Ciao! It’s obvious that I haven’t blogged in a while and before heading to Barcelona this weekend, I wanted to update everyone on what I have been doing for the past month! So, the weekend following Oktoberfest I spent my first complete weekend in Florence without plans and it was wonderful to be able to settle in and explore that city that I had already been living in for a month.
The following weekend, I also spent in Florence, but I also spent a day in beautiful Venezia (Venice) and attended a Fiorentina soccer game. Venice was just as I pictured it would be: Throngs of tourists filling the narrow streets of the city center; and the strikingly aquamarine canals snaking their way between the buildings, dividing Venice into 118 little islands. Though it was a short trip, we were able to see a lot of what Venice had to offer. One of my favorite parts was the Murano glass blowing demonstration – the glass blower made a horse out of a ball of molten glass!
Another highlight of the trip was taking a gondola ride through the city. You can’t go to Venice and not ride in a Gondola. It was very relaxing, although the boats are extremely tippy!
That Sunday, myself, along with Kady, Kara and Lauren attended our first Fiorentina soccer game. Fiorentina is the Florence soccer team, and if you’re a fan, you’re a die-hard. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend one of their biggest games against Juventus. It was really intense: Fiorentina was losing 0-2 for the entire first half and then came back to win 4-2 by the end!
Tuscany came next! One of my best friends from home, Leah (who was studying in Lugano, Switzerland), arrived in Florence the following Thursday. At home we work at an Italian restaurant and the owner, as well as some of the employees, were making a trip to Italy, so we were able to tag along for a few days! On Saturday afternoon, 10 of us piled in to a 9-person van and headed in to the country side of Tuscany. We stayed at the Getteschi Vineyard in Montegrossi, which was a very small town outside of Gaiole. The villa was absolutely beautiful, and I finally got the dose of fall that I had been missing in Florence!
We spent the weekend drinking wine and eating the most amazing food I have ever had. Chicken liver pate, pumpkin dumplings, duck, mushroom risotto, and soo so much more. It was a great weekend spent catching up with some great people!
So, finally, this past weekend I went to Amsterdam! On Thursday, Kady, Kara, Sean and I flew to the Eidenhoven airport in the Netherlands and then took a 2 hour bus in to the city of Amsterdam. The traveling felt long, but it was so worth it once we arrived. Amsterdam is an amazingly beautiful city, and makes Florence look like the slums. Everything was so clean and every building was so beautiful. We stayed at StayOkay Hostel on the outside of the city, though it took us an hour to find…it ended up being a really nice hostel. Thursday night we met up with Kady’s friend who studies outside of Amsterdam who showed us around Amsterdam and took us to see the infamous Red Light District – which was a completely different world. I knew what the Red Light District was but it took me aback to actually see women – and men – selling themselves in store windows. Nuts.
The next morning we took our time waking up after a late night of touring the city. Our first stop was to Pancakes! Amsterdam which was a breakfast place that specialized in Dutch pancakes. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. Dutch pancakes are much thinner than American pancakes but twice the diameter. I had a goat cheese, spinach and pine nut pancake. It was amazing.
Pancakes! Amsterdam was conveniently close to the Van Gogh museum, which was our next destination. The exhibition was called “Van Gogh at work” and showed his various styles of art. It was really cool to see his originals, although we were all expecting to see Starry Night – which I recently found out is permanently in the MoMA in NYC.
The Anne Frank House was the next tourist destination on our list. Although the we waited in a long and winding line for about 2 hours, it was really interesting to see the actual house which the Franks lived in. Pictures that Anne has plastered on her bedroom wall were even still there. There was no photography allowed unfortunately.
The past few weekends have been a whirlwind of traveling and site seeing. Next on my list: Barcelona, Budapest, Vienna and Paris! I don’t have many free days left!