November 9, 2014

Adios Spain

When it came time for my last day in Spain, I descended (via sketchy bus) from Ronda to the seaside city of Málaga

Even though I knew I was flying to my next destination from Málaga and therefore would have stop there eventually, I somehow had myself convinced I was only rolling in for the morning and not actually spending a day/night there. I was wrong: I had a whole day! 

So with that I booked a quick bed at the Oasis Backpacker's Hostel and went out into the hot sun to make the most of my wholly unplanned day. 



November 2, 2014

October is Over?

I'm never going to be done blogging about my Europe trip, we can just all accept that. I do, however, want at least to document a few of my memories from this semester, which has been a blast, if busy as heck, hence the struggle to complete my blogs. Jewel suggested I throw in some of the here & now and just go back and forth, and you know, why not? Screw OCD and chronological order. 

So here's a goodbye to October, which is already ending, though how that has happened I don't know. It's still 85º in San Diego, since we don't actually have seasons, but when we headed to Julian for the day it finally felt a little bit less like summer. 


October 22, 2014

Hiking the gorge

Next time I go backpacking in Europe (or anywhere), I promise I'll invest in the innovative invention called a hiking shoe. You know those things great for walking long distances? However, for this time round, I had been living in Italy prior to venturing out onto the rest of the continent and who really has the money for Italian shoes? Not this girl. 

So, that in mind, welcome to the day I hiked down the gorge in Ronda, in my Reef flip flops, which I stand by as the most reliable shoe I own. I am, in fact, wearing the same pair right now. They're just that wonderful.  



October 13, 2014

When the sun sets on Ronda

"There is one town that would be better than Aranjuez to see your first bullfight in if you are only going to see one and that is Ronda. That is where you should go if you ever go to Spain on a honeymoon or if you ever bolt with anyone. The entire town and as far as you can see in any direction is romantic background...if a honeymoon or an elopement is not a success in Ronda, it would be as well to start for Paris and commence making your own friends."
-Ernest Hemingway
From Sevilla to Ronda was such a striking contrast. I may have not been on a romantic honeymoon as described by Mr. Hemingway, but I was on a starry-eyed adventure, and Ronda was an ideal solo-traveler destination.


October 9, 2014

Moorish magnificence

On my last real day in Sevilla I rose into the, persistently blinding, day bright & early. 


October 7, 2014

Plaza de España

When I left you, I was lounging in the lush grass of Parque de María Luisa, reflecting on the wonders of the universe. When I finally changed my course in the parque, I made my way to the famed Plaza de España to marvel at man made wonder. 



October 1, 2014

Finding Spain

For those of you who follow me on Instagram you already know how blown away I was by Southern Spain. It had everything I imagined about Spain that Barcelona had failed to deliver on. 

Strolling down the narrow streets of warm colored buildings, with the hot sun gracing my skin as I emerged from the shadows, was like a daydream. 



September 21, 2014

La Sagrada Familia

On our final day in Barcelona, I was adamantly set on getting the one thing we had yet to try in españa: churros con cioccolata.  

We really needed something to start our day off right, and what healthier way than doughnuts covered in sugar and dipped in molten chocolate? 



September 18, 2014

Gaudi's Barcelona

Initially we had high expectations for our third day in Barcelona, however, after quite a night the day before, we didn't exactly rally bright and early as planned. 

Rising late we formed a game plan for the next two days: basically see everything Gaudí

We began with the Casa Batlló. Mosaic-ed in opulent pastel tiles, the whole building looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. 


September 14, 2014

Barcelona Bites Back

Sometimes unfortunate things can happen while you're traveling, and like in life, you just have to take them in stride and handle the situation. Our second day in Barcelona started well enough, but concluded with a bit of a struggle, in the form of two stolen cell phones. 

We all like to think that we're conscientious enough to not get our stuff stolen. That all those crime alerts about ripped away cell phones are just dumb people not paying enough attention. Really though, it can happen to the best of us, especially when traveling in a foreign country known for its master pickpockets. 

Barcelona sits on the southern coast of Spain, along the Balearic Sea. Brooke, Lindsey, and I thought we would take advantage of a beach day, being the California girls we are. However, though they may be beautiful, Barcelona's beaches are nothing like California. People line every inch of the sand, and there are panhandlers consistently harassing you. 

"Mojito! Mojito! Fresh mojito!" 


September 12, 2014

The promising start to Barcelona

After a late entry into the Spanish metropolis of Barcelona, the first thing to be found in the morning light was food. A whole warehouse size market of every food to be imagined, to be more exact. 


September 7, 2014

The silent, vibrant streets of Cork

My last stop on my Irish train (or as it had it my Bus Éiraen, which is a real crackin' way to see the Irish countryside, if you ask me) was Cork, down towards the south of the isle. A beauty of a little city, a bit like Dublin, Cork was full of site seeing. The site seeing was a lucky turn, considering I didn't realize I'd planned my trip there on a bank holiday, which unlike in the US, actually means that the whole city is shut down. 

So, in true Kenna form, I spent my entire day aimlessly wandering for miles and miles around the city. Sticking to my tradition of college seeing, I began with University College Cork.   


August 29, 2014

The Cliffs of Moher

For someone who was once borderline anti-people, I came to find that making new friends on my adventures was one of my favorite parts of traveling. One exceptionally fortunate encounter occurred in my sweet little town of Doolin. It was here, in my hostel, that I met four beyond-lovely girls, with whom I would spend the next two days. 

I was lucky enough to meet Vanessa, Chelsea, Katie, and Amelia before they had ventured up to the Cliffs of Moher. With our shared destination in mind, I joined them on a bus trip up the mountain to see what really should be considered one of the natural wonders of the world. 


Quintessential Ireland

I've often been asked why I chose the specific cities I chose to visit on my adventure. For some places, there is no reason at all, other than at the moment, it sounded fun. For other places, there's a bit more logic. For Doolin, Ireland it was one well advised recommendation that led me to what was immediately my favorite Irish village.

While on a trip in Germany (an un-blogged adventure, because, as is obvious by my infrequent posts, I'm a dang busy girl) a handy Bus2Alps tour leader told me that if I wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, I could not just take any old Paddy-Wagon tour, but rather that I HAD TO go visit the teeny little town of Doolin. He promised me that this nearly non-existant town, would be the quintessential Ireland I was hoping for. 

He did not lie. 

Doolin sits along the coast of County Clare, which in and of itself, is Ireland. Imagine being Hilary Swank in P.S. I love you, walking lost along a desolate Irish road, with sheep roaming around, then all-of-a-sudden, there's a beautiful Gerald Butler in your path. That's County Clare. Well, minus Gerald, but a girl can (day) dream. And with a population just around 500, surely Gerald's beautiful Irish family would live in Doolin, so you'd have to move there to a tiny cottage with cows and sheep and ....well I guess I'm getting a bit off point, but can you blame me?

I arrived (daydreaming) in Doolin, via the once-a-day bus, to find myself left on a street with a cafe, two pubs, and a hand full of hostels/b&b's. I easily enough found my new home, Rainbow Hostel, as the bus dropped me immediately in front of it, and there wasn't much else around to compete for my attention. 
   

August 12, 2014

Galway Girl

"Well, I took a stroll on the old long walk
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
I met a little girl and we stopped to talk
On a grand soft day -I-ay-I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do
'Cause her hair was black blonde and her eyes were blue
And I knew right then I'd be takin' a whirl
Down the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl"
-Celtic Thunder

Galway is one of the culture capitals of Ireland, and my second stop on my Irish tour. When you have six days to explore an entire country, it's awfully challenging to choose where to go. I'll tell you, that I mainly chose Galway for two reasons: first, I was told downtown is the source of classic Irish pub music and second, this image on Pinterest. You should know by now, it doesn't take much more than a pretty picture to convince me. 


August 5, 2014

A day (and night) in Dublin

After 10 glorious days in Greece, I said farewell to Bre and headed off to Ireland. After a long day of travel I arrived at my hostel in Dublin, Abraham House, and hit the hay. 


I had just one day to explore Ireland's capital, so I started off bright and early. 

August 2, 2014

Endless sun

After Bre and I's morning at the pool we went and harassed Poppy about how to acquire a quad for the day, a process which proved to be surprisingly easy and cheap. We didn't even have to sign our lives away (like in ol'America). 


August 1, 2014

Lounging in Santorini

When Bre and I arrived in Santorini, there were clouds in the sky and sprinkles of rain falling. We were a bit dismayed by this weather, but quickly perked up as we arrived at our quaint Grecian retreat. 

Villa Manos is the perfect homey island escape destination (on a budget). For just $12 a night each, Bre and I got a large room to ourselves, with the added bonus of the nicest hotel staff in history. The woman who runs Villa Manos, Poppy, is about the sweetest lady on the planet, and essentially the greek mama you never had. Her and her husband run a pristine hotel, and are always willing to help you with any of your island needs. Bre and I went running to Poppy on more than one occasion over our 7 days stay trying to figure out how the hecky to get around the island.


July 30, 2014

Athens Unknown

There was a time in my life I dreamed of going to Athens. I could only envision the great columns of the Parthenon and the ancient legacy of the 3,400 year old capitol of Greece. However, as I heard more things about the city, I found myself less and less drawn to it. No one I met had much praise for the overpopulated streets. 

Despite being deterred from visiting, en-route to Santorini, Bre and I had a one day pitstop in the metropolis. While I tritely must say I enjoy being able to say I have seen the "wonder of the world" Acropolis, I could have probably skipped the trip to Athens. In all honesty, it was one of my least favorite places I traveled to. A city's vibe is essential, and the one that emanated throughout the ancient streets was not one I enjoyed. 

Still, being eternally optimistic, Bre and I railed on through our day and founds some enjoyable moments throughout the dubious city. We wandered for hours, making our way up to the ancient center.



July 19, 2014

Coming Soon

Over two months ago, when I set out on what I like to call my "Great European Adventure", I had no idea how fast the time would fly by. I should have anticipated that after what a whirlwind studying abroad for a whole semester had been, 51 days would feel like nothing. Still, as I sit here back at home in sunny California, I cannot believe it's all really over. 

Backpacking around Europe had always been a dream of my best friends and I, even with the foreboding peril of packing, so well illustrated by Lorelei and Rori. Nevertheless, we rallied and managed to fit 6 weeks of clothes in our Osprey Porter 46 carry-on size backpacks, and now can basically consider ourselves the most efficient packers on the planet. While the majority of my time traveling was spent with my two best friends from home, Brooke and Lindsey, I started my trip with my amica Bre from school in Italy, and then spent some of it on my own. 


May 21, 2014

On Hiatus

I wanted to write a blog post that summed up my whole semester abroad. That named all my favorite things (the ones I spent my last week savoring) and express how fortunate I felt to have such great friends in Italy (and now, around the world). But I don't really have the words to express the entirety of my semester. It was too great, too unreal, and went by too fast. I can only say, ciao Firenze (for now-I may even come back with a reminiscent Italy blog in a few months, we all know I have the photo number to do it). 


May 18, 2014

Pisa

On Jewel's to-do list in Italy was the Leaning Tower of Pisa. She was a little more than disappointed when I told her we didn't have a whole day to waste in Pisa. I had heard there's not much to do in the little town, other than the Tower, and this information proved true. Nevertheless, Pisa is a perfect pitstop on a train route from Castiglioncello to Florence. 

We made all Jewel's bucket list dreams come true. 

Checking our bags into left luggage at the train station (the benefits of traveling light), we made the jaunt to the Piazza dei Miracoli. 


May 16, 2014

A peculiar destination

Mom, Jewel, and I set out on a new adventure after our luxury trip to Santa Margherita Ligure for something a little different. In case you were wondering, yes, we spent a lot of time on trains that last weekend. On the bright side, train travel in Europe is the bomb-diggity. 


May 13, 2014

The Italian Riviera

We stepped off our train (the second time, since we may or may not have originally got off at the wrong stop) into the cool Mediterranean sea air. We weaved through brightly colored buildings down the slope to Santa Margherita Ligure, where the bright mare blu awaited. 


May 7, 2014

Sharing "La Dolce Vita"

The first weekend I was in Florence I found myself living la dolce vita (the sweet life). With Mom & Jewel in my city, I wanted to show them that same perfect day I had; that first day when I found all my favorite things in Florence. 

We started with what is the essential kick off to any great venture: gelato. Not just any gelato, but the sweet creamy delight that is Gelateria Vivaldi


May 5, 2014

Seeing Siena

Just a short (though perilous) bus ride away from Florence is the medieval town of Siena. After reading the book, Juliet, by Anne Fortier, a conceptualized story based on the history behind Romeo & Juliet, set in Siena, Jewel and I were both dying to visit the historic municipality. 

We arrived in the late afternoon, giving us the perfect amount of time to stroll the sloping streets. 


May 2, 2014

Buona Notte Firenze

It could be argued whether my Mom came to visit just me or just Italy, and the generous answer would probably be a combo of the two. But really, if we're honest, she came for the carousel. 


In Piazza della Repubblica there is a restored early 20th century carousel ran by the Picci family (see story here). From what I have been told it only runs from November to May, but since I arrived in January, it has been present for my every jaunt through the city center. Though I was many times tempted to jump upon the 20 horse parade, I continued to hold out hope that my mama (and Jewel) would cross the Atlantic and be with me for that first ride. 

I was not let down. 

A Return to Venezia

Oh Venezia. When Mom, Jewel, and I decided to go to Venice after Verona, I somehow thought that I would be a perfect tour guide. I had been a few months earlier to the sinking city for Carnivale, and thought I had sort of got the hang of it. Turns out, other then gaining the aptitude for finding "Rialto" and "San Marco" signs, Venice was as stupefying the second time as it had been the first.  

Still, you can only experience something for the first time once, and I had some idea of what to expect. Jewel & Mama, however, did not; it was nearly as enjoyable to watch them see Venice for the first time as it had been to experience it. 



April 28, 2014

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art my dinner?

They best way to introduce someone to the very essence of Italy is to feed them. Therefore upon arrival, my Mama and Jewel learned instantly that the core of life in Italy is (as we should all know) food. Their first night (hours) in Florence, there was wine, lasagna, and bread. For some reason the entire time I was with these ladies, we were served bread with every meal. It really isn't fair, because contrary to what they now believe, bread is not an everyday gift with your meal. But in any case, I shall stall my rant and move on to the next day. 

After Mama and Jewel got an appropriate amount of sleep (with no jet lag because they took my expert advice of just not sleeping at all until you get to your destination country) we did some general site-seeing. Soon from site-seeing we moved to food-eating, as it was that I had to get to class and needed some lunch. Mom mentioned an appreciation for cured meats, and I knew just the place to take her: La Prosciutteria

At this restaurant-not-restaurant you enjoy the company of your neighbors at a shared table while drinking house wine, FREE water, and eating delectable meats & cheeses. It hits the "essence" of Italy on the head, minus the free water thing. That's a novelty. 


April 23, 2014

In Ruin

There are a few places every young Humanities major dreams of: the Roman Forum, Ancient Greece, and Pompeii are some of the top highlights. 

Pompeii has always fascinated my imagination. First, as a youngin' with my morbid thoughts running wild with images of flowing lava and a city buried alive. Then later, in my Classic Study of Ancient Greece & Rome course, I learned about the almost lucky (though not for the Pompeiians) preservation of the city, which has allowed historians and archeologists to better understand life during the height of the Roman Empire, and I became only more intrigued. Finally, as it can always be counted on to do, a good ol' episode of Doctor Who reminded me of the emotional turmoil and devastation that occurred in Pompeii, inadvertently spurring a sentimental attachment within me for the fallen Pompeiians. 

Despite this foreknowledge, when we first arrived in Pompeii, we were greeted by a light hearted phallus-waving imp, guaranteeing that the whole day would not be caught up only in the sorrow of death, but also in the rejoice of the accomplishments of the lost people, bronze nudes included.   



April 22, 2014

Planet Amalfi

Sometimes living 'the life' gets all kinds of overwhelming and time consuming, making for one very inconsistent blogger. When I last penned out a post for my dear bloggy I had said goodbye to London. I, however, failed to mention that I was departing from my new found (future) home to head off on another adventure on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. 

After spending a week in London, the evening I returned to Florence I found myself with a fierce contention for Italy. Why are there so many people on this miniature sidewalk? I forgot how to speak this language! Hey you with the creepy eyes: don't you dare holler at me! I had a bit of re-culture shock situation on my hands. 

Fortunately, the cure for any negative feelings for fair Italia is to briefly recover from exhaustion with a good ol' fashion bubble bath and then head off to somewhere entirely new that will remind you just how magical of a country you live in. 

-Insert 4 hour train ride to Southern Italy here-

My friend Elsa and I arrived on the train in Salerno, then set off to Amalfi by bus. Arriving in the sloping land of Amalfi, Elsa and I were both left speechless. Usually when you arrive in a new place you can compare it to somewhere you've been before. This is not a possibility on the Southern Ionian Coast of Italy. It was like arriving on an new planet. Even the Amalfians portray their tiny town with some very alien-like figures. 



April 6, 2014

Leaving and Loving London

My last day in London. *insert tears here* Even the sky was weeping for me, as it poured buckets for a large portion of my day. 

I had developed a "to-do" list before I came to my grand city, and I had just a few more things to see before I left. Despite only getting an hour-ish of sleep the night before, I headed out early on Wednesday morning to make sure I saw everything, starting with Covent Garden & Neal's Yard


Neal's Yard is one of those tiny little scenic places you find and pin on Pinterest time and again. It is nestled off a street in Covent Garden, where you could easily miss it if you weren't looking. There may not be much to do there at 9:30 am on a Wednesday, but it sure is a photogenic little hide-away. 

April 5, 2014

Oxford walls

I wanted to see if I had fallen in love with London or just England on the whole, so the fourth day of my UK adventure I took a day trip. I can only name a hand full of English towns, one of which is Oxford. What I knew about Oxford boiled down to essentially that there is a college there, and that was enough for me (again, ever-scheming for a good excuse to move to England).  

I googled a few tid-bits about Oxford before boarding the bus to my destination for the day, and off I went. I must say, my internet skills were particularly lazy that fair day, so the only thing that stuck was that The Grand Café had excellent high tea. It's obvious I pay attention to the most important things in life. 


April 4, 2014

Geek Out Day

Welcome to what I like to call my "Geek Out Day" aka "The Best Day Ever" aka "The Perfect Day in London" aka "Too Many Pictures in One Day" aka "The Longest Blog Post Ever Because It Was AMAZING". All seriousness, though, March 24, 2014 was one of the most exemplary days I have ever had. 

It began with the sun shining in London (a good omen, or so I hear). I strolled through residential streets and into Battersea Park; I learned my first day, that the best way to start a day in London is in a park.


April 2, 2014

London town wanderings

I get hankerings, and once I get them, they don't let go. I've been fortunate enough that most of this food cravings have evaded me during my time in Italy. However, with the promise of London, home to every possible type of food you could imagine, I needed something so exotic, something so foreign I could get it in no other place than the cosmopolitan metropolitan paradise of London. I needed........ a cheeseburger. 

Ok, so maybe it's not that exotic. Nevertheless, few things are as satisfying as a good burger (and few things are as unfortunate as a bad burger). Thanks to some internet-scouring I had a hunch on where to get a goodin' in ol' London town. On Sunday I found myself at the Byron Burger in Soho.


A tasty Sunday Burger seemed to be a popular idea, as the place was poppin'. Inside there is a very diner-esc atmosphere, though just a little more upscale, probably because proper British people seem to eat there french fries chips with a fork. 


April 1, 2014

The Tourist Walk

I expected to like London. I had no idea that I would love it. I love Italy, I love Switzerland, but I want to pack up all my things, move to London and never leave. It's that kind of love. The moment my plane touched down that first night and I hopped on a bus into the brightly lit city I was smiling to myself, I'm going to like it here, I thought. 

The next morning I purchased my Oyster card, leapt on an iconic red double-decker bus, and headed into the city center. I couldn't have gotten any luckier with the weather on the first day of my adventure; the giant cumulus clouds made the city even more picturesque. 


March 20, 2014

Sneak Peak

Florence is just a bit overwhelming. Well, maybe I just have moments of being a bit overwhelmed. How grateful I am for this life I'm leading, but holy potatoes is it exhausting (see here for this explained in GIF form). By the time I feel like I have any free time during the week after traveling, classes, activities, clubs, friends, homework, etc. I just want a moment to chill. Which has lead to moments of sitting at home enjoying not doing anything (which when it was pouring buckets outside was pretty acceptable behavior). 

However, I want to make the most out of every single moment of my time here, in my fantastic home abroad. Luckily, with the sun finally out and shining here in Florence, I'm beginning to search out places to bask in doing nothing, but outside. If you sit in your room and read a book you're a hermit, but if you do it outside in a park you're a romantic; I like to consider myself a romantic hermit. 

In San Diego I've spend countless hours at Balboa Park, one of my favorite places to go and escape from the stress of life. Like San Diego, Florence is a place where you have to go out and search for a place to escape from the city-livin' life. Boboli Gardens are an excellent place for this. 

The Gardens are connected to the rear of Pitti Palace, which I visited a few weeks ago when the weather was still a bit nippy. At around 11 acres, I couldn't even begin to see the whole of the gardens as I explored during a study break last week, but I thought I'd give you a little sneak peak of just a little bit of it. 



March 12, 2014

Gelato, Bicyles, and Tights

La-la-la-Lucca! The little Tuscan town of Lucca swept me away on Saturday into rays of sunshine, smiles, and happy humming. 

To enter Lucca you must first get past the mighty medieval wall. There are plenty of entrances, but we chose those most cryptic. I felt a little like Indiana Jones creeping through a lost tunnel. 



March 3, 2014

A Simple Sunday

Waking up with nothing to do is blissful. Not having to hit snooze a dozen times and whine to the morning gods that it is too early is one of the better moments in life. Even living in Italy, it can really be these little things that make you appreciate life. 

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week. There are so many great simplicities on Sundays. My primary preference is "Scumball Sundays" (patent pending), when I don't leave the house or do anything relatively close to productive. Brunch is the primary meal of the day, and there's no going wrong with bacon and mimosas at 11 am. Everything is a little more relaxed on a Sunday. The streets are quieter, hushed from those suffering hangovers, and no one is rushing around with the usual frantic purpose of the week. 

Having been a frantic rusher for the past few weekends (not that there are any complaints here) I have been craving a chill weekend to enjoy Florence and a little relaxation. Friday and Saturday, I spent predominately tucked in hiding from the rain. I took advantage of an uncommon "Scumball Saturday", filled with tea and a Criminal Minds marathon. 

On Sunday I woke to a quite apartment. My whole gang of roommates had departed for the day so I had the place to myself. I think we all know that being home alone is one of those "little things" I was talking about. I opened the apartment windows to let in the sun that had finally peaked out from behind the clouds, turned on iTunes, and began to sing along. I cracked a few eggs on the stove and had breakfast going in no time. I danced around the kitchen, as I moved my cuisine from pan to plate. 


February 25, 2014

Winter Paradise

There are a million things I love about Italy. The lack of nature, is not one of them. Italy has been inhabited and structured for nearly its entire history, it's not surprising that every major city is overlaid completely by concrete and the ever infamous cobblestones. Usually I can hang with this city-living style, but I was more ready than I even knew to go to the great outdoors.

I went to the right place: Interlaken, Switzerland is one of the outdoor recreation capitols of the world. Nestled down in a valley this wild utopia is surrounded on four sides by the Swiss Alps. The Alps rise up above you at incomprehensible heights, making you feel like every bit the ant you are in their presence. These grand mountains are covered by various trees and mounds of snow, creating a breathtaking landscape. 




February 20, 2014

The magic in Venice

"Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased," Polo said. "Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.” 
-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

I think I may have been channeling Calvino's Marco Polo this week. I usually jump to blog and relive my memories through the words I type. However, with Venice, I think I just wanted to hold onto it alone for a little while longer, letting it live only in my memory.

There are some places that when you arrive, you find are nothing like you expected (Rome for example). Other places, however, are everything you could have ever dreamt and then some. Venice is one of these places. Walking out of the Santa Lucia Train Station, you are released right on the Grand Canal, a sight that cannot be anticipated.


February 15, 2014

Roma, Roma, Roma

What could be more blissful then lounging by the Trevi Fountain, basking in the sunlight, and people watching? 

Ah yes, lounging by the Trevi Fountain, basking in the sunlight, people watching, AND gelato Nutella flavored gelato. 


February 13, 2014

The Eternal City

Two countries. One day.

Well, technically. One country, one "city-state": Vatican City, which is independent from Italy so I say it counts. In any case, as is with everything in Rome, the size of the monuments in Vatican City are large enough for an entire country. 

I'd like to start this part of the post with a little word to the wise, as I know we all have hopes of visiting Rome, and when that occurs Vatican City is obviously a stop on the tourist loop. There are two entrances: one that leads you to the Sistine Chapel & the Vatican Museum and the other, which takes you straight into Saint Peters Basilica. So be sure and know which one you want first. I state this, mostly because I was unaware of this fact, and the girls and I spent the initial part of our morning walking back and forth trying to figure out what to do, whilst, as is the norm, being harassed by various guides and merchants trying to bamboozle us. 

On the upside though, we got some picture ops early in the morning when the crowds weren't too outrageous. 


February 11, 2014

Benvenuto a Roma

Rome is both everything you expect it to be, and nothing like you imagined. In both good and bad ways. As an eternal optimist though, I'll try to give you the best of it. 

The initial excitement comes from going: Andiamo a Roma! The eternal city, with more history than possibly any other place on the planet. With the addition of a fancy-smancy high speed train, you're on your way to a great time. 


The architecture of Rome is beautiful (and slightly reminiscent of San Francisco...or maybe to say San Francisco is reminiscent of Rome is more accurate). 

February 4, 2014

La dolce vita

Wake up, it's Saturday morning, and there are not buckets of rain coming down. Easy to make a plan for the day: just meet up with your friends at the over 600 year old Duomo. 


You and your amiche walk down the bustling streets of Florence, alive with people no longer forced to hide from the rain. You're not sure how to get where you're going, but you have a general idea, so you'll find a sign eventually. 


February 2, 2014

Living in a dream

Sometimes things are so amazing that they become surreal. Italy is one of those things. It's like I woke up one morning and was dropped into one of my own dreams. 

My first official day in Firenze the weather could have not been more beautiful. Even if it rains everyday after (which so far has been the case), fate was kind enough to offer one sunshiny perfect day of exploring to keep me content. Rain or no rain, though, Florence is still more magical than a thousand other places on their most perfectly weathered day. 

My new roomies, Jackie and Catherine, and myself spent our first day wandering the streets, generally looking for a convenience store, but mostly just being thrilled with our new home; a fair emotion when you consider the view. 



January 28, 2014

Peace out Cali

"I took a road to nowhere on my own...because I left everyone I love at home. I don't want to be alone forever, but I can be alone tonight. I don't want to be alone forever, but I love Gypsy life." -Lady Gaga

The past couple weeks have been crazy. I did a hundred things and ran out of time to do a thousand more. There were so many moments and faces that just flew by. From the last day of our San Francisco weekend to my departure on a new adventure, there hasn't been a second wasted (as long as you don't count marathon Doctor Who-ing as time wasting, which I do not). 

When you live somewhere for so long it becomes easy to take for granted how lucky you are; California is a prime example of this. One weekend, we went to San Francisco to celebrate my Mom's Birthday, explore a castle (see here), visit my Aunty, and explore creepy toy artifacts, all whilst enjoying a mild 65 degree climate.





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