My Italy Trip Entry 34: Last Day in Firenze (trying not to tear up)

I figured since I am at Frankfurt awaiting my flight back to the States, I should talk about my last day in Florence (I’ll periodically post my other travels I never caught up to over the summer).

I am very happy with my last day in Florence. I spent the morning walking around looking for a Florence tank top – actually very difficult, they are not very big on tank tops unless you love Jack Daniels for some reason – and a small coin purse to remember Florence by. It was beautiful outside and I walked my butt off and of course found my tank top at my very last stop when I was about to give up and get a t-shirt.

Later on I took my Italian exam which wasn’t too bad. Strangely, as I got closer to the end I found myself reverting to English. I think it is because after Spring Break tourist season really kicks up so everyone speaks english to you even if you keep trying to speak to them in Italian-_- After the exam Olivia, Shannon, Maria and I went around to buy a few things for my parents and myself and I was able to practice my negotiation skills – which were not that fantastic.

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I really enjoyed strolling around the city. I didn’t really understand when one of the professors said to view Florence as not good or bad, but simply different. Florence has its pluses and minuses just as America does. Such as the constant feeling of me slowly developing lung cancer due to the insane amount of smoking by the citizens and the constant exhaust from buses and taxis that will almost take your life many times. But the great thing about the city is it is so full of life. The streets will never be dull and empty, someone will always be there living out their life, being a tourist, being a street performer, or just hanging around and socializing with your friends in the piazzas. The city may be old, but it is almost as if there is a constant hum. people are out during both day and night, every night is a night to go out – as the bar beneath our apartment often reminded us in the wee hours of the morning. Also in Florence, the streets are for the people and cars. It is extremely common to just walk in the street if the sidewalk is inconvenient and let the cars drive around you and no one really gets angry in the process.

So after all my philosophical thinking and eating one of my last bars of Milka chocolate in a while and some spaghetti, Shannon, Maria, and I went out to find the Boar in which you are supposed to put a coin in its mouth and rub its shiny snout so that you will be brought back to Florence on day. And afterwards I had my last scoop of gelato sitting on a bench in the Piazza de Repubblica, watching kids ride the ferris wheel, the artists draw masterpieces on the street, and listening to the street performers play their music, talking about life.

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I even agreed to go out to the bar Old Stove with Maria and Shannon later on in the night. They were all surprised, but I was aware it was my last night andI want to spend it the people I bonded the closest to. I spent about 2 hours there just talking with Nikki and Tay before I walked myself home to clean up parts of the apartment before I left at 4am. And in case you are wondering where Elisa is during all this, she left earlier in the week on Sunday so she could be home in time for graduation.

Saying goodbye was kind of horrible since the majority of everyone I met is from New England and I’m very far away in Florida so the chances of us seeing each other again is rare. However, it  did make me happy when I saw how genuinely sad everyone was that I was leaving a couple days early and I know I will never forget them. I am going to copy what I posted on Facebook because there is no better way to say how I feel, and it saves me getting teary-eyed again haha. “As I sit here in the Frankfurt Airport I’m looking back on all the experiences I had while I was in Florence and exploring the world. I had an amazing time and met some equally amazing people along the way. I am so grateful I was able to study abroad and while I am excited to go home, it would be impossible for me to not miss these wonderful people. As my roommateShannon said “there is no one else who has and ever will experience what we have together.” From fine dining to sleeping on floors, we did it all and I hope by some miracle I’ll be able to see you guys again one day. Thank you for making my experience the breathtaking and unforgettable time I could never have dreamed of. I wish everyone safe travels and good luck with everything that comes at you in this crazy world. If we made it through this past semester, I know we can do anything.”

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There were of course bad times when I was stressed or homesick or uncomfortable and down, but overall when I look at all the places I got to explore and even if i didn’t become close friends with everyone I met, I still was able to meet a lot. It really showed me how people can have the same jobs or goals, but live their lives completely differently in their own unique way. There really is no one “right way” and I know I should keep working hard and follow what I am passionate about. If it goes against “the plan” maybe it was time to change it anyway. I really did have an amazing time and I cannot wait to take a rest for a bit. I am so glad I got the experience to go aborad. If you’re ever unsure or scared or even just thinking it may be a possibility do it, go somewhere, even if it is just the state over. Experiencing a new culture does not mean accepting it or forgetting your own. So I hope you travel, live your hardest, and be brave enough to do crazy things that may not work out.

Ciao Firenze,cerchiamo di incontrare di nuovo; Goodbye Florence, let us meet again.

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My Italy Trip Entry 33: Rome and Pisa

Like any excited, optimistic, international traveller, my blog has begun to wane on the frequency of my posts (although I still blame it on the my computer dilemma) but fear not, I still have plenty more to post! For now I will post about my trip to Rome and Pisa.

ROME

A few weeks ago Shannon, myself, Nikki, and N’tasia went to Rome with FUA for the weekend. The trip started out pretty well since we got to travel by train versus a cramped charter bus; it was a very nice change. However, we did have to leave the apartment by 6:30am and no one went to bed early. The train ride was unfortunately only about an hour and 20 min so we were all groaning as we got off.

We arrived around 9:00am and went to drop off our stuff at the hotel. The two guides were two teachers, so half of the group was there for a class field trip and half of the information was very thorough. We walked by the colosseum and what seemed like around all of Rome. Rome is very large to put it lightly. We walked through some churches and then headed to the Vatican Museum which was beautiful, but the president had visited the Vatican that morning, so everything was closed earlier in the day and the place was PACKED. The walk through tour we had took about 2 and a half hours. To walk through one museum. At the end of the tour we walked around St.Peter’s Basilica. I would’ve loved to have mass there, but by then we had been walking around for about 8 hours and my feet were ready to break right off from my body, or shatter, or some horrible scenario in which they reject me for all the abuse I’d given them. We took the metro part the way home and FINALLY made it to the hotel around 6pm where we all promptly napped until dinner time.

Right before reaching the hotel we got some delicious gelato with surprisingly large portions. Out of all the places I’d been so far I witnessed my first pick-pocket victim in a little gelateria right outside our hotel. One of the female students with us had her phone taken right out of her pocket by these sketchy Italian guys who came in and didn’t buy anything. Thankfully, no one else lost anything that weekend.

The next day we opted out of walking around on another thorough tour of churches and the significance of all their statues. Shannon, myself, and a girl named Mara took a guided tour through the colosseum and the accompanying ruins. Our second tour guide for the ruins was pretty great, and turned a long history into a briefer, eccentric – and at times comedic – story. We ate at a little pizzeria and had a very interesting chat with an american girl who was traveling around Europe on her own for a few months. We finished off with a visit to the Pantheon and a long winding walk back to the hotel. A good, but tiring weekend. I know there are a lot of historic things in Rome, but I feel two days was definitely enough. We couldn’t have been more content with returning to our more quaint and cozy Florence.

They’re a bit out of order, but the pictures finally uploaded! Sorry my memory may be a little fuzzy

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Shannon and I in the Colosseum

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In the Pantheon…in case that snapchat image wasn’t obvious

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A pizza I ate on the way to the Pantheon(right) and the front of the Pantheon (left)

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*In the Ruins* Those green doors are the oldest working doors in the world. And I walked through them^-^ It is interesting that Rome had so many proclamations they could end with “… in the world.”

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(left) a church/chapel built for an emperor’s wife and eventually the emperor too because at least one Royal couple had an epic love story. The ruler supposedly visited the chapel almost everyday for 9 years after she died ❤

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view of The Forum from the last main palace of the Roman Empire

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top of the palace

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guy the checkered shirt was our awesome tour guide. The street in the picture on the right used to be a market with shops on both sides.

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(left) oldest street in Rome

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(right) beginnings of a parade celebrating the founding of Rome – it is essentially their 4th of July.

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And colosseum again…

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Inside the beautiful St.Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City

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A seagull????????

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inside the Vatican Museum

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Yes, that is indeed a giant pincone

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The famous fountain was of course under construction 😦

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(left) someone asked me “what do they call that in America?”

Uhhhh someone blowing gigantic bubbles at people walking by, thats what

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(left) Bet he was a friendly Cardinal…. (right) This was a tomb built by Michelangelo I believe. Meanwhile one of the guides talked about this one thing for a solid 20 minutes.  I almost fell asleep in a chair.

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The roof of…. something. Sorry can’t remember, but it does look nice:)

PISA

Last Friday Jonas and I – he is here visiting Florence for the weekend – took a trip to Pisa. We managed to figure out the train system there and where to validate your ticket. Word of advice if ever in S.M.N. train station, the number of the station where the train will leave from often does no match in reality. The ride was about an hour where my book-less self stared out the window and played sudoku on my phone.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Pisa, but the touristy places at least, were quite cute and it is not a huge city, so you can pretty much follow the crowd of people and find your way to the leaning tower. There were a lot of cool shops on the way there, but little to my knowledge it was Europe’s Labor Day so a lot of the places were closed. We made our way to the tower and took plenty of typical touristy photos and just some I’d always wanted to do. It was hilarious to see everyone posing, and the majority were all doing the same exact pose, so I enjoyed taking photos of them taking photos haha.

Afterwards we ate at yet another pizzeria, where the main chef had been making pizzas since she was 10. We figured the trains back to Florence would be just as frequent as the way there, but sadly we were wrong, so we had to wait an hour for the next train. Myself being book-less and all, the only logical option at that point was to go find chocolate. It took a while because everything was closed, but we found a little minimarket and had some mysterious chocolate wafer things Jonas liked to buy which weren’t too shabby.

We met a fellow American traveling for work, and had a nice conversation to kill the rest of the time. Later on we ate at a restaurant called Dante’s for Tays birthday where Jonas apparently had his flirt game on after I went home.

Ciao!

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Their poses almost look like they’re dancing XD

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Their wifi signs were adorable 🙂

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My Italy Trip Entry 32: Garden Happenings and an Awkward Encounter.

Since I was at the garden Thursday morning I will post some more recent pictures of the Garden. Since the weather is getting warmer the plants are far larger and flowers are blooming. Last Tuesday when my Environmental Plants class had class in the garden we did work first by picking up tires from a local Good Year – apparently they have those here, although much smaller of course – and  furthering the progress of some potato towers we started a month ago. Then after that we did some tastings of bread and ricotta cheese seasoned with plants from  the garden. Today I went in and worked on the trellis we built in class. I reinforced it by adjusting any crooked areas, adding more zip ties where necessary, and adding a diagonal stick across every opening. I did it in about an hour and I’m quite proud ^-^

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Although no students come on the weekends because most are away traveling, there are always a lot of Giacamo’s Italian friends and fellow gardeners of the community who come out and help. They even invited me to lunch with them today, but since I just bought an awesome leather jacket I will tell you about later, I am very tight with my budget.

On the way home from the garden i had to stop by the grocery store. The man who works at the minimarket at the bottom of my apartment was outside and I said hello and planned on continuing to pass him by. I was wearing my workout clothes and so he asked if I was tired and needed a water, I said i was going to Conad anyway so I was fine, but then he said it was free so I gladly accepted. He then hugged me. It is Italian custom to kiss on the cheeks, but since I’m taller than him it turned into a weird kiss on the neck, but I just tried to let that slide. He then insisted on giving me a chocolate bar and said I was one of his favorite customers and that he loved me. Mind you, I have never even bought anything from this man and I am in sweaty workout clothes, I just occasionally wave ciao. However, he has also given my roommate Shannon free chocolate and told her he loved her so we aren’t sure he knows exactly what that means. I will also now try my best to take an alternate route home.

Thursday I also had quite the shopping experience when I bought a leather jacket. I was wearing  buttoned up shirt and walking home from the food bank with my roommate Elisa and I figured I browse for a leather jacket since i was in Italy and that is what they’re known for. We walked into one store with a very eccentric seller – but then again they are all quite ecstatic because they all want you to feel like #1 and that they’re helping you out, but I’m not mad, they do a good job of it. It wasn’t until Elisa gave me a look and nodded towards my chest that I realized the top two buttons of my shirt had come undone and my girls were waving hello. When I realized, the guy was like “I didn’t see anything!!” and then shortly said after  ” I’m sorry, I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed.” Meanwhile I’m groaning oh my god  oh my god im so sorry and internally shaming myself. On the bright side he was likely more open to giving me a deal.

When I took off the long coat I was wearing the man flipped out and was like “oh goodness, you’re so hot! That jacket makes you look overweight. you’re a different size than I thought!” The pointing out of my physical attributes continued, as well as how overweight my jacket makes me look , meanwhile I’m sending Elisa “save me” glares throughout the experience. Need to know you have a back up fighter when necessary.

I tried on a few jackets anyway because they were really nice. At one point he made a joke that wil no clothes, I’d get a free jacket and for a brief second Elisa and I shared a knowing look of consideration that only poor traveling students would understand. I managed to get the jacket down to a pretty decent price, considering the price tag was originally 390 euro. At one point during negotiations I asked “can I make a phone call?” like I was on a game show.

The jacket looked really good on me, and it smells amazing, I don’t regret the purchase at all. The man even held a lighter to the arm while I was wearing it to show that it was high quality leather, but he also kept showing how the jacket fit my sides and my arms were ready to whip out and karate chop it necessary.

So if you’re in the market for a leather jacket, make sure you have cash, your waller, and your girls.

Ciao!

I promise I will add more photos once this website decides to let me:)

My Italy Trip Entry 31: Weekend in Corfu, Greece (aka the Pink Palace)

The weekend after Spring Break, Shannon, Elisa, N’Tasia (Tay), Nikki, Olivia, and I departed for Corfu Thursday morning. While Italy may be pretty close to Greece, if you don’t go by plane it takes an awful long time to get there.

Real quick before I talk about the trip I wanted to post a few pictures of the garden I volunteer at sometimes and that is run by one of my professors. I’ve also attached a picture of a….. thing i have forgotten the name of. Its the circular structure made with bamboo. My classmates and I made it ourselves and I am quite proud so thought I would share it:)

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(left) my classmate Connor sweeping near our beauty. (right) A clay family that lives under the tree ^-^

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The 6 of us dragged out butts across Timbuktu to the train station Thursday morning and departed on a 5 hour bus ride to a port where we would board an overnight ferry to Greece. The overnight ferry was actually pretty neat because it is kind of like a mini cruise ship. There is a gift shop, some restaurants, a deck, and empty pool (it was too cold for that at the time), and serval decks with cabins. We actually didn’t have cabins, although we could if we were willing to pay more, which of course us budgeting college students didn’t. The area where we slept in both the ship there and back was a large room with essentially a bunch of rows of blue airplane seats, which looked very odd seeing that we were on a boat. Sleeping on these was of course uncomfortable, especially because the arm rests didn’t raise up so you had to sleep on your side curling around the thing in fetal position until your side hurt so bad that you had to switch positions. The other lovely sleeping positions were the frozen burrito if you tried to lay on the cold ground, or the demented movie theater in which you fit your feet in between the seats in front of you while at an awkward slant because your feet were higher than your torso. After explaining our luxurious accommodations you may find it surprising that we spent the majority of our time on the boat sleeping. We had 18-19 hours to kill and nothing to do besides play uno or sit in one of the lounges. I’m glad I at least had a pillow.

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After arriving at the main port in Greece we walked about 15 minutes to another  ferry to get to the island of Coru. We all then proceeded to sleep in the booths of the sitting/eating area of this new, smaller ferry. After getting off the second ferry all of the travel groups stood around and were divided onto their appropriate buses. My friends and I went with SmartTrip, a newer company, so there were not many of us. We literally got the short bus. All of the other groups were locked, loaded, and heading to the hostel, meanwhile our group leader had to talk to some guy who yelled at another one a bit farther away. I forgot his name so his name is going to be Georgios (George). Georgios then went to the corner of the parking lot, pulled out this little grey bus, took our bags, and shuttled us away, blaring his Greek pop music.

On the plus side, the environment was beautiful.Throughout the trip we passed giant rocks jutting out of the water and densely forested mountains bordering a crystal blue shoreline.

After about 30 hours of traveling, I never realized how much I taken for granted hotel rooms and blankets; the backseat of my car at home was even seeming like a spacious alternative.

There isn’t much in Corfu except our hostel called The Pink Palace and boy was it pink. The massive complex essentially had 2 sections, the road level and down about 800 stairs and two hills to on the beach. Luckily, we were by the beach, the bar, and the jacuzzi, but if we needed to go to dinner or reception, or anywhere else, we had to walk up the stairs. I think I’ve already made my opinion on excessive stairs clear. Our group got split up so Olivia and I ended up in this little rinky-dink hole of a room without a working heater while everyone else has a larger room with two bathrooms and a beautiful view of the ocean.

The pictures I am going to post show us in swimsuits on the beach, wearing sunglasses, with the sun shining, but besides Friday it was actually pretty dang chilly and upon opening my suitcase I realized I was in complete denial about the state of the weather. In addition, I didn’t even have a swimsuit because for some reason I assumed I wouldn’t need a swimsuit over here or that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find one in my size if I needed one. I was dreadfully wrong on both accounts. So I actually wore my underwear as a swimsuit the entire weekend, but thankfully some people didn’t notice. I mean swimsuits are basically waterproof underwear anyway right?

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I could describe a lot more about this weekend and maybe I will if someone asks, but for now I’ll try to narrow the remainder of this post to my ATV ride and our last night there.

On…Saturday morning everyone got up at the crack of dawn to sign up for activities that day. We walked all the way to the reception area and crammed in there for about an hour to an hour and a half and then it was a mad rush to the reception desk. Olivia, Shannon, and I signed up for an ATV safari later on that morning.

ATVing was even better than i thought. I was a bit nervous at first since I had never driven anything like it before, but once I rode it for a while, it almost reminded me of bumper cars. However, I did suck at turning, because there isn’t a wheel, so instead you push or pull on the bar to make it turn. While my brain understood this, sometimes it would slack off in making sure my arms got the memo. Also, my ATV liked to jerk whenever I hit any kind of bump, so my arms got a great workout that day with their deathgrip on the handle bars the whole time.

I knew Greece was nice, but I didn’t really know what to expect and somehow every place I go seems to be more breathtaking than the last. Thankfully no one really explained the course we were taking, because while our ultimate destination was unbelievable, there were some major drops to the side because we were essentially driving up the mountains on the island and I am  NOT a fan of heights. The courser was up tiny roads that other cars drove up, but there weren’t many railings near the edges and they were awfully chill about how potentially dangerous this trip could be with a large group of rookies. I mean I could’ve literally driven off a cliff. On the way down I happily drove on the left side of the road whenever given a chance.

Half way through the tour we arrived at this open patch of land that had views of the entire island, it was the second-highest point on the island. During the break everyone took pictures and sat down and ate sandwiches provided by the hostel. On my way down I managed to crash into a tree due to a very bumpy area that my 4-wheeler apparently found unacceptable. Shannon and Olivia both stopped – and about 45 other people behind me 0.0. Shannon helped me pull the ATV out of the ditch after I just stared at it for a couple seconds. Meanwhile, Olivia, knowing her priorities as camera girl was yelling “Are You Okay? *click click click*”

I know I may have made this ride seem like death on wheels, but it really was amazing. The surreal-ness of weaving through little towns, driving on the side of cliffs, accelerating up steep hills, and immersing myself in wooded forests, meanwhile seeing views of a vast clear-blue sky and mountains dominating the landscape….well there isn’t a way to put that feeling in words. If anyone ever gets the chance, I highly recommend giving it a try, wherever you are. I never would’ve known there was so much more behind the scenes unless I had taken the risk and explored.

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My word count is getting awfully too long for anyone’s enjoyment so I shall end it at this: our designated last night there, the water was actually too rough for the smaller ferry to get to the main island so we all had to stay another night and didn’t get home until Tuesday. It was a long, uncomfortable trip home, but with each new experiences I learn to appreciate the things I have as well as what I soon won’t.

My Italy Trip Entry 30: Spring Break Last Days – Destin & flight home

I’m not going to copy my journal exactly as is because I was a bit frustrated at the time.

Saturday

Word of advise to anyone who flies, and this may seem like common sense, but Nutella and jam are considered liquids – although i could technically argue against this fact. I say this because i received a jar of Nutella and homemade strawberry jam from Jonas’s parents and I was so excited upon receiving them, I simply threw them in my backpack and didn’t even consider them as being liquids. Once I went through security I was informed I would have to throw away my unopened jars. Two of the security guys were understanding and tried to suggest maybe checking in my backpack, but I had very important documents in it, plus it would’ve been quite expensive so that was a no go. Meanwhile, this other woman behind the counter who apparently had other more important places to be than her job, thought the situation would go much smoother if she gave me the “stupid American” glare, like I was a piece of very ignorant gum stuck to the bottom of her pointy shoes. In addition, security asked me to remove my iPad case, which hadn’t been asked of me before. I have a lifeproof case and couldn’t even open it at home with a coin. Ms. Rude Pants looked like she was about to have a hissy fit when I had the audacity  to say I couldn’t open it. I had to leave the security area, have this guy wave a magical microfiber cloth over it, say its fine, and then re-go through security all over. Some of people were nicer my second time around, but the bad thing about leaving German airports is the employees all yell commands at me in German until they finally take in my blank I’m-a-dumb-American stare and start to speak English.

By the time i got to my gate I was hungry, seething, and didn’t have the heart to tell Jonas. When I was sitting down before boarding, there was a man in front of me who apparently only knew how to stare straight, so the girl on my left probably thought I was praying to the sandwich I packed in my lap. I eventually calmed down, but then I had a bit of an interesting experience during the boarding process. Either its a German phenomenon or everyone was having a really bad day, but a large portion of the women had “resting b&!ch faces,” as the term goes. Especially one lady in line next to me. I tried my best – and apparently failed – to put on my innocent young passenger face, but whenever there was a glance between us, she looked at me as if I had just pushed a child. Ironically i was shoved aside by a child on my way to the plane.

Back to reading from my journal: “There are some talkative children behind me, but thankfully the girl next to me is Turkish and I don’t think she speaks English. Although she probably thinks I’m mentally disturbed when looking at the picture I was drawing…..

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When I arrived at the Florence I had to wait a while for a taxi. This very curt taxi driver showed up and picked me up and I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a woman who picked me up because I haven’t had a female taxi before. I soon had no care for that, as I was overwhelmed by this woman’s driving. I don’t know how she didn’t manage to have manslaughter on her driving record. She was terrifying, I’m talking about full-on butt clench. She finally got me home and asked for 25 euro which was more than she should’ve charged me, but I was afraid if she’d run me over with her taxi if I said anything, plus I was glad to finally be out of the car.

My stairwell lighting system is run on a timer, and on my trip up the stairs I took longer than usual because my suitcases were heavy. So midway up the stairs the lights turn off. So Im trying to slowly make my way up the stairwell to the nearest switch, and it turned into in  a sort-of crawl with one of my suitcases dangling in one hand, threatening to topple down the stairs. Eventually I knee-crawled over to the light switch, nudging my suitcase with my other shoulder. After this I finally made it home safe and sound and quickly unconscious.

… and so this segment doesn’t end on a negative note, here is a fun picture ❤ IMG_8153

Friday

Jonas, his mother, and myself took a trip to Dresden, the capital of Saxony – a region of Germany. I’m fairly certain I’m spelling it correctly, took me long enough to figure out what Jonas was saying when he was trying to explain it to me on the way there. All I heard was “SEX mumble mumble Knee,” so for a few seconds I thought we were going to some freaky sex capital.

It was a bit of a drive and I finally finished my book, and just casually looked out the window when BAM! there are these gorgeous gothic style towers dominating the riverside, like I was looking into the past for a brief moment. I was so taken aback, seeing as how I knew nothing about where I was even going. I REALLy wish i could’ve gotten a picture, but maybe it would be that amazing since I’ve already told you about it. Anyhoo here is a quick picture so you can get the idea.

After driving up (more like accelerating) this unnecessarily extremely circular parking garage that made me want to barf, we walked towards the center of the city to this church I cant spell that was destroyed during the war and rebuilt later on using some of the original and new bricks. The church had a beautiful organ inside but I couldn’t take pictures inside. However, we were able to climb to the top. I’m quite proud for facing my fear of heights more and more this trip. On our way up there was a slanted wall of glass so you could see all the way below and for a second my knees locked.

Okay I need to say something real quick, i keep passing this sign “Ausfahrt,” which I am assuming is a town or a city or something, but all you English speakers cannot deny that you would pronounce it phonetically. I think they should put the proper phonetic pronunciation underneath for us Americans.

After climbing up the church, we grabbed some kind of sausage that looks like a giant hot dog but tastes waaaaaaayyyyyy better, even the buns were better. We made our way to a plaza where a sightseeing tour bus took off from. Essentially the whole tour summed up: all the buildings had been bombed, destroyed, exploded, decimated, or some other synonym they managed to come up with, during some war – mainly the Seven Years War or WWII – and everything was rebuilt in the 1960s. There was one moment when they pointed out a historical area had been bombed by “Anglo-Americans” which probably meant me, the only one wearing earphones for English audio, so I awkwardly sunk a bit lower in my seat and focused intently on the outside of the window.

In history class back in high school you learn that Germany was “bad” during WWII and then that they had to rebuild their infrastructure and economy, but they never really show you how drastic it was, literally half of some cities were wrecked. Yet despite all that Germany is filled with both beautiful landscapes and cities alike.

We hopped off the bus at one point and went into this shop painted all over, like an old fashioned tea set. The downstairs kind of smelled like rotten cheese, but there was a cute caffe upstairs where I tried some milk rice with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I suppose the consistency was a bit like cottage cheese and it was quite delicious, although not too sweet – like practically every pastry here. I’ll probably think everything is a bit gross and overly-sugary when I first get home to America. We hopped back on the bus and saw some more really neat houses – the bus was moving too much to get any good pictures 😦 – before we made it back to the original starting point. On our way back to the car we walked through some mall that was HUGE. It was 3 stories, going in a million directions. They had everything, even a Hollister and  GameStop!

We grabbed some bread for dinner (surprise there) and headed home. The rest of the night was pretty chill. Jonas left to go give his friend a book he bought in Berlin while I stayed home, wrote in my journal, and jammed to some tunes.

I did make it home with 2 traditional painted Germany and some other chocolates which I am tempted to eat now, but no I’ll be strong!!!

——–end——

That’s all for my Germany trip, Ciao!

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cute easter bunnies in the mall connecting to the parking garage ^-^

 

 

 

 

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Frauenkirche (right)

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Top of the windy Church of Our Lady

 

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(left) milk rice

 

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I found a Hollister!!!!!

 

 

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Munich at night from the airplane

My Italy Trip Entry 29: Guess What? More Spring Break –> Tuesday-Thursday

Rest of Entry …4?

Tuesday & Wednesday

Tuesday I woke up around 7/7:30 (on my own) and we got ready for the day, eating breakfast on Jonas’s floor with food from the bakery down the street. We got two rolls of bread and a pastry each time and the most expensive trip was €3.12! Then we went took a train ride to berlin each day. Tuesday we walked around with Jonas’s friend Marie who pointed out places of interest and it was quite funny to see Jonas and Marie struggle with their own history lessons – although I’d probably do the same, its been a while since high school history classes. Besides her overwhelming aura of niceness and genuine interest in my life – although all the talking about me did make me feel a bit selfish haha –was her impeccable English. With Jonas you can definitely tell he has an accent (today he kept trying to say the word “the” and I thought he was saying “vaw”). Meanwhile, Marie barely had an accent at all, and if I didn’t know she was German I wouldn’t have been able to place it. The rest of the day I’ll try to explain in my photos. But one not I did want to make is that while we were in Berlin (I don’t know how much of Germany does this) Jonas got a water bottle from this fast food place and when he was done, he gave the bottle back so they could recycle it and they gave him 25 cents.

The next day Jonas and I toured the top dome of the main government building, the Reichstag. The top dome is made of glass and you walk up a spiral ramp with great views of the city while listening to an audio guide. The one-eared head piece kept track of what part of the dome you were standing in and would tell you to stop accordingly to explain the respective sites, it was actually pretty neat being able to recognize all the buildings and their immense history of the old city. The history of older European cities is much richer than most American cities, it almost overwhelming how there is some story to almost every place you go. I really do enjoy doing all these tourist activities because there is always an English option to everything. Although it has been interesting experiencing the other side of the spectrum where your own language is foreign or the minority. When in doubt, I just make Jonas talk for me. I wish I had a Jonas for Italy, but then I wouldn’t be able to practice my Italian as much as I do when on my own. I attached a photo of an explanation of the cone inside the Reichstag in case you’re interested. It’s subtly very environmentally friendly and I think it is amazing!

I met two new friends Tobias and Clara who were a bit more on the nerdy side, meaning the majority o four conversations that day were about anime and books <3. After the dome tour Jonas and I took a tram to meet them at a restaurant that made really good döner – a turkish pita-like thing brought to Berlin, and adopted into its food culture. It was delicious of course, like the majority of everything I’ve had here. We then took a train to the Hackischer Market are to find a BUBBLE TEA PLACE. And there were SO MANY SHOPS, even a non-shopper like myself had to resist the urge to walk into all of them (because poor-er). After Bubble Tea, ehih Jonas tried for the first time ^-^, we went to this really neat English Bookstore, in the back corner of this huge 4 story German bookstore; although Germans would technically call it 3 stories. I spent more money than I would’ve liked, but I did get 4 books that’ll last me for a while. I also got a notepad to help me make decisions because I’m terribly indecisive.

After leaving the English bookstore, we went to Clara’s favorite coffeeshop that has books everywhere and they’re all ONE EURO. I really need a place like this back home.

I have to say I really enjoyed Berlin. I didn’t really know what to expect, I only knew about the Berlin Wall, but I was pleasantly surprised. The only downside to my Germany trip (besides the fact that I probably gained a few pounds) was the transportation costs. This included the train to Frankfurt Oder, back to Berlin, to FO, to Berlin, to FO, to his parents place, and transportation within the city. I’m pretty sure it cancels out when I consider all the free food I received 😀

Tuesday & Wednesday nigh also ended in us watching anime until we went to sleep. Tuesday night was particularly neat because we walked about 10 minutes across the river to a pizza place in Poland. The pizzas were delicious and quite filling, we didn’t finish them until Wednesday night. Also, each night and morning involved plenty of milka chocolate.

—-end—- I’ll add more pictures in the morning when my internet starts working better:)

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lots of Häagen-Dazs!!! And Starbucks of course:)

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we were in a room of silence

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Bradenburg Gate front and back

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Republic Square – where the Reichstag is

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Even fast food is sausage

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this is the insides of a giant crafts store

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This is a 3 story McDonalds

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views of Poland from the bridge walk over

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at the pizza place in Poland

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I attached a picture (below) about the cone

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döner 😀

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some funny books at the English Bookstore

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Two random guys from the subway, don’t remember why I took this XD

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Friends! We are at the coffee/usedbookshop of Clara’s.

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Thursday

Thursday was a bit more chill, I slept in until 9am – the latest I had until then. We went to the bakery, ran into a market where I bought Jonas’s mother a rose plant – which I of course forgot at his apartment – and then watched an episode of anime before leaving to walk around.

We visited one of the buildings of his school and the outside of the library, where I posed with one of the chicken statuesJ We then went shopping, in which poor Jonas had to deal with me in my sour mood because I had all the clothes for warm weather I needed at home in Florida, but I hadn’t expected to become “climatized” so fast.

After several hours of shopping until I felt like I wanted to murder someone (I’m really only good shopping with my mother), we visited Jonas’s favorite coffee shop. My favorite part of the experience was when the bartender came over again after taking my empty glass from my milkshake I had and brought a smaller cup filled with more milkshake, saying in a very serious tone “I made too much. I hope you don’t mind.” I couldn’t help but laugh in response. This brings me to a note on milkshakes. When I first arrived in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised to see advertisements for milkshakes, but was quickly disappointed. After trying to explain my disappointment to Jonas I realized how dumb I must sound. The main component of milkshakes here seems to be sweetened milk and ice versus the more fattening ice cream, milk, and ice like America. I was asking Jonas why they’re made so weird and he asked what milkshakes were supposed to be made of.

Coming back now, after the coffee shop we packed our things … and watched 3 more episodes of Akatsuki no Yona. Then we finally took the train home, so absorbed in our reading that we almost missed the last stop to get off!

And the night ended with late night dinner from Jonas’s mother, a dose of anime, and some chocolate. Perfect.

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I miss the bakery 😥

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inside one of Jonas’s school buildings

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city tram – they’re everywhere

IMG_8092 IMG_8093 IMG_8095 IMG_8097 IMG_8098 dinner from Jonas’s mother ❤

Italy Trip Entry 28: More Spring Break! (LOTS of pictures)

Entry 3 – 3/24/15

After I left off yesterday, Jonas and I hung around the house a bit and then went to his grandparent’s home. Their house was literally a 3 minute walk around the corner. While the outside may not have looked like anything super special, the inside was beautiful as I have found is often the case here. I love that every home is unique, each having their own story. Unlike all the houses back home in suburbia. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I miss about America, but since I am only in Germany for a week, I tend to only notice the positive aspects. For instance, it is very common here for trash cans to separate your trash between garbage and compost.

Anyhoo, lunch consisted of potatoes, purple cabbage, carrots, some rolled meat, and pudding. of course it was delicious and strangely as I type this weeks later I can remember the taste of all of it haha. Afterwards Jonas’s grandmother drove us to Jonas’s best friend Ellen’s house. Mind you, there are still still speed limits off the autobahn, but I don’t think his grandmother cared about any of them.

We spent the next few hours walking around the city Jonas grew up in and through this huge, amazing (like even better than the other) park they had. The town wasn’t too big – the theatre only showed one movie – but I think it was the perfect size for a place to experience your childhood.

After walking forever, we finally made it back to Ellen’s house, bakery snacks in hand of course (German’s love their bread!), and waited a bit for her father to take us to the train station, which seemed A LOT farther away when we were walking.

….apparently I ended it here haha

This one has a quite a bit of pictures so I will label what I can:) and posy the rest tomorrow

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These are my favorite quotes on Ellen’s wall, which is AMAZING. I especially love the “Love Yourself” on top of the mirror. It is something I strongly believe everyone should have on their own mirror.

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cafeteria of their GIANT school

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There are three separate buildings, all connected, and all f the same height as this picture. ‘m taking a photo from the second floor of the very last building.

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(left) we copied out hands to show we were there (right) the front of the school

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(right) a big square in town

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These are a few photos from the part. This one in particular was from the little music section. IMG_7944 IMG_7945 IMG_7946

The park wasn’t extremely full, but it was off season because of the cold.

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That’s their little beach ❤

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—————————————–

Entry 4 – 3/26/15 (I will write the part containing the rest of Monday night)

A lot has happened since I wrote last, so here is the rest of Monday:

Jonas and I took the train to Berlin and got onto another one to Frankfurt (Oder). I actually find the train rides quite enjoyable because I have been able to read my book so the one hour ride from Frankfurt to Berlin and Berlin to Jonas’s parents home was quite fast. I would probably travel far distances more often, such as going to the St.Johns town center or the beach if it meant I only had to take the train – so Florida step your game up!

We arrived in Frankfurt Oder when it was quite dark so I don’t think I took many pictures. I actually haven’t taken too many pictures this trip so far because I’m too busy enjoying the crazy life I’m experiencing around me and taking a lot of pictures requires abruptly stopping what you’re doing along with whoever you’re with. I’ve still taken plenty, but there is never enough to capture it all.

We grabbed some Chinese food on the way to his apartment. They gave us these huge portions in these styrofoam boxes for only 4 euros each. We thought the first box was for both of us. We happily consumed each box ourselves. Apparently because Frankfurt Oder is so close to Poland – you can see it from the apartment window – everything around here is cheap because Poland has low prices to attract the Germans who are willing to spend more than the Polish.

We eventually arrived at his flat and went downstairs for a meeting with all the people in his building they have every Monday to discuss what is going on (events, activities, and problems). It is pretty neat because there is only about 20, maybe 25, residents that all fit at one massive table so they all know each other and attend university. This is something I would love to have back home, but I think most people find themselves too crazy busy in Gainesville. The meeting room was also interesting as the floor used to be a store that was transformed to incorporate a laundry room, smoking room, kitchen, lounge area, and game area.

We then ended the night with watching anime on Jonas’s giant beanbags and eating milka chocolate. A great day indeed.

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