02 March 2010
This past weekend I went to Siena. It was breathtaking. We climbed the tower in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and took pictures with the scenery. Beautiful. The pieces inside this Museum were amazing. They had so many Duccio cravings. I was in awe.
The Duomo was incredible. The inside was so beautiful. I really wish I had my cable for my camera. It would make things so much easier to describe.
We had wine inside a fort. That was really cool.
The patron saint of Siena is St. Catherine. She was a very sad, sad saint. She used to beat herself and wear a chain that dug into her hips everyday of her life. She thought that demons haunted her. When she entered sisterhood she gave away her families food and clothes without asking which caused her family to starve. It seems like she was punishing them for not allowing her to live as a nun many years before. She ended up starving herself to death. Her head is now inside of the Basilica of San Domenico. This church is a mess. It was built in the 1200s and now contains stain glass windows from the 1990s. Literally the set up of the church makes no sense.
While there I fell in love with the artist Giovanni Antonio Bazzi. I think his style is so beautiful. I had seen his stuff before but not really. There is a piece of his in Florence, but there were 4 of them in Siena. There was one of Christ and I just couldn't get over how amazing it was. I will have to find a picture of it. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the Museo dell'Opera. I took one of the original rose window from the Duomo... hehe.
That's all that's been happening so far.
OH! I joined the culinary club. Each week they meet and learn about the food of Italy. This week I learned about cheeses and breads. I have handouts to remember hehe.
This weekend we are going to Modena where they make Balsamic Vinegar.
22 February 2010
I wish I could put pictures up from each place but it seems I either lost or left my camera cord at home... This week I am going to go buy one. I promise. I will continue to put my pictures up on my photoalbum site as well.
So Lucca was very quiet and quaint. It was pretty much a small Florence. A bit of history:
Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. IE this city is very, very old. I got see some of the Roman colony ruins. During the 6th century, Lucca was a very city and fortress. The whole city was surrounded by a moat and a fortress built around it. Now, around the city/fortress is a walking/running/biking trail. It's cute. I saw an ancient Roman amphitheater which had been converted into apartments. Strange. More cool stuff: the black Jesus wood carving inside the Cathedral of St. Martin, Basilica of San Frediano with its INCREDIBLE mosaic facade, Torre delle ore, which has trees growing on top (hehe), and an exhibit on Hermes scarfs during the Napoleonic Period in one of the old palaces.
Venice was INCREDIBLE. I wish I had had two days there, but I left with my friend Katie at 8 and we got back to Florence at about 10 in morning the next day. We went to Venice to see the Carnival celebrations. Venice is a very confusing city. Thank goodness it wasn't flooded when we went. The next weekend of Carnival everyone said it was flooded all over the place. In Venice, we really only walked around and took pictures. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go into Basilica di San Marco. The line to get in was very long and we didn't have a lot of time. There are no words to even describe the outside of the church. Pictures don't even do it justice. I wanted to go to the famous art museum there, but again it was a time constraint. I DID buy a handmade mask, which I will treasure forever. I didn't even ride a gonadal. haha. I am cheap though and they are pretty expensive. The coolest thing was getting to see people walking around in their Carnival costumes. These people spend a lot of money on this holiday. I will put up pictures and you will understand. I hope to return to Venice, maybe even before I leave. I think it's a beautiful city, confusing, but beautiful.
Viareggio was a whole different kind of carnival. Viareggio really looked like a cheap part of Florida. I mean the beach was disgusting and the signs were so kitsch. Seriously, it's the trashy part of Florida in Italy. Viareggio is famous for its Carnival celebrations. Each year, they build floats out of paper mache. They are amazing. The pictures will better explain. But most of the floats have a political theme. Pretty much every single float had Obama and Berlusconi. They hate their Prime Minister, with good reason. But they were brutal to him. hehe
What else is new. I am living in a homestay!!! YAYAYAYAYYA it's interesting. Definitely different from last semester. I miss Maite's cooking. hehe But my Italian is definitely improving.
This weekend I am going to Modena. This is where they make the Balsamic vinegar. We get to go and have a tasting and lunch. FOR 15 EURO!! I love NYU sponsored trips!!
Spring Break is going to be great too! Ainsley is coming from Paris and we are going to Milan, Sorrento, Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Florence, and Pisa. WOO HOO!!
Alright time for class. I promise I will put up pictures soon!!!!!!!
23 January 2010
So far it's going well. I did not get into a homestay as I had planned, but am trying to switch into one. Nevertheless, had I been in one, I would have not met the girls I am staying with who I believe will be great friends here. The majority of them are sophomores, which I am grateful for. I probably would have beat a freshman here. They all are very chill and I hope to continue to be friends with them, even if I get to move out.
From the looks of things, Florence will never compare to Madrid. I talk about Madrid all the time. I truly love Madrid, and hope to live there one day. Either there or Barcelona. BUT, unlike Madrid, Florence seems empty of true Florentines. Apparently the birthrate here is quite low. What I am coming to realize that Florence is an extension of America. I asked a waiter last night, "So I get the feeling Florence consists of mostly Americans. Is this true?" His reply was, "Florence is 75% American, 19% creepers, and 6% normal people."
This being said, add to the 75% Americans who don't really want to know a different culture. They walk the streets of Florence saying "like, like like like" or "Oh my god!" or "look at my new handbag or nail polish" at the top of their lungs. They think they can cross the streets wherever they please, which in turn will probably lead to them getting hit by a car. They don't allow the older Italians to pass. Pretty much they have no respect of the culture here nor really seem to try to want to come to know it. In Madrid, it seemed everyone wanted to practice their Spanish walking down the streets; we were courteous of the Spanish culture, and even tried to make Spanish friends to learn more about the culture.
Well now I guess we will see what happens in the next couple of weeks. We start school on Monday. WOO HOO!
20 December 2009
08 December 2009
I have been to Toledo, which was awesome! Cute cute cute-
This past weekend we went to Portugal. It was incredible! We left on Friday and got in early on in the morning to Lisbon. We got to our hostel, which was so precious. It was called Black and White and I would recommend it to ANYONE. The staff is amazing, and the people that stay there are all about making the hostel a home. We then walked around to the Aquarium of Lisbon. I took lots of pictures. We then went to an outlet mall in the middle of no where. haha I havent seen anything like it in Europe yet. That night we went out to Barrio Alto with a bunch of people from the hostel.
The next day was my planned day. We got up early and went to 4 other cities. We started out by taking a train to Estoril where we walked on the beach from there to Cascais. These are both cities on the same inlet as Lisboa. In Cascais we walked around and looked at the city. Then, we took a windy bus to Cabo da Roca. I was very anxious about going here. I have very special memories of being at Cabo da Roca when my family went in 4th grade. Going back to this place made me miss my grandmother a lot. My memories of her are beginning to fade away with age and it makes me sad. I remember coming here with her and how beautiful it was. I sat on a rock looking at the ocean for a while just thinking about her. I wish she was still here for me to tell her about my life...
We went went to Sintra. It was probably one of my favorite cities in the world. It was so cute and petite. The people there were so friendly. I called it a Christmas Town. Everything was lit up and it looked like the North Pole. We went out again to Barrio Alto that night too with everyone from the hostel. Laura and I wanted food at one point, so we went into an Indian/Italian restaurant (random mix I know). We ordered and were told that it would be 30 min. Somehow we started a conversation with a table of 9 Spanish people. We set with them for at least an hour and a half waiting for our food, just joking around and talking. I realize that you can make friends... It makes me very excited about Italy!
The next day was a waste pretty much. It was a crappy weather day. It mostly was rainy. Monique went out to get breakfast, and didn´t come back for over an hour and a half. We had no way of contacting here, so we then decided to go with our new Brazilian friends to walk around for a bit. We walked around till about 2 and got lunch (we searched for a while. Everything was closed on Sunday) We said goodbye to them at about 3 and went back to the hostel. Monique wasn´t there.... haha so we decided to make lunch around 4. We then made friends with 4 Spanish guys staying at our hostel. We ended up staying in the hostel because it started POURING!!! So I actually went to bed at around 10 that night haha.
The next morning we got up and went the Belém. It´s this cute town by Lisbon. They have a famous tower there and are very famous for their Nata pastries. They are incredible. yum yum yum. I could eat those everyday. We then came back to Lisbon and finally saw Lisbon. I loved seeing it at night. Even though nothing was open it was amazing to see the Christmas lights.
This morning we left MAD early. BUUUUUUTTT we got bumped up to first class.... Second time I have ever flown first class. It made a wonderful return trip...
I only have 10 days left here. I am actually really sad, but Italy is just around the corner. I need Italy. I need to be alone with myself for a while. I think traveling around by myself is exactly what I need in my life right now. I need to rediscover who I am.
10 November 2009
We are already into November. It seems as though life here goes 5 times as fast as that in New York. I feel as though I just arrived in Spain, but I am leaving in a month and a few days. I am truly going to miss it here. I have started creating a life here. I have friends here; I have my usual places that I frequent; I absolutely love my host family and their pup. I know I am not a Madriñena at heart (VISC CATALUNYA!!), but I honestly do love Madrid.
The NYU Madrid staff was completely correct. They described your time here in phases:
Phase One - Overall happiness. You are in a new place and want to explore.
Phase Two - Overall hatred. Things here are too different for you. You hate the lifestyle, etc.
Phase Three - Back to happiness. You cope with your situation and begin to realize you actually do love it. Unfortunately, it takes you the majority of the time to come to this conclusion.
I am at this phase. But, alas, I leave in a month and back to a world that seems to foreign.
I love my home. I miss my family more that I ever have. I can tell the amount of stress each one has in their everyday life excluding the worrying about me and it worries me. Seeing them for only 6 hours was probably not helpful. Although I miss them, I don't think I can every return to Memphis to live. I feel at home there because my family is there. I would not be happy returning there for the rest of my life.
I guess I have Italy to look forward too, but again I bet I will have the same phases there. Nevertheless, I am definitely going to come visit Spain next semester!
Halloween. was. interesting. Pretty much everyone was drunk in the streets with crazy costumes. I didn't think as many people were going to be dressed up but it was wonderful to see how the "American" Halloween has ventured over the pond. I did miss the day after sale on Halloween candy. I would love to have bought a bag of Reese's.
Laura's parents are here right now. They have been wonderful enough to buy me dinner a couple of times. We attended a Flamenco show last night. It was one of the most moving experiences I have had here. I had forgotten how powerful the voice is. I have not seen live REAL music is so long. I love opera and classical music, but in reality, I attend more electronic shows than people with actual talent. The soul within each note sung was incredible. I tried very hard to keep back my tears of just pure emotion. I need to start seeing more live music. It's just so expensive.....
Tomorrow is Laura's birthday and we are going to the oldest restaurant in the world. Apparently, the specialty there is suckling pig. I am all for it. Pictures to come.
I am sure this weekend will be an exciting one. 21st birthday in Madrid? It's time to go all out!
31 October 2009
So today is Halloween, and Madrid sucks for Halloween festivities. Only little kids dress up and there is no parade, no trick-or-treating, no candy.... They only have huesos de santo which are marzipan and a cream filling. They also make buñuelos rellenos which are fried dough with cream filling. The huesos de santo look disgusting but the others look pretty tasty. Who knows what Madrid's Halloween night has in store. I think we are going to go to the most haunted places in Madrid, like Plaza Mayor.
So I know I haven't updated in a while, so here is the lowdown of what has been going on.
The weekend after I went to Barcelona, I traveled to Vienna to see my parents. After being there a while, I was so grateful they allowed Laura to come with me. I would have been miserable. So the journey there started early (flight left at 8 a.m.) and when we arrived at the airport we were trying to figure out how to get to the city. Taxis = no, bus = perhaps, and train = perhaps. We asked one woman she said take the bus. When we went to the ticket office the guy at the counter tried to rip us off and say where the bus stopped was too far to walk from our hotel. Bull shit. He just wanted us to buy the train ticket. But to put it back in his face we bought the bus ticket. I think it was a lot easier taking the bus. It took at about 15 minutes. We got off and went into a cafe to get breakfast. After breakfast, I realized I lost my belt to my beautiful trench coat. That was a sign this trip was going to be horrible.
We quickly realized Vienna was FREEZING. I am talking like 4 degree Celsius. It also started raining. Luckily I brought an umbrella. We checked into our hotel, and took about a 4 hour nap. HAHA. We got up and walked around the city. It was cold, wet, and miserable. We eventually found this bar called Don's Bar. It was a Godfather's themed bar but they had hooka. Random? After about 20 minutes, we realized that this was an underage hang out.... We spent the entire time watching the free drama of 16 years olds. It was hysterical. We left around 10:30 and went back to the hotel room.
We got up early the next morning and tried to find a good place to have breakfast. We ended up at this really touristy market thing, but the waffles there were AMAZING. We then started walking to the Belvedere museum so we could see the Klemt exhibit. While there, I got a call from my parents. Apparently, their flight was delayed in Memphis and they missed their connecting flight in Amsterdam. This meant instead of getting into Vienna at 2 they would be there at 10..... If anything else could go wrong. We tried to keep occupied. After the Belvedere, we went to this really cool museum called Haus auf Musik. This museum was INCREDIBLE!! They spent a lot of money on it. I can’t describe it, but if you look at the website you will understand. After that, we went to the hotel to wait for my parents to call. Around 10 they phoned, and we journeyed to the hotel. Dinner was incredible. The best I have had since I left the states. We decided we would try to get my and Laura’s flight changed since I would only be seeing my parents for about 5 hours total.
We got up at seven the next morning to meet for breakfast. After breakfast we started calling the airline. No one answered for about an hour. So we couldn’t change it. We left at about 11. It sucked. I wanted to actually spend time with my family. When we got to the airport, the security check-in just put the icing on the cake. They threw away majority of the stuff my parents brought to me from the states AND the stuff I brought to Vienna. I apparently can bring in more that 100 mL of liquid to their country but I can’t take it out. Clearly the European Union really isn’t united. They seem to have different rules for each airport. I broke down and started crying in the terminal… UGH. So emotional!
The next weekend was pretty fun! We went out to Malasaña every night during the weekend! We met some Portuguese guys, a guy from California, and found a really cool Brazilian bar! They played Brazilian music, which was pretty cool.
Monday I started feeling sick. Like runny nose, cough. Just bleh. Well Thursday, I woke up with a terrible earache. I went to the doctor yesterday and he said I have a really bad infection. Pretty much my ear is so inflamed that I’m bleeding from my ear. It’s awesome…. I don’t think my body likes Madrid. The end. haha