Sunday Brunch at The Rusty Scupper

Sunday Brunch at The Rusty Scupper

Hello all! This past week my mom was in town visiting me and we had a great time walking all around the harbor and the city. But my favorite part was when we went to the Rusty Scupper restaurant for their Sunday brunch. Oh. My. Goodness. It was delicious. What makes this brunch special and by far the best brunch I’ve ever been to is that it’s all you can eat, has tons of fresh sea food, unlimited included drinks, a live jazz band, and a gorgeous view of the Baltimore Harbor. If that doesn’t grab your fancy then I don’t know what will. It certainly impressed me and my mom.

They have two seatings for the Sunday brunch buffet: one from 10:30-12:00 and another from 1:00 to 2:30. We went to the 1pm seating because we’re late risers. It’s $45 per person ($16 for children) but that includes the all-you-can-eat buffet and as many drinks as you can (responsibly) handle. If you’re interested, check out the menu here. That may seem like a lot of money for a brunch to some, but, personally, I definitely think it’s worth it.

I ate a ton and could have eaten more if my stomach would have allowed it. For my first round of food, I opted for a breakfast variety since I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I chose scrambled eggs, some bacon, chopped pineapple, a biscuit with strawberry jam, and some asparagus. I ate it all and delighted in it. My mom opted for a made-to-order omelet with cheese, spinach, and crab. It tried it, and it was amazing. We also both got a Bellini, which, surprise! was also fantastic.

Second round, mom and I decided to share since we knew we could not continue to consume so much food at that rate. We picked out a plate full of seafood including lots of oysters, tons of shrimp, and some salmon with a bagel. (We didn’t eat the bagel because it was a little too hard for us, but everything else was wonderful.) There was also a sangria ordered because we heard it was delicious (I tried it: it was).

Third time’s a charm right? Well for our third round, (I know, you’re probably wondering how we could continue to eat. I really don’t know what to tell you other than we had sheer perseverance and a desire to try a little of everything.) we went for the desserts. Luckily they were a nice petite size, otherwise I don’t think I would have managed to try them all. Mom and I opted to try the chocolate chip cookies (a classic), the mini creme brulees in espresso cups (adorable), a couple of fruit tart things (strawberry and lemon), two mini waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, and some more fruit. We ended our brunch experience with a coffee each and a last look at the harbor view, before we headed out to walk along the harbor ourselves.

Overall, I would highly reccommend if you’re ever in Baltimore on a Sunday and you’re looking for a magnificent dining experience, you should try out The Rusty Scupper. I certainly wasn’t disappointed and there’s something for everyone. Now, enjoy the photos if you don’t believe me! 🙂 (sorry there’s no photo of the breakfast foods… I was too hungry and devoured it all before photos could be taken haha)

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The seafood course (w/ bellini)
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The dessert course (w/ sangria)
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Mini waffles and fruit
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I saw a boat go by and thought the view was too good to pass up
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The amazing view from our seats
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Taken on the boat riding away from brunch

Ciao for now!

 

Yellow and Strawberry Cake w/ Cream Cheese frosting

Yellow and Strawberry Cake w/ Cream Cheese frosting

If you saw my Fourth of July post, you’ll know that I made this cake to celebrate Independence Day. But it can be made for pretty much any occasion and it tastes amazing. Plus, you don’t need that many ingredients and it’s super easy. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Ingredients:

Cake:

Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk

To Make:

1. Cake

  • Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray then put off to the side.
  • Mix the cake mix according to the instructions on the box, then evenly pour the cake batter into the bundt pan.
  • Once the cake is cooked, let it cool for about 15-20 min.
  • Poke the cooled cake with a fork to create a bunch of tiny holes all over the cake.
  • Set to the side.

2. Jello

  • Pour the jello powder into a bowl and add about 3/4 cup hot water to it and stir.
  • Once that’s mixed, add about 1/3 cup cold water and mix.
  • Pour this jello mixture over the cake trying to get it through the holes you made earlier.
  • Once that’s done, place in the fridge.

3Frosting

  • On medium power, mix together the sugar an cream cheese until fluffy.
  • Add the milk and stir until creamy.
  • Spread over cake.

4. Fruit

  • When your cake is frosted and ready, cut up your fruit and place on frosting on top of cake,
  • Fill the middle hole with fruit.
  • Be creative and enjoy!

5. Extras

  • If you have extra frosting, use kitchen scissors to cut a strawberry in quarters without severing them.
  • Fill the middle of the strawberry with the cream cheese frosting.
  • Top with a blueberry.

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Ciao for now!

Fourth of July Fun

Fourth of July Fun

Yesterday was, of course, the Fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day! It’s a day full of patriotism, colors arrayed with red, white, and blue, and tons of fireworks. I had such a fun 4th of July this year because my mom and aunt came to visit me in Baltimore.

We walked around the city shopping, talking, and eating. Eventually, we ended up in Fell’s Point for lunch where we dined at Barcocina on the water. To start, we ordered an appetizer of crab guacamole and it was delicious. For our meals, we decided to order 3 different types of tacos (Korean Beef, Charred Lemon Fish, and Lamb Gyro) to split, because each taco order came with 3 tiny tacos, and we also split the Green Mango Quinoa Salad which I loved because of how refreshing it tasted on a 95 degree day.

By the time we made it back to the apartment, we were hot and ready to rest. But I got to work finishing up my patriotic dessert surprise: a yellow cake filled with spots of strawberry flavor and topped with cream cheese frosting and fruit. It’s an incredibly easy recipe, and I’ll be writing a post on how to make it if you want to try it out. It will be up on Sunday, so be sure to come back and check it out. It’s festive for the Fourth, but it’s good for just about any occasion.

By the time it was dark outside, we were rested and well fed. All that we were waiting for was the fireworks to go on at 9:30 over the Harbor. (What’s better than fireworks on the Fourth of July?) So we played some American jams while we were waiting on the balcony (Springsteen’s Born in the USA , Martina McBride’s Independence Day, and then the classics like the Star Spangled Banner etc.).

Finally we started to hear the thundering and crackling of fireworks, and we sprinted down near the lighthouse with everyone else to get a prime viewing spot. There’s something magical about a fireworks display because it’s as if nobody can be unhappy in the 15-20 minutes they’re bursting. It’s as if time stands still and that moment is an explosion of color and admiration. It was a great Fourth of July, and I want to share it with you all. Enjoy!

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Down at Fell’s Point
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I bought a new hat at Anthropologie… lol
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My patriotic and delicious cake

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I hope you all had a good 4th of July… Ciao for now!

Brunch and Munch in Boston

Brunch and Munch in Boston

Now that the weather is getting warmer I’ve been venturing into Boston more. A couple weeks ago, I went for a birthday brunch with a friend at this adorable restaurant called The Friendly Toast in Cambridge, MA. The decor was really wacky and retro with cartoons, comics, and old fashioned artwork all over the place.

Even the menu was weird and wild, in the best possible way. It was just my scene! I ordered The Monster Breakfast which comprises “two ‘mini’ pancakes or two French toast, two eggs any style, home fries & your choice of meat.” I chose the French toast with scrambled eggs and sausage. It was so good that I ate too much at the beginning and ended up taking half of it home with me… which was great because that just meant I got two meals for the price of one… exactly what brunch should be!

My friend ordered King Cakes which is described as “two “mini” pancakes with bananas & chocolate chips inside & peanut butter in between, with real whipped cream on top; encircled by a side of bacon (or turkey or vegetarian bacon, but Elvis will roll in his grave).” I got to try a bite of it and man did it taste good! If you’ve ever had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, it’s like that but 5 times better because instead of bread there’s pancakes, and theres chocolate in it too. Basically I wanted to order the whole menu but had to restrain myself.

The waitstaff was fantastic as well. My server, Alex, made sure to check on my table frequently enough that my coffee was refilled before it was empty but long enough that my conversation wasn’t being consistently interrupted. Even though it was packed to capacity, Alex was consistent in her attention to our table, and always had a smile on her face. I noticed similar things from the waiters at the tables next to me. Something I will say though, is that the wait time is super long. Luckily, my friend Jess had placed a reservation on an app on her phone before we arrived, otherwise it would have been over an hour wait.

I love finding new restaurants and this one was perfect for a quirky foodie like myself. If you’re in the mood for a change in scenery or simply want to enjoy a delicious brunch, The Friendly Toast is a must try. I know I’ll definitely be back!

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Ciao for now!

Tampering with Tampa- What To Do If You’re Passing By

Tampering with Tampa- What To Do If You’re Passing By

If you saw my last blog post, you’ll know that I recently went on a cruise out of Tampa, FL and it was fantastic! This post will be dedicated to sharing a couple fun things to do in Tampa if you’re only there for a short time. If you’re waiting for a flight or you’re just passing through, there is a bunch of neat places to visit in Tampa.

The Florida Aquarium 

If you like the water and all things sea life, I suggest checking out the Florida Aquarium. My mom and I went for the morning before our afternoon flight and we spent an enjoyable and informative couple of hours exploring. Here’s a tip: it’s cheaper to buy tickets online than in person. I used my iPhone to go on the aquarium’s website and bought the eTickets online for a few bucks less than if we had bought them at the ticket counter. We arrived right as it was opening since the aquarium is about 100 feet away from where our cruise docked, so the place was pretty empty.

What’s also great and convenient is that they stored our luggage for us so we could walk around unencumbered. We spent the first forty-five minutes looking around the gift shop and watching two 15 minute short 4D films. The first movie was about sea creatures and we were spattered with bubbles and misted with water as we watched. It was pretty cool. There was about 10 minutes in between the films so we sat outside in the sun and just enjoyed the day while we chatted. The second little short film was a sequel-type film to Happy Feet and the little theater was filled with a bunch of mothers and their toddlers. It was cute.

Then we walked around and saw some stingrays, which I got to touch, a seahorse, and other cool sea creatures. They were feeding the sharks and other big fish as we sat down to look in the large tank, and we learned what they all ate, and in which part of the tank their specific feeding area was. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was field trip day for the entire Florida school system and tons of groups of children began flooding the aquarium.

We took that as a sign that 2 hours was enough time to spend at the aquarium, and we scooted on out. It was around lunch time when we left and my mom had looked up a celebrated restaurant for us to try in the historic Ybor city part of Tampa. Even if you’re not hungry, this is a really neat part of Tampa to visit because it is where all the immigrants (mainly Cuban, Spanish, and Italian) went during the early 20th century, and it’s home to many old cigar factories. Mainly, Ybor City is just a really cool place to visit. it has a bunch of bars and restaurants to entertain you for a couple of hours if you’re passing through.

The Columbia Restaurant

We took an Uber from the aquarium to The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, and it was as if the restaurant took up the whole block it was such an impressive place. Once inside, I felt like I had entered an aristocratic 20th century house. They, like the aquarium, were good enough to store our suitcases. The waiting area is like a foyer in a beautiful home with dark wood and lovely artwork. The restaurant itself is composed of a number of rooms, each with its own kind of theme. The room we were seated in was large and bright with beautiful chandeliers, old timey artwork, and a loft area above on the side with more seating options. All of the waiters are dressed in fancy dress: black jackets and pants with dark bow ties over crisp white shirts.

It was a wonderful atmosphere and one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve eaten in. The food was to die for as well! I ordered The Original Cuban sandwich with a cup of  the Spanish Bean Soup. The sandwich was delicious but the soup was my favorite. It was so tasty and flavorful that I wished I had ordered a whole bowl. We ordered empanadas as an appetizer and they were served piping hot and yummy!

For dessert, I ordered hot fruity tea that was filled with flavor, and my mom and I split an order of churros. The churros were so good we ate them all. They came with 3 dipping sauces: chocolate (my favorite), caramel, and berry.  Overall, the meal was amazing, and I would recommend anyone who wants to enjoy a delicious meal in a classy establishment visit the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. (They have other locations in Tampa as well, but this is the original.)

To digest our food after that heavenly but hefty meal, mom and I took a walk down the street, reading the history of Ybor City on the signs posted on the street. By the time we reached the end, it was time to head to the airport and end what was a wonderful Spring Break. If we’d had more time, maybe we would have gone to the beach, to the Busch Gardens, to the zoo, or visited one of the many museums that Tampa has to offer. I guess that just means I’ll have to go back!

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Ciao for now!

Hangin at the Langham

Hangin at the Langham

December

For the past two years, my mom and I have taken a yearly trip into Boston the week before my finals at college. It’s a really nice tradition that we’ve started and very generous of my mom to do this for me. Last year, we stayed at The Taj in Boston which was lovely and beautiful. This year, however my mom booked us a night at The Langham in Boston. Because it was around Christmas time everything was decorated in such a festive way, with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. The room was quite spacious as well, with two queen beds, a little sitting area, and a nice sized bathroom. The window was on of my favorite parts of the room because it was slightly slanted and had a gorgeous velvet curtain to cover it.

After we checked in, put our belongings in the room and rested a bit, my mom and I decided we should venture out into the 13 degree Boston weather and explore the city on out way to dinner. But, while I may live in Boston most of the year, I am not the best at navigating the city. I was able to take us from the hotel to Quincy Market, which we looked around at, but from there I was lost. We eventually just started walking in the direction that we believed the North End to be in. My mom had found a nice restaurant for us to eat at in the North and this is where our adventure began. It was a chilly walk in heels for both of us, but we were so excited to be hanging out to care that the wind was whipping our hair all around our faces. A twenty minute walk later and some sore feet and we had made it to the restaurant, Antico Forno.

After walking through the door, there was a velvet curtain we had to walk through to get into the restaurant and once through we were greeted with a rush of warm air and a smile from one of the hostesses. It was pretty busy in there, but since there were only two of us we were seated within ten minutes, which is very quick for a popular North End restaurant on a Friday night. At our table, we looked around and admired the crackling fireplace and warm lighting that surrounded us. Once our server came over, we ordered some drinks (wine for mom, water with lemon for me), and were given complimentary bread that was amazing. We ordered some calamari for an appetizer which was delicious and we ended up finishing all of it before our meals even arrived, as well as all the bread we were given. For dinner, I ordered the Linguini al Frutti di Mare which is essentially pasta with seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari). My mom ordered the Linguini con Puttanesca. We eat devoured as much of our pasta as we could because it was delicious! I unfortunately could not finish all of it since I’d eaten all that bread and calamari, so I got the rest of it wrapped up to go and brought it back to the hotel.

Once we finished dinner, my mom and I took the scenic route back to the hotel, stopping by the winter market outside Government Center. It’s essentially a little circle of wooden stalls that sell all sorts of homemade things. For example, some sell homemade hats and scarves, others sell soaps and perfumes, more sell handcrafted jewelry, and others sell food. It’s a cute little place to look around spend some time listening to live music. Although, since it was around 8 o’clock by this point and pretty cold out, we didn’t stay long. From the market, we walked back to the Langham where we put on our bathing suits and headed to the pool and hot tub for a nice relaxing night dip. The pool closed at 10, so we stayed from 9:00-9:30, during which time there were only two other people there and the hot tub really warmed me up from the cold winter air. After we left the pool area, we went into the sauna to dry off for about five minutes, and then we walked back to our room.

When we got to the room, it was a nice surprise to see some chocolates on the pillow along with the weather forecast for the next day on a pretty little card under the chocolates. After each taking a shower in the spacious bathroom, we spent the rest of the night watching Hallmark Christmas movies on TV and chatting. The next morning, we decided to have afternoon tea as a brunch. So at noon, we walked down to the lobby and into the dining area where we were seated on a couch and presented with a tea menu and our options. I had the peach tea which was nice and refreshing, while my mom went with the classic Earl Grey. There were three courses: tiny sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and mini desserts. Everything was so good and filling that I had to take the rest of the little cakes to go. Below I’ll show some photos of the different foods we were served, along with the tea (although the scones were so tempting that I didn’t get to take a photo before devouring them). While we sat and enjoyed this amazing experience, it was snowing outside, so we watched out of the large window as the snowflakes drifted down from the sky and landed heavily in the street. The snow covered the city in a blanket of quiet and white. It was quite a pretty sight to see as I sat sipping tea and eating  tiny cucumber sandwiches.

Unfortunately, after tea it was time to leave my beautiful respite from school work. We checked out of the hotel and my mom drove me back to school. I brought a piece of my night with me though in the form of the leftover pasta and the tiny tea desserts. Overall, I have to say that the staff at the Langham were quite friendly and the atmosphere was very nice and festive. The only issue we  had was that we were told we did not need to make a reservation for afternoon tea when we asked at check-in, but the next day when we arrived all the tables had been booked, so we were seated on the couch. It worked out well since we liked sitting at the couch, but we would have made a reservation had we known. Also, if anyone out there loves chocolate as much as I do and has the time that I did not have, there is a chocolate buffet at the Langham where you can eat as much chocolate as you like. And if you’re worried about all those extra calories, they have a nice gym to workout in. I thoroughly enjoyed my little vacation with my mom out in Boston and at the Langham, and I would recommend the hotel for those with a sweet tooth and a liking for nice atmospheres.

 

Leave a comment of your favorite spot in Boston!

Ciao for now!

 

Venice Diary- Week 4

Venice Diary- Week 4

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 Diary-Week 3

Venice Diary-Week 3

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 Diary- Milan

Venice Diary- Milan

June 17, 2017 Saturday

A group of us decided to go to Milan for the weekend. So we had booked our bus tickets the week before and found an inexpensive airbnb that was a two minute walk to the famous Cathedral and could fit the seven of us. At 7am, we all took the vaporetto to the bus station, except we got off a stop early because we were concerned we would miss the bus since the vaporetto was going pretty slowly. We had to walk along the road with our suitcases in tow and the sun beating down on us, but we arrived in time to get on the bus. It left at 8:15 and we got there at 8:06. It was a four hour bus ride, but luckily it was air conditioned and I had brought some reading to do. By the time we made it to Milan, we were all ready to get off and explore. But, we still had to take the subway to the center of the city where our accommodations were. As we were waiting, Iulia decided to buy a coffee out of the coffee vending machines that seem to be everywhere in Italy. The subway arrived and we got on…except for Iulia. We called out to her to hurry on, but the doors closed and we sped away right as she started towards us. So, when we got to the stop we had to get off at, we waited around for Iulia. Finally, when she found us we all walked towards our hotel. Once we got there, we had to wait since our room wasn’t ready yet, so we went out and got some coffee and food. By the time we finished, our room was ready.It was a nice apartment-type place with a loft above the living room and kitchen. There were some problems with the place, like the handle to the bathroom door falling off, but overall it was a good place for seven college students to spend the night. \

After everyone had put their stuff down and claimed their sleeping spots, they went out to either explore or shop. My back was hurting from some mysterious illness that had plagued me the entire day and made it difficult for me to walk, so I stayed in and FaceTimed my parents. When everyone came back around 20:00, we got dressed up and went out to dinner. We walked to a restaurant about 15 minutes away from us called Salsamenteria di Parma. Because there were so many of us, we were seated downstairs at a long table. What they are known for however, is serving wine in a bowl. So, I and a couple other girls had Lambrusco in a bowl with our meal. I ordered eggplant parmesan which was good but too much for me to finish. After dinner, we sat around the Cathedral, which was beautifully lit up, and listened to some street musicians play. By that point, I was tired after the long day so most of us went back to the room, while a couple girls decided to try to find a club to go to. We all ended up going to sleep around 1am.

June 18, 2017 Sunday

We woke up around 8am so that we could make it to the Cathedral before we had to check out. It is the largest church in Italy (since the Vatican is in the state of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world. There is a very strict dress code to get in, and some girls had to go and buy a shawl for about 2 euro from the shop where they sell the tickets to enter. Luckily, my outfit was appropriate so I was able to right in after I bought my ticket. There is security that checks your ticket and belongings before you go in, but after that you get to enter this gorgeous church. It was so open and elaborate, although nothing like the outside facade. There were lovely stained glass windows, tombs to dead bishops, and a list of all the bishops that had presided over the church for the past 1,000 or so years. Because it was a Sunday, there was a Mass at 9:00, which we unfortunately could not stay for because we had to check out of our hotel. So we left the Duomo di Milano to do that.

We were able to leave our luggage for the day, so after we checked out we went to the Castello Sforzesco just to look around. It was really nice to see, and if you walk through it, there is a park right behind it. We spent a lot of the day at Sempione Park. We split off and walked through it on our own. Everything was so green and alive. There were tons of flowers, some ducks in a pond, and people playing sports in the grass. Plus, it was a gorgeous day, sunny and hot. I really enjoyed just looking around at the beauty of nature. Eventually we met up at the Napoleon arch where we took some photos. As we were walking back through the park, we stopped to get some refreshments. I got pineapple juice which was delicious and refreshing. We sat in the grass in the shade and just chatted for about half an hour. It was a really enjoyable moment.

We made our way back to the Cathedral area where we again split off, and I went shopping with some friends. I didn’t buy much, but it was fun just to look at all the shops and see what was inside. By the time dinner time rolled around, I was so tired. We met up at a nice restaurant on a busy side street and all shared some meats, cheeses, and bread for dinner. With some wine of course. After we had finished our meal, we had to hurry to make it back to the bus station on time. (Can you see the trend in our inability to be on time?) Luckily we did make it to the bus, after a heated and packed subway ride. Unfortunately, this bus was not air conditioned and the ride back seemed much longer than the ride there. But make it back we did, and with memories that will last a lifetime.

IMG_2589Me filled with excitement upon arrival

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These are the (slightly eaten) sauces we had to dip our bread into with our meal

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The famous bowl of Lambrusco

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Ciao for now!

 

Venice Diary- Week 2

Venice Diary- Week 2

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!