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Prague, My Love

Where do I even begin? My trip to Prague has been one of the most amazing trips I’ve had. None of us wanted to leave and went as far as looking up other flights so we could squeeze a couple more moments there!!!

On Wednesday evening, my roommate Sara, our friend Josh, and I took a late plane from Rome. We ended up making it to our hostel around 1:30am in complete exhaustion from traveling. Our view from the cab ride there didn’t give us much to look at considering the whole city was covered in fog. Also, Czech people drive like maniacs so it’s not like we had much of a chance to see anything anyway!

Since I took way too many photos while there and I was only there for 2 and a half days, I am only going to post one or two here. However, please check out my facebook for the rest of the photos because they are beautiful!

We did so much there, it’s hard to remember when we did what and all the info behind it all. Here is the run down of it all:

Thursday afternoon, we got a free walking tour of the city and our tour guide was awesome! I learned so much about Prague and it’s history. 

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Thursday evening, we went on a pub crawl. Let’s just say it was a long and interesting night! 

Friday morning, had a slow start but had a wonderful breakfast of apple strudel and espresso! 

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Friday afternoon, toured the castle and all of the 100 buildings it contains! This was followed by an amazing lunch and then a quick nap! 

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Friday evening, we enjoyed a two hour dinner filled with traditional Czech food and drinks! From there we went out in the city and ended up at the 5-story club. Talk about intense clubbing! 

Saturday morning, we ambled around the city with hot wine and a traditional rolled pastry until it was time to head to the airport. Getting on the plane might have been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in awhile. One thing is for sure, I will definitely be back!

 

Roma last weekend, Prague this weekend!

Sorry it has taken me so long to update you all! This past weekend my program took myself and 4 other girls to Roma for a 2 day trip, Friday and Saturday. On Friday, we left Siena on the 8am bus and arrived in in Roma at 11am. We checked into our hotel and then walked to the Vatican museum. We had lunch around there and then started our self-tour of the Vatican. My program  payed for us to have an audio guide which was so helpful and very informative. I would have been lost with out it! The Vatican is HUGE! As in so big I had no recollection of where I was at all times! However, it was so worth the 4 plus hours we spent in there. Here are so pictures of what we saw: 

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After the Vatican we headed over to the Trevi Fountain. There were tons of people bit we managed to get a few photos in. Here I am making my wish: 

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On Saturday, we got a walking tour of Roma that included the Forum, the Colosseum, and St. Clementine’s Basilica. Everything was breathtaking but the best part to me was the Colosseum. Here are a few of my favorites: 

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After our walking tour we had time for a gelato break and then headed back to meet up to catch the bus back to Siena. Roma was amazing but I am definitely happy that I chose to study in Siena! 

Tomorrow, Wednesday 11/15, I head to Prague with 2 great friends, Josh and Sara. Prague is ranked in the top ten for site-seeing, partying, and shopping. Who wants to beat that I have a horrible time?!!!!

Sorry for my absence!

The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy! My family arrived in Siena and then the next weekend we went to Venice together. I was amazing! Unfortunately, we were there during high tide so in the morning there was about 3 feet of water everywhere. Thank god our hotel had spare rain boots for us! We had a great couple of days there before I headed back to Siena and they went to Florence to fly home. Luckly, they flew home via Atlanta and not New York so they missed the Sandy craziness.

The week after my family left, I had midterms. Some went better than others but I believed I did well all around! From November 1st to 6th, I was on fall break! It was so great to have some days off to travel all over. I traveled with my roommate Sara to Brussels and Genoa. On the 1st, we took a flight from Pisa to Brussels. It was a long day of traveling so when we finally got to our hostel, we were so happy! Our first night there was very chill and that’s exactly the way we wanted it. On Friday morning, we got up to explore the city. Brussels is very neat and has so much to see! Sara and I bought red double-decker bus passes so we could see all the major sites in the side. Here are a few of the sites we saw on the rides:

A random street we saw.

The little boy peeing statue!

The Atomium!

Sara at the beer museum! This piece of equipment was used for fermination.

Between the stops, we found plenty of time to consume as many waffles and fries as possible! They are so amazing! Also, the amount of chocolate shops there is ridiculous. We turned down one street, and there were four in a row! I didn’t really know what to do with myself!

Later on that evening, two of the girls in our program showed up and we all went out for dinner and drinks. Dinner was fantastic! We all tried different Belgium beers and cuisine. Sara got a huge bucket of mussels, Hayley got a traditional broccoli soup, and I had the calamari (not a so traditional Belgium meal but it was still really good!) From there, we went to a bar called Delirium which had over 2,000 beers! It was really difficult to pick one! I can’t remember the different names but we all really enjoyed them!

The next day, Saturday, Sara and I flew to Genoa for the 2nd part of our trip. Genoa has a huge sea port area and was very large. Here is the view from the plane:

Our hotel was really great and we were right outside of the city center. We explored the area around our hotel and then had dinner at this nice little restaurant near the main road. The food was really yummy!

Sunday, we went to the aquarium and spent about 2 hours there! We both felt like little kids again! The place was huge and we got to see all kinds of animals. We had another fantastic lunch afterwards and then went up in this interesting contraption so we could get a 360 degree view of the city. It was pretty neat!

We returned to Siena on Monday afternoon! Since then, we’ve been relaxing and getting ready for our classes to start again. What is pretty neat is that I have class for 2 days and then I’m off to Rome. It seems like I never actually stay in one place for too long but I am perfectly okay with that!

La mia famiglia è a Siena!!!

On Friday, 10/19, my parents Tim and Kathy, sister Kelly, and Aunt and Uncle Jill and Mark, arrived!!! Unfortunately, my parents and sister’s luggage however did not 😦 That was a set back but they all had a great attitude about it! I brought them to their hotel and then headed to the campo for lunch. We had a great first meal together! From there, I gave them a whirlwind tower of Siena. I showed them my apartment, my school, random shops I love, the Fortress, San Domenico church, and the Duomo where we saw inside the church, the crypt, and climbed the top of the unfinished tower. We meet up with some of my friends and did aperitivo at Nannini. For dinner, we went to Pompei, one of my favorite restaurants here. All of the food, wine, and company was fantastic! I am so happy that they are all able to come visit me!!! 

On Saturday, we woke early for a wine tour in Chianti. Our tour guide, Anna was fantastic! I think she might be able to out talk my mom, sister, and I combined! We visited three different winers and was able to try numerous wines, olive oil, and visanto. Visanto is a type of liquor that you eat/drink after dinner with cookies. It is so good!!!

Here is a glimpse of what we saw that day: 

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ImageMom and small wine barrels in the aging room! 

ImageThe different wines we tried at the 2nd winery. 

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View of the vines at the 3rd winery! 

We came back to Siena that evening to do a little shopping since there was still no sign of luggage for my family. We had dinner at this amazing restaurant that was underneath the campo and had the most adorable Italian owner. Jill informed him that I was studying here and he gave me a discount card for the next time I come! That will not be hardship at all! 

Sunday, we took the first train out of Siena to Pisa in order to see the leaning tower of Pisa. We walked up to the top and let me tell you, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! That 5 degree lean is more cumbersome than you’d imagine! However, the view from the top was breathtaking! 

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After an early lunch in Pisa, we took the train to Cinque Terre to hike the trails. Unfortunately, the trails were all closed still from the mud and rock slide 😦 We went straight to the family’s hotel to freshen up and have an early dinner. We ate at the Ristorante Marina Piccolo which is connected with their hotel and overlooked the water. The scenery was beautiful, the wine refreshing, and the food absolutely yummy!!! I couldn’t have asked for a better time! 

The family is in Rome now and returns on Thursday! We are doing a cooking class that evening then heading to Venice on Friday! Stay tuned for more crazy, family fun!!! 

Whirlwind Trip To Bologna!

This past Friday and Saturday my program took us girls to Bologna as one of our cultural trips. We departed Siena early Friday morning to make it to Bologna by noon. The city a little smaller in Florence but is just as busy and beautiful. We checked into our hotel, Hotel Paradise, got lunch, and then went on a three hour walking tour of the city. We basically walked through the main parts of the city and got to see all the major attractions. All of the archeture was amazing! They have two tall towers in the middle of the city which have been shortened through out the years because they start to lean and in order for them not to topple down, the city just takes off a few feet every now and then. My favorite part of the tour was when she took us through the market street and we got to see all the fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, noodles, and cheeses.

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The guide explained about all the typical Bolognese dishes. We stopped at a bakery and tried a Bolognese biscotti which is a small cookie that has chocolate and almonds in them. Fun fact: Most people know that Italians’ don’t do a large breakfast like Americans’ do but did you know that they eat cookies for breakfast?! Apparently these typical Bolognese cookies are a great breakfast! 

After the walking tour, we quickly did aperitivo at one of the local bars before heading to dinner. My program arranged dinner for us and it was amazing!! We received your typical antipasti of meats, cheese, and bread, followed by the most fantastic lasagna I have ever had in my entire life! The lasagna has a certain type of cheese as well as vegetable noodles in it as well that makes it so good! I probably could have just ended with that as my meal but lucky for me that my program takes great care of us because we still had another 2 courses to eat! Our main entree was chicken and potatoes, and then dessert was homemade tiramisu. To make the meal complete, we had bottomless wine! What do you get when you consistently give wine to 11 American girls? One very happy and loud table! 

On Saturday, we had a cooking class at Vecchia Scuola Bolognese! We learned how to make dough from scratch, knead the dough properly, create the perfect tortellini filling recipe, make small and large tortellini, and bolognese noodles.

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The instructor Alessandro was very entertaining while teaching us. After we made everything, we got to eat it all! One thing for sure was I did not go hungry while in Bologna!

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Gnocchi + Aimless Strolling + Candied Almonds = A Great Day In Lucca!

 

Today, Becca, Kate, Sara, and I headed to Lucca via the train. Lucca is a small town about two and a half hours NorthWest of Siena.  It is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls which were built as a defensive move way back when. We arrived around lunch time so we quickly found an adorable out-door ristorante to eat at. Three out of the four of us ordered different types of gnocchi and didn’t realize until they brought our food out. It caused a slight bit of confusion when the waiter brought out a plate of gnocchi and all three of us raised our hands claiming it as our gnocchi dish! Below are the different dishes:

 

The closest dish is gnocchi al ragu which was mine. The green dish is gnocchi al pesto, and the furthest back one is gnocchi al pomodori. They were all so fantastic!

After lunch we aimlessly walked throughout the whole city. It has a lot of old buildings and roadways. The town has about 7 different piazza’s so it got a little confusing because it kept looking like you were in the same place all the time. We spent most of our time on the street that was dedicated to just shops. The amount of leather and shoe stores we went into is actually quite ridiculous! I almost found the perfect pair of boots but they didn’t have my size 😦 Apparently Italians only do small sizes in leather boots and jackets.

When we were finito with the town, we decided to walk around the city up on the wall. The scenery was gorgeous all around it! You got a perfect view of the surrounding areas as well as the mountains. This is my favorite picture from the day:

 

Right before we left, we passed a candy stand and the smell a freshly candied almonds was too good to pass up! I got a small bag for the train ride home. This might have been one of the best decisions I made today!