Italia Part 4 – Siena

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to make a post regarding Siena because we were only there for a few hours…and it sucked. I had, by far, the worst meal I have ever been served in my life there. I’m not exaggerating. But I’ll get to that part later.

This adventure starts with the journey of finding the damn bus station that we needed. True to form, Diana and I had done little research regarding where we needed to go to take the bus to Siena. We figured we’d follow the signs…ahahaha how stupid. I forgot that Europe doesn’t really believe in street signs and labels. After wandering aimlessly for awhile and asking for directions to the bus station twice, I finally spotted the thing as Diana and I were crossing another street. We made it 10 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. We bought our tickets (after dealing with some attitude from the ticket vendor) and were finally on the bus to Siena. The ride from Florence to Siena was pretty short. Diana and I passed the time listening to music on our ipods.

Once we arrived in Siena, we realized we had no idea what we wanted to do there. We figured we’d start by going to find the famous Piazza del Campo. Again, it took us a little longer than it should have to find it…and I wasn’t all that impressed by it once we did. I think I had built it up too much in my head and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Once we were done there, we went off to find food. We decided on a little place since the menu seemed decent enough. Oh man, we really should have just waited until we got back to Florence. We ordered our food (we each ordered pasta) and started to chat while we waited to be served. It should be noted that Diana’s back was facing the kitchen area, so I was the one with the view when the woman came out with our food. I tried to keep my facial reaction to a minimum, though I think Diana could tell that something was wrong. You see, I saw the woman walking towards us with what appeared to be lean cuisine. I shit you not. This was our food: More

Italia Part 3 – ROMA

The final part of our Italy trip led us to Rome. Getting the train from Florence to Rome was so easy and nice, especially when compared to the Pisa-Florence train debacle. The hotel we were staying at wasn’t too far from the train station so it only took us about 10 minutes to walk to our hotel. The only sucky part was that it was raining and holding your umbrella while lugging around your suitcase in the tiny Roma streets is no cake walk. We made it to our hotel without getting lost! Shocking for me and Diana.

When we went to check-in, the receptionist informed us that our room wasn’t ready, which wasn’t all that surprising since we were early so we decided to wait in the lobby. While we were in the lobby, we asked about the wifi. The receptionist proceeded to tell us that since our room was upstairs, we wouldn’t have wifi since wifi was only available on the first floor. She said that since we wrote that we preferred 3 single beds when we booked, they gave us the room upstairs. My friend from Maryland still hadn’t arrived in Rome yet, but Diana and I made the executive decision that we would be willing to forgo the 3 single beds in exchange for wifi. You have to understand that Diana and I pretty much didn’t have wifi while in Florence because our hostel’s wifi was complete and utter crap. There was no way we were dealing with no wifi. So instead of each of us having our own single bed, our room consisted of 1 single bed and a double bed. However, the single and the double were smack dab next to each other…so, essentially, it was just one giant bed:

MegaBedEmily had the “single” bed while Diana and I shared the double. It actually wasn’t so bad…and totally worth having wifi over.

Once we got our things settled in the room, Diana and I took off to explore Roma a bit. We quickly realized that crossing the street is a very scary affair in Rome. In Spain, I don’t mind crossing the street even if there’s no crosswalk because most Spaniards stop to let you pass. In Italy, however, there was no way Diana and I would cross a street without a crosswalk. They drive like maniacs! Exploring had to wait a little, though, because our hunger was our main priority. We ended up eating at a small little restaurant near our place (I can’t remember the name for the life of me) and it was pretty good. We were also able to satisfy our coffee fix there, which is always a good thing. We ended up wandering around and just seeing where we ended up. We walked to the Trevi Fountain, the pantheon, and while we said we weren’t going to walk very far…we somehow ended up at the Vatican. I didn’t even believe Diana when she said that I was looking at St.Peter’s Basilica. I was in actual denial that we walked all that way. We took some pictures and then proceeded to the metro because we decided there was no way in hell we were making the walk back to our hotel.

Once we arrived back to our hotel, we were pretty exhausted and just wanted to go eat. Diana had done some research on TripAdvisor and read about a restaurant near us called Mamma Angela’s. We walked over and it ended up being an excellent choice. Our food was delicious! The service is pretty great, too. It’s obvious that the waiters know a lot of the clientele are toursits and really want them to leave with a great impression of the restaurant. There was a slight (hilarious) misunderstanding between Diana and our waiter, which I won’t write on here but it made my evening. Don’t worry, though, karma came back to bite me for making fun of Diana’s embarrassment. But that happens later on in our travel. But, if you’re ever in Rome, I highly recommend Mamma Angela’s. The food is AMAZING (best pasta and tiramisu) and the waiters are incredibly nice and friendly.

Day 2 had been established as our “picture day” because it was suppose to be the day with the nicest weather. Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain: More

Italia (Part 2) – Firenze. This Post is Ridiculously Long. Sorry.

Florence was definitely a highlight in the Italy trip. Now that I’ve been back a few weeks, I can say that Florence was my favorite city. It was a close tie with Rome, but something about Florence just appeals to me more. As the title mentions, this post is pretty long. I thought about breaking it up into 2 posts, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

This was the view from our hostel.

This was the view from our hostel.

After the debacle that was getting to the train station in Pisa to get to Florence, getting to the hostel we were staying at was pretty easy. I think it was probably around a 10 minute walk from the train station. We were the first people to check into the room so we got to pick our beds. We chose the bunk beds that were kind of separated from the other 2 bunk beds in the room. There was a semi-wall dividing us from the rest of the room and we liked it because, well, we weren’t sure if we’d get along with our roommates or not. After unpacking all of our stuff, we went off to venture the streets of Firenze. We ended up walking through the Market of San Lorenzo, which was about 5 minutes from our hostel. Diana and I already had our minds set that we wanted to buy leather jackets while in Florence since the city is known for having great leather products. So the market was the perfect shopping place for them. We entered one shop and liked some of the jackets, but we were put off by the salesperson who was quickly becoming much to pushy and really trying to pressure Diana and me into buying the jackets. Since it was the first store we’d gone into we didn’t feel comfortable buying the jackets and were trying to explain to the man that we wanted to look around before we made a decision. He got visibly annoyed with us so we just decided to leave. Also, this was also the man who kept telling Diana that the coat she was trying on looked “great around your boobies.” We should have just left after that. More

Italia (Part 1) – PISA

ImageFirst off, I am really sorry for my lack of blogging. There was really no way I could blog while in Italy and then I needed to get adjusted to being back at school. Now that I’m more into my groove of things, I feel like I can finally write my Italy posts. First up, Pisa!

Our trip began with a RyanAir flight straight to Pisa. This was my first time ever flying RyanAir and after all the horror stories I’d heard, I was more than a little anxious about the flight. My friend Diana ended up being in the fetal position for most of the flight since the flight attendant somehow managed to stuff Diana’s carry-on under her seat, which meant Diana had no leg room. None. I was okay for the flight until the landing. Worst landing I have ever experienced. I was fairly certain we were going to land sideways on the tarmac. Everyone was rocking side-to-side as we went down the runway. Granted, we all laughed about it afterward, but it was still scary.

Once I had my bag, Diana and I made our way to the bus we needed in order to get to our hostel. We had a slight bump finding the hostel from the bus stop because the directions we had were terrible. Would it kill people to use street names when giving directions? Once we finally made it to the hostel, we dropped off our bags and went off to find the tower. Now, let me be clear that in the entire walk from the bus stop to the hostel, Diana and I had not seen the tower. So when we left our hostel, we began walking in the direction we assumed the tower would be. This only lasted for about 3 minutes when we decided we were heading in the wrong direction and proceeded to turn around. Diana then says, “Oh my god, Yari. Look!” I had no idea what she wanted me to look at and I thought she was pointing at the car parked in front of us so I was really confused…until I looked up and saw the tower! Suffice it to say that we felt pretty damn stupid at that point. I had to take a picture to commemorate the moment we saw it: More

My Top 5 European Travel Destinations.

Remember how in my resolutions post I mentioned wanting to travel more? I’ve made a list of the places I’d like to go to in order to help me organize myself. These are my top 5 travel destinations in Europe (I had to limit myself to Europe because if I didn’t, instead of a top 5, it would be a top 20):

1. Italy

I’m actually going to be checking this one off my list during semana santa! I will be spending all of semana santa exploring Pisa, Florence, and Rome! I’ll be travelling with one of my friends who is also a language assistant, which marks my first non-solo trip. I’ll also be meeting up with a friend from MD in Rome! It’ll be so nice to see a familiar face again. My wanting to go to Italy is a surprise to no one that knows me. I love food. I love Italian cuisine. My friend and I were joking about how we’re more excited about all the things we’re going to eat than the sights we’re going to see. That being said, I am insanely excited to see the Duomo, Colosseo, and Fontana di Trevi! I have a feeling this trip is going to be of epic proportions!

2. France

I know, I’ve been to France before…but that trip was not enough! I was in Paris for three days when I went in November and it was not enough to satiate me. My plan is return to Paris again during the long weekend in May. I LOVED Paris! I could honestly spend an entire month there and never be satisfied enough to want to leave. So for now, my goal is to have more time in Paris. However, there are several other cities in France that I’d love to explore in the future!

3. Ireland

I don’t know what it is about Ireland that appeals to me so much, but I am dying to see if it is as magical as I picture it to be. I think a lot of Ireland’s appeal for me is that I love medieval history and Ireland is full of gorgeous medieval castles like this one:

Another thing I really want to do in Ireland is kiss the famous Blarney Stone. And, alright, I totally want to go to the Guinness Storehouse.

4. Germany

I mentioned above how Ireland holds a lot of appeal to me because of the castles…well, Germany is like the holy grail of gorgeous castles! I think I would need at least a month to see all of the castles I want to visit in Germany. I’ll leave this link to a wikipedia page with the castles here. Aside from the castles, I would also like to visit some of the concentration camps. I remember going to the Holocaust museum in DC when I was a sophomore in high school and I can say with all certainty that it really changed me. I’ll never forget walking through the room that had the shoes of victims from a concentration camp, breaking down in tears (I mean, I lost it when I saw the baby shoes) and being comforted by my religion teacher, Mr.Mac. I will always remember what he said to me as he hugged me, “This is one of your best qualities: how deeply you feel things and how much you empathize.” Sometimes I feel it can be more of a curse than a blessing. While I know walking through a concentration camp will be difficult for me, it is still something that I would like to experience.

5. Spain

The beautiful El Escorial monastery.Source

The beautiful El Escorial monastery.
Source

I am well aware of the fact that I am currently living in the aforementioned country. However, Spain has a lot of places I would still like to see. I want to travel to locations like Galicia, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Cuenca, and Salamanca. Oh and Mallorca and Ibiza. As you can see, there is LOTS I still want to see in Spain. Even within Madrid, there are still museums I’d like to visit and I am determined to go to El Escorial before the beginning of summer.

So for now, these are my travel goals. There are, of course, many places outside of Europe that I’d like to visit, but I’ll save that for a different post. What are your top 5 travel destinations?