I’m just like:
^^I miss it.
I order so much food and I’m just like:
And then I convert the bill into US dollars and I’m like:
But then the wine kicks in and I’m just like:
Okay, so here is attempt two of updating my blog. Tiff’s computer shut down when I was halfway done :(. So, in a nutshell…I’m in love with Italy! Everything about it is amazing. The food, the culture, the people, the WINE, the architecture, the history…the views, ALL of it. Do I really have to leave? (Huge sad face right now). Okay, I’ll stop sulking, and get onto the good stuff. My first day in Italy started in Bologna. We took a flight from Paris to Bologna, which took just under two hours I’d say. The sun was shining (the tank was clean ;D), and the day was beautiful. We took a bus to the train station, and checked our bags for the next 5 hours in order to explore before our train arrived to take us to Florence. Both Tiff and I were starved, so we found a pizza shop. I ordered the Siciliana, which had olives and capers, and Tiff got the Margherita. Oh. My. God. The pizza was amazing. We both ate all 8 slices. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much pizza in one sitting. That pizza ended up being my favorite that I have had in Italy. Although, there was a close runner up in Verona.
Once our bellies were happy, we walked around the city of Bologna for about 3 hours. We got a wee bit tired, so we found a cute park in the center of the city, and sat down for a bit. We made our way back to the train station, and waited for our train. Next stop: FLORENCE!!
So, in Europe, you walk EVERYWHERE. Because of this, any time that I sit down on a train, plane, or lay down, I am out instantly. Apparently I just need to walk more when I get back to San Diego, because I have issues falling asleep there. Definitely don’t have that problem here. Lol, okay so we got to Florence in a flash due to my nap, and walked to Tiff’s apartment about 5 minutes away. I was struggling because I had to lug my 20 lb bag on my bag, and I am not very strong. Once we got to her apartment, I looked at the stairs and cringed. By the time I reached the top, I was wheezing. In fact, I still wheeze every time I climb those stairs, lol. Sad? Maybe…but I’m not alone :). When we were finally situated, I met all the roomies, and then went to sleep. It had been a long day. The next day was free to explore Florence, and the weather was going to be beautiful :).
I have been in Florence for about 10 days now, so everything is kind of blurred together. I’m just going list off my favorite things and spots, instead of trying to differentiate what day I did what, because that would just be silly. (Maybe all the wine is clouding my ability to recall the days? Ha, life in Italy is rough ;D). One of my favorite buildings has to be the Duomo. It has the biggest dome in Europe as well, which was absolutely stunning inside and out. Another favorite of mine was trekking it up to Piazza Michaelangelo at sunset. It has an absolutely breathtaking view of the entire city. One of my favorite views I have ever seen. One thing I have noticed about Europe is that there are a million stairs EVERYWHERE. I swear, I am going to have buns/legs of steel when I get back from all the walking and stair climbing. I suppose I can’t really complain about buns of steel though :).
Did I mention that this whole city smells like leather? EVERYWHERE. It’s amazing. There is a market just dedicated to leather goods too. Every street, vendor, shop, etc. has leather goods. It’s so awesome!! It is all handcrafted and beautiful as well. I will be buying things. I will definitely miss that smell for sure. Another thing that I can’t get over about Italy is the food and the wine. Everything that has gone in my mouth has been absolutely delicious. Their philosophy of food is just amazing. Everything is fresh, without preservatives and chemicals, and just so amazingly flavorful, there is no way to even try to describe it. You will just have to come and try it for yourself :). I have basically been living off of cheese, bread, wine, pizza, pasta, salad, and gelato for the past 12 days. Ohhh the gelato. I have had it almost every single day. Tiff’s favorite place is il Procopio, which is AMAZING. Her favorite flavor is Jamaican dream, which is this mousse-like chocolate coffee gelato. It’s divine. My favorite has been passion fruit, strawberry, lemon, praline, and jamaican dream. Okay, everything is delicious.
Tiff has brought me to many food places, all of which the names have escaped me. One day we had delicious pizza at a place near her school, another day we had an amazing panini with prosciutto and sheep cheese. Ohhhh it was so good! A few nights ago we went to one of her favorite restaurants, and we had the gnocchi in an amazing cheese sauce. We also got a bottle of wine and tiramisu. Omg, everything is so good here! It is getting kind of ridiculous.
Holy. Moly. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the wine shop yet! There is this adorable couple/sister-brother duo that runs this wine shop. The guy goes around the region and brings back regional wines by the barrel. They have multiple wines on tap, and it averages about 3 euros a bottle to refill. We’ve gone there probably 6 times since I’ve been here :). LOVE IT. All the wines are amazing too.
Another thing about Florence that is so great, are all of the open air markets! They have fresh produce, pickled veggies, candy, spices, etc. I just love everything here! We also went to an art exhibit for Tiff’s school, which was really cool. The picture of her laying down is from it. We are so silly :) I’ll update about Venice and Verona later since Tiff’s computer keeps shutting off. We leave for Spain on Thursday, for 6 nights! I’m really excited, but bummed because it means my trip is coming to an end :(. I have met some truly amazing people on this trip. I’m also reading the book My Year With Eleanor, which has totally sucked me in. Florence has been my favorite spot yet, and Tiff’s roommates have become family. We make dinner every night that we don’t go out to eat, and it has just been such a great experience. I think everyone should go to Europe on their own. It allows you explore the world and yourself. I really think that I have grown as a person, and I’m excited to see where life takes me next! I’ll leave you with some pictures, and a quote from the book that I am reading. Ciao :)
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experience.” -Eleanor Roosevelt.
Miss you guys, I’ll be home soon! <3 Chels
So, I’ve been horrible at updating due to being so busy! I’ve been in Florence for 3 nights now, and I LOVE Italy!! Europe has been so amazing so far, I honestly want to find a job here and move! The culture, the food, the people, the architecture, just ALL of it is so great! Day 3 of London started out early, but the sun was out, and it was a great day! We got on the bus around 9 on Day 3 to start our journey to Stonehenge and the city of Bath. The weather has seriously been perfect the entire time I have been here! Exceptions of the first day in London, it has been in the range of 65-75 and blue sunny skies! I feel extremely lucky to be here right now! The crowds aren’t all that bad either, and everywhere is open!
The ride to Stonehenge was about 2 hours from London. It was a bit breezy, but the hills were SO green on the way! The stones in person are very cool to see. We got to have an audio guide tour, which took about 45 minutes. The history and the legends behind the stones are actually very interesting.
Once we finished at Stonehenge, we made our way to the lovely town of Bath. It is about an hour past Stonehenge. The romans used to go there to use the natural springs for healing, spiritual, and relaxation purposes. We got to tour the ancient baths, which were beautiful, as well as walk around the town for like 2 hours. I MUST go back there, because I fell in love with the town. There were hidden streets lined with pubs, shopping, boutiques, restaurants, and street performers. The buildings were so beautiful, and there were flowers everywhere. I seriously would love to explore the English countryside when I have more time! We went into one of the traditional pubs in Bath, and I ended up trying their fish and chips. They were pretty good, but nothing you can’t get in the states.
The coach bus was making me a little nauseous, so we picked up some motion sickness medicine in Bath, and made our 4 hour journey back to London. That night was a free night, so we just grabbed some food and called it an early night. The next day we were free to explore!
Day 4: Exploring London further
On the Contiki tour, I made friends with a group of about 5 girls. 3 of us met up before the actual tour started, and then 2 more girls joined our little group. We became really good friends, and hung out the whole week! So these girls and I decided on where we wanted to see most, and attempted to see everything. Plans never go accordingly, so of course that didn’t work. Monday morning was a free day before we were to go see Chicago, so we went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard, made our way to St. Paul’s cathedral(which was closed), and ended up at The Tower of London. We originally wanted to go on the London Eye, but it was a little pricey and there were other views of the city elsewhere. Overall, I really enjoyed my time in London, and would love to go back and explore more! Before we went to Chicago, we grabbed some chicken tiki marsala at the pub down the road from our hotel. It was called Friend At Hand, and I think we went there about 4 times. The national dish is chicken tiki marsala, and it was actually really good. We had to eat really fast, because Jessica ended up getting stuck in the elevator at the hotel. We basically had 20 minutes to eat before we left for the show. Chicago was alright, but with all of the walking and site seeing, I was extremely tired and kept dosing off throughout the entire show.
Since we were leaving for Paris in the morning, we called it an early night! I packed up my bag, which has become an artform thank you very much, and went to sleep. Our journey to Paris ended up being about a 10 hour journey. We drove to Dover, took a ferry from there, and then drove the rest of the way to Paris. Thank God for motion sickness pills, because otherwise I would have been miserable! Once we got to Paris, everyone was extremely excited! Minus our hotel being in a slightly (ok really) ghetto area, I couldn’t wait to be in Paris! That night we were booked to go up to the top of the Eiffle Tower. Can I just say that I have never been in so much awe, or seen something so stunningly beautiful!! When it is dark out, the tour sparkles every hour, on the hour. We saw it happen about 4 times because we got lost. I’ll get to that later…
“Excuse my French, but I’m in France… that sh*t cray”
The view from the different levels of the tower were absolutely breathtaking. Minus being a little nervous due to the height, it is probably one of my favorite things that I have ever done. You can see all around Paris, and everything is lit up and illuminated. A couple on our tour actually got engaged while at the top (barf), but I suppose that is really romantic. If you’re into that stuff… :). Once we reached the bottom again, the 6 of us were a bit hungry. Our tour manager, Hannah, who is awesome BTW, suggested crepes and beer around the corner. She said the tube was open til 1 am (lies), and and it was only 10:30 at the time so we went for it. The corner cafe was SO cute, and all ended up ordering crepes and chocolat chaud, or hot chocolate. Oh how it was delicious, and the perfect entrance to Paris! Once we were finished, it was getting close to midnight so we made our way back to the metro. We figured out what line to get on, and made our way…to one stop further before they kicked us off. The metro was done for the night, and we were in a moment of feeling screwed. We tried to ask for help, but the guy didn’t speak english. He ended up flagging one other worker down that did, who tried his best to help, but it actually was no help at all.
So there we were, roaming the streets of Paris at 1 in the morning. Everyone was starting to get a little bit panicked, so I suggested finding a hotel because someone was bound to speak english. I was right, and the not so friendly French man directed us towards a Taxi stand. We had to take two taxis back, which total was about 60 euros. Not exactly predicted in our budget, but at least we made it safely back to our houtel! Bonne nuit we all said, and went to sleep!
The next day was Wednesday, aka the day Tiffany would be meeting me in Paris! I was so excited!! In the morning, the whole Contiki group went back to the Eiffle Tower for a group photo, then we were free to disperse however we chose. Our group of 6, plus this adorable couple that also lives in San Diego, decided to make our way to the Catacombes. The catacombes are a cemetery of bones underground below the city of Paris. It is further down than the Metro, and seriously eerie. According to the super nice French man we met at the end, there are more than 6 million peoples bones in the catacombes. Very cool experience, but expect to get your shoes a little muddy.
That same guy we met suggested this pastry place up the street, which had the most amazing bread I have ever eaten. It was a little difficult to get a table and translate everything, but it ended up working out. I had a mozzarella and tomato sandwich, and finished with a slice of Opera cake, and coffee. They brought out an assortment of Macarons at the end as well, which were DELICIOUS! The photo of the pastries on top (below), are from this shop. I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of the name, but it was honestly one of the best meals I had in Paris!
Once we were done with Lunch, we decided to make our way towards the Latin Quarter and Notre Dame. We finally made it to Notre Dame and went inside. It was so breathtaking inside. All of the arches and stained glass were so pretty! I will have to upload more photos from my camera so you can see! We were all pretty beat at this point, and that night was Moulin Rouge so we made our way back to the hotel. I opted out on Moulin Rouge in order to meet up with Tiffany, so I showered and hung out til she came. I was just about to fall asleep around 8 pm, when my room phone rang and Tiffany’s voice was on the other line! “She’s here she’s here” is all I could think! I ran down to the lobby, and we ran at each other with open arms, and hugged it out! 7 months is way too long to be separated from your best friend!! Once we both got situated, we made our way back out into the city of Paris to meet up with everyone after Moulin Rouge at the bar O’Sullivans next door. Apparently Contiki tours always go there. Hannah hooked it up, and got everyone shots. She is hilarious and awesome, and not to mention British. Everyone was dancing and drinking, and having a blast! It was my roommate’s birthday, so we all sang and drank in her honor! It was getting a little steamy inside, so Tiff and I stepped out onto the patio, and were bombarded by French men. One guy was very nice and wanted to dance, but I politely declined. He said I had eyes from Russia and that Tiff and I were very beautiful. (eyes rolling currently).
When the next guy came up to us, my first reaction was Oh great, but he ended up being very nice! His name was Faycal, and he spoke 3 languages including Italian. Him and Tiff were chatting in Italian, and then we got to talking about how I make pastries. He told me how he may know of a way to get me a job in the south of France, and so we exchanged emails. I really hope that I hear from him, because that would be a dream come true to work in France!! Anyhoo, that night we got back at around 2:30 am, so the next day got kind of a later start.
Thursday: Thursday morning started with going to the Louvre. We got lost at first, but finally found our way to the Mona Lisa. Once we saw that, we were all a bit hungry so we found this cute cafe and had sandwiches again. This was our last day with the Contiki tour, so we made our way to the meetup spot of the Opera house. Once we reached the Opera House, Hannah took us to a perfumerie for a tour. It was pretty interesting to learn the history, but I left with a headache. After that we made our way to the Palace of Versaille, which was stunning. Tiff was unable to join us on that part, so I gave her my phone and we met up at the Sacré-Coeur Basilica a couple of hours later. The view from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica was gorgeous at sunset! You can see the whole city, as well as the Eiffle Tower lit up in the distance. One thing I forgot to mention about Europe…there are stairs EVERYWHERE, and all you do is walk. No wonder everyone is so freaking skinny!! Stairs are going to be the death of me, I swear lol.
Once we went into the church and took photos, we made our way to the restaurant. Hannah set up a deal where we got a 3 course meal for 34 euros. Tiff was brave enough to order the snails, which I tried! They actually weren’t so bad. They taste like clams and are a bit chewy. I ordered the French Onion soup, and I think almost everyone ordered the duck in orange sauce. The duck was SO yummy, but we all know I love duck :). Everyone made a toast to Hannah, had some wine, and was in a great mood. The tour was great and I am SO glad that I went on it by myself.
Most everyone that wasn’t in a couple came alone, and we all became such great friends! It was time to say goodbye, and we made our way yet again, back to the hotel. I got up in the morning early enough to say goodbye to all of my friends, who were either extending to Rome or Amsterdam, or making their journey home. It was sad to say bye to everyone, but Tiff & I still had a day left in Paris! I went back up to my room, and slept a wee bit longer.
Friday in Paris: Aka the day we get to see Other Lives in concert(for the 3rd time)!!!
The sun was shining… the tank was clean… OH how beautiful it was in Paris on Friday!! We took a cab to our new hotel in the Bastille district, which is by far my favorite spot in Paris! TONS of little shops, restaurants, and venues. I really think the locals love this spot too! We got some Pain au Chocolat, and then explored the town. We stumbled upon this gorgeous open air market, filled with fresh produce, meat, and flowers! I was so happy to finally find one in Paris!
We walked around some more, went to Pierre Herme, which was AMAZING, and then back to Notre Dame. The pastries at Pierre Herme were divine. We got a passion fruit dessert with brioche, rum soaked pineapple, and a passion fruit chocolate mousse. We also got a coffee mousse tart, and this chocolate hazelnut feuilletine dessert. Oh. My. God. I was in heaven!! We decided to go back to our hotel to get ready for the concert, and ended up having savory crepes for dinner. I’m pretty sure I could live off of crepes now. I love them!! Holy moly…Other Lives was AMAZING! The venue was very cute, and actually ended up having stadium seating. Minus it being a million and twelve degrees inside, it was so much fun! Tiff & I have seen Other Lives twice in San Diego, but the biggest show was maybe 25 people. This one definitely had easily over 200! It was so awesome to see them get a standing ovation and an encore! The opening band was called The Magnetic North, and I believe they were English. Not only were they so good, it was only their second gig EVER!! Tiff and I ended up having an amazing experience in Paris, but I definitely need to go back.
If I have learned anything from traveling on this trip, it is to be flexible. I wanted to see a lot more than I actually was able to, but there is no reason to get disappointed or frustrated. I have been having the time of my life, and am SO glad I have the opportunity to be here. I miss you all at home, but I honestly don’t know how much longer I can live there. Everything here is just so amazing, and I feel like I am missing out by not living here! Anyways, this update is getting a little bit ridiculous (cray as usual =P), and I haven’t even gotten to write about Italy yet! So get ready, there are loads and loads of pictures and stories to come! Hope you guys don’t get too bored reading this, and thanks if you actually read the whole thing :).
Haven’t had time to update since we are always on the go go go! I’ll do a detailed update when I get to Florence. The last two days in London were a blast! I want to move to Bath, it was amazing. It took us 10 hours in the coach/ferry to get to Paris. That was not very fun, but seeing Paris and going to the top of the Eiffle Tower made up for it. It is SO beautiful when it sparkles.
The weather yesterday in Paris was around 70 and sunny, so it was gorgeous walking around. Tiff got in last night, (YAY) so happy to be reunited !!!! Mostly everyone on the tour went to moulin rouge last night, so we met up after and it was so much fun. 55 americans at an Irish pub in Paris. You do the math. Met some French guys as well, one of which knows how to get me a pastry job in the south of France. We’ve gotten lost in Paris already, but it has worked out! I have so many pictures to share when I get back. Love and miss you guys !