I have been M.I.A this semester, and I send out my deepest apologies, but your girl is extremely busy these days! But, amongst it all, I have updated my portfolio to show off some of my digital art I have created in my classes (that I am so very proud of), so take a look peeps! Under portfolio click “digital art.”
2015 will always be remembered in my heart as the year I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy. 1 semester, 112 days, 17 different cities/countries, and 6 best friends later, I can say that they were the best days of my life. These people and these places have changed me forever and will remain in my heart forever. The best 3 and a half months shoved into a 15 minute video will never do my experience justice, but here it is!
…And that is exactly what I did. Interlaken and London completely blew all and any expectations I had. Both destinations gave me unreal experiences and were a great way to book end a semester of unbelievable adventures. It’s hard to believe that those were the last weekend trips I would take, but they were, unfortunately.
To the baes of all baes, to the freshest place I’ve ever been (yes, fresh), I love you. Interlaken was my favorite place no doubt. Every time I say that, people don’t really understand why. But, I really did leave my heart in Interlaken.
First off, it is the prettiest place I have ever laid my eyes on. It wasn’t snowing yet, so Fall was at its finest. The leaves were all different shades of green, orange, yellow and red and the weather was chilly, but not too cold. The blue skies were a shade I’ve never seen before, and the air was so pure and FRESH, it was and insane feeling. I felt like every time I took a breath God was forgiving every sin I’ve ever committed and all my worries were washed away. It’s one of those places that give you a “pinch me” moment where you look and think how big and beautiful the world is. Imagine having, like, a thousand of those moments every time you walk outside.
Throughout the weekend, we walked around a lot, drank too much hot chocolate (who am I kidding, can there really be too much hot chocolate?) and did some cool things. Interlaken means “between the lakes”, so it literally is a city in between two lakes and beautiful mountains. We went and took pictures where they beautifully intertwined. This view was by far my favorite. When you looked out, it seemed like it never ended. It was endless water and mountains for days.
The next day, we did an adventurous ropes course. That was so much fun and also really difficult, much to my surprise. It was nice to do something active, considering I have been a lazy bum the past three months. We did obstacles up in the trees and also did a zip-lining course. We had some laughs and got some bruises, but it was a great morning. On Sunday, we went paragliding. Paragliding was UNREAL. Easily the coolest thing I’ve done in my life. I felt like I died and went to heaven. After running off a cliff high in the mountains and hoping the parachute would catch you, I drifted through the mountains for 10/15 minutes. In the video, I literally never stop smiling. I’ll have those views etched in my head forever, it was really unforgettable.
Interlaken will forever be my favorite place. I’m convinced I’m having a winter wedding now just so I can go there for my honeymoon. Too far? No, not far enough, people.
For thanksgiving weekend, the gang and I headed to London, England. When I asked my friends to describe London, most of them said something along the lines of magical and enchanting. And London is just that. I felt like I was in Chicago, but at the same time, it is something entirely different. The British accents echo down the streets and the beautiful city architecture is something you can’t peel your eyes away from.
Of course Thursday night we made reservations to have Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t my momma’s, but it was so nice to be with my Roma family sharing an American thanksgiving dinner. We had a lot of fun, even though we were packed in the booth like sardines. That night we indeed did follow Robert Pattinson for about 10 minutes (10 minutes too long). Nothing else. Just followed him. Didn’t say hi. Didn’t ask for pictures. Pretty dumb but also pretty cool.
We saw almost everything London has to offer tourist wise-Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Bridge, the changing of the guards, Winter Wonderland, the London Eye, and everything in between. We also perfected navigating the Tube, which was a great accomplishment. It was a great weekend with my favorite people. We lived fabulously British!
It is amazing how quickly the days go by while I have been abroad. You have a countdown to the weekend and to the place your going next, and then all the sudden it’s in the past already and you’re writing about it. If I haven’t already said it enough, I have had such an amazing time so far. Sometimes it’s so surreal, and I really can’t believe where I am. Although I miss home very much, it’s scary to think I only have 32 days left in this beautiful part of the world. I know my heart will always be here and with the breathtaking places I have seen. Anyways…as I said, I will be telling you all about my adventures in Florence with my Mom, Barcelona for Halloween weekend and Paris.
If you want to be treated like a queen and get spoiled for a week, take my mom and her friend Lena on vacation with you. Seriously, these two gave me such a great week and some much needed family time. Sadly, my mom was suppose to arrive on a Sunday but her flight got cancelled till the next day. They say everything happens for a reason right? So, as she arrived on Monday we got straight down to business. We walked around Via del Corso which for those who know my mother know that it is the Michigan Avenue of Rome, so of course we dedicated much of the day there. Mom spoiled us of course! After walking around and seeing everything like The Spanish Steps, I showed them around my neighborhood in Trastevere and we went to dinner.
The next day started our week adventure in Florence. Florence was amazing as usual. It was my second time there this semester and I definitely got a better look at the city which made me love it all that much more. My mom and Lena got up and ran every morning so they saw some beautiful things, while I of course slept in the most amazing hotel room I have ever been in (Thanks Lena!). They even ran, not walked, up the stairs to the top of the Duomo. (RT IF YOUR MOM IS BETTER AT LIFE THAN YOU). We were in Florence from Tuesday to Friday and while we were there we walked a bunch, ate some great meals, drank a lot (a lot) of wine, and discovered the most amazing biscottis we have ever tasted. So good that my mom purchased 90$ worth of them before we left. Yes, you read that right. 9-0. That’s a pair of shoes. But hey, do it for the biscottis right?
It was a great week with my mom and my new favorite person, Lena. I will never forget the laughs and good times we had together. You too, Dee! It was great having them here, and I miss them already. Cause they’re not regular moms. They’re cool moms. Lol. K bye.
For Halloween weekend, we went to Barcelona, Spain. I’m so glad I spent my favorite weekend of the year there. We had so much fun! We met up with a lot of friends from home so we had a great crew the whole weekend which made it that much more awesome.
First off, I would like to tip my hat off to Barcelona for appreciating the concept of brunch. What more can I say? We ate good that weekend. I loved the food, but considering how much I missed Mexican food it was not that hard to impress me. The tapas were also amazing. Once again, I could have eaten McDonalds and thought it was fantastic. (I talk about food too much. My apologies)
Besides the eats, Barcelona was a blast. We walked around a bunch on Friday and just explored the streets. We went near the beach and just appreciated the sunshine for a while. After checking out some street vendors, we took a nap then took on Barcelona night life. This bar called Dow Jones, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of, was really neat to experience considering everybody talks about it. The whole concept is a market and prices of drinks, beers, and shots go up and down every minute or so. So everyone waits and buys their drink of choice when it’s at its lowest price. Or, you could be like me and be too impatient and just buy it whenever.
The next day, we visited Park Guell. Park Guell is a park, as the name gives away, consisting of beautiful architecture and gardens that reflects Gaudí’s amazing mind. The park was so beautifully unconventional. The interesting shapes and colorful mosaic was something I had never seen. We also attended the park while the sun was going down, so the view was actually breathtaking. Cue Giana losing her phone and us chasing it down on Find My iPhone, all-in-all it was a great day.
My favorite part, Giana, Deirdre and I dressed up as dead triplets for Halloween. Dressing up was the best part of the night. We then went to Razzmatazz, a club, which was INSANE. The place is, like, 6 stories high with a different DJ in every part. We did a lot of dancing and had a lot of laughs. Definitely one of the funnest nights abroad.
First off, I’d like to send all my love and prayers to the victims of the heartbreaking events in Paris. When I found out while I was in Interlaken, my heart broke and mourned for the families and friends who not only witnessed this atrocity, but those who lost their lives. It’s hard to believe that such ugly things can happen in such a beautiful city.
And Paris is just that; beautiful. My sister and I took the weekend there and had so much fun. It’s the city of love, from the language to the people, we witnessed that. The first day we were there, we walked around and of course went to the mall. The mall was actually really pretty, too. It definitely was no Oakbrook. It was already decorated for Christmas so so the huge tree in the middle and the lights sprung from the ceiling made the shopping experience magical. We of course went to Chipotle, even though we don’t even like it. But when you go 2 months eating pizza and pasta, anything works.
On Saturday, we did all the touristy things. We visited Notre Dame, the Louvre, put a lock on the bridge, and my favorite, went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. That was a 3-hour journey, but a worth while one. After waiting in line in painful shoes, we finally began the trek of taking elevators and stairs up to the top. Once at the top, we had a beautiful view of Paris at night. It was a surreal experience to be on top of such a well known tourist attraction. Sunday, we went to the Andy Warhol Exhibit. His art is more in my league of interest, so being there and learning about his way of art was very interesting.
What a wild ride it has been so far! Sorry for the delay on the blog post , I’m busy traveling the world, duh! The past three weeks have definitely been one for the books. I’ve traveled to three different countries the past three weekends, sounds weird right? It’s surreal to go from life at home to go to living in Rome during the week and traveling on the weekends. I do love me some Elmwood Park, but this part of the world completely has me in awe everyday. Anyways, I am excited to share with you my journeys to Munich, Venice and Prague!
Three weekends ago I ventured off to the land o’ beer, Munich, Germany. In Munich, we obviously attended the glorious Oktoberfest Friday and Saturday. Oktoberfest is much what you would expect; it was a lot of people in a good ass mood drinking a lot of beer. Random people would come up to you and scream “PROOOOSSSST” (cheers) and clink their beer to yours so hard that it would spill beer all over. I wasn’t complaining because how could you? SO…the beers. They are HUGE. I heard about them and how much just one can get ya feelin’ a little wobbly. I wasn’t buying it at first, but by my second one I was ready for bed. Not to mention, the beers were so heavy my right hand was actually sore. That also may be because I have midget hands. Jury’s still out on that. The food was also amazing, chicken and pretzels galore which was a change of pace to the usual pizza and pasta in Rome. Classic german songs echoed in all the tents and cheering ensued anytime anybody stood on top of a table to accept the challenge of chugging their beer. Which, some should have sat out considering they would chug then puke it all back up in their cup. Sorry for the visual, just be thankful you didn’t witness the horrible sight in person.
I chose to forego the costume, but everyone else pretty much wore it which made the whole experience that much more fun. Seeing everybody partake in the same celebration in the same way from all over the world was a really cool, for lack of a better word. But it was actually really cool. The whole scale of the celebration was way bigger than I expected and the happy moods everyone was in was infectious.No matter the language, “prost” was international language everyone understood. The whole festival was a great experience, and I know I’ll be back to experience Oktoberfest in all its glory once again.
On a different note, Sunday was dedicated to learning a little something about Germany. So, we ventured off to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp. This experience was something I will never forget. The whole trip seemed a bit morbid, but it was definitely something I wanted to learn more about. I learned about it my whole life in school and movies, but actually going to the place where these atrocities took place was mind-boggling and left a mark on me. As soon as you walked through the front gate to the camp, an eerie feeling came over me as everyone just looked around in absolute silence and awe. Walking on the same ground where thousands of people died from such cruelty and dreaded being there each and everyday made it very hard to accept the fact it had turned into a tourist destination for many. A place that nobody every wanted to be, is now somewhere we can freely walk in and out of. After walking around and observing, we entered the museum where we learned about the whole history and saw actual remnants of what was left: clothes, personal belongings, bathrooms, the sleeping arrangement and much more. The condition these innocent people lived in was absolutely unimaginable and pictures and videos was evidence of that. The whole day will be something I will never forget and I forever look a this time in history with a different mind set.
All in all, Germany was amazing!!!!!
So, two weekends ago, my sister and I visited my dad’s friends and colleagues in Venice. It was a short trip, but it definitely was nothing short of amazing. Aha see what I did there? Anyways. After we arrived on Saturday, Ali and Max (dad’s friends, keep up) picked us up from the train station and we walked to our glorious seafood lunch. As stated, it was glorious. The five or six course meal (can’t remember, might even be seven) was sooooooo delicious. From risotto to carpaccio, which they made right in front of us, it was one of the best meals I had so far. After lunch, we explored the beautiful Venice. Walking around Venice, similar to much of Italy, was like walking in a painting. Actually seeing gondolas and the men singing and all the quant bridges and side streets supplied us with a breathtaking walk.
After walking around for a while, we drove to our hotel in Bassano del Grappa, a truly hidden gem (Bassano is where Max lives). At a foot of a mountain, this town looks even more like a painting than Venice. The blue skies and the green trees put a smile on my face instantly, I couldn’t look away. After taking a nap, Giana and I met up with our hosts and had some drinks in the town center. We had our first spritzers, which the jury is still out on whether or not we enjoyed them. The town was very lively and very fun because we were there when there was a huge festival going on. A lot of younger people filled the streets which made it very lively to be around. For dinner, we decided on getting some street food and enjoyed some delicious porchetta and sausage sandwiches. Nothing fancy, but very good nonetheless!
The next day we took a trip to Verona before we headed back to Rome. Verona is small, but mighty, as I would like to say. It reminded me of a very sophisticated, classier, smaller version of Rome. We visited Juliet’s house/balcony and watched everyone sign there names on the wall with their significant other. I wish I could have spent longer in Verona, I definitely want to go back before I go back home. Mainly because the shopping was unreal. Hehe.
It was a short trip, but we had so much fun! I want to thank Ali and Max again for taking care of us and showing us the beautiful Venice and Verona!
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Prague, Prague, Prague. Where to even begin. Well I will start off by saying that Prague is my second favorite place so far to Positano. That may be because they have a Starbucks around every other corner. Just kidding. Maybe. Anyways. Giana and I arrived in Prague later on Friday and explored the city. Between the weather and the pumpkin spiced latte in my hand, I was getting a little taste of home that I was missing in Rome. There was not much time to sight see when we got there, so we went to the mall (lol) and then got some dinner before returning to our hotel Friday evening.
Saturday was a very busy day in Praha. After getting our “American” breakfast (appreciate scrambled eggs back home ya’ll) we went to Old Town Quarter. As the name of it gives away, this is the historic center of Prague. Between historic churches, statues and even the oldest astronomical clock, this square is certainly something to look at. People gather around the clock every hour on the dot to watch the clock change. We also took a trip up the clock tower to see a beautiful view of Prague. Besides the sight seeing, Giana and I took a trip to the Chocolate Museum and the Wax Museum. If you want to be highly creeped out, I think the Wax Museum is your place. If you like overdosing on chocolate and waffles and ice cream, the Chocolate Museum is your place. Later in the evening, we took a walk to the Charles Bridge and of course the John Lennon Wall. The Charles Bridge was beautiful at night with all the lights reflecting in the water and the Lennon Wall was also something very interesting to see in person. Everything taste good too! One of my favorite things from Prague is the Trdelník. I couldn’t really find the words to describe it, so google is here to save the day: “You may come across vendors selling a cylindrical pastry called a trdelnik. These are often sold hot with a dusting of cinnamon, sugar, and nuts. Sweet and a little flaky, they’re an inexpensive snack that will warm your fingers and satisfy your sweet tooth.” If that description didn’t leave your mouth watering, you aren’t human. All in all, Prague was amazing and I am glad that I checked this place off my list of destinations.
Stay tuned this upcoming week to hear about my adventures in Florence with my momma and her friend Lena! With only 7 weeks left here in the beautiful Europe, I’m wandering off to Barcelona, Paris, Interlaken, Ireland, and London (in that order). I can’t believe how fast it’s all going and I absolutely can’t wait to see the rest of the world.
TLC was wrong; you should most definitely go chase waterfalls or anything remotely as cool as them. Sorry that joke is really played out. This is going to be a long one as I talk about my two beautiful weekend adventures in the Amalfi Coast and Croatia…so let’s get to it!
Amalfi Coast: Capri, Positano, Pompeii
Two weekends ago I took a trip to Amalfi Coast, Italy. I’ll just start off by saying that this place is a breathtaking paradise. Amalfi is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It was like being in a painting for a whole weekend. I definitely was not complaining. We arrived on Thursday night, got some rest and awaited a full day in Capri/Anacapri on Friday.
It goes without saying, Capri was everything you would expect and more. First, we enjoyed an early morning boat tour around the island. Unfortunately, we were not able to go into the Blue Grotto as the tides were too high to get into the little cave opening. I was bummed about that, but the rest of the day made up for it. After getting off the boat, we walked up to the chair lift to Anacapri. That walk was awful and sweaty and not enjoyable. But, after drinking some delicious granita and retail therapy, we were ready for the chair lift. The chair lift was amazing and I would recommend to anyone who lives for good views. There really is not much more to say about it. The ride up is peaceful and the views are some of the best I’ve seen in my life. When you got to the top of Anapcapri, you get a view of the whole shoreline of Capri. After enjoying a beer and taking copious amounts of pictures, we took the ride back down. As for the rest of the day, I got some shoes made (right in front of me!!) at the famous Carlo’s, ate some delicious canneloni in their place of origin, and enjoyed a night out in downtown Sorrento, where we were staying the whole weekend.
Positano, Positano, Positano. This place deserves all awards. Out of all my experiences abroad, I think this day will my number one/forever in my heart/my favorite/my love everything to me. (EDIT: I was right, this was my favorite).First, we got a group together and rented a boat. For 20 euro each (I mean come on, my Starbucks order is more expensive than that), a pleasant man names Massimo took us around for 2 1/2 hours to the most beautiful caves and grottos. It was the most unreal day of my life. We were popping champagne, driving down the coast, jumping into caves, climbing rocks, seeing grottos. It is unexplainable how unrealistically beautiful it was. I felt on top of the world, and I was getting a tan, so what could be better? Our driver also took us to this local hotspot club that was built into a cave. It was insane; just a casual club in a cave that we were casually offered to get chauffeured to and back that night (we didn’t take the offer, Mom would be proud). After the boat, we laid out for a couple more hours. PSA: I tan really well under the Italian sun which I think is really great to know for future reference. All in all, it was just by definition a beautiful day. If I could re-live that day over and over I would. I will be posting a video at the end of the semester of all the videos from these places so you’ll be able to see some of the beautiful things I saw.
On Sunday, we visited Pompeii which was actually pretty uneventful. We did not go on a tour so I was a little confused what I was looking at, but still it was interesting to see all of the preserved bodies and what not. We also went into the whore house, which had vulgar paintings on the wall. The men would point to it and the women would have to do whatever the position was. It was pretty interesting to learn about how differently women were treated back then. That wrapped up the Amalfi Coast trip! It was a great weekend and definitely an experience I will never forget.
CRoatia:Split & Krka National Park
This past weekend we took our first trip outside of Italy to the coast city Split, Croatia. We left on Thursday and embarked on a 14-hour bus ride from Rome to Split. Yes 14 hours on a bus. It is not my ideal way of travel, but once I was there I forgot all about it.
The first day, Friday, we just walked around and went to the beach. It was a relaxing day, as it should be considering how exhausting the bus ride was. After getting some great dinner (I had a tuna burger!!), that evening was an organized bar crawl. The bar crawl was a lot of fun. We only made it to two bars, but I’m convinced there was no bar after the second one. I’m also convinced they tried to trap us in the first one. The first one was an open bar with a bunch of tables with games of beer pong and flippy cup. I felt right at home. It entailed a lot of teaching foreigners how to play which is always really fun. After meeting new friends from all over the world, (shoutout Moose, I miss you), we called it a night.
On Saturday we went white water rafting in a river I can’t remember the name of! It was such a good day. I don’t know how else to describe it besides it being just a good day filled with so many laughs and memories. We arrived after an hour bus ride, got our swim shoes on, life vest and helmets (and completely looking like nerds) and embarked on a three hour journey down a beautiful river. After learning the ins-and-outs of rafting from our beautiful lead Ivan, we were pros. The rapids were not big by any means, which I’m ok with. I wasn’t too interested in falling in/injuring myself/working too hard. We stopped a couple times to swim and one time to jump off a cliff which was actually so much scarier than I thought it would be. After rafting, we got free lunch! I ate trout that was caught right then and there from the river and then cooked for me. It was delicious. That evening we ate SUSHI!!!!!! I can’t explain to you how exciting that was considering I cried a couple days before about how bad I wanted sushi. It was really good. We did not really have an eventful night out because we had a 7 AM wake up call. I sat on the edge of the marina with some champagne, my girls, a camera and some good conversation. What else could a gal ask for?
Sunday was also a great day. On our way home, we stopped at Krka National Park which is known for their waterfalls. It was a crappy rainy day, but nothing could stop me from going swimming by the waterfalls. This was one of the times, like Positano, where I just looked up and could not believe what I was doing or where I was. It is something you see on the Discovery Channel or on those travel magazines. And I was there! Definitely a “pinch me” moment. After taking too many pictures for my own good, we enjoyed some lunch and then embarked once again on our 14-hour long journey home.
I have had such great weekends and can’t wait to see more of the world. This weekend, I am going to Oktoberfest in Germany!
Ciao tutti! Because all of you care soooo much (s/o mom), I will be writing blog posts (surprise) about the amazingly breathtaking things I do, see and eat while my time abroad. For those of you who don’t know, I am studying abroad in the beautiful Roma, in an area called Trastevere. My campus, John Cabot University, is right along the Tiber River. I live in a dorm/apartment with my twin and Sally Garvey and it is awesome! Now that my introduction is done, here is what I have been up to!
After what seemed like a lifetime of traveling, we finally arrived here two weeks ago, today. The first week was all about getting acclimated, a lot of sleeping and a lot of eating the most delicious food. Everyday consisted of eating un panino, pasta or pizza and going out to Drunken Ship in Campo de Fiori every night. Drunken Ship is already my favorite place as I already know all the bartenders by first name and beating Italians in beer pong is now my favorite past time.
Our first weekend here we decided to take a day trip to a beach town called Anzio. Anzio is a quant little town where I’m convinced not one person spoke english. We took the train for the first time which was fun and we of course got some delicious gelato. Anzio was definitely a learning experience. After we arrived, we were really confused how the beach worked. We did not know if it was a public free beach or if you had to pay for a chair so we just sat down and hoped for the best. Nobody came up to us, which is surprising after all the stares we got because we were clearly standing out like sore thumbs compared to all the other Italian women. After seeing one too many old men in speedos, we called it a day and returned home.
This past weekend I visited Firenze for the night and saw my girl Dee Haefner. Florence is just as beautiful as Rome and I can’t wait to go back for a whole weekend and do more sight seeing. We saw Il Duomo in passing and when I go back I would love to climb to the top. We stayed in an cute little Airbnb flat in the center of the city. Side note, Airbnb is awesome, and I suggest it to anyone studying abroad. In Florence I had my first encounter with a Kebab, and it was fabulously delicious. I also bought two full pizzas and a Nutella crepe. SO much for #nocarbsummer.
Well, that is pretty much all I have been up to so far. Starting next weekend I will be going to some pretty cool places like Amalfi Coast, Croatia and Oktoberfest. I am really excited for what else these 3 1/2 months have in store and feel so #blessed and #thankful for this opportunity.
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