Month: June 2012
So I have discovered that traveling in Europe and studying has really taken up all the time that I have. Considering that I do not have access to a computer, this may be my last post for now. I am taking Europe and the culture in as much as I can without tainting the experience with so much technology.
With that said, I have to tell you guys about my adventures in Cinque Terre this past weekend while I take a much needed break from my studies.
Cinque Terre is a region consisting of five cities that are located pretty close to eachother (about a 9-11 hour hike from the first town to the last). We stayed in a quaint town called Riomaggiore. It is the town furthest south and definitely had a small town feel. We stayed in an apartment that was rented out by an old Italian couple who lived upstairs. It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, and a random room with chairs. This place proved to be the best place to experience the locality and essence of Italy at its best.
We arrived pretty late the first day and so we settled in and got ready to go get some dinner. It didn’t take long before we realized that the town essentially just spans off of one main street and within the first hour, we already felt at home. We decided to eat at this small restaurant on the main road and all I can say is, good choice. I had the best meal of spaghetti and clam, oysters, shrimp, and octopus. I am always on the lookout for the best seafood and jump on every opportunity to enjoy some fresh seafood. Without a doubt, the entire weekends’ seafood meals were some of the best I have ever tried and I am so thankful that I can say I’ve truly experienced Mediterranean cuisine at its finest. I highly recommend it for all the seafood seekers out there.
After dinner, we ran into what appeared to be the “hangout spot” in Riomaggiore. We decided to hang out there and ended up meeting some very sweet Italian people and a girl from San Diego (what a small world). These people pretty much sparked our adventures the rest of the weekend and without them, we would never have seen the magnificent things we saw. We made plans to meet up with them in the morning and ended home, quite exhausted around 1AM.
The next morning we walked past our hang out spot from the night before all to find that they served breakfast as well (essentially it became our home for the weekend). Although I was desperately craving eggs and bacon, I was very hesitant to order eggs because I am not one to simply eat a runny egg. In fact, it has to be overly cooked to the point that no liquid will ever come from that egg. At the end, I decided to take a risk and I ordered an omelette…best decision. The eggs and omelettes at this place are not like our eggs, they were thoroughly cooked and really thin. It was served with fresh tomatoes (of course…there’s never a course here without fresh tomatoes and basil), bacon that is not cooked to the crisp which I love, and bread (another definite part of every meal in Italy). The cappuccino that accompanied my meal proved to be the cherry on top of another phenomenal meal.
At the end of breakfast, we decided to head up to Montereso al mare, which is the main tourist and beach town furthest from where we stayed. We paid 2 euros for an 8 minute train ride to Montereso and proceeded to explore the town in search of the beaches. We soon came upon them and I was in awe. There was only one main sandy beach followed by very rocky sand, but it was simply breathtaking. I get simply moved by any beach anywhere, the plethora of all colors of umbrellas, people, buildings, rocks and incredible waves, left me utterly satisfied and blessed that I was able to be in that place. We found some of our girls from our trip and decided to walk along the beach, which proved to be a lot more painful and time consuming than we had expected. We came upon a few topless women and men wearing speedos, truly getting a feel of European culture.
After a little more exploring, we discovered our stomachs were again, in need of more food (I am constantly hungry and its getting a wee bit ridiculous). We decided to stay simple and eat at a restaurant right on the beach since it randomly decided to start raining on us, but only lasted five minutes (typical unpredictable beach weather…thats always the same). I ordered a lasagna and devoured it. This lasagna is not like the Stouffers oven lasagna I am used to, no this was 100x better. I’m telling you, food in general is so much better, I am really going to struggle shifting back to American processed food.
I just have to leave you guys with one thought, never take for granted the places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen. At the time, you may not think much of it because you are thinking about whats next but don’t. Stop and take in all facets of every place you go, whether its the absolutely beautiful sight of the Mediterranean or simply a beautiful park or lake. It’s amazing how much you can get from life from simply being in its presence.
“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell
Ciao and buona sera!
Here a few random pictures ranging throughout the country of Italy
So like I said before, I started this blog a few days ago… Two weeks into my travels. So I thought I would back track and catch yall up to speed with where I am currently. I have found it really hard to update frequently because I barely have enough time in the day already. Having four and a half hours of class Monday-Thursday for a month has proved to be much more intense than I imagined. Although I must say, my classes have been really interesting lately.
Italy is has been so great so far. It is incredible to think that people actually wake up every morning and live here. It is truly another world and I am falling in love with every aspect of the country. It is absolutely beautiful and everything that you would imagine. Every apartment place has its own balcony and the flowers… they are EVERYWHERE. Flower boxes adorn the buildings and the relaxed lifestyle of the Italians resonate throughout the city. We are living in Verona, Italy. For those of you who don’t know, Verona is a town that many tourists visit only for a day and then tend to go back to other cities to spend the night. This turned out to be such a blessing because it is more local and annoying tourists (yes, we are now beyond simply “tourists” in Verona) aren’t standing on every corner.
So far, we have mostly just explored around and enjoyed the locality of the area…getting used to the “siesta” from about 1-5 every afternooon when most stores are closed and to be spent with families eating (nice right?). The hussle and bussle of the American lifestyle is nowhere to be found, and I have to say it is refreshing. Stress seems to be vacant from the lives of the Italians and we are getting used to an hour dinner being “fast food.” While I am on the subject of food, I have to say that it is simply amazing. The pizza here is like nothing I have ever tasted, it’s a lot more rich in flavor but light. Everyone gets their own pizzes and finishes it without feeling bloated. Wine of course is included in many meals and often times in Europe is way cheaper than water. Another amazing treat is gelato. Yepp, it is something that I need to use self-control on to not eat every single day. There are so many flavors and is NOTHING like American gelato.. but hey, everything tastes better and more authentic here.
I am traveling to Cinque Terre this weekend with a group of friends. It is five cities that are close to eachother on the Mediterranean coast. I will have updates on that as soon as I get back.. as well as my trip to Venice and my true experience of European travel from last weekend.
I have finally caved into starting my own blog, mainly due to the fact that when asked about my adventures, I cannot remember what I had done merely a few days ago. This realization made me come to the conclusion that this is a once in a lifetime trip and to simply forget the details would be tragic.
I have been in Europe for two weeks now and have already experienced an array of new cultures and lifestyles. Because of this, I cannot say specifically what I did each day, but I will provide a summary to catch you up on where I am in my travels currently.
We started our travels on May 19. This day proved to be a bit of challenge due to the fact that I absolutely can’t say goodbyes. It was all so new at first coming into the program really knowing no one to the point where a conversation could be easily started. The plane ride was fairly easy, with the exception of attempting to get any sort of continuous sleep. We landed in Frankfurt, Germany where we took another plane to Warsaw, Poland.
Poland. I never in my wildest dreams would’ve imagined that I would walk the streets and take in the sights of places such as Warsaw, Krakow, Auschwitz, and other small towns. Needless to say, I am so blessed for the opportunity to have gone to a beautiful country that I never would have included in my travel itinerary.
Warsaw was an interesting city, filled with so much rich history and strife. Most of the city had been restored and reconstructed due to the fact that it was destroyed by the Germans and many of the most beautiful landmarks of Warsaw were gone. Although most of the city is urbanized and McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and KFC have taken over, I could still feel the history around me and see the pain of it all in the people’s eyes. It’s incredible how much people can take away, but how strong a city becomes by banning together and restoring their precious city. There was one building that stood out, right across from our hotel actually, beautifully lit in an array of colors at night, a sight that took your breath away. Unfortunately, we eventually learned that the Polish people hate that building and call it many names such as Stalin’s Syringe..why? Stalin gave Poland this building to the city as a “gift”. It stands right in the middle and supposedly it was built higher because Stalin wasn’t satisfied until it rose above all the rest to signify his superiority. Now we really looked like tourists, admiring a building that is hated by the natives. Ooops.
We traveled to Krakow one day, which I must say, I wish we had more than simply a few hours to spend in that city. It was absolutely stunning in history and beauty. Unlike Warsaw, everything was original, dating back into the 11th century for some buildings. The beauty and culture of the city is something that I know I will have in the back of my memory for a long time.
Another highlight of the Poland excursion was our trips to Aushwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. I could spend another day explaining my experience here and may write about it in the next week. This was an experience that changed my life in my ways and being there made everything so much more real. I can’t explain the feelings you go through as you walk along a place that so much suffering and wrongdoing was committed. My heart broke for every single soul and I became aware of the incredible, overflowing blessings in my life. It is an experience that I would recommend to everyone at some point in your life. It is truly eye-opening.
That is a very very very brief summary of my first part of my journey and I am sorry for that. Had I realized my incredibly weak memory, I would have began this as soon as I set foot in Europe. But I promise, I will do my best to keep up with my travels (although, being the only one without a computer here, it’s more difficult than you would thing).
Do zobaczenia (until we meet again/goodbye in Polish..which by the way, is such a beautiful and extremely different language from English and Romance languages).
Quick note: This is my first time doing this, so I am just trying to get a hang of it, so just stick with me!