not gonna lie. But I passed on my other one. After the tour we went to an Irish pub for dinner and it was once again really good. But after that we headed around town to see some other places around us. I called it quits semi early last night to get a good nights sleep. Our other roommates didn't allow that to happy too well though.

Heineken beersss

Life changing Dutch pancake

One of the other things I noticed was that there were a lot of different nationalities in Amsterdam, it wasn’t like the other places I had been to. Most of the time when I travel locals and Americans have surrounded me. Here there was everything, a lot of eastern and northern Europe people. I loved meeting all the different people are seeing where they were from.

On Saturday we woke up around the same time and I went out for bagels, which were bomb. I got an everything bagel with chive cream cheese, it was so good. I hadn't had a bagel since I left America. We then went back go the hotel and headed for the zoo. Now the zoo was so cool, I haven't been to a zoo in so long. I saw so many different animals I loved it there. After the zoo we went to this burger places near the hotel and it was so good. I barely eat meat over here; I swear the Italians only eat pizza and pasta. But then we went to the hash, marijuana and hemp museum, which was after very interesting. We then came back and took some naps. I went out for a crepe and the others headed to the bar. Now I'm back in the lounge writing this and taking it all in.

Just a quick selfie with a giraffe 


This afternoon (Sunday) I woke up and headed to the lounge for a cappuccino before I set off for an adventure across Amsterdam to meet up with two old camp friends Aymeric and Marissa. I hadn't seen them since I was 14 or 15. The walk was suppose to be about half an hour and I made it in about an hour and a half, needless to say I got super lost but just loved wandering alone with a map and a camera. Just as I got to where the I Amsterdam letters are they spotted me and if they hadn't spotted me I don't know if I would have ever found them. But regardless the Van Gogh museum was so cool. I love that type of painting. After the museum we went to find pancakes and got them and then it was time to come back to the hostel. That was a lot easier to do and I had found a Starbucks, which is like gold over here. I got back to the hotel and met the others in the lounge before doing a little shopping... Got all the gifts I needed to here in Amsterdam and then got a little extra, whoops.
KP reunites in Amsterdam 

But after shopping I made my way to Baba and just had a solid night hanging out. That's exactly what I love doing. After staying there for a while I headed back to our lounge in the hotel to hang out a little closer to my surroundings. I hung out in the lounge for a while making friends with different people, everyone is so friendly. Then I headed up to my room to put all my stuff together which is always a struggle.

This morning I woke around 7:25 to leave the hostel by 8 to make it to the airport for plenty of time. I got up got ready and waiting downstairs till everyone else was finished. There I found out that you can't take a taxi to central station because we are so close or it would cost 30€ but it was pourrring out. So we had to walk in the rain for about 15 to the train. Got to the airport, flew through security found Starbucks ate and yogurt and granola. Eating yogurt and granola made me miss home and then I realize I only have 30 days left in this amazing country. This Vermont chick is happy to be heading back to Florence. I had a 2 hour lay over in Germany though and didn’t get back go Florence till 4:30ish.

Now here I am back in my bed on a Tuesday night with no internet and I have a paper to write, pictures to upload and blogs to post….