Grappa

After dinner, Melissa and I decided to try an italian drink called Grappa. It’s made from distilling all the leftovers of the winemaking process into an after dinner drink. We thought it would be like stronger wine – little did we know, it was like pure alcohol. The waiter thought it was so funny that we asked for it, and after trying it, I understand why! He served it to us in a tall skinny glass, but only a shots worth of drink was in it. We were confused if it was a shot or a drink. We had to order Coca Colas to wash it down with, which the waiter also found funny. He kept coming back to our table to see if we drank it yet – It took us over an hour to drink about two ounces of alcohol. We ended up taking it like a shot because we couldn’t stand sipping it anymore. I’m still not sure how you’re supposed to drink it, but I am sure it was HORRIBLE. Don’t try it if you ever go to Italy. 

That’s Amore

On Thursday I left London for Verona, Italy! It is definitely my favorite trip I’ve had so far. 

Verona, the location of Romeo & Juliet (and also his lesser known comedy, Two Gentleman of Verona) is a small city in Northern Italy, once Roman occupied, with lots of historical sights!

I met Melissa and her friend Beth at the train station in the evening, where it was a short walk to our B&B. (La Magnolia B&B, it was FANTASTIC, I recommend it to anyone travelling there!) We dropped off our stuff and wandered around the city, and later got dinner. 

You can still see the walls surrounding the city

Piazza Bra


Piazza dei Signori 

Our first full day, we went and got a VeronaCard, which was a great deal! Only 15 euros for two days, and it lets you into all the sights for free as well as free public transportation. First we went to Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s House). Obviously, Romeo & Juliet is a fictional story, but Shakespeare’s tragedy is based on an earlier tale called Giulietta e Romeo. This house once belonged to the dell Capello family – rumored to be the inspiration for the Capulets. The dell Capellos were part of a struggle for power with the Montecchi family, the basis for the Montagues. Anyway, here’s me in front of ‘Juliet’s’ balcony.   

People sign their love on the walls and gate in the entrance to Juliet’s house. 

We went up to Juliet’s balcony and I loved the neighbor’s little balcony!

After that, we headed over to the Torre dei Lamberti (Lamberti Tower) and climbed all the way up (400+ steps!). It was exhausting but the views were worth it.

Once we got back down, it was time for lunch! Before that I posed with this fountain in the Piazza dei Erbe (you can see it in the arial view above). It’s over 2,000 years old!

Beth & Melissa

My delicious Prosciutto pizza!


This building was next to us while we ate. I loved that the lion – at the top left – has worn away, or maybe was taken off. Below the lion, there are two empty frames where it looks like two coats of arms were also taken off. I also loved the design painted on the building coming through the stucco (right side)


After lunch, we went over to the old Roman Arena, basically like a small coliseum! They were doing construction on it for a concert coming up, which frustrated me because I wanted nice photos!

Ancient Roman Toilet Sign

This is the last remaining bit of the exterior of the Arena. The outside of it now was originally inside 

Outside of the Arena, some actors were goofing off with tourists

We went back to the hostel and took a nice siesta before heading over to Juliet’s Tomb. Like her house, this is the tomb of one of the dell Capellos. 

 

On the way out, there was a huge room randomly filled with a ton of amphora 

Dinner! Spaghetti Bolognese, bread & olive oil, and a glass of red wine

Gelato!

Saturday Morning we got up and went to a café for some coffee (it was delicious!) Melissa posed with this giant drink outside the restaurant. We had seen everyone drinking it, and Melissa ordered it on Thursday night with her dinner. It was quite funny, because we didn’t know the name of it, and the only way melissa described it was ‘orange’ so the waiter thought we were talking about orange juice. Turns out it is an orange spritzer made with oranges, Prosecco, club soda, and Campari Aperol. It was really good!

After coffee, we walked over to Castelveccio, an old castle where the Scaligeri family lived. It was built in the 1300s.

Rooftop courtyard

Then we walked across the bridge to the Roman Theatre

You can barely see it – above the archways near the river.

Up a few levels from the theatre, there was an old churchyard. It basically seemed like after the Roman Empire fell, the people of Verona found it as new open real estate and built all around, even on top of it.

ooold church

view of the city from the top tier

After the theatre, we grabbed some lunch. I wasn’t feeling very well – I had a horrible sinus ache on one side of my face- , so I went back to the B&B with Melissa where we took a nap for an hour. Beth went looking for Italian Leather boots, and also checked out a cathedral. We met up and went to the pharmacy for some medicine – the lady didn’t know what we meant by ‘sinus’ but the second I pointed to my cheekbones, she understood! Who knew, a universal hand gesture for sinus pain! Then we headed out for some more shopping and then dinner.

Carnevale Masks in the Piazza dei Erbe market

I snuck a picture of this pretty coral themed Italian-made pottery! 

Delicious Tortelli! (mini tortellini)


After dinner, Melissa and I decided to try an italian drink called Grappa. Check out the video of us tasting it. 

Portugal, part III: Albufiera

Friday and Saturday we headed to Albufiera, a beach about an hour bus ride from Faro. It was gorgeous, with cliff-like rocks and Caribbean blue water! We were lucky and it was about 16-18ºC, about 75-80ºF.

My dinner on friday – Arroz Mariscos and a glass of Sangria! Yep, that’s a crab claw.

My dinner on Saturday : Portuguese Style Pork with onions, tomatoes, and peppers

View from the plane as we left Faro:

Portugal, part II: Faro

We arrived in Faro around 12 Thursday afternoon. We walked around the city, got a nice lunch, and went back to the hostel early, where we fell asleep before 7! (ha ha)

My Lunch : A DELICIOUS house salad which included shrimp and fresh tuna! I think it’s the most colorful meal I’ve had since January.

Portugal, part I: the Journey

This past weekend, Lauren and I went to Faro, Portugal for a nice Beach vacation! Our trip there included a few stumbles but it was all worth it in the end. It was GORGEOUS and warm and I wish I was still lying on that beautiful beach!

Wednesday night Lauren and I headed to Victoria to catch a bus out to Bournemouth for a morning flight. Our flight was at 9am Thursday morning and the earliest bus from London wouldn’t get us there in time. We figured that we’d just sleep in the airport. The tickets were so much cheaper than flying out of London that we didn’t care. 

Once we got to Bournemouth, we hopped in a cab to take us to the airport. Once we got there, the doors were LOCKED! I – and Lauren as well – did not expect that curveball! I assumed all international airports would be open basically all hours, but I guess because this was a tiny airport (only like 5 terminals) it wouldn’t open until 4. Our cab driver was so nice and offered to drive us back for free, but we didn’t know where we would go at the coach station for four hours either. We told him we’d stay and wait it out, and he reluctantly drove away after telling us not to sit out in the cold. We took a little lap around the side of the airport and thankfully found that the entrance to the Arrivals waiting area was open! Right as we were going inside, our cabbie drove by again – he had called another cab driver and come to tell us to stay in the arrivals; finding us inside. He really was awesome to come back to check on us, and I need to send the company a message about his excellent service! SO, once we made it into the little arrivals room, all we had to do was wait until 4. We had a lot of food and candy, and I think we reached the point of delusional laughter around 2am. Let’s just say we didn’t really sleep.

Note the creepy plastic flap door .. around 2:30  or 3 we started talking about how this room looked like a set for a zombie movie. After talking about zombies for about 10 minutes, the plastic flaps smacked together making the largest cracking noise! I jumped about ten feet in the air and Lauren froze on the spot. Bad topic for discussion. 

I wrote a comment card about the airport not being open 24 hours without having that posted on the website. ALSO, I wrote that I was surprised that no security whatsoever came by to see who had just snuck into arrivals. I was surprised, especially at an international airport. (Although today I found out from my flatmates that taking shoes off for security is just a USA thing)

Pretending to sleep.

Finally, around 3:30 I had to go to the bathroom sooo bad. I was dancing around the room in pain, hoping I could make it 10 more minutes. Around 3:50 I decided I couldn’t hold it any longer and I went outside to find a little corner to pee in (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do). I was shocked when I saw two women with suitcases rolling by (and a little disappointed, because I really had to go). We followed them into the airport, which was finally open, Hurrah! and I sprinted to the bathroom. Perfect Timing. 

THEN, after that, we still had 3 hours to kill before security opened for our gate. We found some really comfy leather couches in the coffee shop, where we both actually fell asleep. 

SO THEN, we made it through security – which was a joke, they were all signing up for some potluck dinner or something while we walked through the metal detectors – and set up camp in the gate for an hour or so.

Out of nowhere a ton of people showed up for our flight (a lot of old people – golfers) and because RyanAir is so cheap, it’s a free-for-all for seats. It was manic. They also make you shove your carry on into this little box to make sure it fits the requirements. The kicker – mine didn’t fit. So I had to pay £35 at the gate, which sucked. I also had to pay it for the flight back – the wheels wouldn’t fit – seriously the box is tiny, probably could only fit a large backpack. – – – A warning for all of you guys flying Ryan Air!!! (and it’s smaller than easyjet’s little box)

Backtracking a Week – Melissa & Azaria!

So, about a week ago, Melissa & Azaria came to London!

Melissa’s friend Annie came along too, and the first day we walked around London, doing typical touristy sightseeing things. Annie was supposed to meet up with her parents that night, but their flight got delayed a full day – so they were SO nice and let us stay in their hotel room for the night.

The next day, Annie’s parents finally made it to London, and they were exhausted. Melissa, Azaria, Annie and I went to Leicester Square to see how much musical tickets would be for that day. They weren’t too bad, but we decided that we didn’t have time to see a play and go out. – Azaria’s mom had a friend who was a bouncer and got us into a nightclub for free! – We met up with Annie’s parents at the Museum of London and walked through the first floor, and decided after that we were done. We went to a pub for dinner, which ended up taking longer than we thought because we didn’t realize the Arsenal – Manchester game was on! Then we went back to the hotel to shower, and change for going out. (Azaria’s mom had booked us a room for that night)

Us girls got to the nightclub in Leicester Square okay, and we got in for free. But the drinks were so expensive! And it took us about an hour to hail a cab home. (There were a ton of unlicensed cabs, but they’re so unsafe, we wanted to wait for a black one… apparently 3am is a busy time in London, with so many people leaving bars and clubs.) We had lots of fun anyway! Before we went out, Melissa, Azaria, and I were saying that it was like we had only seen each other a week ago – but in reality, it’s been FOUR years! I can’t believe it. We got along so well on this trip it was like we were never apart, nothing was awkward or silent.

Sunday morning Annie decided to hang out with her parents so Melissa, Azaria, her mom, and I headed to South Kensington to see Harrods. We had a nice lunch/dinner at pizza express and then Melissa and I walked Azaria and Sheona to Victoria Station to see them on their train. It was sad, we all started crying, although I am going to visit Azaria (hopefully!) before I leave.

Monday Melissa got up to meet Annie & her parents to go to Stonehenge, and I went to class. I met them in the evening at the train station, where Annie and her Mom & Dad left to fly to Dublin. In the evening, I took Melissa to a school function, the Grand, with the rest of my flat.

Tuesday morning Melissa had to catch her train to meet her friends in Lisbon, Portugal (it was her spring break). The weekend flew by but I was so happy to see everyone!