Falling for Fell’s Point

Falling for Fell’s Point

Fell’s Point, for those of you who don’t know, is a fun and adorable part of the Baltimore Harbor area. It is home to various restaurants, shops, and activities. What I love most about it is the scenery. I think the architecture of the buildings is neat, the shops are quaint, the restaurants are cool and quirky, and the water is right there.

I’ve only tried a few places to eat around there (Barcocina and Smoothie King), but there were plenty more I’d like to try out. There was one restaurant/bar, The Horse You Rode In On, that I kept passing and wanted to try out. There was always music coming from inside, the people looked happy, and the atmosphere just looked cool. Many of the places in Fell’s Point have a similar vibe, which is what makes it so hip I think. It’s kind of retro and hipster in one.

The shops are also really cute too. The ones I went into were pretty small but more like boutiques and independent shops rather than chain stores. It This gives the area a more homey and cozy feel, at least to me. There were furniture stores, clothing boutiques, record shops, and so many other places to stop by and peek into. The coffee shops were made for taking cute pictures sipping delicious coffees and lattes, and the aesthetics of the buildings will please your eyes every time you look around.

My favorite part of Fell’s Point is the weekend flea market (for lack of a better term). On summer/ fall weekends, people put up tents and tables and sell all kinds of cool items. I happened along one Saturday and came out of it with five records for $15. The guy selling them had so many and was very knowledgable about each one. Most of the record were legit as well. He said he’d had most of them since the 70s. I got some albums from ABBA, Boston, and others of that variety. My mom also gifted me a gorgeous heavy silver with turquoise ring that we had seen in the tent of a woman selling a bunch of silver jewelry. It was all so exquisite and real. One thing about this market is that everything is all real and legitimate. They sell things like records and jewelry, as well as vintage signs, comics, and clothing among other things.

Everything in Fell’s Point is within a short walking distance, so there’s not really any trouble getting from one place to the other. At night, it becomes the place to be with many young people going out and enjoying the night. Because of that, there is an air of activity about it and you can just feel the good times in the air.

Ciao for now!

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My Favorite Beauty Products for Travel

My Favorite Beauty Products for Travel

I’m going to be honest, I’m not a beauty guru so my knowledge about makeup and beauty is limited. But I know enough to know what’s good and what’s bad (at least in my own terms). These are all inexpensive beauty products, with most of them coming from CVS or Target, but some are nicer pricier products I’ve received as gifts. Now that that is out of the way, here we go!

I tend to go for lighter makeup when I’m traveling just because my skin is sensitive and adjusts weirdly to new places that I go. And, a lot of the places I go are beachy, so I don’t wear a lot of makeup anyways. But, when I do like to get all glam for a night out or a nice dinner, these are some of my travel go to products (FYI the links go directly to the product I’ve listed if you want to check it out):

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM for normal to dry skin ($16.49 at Ulta)

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My skin varies from normal to dry and this moisturizer definitely makes me feel like my skin is being nourished. It is a little heavy but it’s not that noticeable and it helps my makeup go on easily. I love that there is sunscreen in this moisturizer because on vacation I am usually outside in sunny places and I have very pale skin so it’s good to know I’m protected. There is also a version without SPF 30 if you don’t want the sunscreen. I’m not going to lie, it does smell a bit like sunscreen, but it’ll go away after a few minutes, and I think the benefits outweigh the cons for this product. I’m left with soft protected skin.

Maybelline BB Cream in shade 110 Light/Medium (($6.69 at Target)

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I love this product for beauty vacays because it’s incredibly light and is essentially a tinted moisturizer. I have problem skin and this BB Cream does a nice job of getting rid of the redness and problem spots for a few hours. It also has SPF 30 so I don’t have to worry about my very pale skin getting damaged by the sun.

Maybelline Master Conceal concealer in shade 20 Light ($7.99 at Target)

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As I’ve previously said, I have issues with my skin so it’s nice to know that I can rely on this concealer to help me manage my blemishes. I’ve gotten more confidant in my skin as I’ve grown older, but there are times, especially on vacation when I’m taking a lot of photos, when I get self-conscious of my skin. Master Conceal helps me cover up some of these blemishes so I look stellar in my vacation photos.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve ($7.58 at Amazon)

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I. Love. This. So. Much. I started using this product as simply a lip balm but soon realized it is so much more. It can be used for almost any beauty need. If you’re interested in this product and want to know a few of the many ways it can be used (like eyebrow tamer and eye makeup remover) check out this article from Bustle. Needless to say, it is the perfect travel beauty product because of its many uses.

Mary Kay Kind Heart baked cheek powder ($18 at Mary Kay)

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This is such a beautiful not only because of the presentation, but also because it has a bit of a shimmer when applied. A shimmery blush is perfect for a vacation where I want to give the appearance of a summery glow even if I don’t actually have one. Plus, it’s a light coral that doesn’t stand out too much, giving me just a subtle rosiness to my cheeks. Overall, it’s a lovely look for a sunny vacay.

Sephora colorful wink-it felt liner – waterproof ($14 at Sephora)

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I like this eyeliner because it is really easy to apply and make eyeliner look good when applied. We all know how hard it is to get that perfect winged look, but this felt tip liner is essentially a pen, so it’s so simple to get a nice eye look. In addition, it’s waterproof meaning that during your vacation you can take a dip in the water without worrying about your makeup running. It also lasts a long time and stays looking amazing even after an hour siesta (speaking from experience).

Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara (sample) ($12 at Too Faced)

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I know everyone has been raving about this mascara for a while so I’m here to concur with them! This mascara really does make my lashes look super long and voluminous without feeling extra heavy. I like the sample size for travel because it lasts long enough for a trip about 2 weeks and is the perfect packing size.

Lotus Elixir No.4 perfume ($12 at Anthropologie)

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This rollerball perfume is about the size of my palm and smells amazing. According to its description on the Anthropologie website it is “a focus-inducing blend of hawthorn greens, mint, white lily, rose and violet (FLORAL).” I love it mainly for the strong impression it gives off without being overpowering. It’s not your typical floral scent, it’s almost dark (if that makes sense). It lasts a while and is the perfect size for traveling since it’s only 0.2 oz.

Bed Head ROCKAHOLIC Dirty Secret dry shampoo 2.5 oz ($10 at Ulta)

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I got this as a giveaway from the club HerCampus that I am a part of at college, so I did not pay for this product. (I write for the HerCampus site if you want to check out any of my articles- sorry, shameless plug.) But, I like Bed Head products and I got it for free so I decided to try it out. I ended up loving it because it a) smells good and b) makes my hair look good as new. Those are basically the only criteria I have for dry shampoo. Some others that I’ve tried do not get rid of my greasy hair which, ya know, is a pretty important factor of a good dry shampoo. This is a nice travel size as well so I’ve taken to bringing it on trips so that after an especially hot day, I just spray this in my hair and I’m ready for a night out.

Advanced Clinicals Tea Tree Oil 1.8 fl. oz ($11.55 Amazon)
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I’m not going to lie, I found this at Marshall’s for about $5 when trying to find a cheaper replacement for my other tea tree oil. I got this by chance because I liked how big the size was for the price it was. I use tea tree oil on my blemishes after I take my makeup off, cleanse, and tone my face because I have found that it will diminish or prevent acne. I absolutely live by tea tree oil since it essentially saves my face which is why I need to have it when I travel. After a day of my face full of sunscreen and makeup, tea tree oil does wonders. Luckily, this is a nice size and it comes with a dropper so I don’t end up using too much or pouring half the bottle out when I’m just trying to get a tiny dot. Highly highly recommend tea tree oil to anyone with blemish prone skin.

I hope you enjoyed this beauty review and if you want more just let me know in the comments. Question of the week: What is your favorite beauty/ makeup product for travel and why?

Ciao for now!

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 Day 5: Movies, Munching, and Meandering

Venice Day 5: Movies, Munching, and Meandering

June 8, 2017 Thursday

I began the day with my usual scrambled eggs, bread and meat, and espresso, then I scrambled to class for 9 am. Because it was Thursday, we were watching a movie. Before the movie began, my friend Iulia gave a short presentation on some key features of the film that we should pay attention to and how the movie related to our time in Venice. We watched the film, “Summertime” (1955) which had Katharine Hepburn as the main role. It was a great film that elicited both laughter and sadness and that had an ending I couldn’t quite decide if I was satisfied with. When it was over, we discussed some of the symbolic and important parts of it and then dispersed for the day. (This was also the last class of the week.)

Most of us just relaxed on San Servolo for the afternoon by grabbing some lunch, chatting, and reading until around 6. That was when we caught the vaporetto and pretty much everyone from our class, along with some others from another class, went together to have dinner. We found a fantastic little wine bar that served all 13 of us by combining three or four tables together in the back. The atmosphere was great, it was a place right by the water on the other side of the island, and I was with a fantastic group of people. The meal was delicious as well. Six of us split I think two pizzas, and I had an amazing gin and tonic that had a sort of herbal taste to it.

After dinner, we went to the casino because we had heard from someone that there was a kind of dance event going on, so we thought we’d check it out. But, when we got there, granted around 9 pm, it was more like a garden party with people more dressed up than we were. So instead of staying, we just took some photos then left. I think if we had stayed later it probably would have picked up a bit more but at the time we were just a little uncomfortable being such a large group in that kind of atmosphere.

We then decided to go to a jazz bar. But when we got there, it seemed as though the waitstaff did not want us there because of how large our group was. It was a strange place too, the jazz was coming from TV screens and there were tons of bras hanging from the ceiling. So we decided to leave. By this point in the night it was around 10:15 pm I think.

We made our way through the city and ended up by the Rialto Bridge where we saw a grocery store. Some people went in and bought a couple bottles of wine and some limoncello; I waited outside with some others. After that, we walked towards Piazza San Marco and sat down on the stairs by the stores just taking in the beauty of the Piazza at night and having various conversations amongst ourselves. Before it got too late though, we wanted to catch the 11:30 vaporetto back to San Servolo.

When we arrived back at our island, some people went to bed while the rest of us sat down at a long table outside. We drank some wine and talked for an hour or so about many different things. It was a wonderful time because we were out under the stars laughing and chatting and sort of getting to know each other. Probably around 12:30 or so, we all headed off to our respective buildings and went to bed.

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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

Spring is in Full Bloom

Spring is in Full Bloom

One of my favorite times of the year is when all the flowers start to bloom and everything is filled with color. From the green grass to the pink and purple flowers, everything just seems a bit brighter and happier. I can’t help but feel cheerful when I look around at the beauty of nature and see it coming to life. I know it’s cliche, but I feel like there is something hopeful about the emergence of new life sprouting all around me.

I recently went to a garden center with my mom so that we could buy some plants for our deck and add a bit of color to our backyard. While at browsing around, I was awed by the enormity of varieties that nature has to offer. There were so many kinds of flowers, herbs, vegetables, etc. And while I wasn’t exactly surprised by this assortment, I was astounded that they could all blend together so harmoniously to create a picture of beauty. It was an overcast day, but everything still looked amazing, so I took some photos to capture this loveliness.

As the saying goes “April showers bring May flowers.”

Ciao for now!