The French Riviera — Nice, Eze, Monaco

I knew when I came to Europe I wanted to go to Nice. I have seen so many movies that have taken place there and loved it from just a brief glimpse of it. When I booked this trip to the French Riviera I knew I could really embrace Nice and the rest of the beautiful attributes this region had to offer. Shortly before leaving for Nice, the weather forecast had nothing but rain in store for us for the weekend. The three of us had actually debated on cancelling the trip, but figured it would be better to go see Nice in the rain than to not see it at all. It was the best decision ever.

My flight with EasyJet was far more enjoyable than any flight I have taken with RyanAir. I fell asleep on the plane before take-off and didn’t wake, not even for a minute until we landed. And the flight from Rome to Nice was only an hour. Short and painless, and no hassle. We arrived in Nice and I instantly felt welcomed. Directions to our hostel were very spelled out and easy to follow. Upon our arrival we noticed we were just off set Massena Place, a landmark that came highly recommended by almost everyone who has ever been to Nice. And I could see why, there were beautiful statues and plenty of room to stroll and not to mention various restaurants and retail locations that stopped us in our tracks. We flew in separately from our tour group who took a bus, so we had some time to kill before they arrived. We found a cute restaurant by the name of Cassa Missa, and had a huge menu. Nice being extremely close to Italy, there is plenty of Italian influence as far as cuisine and culture; that part of France was actually apart of Italy once upon a time. I got a salmon stuffed ravioli with cream sauce, and it was delicious! Now, we are in the French Riviera…it was a little expensive. But oh my it was worth it, they gave you a boatload of food to the point where you are almost stuck in your seat.

Massena Place

Fountain at Massena Place!

First meal at the French Riviera! Salmon Ravioli mmmm :)

Our hostel was pretty nice, I really enjoyed myself there. Like most parts of this trip, it was contrasted perfectly with a combination of every trip I have been on since in Europe. It reminded me of the Hostel I stood at in Barcelona as far as who were staying there, and along with the meals they cooked for us, and then it reminded me of the Pink Palace in Greece due to the full service bar and Happy Hour. Nice itself reminded me of Florence and Porto put together. The city was small and relaxing, with so many tucked away shops and places to eat, whether it be dinner or desserts, or clothing or jewelry. It was quaint, yet packed with culture. This is precisely what I envisioned Europe to be.

The next morning, we had a walking tour of Nice at 11am. It was very brief, but it really showed us the way around the city so much so that we didn’t even need a map while we were there. We went down to the pebble stone beach and saw all of the gorgeous rocks that blanketed the shoreline and of course the crystal blue water. As someone who has never been to a tropical island before, this was my first time seeing water this blue. It was absolutely beautiful. Our tour continued and he showed us some ancient monuments as well as the open fish and flower markets, both of which the biggest in France! We were then taken into the home of a Royal French Family which has been turned into a museum, this beautiful structure had the entire group in shock of how beautiful someone’s home was. We all herded at the bottom of the steps and listened to our tour guide, at the end of the steps on a post was a hand crafted stone knob that everyone was fascinated by. Before heading up the stairs our tour guide said “and it is believed if you touch this stone if gives you fertility!” as you can imagine everyone’s hands flew off the knob immediately! The tour concluded here, and now that we saw the immediate surroundings of Massena , my two friends and I decided to venture off on our own and explore this beautiful city!

The Pebble Stone Beach!

Along the beach, gorgeous blue water!

Inside the Muesem/Palace!

The cascades were visible from every end of the city, we decided to go and find them! But first we all wanted to get some lunch; is it bizarre that some of the bext sushi I have had was in France? We saw a very highly recommended sushi place and decided why not! Of course, it’s the French Riviera, everything was a little bit more pricey but the food was delicious! And for the first time I have ever seen they had a dessert sushi roll, with Nutella and strawberries wrapped in a crepe!

Setting up the mountain of Nice to the cascades was a lengthy, but leisurely process! We found the entrance at the foot of the mountain, and started making our way up. With each platform we looked out into the horizon and saw the beautiful scenery start to emerge piece by piece, and before we knew it we were at the top. And all of the little bits and pieces of scenery seemed like particles of dust compared to the macro view of Nice! Yes all of these pictures are necessary!

On our way up!

On of the times we looked down!

Just one piece of the final view!

And another!

Pathways we took to the top!

Finally at the Cascades, but at the top YET!

Here it is! But not all of it...

This is it!

Even More!

On our way down, we found a gorgeous garden with just unbelievable stone work complementing them. The great thing about Nice, is that there isn’t too many tourists. In Rome, you can count on at least 3 dozen tourists ruining your gorgeous pictures, but here we got to spread out and really capture the scenery and take SEVERAL pictures! I’m not into nature at all, I hate flowers because I am viciously allergic to pollen and terrified of bee’s, but this was something I really loved and enjoyed about the South of France!

Gorgeous Gardens!

Us Three in the Garden!

Smelling the Flowers :)

The next day we departed for a day trip to Eze and Monaco…now we’re talking here. Unfortunately this day was the day the rain was supposed to hit the hardest. Thank God for umbrellas! Nothing was going to stop me from seeing and experiencing the French Riviera! Our first stop in Eze was tour of a perfume factory called Fragonard, an exclusively exotic perfumery that creates its own fragrances, soaps, lotions and oils…no imports OR exports, you can only buy it here. Needless to say the tour guide of this factory absolutely hated her job, but the tour was spiced up when we got to sample the scents and choose our favorites. You can definitely tell the exclusiveness in the fragrances because this perfume was strong and perfectly proportionate with different scents. The smell didn’t knock you on the ground due to the pungency, it was noticeable enough that one or two sprays were efficient. A bottle the size of a tic-tac container was 26 euros, again I needed to remind myself was in the French Riviera!

Fragonard Perfumery!

 

The perfume tour concluded and we still had about an hour or two to kill in Eze, we decided to walk up the mountain to the exotic cacti gardens. It was down-pouring and gross but what were my other options? We get to the gardens and I immediately gratify myself with toughing it out in the rain. The gardens were on different tiers that just layered on-top of another. The scenery along with this exotic layout of cacti and gorgeous plants just blew my mind.

Cacti Garden

More of the Cacti Garden!

The view from the cacti garden!

Now it was time to get on the bus to Monaco, this would be the mecca of this gorgeous region we know as the French Riviera. We soon found out why this was considered the playground of the Rich and Famous. Monaco is its own country, like the Vatican. It’s the second smallest country in the world next to the Vatican. It is also one of the most wealthy. With 77,000 per captia, its no wonder why this place looked like royalty. We were present in the palace Grace Kelly stood in, and saw many different monuments relating to previous kings, queens, princes and princesses. We have heard too much about the Monte Carlo Casino, so we found the quickest way there. Walking up to this casino looked like I was going to need a draw bridge to get to it because it looked like a castle! All of the surroundings were so colorful, there were flags and numerous fountains surrounding the casino. I have never been in a casino before, so afoot the nicest casino in the world was definitely going to blow me away. Of course they didn’t allow cell phones or cameras into the establishment, but I don’t think I will be able to erase what I was seeing. It honestly looked like I was walking through a palace where the Queen of England would live. We decided to get a drink, since none of us knew how to gamble. Belini’s seemed appropriate and it was certainly the most delicious drink I have had to date..again forgetting in the French Riviera, MONACO no less, our champagne glass of half juice was 19 euros. At least I can say I had a drink in the Monte Carlo! I pressed my beginners luck on the slot machines, I ended up winning 18 euros off of 10, then lost it again when I tried to win more; maybe I shouldn’t gamble haha!

The Monte Carlo

One of MANY Ferrari's outside of the Monte Carlo

This rainy day took a lot out of us, and we were unfortunately leaving the next day. We took it easy this night, and went out to dinner to a restaurant we stumbled upon while looking for another restaurant. There was outdoor seating and we saw a mans plate that looked like it was to die for! With no hesitation we walked in and grabbed a table. This was probably the best meal I have had ever since being in Europe. It was provolone baked spaghetti with a tomato sauce with eggplant. And they served you the pasta right in the pan they made it in! we all received ENORMOUS portions and did not stop until our plates were cleaned. I haven’t been this full since Thanksgiving! Holding our stomachs and exclaiming how full we were, the waiter brought us over complementary glasses of Limonchello. Very much needed. We looked over to the door and saw this restaurant was nominated for various awards for several years in a row, this was in fact a good find!

The most amazing pasta!

The next day, was our last day…we weren’t happy! The sun was actually out so we took advantage of if and walked on the beach and enjoyed how much more gorgeous the scenery was with the sun out! We sat and had lunch on the beach and was floored by how impeccably blue the water was. We sat there and soaked in the last of trip to the French Riviera.

Drinks by the beach!

The sunny blue water! Yes this was taken with my friend's camera!

 

Next Stop: Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii

Corfu, Greece

After anticipating this trip since the first month of being in Europe, we are FINALLY en route to Greece! Everyone in my residence who signed up for this trip had been raving about going and how excited we were to do this. The itinerary and the location itself was enough to make anyone count down the days until this trip!

We left from the train station in Rome, Termini, and endured a 5 hour bus ride to the port, where we picked up a cruise ship. We were scheduled to be on this cruise ship for 14-18 hours…we needed to find something to do. Over 400 study abroad students came on this trip, even though we left from Rome, students from all over Europe came to Rome to do this cruise to Greece. The cruise ship was pretty nice, I have never even been on a cruise ship before so this is all brand new to me. There were little shops, plenty of lounges and bars, a full service restaurant, and even a nightclub on the top deck! I have friends who have been studying in Florence and we have been playing cat and mouse our entire time abroad, and all 3 of them were going to be on this trip. I had everything to be excited about. I couldn’t wait to just get right into it!

The Ship!

 

Of course, we’re on a cruise ship so everything is more expensive. But we found this Greek Tequila that seemed to be the cheapest option that everyone was using…..NASTY. But after a while no one needed any alcohol to have a good time, we were all mingling with the other 400 students on this boat, getting to know one another and making connections. I FINALLY found two of the three girls I have been trying to meet up with since I have been abroad, Chelcie and Erica. I spent the majority of the cruise over hanging out and catching up with them and meeting their friends as well as meeting new people on the boat. We were practically jumping up and down when the boat finally docked in Greece! After a short ferry ride to Corfu, we were greeted with busses that took us through the mountainous island of Corfu. Oooing and ahhing at the gorgeous views, we finally arrive at The Pink Palace. I wonder why they called it that…

Why they call it the Pink Palace!

 

Finally met up with Erica and Chelcie!

The sun was shining bright as can be and we were all waiting in line to be checked in. Talk about chaos! We settled in our rooms and hit the beach! Our resort itself was on a hill, a very large hill! We made the trip down to the beach and saw all of the lively spirits and horse play starting up. It’s as if everyone got a huge wave of energy once we step foot off the bus. Everyone was on the beach, mingling, drinking and tossing around a football. People were in the water, taking pictures and playing in the sand. This has American spring break written all over it. As I’m laying in the sun, I hear my name called. I turn around and its my childhood friend, Julie, who I have also been trying to meet up with since I’ve been abroad! After freaking out for about 5 minutes me and her got to catching up, and meeting each other’s friends. After a few hours at the beach, everyone left and started to get ready for the night. Happy hour at the Pink Palace was from 7-11, with all drinks just one euro; they were all about us having a good time! Happy hour began and everyone is in the mood to party. There’s happy college students everywhere and the night was just beginning. After feeding us drinks, The Pink Palace served us our free dinner. This place is supposed to be a Youth Hostel, but the services and amenities could have fooled me. This place was better than any hotel I ever stayed in, that’s for sure!

Gorgeous View of the Beach!

Down on the Beach!

More of the Beach!

After dinner was done, the night was officially in full-swing. All night long, new friends and memories were made and things got pretty wild. People jumping in the hot tub, dancing with the bar tenders, and just utter mayhem; good mayhem though! The night ended and most of us had plans to be standing in line at reception the next morning for the booze cruise that was so heavily advertised throughout itinerary. Now the reception line in the morning….this was bad mayhem. Try cramming 400 students into a small reception area…No bene. My friends and I waited in line about an hour and a half early before sign ups began, bringing us pretty close to the beginning. We signed up for the booze cruise at 10am, it was currently 930. We were still hung over, in our clothes and make up from the night before, and haven’t eaten yet. We had to make some serious moves before we got on this boat.

Happy Hour Madness!

We meet the boat down by the beach, and we had to swim up to the boat and climb a latter to get on. The water was FREEZING but the idea of this booze cruise was making it less painful. Once everyone was on board, an announcement from the captain came on the intercom and said “everyone, report to the bar for your first beer, were gonna shotgun these babies together to kick off this cruise!” the captain was a cool guy if I do say so myself. He was in his 30s or 40s but you can tell he loves being the cool adult around the college kids. He was always getting on the intercom and exclaiming obscenities and encouraging wild behavior. On the boat, I see Julie again, we decided to shot gun this beer together! As were on this cruise, the captain is taking us by these gorgeous scenery, the booze cruise was both a time drink and a time to relax and take in the scenery.

Me and my Girlfriends on the Booze Cruise!

The beautiful Corfu, Coast!

 

One thing I said I wanted to when I came to Europe is go cliff jumping. I am petrified of heights, I’m not even an adrenaline freak, but I wanted to face my fears at least once while I was in Europe, and sure enough the booze cruise was taking us to a cliff where we could cliff jump if we wanted to. Skeptical, I kept deciding back and forth whether I wanted to do it or not. Before I changed my mind again, I jumped into the water and swam up to the rock. When I came upon this cliff, I figured there would be a path or a latter to get to the top….wrong. I had to scale a jagged rock in my bare feet to get to the top (thank you Beth Gionfriddo and Joe Ginese for the rock climbing session last summer, it really came in handy here!), if I fell off this rock, the ride down was PRETTY ugly, so even if I thought I was going to fall my instincts would make sure I found a way to stay on that rock. By the time I got to the top I WANTED to jump off because anything beat going back down! Shaky and nervous, the entire line behind me psyched me up and counted down for me, no turning back now! I lept, free fell and then hit the water feet first. I CLIFF JUMPED!

I CAN'T BELIEVE I CLIFF JUMPED!

After I got back to boat, I went into a crazy aftershock. Started shaking and everything, I was lucky to have my girlfriends there with me to calm me down and tell me once again “You did it Bri!! You did it!!” Once we were back on shore, all of us could not wait to get in the hot tub! The hot tub was insanely packed! But we didn’t care, we were FREEZING from the water we swam through to get back on shore! There was horseplay everywhere you looked, huge inflatiables, and just drunken chaos everywhere. Not to mention the hot tub was burning up due to the amount of people in there and the temperature combined!

The Hot Tub with 1000000 People in it!

After the hot tub, we decided to go get our togas. Yes, our togas. The Pink Palace is known for its weekly pink toga party, which we have heard nothing but crazy things about. We showered up, tried to figure out how on earth to tie a toga together without using pins, and headed down to happy hour. Happy hour ran into dinner, and then the Pink Toga party madness commenced. Now, I’ve been in Europe for quite some time now…I’ve been to BARCELONA no less,  I have been in college for 3 years, and I’m 21 years old, I have seen some CRAZY things in my day…but this toga party took the cake without any doubt in my mind. Everywhere I looked there were pink togas, all the drinks were dirt cheap all night long and there was just epic proportions and debauchery everywhere I looked. The music was getting everyone revved us and in party mode. I spent a good portion of the night with a few girls from my program in Rome that I never had the chance to hang out with until Greece, and another portion with Julie. Still mingling and meeting new people, the club started to wind down. Julie and I were not ready to call it a night yet, so we made our way down to the hot tub. And judging from earlier that day, the hot tub was no longer a crowded mess. I ended up meeting quite a few people who knew a lot of people I knew from Nichols and Connecticut. After playing name games for hours with other study abroad students, it was finally time to call it a night. On my hike back up the hill to my room, there was a full moon gazing down on the beach of our resort, such a gorgeous view. I tried to capture it on my camera, but it didn’t come out quite the way I wanted. It was a perfect way to end a crazy night.

Pink Toga Party!

Me and Julie!

Pink Togas EVERYWHERE!

The best shot I could get of the moonlight on the beach!

The next morning, I woke up early to sign up for an ATV safari. I waited in line for quite some time, and someone had announced that the sign ups for the ATVs were full. I was pretty bummed but I got to enjoy the day relaxing on the island after two days of epic escapades. We were leaving the island to return back to Rome later that day, so this meant another ferry and another 14-18 hour cruise ride to the port in Italy. I did NOT want to leave Corfu. It was the best trip I have taken…that is unless Nice, France beats it this weekend!

Ciao for now!

Porto!

Barcelona did a number on us. And being awake so early in the morning to catch our flight to Portugal, we were definitely feeling the effects. Our flight to Porto with RyanAir was nothing short of a disaster. The flight over there was an absolute nightmare. Turbulence, wind, rude flight attendants, the whole 9. We even landed two hours late because the plane took so long to take off. I could not have been happier to be on the ground after we landed. Right when we got out of the terminal, I got an instant vibe of relaxation. I could tell that Porto was going to be a very relaxing end to our spring break. We arrived to our Hostel and could not wait to just sleep off the 6 days of partying we left behind us in Barcelona. Our hostel room was very nice, decorative, and calling our name for a nap! After sleeping for 8 and a half hours, we thought we should go find some food. We stumbled into this place that ended up becoming our usual place, we ate here everyday as well when we were in Porto. The food was fast, delicious, and it was relatively close to our hostel. After we ate, we went back to bed and rested up for our walking tour of Porto the next morning!

Our Hostel Room!

Portuguese Pasta!

We met our tour guide in the center of the city, which in the tour we came to find out was a VERY small city, even smaller than Florence. Our tour group was also very small so we all got along famously with the tour guide and each other. Our tour guide did a really good job at describing all of the beautiful monuments in Porto. He told us many stories about the origins behind all of the beautiful architectures. The most interesting story he told us, was about these spray painted origami doves that we were seeing all over the city. It was an ancient Asian myth that if you make 1,000 of those you can grant a wish. The artist who made these origami doves made 999 in Porto and 1 more in one other country. It was interesting to see them everywhere with the numbers underneath them (ex: 312/1000).

Origami Doves!

City Center - Gorgeous!

Historic churches had blue tiles on them

He showed us the biggest bridge in Porto, which we also learned was designed by the same architect who  built the Statue of Liberty. He took us through the Canals neighborhood, and showed us all the historical monuments. He even told us how Porto is the city that the Harry Potter series is based off of. The college students in Porto walk around with capes, like they do at Hogwarts. The coffee shops, libraries and other scenes throughout the series are all places in Porto; and of course our tour guide took us to see for ourselves. All of the “bad guys” in the Harry Potter series were also based off of Portuguese dictators. I’m not even into Harry Potter and I thought this was awesome. I couldn’t wait to tell my Harry Potter fanatic friends about this place.

Harry Potter Library

The stairs!

Gorgeous view from the bridge!

View from the bridge, again!

At the end of the tour, our tour guide invited all of us to a pub crawl that night, part of the program that held the tour. Just coming off of a crazy 6 day binge, we thought we should skip but decided against it. We wanted to really experience Portugal and its culture. Going into it with an open mind, we began our pub crawl at a wine tasting and headed straight to a little strip of bars that had herds of people crowded outside of it. This particular Portuguese beer tasted like Bud Light, but more cheap. We stood outside of this place for a little while and mingled with other pub crawlers since our group had a lot more people who were in the 30s and 40s. We switched locations to this bar that was most famous for their Sangria. I really enjoyed it! Sangria in Spain and Portugal is a lot different than the US. It uses a lot more fruit and hardly any other alcohol except for wine. However, this bar was small, and it was me and my friend Alex, among 15-20 grown men and women, so we were sipping our Sangria and waiting for the next destination. The next destination was definitely for the older crowd. It was a club mostly focused on 70s and 80s genre. I knew a few of the songs but I was really waiting for the pub crawl to pick it up with the excitement. Smoking was also permitted indoors, so I was getting very irritated with the smoke around me and found it hard to breathe. Sitting outside sipping my drink, our pub crawl leader takes us to our final location; a club – FINALLY! We walked in and it was a pretty cool place, the layout reminded me a lot of Space in Florence, except it was one floor and about half the size. There were dancers in glass boxes above the dance floor, intense light displays and a lot of people. We were told that the ‘college’ crowd doesn’t hit the clubs until about 4 or 5 in the morning. At the time it was about 2, and we were at our last destination for the night. Absolutely exhausted, we ditched out of the pub crawl at around 3 and called it a night.

Pub Crawl: First Stop.

Pub Crawl: Last Stop

The next day, the weather was supposed to be beautiful. I was definitely time to see this beach in Porto I have heard so much about! The beach sand was so soft and fluffy and the scenery knocked me off my feet. It was so relaxing and enjoyable, and a great way to spend the day! We got back to the hostel and received another pub crawl invite from a different company that promised us that we would be with people our age and go to different locations. We were definitely with people our age, but our locations were the same. However it was more enjoyable to be around other students who were studying abroad and on spring break like we were. Our pub crawl leader was very nice, she even bought us our first round of drinks free of charge. The night ended before we reached our final destination, we were at the 70s and 80s disco for almost double the time from the night before, so we decided to call it a night.

Beach!

Gorgeous Coastline!

We had three more days left in Porto, and we had seen a good amount of it. We spent the last three days exploring, and looking through their hand crafted jewelry. On our tour we were also told about the traditional Portuguese dish called Francesinha, it was a colossal sized sandwich stuffed with meats and smothered in cheese and eggs, our tour guide said it considered a heart attack on a plate but it is the most delicious thing you will ever have. I was so tempted to try this, but I didn’t end up doing it. I kick myself now for not trying it! As we spent our last few days discovering Porto, our spring break wound down and we were back onto a plane to Rome to start the second half of the year.

The Gorgeous Port in Porto!

Us down by the Port!

Got this picture from offline - Francesinha

Barcelonaaaaa

It only took about two and a half months but I finally decided to venture out of Italy! Spring Break has finally arrived, and I had been anticipating this since I booked it in January! I had heard so many crazy things about Barcelona as far as nightlife and culture, I couldn’t wait to spend 6 days here and see for myself!

The week leading up to spring break was more hectic than any week I have had since being abroad. Professor cramming in exams and assignments as well as dealing with transportation strikes had most of us study abroad students bustling to find time to complete our assignment AND pack on top of it. When Thursday at 1:30 arrived I could not wait to get on that bus to the airport and head to Barcelona!

So, we all know how my first experience flying went…I was a little bit nervous boarding a plane I only paid 30 EURO for. Shockingly, the flight wasn’t bad! I even got to sleep a little! It took us a little while to figure out the bus system to our hostel, but once we figured that out we entered what made half of my trip as good as it was. For anyone who maybe planning a trip to Barcelona I strongly recommend staying at Sant Jordi Mambo Tango Youth Hostel. The staff, the type of people it attracted is what made our trip as enjoyable as it was. Us four girls decided to stay in an 8 person mixed suite, skeptical about rooming with strangers…its part of the experience traveling the world. We got really lucky, because we met two boys, Belwin and Grant, from Australia who are enduring Europe through lesuire. They were genuinely nice people, probably the nicest I have yet to encounter not only abroad but in my entire life. The six of us became so close that other members of the hostel thought we have bene friends for years. The environment in Sant Jordi reminded me of Nichols College, everyone just gathered around the common areas and socialized, it was a very fun spirited hostel. Our hostel owner was someone who seemed like he was a guest at this very hostel, he was out-going, loud, hilarious, and very knowledgeable about Barcelona!

Our New Friends!

Our first night we decided to take it easy and go out for an authentic Catalonian meal, we stumbled upon this small Mom and Pop place that had a very welcoming atmosphere with jazz music and delicious smelling food. We open the menu and we were all puzzled on what to order, everything sounded so exotic and delicious. I chose a buffalo pastry puff with prosciutto and vegetables. We all sat and talked after dinner, and the owner of the restaurant brought us shots of authentic Spanish liquor, made exclusively in Barcelona….it tasted like gasoline. We called it a night and prepared for what was sure to be the craziest 6 days of my life!

As I mentioned earlier in my posts, there is no such thing as breakfast in Italy. I mean, there’s pastries and espresso’s and that’s about it. The first thing we stumble into when we set out to go site-seeing is a place exclusive to American breakfast. I think angels sang. We made this our breakfast place for the remainder of our trip!

We roamed around Barcelona, seeing parts of Las Ramblas (a commercial street for kiosks and Spanish food), and found Port Vell. This gorgeous port had sailboats, cruise ships and other marine garnishes everywhere! And the water was so clear that you could see the fish and sand sharks swimming from the surface! Taking in this scenery, we relaxed on the port for a little while and then headed back down Las Ramblas. I was amazed at the many assortments of Spanish food they had, one restaurant next to another all had striking specials that made our whole group desire this delicious food. Not mention, we were in BARCELONA who is going to leave here without having their famous Sangria? While taking in our surroundings, we spot what we have been deprived of these past three months – A DUNKIN DONUTS, and a Starbucks? Was this heaven? We sure thought so!

Beautiful Port Vell

Fishes swam so close to the surface!

After a day of exploring, we decided it was time to sink our teeth into the nightlife people rave about. We found ourselves (after getting lost a few times) at a club called Shoko; also came highly recommended from a friend! Shoko was better than most clubs I have been to in Rome (and yes, this means significantly better than any club I have been to back home). The music was lively, and the club wasn’t filled with creeps! Drinks were kind of pricey, but they were definitely strong! The best part about this club is that it was right on the beach! When the club closed out, you can only exit through the beach side. This meant that there was about 2,000 people on this beach now instead of inside. It turned into an extravaganza at 5 in the morning! There were vendors walking around on the beach selling sandwhiches and beers to club animals that lingered out in the sand. The night ended back in our hostel at 6:30 in the morning, but we had a to rest up, the next day (Saturday) was St. Patty’s Day, and because of the expensive accommodations to get to Dublin we agreed long ago that we would bring St. Patty’s day to where ever we were instead. And oh boy did that happen.

Saturday, and headed straight to our favorite breakfast place and started our afternoon off with some Guinness. And then headed straight to Port Vell to continue our festivities! Our day was filled with card games and sun, making this one of the best St. Patricks Day’s and THE best day I have had abroad. St. Patricks day, as I expected, was not widely recognized in Spain, however, if you walk into an Irish Pub you would swear you were in Ireland! After “doing as the Irish” all day long, we decided to take a nap to recharge and then head out again for the night! A girl I was on the trip with had the last name of McCarthy, and ironically there was a very reputable Irish Pub in Barcelona called “McCarthy’s” we decided to go there until the clubs opened. Bars close, when the clubs open in Barcelona…yes this means we did not get into the club until 3-3:30 am. We chose to go to Razz-Ma-Tazz, a very famous club not just in Barcelona, but in Europe. Perhaps we should have gone on a different night, because this night in particular was pretty underwhelming. The club had 5 other clubs inside of it, so that made up for the horrible music the DJ on the main dance floor was playing. I actually got lost inside for a while, yes this was possible. There were directories showing you where you were and where the other clubs where located. If the music on the main dance floor wasn’t Indie Rock or Punk music (who plays that a club, honestly?!) Razz-Ma-Tazz would have been the best club I ever went to.

On the Beach on St. Pattys Day!

 

 

The next day we decided to lay out on the beach, some relaxation was certainly in order after our crazy St. Patty’s day! The beach was just GORGEOUS. The coast line looked like it belonged in a magazine. There were lively young people tossing footballs and girls tanning, and vendors circulating the beach selling scarves, sunglasses and beer. We didn’t spend our whole day on the beach however; we decided to further explore Las Ramblas! This avenue cannot be put into words, there was so much going on at once it was hard to stay away from all of the excitement. We got StarBucks and enjoyed the rest of the day, walking around and exploring. One’s natural mind set, is that it’s Sunday, and to take it easy. Well, our zany Hostel owner wanted to bring us to a club that he knew the promoter of. How can this be possible that clubs are even operating on a Sunday? Well, it was! We went to a club called Sweet and it was pretty intense. It was pretty upscale but very fun! They mainly played Latin music from main streem artist like Pitbull, and infused it with some house music beats. It was pretty insane considering it was a Sunday!

On the beach!

More Coastline!

Inside Sweet!

Monday came, our time was winding down at Barcelona. We chose to go ahead and sightsee! We discovered the open market on Las Ramblas, which I was blown away by. So many assorted candies, smoothies, fruits, cheeses, meats, chocolates and so many other mouth watering kiosks. Not to mention 1,50 Sangria! We found our way to some beautiful fountains and of course found our way into some shopping! We also made our way to La Sagrada Familia, and I was blown away. This was a gorgeous castle, in the heart of Bacelona. This amazing architecture is actually a church, which has been under contruction since 1882…and will continue until 2026. YES it is that beautiful.

Chocolates in Las Ramblas Market!

The strawberries were HUGE!

Yummm! So many smoothies!

Gorgeous Fountain!

La Sagrada Familia - You can see the construction they're still doing!

Our hostel owner offered to cook us all dinner that night, without hesitation we accepted! It was 2 euros, and you get at least two servings! Done deal. This dish I would like to think of as a Spanish spin on Pasta Fagioli, it was DELICIOUS! Thoroughly satisfied, and ready to take one yet another crazy night in Barcelona! After dinner, one of the two Australian boys we met introduced us to a new card game called MICKEY! He in fact got the entire hostel involved, it was like Kings, only with dice, and a very dynamic set of rules that sucked in everyone’s attention! After this game we made our way out to my favorite place I went to in Barcelona, and so far in Europe – Boulevard.

Hostel dinner - So good!

We walked into to Boulevard unsure of what to expect, especially because our hostel owner, once again, took us here. This club reminded me of a far less sketchier version of a New Haven club. The music was on point, the drink specials were all night, and the people it attracted made this club everything a club should be. I made a lot of new memories and met a lot of people from different countries this night. After closing the club down, we bid Barcelona a farewell and left for Porto, Portugal the next morning!

Some of us at BLVD! The Hostel owner is on my left!

Inside BLVD!

Montepulciano (Tuscany)

Okay! It’s been a while. On March 2nd our program decided to take us on a day trip to Montepulciano, in Tuscany! Montepulciano is a very famous hill town notorious for their amazing wines, and olive oils. I was unsure of what to expect from Tuscany judging by our itinerary alone. We had scheduled wine tastings, and a date with a thermal bath so I was not about to let this one pass!

I must say that the Italian country side is BEAUTIFUL, I mean I’m unsure how these people living there find their way to civilization but the land and the mountains with the gorgeous scenery really throws you off when you’re coming from somewhere like Rome!

We get to Montepulciano and we are just amazed how gorgeous this scenery is. We didn’t even know how to take pictures because the scenery was just BREATH-TAKING we didn’t know how to catch it all. There is no other way to get to Montepulciano other than bus, or car. The Italians drive like wild animals, so the way this bus was taking every turn on two wheels going up this steep mountain had us all on the edge of our seats.

Montepulciano!

We get into the town and instantly set off to find a wine cellar. These little wine shops are very very small; just like your average wine shop. Nearly every one of them had an underground wine cellar that imperialized the size of the wine shop above it. The barrels ranged from small to enormous, and the entire cellar smelt of the amazing grapes. We got a brief education on wine, and how it was made and the significance of aging and how what kind of wood makes a difference on the taste of the wine. We had two wine tastings coming up so we knew we would learn more then.

Wine Cellars!

We had a few hours to explore the town, go into some shops and purchase some souvenirs and get a load of the stunning vantage points. I found an alley way that lead out to the gorgeous open space with a perfect picture of the horizon, I felt the soft cool breeze hit my face and I really took in the beautiful scenery. Others on this excursion joined in taking pictures of the scenery, but my biggest surprise was when I turned around and saw that this vantage point was actually called Viccolo DelleMura. My astonishment quickly turned to flattery when the reality set in that my last name was in this beautiful countryside town; I felt like I belonged here.

Viccolo DelleMura

 

Our excursion continued, it was wine tasting time! our director of the wine tasting had very broken English, so the history and significance behind the wines we were trying were very hard to understand. HOWEVER, it was quite delightful. We tried two red wines, and they taught us ‘how’ to taste wine instead of just chugging it like the Americans we are. These techniques were based on taste, smell and visual traits. Red wine isn’t my favorite, but these were pretty good! I tasted one and immediately thought of my parents and how much they would love it. I hope when they come to Italy they will have the opportunity to try this wine. For those who are traveling to Italy, sending out a bottle of wine to the States is VERY expensive, about 72 EURO’s not including the wine itself.

Our second stop was lunch, where we were scheduled for another wine tasting with our meal. We took about a 30 minute bus ride to the bottom of this mountain we were on and sat down for lunch. More large pieces of bread accompanied with this out-of-this-world olive oil; it made you want to marinate your bread in its richness. We tasted three wines, both red but at the end of our meal we tasted a ‘dessert’ wine. I had this dessert wine in Florence and from what I could remember it tasted like Jack Daniels. Skeptical about trying it again, my expectations were blown away by the difference between the two. Montepulciano’s dessert wine was FAR more sweet and tolerable, it almost tasted like candy!

To finish off our trip, our program arranged for us to enjoy a thermal bath. About another 45 minutes on the bus, and we arrived at the gorgeous spa. We received a huge, white fluffy robe, along with slippers and towels for a few hours of total relaxation. We jump into this bath anf the water is a total thermal heaven. It was about 85 degrees and shallow enough to wade through. Various fountains and waterfalls surrounded the pool that were used to place your neck, shoulders, and upper back under to release any tension or knots. I was blown away by these thermal springs I found myself in, I recommend anyone that is going to Tuscany, to make sure you find a place where you can take a thermal bath; it WILL be the best decision you’ll ever make.

Thermal Baths in Tuscany!

 

Now that we were all zen and relaxed, everyone slept like a baby on the way home from Tuscany. Definitely was a very much needed day for the lives of busy travelers!

Firenze and Pisa!

Words will ruin my experience in Florence this past weekend. I would go back to Florence every single weekend if I could. After this excursion being cancelled two weeks ago, I could not have been happier to get on that bus and get to this breath-taking city. I was over whelmed by the beautiful leather market, which I under estimated how huge leather really is in Florence! Yes, I have heard about their leather but it was vendor, after vendor after vendor selling the best leather underneath the sun. the leather market was set up a lot like the flea market in New Haven (minus the grimey-ness and knock off items) the leather stands sold EVERYTHING you can make out of leather. Jackets, purses, wallets, hand-bags, belts, boots, hats, change purses, bracelets, you name it…its made of leather! The vendors were also negotiable, a friend of mine talked down a leather jacket from 400 to 120! I bought a small purse from this market, and it is absolutely gorgeous, I love the texture and how fashionable it is! After hitting the leather market, me and my group stopped off for a quick lunch before our historic tour of the district!
The Leather belts!

Italian Leather Belts!

The Duomo!

The Duomo

Florence took me by surprise in more ways than the leather industry, people have told me that Florence is a small city, and it really is! I loved it. I went to a small high school, go to a small college, live with a small community of students, Florence was a perfect fit for me. I was there for a half of a day and I knew how to navigate myself around the Duomo district. Of course, Florence is the infamous city where the cast of Jersey Shore shot their 4th season; you would be amazed how much of the venues in Florence that they have visited boast about how “The cast was here!” with their picture. But obviously, I HAD to go to the pizzeria they worked at! It’s exactly like it was in the show, and they still have their clothes hanging up in the restaurant! And the pizza was just MARVELOUS, it tasted exactly how it did in Naples. The cast graffittied up the walls inside this place pretty nicely, they have numerous sandwiches’ and pizzas named after each cast member, as well as the place was dressed up head to toe with their pictures. It was a fun atmosphere and amazing pizza.

Jersey Shore Pizzaeria O Vesuvio Pizzeria Napoletana!

Their clothes line, obviously blowing a kiss to Pauly Ds Shirt!

The Pizzaaaaaaaaaa!

I took out the headphones the tour guide provided us with, he spoke very poor English and the reception kept cutting out, but the tour was relatively short. Hardly took an hour; yes Florence really is that small! What I found most interesting is the many, many replicas of the Statue of David. This obviously is an important statue in Christianity, for the slaying of Goliath. There were many beautiful sculptures in this beautiful piazza near by the Duomo. The Duomo in itself was just, stunning. It was absolutely massive and so beautiful with the detail and historic vibe. Our hotel was a hop, skip, and a jump from the Duomo, a very wise decision by API since the Duomo is considered to be the North Star of Florence, we were bound to never get lost because almost anywhere in Florence you can see this beautiful church in the distance and just follow it to your destination. After our tour, we decided to venture off to find the museum with the original statue of David, there were no cameras allowed, but I just took my flash off and did it discretely under my scarf (hehe J), the original was so worth seeing. It had many distinct features that the others just did not have. It was a beautiful work of art, and I am NOT by any means, into art or art history at all!

The Original Statue of David, I wasn't supposed ot be taking pictures! :X

The people in Florence are out of this world, genuinely nice. My goodness, if everyone I have ever met in my life was half as nice as these people in Florence I think this world would be a better place. First of all, almost everyone in the vicinity of the Duomo and even outside of it spoke VERY effective and fluid English. Living in Rome for the past two months, I know a good amount of phrases and responses. Naturally I went ahead with my normal ritual of speaking in their dialect, and they would respond to me in English. Restaurant owners would stand outside and attract customers with their charm (by the way, Florentine males are DEFINITELY charming!) and welcome Study Abroad Students in the warmest way. I found out that after the trip that Florence in the number one place to study abroad in Italy, making this city loaded with student deals and English speaking business owners. I felt comfortable right away in this city. Even the vendors at the leather market would walk up to people and joke with them like they have been old pals for years, I was talking a guy down to buy a purse and he wasn’t budging, and the vendor next to him with the exact purse I wanted gave to it to me the price I was aiming toward. The men were very polite, gave out compliments (not just ‘bellisima’ like they do in Rome) and always had a smile on their face. Not to mention GELATO WAS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOKED!

Okay I know you’re all dying to know about the nightlife, I was angry that people didn’t tell me how AMAZING the nightlife was! While walking into the leather market, we received a flyer for this place called the Fish Pub, this flyer gave you one free shot. And that it did! For once, it was NOT a scam! This American pub was located pretty close to the Duomo, and many study abroad students were inside. We met students from the United States and of course found out the mutual friends we have in this small world. We decided to leave Fish Pub and set out to find a club called 21 (featured on Jersey Shore) as were approaching this place, a group of delightful men approached us and said that 21 was not worth going to a Friday night, and to come to this place called Full Up. Now who in their right mind would listen to strangers who are locals in a city you have never been to? We do obviously! We entered Full Up and the club was in full swing. He music was just right and me and my girlfriends start dancing and meeting new people, soon I see the dance floor starting to open up and I’m thinking “Woooooooo more room to dance!” I’m doing my own thing and then I see a guy start pulling out all of this wild choreography and break dance moves and these crazy flips…he then steps to the side and ANOTHER guy steps in and starts doing the same thing…it NOW occurs to me that I was the idiot standing the middle of a dance off between two dudes battling against each other (woopsies) and I stood off to the side and watched them go back and forth, it was like being in a scene from Save the Last Dance or Step Up, it was straight out of a movie and so amusing to see! My girlfriends and I said we would take it easy for our first night in Florence….fat chance. We struggled waking up the next morning for our cooking class!

Our cooking class was so much fun. I learned so much and had a blast with my group. We made three courses; our appetizer was tomato, eggplant, mozzarella roasted together for a delicious combo of freshness, our main course was pasta that we made two sauces for, and our dessert was Tiramisu. We made all of our ingredients from scratch and we were walked through on the many techniques and was given great guidance from our chefs on how to make it perfecto! We the pasta making process was the best part, we made the dough, we beat the dough, the rolled it out, we put in the machine on all of the crazy settings and the finally put it through another port to make it spaghetti! I felt like my Aunt Nancy! When it came time to eat our creations, it was so absolutely delicious and delightful and SO EASY to make! I would love to put on a “Make Your Own Tiramisu” RA program next year (PJ, I hope you’re reading this!:) ) because it was so easy to make it just might be an everyday item for me now! The best part was that because it was homemade, it was so light and savory and packed with natural flavors you didn’t feel like a house after consuming it. Not only was a learning experience for all of us, but now we also know when the food is fresh and when it isn’t (although I have had seriously rare occasions where I questioned even for a second if the food wasn’t fresh here in Italy). It was delightful, worth it, and so enjoyable!

We had about an hour before our next item on our itinerary, the vantage point on Piazza Michael Angelo, were you can see all of Florence from the top. There was a monk Church with a beautiful monument at the highest point just outside of the city, you saw everything. It was breath-taking, and just like the Spanish Steps, and the Castle of St. Elmo, I had yet another life changing moment (what is it about these beautiful views that bring that much more happiness into my life?). I was sitting on the ledge of a beautiful church, above the city I just fell in love with the day before. Taking deep breaths, soaking up the beauty of this country, I yet again counted each and every one of my blessings. Another knock off of the Statue of David was on a lower terrace that over-looked the whole city as well, it was a lot more different from the other ones that were imposing the original, mostly because it was made of a green solid, but I saw many other differences as well. it was very well placed though. Having a satisfied appetite of a true authentic Florentine meal, looking out over the city, and a replica of the Statue of David, with gorgeous weather and surrounded by amazing people; my trip could have stopped here and I could have went back to the States completely fulfilled.

At the vantage point above Florence!

View of Florence!

But it didn’t! The trip went on, and went on it did! We received yet another flyer from a restaurant owner about a deal they were having for lunch that day. Although it was approaching dinner time, we thought we could check it out anyway. It was located right down the street from our hotel, and it was a cozy little joint that reminded me a lot of Antonio’s! The dishes offered were so exotic and the combinations of items available in each Pranzo (entrée) caused us to sit and ponder the menu for at least 30-40 minutes. We were all so excited about what we ordered and how good everyone’s meal looked around us, when we received our platters they vanished in about 5-6 minutes. I got this wild mushroom stuffed ravioli with this white reduction and garnished with this special mushroom harvested in Florence. Maya got this plate that was a pasta with salmon, champagne, and caviar and I almost fainted for her when it came out. Jess got this seafood Risotto that came with all the fixing, muscles, scallops, shrimp, clams EVERYTHING! Molly, got this wonderful smelling/looking spaghetti that was colored with many different vegetables. When we got to Florence they told us about this dessert that we needed to try while we were here, it was a wine that came with biscotti cookies that you were supposed to dunk into the wine. Well, it was definitely different, that’s for sure!  The wine was VERY strong so we weren’t sure what to think of it. The owner HIGHLY recommended we try the restaurants ricotta torta (cheese cake), and much like the first piece of cheese cake I had when I came to Rome, it was delightful, fluffy, and light. Making it so easy to enjoy! Arguably, the best meal I have ever had.

We had heard of a very intense and reputable night club called Space. Without hesitation this was our spot for the night. The method they used for entry was very interesting. They don’t charge you to get in, but they charge you to get out. They give you a card that the bar tenders punch throughout your night, that you give back to the people who let you in (smart thinking because when people don’t have to keep track of their money they tend to spend a lot more!) and you pay them for the drinks you consumed. This was quite comical, everyone I was standing around had the “OH SH*T” moment when they realized how much they spent getting drinks that night! Not me though :)

The two guys that were battling against each other at Full Up were in attendance at Space, and they picked me up right away and said “HEY, you were the girl who didn’t know we was battling eachother!” as awkward as THAT was, I laughed and told them they were really good dancers! They were extremely nice and they were studying abroad in London (couldn’t tell you where, or what they’re studying) but throughout the night at Space I saw them going back forth again. They were pretty amusing! Totally Unbeknownst to me, there was an upstairs to this place. Wasting no time, we walked up there and were instantly blown away. The dance floor was MASSIVE, the music was on point, there wasn’t an obnoxious overload of people in there, the type of people in there were the same free spirited study abroad students we all were. The light displays were something else, it literally created the image that you were in Space! My friends got invited up the DJ booth and they flagged me down on the dance floor while iw as dancing with more people from my program, after making my way up there the DJ was the nicest guy on earth and I even manned the booth for a song or two! Everyone in this lounge by the DJ was so nice, buying us drinks and taking our requests. It was truly mind blowing. After a long night of vicious dancing, we headed back to our Hotel, we departed early the next morning for our half day trip to Pisa.

The Light displays at Space!

Just DJing at Space!

Dragging ourselves awake, we hopped on the bus to Pisa. I was told time and time again that Pisa is literally a small town, and the tower is the only thing they had there worth seeing. It was included with the program so, why not? These people were right, the town is VERY residential. Unlike the cities here, they didn’t even have cobblestone, it was normal cement roads and street structure (not like the tiny alleyways and side streets in the cities in Italy), it looked just like a small neighborhood in any normal town in the States. We were warned of the pick-pockets though! We approached the one and only square in Pisa, there they were right! The Leaning Tower is the only attraction! They have a beautiful church, and museum too but they were exceptionally under whelming after seeing the Vatican, and the beautiful churches in Rome, Naples, and Florence! I of course got the touristy picture of my ‘holding up’ the tower! We had a crazy night before hand, so we were SO hungry. And we actually ate at a small Tratorria directly across from the Tower, and it was not absurdly over-priced either! It was quite enjoyable, and if I turned my head to my left, there was the tower. It was beautiful, relaxing, and a perfect ending to a perfect weekend!

The Leaning Tower!

Holding up the Tower of Pisa!

Walking back to meet our bus, we saw a group of local older women. As we got closer, they pulled out a map and the other pulled out a large piece of card board and tried to pick-pocket our whole group. They were extremely unsuccessful because all of us power walked through them. But they just walked right up to you with NO fear at all. The cardboard (as it was explained to us) was used to wrap around our torso by the person holding it, making the victim startled and turn our attention away from the woman with a map and onto the person wrapping a piece of cardboard around our body, assisting the person with a map in the attempt to snatch our purse or wallet. I could hardly believe it when I saw it, I just thought they were weird homeless people. But I guess deception is the entire point. Interesting to see attempted but happy to see it failed. We hopped on the bus for our 5 hour Journey back to Rome.

After an eventful, and successful weekend in Florence, I am absolutely dead weight! And so excited for Tuscany next weekend!

Napoli

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. My classes are really stepping it up. I have to admit I’m displeased with the curriculum at John Cabot. Maybe because I come from an institution that is so wonderful I am so used to professors who truly invest themselves in your education, not much here. I find that I am teaching myself the material a lot more effectively as opposed to the classroom. I’ll leave it at that to avoid an intensely long rant about how important education is, no matter what country you’re in or come from.

We’ve been getting some pretty brutal weather lately in Rome, thankfully it’s starting to warm up again. It’s snowed four times in the past 100 years and one of these times happened to be these past two weekends. Rome went into environmental ruin once snow hit the ground, absolutely everything (except for the pubs!) were closed, there wasn’t even public transportation. Now, given these conditions you would think there was a foot of snow on the ground….Nope; in fact there was hardly an inch. Clearly New England has taught me how to battle crazy weather. We had a trip planned to Florence for February 10th and our program cancelled the trip due to the “adverse conditions” so a lot of us were so bummed out, but it didn’t stop the people I live with from planning their own last minute alternative trips. Some people went to Prague, other went to Poland, and some others went to Portugal. Going further north and into even more horrendous cold was not an option, and I have Portugal planned for later in my stay here in Europe; so me and my roommate Maya decided to go to Naples for the weekend. Which could only mean one thing: PIZZA.

Forget what you hear about Naples…it’s a beautiful city. The area by the train station was essentially a pit, I was ready to turn back around and get on the train back to Rome. But we hailed a cab and found that our Hostel was in a very historic area of Napels, actually very cozy and safe! The hostel we stood at was actually ranked in the top 10 in Europe, it was called Hostel of the Sun…definitely recommend!

Beautiful

Beautiful!

 

Piazza Gairbaldi

Piazza Gairbaldi

We set out from our hostel to find the worlds greatest pizza, and that we did. I have never had something so delicious and fresh in my life. The crust was thin, the sauce was perfectly sweet and the cheese was perfectly proportionate throughout the entire pie. YES, I did eat an entire pizza to myself, not mad about it one bit.

Napoli Pizza

So amazing!

We left the pizzeria and found this café that we were told grounds and makes their own coffee, one of the better café’s in all of Italy! The tender at the café was very nice and helped us with more sites to see while in Naples, after finishing our delicious coffee we decided to explore one of Naples most hidden treasures….their shopping! Via Toledo was from start to finish the most wonderful place to shop I have ever been, the Saldi’s were better than any deal I’ve seen yet here in Italy, I got the nices pair of boots for 10 euro! And so much stylish clothing for exceptionally cheap!

We made our way back to our hostel, and ended up meeting 3 other students who are studying abroad in Rome for their school of architecture. We were sitting in the lounge of the hostel getting to know each other and we decided to yet again venture out to find more delicious pizza. I can’t even pretend like I was mad! The five of us found this cozy restaurant with very friendly staff, ordered two bottles of wine and let me not forget, yet another life changing pizza. We sat in the restaurant for about two hours after we paid, these people were very nice and we had a lot in common! We came to find out that night life is not too big in Naples, so we decided to call it a night.

The next day my roommate Maya and I had the whole day to explore the rest of Naples. There were plenty of things we wanted to do but it was also raining at a pretty heavy rate. This didn’t stop us, we bought ourselves an umbrella and continued through the city. We found this beautiful indoor piazza that was decorated head to toe with beautiful sculptures and paintings and marble. One thing we did not want to leave Naples without doing was going to the Castle of St. Elmo. At the top of this castle, you can see the entire city of Naples, and even the port to Pompeii and Sorrento. Finding our way to the castle itself was a challenge, but it was so worth it once we got there. It was a such a beautiful view, if only the sun was out!

View from Castle St. Elmo

View from Castle St. Elmo

Castel St. Elmo

Castel St. Elmo

Beautiful View from Castel St. Elmo

Beautiful View from Castel St. Elmo

Our departure time from Naples was around 10pm, it was only 4 and we had done everything we wanted to do with the given weather conditions. We stopped and got some lunch, and had some delicious dessert – I was not leaving Naples without trying FRIED GELATO! And came up with a game plan on how to get back to Rome earlier. After we ate, we headed off to the train station and jumped on the next train to Rome. No conductor or official even came by to check our tickets! It was a wild 48 hours, I was absolutely exhausted when I arrived back to Rome.

Don’t ask me why, but it’s as if everytime Im within a hostoric or beautiful monument I feel my self change more and more. I have never thought this experience was going to bring me forth such wisdom and carefree attitude. I have found the serenity and true happiness inside of me that I truly believe every human being is entitled to. Every single day is a new learning experience for me, I have met the most amazing people, tried some of the most delicious food, and submerged myself in this beautiful culture. In this experience, I am finding myself and my true spirit of living the good life. This experience is priceless, words ruin it.

 

This weekend is something the Europeans call Carnivale (pronounced Car-knee-val), it’s the European way of celebrating Mardi Gras, and it starts today! A lot of the residents went to celebrate in Venice, however battling the cold for 3 days did not appeal to me. I found out just yesterday that Rome is doing a celebration of Carnivale as well! me and the left over residents here will be in attendance, of course!

Rescheduled trip to Florence, coming up next weekend! (we hope!)