Travel Diary: Venice

Where We Stayed
Charming House DD724
This was the cutest little hotel tucked back by the Guggenheim museum. There were not many rooms, but the rooms were really nice. We were able to get a room with 2 twin beds so Lizzy and I didn’t have the share. And the bathroom – OMG literally anything is better than our apartment shower, but a rain shower is the greatest thing ever. Though our apartment isn’t terrible, I’ve really come to appreciate nice(r) bathrooms and showers!

What We Did
Saint Mark’s Basilica 
You can’t go to Venice without visiting the Basilica – it supposedly has the remains of Mark, the gospel writer, which Venice stole to bring people to visit and make money. Apparently back in the day, to have the full body of a gospel writer, was major for a city. You can’t get too close in the church, nor can you take pictures inside, but it is a beautiful place.

Piazza San Marco
If you didn’t know, I’m terrified of birds – pigeons especially. So the piazza is basically my worst nightmare. There are birds EVERYWHERE and for whatever reason, people think it’s fun to feed them and have them land on them… It makes my stomach nauseous to see that. When we were in the piazza, Lizzy and I had our picture taken, but that was it. The less time we spent there, the better it was.

Peggy Guggenheim Museum
This was a last minute decision, but one I’m happy we did. It was a museum in Peggy’s house on the canal. There were so many works of art by Picasso and so many beautiful things to look at within her home too.

Doge’s Palace
We did the Secret Tour at the Doge’s Palace since we are able to get student tickets. It was really cool to see the prison cells and hear the stories of Casanova and about that time. I had done this tour with my parents a few years ago during the summer and it was so hot that I couldn’t remember anything that we saw or heard about. I was purely focused on how hot I was. This time, it was chilly. We went in the morning, so it was cool, but the palace retains the cold and Lizzy and I could not wait to finish so we could go warm up. It was definitely worth the tour, though.

Getting Lost
One thing I was told the first time I came to Venice was to get lost. Well when it’s smoking hot outside, the last thing you want to do is get lost. This time, since the weather was nice, we were able to “get lost.” Just walking around and seeing the city of Venice was really fun and you never knew what the street would lead to.

Venetian Sights

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Water Taxi to Hotel

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Venice is known for seafood – so seafood pasta

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Travel Diary: Day Trip to Pisa

On Friday, we did a day trip to Pisa. It’s about an hour train ride from Florence and it was fun to go see the tower since that is literally all there is to do. Lizzy and I went with a group of girls we had met our first week here and it was nice to travel with a big group. We took the train in the afternoon since we knew we only wanted to spend a few hours there. As soon as we arrived at the train station, we headed straight for the tower and had our photo shoot. It was really fun and it’s hilarious watching people trying to get the perfect picture.

After we finally got the right picture, we walked around a bit to see what Pisa had to offer (which wasn’t much) and found a cute place for lunch. We then headed back to the tower to go into the cathedral right by it and then back on the train to head back to Florence.

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When we arrived back in Florence and ended our night at the chocolate festival that was going on at Piazza Santa Maria Novella. HOLY YUM! There were so many different types of chocolate and a million different ways to eat it. I got chocolate dipped cake pops and a waffle on a stick dipped in chocolate. Literally the greatest thing ever!

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This is all chocolate!!

Florence Days 4-6

Wednesday was our first morning in our new apartment. We quickly learned that the noise on the street echoes (as one girl noticed as she screamed “echo” down the street) and people are LOUD at 3 am. While the noise eventually subsided, I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning only to wake up at in a few hours for the first day of orientation. We made it through the 2-hour session and had the whole day to explore even more. Lizzy, Kayleigh (our roommate from FIT) and I grabbed coffee at a café near our apartment and then went on a hunt for a pillow. We may have the tiniest beds in the world and the stiff pillows did not make it any better. But we found some, and let me tell you, it was glorious to sleep on. We went back to rest for a bit before walking around and shopping some more. While on our walk, we found a cannoli place where they make the cannoli for you… it was the best thing ever! We ended up at dinner at a restaurant with all study abroad students that had a deal for dinner and sat a table with three girls from a different school. They were the nicest people and we spent the whole night laughing and talking, which was nice to meet such normal people and have a good time. But, by like 11 we were exhausted and were in bed and asleep!

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Making my cannoli

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The final product

Thursday, after a pretty good night’s sleep, we went to orientation again this morning for just a bit. After that, we walked back to our apartment and got situated before heading out for lunch. We went to this really yummy burger place by us and enjoyed some non-Italian food We then explored some more of the city and went across the river to get some gelato and walk around there some more. We eventually found our way to our friend Cassie’s apartment, which was fun to see (but I like ours a lot better)! Now we’re just relaxing and enjoying the comfort of our apartment before a welcome dinner at the school tonight!

 

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Yesterday, we had our last session of orientation and rewarded ourselves at News Cafe with a Nutella lined coffee… Though I am not a coffee drinker by any means, it was pretty good, but not good enough to convert me. We then went on a little walk and enjoyed and ended up at All’antico Vinaio for a panini – OMG this was literally the most amazing sandwich I’ve ever had. I can’t even describe it – it was so amazing! We grabbed our sandwiches and walked across the Ponte Vecchio and sat in front of Boboli Gardens before going in and walking around them. It was so beautiful and nice to escape from the “city.” We finished the night at dinner with Jenny at the Mercato Centrale. This weekend we’re just enjoying Florence and doing a day trip to Tuscany!

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Milano Panini

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Ciao for now!

xx
Grace

Florence Days 1-3

I have finally made it to Florence and to say that I am excited is way understated. Lizzy and I arrived after a pit stop in Amsterdam to a rainy Florence, with all our luggage in tow. Though we were insanely exhausted, we decided to explore a bit so we could get comfortable with our new home and try not fall asleep! After a delicious lunch in one of the piazzas, we went on a mission to find shampoo and conditioner at Sephora and after visiting 2 Sephoras, I was finally successful! Who knew that it was that hard to find shampoo? We then decided to venture over to the area of our new apartment and see what it was like. When we finally arrived we looked around and there were very few people in sight and not many places to eat or shop at and while we were skeptical (don’t worry mom, that changed quickly), we decided to go back to the hotel and rest since it decided to rain harder. With one more go on the town for dinner, we both crawled into bed at 8:30 and slept fabulously! Monday morning, we woke up well rested and enjoyed a nice croissant at a little café.

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Yesterday, I was determined to find a curling iron or hair straighter. After many visits to department stores and pharmacies, I was about to give up, when I saw an electronic store (I had read that they carried them), only to find it was closed. However, the sweet man that owned it came running up after us and opened it for us. Praise the lord! Lizzy and I then ventured across the Ponte Vecchio and grabbed a slice of pizza before climbing to the top of Piazza Michelangelo. Don’t let the photo below fool you, it took us 3 breaks on the steep steps up to get to the top, but the view was well worth it! After our trek, we thought we’d go explore the area around our apartment since it was a beautiful sunny day. And much to our surprise, the area was packed with people (see mom, it’s going to be okay!) We finished our night off with dinner with Jenny and it was so much fun to see her!

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Stairs to the Top

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View from the Top

Today, Tuesday, we went to orientation for our apartment and finally got our room keys. Lizzy and I packed up our suitcases and took a taxi to our new home. It only took us using 4 of the 6 keys to finally get into the front door to then have to figure out the next key to use to open the next door. 3 trips later, we finally made it with all our stuff to our door on the 3rd floor, which uses two keys to get in. Our apartment is perfect! There’s a decent sized kitchen with a fridge, oven, microwave, and even a dishwasher. Off that we have a little living area with a TV. Lizzy and I share the first room and there are 3 other rooms for the 4 other girls, plus 2 bathrooms. The ceilings are high, so it makes it feel a lot bigger and it’s IKEA furniture, so it’s pretty modern for such an old city. The window in my room is across the street from a music school, so we hear the piano and other instruments, which is fun to hear. Orientation starts tomorrow and I’m excited to meet more people and get everything ready, but, for now, it’s nice to finally be unpacked and organized! I’ll try to write and post pictures as much as possible!

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Our bedroom

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The Kitchen

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Living Room

Ciao