Monday, April 29, 2013

All Dem British Boyz

Spent the weekend in Londontown! Judith and I departed Wednesday night and arrived in Brighton at approximately 2 am to visit Judith's friend Paige at the University of Sussex, and I am so glad we did because we got to experience the countryside of England, including most importantly cows and border collies. In the morning we went to a rocky beach! It was so exciting to see the ocean. Oh wait first more importantly we got big coffees. Then we went to the beach and drank our coffee on these lovely chairs...until some guy told us we were supposed to pay for them so then we left and headed to the Pier. In the afternoon we climbed up a hill and into a cow pasture with all these cows to get to this beautiful manor for afternoon tea! Oh my goodness - it was deliciously fantastic. And then we spent some time just enjoying the lovely outdoor weather. That night we went out! After such an incredibly stressful week (never-ending homework, fraud on both the debit cards la di dah) it was so nice to finally relax enjoy the British pub scene complete with cider and this liqueur called Tuaca that you can apparently only get in that area and then head out dancing, my favorite past time of course. We stayed out way too later, but it was worth it. I met a British Red Sox fan on the way home!! In the morning we headed off to London and wandered around the city for the day hitting up Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey. I looked at all of these things, oh and the calvary museum, but have come to the conclusions that I'm quite tired of museums and will definitely avoid churches at all costs for the remainder of my stay here. We had a classic English pub dinner and went to bed early because due to the previous two nights, we were severely lacking in that department. Saturday was absolutely the best. We woke up and headed straight to King's Cross Station for Platform Nine and 3/4!!!! Epic. Then Judith and I parted ways for a bit so I could meet up with my friends Lizzie and Jennie from Bucknell!!! It was so incredibly nice to see them! Lizzie and I had first lunch together and then second lunch with Jennie and her friend Carolyn, also from Bucknell. Afterwards, Jennie, Carolyn, and I headed to the Tower of London for an awesome tour with a funny tour guide and to see the Crown Jewels! It was so nice to have some Bucknell in my life. I was quite happy. Then Judith and I met back up for dinner and headed back to our apartment because we had some figuring out to do. With an 8 am flight, yep we had to take a 5:30 am taxi. And with a four hour layover in Spain it was quite the day of traveling. Thankfully I was very productive in the airport because I'm certainly not doing any work now, and will probably finish a movie before I go to bed because I'm still quite wired. Cheerio!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

5k's and THE ZOO!

Today was an awesome Sunday. In the morning, four of my friends and I ran the 5k at Padova's marathon and the whole event was dedicated to Boston. There were SO many people there, although I must say it was a tad bit disorganized (was there even a clock? I don't know) and also they were playing this song at the end: Ummm hello that's the slow motion running song!?! Doesn't make sense - I'm supposed to finish fast. Anyway, it was cool to experience it and we took a great picture with both the flags. Then in the afteroon Mary Grace and I went to the zoo with our Italian friends who are sisters Linda and Laura!!! It was raining off and on, but it was better I think because the animals were very active. Maybe too active. A tiger jumped up on the glass at us and the lions were following us WAY too intently to feel comfortable. There was essentially no one in the park except another group of friends and one family. But we got to see lots of favorites (including peacocks and black Australian swans!!) and the cutest cutest baby lemur. It's fun to experience things you experience in the U.S. in another country otherwise you never know if they are different! Afterwards we went to Linda and Laura's house for dinner. Linda and Laura are amazing. I feel so incredibly comfortable around them and my Italian just flows - I have no reservations. It makes me really sad to think about leaving them because I never thought I would make such good Italian friends over here. So we have to make the most of our time left!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Field Trips on Field Trips

Yesterday we took a program field to Parma. In the morning we toured the church and some other room (okay it was called Camera di San Paolo) but let’s be serious I’ve seen approximately 346 churches now, so let’s skip to the good part. For lunch we went to an Italian culinary school and had an absolutely amazing lunch that was prepared by the students. There was a TV that had a live feed to the kitchen so that you could see everything they were doing! And the food was oh so amazing. After we got a brief tour of the school and stopped in on some of the classes but we had to wear these awesome little white outfits so we didn’t contaminate anything. It was fantastic. In the afternoon we drove to this other little town and toured a castle that has the only optic room in all of Italy, which means that this little room uses prisms to spy on the outside streets! So cool. It was a long long bus ride home, but we decided to celebrate Italian life and have our first meal in the piazza at nighttime. The piazza is full of tables and Italians and it’s just amazing and so fun. So of course it rained in the middle of our dinner and we got moved under the sidewalk but it was all good. I went hope and sort of got to bed early except Tommaso was telling me all about this krazy teacher he has as I was laying under the covers ready to fall asleep. But I had to get up early this morning because I have a field trip to Ferrara with my Italian cinema class. We have been studying Michelangelo Antonioni and there was an exhibition about this life and works because he was born in Ferrara. It was honestly amazing. First of all, our professor Guilia is so sweet and kind and fun to be around so it was awesome to spend the day with her and she was a great tour guide. It will be difficult for you to appreciate this, but we talked about Antonioni’s movie “Blow Up” in class and watched the final scene. In order to understand the rest, you must now watch this video of the ending scene (but actually do it and make sure the volume is decently loud): Basically, this ending asks the question what is reality and how do we really know. So we were walking through the exhibition la di dah and Guilia tells us that there is an installment outside. So we open the door and there’s just an empty tennis court with the sounds of a ball being hit back and forth. We went wild. It was so cool. So we pretended to play tennis and it was epically awesome. After lunch we got a tour of the castle (which is also featured in some of the films that we have studied) and it featured some pretty neat prisons. My friend Amanda and I then left because we were tired and had already been to Ferrara before while the others stayed. Once back in Padova we bought a ton of junk food and I stored my a new store in town that my friend Kayt’s house dad owns because it was the store’s inauguration so the dad’s band was playing and there were snacks and stuff which was great. Now I am sitting here on a Saturday night about to do so much work it is not even funny because I can’t keep up with everything in my life so I’m behind. Such a good little student as always (are you reading Mom and Dad, but especially Dad?).

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung in Padova. The weather switched so fast that although it is spring to Padova, it is summer to me. The problem? Italians think you still need to wear long pants and a jacket when it’s 65 degrees out, so when you walk around in a sun dress, you get lots of looks, but crazy looks. But I have no choice because I work up a sweat everywhere I go. I would absolutely melt in the summer so thankfully we leave at the end of May. But Italy in the nice weather is absolutely beautiful. My friend Amanda and I just sat in the piazza and ate gelato and people-watched the other day and it was blissfully relaxing. I would also like to touch upon how absolutely surreal it is to wake up and have essentially your home city on the front page of the Italian newspaper. It’s been a weird experience being abroad and having such a terrible thing happen so close to home and having to rely on Facebook to make sure everyone’s okay. I’m so thankful that none of my friends or family was hurt in the bombings, but it is very tragic indeed and I’m quite sad for all those involved. It especially hit home as a runner. Thankfully, we have all pulled together over here. Padova is apparently a sister city to Boston and held a vigil Tuesday night (although I did not attend) and decided to dedicate Padova’s Half-Marathon to Boston on Sunday. A few of my friends and I are running the 5k and I’m excited to be a part of something to show our love and support for Boston.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Who Said You Can't See Rome in a Day?

Well it was actually two and a half. But that's just details. Spring absolutely popped up out of nowhere. The weather was absolutely flawless for an awesome weekend in Rome. My friend Marissa and I arrived at approximately 2:30 and we tore up Rome right away. Colesseum, Roman Forum, stumbled across the Trevi fountain, closed out the Pantheon, headed over to Piazza Navona, then the Tiber River and finally hit up the Spanish steps. Lots of people wanted us to dance with them later - I guess my walk suggest dancing? At night we met up with our friends Lauren and Ashley, who were staying in a separate hotel, for dinner and then we casually popped some champagne in front of the Trevi fountain. It was not a great night for sleep because our hostel liked to have parties and apparently the other girls in our room did not really understand the concept of other people in the room trying to sleep. But that was okay. We got up early and headed towards the Vatican. But first, we made friends with this awesome barista dude right next to the Trevi Fountain and promised we would return the next day. The Vatican was cool - we started a nun count while waiting in line and were quite proud when we counted our 50th nun on the train ride home Sunday. We went into Saint Peter's Basilica and climbed it! The climb was awesome and offered a beautiful view of the city!!! Then we went to the Vatican museums which was ridiculously stressful. You have to walked through these really long corridors as you are absolutely swallowed by endless tour groups just so you can get to the Sistine Chapel. So much claustrophobia. But we were finally freed into the beautiful daylight again and celebrated Lauren's birthday with some much needed gelato!! Marissa and I then headed towards some gardens when after wandering around we made friends with these Spanish kids who were studying abroad in Rome for the year. The best part? This kid Roberto was wearing a Blues Brothers shirt!!! (without knowing what it was so I made fun of him). We chilled with our new friends, even though their female friend Paola was not amused by our adventures but the two boys loved talking to us. We parted ways for dinner so Marissa and I could explore Campo dei Fiori but we picked this restaurant outside the piazza instead. After we met up with Lauren and Ashley again in an attempt to celebrate Lauren's birthday but we were all so tired that we only managed one drink at the bar (though the people at the hostel were legitimately offended that we didn't want to go with them - so bizarre). After a great night's sleep, we started our final day in Rome by heading back to our friend at the Trevi Fountain cafe and having a delicious breakfast. We then headed up to this whole other park area complete with a zoo, but the line for the zoo was too long. However, there was this awesome part of the park just for dogs. We took a lovely nap in the sun (not in the dog park) and just explored some other parts of town. Oh man, we had the best Japanese food for lunch. It was ridiculously delicious. We played an awesome round of people-watching in the train station (hello magenta velvet track suit with sparkles in the hood) before heading back home. It was certainly one of the most non-stressful, relaxing travel weekends thus far.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Perfect Day in Padova

My dream day. I woke up this morning and had my yummy usual breakfast. Then my dad drove Tommaso and I to the river so we could go running! It was an absolutely stunning day. All the Italians were out along the river enjoying the beautiful sun. Then I had two different friends call me because there was a market in Prato della Valle with animals!!! So I threw on a dress and headed over. I took my books but come on, I wasn't actually going to study. Dad, you will be devastated that you missed this but there were so many tractors!! And then animals!!! Goats, and sheep, and CHICKENS and HORSES and DONKEYS. Here we have the mamma donkey, Principina, and her 5-month-old baby Valentino. It was so funny - I was walking around in a strapless dress and all the Italians were still in their winter coats but it was so warm and I'm sick of wearing jackets! I bought this really cool jam that was pumpkin and orange flavored - an interesting mix but very delicious. The guy was really funny calling us beautiful and blah blah. He wanted us to go dancing with his son, who was way too young for us but I told him it was a Sunday and I needed to study ahah. And with that, considering it's 6:00 pm and I haven't started studying for my midterm tomorrow...I'm off to do that. Ciao!

Family Comes to Italy

It has been quite a whirlwind since my last post, and although usually I write a new post as soon as I get home, this time I was absolutely too exhausted and needed two days of recovery first. The family (Mom, Dad, Aunt Nora, Aunt Sharen, and Aunt Sharen's mom Kathy) arrived Friday morning and after much difficulty contacting me without WiFi and communicating with the driver who didn't speak any English, I finally made it to the apartment that we had rented for the week. It was indeed a beautiful apartment, though more like house, with plenty of space and lots of interesting paintings. It was a semi-nice day Friday and we took the long way to the grocery store to buy breakfast for the next day. We miraculously figured out how to take a bus into the center for dinner and ate at one of my favorite restaurants in Padova because it has pumpkin ravioli. So yummy. Saturday it absolutely poured all day in Padova, but we had lots of things to do. We visited St. Anthony's Basilica, Prato della Valle, ate lunch at Otium Cafe, and visited the famous Scrovegni Chapel that was painted by Giotto. We popped into this cafe and had these delicious caramel coffee fancy drinks. . We had a lovely dinner of meats, cheeses, olives, apples, carrots, and of course wine back at the apartment and prayed for better weather. Luckily Sunday was much better and we headed off to Verona to visit the Roman Arena and Juliet's House. But by far the best part was our lunch in the piazza, quintessential Italian life - eating outside with Roman Arena and beautiful park right in view, and Italians strolling by with their dogs, families, and significant others. Just a beautiful, relaxing few hours. Upon returning to Padova, we had another important Italian experience - the pre-dinner Spritz, imbibed outside the bar in a little group as Italians do, even when it's cold outside. Monday, we split up. Dad and I headed off to Gardaland, an Italian amusement park!! Once we had to call a taxi because the bus didn't come, I realized the others may never make it into the center of Padova because there was no way they would be able to call for a taxi without knowing any Italian, but there was nothing I could do about that. Gardaland was cold, but a lot of fun, although Italian roller coasters (they call them Russian mountains) are not quite on the American standard of size and speed. We also went on a few 4D rides. One was supposed to be dinosaurs in 4D...but in the movie we were a timber log going through the process of being chopped up and delivered to the power was SO bizarre. Gardaland also has an aquarium so I was beyond excited, although the sea lion exhibit was closed which was so sad! Thankfully when we returned, the women had made out okay and survived the day in Padova, while successfully eating lunch, visiting the botanical garden, and picking up some cookies! Tuesday we headed to Florence. Unfortunately, the electronic train ticket wasn't working properly and never sent a confirmation e-mail to Dad and I had to argue with the Trenitalia people and the woman wasn't listening and we caused a scene and it was so so stressful and finally 3 minutes before our train left, they called some person to let us on the train. It was a beautiful afternoon in Florence and we check into our absolutely adorable hotel, only 3 streets away from the Uffizi. We visited the Palazzo Vecchio and wandered around the markets and Ponte Vecchio. Then we went to this restaurant for dinner. Aunt Sharen and I noticed that the wine-pourer was ridiculously adorable. At one point he put something on the table and I said "Grazie mille" and he explained that I was pronouncing it wrong, and wrote a different word on my place mat as an example. We decided that I should write him a message in response and I asked our waiter to make sure he saw it. Our waiter told me his name was Leonard, and when we got up to leave he made sure he came over to say bye! Aunt Sharen made sure she took lots of pictures. It was SO embarrassing though - he told me to stop shaking but I couldn't because I was so nervous!! Ahh so cute. Anyway after dinner, Aunt Nora, Aunt Sharen and I were on a bar search but all the streets were deserted - thankfully we ran into some drunk Americans that showed us the way! I had an apple mojito - it was delicious!! Wednesday we got up early to hit up the Uffizi (even though Nora and I were first in line at 1:30 pm) After the Uffizi we climbed the Duomo like rockstars. Then we ate lunch outside next to the Duomo, also awesome, and headed over to see the David. Then Mother was very concerned about the train so we went back to the hotel and got our luggage and went to the train station so that we just made it in hour early. We ate dinner in apartment and geared up for our last day. In the morning we visited the BU office and also the University of Padova where I do my research and take my marine ecology class. Quite frankly, I think I could be in their pamphlet: Then we headed off to Venice and explored the streets and all the shops. We checked out Ponte Rialtio, Piazza San Marco, La Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, and Il Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). Then we found this awesome restaurant which was probably one of the nicest meals we had in Italy and our waiter was so awesome. Venice is such a fun city to explore because once you turn off the main tourist streets there are so many cool turns and little places. Then the best part came - my two families got to meet each other over an absolutely fantastic dinner that my host mom cooked. My family brought crab seasoning from Maryland, Bertman's mustard from Cleveland, Blink, our favorite card game, and of course some honey fresh from Albertini Apiaries. Dinner was so much fun - Tommaso was in prime form, and thankfully I had pretty much told my family everything he could possibly say about me!! There was lots of laughter and fun and it was a fantastic way to end a fantastic week. I am so lucky to have two wonderful families!!