Cruising through Spring Break

Cruising through Spring Break

 

I have never been on a typical “spring break” during my college career. Granted, I am only a sophomore so this was really only my second Spring Break. Last year, I decided to stay at home with my family in the cold New England weather. It was definitely a nice break from my academic schedule, but I did feel like the cold weather was never-ending. This year, I was lucky enough to go on a cruise to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico… with my mom. I know you’re probably thinking it’s strange that a college student would want to go on Spring Break with her mom, but I honestly loved it! My mom is so much fun and I love doing things with her. So, I counted down the days until we would set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

By the time March 2 rolled around, I was ready to get on that plane and head to Tampa, FL for a five-day sun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, the weather in the East was not ready to let me go. By the time I got home from school, most of my friends’ flights had been cancelled due to the nor’easter, so my mom and I were crossing our fingers that our flight would leave as scheduled. I guess we didn’t cross them tight enough, though, because our 6:55 flight was canceled at 2:30. Now, we were a little worried because the cruise set sail from Tampa the next day and if we couldn’t fly there, we would miss it.

Luckily, my dad is a fast thinker and a very smart man, and he suggested that since we were only about 30 minutes from the airport we should just drive there to find another flight. This turned out to be the perfect idea because, although my mom had called the airport/airline and was told there was nothing they could do other than refund out ticket, we eventually found another flight to Tampa early the next morning. (Shout out to Miranda at the Southwest terminal at Bradley Airport because you were fantastic and helped us make our cruise!)

*Flying Tip: If your flight is cancelled and you are close to an airport, I suggest you go to that airport and speak with the people at the airline. Face-to-face contact is more likely to get you booked on another flight than simply calling on the phone because they get tons of calls from frantic flyers. Plus, if you are friendly while at the same time asking if there’s “anything at all they can do,” they will be more willing to try to accommodate you.*

Day 1- Travel and Ship Day

So, early Saturday morning my mom and I set off for Tampa and boarded our cruise. It was so amazing to be on board the ship because there was so much to explore and it was so sunny and warm. We started by looking around and centered on the beautiful atrium in the center of the ship. We sat on a beautiful couch at a little bar and just admired all the details of the boat. Then we decided we should take advantage of the sun, so we changed into the swimsuits we packed in our carry-ons (since you don’t get your luggage until after the ship is about to leave), and lay on the deck chairs. After an hour or so, we realized how hungry we were, so we headed to the buffet and gawked at all the options we could choose from. There was so much food that I think we may have over-indulged that first meal. But it was all too good to pass up.

Around 3:00 we decided to rest for a little bit to recover from our travels and to digest all the food we had just consumed. My mom had decided to get us a room with a balcony, which we’d never done before, and when we entered out cabin we immediately knew it would be worth the extra money. Even thought the balcony was small, it made the room seem so much bigger and added a less claustrophobic feel to the room. Plus, it was nice to sit out there and feel the breeze brush through my hair as I watched the water. Since, we were tired, though, we decided to wait to try out the balcony and instead took a nice little nap. We were awoken by the loudspeaker declaring that everyone needed to head to their prescribed deck for the safety practice. This took no more than 20 minutes, and then we walked around exploring the ship some more.

By the time we were ready for our dinner reservation, our hunger had returned. We opted for the sit-down dinner every night because it was nice to get a bit more dressed up and to be in a restaurant environment for our last meal of the day. My mom requested a window table, and the host graciously accommodated us. So as we ate our food, we were able to watch the sun set over the crashing waves. Overall, it was a perfect atmosphere. After we ate, my mom and I went to a show at the ship’s theater. The performer was a stand up comic, and he was pretty funny. By the time the show was over at around 10:30pm, both my mom and I were ready to turn in. This first day was a long and active one. The beds in the cabin are pretty comfortable and I could not really feel the rocking of the ship as I lay down. I would say Day 1 was a success!

Day 2- Ship Day

Sunday was a day at sea and a very relaxing one at that. The day started with my mom bringing me a cup of tea and a banana to eat on the balcony. Not a bad way to wake up! Then we went for a hearty breakfast at the buffet. We brought our food to a table near one of the huge windows and ate while we watched the sea go by. I have to say, this is my new favorite way to enjoy food. Then we walked around and came across a clothing sale the ship was having and picked out some cute T-shirts and an adorable beach cover-up.  Then we decided to take advantage of the sunny day and went to the front of the ship to catch some rays. I was a bit burned from the day before, so I found a chair in the shade.

After a while, we went back to the buffet for lunch, then tried out the adult-only pool area. This area was covered with huge windows above so that it was warmer but also incredibly bright with sunlight. The pool itself was pretty warm surprisingly and not very  crowded- the perfect swimming atmosphere. By the time I dried off a couple hours later, my mom and I decided that it was tea time. Luckily, right there in the adult area was a little cafe where we ordered some pastries and then made ourselves a cup of tea each. We took our afternoon treat over to the little tables and sat facing the sea as we sipped and snacked. Then we retired to the room for a post-tea rest. I ended up on the balcony just watching water and listening to music. It really was a perfect afternoon.

Before we knew it, it was time for dinner: 7:00. That night was fancy night, so we dressed up more than we normally would- dresses, jewelry, and bright lipstick. The food was delicious as usual, and we took our time to fully enjoy the meal. Around 9:00, we went to see another show at the theater; this time it was a cabaret-style musical. The performers were very good and they all had beautiful voices. After the show, we decided to go to bed early because the next day we had to wake up early. We only had from 8:00 am to 3:00pm at Grand Cayman and we wanted to make the most of it.

Day 3- Grand Cayman Island

The day started early as I sat on the balcony enjoying the tea my mother had brought me and watched as the sun rose over the horizon. Then we got a quick buffet breakfast and got ready to disembark into the Cayman Islands. We took a smaller boat to the shore and then found a taxi to take us to the Calico Jack’s at the Seven Mile Beach (which, fun fact, is NOT 7 miles). We then rented 2 beach chairs with umbrellas for $20 and set up our little slice of heaven. I have to say, I have never seen water so clear and so blue before. It was astonishing! So as I dipped my toes into the crystal clear water, my mom set up the mini speaker we had brought and played some chill beach tunes.

After a little while, I ventured into the gorgeous water for a refreshingly cool swim. My mom had gotten us both snorkel gear (from Amazon) before our trip, so I got to try out snorkeling for the first time and I was not disappointed. I saw tiny little fish and lovely sea life. After a while, I went back to the chairs and it was my mom’s turn to venture into the water. By the time noon rolled around, we were ready for food. My mom went to Calico Jack’s and came back with yummy snacks and some margaritas. It was a fantastic lunch not only because of the food and drinks but because of the absolutely amazing atmosphere which we ate in.

When we finished eating, we stayed at the beach for another half an hour and then decided to head back to the main area. We took a taxi from the beach to the town area and walked around all the shops for a bit. On the cruise, we had gone to a jewelry show the day before and Amanda, the shopping cruise director, had given everyone a huge coupon book and flyers for a bunch of free/ discounted jewelry at each location. So, mom and I went to Effie to collect our free necklace, upgraded to a necklace and earrings set for $10, and then went to Diamonds International to claim our free charm bracelet and charms. One of the cool things about cruises is the free stuff you can claim, and I definitely came back laden with more jewelry than I boarded with. We went into other cute touristy stores as well and got a couple of tee shirts and hats. While we were wandering, we came across a rogue rooster just casually walking alongside us. What a strange and comical sight.

At 2:00, we headed back to the ship so we wouldn’t get left behind when the boat left at 3:00. Back on board, we rested until dinner time. I read more of my book from the beach that day (The Help by Kathryn Stockett if anyone is wondering). We had dinner as usual and then frequented another show. There’s a pattern in our nighttime activities, if you’ve noticed haha.

After the show, around 10:15, there was a really entertaining music and dance in the atrium area. It was 70s night so they played a bunch of ABBA songs and 70s music while simultaneously doing old-school dances. Everyone was crowded around the dance floor and up above in the seating areas on every floor overlooking the atrium. Mom and I were on the 8th floor looking down and singing and dancing along. It was such a lively atmosphere that we were pretty sad when it ended. But we were also tired, so we went back to the cabin for a good night’s rest.

Day 4- Cozumel, Mexico

As usual, the day began with a big buffet breakfast, but since we docked a bit later I got to sleep in for a little longer and was able to see as we pulled into the dock. Mom and I had decided the night before that we were going to begin our adventure in Cozumel with the shopping tour headed by Amanda. This allowed us to go with a group in a free taxi to the center of the city where we were dropped off at Diamond’s International. Here, we received another free charm for our bracelets.

Then we again went to Effie and got another free necklace, this time in a different color, and my mom bought herself a nice birthday present from there. What was nice about going with Amanda, though, was that we could purchase nice jewelry, leave it at the store with our name and cabin number, and then Amanda would come and pick up everyone’s jewelry to deliver it safely back aboard ship. This was great because mom and I did not want to bring the nice new jewelry to the beach with us just in case something were to happen to it. Because of this perk, we didn’t have to worry about anything. After the jewelry stores, we went to the typical tourist stores and bought a couple more T-shirts and souvenirs. At Viva Mexico! they had a free tequila tasting which was something fun mom and I tried.

When shopping had tired us out, we decided to take a taxi to Chankanaab, the beach. Once there, we had to pay to get in, and then we went to lunch at one of the restaurants. What’s cool about Chankanaab is that there are so many things to do; you can go swimming with turtles, snorkeling, and so much more. We were pretty boring people so we just went to the beach and snorkeled on our own. Even just doing this was a lot of fun though! I found a hammock to lie in and read while mom went snorkeling and vice versa. At this beach, there were a lot more fish and a much deeper area of water to explore. There were constantly waiters coming around asking if we wanted anything to drink, so at one point we each ordered a local beer. We left after a couple of hours and headed back to the port.

However, there was so much to do at the port that we ended up staying there for another hour. We got a couple of knick knacks at a touristy shop and then, oh and THEN, we came across the most fun place I’ve experienced: Senor Frog’s Cozumel! (From what I hear, they have these in many locations.) Let me tell you, this was an atmosphere fit for college students on Spring Break, which is probably why there were so many college kids there. They had great music playing, wild waiters, and lots of drinks to choose from. Mom and I ended up ordering 2 Bahama Mamas and while we were waiting for them to arrive, a  waitress came around with shots 2 for $5 so of course we indulged.

Then our drinks came… in the tallest thinnest cup I’ve ever seen. We got to keep both the shot glasses and the tall glass as souvenirs. Our table was right next to water and overall, the atmosphere in this place was so much fun! After we went back to the ship, we got ready for dinner, ate, and then went back to the room to watch a movie and call it an early night.

Day 5- Sea Day

Because this was our last full day, mom and I decided to take advantage of some of the amenities on the ship. We woke up late and had a calm and filling breakfast from, you guessed it, the buffet. At 11:00, we had an appointment at the spa. I had never had a massage before, so I was excited. I got the 75 minute full body massage and facial; both were amazing. The spa service on Royal Caribbean was excellent- the people were friendly and the atmosphere was so calming.

By the time we were done, it was almost 1:00, and it had started to rain. This meant we were pretty much confined to inside activities unless we wanted to get soaked. So, instead of laying out in the sun as we had planned, we went for lunch. After, we walked around the ship a bit and happened upon a Billy Joel “impersonator” in the atrium area. I absolutely LOVE Billy Joel so I was eager to stay and listen. I got some water and stood up top on one of the balconies as I listened to this guy play the piano and sing like Billy Joel, and I softly sang along.

When this was over, mom and I met up and we went back to the room to rest, because doing nothing all day really tires a girl out. It stopped raining late in the afternoon, so we went out on the balcony for a bit and enjoyed our last night on the water. Then we went for dinner and I enjoyed every morsel of food. I do have to say the food on board the ship was excellent every time I ate… which was a lot!

When dinner was over, we went to the 7:00 final show at the theater. It was a fun performance, and the end was very much ABBA heavy. The performers dressed up as the iconic group and the band played a bunch of their songs as the singers belted out a mixture of Dancing Queen, Mama Mia, and more. At the end, all of the performers came out on stage, took a bow, and said what country they were from. Then, almost the whole staff of the ship, or representatives from each department, came onstage to applause from the audience to show our gratitude. One thing that’s neat about Royal Caribbean is that its staff are from all over the world. After the show, we packed up and went to bed.

The next, and last, day on the cruise mom and I set out to enjoy the buffet and the sun for one last time. By the time it was our time to disembark, we had taken our last stroll around the ship and said farewell to our Caribbean cruise. It was a wonderful five days that I wish would never end.

Ciao for now!

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Snapshot of Summer – Italy 2017

Snapshot of Summer – Italy 2017

As a college student, I love Spring Break! It is a nice respite from all the midterms that pop up and the usual stresses of academic life. Plus it’s always fun to get away and leave the cold winter weather behind. I am currently away on a cruise, floating away in the sun and heat. I’m writing this post in advance because I will not have internet while on the ship, which will be a nice change. Of course I will be writing a blog post on my adventures in the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, but for now I thought I would take a look back on my favorite photos from this past summer when I was in Italy. I know it’s random, but I’ve been thinking about the heat and I just miss Italy a lot, plus I thought some of you might like to take a look at my pics. (If you like these, maybe check out my travel Instagram account!) Without further ado, I present to you: Italy summer 2017.

 

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Milan
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Milan
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Milan
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Milan
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Venice
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Verona
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Ischia
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Ischia
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Ischia
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Ischia

Hope you enjoyed the photos, 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 Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

Venice Diary- Meeting Milan for the Weekend

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.

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

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

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

June 14, 2017 Wednesday

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

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

June 15, 2017 Thursday

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

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

June 16, 2017 Friday

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

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

Ciao for now!

Venice Day 9: Canareggio, Canals, and City Streets

Venice Day 9: Canareggio, Canals, and City Streets

June 12, 2017 Monday

This was a rough morning because I was so tired from my adventure in Verona the day before that I started my day a little later than usual. I had to be at class by 9 am, so I woke up around 8:20, put on a dress and sneakers, then met my friends for breakfast at 8:40. We sat outside in the sun and I had my usual eggs, meat and bread, and double espresso. It was a bit more rushed than usual because I had less time, but it was no less enjoyable. In class we discussed the connection between Plato’s Phaedrus and Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice.

After class, I went back to my room and wrote for an hour about everything I had done the previous week. Around 1 pm, I went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and ordered some lunch which I ate outside in the shade with a group of my friends. We had all brought work to do at the table but no one was doing it, and instead we were all conversing and laughing and having an overall pleasant lunch. Since we did all actually have to do some school work though, we cut lunch a bit short and headed back to our rooms. I read and wrote a bit more, until about 3:45. That’s when I and a group of other girls headed into Venice to walk around and explore some more.

We walked around Canareggio looking into shops and checking out cute cafes for a couple hours. We found this adorable little chocolate/ dessert store that would accept our vouchers, so we each bought a little something to satisfy our sweet tooth. I bought a bag of small chocolate and cookie sandwiches that taste so yummy. Gabrielle bought a slice of chocolate cake that was so dark it was black and tasted fantastic. We then went into a nice jewelry shop in which all the jewelry was made from beads and the store was separated by color. It went from blue to purple to pink to red to orange to yellow to white to black. All the jewelry was stunning. Maggie and Francesca each bought a bracelet and then we continued down the calle. We went into a couple of other stores, with people making small purchases every so often and then we got hungry.

We happened upon a tiny restaurant, “Pontini,” right on the water that appeared to be very popular and according to Gabrielle had gotten great reviews online. Because it was busy and because we were a group of six people, we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we were seated. Once we were seated inside (we didn’t get to sit in front of the water unfortunately), we had a chance to look at the menu and enjoy our complimentary bread. I ended up ordering spaghetti ala bolognese. What startled me a bit when I took my first bite was that it tasted so much like my mom’s homemade bolognese! It was also a great portion size, not too much but not too little. Other people got salads (which were huge), a caprese salad, gnocchi, and spaghetti alle vongole. The people working there were so nice and accommodating and even let us pay separately at the end which was a huge help.

After we left the restaurant, we walked to a grocery store on the Grand Canal right next to the Rialto Bridge.  We had shopped here before because they accept our vouchers and we can buy lots of fruits and veggies for a reasonable price. We stocked up on these items as well as some cases of bottled water (which can be expensive to continually buy on the street) and some other necessities. We always make a commotion when we’re paying because we have to figure out how we’re going to add everything up and what we can use the vouchers on. It’s like a scene out of a comedy act where everything is going wrong, but in a comical way. Finally we paid and then trekked back to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop while lugging our shopping bags through the streets.

We returned to San Servolo around 21:30 and parted ways at our respective buildings. I put away my purchases when I got back to the room, did some work, and then relaxed until midnight when, with my eyes drooping with every word I read, I finally decided to go to sleep.

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This area was one of the only ones not overrun by zealous tourists
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We happened upon this area as we were wandering around the city

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The restaurant we went to is under one of the awning on the right
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Street sand art

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 8- Verona, Castel Vecchio, & Visiting Juliet

Venice Day 8- Verona, Castel Vecchio, & Visiting Juliet

June 11, 2017 Sunday

Sunday was the day that we all decided to take a trip to Verona. In order to make the most out of our time there, since we decided on only a day trip, we booked one of the earliest trains there. So, I woke up at 6:30 am, got dressed and ready, and packed my bag with everything I would need for the trip (money, wallet, passport in case I needed ID, camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, chapstick, and some other random bits and bobs). The first vaporetto of the day left at 7:10, and at 7:05 one of my roommates and I were sprinting towards the stop to make it on time. Once on the vaporetto to the San Marco stop, we met up with the other six girls going with us. We were the only people on the boat other than a woman with her suitcase (most likely going to the airport) since it was so early.

When we arrived at the San Marco vaporetto stop, we had to go to another stop in order to take a different vaporetto to the train station (the vaporetto in Venice are like buses in major cities, with certain ones going to specific places in the city). We arrived at the train station around 7:50 and since none of us had eaten any breakfast yet, we stopped into a cafe in the station (after we had located our train of course). I ate a blueberry muffin with a small cappuccino (I know, I know you’re all shocked that I didn’t order an espresso. Sometimes a girl has to change it up a bit). We got on the train in groups as we got our food, and managed to find 8 seats together. About three minutes before the train was supposed to leave, two girls from our group were still not on board. We started to get concerned when, like out of a movie, they walked down the aisle towards us just as the train was leaving the station. Apparently one of them had spilled her coffee and the cafe had kindly replaced it for her, but it was a close call.

During the hour and a half train ride from Venice to Verona, we talked in our respective groups of four and admired the view of the countryside outside the window. When we arrived in Verona, we were met at the station by Francesca’s friend, Joan, who was there taking a class. She showed us which bus to take from the station to get to our first destination: The Colosseum. When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by this beautiful fountain surrounded by lush green grass and sweltering heat. Maggie had Rick Steve’s guidebook from which she gave us interesting facts throughout the day about the various places we visited. At the Colosseum, only a few of us went inside of it while the others waited outside (you had to pay to go in). The “inside” was really a bunch of amphitheater seats in the open air, but it was amazing to see. On the stage there were men setting up a set for an upcoming performance that I think was going to take place there. Even though it was only 10:30 am, it was brutally hot, so I sat down and put on some sunscreen. Then I took pictures along with some of my friends.

After the Colosseum, we met up with the others and made our way to Centro Storico. Along the way we stopped into some of the stores lining the street. Six of us decided to buy some macaroons at a little French pastry shop, then we looked into a perfume store, and finally we made it to Centro Storico. Here, we followed the signs to the house of Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet) and went into the famous courtyard. It was packed with people. There was a mob of people trying to take a picture holding the breast of the Juliet statue because apparently this is good luck in love (I mean Juliet didn’t seem to have too much luck in love considering both she and her lover died, but I guess it’s the myth of Juliet). Naturally we had to partake in this tradition as well. Then, a couple of the girls decided to go up to Juliet’s balcony and take some pictures there, so while they did that I went into the gift shop and bought some postcards as souvenirs.

When we finally left the mass of people in Juliet’s courtyard, we made our way down to Joan’s apartment building where we met up with a couple of her friends. Then we split into two groups of about five people each to get lunch since we all wanted to eat at different places. The place my group went to, Osteria del Bugiardo, was lovely,  had amazing food, and was very reasonably priced. We decided to share a meat platter, a cheese platter, and a vegetable platter which was filling and delicious, and was less than 7 euro each when we split the bill. By the time we met up with the others after lunch it was 2 pm.

We went to a beautiful church called La Basilica di Santa Anastasia. Inside there were beautiful paintings and an incredibly elaborate ceiling that was difficult to look up at but breathtaking to behold. We were also given the electronic tour information electronic device that gave a history of the painting or sculpture I was standing in front of. There was a little chapel in the back where people could go, so I went in and said a little prayer. We left a little while later and walked to the square where the statue of Dante is placed. In it there was a gelato place where I and a couple other girls decided to treat ourselves. I chose a wonderful mix of limone (lemon) and fragola (strawberry) which tasted divine. As we continued down the road and after I had finished my ice cream, we found a beautiful picture location where we paused to take some snapshots. Just off of this were various cafes so we split into two groups depending on what refreshment we wanted. I went to get an espresso to wake me up while some of the others went to get gelato.

After we had some food and drink in us, we brightened up and continued on our way. We found the Duomo di Verona and I went inside along with 3 others, Caroline, Rachel, and Maggie. Inside to the immediate right when you walk in is the small chapel room with a giant basin as the main focal point. To the left when you walk in is a hallway that could go to two different rooms. The room more straight was the area where you can look down and see the exposed foundation, but it also had an altar and some pews set up like a small church. The room more towards the back and to the left was the main Cathedral area which was ornately decorated with the most exquisite artwork, organ, and marble. The dome, which was the main focus, was off to the side in the center. It was  intricately decorated and painted with such pleasing images of angels. After about half an hour of looking around, we left to meet up with the others who were having some drinks across the street.

We decided to end our tour of Venice with the Castel Vecchio before getting dinner which is precisely what we did. We entered under the arched structure after crossing a small wooden bridge. Once across the bridge, there was a magnificent courtyard, so green and lush. After I had bought my ticket, I was told I would have to leave my backpack in a cubby, so I paid one euro (which I got back at the end) to store it in a locked cubby. The lower rooms were all sculptures, while on the second and third floors there were a lot of different paintings from the late 15th, 16, and 17th centuries. Many, if not all, of the paintings were religious in some way, either depicting the saints or depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus (Madonna and Child). They were all really interesting to look at because of how long they have lasted over the centuries. but after a while it is difficult (for me at least) to look at the same concept displayed over and over in each painting. At last, one of the last things we did at the castle was go up to the top where we could see pretty much the entire city and where we could look out into the river below. There was also a brick build walkway that was the bridge between the multiple buildings of this castle where I looked down into the courtyard of the front entrance and was mesmerized by the completely different views.

At this point, it was around 7 pm and we were tired, hungry, and mainly just wanted to take a load off our feet. We went into one shopping store (OVS) for about 15 minutes then headed back to the Colosseum which is where we were first dropped off by the bus in the morning. There, we found a great restaurant right in front with a perfect view of the Colosseum and some reasonable prices. I believe it was called Ristorante Pizzeria Olivo, and the food there was delicious. I ordered some kind of pasta with tomato sauce and eggplant topped with a giant prawn, and it was so good. Iulia, Fidelia, and I also split a tiny bottle of wine that was about 0.375 liters, which was about 1 1/4 glasses each. When we finished our food, we walked to the bus stop and took the bus back to the train station where we then waited for about an hour. While waiting, we looked at the pictures from the day, we talked about what we had seen and done, and I read a bit of Plato’s Phaedrus for class.

The train arrived around 21:50 and by 22:00 we had departed Verona. Unfortunately, this train was a fast train and we had assigned seats in different cars so we had to split up. But, luckily for me, Iulia and Maggie were also in my car and it was pretty empty, so I abandoned my assigned seat to sit with them. It was a pretty tame ride where we joked and chatted the hour away. But, there was some commotion when someone came to check tickets because this group of people sitting a few seats away from us did not have any tickets and were escorted out of the car. After they left, I heard some raised voiced and then never saw them again. Other than that, not much else transpired. By the time we arrived back in Venice, it was about 23:15 and we knew we were not going to make the 23:30 vaporetto back to San Servolo. That meant that we would have to wait another hour for the 12:30 vaporetto, and by this this point in the night we were all exhausted. So we took the vaporetto from the train station to the San Marco stop, then transferred over to the San Zaccaria stop. The half hour ride there wasn’t too difficult because I sat outside and looked at Venice by night under the beautiful, almost orange, full moon.

We waited at the San Zaccaria stop for about 45 minutes, during which time I continued to read. Everyone was so tired that we passed the time pretty much in silence. When the vaporetto finally arrived around 12:45 am, we shuffled on and looked out into the night as we rode towards San Servolo, our home. After such a long day, I was glad to be back. But, because there are three of us sharing a room, I did not get to shower until 1:30 am and didn’t go to sleep until around 2:15 am. But even though I had class the next morning, it was all worth it to see the beautiful city of Verona.

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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 4: La Salute, Splitting Up, and Sunny Skies

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

June 7, 2017 Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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La Salute

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

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Ciao for now!

Venice Day 1: Stepping off & Sightseeing in San Servolo

Venice Day 1: Stepping off & Sightseeing in San Servolo

For the next month, I will be in Italy learning about the culture and taking a class on literature about Venice at the International University in Venice. As a way to preserve my memories and experiences, I decided to write them down in a travel diary along with the many pictures I will invariably take.

June 4, 2017

I arrived at Marco Polo airport around 11 am Venice time feeling exhausted, gross, and sleep deprived yet nevertheless excited. I met the representative for my college outside baggage claim where I and 12 other students waited to be shuffled off into a bus that would take us to the water. Because there was a regatta on the airport canal, we had to take a bus to the water where we then got in a water taxi that drove us to the island of San Servolo. The ride over was amazing because the view of Venice from the water is incomparable. By the time I arrived at this island, it was 1:30 and now I was not only exhausted and gross, but I was also very hot. I waited in line at reception to get my room key and then headed over to the farthest building to the room at the farthest end of the building. When I got inside, I saw three beds, each with a nightstand, a long desk with a TV, and three wardrobes, along with a bathroom. I immediately tried out the shower and emerged feeling refreshed. I said hello to my new roommates, put away my clothes in the wardrobe, then subsequently fell asleep for two hours.

When I woke up, met up with one of my friends and together we walked around a bit, saw that there was a wedding reception going on, then continued on towards the room where we and the other students would be meeting with our professors. Once there at 6 o’clock, everyone filled out some necessary paperwork, handed in important documents, and got to know the people around them. Around 7 pm, we all headed down to an airy room that opened into a courtyard and had an amazing view of the water through the windows. Here we spread out over four tables and ate our dinner. This meal was set up along a long table where you could choose from cod, octopus, stuffed pepper, risotto, eggplant with sauce in a cup, fruits, breads, and an ice bucket filled with different kinds of wine and drinks. There was green apple juice laid on the table in a clear bucket that looked really pretty. Everything not only looked great, it also tasted delicious. When  the meal was over, I took a walk around the grounds then headed back to my room where I eventually fell soundly asleep after a long but rewarding day.
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Ciao for now!