Musings at the Boston Science Museum

Musings at the Boston Science Museum

I have always had a love-hate relationship with science. The love part comes in the form of curiosity at the many amazing things science has done, especially in terms of space exploration and ancient earth. I’ve never been very into the academic type of science, though, which is where the hate part comes in. It’s not that I necessarily “hate” academic science; it’s more that I just cannot appreciate and understand it the way I can science that I look at for my own enjoyment. And I feel like that is the case for most people in life: You enjoy what excites and intrigues you, while you simply tolerate the rest.

Museums, however, have a way of turning even the most boring and inane things into a world of curiosities. Luckily, as a college student, I can usually get into museums for free with a valid student ID. A couple weekends ago, a group of friends and I decided to hit up the Museum of Science in Boston. This is a museum that I used to go to as a kid with my family and on field trips, so this was my first venture there as an adult and I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t live up to my memories. Luckily it did. Now that may have been because the group of friends I was with consistently make me feel like a child, but whatever the reason it was a great time.

Natural Science

We started off on the green section which is the natural science, aka not my favorite science. But I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibits they had in this section. There were neat sections on the body with interactive activities. Some of my favorites included a table with a computer screen and above it a long tray with plastic foods encased in plastic glass, and a walking activity. The food one was cool because you would pick which of the encased plastic foods and subsequent portions you would eat for a meal. Next, the table would flip over with an even greater selection of fake food and you would choose again. Then, the computer would tell you where you range amongst other people of your age and different ages, as well as gender. It’s way cooler than I’m describing it, trust me. The walking section was interesting because you would just walk along a certain pathway and when you get to the end, there is a computer generated image of your walk/ gait that you get to see, along with how many calories you burned during that 5 second walk. Again, my description does not do this justice.

In addition to these activities, there was also a section on reproduction (aka the growth of babies), so there was a live chick exhibit where you could watch chicks incubate and hatch. There was also a wall with the sizes and images of fetuses in the womb at certain times during pregnancy. It was kind of weird, but in an intriguing way. There was a station where you could measure the length of your ear, where you could guess how many stuffed animals were inside a tube, and many more. As I said, this museum takes the mundane science and turns it into exciting experiences. Up another level was a section on mountaineering and climbing which to be quite honest was not that thrilling. The coolest part of that section was the microscope you could look into and see an aerial view of some of the most famous mountains in the world, including Everest and the Grand Canyon (which, yes I know, is not a mountain).

4D Movie Experience

After the green section, we were going to venture over to the blue area which had things like outer space, inertia, lightning, etc. But as we were crossing the carpeted glass bridge, we stumbled upon a 4D movie on sharks showing in exactly 10 minutes. We decided to quickly buy tickets and were then subsequently seated in the blue-lighted area. It was a really neat experience because not only were we squirted with water when the shark thrashed its tail, but our feet were softly whipped as the fish moved their tails back and forth across the sea floor, and we were jabbed in the back when the sharks devoured their prey. I’m not going to lie, there were moments that I was genuinely freaked out, not only because of the 4D experience, but also because of the pure power of the sharks and their awesome (in the purest sense of the word) existence. It was probably only a fifteen minute movie, but it was definitely worth it.

Outer Space and Electricity

Our next stop was the blue area! This is the section I remember from my childhood. We went to the room where you can capture your shadow and stand in a rainbow of light. To capture a shadow, you stand in the (relative) dark and then someone presses the button and a camera-like flash goes off. When its over and you move back, the wall holds the form that your made. It’s my favorite part of the museum. The rainbow room is fun too because you can take such weird pictures in it and they always come out looking cool. Moving through this area, we got to the playground. There was a swing that teaches you why it moves the way it does, a pulley that you can try and tug on to move a 500 lb bag off the ground, and there is a gazebo with a spinner inside it where you will get incredibly dizzy. It truly is an indoor park, but it is also a classroom to learn all about the science behind everyday activities. I felt like a little kid again.

We also gravitated towards my other favorite area: the space section. Now, this is more of a corner than a section because there’s not a whole lot. But boy is it interesting. There is a replica spaceship that kids can go inside and look at, there’s a replica rocket, and an entire display to inform your space knowledge. Another favorite of mine is the lightning experience. It’s actually a show that goes on a few times during the day. It’s in a huge room spanning 3 floors with a bunch of metal object and machines to demonstrate lightning and electricity. A couple of times throughout the show, the person working the machines will actually generate electricity/lightning and use the different electric sounds to go to the beat of a song (at my show it was the Jurassic Park theme). It really is a fascinating sight to see and I would recommend it to anyone who goes to this museum.

Other Sections

Other exhibits we visited include the mental health section where there were artworks and videos of and by people with mental illnesses, the dinosaur section with dino skeletons, and the environment section. By the time we were finished looking at everything, it was ten minutes to closing time. So of course we headed to the gift shop and looked at all the fun science gifts and toys. It was pure joy. We were only at the Boston Science Museum for about four hours, but we saw and experienced so much and had such an amazing time. Well worth my Saturday.

Here are some neat photos I took, enjoy.

Ciao for now!

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Venice Week 4: Torcello Tower, Murano Glass, & Padua Chapel

Venice Week 4: Torcello Tower, Murano Glass, & Padua Chapel

June 26, 2017 Monday

Today was a fun day because it was excursion day! I had class as usual from nine to twelve, and then had lunch on the island. But around 1:30, the whole class met up to go to Torcello. It was a bit hectic because we had to walk pretty fast in order to make the vaporetto stop we needed to be at, and one of the girls from my class had missed the first vaporetto. We were worried she wouldn’t make it, but at the last minute she came huffing and puffing towards us and got on just in time. It was a somewhat long vaporetto ride to the island of Torcello because we made a lot of stops in places like Murano and Burano. Once in Torcello, we walked towards the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Once close to it, we sat in the grass in the shade since it was incredibly hot and sunny outside. Rachel gave a presentation on the history of Torcello which is very interesting and I recommend looking up at least a summary of the history. After the presentation, we went inside the Cathedral, which is one of the oldest religious edifices in Veneto, and which houses some of the earliest mosaics in Venice. It isn’t too aesthetically amazing because it is falling apart and pretty plain in terms of the usual majesty of cathedrals. However, it is still amazing to be standing inside something clearly very old, and it does have some unique mosaic artwork. The mosaic on the west wall is a floor to ceiling mosaic of the Last Judgement. That was the main reason my class visited; this mosaic was referenced in one of our readings. It is mostly gold with a bunch of other colors put in, and it is breathtaking. After looking around for a bit at the other mosaics, paintings, and possible tombs of dead priests, we walked up the campanile. It was a long walk up slanted stairs and low ceilings, but the view from the top was so worth the climb. I could see essentially the whole island and even other parts of Venice. We stayed up there awhile, just changing positions and going around. As we were looking at everything, we saw a man jump off of his boat into the water to cool off, which was pretty funny. There wasn’t a lot to do in Torcello besides these two activities, and the island is pretty much devoid of people (at least in my experience), but it is still a beautiful place that I recommend visiting if you’re ever in Venice. It’s filled with history and natural beauty.

June 27, 2017 Tuesday

Today was an early day because instead of having class as usual, we travelled to the island of Murano. We had to be there for around 10:00 which meant I had to get up around 7:30. That was so hard! But I did it, and I met the class at the vaporetto stop in main Venice around 8:30. When we got to Murano, it was so quiet and empty because of the early hour. It was kind of eery but also really neat to be the only people walking around. It was peaceful. The reason for our early trip to Murano, the island famous for its glass works, was because we were going to be given a private tour of the Seguso glass factory. They don’t normally give tours, but for the past couple years the Seguso family and my college have set up tours for the students. When we arrived, we were introduced to Gianluca Seguso, the son of Giampaulo Seguso who our class had read about in John Berendt’s Glass Warfare. Gianluca was incredibly kind, asking each of our names about three people at a time so that he could address us directly. He showed us first the history of the Seguso family legacy which began in 1397. He then walked us outside to an area with various glass making objects and glass designs themselves that decorated the fenced in area. Through this area, we entered the workshop part of the building in which the glassblowers were crafting beautiful creations. We saw the drawn out initial designs for a project, were able to watch some of the pieces being made, and hanging from the ceiling we saw completed intricate chandeliers. Everything was amazing to behold. The amount of detail that went into everything was astounding. I’ve never thought about how the beautiful glass that I see in stores is made, but being in that work environment I now recognize how much time, effort, and skill goes into it all. We walked through the workshop, careful of the heat and the dangerous objects that were burning hot, and made our way into what I believe was the showroom. Once inside, we were given the opportunity to meet Giampaolo himself. He was a very funny man, who told us about his life and how he started glassmaking. He even went and got the book of poetry he had written (in Italian of course) and read some poems to us. He had one of the boys from my class who knew a little Italian translate the poems so that we could get the full message. When he was done reading, he offered us the chance to ask him any questions we had. After that, we were guided back downstairs and each person was given a beautiful piece of circular dark blue Seguso glass with the Seguso emblem on it. And we were handed it by name from Gianluca who remembered everyone’s name. Overall, it was an amazing experience, the Seguso family was incredibly kind and generous, and I am beyond glad that I was able to have this once in a lifetime experience.

After the tour, we were all hungry so our professor took us to a great restaurant where he knew the owner. We each had a salad, spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), and a dessert. The food was delicious as was usually the case in Italy, but there were birds constantly surrounding us since we were sitting outside. At the end of the meal, we were offered coffee in the normal Italian way, and then we all headed off to do our own things. I went with a couple of my friends to look around and do some (window) shopping. I did buy one souvenir from Murano because I wanted something to remember it by (although I did have the gorgeous Seguso glass- which I think is a paperweight). I found a very pretty (and inexpensive) glass ring from one of the shops that said Master glassmaker on it, which I’m pretty sure means it is legitimate Murano glass. I put the ring on and then headed back with my friends.

June 28, Wednesday

Today was another no class day, because we were headed to Padua to the Scrovegni Chapel! It was also an early day again because we had to catch an early train. It was a fun journey, and I got to eat at the yummy train station cafe again. Once in Padua, we went to the museum where the chapel is located and got our tickets. We were then taken to the waiting area for the chapel, and we had to watch a video before going inside to learn about its history. We of course already knew some of its history because the main reason we were visiting the Chapel was because of its reference in one of Henry James’s writings . After watching the video along with all the other tourists, we were taken through an air sealed (I think) area because of the sensitivity of the Chapel and its art to the air. It was smaller than I thought it would be but stunning. The whole place was covered in artwork depicting various scenes from the Bible. The ceiling was a beautiful blue with yellow stars painted on. The back wall was amazing and depicted what would happen to the saved and the damned. Everything had so much detail and color and was so well preserved that it felt like the artist had just left. Because of the sensitivity of the art though, each session (aka group) was only allowed twenty minutes to look around. Because we were a school and some provision had been made, we were allowed to stay for two sessions.

After we left the Scrovegni Chapel, we gathered outside to meet with our tour guide. She walked us towards the center of the city and talked about the history of the city. We walked through the Università degli Studi di Padova and looked at the crests of all the people who had attended, and there were quite a few famous names from history included. We walked around the city as we made our way towards the Basilica of Saint Anthony. This was an incredibly elaborate and intricately decorated church, and probably one of my favorites from my visit to Italy. There were different sections of the Basilica that had various artworks, some in marble, some painted, others carved. There was one section, the Chapel of the Relics, where parts of St. Anthony’s body were on display, that was really neat to see. There were a set of small stairs that we could walk up to look up close at parts of his body, most notably his famous tongue. Everything about the Basilica was absolutely stunning and something I would love to go back and spend more time in because there is just so much to see.

By this point, we were all very hungry and tired, so we headed towards a restaurant to eat. We were seated at a bunch of tables placed together outside in the back garden area. It was a lovely area surrounded by trees and greenery, but by this point in the day it had become overcast and we knew the rain would fall any minute. But, I enjoyed the meal immensely because it was risotto, and I love risotto! We all talked and laughed and ate. It was a really nice afternoon… but then we heard the thunder. It was a surprise when the first sound struck our ears, but not totally unexpected. Luckily, we were all pretty much finished with our food. We decided to split up, and I went (in the rain) with some friends to go shopping because we had spotted some stores as we were walking around. It was a nice rainy afternoon activity and who can say no to shopping in Italy? By the time we were ready to head back on the train, it had stopped raining and the sun came out. The four of us went to the train station utterly exhausted from everything we had done today, and enjoyed a quiet ride back to Venice.

June 30, 2017 Friday

I didn’t do much Thursday except go to class and we visited the Academia. Friday, however, was our very last day of class and it was bittersweet. We watched a movie, Pane e Tulipani (2000), which was a beautiful film, and then talked about it in relation to our time in Venice. After this, we went to the Museo Fortuny, where I gave a presentation on the history of the museum and the man who lived there. Museo Fortuny was once the home of the man Fortuny who was a man of many talents but probably most notably as a dressmaker. His home was nicely decorated with art and clothing designs. There was one room that was showing a very strange film that was simply images and video of things like x-rays of people kissing or writing, etc. The upstairs had a diorama for one of his theaters. At the very top of the museum was an interactive art piece with balls of clay on a table that one could add to. Past this was the book shop, which I enjoyed looking at.

I decided to head back with a couple of the guys from my class, and in order to catch the vaporetto on time and not have to wait another hour, we had to run all the way from Fortuny to the vaporetto stop. While I was running, who should I literally bump into but my parents and brother. It was just like a scene from a movie: I’m running through Venice and I hear “Alexandra?” and I turn around to see my brother. I told the other guys to go on without me, and I chat with my family for a bit outside their apartment. I knew that they would be arriving today, I just didn’t know when. I offered to come and hang out with them for a little bit, but they said they were tired after the long flight and just wanted to rest. So, I hugged them goodbye and sprinted off again towards the vaporetto stop. I caught up with the boys and we made it to the vaporetto with about a minute to spare. I was red in the face and sweating, but man I had a fun time running through Venice.

That night was the farewell dinner for everyone studying in Venice from my college. We all got dressed up and went to a nice restaurant where we had amazing food buffet style. After we ate, and toasted, and reminisced, we were all brought to the gondola stops. There was enough money left over from the program that we could all have gondola rides, which was so exciting. I got to go around a small part of Venice dressed up in a gondola with five of my friends. If that’s not the perfect ending to an amazing month in Venice, I don’t know what is.

July 1/ July 2, 2017 Saturday and Sunday (and a little bit of Monday July 3)

These were the last couple days that we all had together, and some people were already leaving. They were two days packed with goodbyes, hugs, and promises for reunion back at school in the fall. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was going back to the nice and green park overlooking the water and just sitting and reading with Iulia. It was a simple and calm way to end the weekend. My family was coming to meet me on Sunday morning, so I got to say goodbye to everyone who left before I did. When my parents came, I showed them around San Servolo, my room, and then we got my suitcase and headed back to their apartment/ hotel. I took a nap, and then my family and I walked around the city together, reminiscing about the last time we had been there. Except this time, I could show them around the place I had called home for a month. We went to dinner on the water because my mom loves the view, and then explored the city at night. Of course we had to get gelato, and then we went back to the apartment around midnight. Monday, we traveled the city even more, and ended out day with a visit to Saint Mark’s Square at Florian’s Cafe, somewhere I had wanted to go for so long but never got the opportunity to. This iconic cafe has been in countless movies about Venice and is an essential part of the tourist experience. (It is also quite expensive, so if that’s a factor in your trip, I wouldn’t recommend.) We sat in the piazza as the sun was low in the sky and the air was getting a little cooler. We stayed until dark and listened to the band play songs that we only partially knew. And then we went back to the hotel for our very last night in Venice, before we took the train to Napoli in the morning.

Where is some place you have always wanted to visit for an extended period of time? Leave a comment below.

Ciao for now!

Venice Week 3: Scuola & Squid Ink, and Burano & Bellinis

Venice Week 3: Scuola & Squid Ink, and Burano & Bellinis

June 19, 2017 Monday

Because of the hectic nature of the Milan trip, I took Monday to just rest and relax. I had class as usual at nine, and became a little smarter because of it. After class, I had lunch on San Servolo while reading a bit. Most of the day until dinner was spent in the sun on the island reading. When it was time for dinner, a group of us took a vaporetto to the main part of Venice and ate at our favorite good ol’ Rossopomodoro. The night was not that eventful, just like the day, but it was nice to have some time to just chill.

 

June 20, 2017 Tuesday

In class, we discussed some writings that referenced the Scuola. After talking about the comparison in the writings, we all headed out for lunch. I went with some friends to the main island and ate some delicious pizza per usual. We decided to just wander around the city because we had to meet up with our class around 4 to visit the actual Scuola. When we arrived, I was surprised to see how small and dark it was inside. While it was smaller and darker than I’d imagined, it was no less interesting to see. To get inside, I had to walk through a big red curtain, and as soon as I was in, my eyes had to adjust to the darker light. It was a medium sized room with dark wood walls and a series of paintings lining the top of the wall all the way around the room. There were a series of pews, like in a church, and some chairs for people to sit in while they observed the paintings. The reason my class was there was because we had to look at the paintings and write down descriptions of what we saw and how they connected to one another. I spent a bit longer than most others in the class mainly because I was trying to really take in the beauty of it all while capturing the artist’s intentions. When I finished, I went into the little room on the side and looked around at the religious memorabilia. Then, I went up the stairs into the large room at the top. It was very open but much more elaborate than the room below. There were amazing paintings all over the room and ceiling, along with golden designs everywhere and a reddish glow all around. It was beautiful. When I left the Scuola, I went and got some dinner with friends, and then we headed back to San Servolo to work on our writing about our observations.

June 21, 2017 Wednesday

During the night, the ceiling of our room started leaking on my roommates head and pillow, which was obviously gross. Luckily, the hotel gave us a new room in the corner of the hotel overlooking the water. The room was much bigger too, since it was meant for four people instead of three, and it had two bathrooms as well which was nice. Anyways, I had class as usual, and immediately after, our whole class went to lunch in San Polo courtesy of our Professor (aka the school). The restaurant was called Trattoria Antiche Carampane. It was a small and cozy restaurant, and our group took up much of the space. We were placed in two rows of many tables pushed together so that could all talk to one another. What was exciting about this lunch though was that we would all be getting the sam thing: Sepia pasta aka Squid ink pasta. It was a major part of one of our readings in class and we were about to experience it for ourselves together. Before the meal, we were given a paper spiral of tiny fried fish which were really good. The main course, the squid ink pasta,  was quite tasty. It had a strange taste at first, but it wasn’t a bad strange, just different. It made my teeth black until I drank water and it was funny to see everyone smile like that. The reactions from the others in my class were mixed, some liked it while others did not. We were also given white wine with our meal that went very well with the pasta. For dessert we were all given a few options and I chose the fruit parfait. By the time we finished everything, it was almost three o’clock, and we were all so stuffed. A couple of my friends and I decided to walk around and explore a bit (plus walk off all the delicious food we just ate). We went back to San Servolo around six to rest ourselves before our big night.

That night, all three of the classes from my college were going to meet up in Piazza San Marco to have a private tour of Saint Mark’s Basilica (how amazing, right?!). I and a couple other people got there around 8:30 and watched the sun fade. We grabbed a piece of pizza to eat while we were waiting for the other groups, and just sat on some steps people watching. It was neat to be there as the sun was fading because we got to see all the lights in the Piazza switch on. It was beautiful. At 9:30, we were all let into the Basilica. We had to use the back entrance because the front area, along with many parts of the Piazza, were flooded about 6 inches with water. When we entered the main church area, it was almost completely dark with just enough light for us to find our seats. After we were all seated, they turned the lights on and we got to see the glory of Saint Mark’s Basilica. The ceiling was gold and mosaic along with most of the front area. In the center of the altar there was a gorgeous ornately decorated rectangular object. After hearing about the history of the Basilica, we were allowed to walk up to this elaborately decorated artifact. Before we got there though, we were surprised by the fact that it spins around so that the other side can be visible to the congregation. The other side is a painting on what looked like separate wood blocks, of the various apostles and Jesus in the middle. We were told all about the history of the bejeweled side, including how it had been stolen from Constantinople (if I remember correctly) and had to be guarded incredibly closely because of how valuable all the jewels on it are. It was absolutely astonishing the amount of detail and design was on it as I looked up close. We then were taken to the basement area where people can have mass sometimes, and for those interested, people can get married there. It was very small and a little creepy but still a neat experience. From there, we went back up and were told a few more facts about the Basilica before we thanked the tour guide and left. After the tour, a couple of my friends and I went and got some gelato before heading back to San Servolo and calling it a night.

 

June 22, 2017 Thursday

As usual, I had class from nine to twelve. Because this was the last day of class for the week, a group of us from the class decided to explore more of Venice while we still had the chance. The end of this week meant that we only had one more left and we wanted to make the most of it. So, we hopped on a vaporetto and headed to the island of Burano to look at the famous colorful houses. When we got there, we were not disappointed. Everything was full of bright colors surrounded by the waterways so typical of Venetian cities. It was around 2 o’clock when we arrived which was the resting time so it was pretty quiet. We were hungry by this point because it was a long vaporetto ride, so we decided to find someplace to eat. As, we were going along, we decided to take some photos and shop around a bit. It was fun to take photos in such an iconic place and everything was just so pretty. Eventually, we found a cute little restaurant with an ocean theme that served us some delicious food. I ordered seafood risotto because it’s one of my favorites, and I was not disappointed. After lunch, we walked around some more, splitting up to do some shopping. Incidentally, we all ran into one another again at a gelato shop where we all indulged in the delicacy. Along that same calle, I found a little cookie shop and bought a bag of fantastic looking cookies to take back with me. By this point, we were all tired and were making our way back to the vaporetto stop. It was right outside the vaporetto stop that I found an art shop with paintings selling for not too much and the artist was there painting more as people looked around. So of course I bought a lovely print of a Venetian canal full of blues and greens. I then got on the vaporetto with the others and we headed back.

June 23, 2017 Friday

This was a chill day to sleep in and enjoy the city. I woke up around 10 o’clock and met up with my friends Iulia and Adriana at the vaporetto stop on San Servolo so that we could go into main Venice. We wandered around trying to find this cute teahouse that Adriana had heard of in Dorsoduro called Fujiyama Tea Room Beatrice. (I believe it is also a bed and breakfast.) After much roaming, we finally happened upon it, and it was so quaint that we almost missed it. We stepped inside the cafe and walked straight through to the back garden area. This is probably one of my favorite places in Venice because it is so eclectic, quiet, and quaint. There were about six or seven metal tables placed in a small area surrounded by plants with odd objects like an old sink and broken terra-cotta pots in the plants. It was about 11:30 in the morning and very quiet and removed from the touristy activity of the other parts of Venice. We each ordered a tea and snack. I chose a black tea and some fruit. Adriana ordered a green tea and some chocolate torte; Iulia chose to go with a strange dark tea that tasted almost like a bonfire (we each tried each other’s selections) along with a cheese and tomato toasted sandwich. I liked the sandwich so much that I ordered one for myself after. We spent about 2 1/2 house in this garden area, me reading Proust, Iulia writing in her journal, and Adriana writing some poetry with intermittent sparks of conversation. It was one of the most relaxing afternoons I’ve had in a long time. There was almost no one there the entire time and everything about the place was soothing. The tea was delicious as was the food, and it wasn’t expensive. The waitress was very friendly and knew exactly when to come over and they were very nice when Adriana made an enquiry about the food in English. I highly recommend visiting this little oasis if you’re ever in Venice because it is so peaceful and a nice respite from all the activity of everywhere else in the city. After we left the teahouse, we walked around for a bit and found a bookstore that, as English majors, we had to go into. It was almost empty except for the people working there. We looked around for a bit and it was fun to see books that we knew in English translated into Italian. I found a copy of the Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare and while I could have gotten it for cheaper on Amazon, I knew I just had to buy it while in Venice. Another neat aspect of the book that convinced me I needed to purchase it was that the pages were split from English to Italian. The left side was in Italian while the right page was in the classic Shakespearean english. We left the store after my purchase and window shopped as we made our way back to the island. It was a calm night with dinner on the island and conversation with friends.

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June 24/25, 2017 Saturday and Sunday

This weekend was relaxed because there was no big excursion planned. I spent most of the weekend reading in the sun on San Servolo and just walking around and exploring Venice on the last weekend I had there with friends. I got a lot of reading done and I also indulged in some Netflix because it had been a while since I simply sat down and turned my brain off. It was nice not to have any major plans and just go with the flow during the day. On Saturday night, three friends and I went out to dinner at a pizzeria and sat outside in the fresh summer air as a musician played tables away at another restaurant. After dinner we walked around and took pictures near the Rialto Bridge as typical tourists do. We also ventured to Harry’s, home of the original Bellini. In order to get in, we had to be dressed nicely and luckily we were wearing dresses (albeit much more casual than the clientele that were already there). It was extremely crowded so we ended up basically crouching in a corner near the cash register and holding our drinks. They were scrumptious, but they were not that big and they were VERY expensive. It’s all part of the experience of Harry’s though, so we had to indulge. After a little while, a spot at the counter cleared and we grabbed the spot quickly. We drank our sweet Bellini’s and looked around at all the people in there who were so nicely dressed. We knew it was crowded and people were vying for spots, so after we finished our drinks we paid and left. While waiting for the vaporetto back, we sat on the steps in Piazza San Marco and looked at the reflection of the light on the water that flooded the square, along with the little children that were splashing in it. Overall, it was a very nice night.

I’d love to hear your comments on what you thought of this post!

Ciao for now!

Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

Venice Week 2: Jewish Ghetto, Palaces, & Lido Beach Day

I’ve decided to write about my experiences week by week instead of day by day because I wanted to really enjoy my time in Venice without the pressure to sit down and describe every aspect of it. I’m still going to describe what I did each day, just in a more limited fashion with a few photos here and there. So, without further ado, week 2…

June 14, 2017 Wednesday

As usual I had class in the morning from 9am to 12pm, and then spent some time hanging out before going into the city. It was a cloudy and rainy day, but I am only in Venice for a limited time so I have to make the most of it. A group of people from my class thought it would be interesting to tour the Jewish ghetto. I was going o join a little later along with my two roommates. We were supposed to meet them around 3pm, but because of the weather and the slow vaporetto system, we did not end up getting there in time to join the tour. It was incredibly humid out, so we decided to cool down and take a bathroom break inside a nearby restaurant. We bought some water to rehydrate, and as I was waiting outside for the other two girls, I saw a tour go by with some familiar faces in the group. It just happened to be our friends who had arrived before us, and they were taking the tour. We tagged along near the back of the crowd for a bit, but we couldn’t follow them inside some of the synagogues because we hadn’t actually paid to be on the tour. So, we said see you later and made a plan to meet up with them in half an hour for dinner.

While waiting for them, the three of us walked around the little shops and tried to learn some of the history of the ghetto. When we found the others again, we walked to a nice little restaurant called Gam Gam Kosher Restaurant, and we ordered a bunch of different foods to share. Luckily for us, it started raining while we were eating and was finished by the time we were ready to leave. We explored a little bit more that day, but then headed back to San Servolo for an early night and to catch up on some reading.

June 15, 2017 Thursday

Again, I started the day off with class. Since it was Thursday, we watched a movie called “Don’t Look Now” which was kind of haunting and scary, but still pretty cool to watch. It was a hot and sunny day, so after class some of us girls wanted to go to the beach. We took a vaporetto to Lido laden down with our bags filled with bathing suits, towels, and sunscreen. Once at Lido, we walked to the end of the island to the free beach because who wants to pay for a day at the beach? Along the way, we stopped into a little cafe/ grocery store for some food supplies. I bought a spinach stuffed pizza thing (great description, I know), and we all bought a large liter of Orange soda and water to drink on the beach. Once we were actually at the beach, we changed into our bathing suits and proceeded to spread out the orange tapestry that Iulia had bought from a beach peddler. We took turns going into the water, making sure someone was always with our stuff. The beach was crowded and it was later in the day, but it sure was fun and relaxing to be on a beach in Italy. But because it was later  (around 17:00) and it had been so hot all day, the water was actually pretty warm. It was still nice to go in and swim, it just wasn’t the refreshing cool water that it normally is. When it was my turn to stay with our belongings, I took out my packet of Proust and proceeded to read. There was a slight breeze that turned the pages and pushed my hair into my eyes, and it was pure perfection to be reading on this beach.

We left around 18:00, and walked along the sidewalk to a restaurant we had been to before. We sat outside under the canopy and the waiter had to push two tables together to accommodate the five of us. We took a look at the menu, and I decided to try the spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams). It is one of my favorite dishes and I was not disappointed with my meal choice. It tasted delicious and I devoured all of it. Obviously we all had a glass of wine with the meal, and I chose Prosecco which I thought went well with my pasta. We ended our meal with some gelato and then walked back to wait for the vaporetto.

June 16, 2017 Friday

Since we don’t have class on Fridays, a group of us decided to visit the Ducal Palace in St. Mark’s Square. It is something we had passed for two weeks now without ever going inside. So, we bought tickets online beforehand (which I recommend doing because the lines to buy tickets there are so long, and it saves a lot of time) and headed over around noon. To start with, the courtyard inside is big and beautiful and you can see the design of the building as a whole. It is quite a nice sight to see. There are curved arches, marble statues, and elaborate architecture. Inside the actual palace is even better. The ceilings are covered with breathtaking artwork and carvings, the rooms are massive and filled with historical and incredible paintings, and the sheer size of it all is almost overwhelming. I could have spent hours in one room in particular, I think it was the ball room, since it was huge and along all the walls and the ceiling were masterpieces of artwork.

I took a stroll down to the dungeons, and along the way there was this neat window that looked out into the canal. I felt kind of sorry for the prisoners who were kept in these dungeons because they were essentially at or under the canal level, so it was damp and dingy. I’m sure some of them probably deserved to be down there, don’t get me wrong, but the conditions were dark, damp, and depressing. Not somewhere I would want to live, but it was pretty neat to visit. I would definitely recommend taking a day to explore this magnificent and dominating building if you’re in Venice.

Ciao for now!

Venice Day 7: Calm Mornings, Ciao, & Ca’ d’Oro

Venice Day 7: Calm Mornings, Ciao, & Ca’ d’Oro

June 10, 2017 Saturday

This was a day for sleeping in late and relaxing. I stayed in bed until probably 11:15 am when the cleaning woman knocked on my door and wanted to check that the room was empty. I opened the door while still in my pajamas and half asleep, and there was an exchange between us that I think meant that she would come back later, but what I heard in my head was that she would be back in 5 minutes. So, I hurriedly threw on my new cropped white off the shoulder shirt under my blue and pink striped romper, put some white sneakers on, and hurriedly did my makeup. Then I grabbed my backpack with my homework and took the rest of my box of blueberries out of the fridge and headed to the tables outside. I sat in the shade reading Plato’s Phaedrus while sipping on my water and occasionally popping some blueberries into my mouth. Every now and then when I would look up from reading my book I got to see the green of the trees and out the window in the wall I saw the blue of the water. It was such a tranquil and beautiful way to start my day.

Around 12:45 some of my friends started to come around to the tables for lunch, so I decided to join them. We all enjoyed a lunch filled with conversation and good Italian food from the San Servolo restaurant. After lunch, I quickly ran back up to my room to grab some necessities for my purse. When I opened the door, I realized that the room had not been cleaned yet, that I must have misunderstood the woman, and that I had not needed to rush after all. But it didn’t matter since it actually got me up and going with my day. After I had grabbed my purse and some money, I met the rest of my friends at the vaporetto stop and we headed into the city. As we were walking along, we came across a crowd of people gathered around some students (I assume they were students since they were young and there was a lot of them), most likely a song and dance group, performing in the middle of the calle. They were singing a capella and harmonizing beautifully, but they were also dancing perfectly in sync to the beat. We stopped to watch them for a few minutes because it was so neat, then we continued on our way.

We had decided the day before that we wanted to go to Ca’ d’Oro, so that’s what we did first when we arrived in the city. Because we’re students, we paid a reduced price to get in which was great. We started off by going into the courtyard where there were a couple  of statues and mosaics to look at. I went over to the sign that had the history of the building and right next to it there was a little square hole in one of the walls that looked out into the street out front. I went over to look into it, with my sunglasses on, and I was startled to find a man looking back at me with a big smile who said “Ciao!” Since I had my sunglasses on, I hadn’t realized there was someone from the street looking in. The whole thing was really funny, and my friends laughed at me for some time afterwards.

Next, we went inside up the stairs to the first floor which had a few rooms of statues and paintings. All the art was very beautiful and mostly religious since it was from around the 16th century. Upstairs on the second floor there were more paintings and sculptures and bronze, but there was also a room filled with carpets and rugs. Along the walls and next to the carpets were the descriptions of each type of carpet and its origin.

After about an hour or so we left Ca’ d’Oro and walked around a bit. We found a gelato place to stop at and I got fragola (strawberry) and mango which was delicious. At this point in the day, it was around 4:45 and a couple of the girls wanted to see if there was a mass at the church in Piazza San Marco, so we walked there. It turned out that the mass was at 6:45 instead of 5:30 as we had thought. We decided that since some of us wanted to go back early and get work done while the others wanted to go to mass, we would go and grab some food then split up.

We ate at Rosso Pomodoro near Piazza San Marco, and since it was early (about 5:15ish) we got some light food. I ordered a caprese salad and a glass of prosecco while some of the others ordered salad, ravioli, and some pizza, along with some prosecco. It was really good, but at the end of the meal those of us who were going back to San Servolo had to go to catch the 6:50 vaporetto. We left our meal vouchers with the others (since this restaurant was one of only a few places that takes the meal vouchers we were given through our university course), and headed on our way.

Back at San Servolo, I decided to take a nap since I hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep the past week and I decided to use this day as my catch up day. I took a nap until about 8pm and then I did some homework before finally getting ready for bed and going to sleep around 12 am.

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 4: La Salute, Splitting Up, and Sunny Skies

Venice Day 4: La Salute, Splitting Up, and Sunny Skies

June 7, 2017 Wednesday

I started the day with class, per usual, and we discussed Henry James’s “The Grand Canal.” After the academic part of the day ended at 12 pm, my whole class, including the professor, took the 12:50 vaporetto to the San Zaccaria stop to begin a sort of field trip. Now, the weather report predicted that it would rain, but so far the sky was sunny with only some clouds in the sky.

So, we traversed the calle of Venice until we found the restaurant we had reserved for lunch. There were about 15 or 16 of us and the restaurant was pretty small, so we took up a significant portion. We were separated into two tables, and I was sitting at the table the did not include my professor. The food we ate was delicious! Each table got 2 plates of meats and cheeses and bread along with some pickles and olives. To drink we had different kinds of water: fizzy water or mineral water. Overall, the meal was one of my favorites.

After we ate, we all took a traghetto to cross the canal. Unfortunately, the boat was only allowed to sit 14, so our professor had to wait for the next one before he could join us. As we landed on the other side, it began to rain and we still had to walk to La Salute, a famous old Church that houses the painting Le Nozze di Cana by Tintoretto. We all went to see it because this painting was referenced by Henry James in “Grand Canal.” It was beautifully painted and the information about it was very interesting to read.

When we had spent some time seeing the painting, our class split up to have our own adventures. A group of us stayed at La Salute to attend the 4 pm mass. That was a cool experience because obviously it was in Italian, but it was also in a church that visitors were passing through and some would stop to watch the mass. It was almost like being in a zoo. Anyways, mass was only a half an hour, so after, we continued on our way traveling around Venice. The rain had stopped and it was a beautiful sunny sky, the kind that only happens after a rainstorm.

We were pretty tired at this point, so we grabbed the 7:10 vaporetto and headed back to San Servolo to have dinner. After dinner, we congregated because one of our friends hadn’t been in touch with us since we left her in the church around 4 with a guy she befriended talking about art. It was 9 pm and we were worried so we emailed our professor, but then about 20 minutes later our friend finally texted us back that she had been out of wifi range so she could not send or receive text messages. We were relieved to hear from her so we split off to go to our respective rooms. I got ready for bed and then went to sleep.

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La Salute

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I just thought this was beautiful. It’s some kind of stain for art that was in the window of a nice little shop.

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 3- Churches, Canals, & Cantina do Spade

Venice Day 3- Churches, Canals, & Cantina do Spade

June 6, 2017 – Tuesday

As usual, I started the day by waking up around eight and heading to breakfast for 8:30. I had my usual (or as usual as the past 2 days has been) breakfast of scrambled eggs, Italian bread with ham, and a double espresso. Our group made it to class for 9, and we discussed Joseph Brodsky’s Watermark in depth. In the most simplistic way possible (since we spent 3 hours talking about it, which was too little time), one of the main points was that the book is a love letter to Venice written through beautiful language and imagery.

After class, I got lunch with a few of the girls from class and we had an in depth discussion on what love is and whether or not all love is selfish. It was collegiate in the most cliche way, but it was philosophical and a fun way to pass a couple hours. When we finished lunch, a group of maybe 10 of us took the vaporetto to the San Marco stop and got off to explore the city more, but it was so crowded at the San Marco stop that 3 of the girls were left behind. So, when we arrived at our destination we waited for the others to catch up, and in that time we made reservations for dinner at a great restaurant I found in my guidebook (Frommer’s Venice Day by Day).  We started off going to the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (a beautiful church) where we just went and quietly observed the elegance and history. I did not know that we would be visiting a church, so I was wearing jean shorts (they’re from h&m with adorable cacti on them) and was made to cover them with a piece of stiff red cloth that I transformed into a skirt.

Later on, around 6 pm, we walked down to the restaurant to see if we could be seated early, but we weren’t able to. Instead, we walked around by the Grand Canal and took photos of the surrounding area. There was one building across the canal from us that had giant white hands coming out of the water and grasping at a building. I think it was part of an art display, but it was a cool sight to see. Finally at 7 pm, we made it to dinner at La Cantina do Spade, one of the oldest restaurants in Venice that is over 500 years old. We shared a platter of chicetti between 6 of us, and I ordered a side salad because I felt the need for vegetables. For the table, we ordered 1 liter of the house white wine and 1 liter of the house red wine, which was perfect for the 10 of us to share. At the end of the meal, four of us decided to get 2 orders of tirmasu and share. I have to say that normally I’m not a tiramisu type of person, but this was so light and delicious that I couldn’t put my fork down.

By the time we left the restaurant it was around 9pm and we were pretty tired. So we hopped on the first vaporetto (which gave us an amazing view of the Rialto Bridge lit up in the dark) that would take us back to the San Marco vaporetto stop where we then had to switch vaporettos in order to arrive back at San Servolo. By the time we got back it was around 11pm and I was ready for bed. I took a quick shower when I got back to the room and then went to sleep ready for whatever the next day would bring.

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This is me on the Rialto Bridge on Monday

My muse is a museum: Boston Museum of Fine Art

My muse is a museum: Boston Museum of Fine Art

I absolutely love museums! The history that dwells within (and on) museum walls just astounds me. I am amazed at how I can look at something today that was created hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years ago. To me, history is the like an eye on a person; if an eye is the window to the soul, then history is the window to the world. Just being in the presence of a piece of art painted by Monet or Van Gogh or Renoir makes me shiver. And the ancient art, well that just completes the whole experience. Some of these pieces were created thousands of years ago, and I like to picture the real people who looked at or used them. It’s crazy to think that someone who lived in the B.C. era looked at the same thing I am looking at in 2016 A.D. That’s why I love history. I feel like it creates a closeness between people and generations that isn’t otherwise there in daily life.

I visited the Museum of Fine Arts and it is just incredible. There are so many beautiful pieces of art there and they are all so different from one another. There are the paintings  by Monet, Renoir, etc and then there are the vases from ancient Greece and the tribal masks from long ago Africa. There is also a room filled with furniture from eighteenth century France and in the next room are paintings and trinkets from the Dutch royalty in the seventeenth century. And in another room, there are American objects from around the time of the Revolutionary War. I could go on and on, but the imagination captures the idea better than the words do so I’ll just let you think about the endless possibilities that museum held. Oh, also I took some pictures so if your imagination can’t quite come up with it, then here are some visual stimulants. (I’m not an expert on art. All the commentaries are my opinions)

(All photos were taken at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA)

img_1117Canal Venice by Pierre Renoir (1881)

This is my favorite painting mainly because I recently visited Venice and it reminds me of the beautiful city. But I also love all the different colors used.

img_1123Mother and Child by Claude Monet

This painting reminds me of me and my mother, and I really like the matching blue on the mother and the child contrasting with the red from the flowers in the background.

img_1125The Pink Cloud by Paul Signac (1916)

I like this one because it reminds me of cotton candy haha and it’s just so colorful and happy

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I’d say that these two paintings are worth a lot of… Monet 😉

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I like this painting a lot because I felt a kind of calm and melancholy  looking at it. It made me wonder so many things about the woman in the painting.

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I just liked the power that this painting reflects… also its huge which kind of adds to the power

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This was the room with the fancy French furniture

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There are two giant baby heads sculptures outside in the back of the museum. They are named Night and Day… this one is Night I believe (because  the eyes are closed)

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This was a mirrored image of the bottles inside… it seemed to go on forever. I thought it made a really cool picture.
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I hope these pictures were interesting and beautiful to you. I highly recommend visiting a museum soon, any museum, because they hold so many amazing things, and they are a fun way to educate yourself on the world. In addition, many museums offer student discounts; I got in free just by showing my college ID. And, going with friends always makes for intellectual discussions.

Ciao for now!