17 1 / 2012

Gondola ride in Venice, Italy.

14 1 / 2012

Christmas in Verona, Italy. 

10 1 / 2012

Trento, Italy. 

15 12 / 2011

PORTUGAL! Probably my favorite place I have been so far. Once my cousin picks me up at the airport on Wednesday, I already feel like I’m home. It’s weird to finally be in the place where my father grew up. I’ve heard stories and seen pictures from my family, but there is nothing like actually being there to experience it all. This is the trip that I had been looking forward to since I left the states and when I stepped off the plane, I can’t even describe to you how I felt. This was just something I have always dreamed of doing and to actually be doing it was unreal. Although we only had a few days together, my cousin made sure that I saw as much as I could: We went back to his house and had a home cooked meal. Ahh, how I have missed those. You can only live on pasta for so long… We drove up this mountain in Sintra, climbed through the woods and Kevin showed me this place that him and his friends would go just to hang out and play music. After walking through the woods in the pitch-dark, we climbed up this huge rock and saw the most beautiful view I have ever seen. The lights from the entire city of Sintra lit up the sky but since we were so high up and in the middle of the woods, everything was completely silent. I have never felt more at peace. Walked down the beach of Cascais. Saw the Boca de Inferno, or “Hell’s Mouth.” Went to Cabo da Roca, which is the most Western point of Europe. Waved to America, which is technically straight across from that point. Saw a car with “Saudade” written on the back of it. Apparently this word is the only term Portuguese people use to say “I miss you.” Saw Quinta da Regaleira, which is the residence of Carvalho Monteiro where all these intellectual people held meetings and performed secret rituals. This place was creepy but the history behind it was so interesting. You should google it, it’s pretty cool. Hmm, then we went to this bakery called Piriquita and had the most delicious pastries on the planet. By the way, Lisbon has some delicious food. Oh man. Climbed to this castle called Castella di Peninha. Ate fried sushi at this place overlooking the ocean. I thought I hated sushi, but this stuff was good. Casually got to watch the national Frisbee team play on the beach right below us. Bar Rialto at night. Amazing experience. Went to an aquarium! Saw a million beautiful statues that were scattered around Lisbon. Went to a dinner at Pateo de Alfana, where traditional folk dances of Portugal and Fado was performed while you ate. Amazing. I bought a CD. Walked the streets of Lisbon and heard some amazing street artists perform. And then I had to leave at 5am. It was really hard for me to leave. By the end of the trip, I felt like it was my home away from home. Damn, I need to go back. 

11 12 / 2011

Stayed in the best hostel in all of Madrid. If you’re ever in Madrid stay in One Malasana. It’s the shiz. Visited the Royal Palace. Walked to Sol and had the most delicious crepes on the planet. Protesting everywhere because they were having a presidential election and a lot of people didn’t like either of the candidates. Ate croquettas at this adorable Cuban restaurant. Watched some live music at an Irish pub. Stayed up until 9 am with people in the hostel. Was undefeated in some Venezuelan card game. Tried Vegemite. Gross. Painted some of the hostel’s wall (They were renovating). Saw the President of Malaysia stroll by in his carriage. Nbd. Tried Jambon—apparently they’re famous for this type of ham? Not many people speak English here. I found that out of all the places I’ve visited, people in Madrid speak the least amount of English. Saw Bernabeu stadium. Got on a flight to Lisbon. Fell asleep, woke up 45 minutes later and realized that we still hadn’t left the airport. I was going to ask someone what happened but then I realized I didn’t know how to speak Spanish. So, I fell back asleep. 

02 12 / 2011

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Rome, Naples and Pompeii with my class. In that one week, we visited so many ancient ruins, I cant even begin to list them here so I’ll just list some of the coolest things that happened. okay, here goes… Too many mopeds. Saw the Roman Forum. Had one of the guards that can’t move wink at me. ha! Went to the Colosseum real quick. Listened to a vespers service at a monastery nearby. Saw the crypt of the monks that have died. They used the bones of these monks to make chandeliers and decorate the entire space. So weird but amazing. Ate dinner at Il Giardino di Albino and had the most entertaining waiters. Bought the CD of the dude that sang and played guitar for us the entire night. Free breakfast at the hotel. Mini Nutella packets. Yummmm. Ate lunch on the top of the ruins of the Trajan markets. Saw a graphic reconstruction of an ancient roman house. We couldn’t even take pictures because the excavations were so recent that it hadn’t even been published yet. Searched for small Roman flea markets. Found a carousel instead. Ate dinner with friends at Spaghetteria L’archetto Pizzeria. Met a guy that was visiting Rome because of a religious retreat and he told us that this place apparently has the best creme brulait in Rome. He was right. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican! Took a picture of The Last Judgement even though we weren’t allowed. Badass. Threw a coin in Trevi Fountain. A friend faked a proposal in front of the fountain in order to get a big applause. No one noticed… Learned how to beat-box. Sort of. Saw Saint Peter’s through a keyhole at the top of the Aventine Hill. Gave a presentation on the Pantheon, in front of the actual Pantheon. Whaaaat?! Karaoke night at Scholars. Hello America! Ate a delicious, giant pizza in Napoli. Ate lunch in one of the first Roman theaters ever built. Wake up and head over to the Herculean Ruins right next door to our hotel. Get VIP access to sites that are still being excavated. Who am I?

07 11 / 2011

Two days ago, I visited another two islands in the Venetian lagoon: Burano and Torcello. First, we stopped at Burano: The island know for their colored houses and lace-making. Legend has it that homeowners would paint their house a distinct color so that when they were heading back from sea on their boats, they would be able to spot their house. Even though it was cloudy during our visit, the houses made it seem like a beautiful day. After, Burano, we stopped at Torcello: the island with about 20 residents. Torchello used to have the largest population of Venice until the lagoon became filled with silt and was considered laguna morta (dead lagoon). Today, the majority of the island is abandoned, except for the square that holds the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and Attila’s Throne. All of us sat on Attila’s throne. Apparently, if you sit on the throne, you’ll go back to Torcello one day. We tried to break into an abandoned bell tower and climb to the top, but then we realized there weren’t any stairs inside. Cool. Played a quick game of hide and seek on the 45 minute boat ride home to past time. Ahh, Italy. Why are you so damn beautiful? 

07 11 / 2011

04 11 / 2011

Last weekend I visited two islands of the Venetian lagoon, Murano and St. Michele. Murano is known as “the glass island” because people there specialize in glassblowing. The legend is that when these glassblowers lived in Venice, they kept burning down houses by accident, so they were told that they had to live on a separate island. So, now they do. I got to go into a glass blowing factory and watch the process of glassblowing and it is awesome! We all ate at a small outdoor restaurant and I tried squid ink pasta. Sounds gross but it actually wasn’t too bad. From there, we visited St. Michele, Venice’s cemetery island. Originally a prison island, St. Michele is now an entire island made up of tombs. It sounds a little creepy, but it is actually the most peaceful cemetery I’ve ever been to. You can see the great amount of time that is put into making each tombstone perfect. We happened to visit just as the sun was setting, making it that much more beautiful.

31 10 / 2011

VIENNA, AUSTRIA!

Took a really long bus ride to Villach and then a really long train ride to Vienna. Saw snow. Drank traditional Viennese beer: Ottakringer. Sang Allstar by Smashmouth with a friend at a karaoke bar. Went to the Naschmarkt and looked at cool vintage things. Bought an old, leather bag that used to be a soldier’s from the Swiss Army. It still has his name written inside and everything! Watched Salome at the Staatsoper. Ate sachertorte, which is this chocolate cake filled apricot jam inside. Sounds weird but its pretty good. Found urban gridded earrings (they’re these round earrings that have a blueprint of your favorite city engraved in them). Stephanson cathedral. Ate McDonalds. Sat down to eat our McDonalds meal when an employee came up to us to tell us a joke. “A man walks into a bar. Ouch.” That was it and man, did he think it was hilarious. Watched Family Guy in German. Ate Wienershnitzel Visited Karlskirche and got to go up on a lift and see a panoramic view of Vienna. 

Vienna was actually one of my favorite places that I’ve visited. The people there were extremely friendly and laid-back. I wouldn’t mind living there at some point in my life. Just one small problem: I’d have to learn German. Rough.