Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Easter Weekend

The week after Paris was great I got to see all my new friends from Greece when we went out in Florence. That Thursday I went to church at night for Holy Thursday mass at the Duomo. It was definitely the coolest mass I have ever been to. At the end of the mass they brought a clothed shrine type of thing that is meant for kings and queens down the  nave towards the back of the church then back up one of the side isles towards the tabernacle thought tho procession all of the people that attended mass got to follow. Everything that is said and done in the Duomo feels so much more spiritual than any other church I have been in. It might have something to do with the fact that mass was in Italian but I am not 100% sure.
That night Makenzie and I took out our roommate's friends from home that were visiting because they had left for the weekend. We all had a blast. On Friday I gave myself a personal day and caught up on sleep, went on the longest run all throughout Florence, did some laundry and met up with my cousin for some dinner out at our favorite pizzeria. Then on Saturday I woke up and went on a run with my cousin and then we went and did some grocery shopping followed by just hanging out in my apartment for some beef stir fry and 90"s music hits flashback dancing. It was an absolute blast.

Then the next day I woke up and got to go on another long and relaxing run.  Then in the afternoon, my cousin and I went to the Baboli Gardens.  I was expecting them to have a lot more flowers, but was too early in the season for them to have grown.  Everything was still very beautiful even without the flowers.  I plan on going back later on in the semester when the flowers are in bloom.  We also got to go into a fashion museum where they display dresses from the past few centuries of what was in style at the time.  Some of the dresses were very funny looking, and others I would love to be able to try on. 
On Easter Sunday I woke up and attended mass at the Duomo with my cousin. Right after mass there was a festival in Pallazo Duomo. We got to see four ox pull out a carriage where the fireworks were stored that they were going to set off. There were also many men in colorful uniforms doing a gun show and marching around. Everything was so cool! There were so many people crowded around watching what was going on and the Italians that live in the piazza were watching from their window or the rooftop. The only bad thing about this day was that it starting down pouring right before they were going to set off the fireworks. Because it was raining they had to delay the fireworks and since it was so cold outside we decided to go back to my cousins apartment. We ended up making brunch for ourselves. It consisted of cinnamon French toast, scrambled eggs, pastry, oj, and fresh fruit. We did a great job and everything was delicious. After brunch we just sat in bed and watched movies the rest of the afternoon. We ended up skyping my aunt, her mother, for a little while since at this time it was morning in the USA and wished each other a happy Easter. After I went straight home and attempted to do some homework. It was very unsuccessful considering my professor emailed our class saying that she was postponing our paper that was due on Tuesday to the following Tuesday. I was so happy that I couldn't even work on it. Then I got ready for Easter dinner with my cousin. We want to aqua al due and got a pasta sampler and we each got a steak. I got this delicious blueberry steak, yeah it might not seem appetizing at first but it was one of the most flavorful, interesting and bet steaks I've had in my life. I wish I had the recipe for it so I could make it when I go home. After dinner we went back to my cousins house again where we skyped our entire family that was at my house celebrating Easter. After that I went back to my apartment where I skyped with my dad's side of the family and got to see all my cousins aunts and grandparents it was so exciting to get to see them all. It turned out to be a fantastic Easter weekend in Flotown and I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Paris: the land of love

After spring break we had an easy school week just getting back into everything and then that Friday it was time to visit Paris. Makenzie and I left our apartment around 330 in the morning in order to catch the bus to bring us to the Pisa Airport. On the airplane going there I had the luxury of sitting in the middle of a four year old boy and Makenzie was next to the window on my other side.  Every single time I would fall asleep on the plane my head would lean forward a little bit, and every single time the little boy would push me back into my seat because he could not see out the window.  On top of that, he kept pounding on the armrests to entertain himself.  I have never had such an awful plane ride in my life.  Once we landed, we had to take another bus just to get to Paris.  It is the only way to actually get there from the airport.  Once we finally got to our hostel we set our stuff down and made our way straight to the Eiffel Tower.  I was not expecting it to be that breathtaking.  We spent the rest of the night just wandering around Paris and seeing what the city had to offer us. 

Paris actually reminds me a lot of London except that they speak French and have a few more parks.  The parks in Paris are just like what you imagine when you think of Paris, absolutely gorgeous.  When we went back to our hostel to get some sleep, we walked in our room and discovered that one of the girls we had met on spring break was staying in the same room with us! It is such a small world.  The next morning we went on a free walking tour of Paris that the hostel sets up.  One of the funniest things I learned on the tour was that there is a woman from California that came to Paris and absolutely fell in love with the Eiffel Tower and somehow was able to legally marry it.  Then a few years later she was touring around in Italy and went to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. She ended up falling even more in love with the Leaning Tower and divorced the Eiffel Tower to marry the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After the tour we all went out to lunch/dinner where I got to try duck and escargot. It was actually really good and I am so happy that I tried something new. 
The next day we decided that we would just walk around Paris and do our own thing.  We got to buy locks as a joke and put them on the bridge where you "lock your love" and throw the key into the river.  It is from a scene in "Sex and the City." Then we went to the Notre Dame Cathedral to see the inside and climb to the top.  You could see everything from the top.  We even got to go inside the bell tower to see what they look like.  It was really cool to get to see the gargoyles that decorate the Cathedral as well.  Then we rented some bikes and just rode around the city and explored.  By the end of the day we were so exhausted. We ended up going to the movies because they had them in English.  We saw the most awful movie, I cannot even remember the name of it.  I couldn't even tell you what it was about because I ended up falling asleep for most of it. 
On our last day in Paris we realized that we never went inside the Louvre or climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower so that was the first thing on our list of things to do.  The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower was amazing.  It was totally worth the hour and a half line in order to start walking the stairs.  We rushed over to the Louvre right after in order to see the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci.  Many people say that it is a lot smaller than they expected it to be, but I did not think that at all.  I was sort of expecting it to be the size that it was.  It was cool to sway my body back and forth to see her staring at me.  We got to see the Venus de Milo which was stunning!  The invisible pyramids that are in the courtyard of the Louvre were also really cool to see.  Then it was time to run off to another tour that we had signed up for.  On the tour we got to see the homes of Picasso and Van Gogh and hear the stories about how they became famous.  After the tour we had to run off and catch a tube to the bus for our plane back to Pisa.  It was a long and exhausting day of traveling and did not get back to Florence until about 2 am, but we made it back safely which is all that matters.  Paris was a fantastic place to visit and I think everyone should go and experience it there at least once in their life. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Santorini, Greece

Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life and was a dream come true to go there.  It is the typical thing you picture when you think about Greece with the white houses and blue rooftops.  By the time that we got there we had just enough time to put our things down and go see the sunset over the water.  Then the entire group went to a bar called Murphy's, which was a lot of fun.  The next morning we went on a tour of Santorini.  The first stop was some wine tasting.  We got to sample three different types of wine overlooking the ocean view.  Then we got to go and see the red sand beach.  It is so unique to see sand that is not what I am used to seeing.  Then we got to go and see the black sand beach and relax there for the afternoon.  We even got to order lunch and eat it on the beach, until the wind started blowing and getting sand on our sandwiches, so we decided to go back inside.  We got back to the hostel and went straight back as a group to watch the sunset in a different area from the night before.  It was the area where they filmed the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie and Mama Mia.  After we all took a billion pictures we went out to dinner for my friend Katherine's 21st birthday.  Then everyone on the trip went out to Murphy's again to spend one last night out all together.  The next morning we got to walk around the town on our own.  It was the perfect opportunity to buy postcards.  I also got some gifts to bring back home for my parents.  We got one last gyro, which is the Greek version of an Italian k-bob with pork, french fries, tomatoes, onion, and some type of delicious sauce.  Gyros are heaven on Earth and was pretty much the only thing everyone ate the entire time while in Greece. 

It was that time to start our long journey back to Italy.  We took the ferry back to Athens and spent one night there.  In the morning we woke up super early to go and get these famous sandals that are hand made.  The business has been in the owners family for almost 100 years.  We also got some fresh fruit for the rest of the way home to snack on.  We left at 10:30 am for the cruise ship to go back to Ancona, where we then took a bus back to Florence.  It was definitely my favorite trip that I have taken so far, and had the time of my life! I wouldn't trade if for the world.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Greece: Athens

The overnight bus to Athens was one of the worst bus rides of my life.  The bus driver would not turn off the heat and it is impossible for my to sleep when my body is too hot.  It got to the point where I was bus sick and felt so nauseous that I had to go to the front of the bus and sit next to the bus driver where he finally turned off the heat and put on the air.  As soon as we got to the hostel we got about ten minutes to freshen up before the guides took us on a walking tour of the city.  We got to see all of the government buildings, the temple of Zeus, and the Acropolis.  I was amazed at everything that I saw.  It was unbelievable, because these are the places that I have always wanted to see. After the tour we went back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.  There were about 110 of us on this trip and we all went to dinner together to this Greek restaurant.  We were served about 5 courses: bread, cheese, salad, calamari, and our main course.  I chose to have the moussaka for something new.  It was good, but not my favorite meal.  I am happy that I tried it though.  The next day in Athens we all went to the beach.  It was probably my favorite day of the entire trip.  It almost reminded my of camp with all the activities I did at the beach.  The first thing I did was go on a run with my friend Mick.  The beach didn't have good sand for running, it was mainly little rocks, but we did it anyways.  It was so painful our feet were hurting the rest of the day.  After the run we jumped in the water to cool off and then it was time for some volleyball.  My friends Makenzie, Ross, Nick, Bryce, and myself were playing for a few hours until the ball accidentally hit a woman on the head... that was the end of that game.  Then Makenzie and I went on about a mile swim along the shore and walked back.  By that time I was ready for a catnap until we left to take the metro back to the hostel.  Later on that night we got to go out to dinner to another Greek restaurant where they played Greek music and did a lot of dancing.  After dinner the guides took us back to the Acropolis so we could see it lit up at night, and then took us to the top of a huge rock point for a view of Athens at night and got to hang out there.  The next morning we had to wake up at five to leave for Santorini!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Corfu, Greece: Spring Break

On Friday, March 16 I got to leave for Greece through a program called Bus2Alps.  I can not get over how great of an experience it was and how much fun I had on the trip.  We started off taking a five hour bus to catch an overnight cruise ship to Corfu.  The cruise ship was nice, I got to walk around and meet the other people that were on the trip with me.  The food that they had for dinner was absolutely horrible though.  I had gotten chicken and could not even eat half of it because it was still pink on the inside.  Once we finally reached Corfu we were all picked up by buses that would take us to our hostel called the Pink Palace.  It was a really cool place right on the water.  Our room had a balcony that overlooked the water and we got to see the sunset from there, so beautiful!  We spent the rest of the afternoon (now Saturday) walking along the water and just exploring a little bit.  My roommate, our trip leaders, and I got daring enough to go in and under the water.  It warmed up right away, it was just the initial shock that seemed cold.  After our swim we went back to shower and went to happy hour before our toga party dinner.  After dinner they had a traditional Greek dance performed and even did some plate smashing over people's heads. 

The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast where we signed up for ATV riding around the island of Corfu.  It was a toured ATV trip where Makenzie rode on the back of my ATV because she forgot to bring her driver's license on the trip.  We were towards the front of the pack because ours drove 300cc compared to the 150 everyone else had.  While we were going along the leader kept stopping and would go back to make sure that something was not wrong.  We found out later that some girl towards the back of the back somehow drove her ATV off a cliff and was able to jump off.  Thank goodness she was okay.  The leader came driving up with her on the back of his ATV.  While we were waiting for the leader to come back up, I met my friend Ross who ended up being becoming one of my good friends on the trip.  We kept driving further until we took a stop at a beach for some pictures where I met Ross' friend Mike who is now one of my good friends too.  We then drove around the island the rest of the day and got to stop at one of the highest points for lunch overlooking the ocean.  Once the ATV tour was over we all waited for the rest of the people on our trip back to get back from their cruise ship activity where I met Ross and Mike's friend Kathleen.  I am so happy I became friends with them because they go to school at Northeastern so I will be able to see them when we all go back to the United States.  The rest of the afternoon we hung out in the hot tub where we met more really good friends, Erin and Katherine.  After the hot tub we had to go and pack for our overnight bus ride to Athens. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Midterms week

Midterms here are a lot harder than they are at Worcester State.  Usually at my home school they are spread out between classes by a week or two depending on how the professor schedules it, so it is not as stressful.  At my school in Italy they put all of the midterms in one week for every class, so it is almost like finals week making it a lot more stressful.  I have already taken two of my midterms and they went better than I thought they were going to go.  I have my last three midterms tomorrow and then I am on my spring break! Earlier this week my roommate Alex told me about this bar which is an American coffee shop called Astor's.  They have this awesome deal there where you can get unlimited coffee for a month at a price of 30 euro.  As soon as she told me I was out the door on my way to get my coffee card.  The major incentive for me of getting this card was the iced coffee! No one here uses ice because Italians think that cold things give you a cold so they avoid them at all costs.  Normally, they do not even refrigerate their water.  I  have had my coffee card for two days now and I have already had three different types of coffee.  They have a long list of about 30 different coffees you can get with the card.  Also you get a maximum of four coffees a day, but I could never drink that much in one day.  You might be thinking to yourself, whats the big deal with this whole coffee thing?  Well if you enjoy coffee in America and come to Florence and realize there is no Boston Donuts, Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks you will understand what I mean. 

The best news is that after finals are over, I am going to GREECE for my SPRING BREAK on Friday.  I am beyond excited!  It is one place that I have always wanted to go.


This past weekend I just hung out in Florence, it was nice just to be able to relax and not worry about traveling.  I hung out with my cousin for a majority of the weekend which was a lot of fun.  We just walked around and took turns making dinner for each other.  It was really funny because one of the nights while we had dinner we were skyping our mothers who were together eating lunch.