Week 9: Spring Break

Ciao Ciao!

Hope you didn’t miss my updates too much, but the good news is I’m back for now! After a week of [barely] studying for exams and catching up on sleep after Dublin, Thursday night I departed for the Rome airport to fly to Santorini. Despite a delay, we boarded the flight and took off on our 2 and a half hour journey to Greece. As we were about to land, however, the plane flew out of control and the pilot announced we had to delay landing due to extreme conditions in Santorini. We circled above the island for about a half hour, until we were told we had to turn around and fly ALL THE WAY BACK TO ROME due to weather conditions. Keep in mind that I was flying a budget airline which was hesitant to even offer free water to us passengers, and they didn’t even have an option to purchase wifi, so I just had to hang tight while I knew my mom was probably having an anxiety attack since she had yet to hear from me. Fast forward 5.5 hours and we land safely in Rome. The airline put us up in a Hilton for the night and though it had an unreal breakfast buffet I was not feeling the idea of getting back on to a plane. Due to that and a few other factors, I headed back to Florence – which turned out to be the best decision.

Coincidentally, my friend Aaron was able to reroute his spring break vacation and come visit me in Florence, which ended up being an awesome time. Even though I woke up Thursday morning with a sprained foot and had to limp around Florence to get an x-ray, I would still call my week a success.Aside from my relaxing week spent enjoying my alone time (which is honestly a rarity abroad), Thursday night I went on a Bus2Alps trip to the Amalfi Coast, which, to say the least, was GORGEOUS.

We arrived in Sorrento at the Sisters’ Hostel at around 3am after about 6 hours spent on a bus to find a room that looked like it was straight out of Annie’s “It’s a Hard Knock Life”. There were five beds lined up in a row and the walls were bare, aside from a decoration featuring Jesus on the cross (which still had a price sticker on it; it was 15 euros if you are curious to know). We woke up at around 7am only to find out that the guide on our bus neglected to tell us that our hostel had a different wake-up time than his, so we could have slept for another hour. Let’s just say we were less than thrilled with Jarrett for this mishap. After waiting around for an hour, we finally departed for Positano.

Positano was unbelievably gorgeous, and the views were unreal. The water was so blue and the beach was black sand and rocks, which was surprisingly comfortable to lie out on. We purchased a bottle of wine and hit the beach in the hopes of no longer looking like ghosts. Unfortunately I was slightly idiotic and forgot to bring my sunscreen (which, if you know me well you know that I am allergic to like everything so there was no way I was finding sunscreen by the beach). Naturally, I turned into a lobster – still praying that the burn turns into a golden tan because that would obviously be ideal. After a day of tanning, drinking wine and exploring the cool alleyways in Positano, we headed back to the hostel for the worst low-pressure shower of my life. That night we left the hotel at 8:45pm and took a bus into downtown Sorrento, where we got dinner. The service was terrible and we didn’t eat until after 10pm! I definitely would not recommend this restaurant to anyone I like. I was a party pooper that night and skipped out on going out because my sunburn killed and I was exhausted.

The next morning we had to be ready to leave by 6:45am which was, yet again, brutal. We went to the Sorrento port and caught a ferry to Capri, where we boarded another boat. It was a bit chillier on Saturday than we had anticipated, but the views made up for being uncomfortable. We stopped off at the Blue Grotto, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world; it’s basically a little cave that you can take a rowboat into, and the light reflects in such an awesome way that it makes the water look neon blue. Even though I accidentally dropped my camera in the water for a hot sec and the price to enter was pretty steep, it was totally worth it to see. After checking out the Blue Grotto our boat tour continued to circle around Capri where the next view was only more breathtaking than the last. It was such a relaxing morning and I would highly recommend a boat tour around Capri to anyone planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast! After the boat tour we traveled to the town of Capri, where we got Granitas, which are basically slushy drinks made from fresh oranges and lemons (which are the Amalfi Coast’s thing). As we continued up to Anacapri, the sights only got sicker. We stopped off at a sandal shop where I got an awesome pair of custom Italian leather sandals and ate an incredible eggplant parmesan calzone for lunch. We also took the chairlift up Mount Solaro, which is the tip of Capri. The chairlift was a single person chair which was half fun and half terrifying. At the top, we took pictures (see above), hung out and enjoyed the sun before heading back down. We then took an open top taxi back down to the Capri Marina Grande, which was the perfect way to end our scenic trip through Capri. After ferrying back to Sorrento, we showered and relaxed before heading to a small seafood restaurant for dinner (where I obviously did not order seafood). After attempting to go out and failing miserably, we headed back to the hostel.

Sunday morning we went to Pompeii, which was pretty awesome. It was surprising to see how much of the city was still in tact and to imagine how beautiful it must have been back in the day. We saw the famous mummified bodies and dog (which was pretty anticlimactic) and explored the ancient town with our tour guide Marcello – roll the “r”. After checking out the ruins and catching a glimpse of Mount Vesuvius we grabbed a bit to eat and headed back to Florence. Overall, the Amalfi Coast was definitely up there with one of my favorite spots that I have visited while abroad. Even though the water pressure was shitty at our hostel and literally none of the toilets had toilet seats, the breathtaking views, awesome weather and unbelievably fresh oranges and lemons make up for it. If you take away anything from the post, let it be that: 1 – remember to bring sunscreen with you, and 2 – GO TO THE AMALFI COAST, its incredible. This weekend I’m staying in Florence again, so I’ll update you all if anything blog-worthy happens. Until then, enjoy stalking my album on Facebook.

Ciao for now!

BCow

Advertisements

Week 7: Dublin

Ciao Ciao!

I’m back from my 2 week hiatus to update all my fans on the latest and greatest of my abroad adventures. Last weekend I stayed in Florence, and the only thing worthy of reporting is that I successfully climbed the 400+ steps to the top of the Duomo (and I didn’t even need my inhaler WOO). Now I’ll move on to Dublin which was actually the greatest weekend. Once again, there isn’t so much that took place outside of the bar, but I’ll do my best to keep it entertaining.

Wednesday night we left Florence and flew to Dublin, and I knew right when I stepped out of the airport that I was vibing with Ireland. I cannot describe how relieving it was to see english everywhere – on street signs, stores and being spoken, even though it did take some adjusting to get used to the cars driving on the opposite side of the road. Next we arrived at the Fleet Street Hotel and were pleased to find a TGI Friday’s attached to the hotel (score). Lucky enough, our hotel room ended up being handicap accessible and the bathroom was bigger than my room in Florence. Once again, Europe did not fail to present the most bizarre shower…this time there were no shower doors whatsoever and the shower head had some mood lighting (which made it real interesting). Enough about the shower, though, and I’ll get to the real good stuff.

Thursday morning comfortingly reminded me of an Ann Arbor gamed – we woke up around 8:30am and headed to Carroll’s Irish Gifts (my new favorite store) to purchase some shamrockin’ accessories. We then had some breakfast, got all Irish-looking and hit the hotel terrace for a pregame full of Jewish geography and reuniting with friends of friends. Once I was sufficiently full with some Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, we head out to the Temple Bar area to Fitzsimmons, where I would basically spend my entire weekend. Fitzsimmons is basically a 4 story bar and the terrace was the place to be. It took about 20 minutes to get a drink from the bar, but it was fine because I am great at mooching off other people to get them to buy me drinks (that’s for you mom – budgeting!). After a few more hours in the bar, it was time to head home for a nice nap and the first of many trips to Fridays for mozzarella sticks and french fries. Somehow that night I was 1/3 roommates who made it out to rally even though standing in a bar again was nauseating.

The next morning was basically the same deal, except it wasn’t officially St. Patrick’s Day anymore :(. We woke up, went to breakfast and head back to the hotel to get dressed and pregame. When we arrived to the terrace, we realized everyone was still wearing green, so we ran back to the room to quickly insert our green hair extensions and of course some shamrock tattoos. Seriously though, what’s a day drink without a Michigan face sticker or tattoo under the left eye? It just makes it fun, ya know?! Moving on, of course we also went to Fitz on Friday and I left early to take a nap and eat some snacks. Confessions: I may have visited Friday’s twice on Friday. Then again, it’s called Friday’s for a reason, right?! Even though that day I drunkenly took a nap in the hallway of the hotel on a buddha statue, that night we went to sleep early because we were exhausted.

And now comes the touristy stuff! Despite having woken up at 7:30am with my girl Sammy Silverman (shoutout, as promised) to catch a bus to the Cliffs of Moher, we were ready for an awesome day. The bus ride to the cliffs was much longer than I expected and with the multiple rest stops we made it took close to 4 hours to get there. I guess I was thankful for the built in nap time, though the tour guide was slightly irritating and felt the need to pretend that leprechauns were real. When we arrived at the cliffs it was a little chilly, but was really awesome. I found out while I was there that Harry Potter was partially filmed there, which is awesome. It was slightly terrifying that everyone was stepping over the safety wall to take cool pictures, but I guess it’s fine because I made it back to tell the story. I’m sure by this point you have all seen my mom’s photo of me captioned “My beautiful jewish girl on beautiful Irish cliffs!” – so thanks for that mom! Hope you all enjoyed that lovely publicity of my weekend activities. After the cliffs, we went to this small pub for a weird lunch and then had one more stop at the mini cliffs, which were basically lots of rocks looking over the water – your classic pretty view. After the next 3 hours of riding the bus, we got back to the hotel and prepared to go to the bars yet again! We went to Welshed where everyone was watching March Madness, and then (of course!) ended the night at Fitz for one last final hoorah of every Jew and their friends socializing with their friends’ friends.

Friday morning we woke up and went to a tasty bagel shop, which obviously didn’t even compare to NY bagels in the slightest, but were sufficiently satisfying. We then explored the city a bit and made our way to the airport to return home. All in all, Dublin was really an awesome city and one of the places I would recommend as a place that anyone studying abroad in Europe has to visit. I have a newfound appreciation for St. Patrick and I’d like to thank the Irish for some great potatoes and even greater St. Paddy’s day accessories which I will admit I will be sporting in Michigan next year, wishing I was celebrating the big day in Dublin. Lucky for all my readers, after my final midterm at 9am tomorrow morning I leave Thursday for spring break! Get pumped to hear about my adventures in Santorini (@Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fans #dreamcometrue), London and The Amalfi Coast. Let’s hope I have a nice golden tan to write about next weekend because at the moment I am suffering from an ear infection and look like a pale ghost. Hope you didn’t miss me too much last week, and can’t wait to update you all on my exciting spring break plans after I explore some more of the world. Until then, feel free to stalk my pictures on Facebook or follow me on snapchat/instagram to stay up to date with my exciting life.

Ciao for now!

BCow

Week 5: Barcelona

Ciao ciao!

I’m going to start this post off by admitting that I did not do the cultural thing in Barcelona, so apologies to all the haters but a girl has to have fun sometimes. I’d like to give everyone a warning in advance that everything I talk about from abroadfest is quite basic but please don’t judge me for it. Overall, the main thing I learned this weekend is that Barcelona is a real party.

Side note: from now on if you are unfamiliar with college lingo I encourage you to visit urbandictionary.com for any assistance in understanding what I am saying.

Anyways, we arrived in Barcelona Thursday evening and the first thing we did was pick up our tickets for abroadfest. After I had seen everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life, we went to a bar and ordered unreal Sangria and nachos. Obviously this was the ideal way to start off the festivities in Spain. We quickly learned that people in Spain eat dinner ridiculously late to the point where it’s actually considered weird to get dinner before 9pm (but considering what time people go out, I guess it makes sense). Night 1 we went to Razzmatazz and saw Chainsmokers. Razzmatazz was a huge club with a weird bathroom that had a DJ on the line to pee. In between the boys and girls bathroom was basically a mixer and just real odd. The club was disgustingly sweaty (to the point where I had to shower when I got home), but the Chainsmokers were awesome so it made it worth it. They killed it and played Roses like 3 times which I definitely didn’t mind. They really do know how to do things right in Barce. A+ for Razzmatazz.

Surprisingly I was the only one who woke up without a hangover (#blessed). We finally made it to brunch at Brunch & Cake by 3pm (I guess at this point it was more of a Linner?) and I had some real tasty avocado toast before heading to The W to pregame for the darty* with Barrett and Jordan (I promised them a shoutout this week so here you go guys!). Let’s just say that it didn’t even compare to my lovely hostel with bunk beds. The W is straight luxury. When the pregame with the gorgeous views and disgusting vodka shots came to a close, we made our way to Shoko where the darty was happenin. After overly enthusiastic reunions with camp friends I had never actually spoken to at camp, people I hadn’t seen in years, and many games of Jewish Geography, the sun set and it was time to prepare ourselves for the night ahead. We went to a quick dinner, napped, and then made a quick turnaround to go back out and start pregaming yet again. Night 2 confirmed my fears that Opium is > Space. As much as I love all the great times space has provided, opium was LIT. The club was legendary, ridiculously large, and you could definitely find a section of the club for the vibes you were feeling: outside for more a chill and relaxing experience, in the center of the club for a rave, or inside on the outskirts of the rave for more of a classic, space-like experience. It also felt like home because the Florence promoters were there.

The next morning we went to brunch at Federal Cafe, which was good but standard. We then went to Park Guell (confession that this may have been the only touristy spot I visited but whatever). We didn’t go to the famous mosaic benches because they cost 8 euros to sit on and the next available time for ticket admission was almost 2 hours later, which was pretty ridiculous. Instead we just walked around the park, which was full of beautiful Gaudi Art. After a pit stop at Happy Pills for some candy (sorry for scaring you with the credit card charge at Happy Pills mom!), I decided to go darty (wearing my tourist clothes and what my friends like to refer to as my “mom bag”). I arrived sober so naturally the situation called for some tequila shots and in no time I was dartying like a champ. The darty was at Opium again, and only made me love that place even more. It also didn’t hurt that my beloved Florence promoter, Brian, gave me a bottle of champagne (unless I dreamt that one). After that I got an amazing but pretty gross dinner at Wok to Walk, since the wait for the Tapas place was too long. That was how I ended my “uncharacteristic” weekend of partying in Barcelona. This weekend I’m staying in Florence to recover and prepare myself both physically and mentally for St. Pattys in Dublin. I’m sure that post will be thematically similar to this one, so if you had fun reading about my partying adventures get pumped for that post. I hope you enjoyed living vicariously through my Barcelona club tour, and hopefully my weekend in Florence will be exciting enough to write about. Thanks for reading my blog for so long, and sorry if this post made you not want to read it any more.

Ciao for now!

BCow

Week 4: Amsterdam

Ciao Ciao!

I’m going to preface this post by saying that if you continue to read this, please note that I did not do anything illegal while in Amsterdam (according to Dutch law). I am a law-abiding citizen (shoutout to Alden for teaching me the rules) and the events that occurred this weekend were done completely with a “YOLO” mentality. For those of you who are unaware of pop culture, YOLO means “You Only Live Once”.

Anyways, this crazy weekend started on Thursday afternoon with a flight out of Florence. Flying out of Florence is actually so much more convenient than having to take 4 trains just to get to an airport. Fast forward and after a nice plane nap we landed in Amsterdam, where the airport was literally a mall and was just a happy place to be. I was definitely vibing with Amsterdam from the start. Of course it only helped that I found freshly sliced mango in the airport and ate 2 packs of it #healthy am I right?! We then left the airport and soon realized it was a mistake to take a taxi, which charged us almost double what Uber charges for the same trip. Rule of thumb: when in doubt – UBER! Once our overpriced taxi arrived at the Volkshotel which was awesome and very different. The only part about that hotel that I disliked was the fact that they thought chains hanging from the ceiling acted as a proper door to a shower, which just makes it awkward. After settling in, we took a little trip to the city and made our first stop at Topshop because I couldn’t contain my excitement about going to a European store. No worries though, mom, I surprisingly left empty-handed. But in all seriousness, just smelling that place was enough to make me happy to be honest. That night we went to a random insignificant Chinese place for dinner and then we went to our first coffeeshop (if you know what I mean). At our first coffeeshop 3 of us had to leave because we didn’t have our original passports on us, so we ventured down the street to a different one with green mood lighting, which made me feel like I was getting the real Amsterdam experience. After stopping for french fries, we went back to the hotel for a night of some quality sleep.

Friday morning we woke up and went to The Pancake Bakery, where I had the most incredible “Dutch Pancake” with stroopwaffels baked into the pancake dough and covered in whipped cream and cinnamon ice cream. I couldn’t justify having just the pancake, so I paired it with a nice hearty side of scrambled eggs. All food things aside, we then went to The Bull Dog which is Amsterdam’s famous coffeeshop. Good times. After The Bull Dog we went to get french fries which were incredible. Next we went to the I Amsterdam letters (see above) where my friends and I took some basic photos and also got somewhat of a cardio workout climbing. It’s definitely more difficult than it looks!

The second part of Friday after our naps was much more intense and emotionally exhausting, so now it’s time to get ~serious~. We went to the Anne Frank House which was a pretty awesome experience. Anne Frank is such an iconic figure, and having gone to Jewish school my whole life I had learned about her life story so many times. It almost felt surreal being there. The museum itself was also incredible in how it made her story seem so human. The photos of her look like they could be anyone I know, and it gave me goosebumps to be in the place where her family hid for so long. I also thought it was awesome how quiet everyone was in the museum. Each and every person knew to respect where they were and stopped to read every single sign, which I admit I rarely do at any museum. At the end of the museum tour, we had the opportunity to reflect upon the experience and my friends and I sat down to share our thoughts, which I definitely thought was a cool idea on the part of the museum staff. Just like Anne Frank did, we were encouraged to share our thoughts and reflections about her life. I thought about how even though I had visited the concentration camps in Poland, for some reason it didn’t feel so real until I saw the annex where Anne Frank and her family hid for so long. It was almost as if seeing the camps I had seen the place where the horrible things of the Holocaust happened, but I hadn’t had the opportunities to see somewhere that Jews lived, though I had seen old synagogues. It was real that people hid in that place to save their lives, and it was so incredible to see how it was right in the middle of a pretty busy area. After seeing the living quarters when we learned of the fate of the other residents of the annex, it was crazy to see that many of them were sent to and killed at concentration camps that I had visited and stood at, though I had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam after the fact and most of them were fated to never leave the camps which I walked out of freely. These pretty much sum up the emotional thoughts my mom recommended me share in this weeks blog post. So here you go, mommy – you’re welcome.

Moving on to the rest of the night, we then went to all you can eat sushi at Sumo, which was sickening. It was 5 “rounds” of food, and we were allowed 5 dishes a person for each round. I can’t talk about it more because it literally makes me nauseas thinking about it. Funny to note, however, that the place actually charges you for food you don’t finish, and we gave up trying to eat it, so I may have smuggled some sushi into a napkin and tossed it into the bathroom to save us some extra fees. After Sumo we went to another coffeeshop and then to the most disturbing show of my life. If you’ve heard of the Red Light District, I can now confirm the rumors are true. Women are dressed provocatively standing in windows pretending to dial their call line so men will call and “book” them (honestly not sure what the right term to use here is). In the midst of this weird part of town, they have things called “sex shows” (better known as live pornos). I will not go into any detail and refuse to. All I can say is, the majority of the show was spent with my snow hat pulled over my head and I wanted to leave the whole time. To be honest, the entire time I wanted to just walk up to one of the girls in the show and change her life like people do in the movies, though this desire to change someones life was likely just a side effect of our earlier stop at a coffeeshop.

Saturday we woke up and went to a Dutch breakfast place which was cool and had a unique layout. We then went to the Heineken Experience, which turned out to be a lot of fun! We learned all about the process of brewing beer and the end of the tour had some cool interactive exhibits which were pretty enjoyable. After Heineken we grabbed lunch and went on a canal boat tour, which I found pretty interesting; it described the buildings and the history of the city of Amsterdam. I enjoyed myself a lot, even though by the end of the boatride all of my friends had passed out in their seats. Saturday night after dinner at an Argentinian restaurant we went to a comedy show called Boom Chicago. I also tried a space cake, which really did nothing, so I don’t even know why I mentioned that. Aside from the fake cake we bought, the comedy show reminded me of Whose Line is it Anyway? which I LOVE and it was actually so funny. One of the actresses also looked like Kristen Wiig, so it was definitely a win. Sunday we basically spent the entire day traveling, which really isn’t interesting so I’ll skip that part.

All in all, Amsterdam was a beautiful city that I really loved, despite how wacky the laws and some of the people may be. Everyone there just seems so happy and the buildings are gorgeous, as well as the views of the canals. For next week’s post, check back in for some details about Abroadfest, which is possibly the most “scene-y” weekend of abroad, second to Dublin. See ya in a week and hope you enjoyed!

Ciao for now,

BCow

 

 

 

Week 3: Interlaken

Ciao Ciao!

I couldn’t wait to write this post because Switzerland was just the most amazing weekend. I had to put it all in words as soon as I possibly could to even attempt to do it justice. Here goes my best shot:

Thursday night we departed Florence by bus for a long seven-hour journey to the Swiss Alps. Despite the lengthy trip, the movie choices were quality selections and made the limited amount of legroom tolerable. We stopped once on the way at an awesome rest stop, which is worth noting because in comparison to American rest stops this one was top notch gourmet. After a short nap we arrived to Hotel Alpenrose in Wilderswil (a small town just a few bus stops from central Interlaken). Considering it was around 3am, we were all exhausted and slept until Friday morning.

When we woke up, we decided to explore the town after a quick breakfast. We quickly learned that the prices in Switzerland are outrageous. My friends and I literally got up and walked out of a restaurant because there was a “special” for $16.50 lunch. And yes, that meant that a Caesar Salad alone would cost 16.50. After seeing the absurd prices, in an effort to please my mom who would have probably questioned why I spent $16 at a pub, we left to find a new place to eat. I’m guilty to say that for a few moments I seriously contemplated eating lunch at McDonalds, but we finally ended up at a place called Ox, where I got a traditional Swiss hash brown-type dish with mixed vegetables, which was quite delicious despite being super expensive (again, sorry mom).

After brunch we went to the most incredible chocolate store ever to get our hands on some authentic Swiss chocolate. Let me tell you – that stuff is NOT overrated. I don’t know what kind of cows or milk or cocoa beans they’re making there but whatever they do, they’re doing it right. One thing I realized about chocolate stores in Europe in general is that they all seem to have some sort of chocolate model of male private parts, and sometimes chocolate boobs; Europeans are honestly just bizarre sometimes. Not to get too sidetracked with that, my favorite chocolate came from this store called Läderach. Whatever that word actually means, in my mind it translates to heaven in a bite. After shopping for some chocolate, we attempted to go see the lake only to miss the bus, so we just decided to head to the rental store to prepare ourselves for night sledding and pick up some ski gear.

Fast forward to 6:30, when we met up with the company to journey out to night-sledding in the Alps. We picked up our sleighs and took a cable car to the top of a mountain, where we were given instructions regarding how to steer and red lights to wear on our backs so we werent lost. The sledding was actually incredible. It wasn’t the traditional hill that you have to climb up and then slide down, but a groomed trail on a mountain that was so much fun and actually involved quite a strenuous core workout. Good thing I burned some calories doing that, because after sledding we ate traditional cheese fondue which is made with Swiss beer (unclear how I felt about that), and some pasta that was fine but nothing in comparison to what we have in Florence. Then we returned to our hotel and went to bed to prepare for an early wakeup for skiing on Saturday!

At 7:14am I woke up to knocks on my door from my friends to realize that I had overslept (oops!). I got ready super quickly and went to the rental store to pick up a helmet and the rest of my ski gear. We then took 2 trains that together took about an hour to reach the top of the mountain. It was snowing a LOT, but the views were still breathtaking. After doing one run, my friend dropped her glove and it conveniently rolled down a black trail, which is a lot more intense in Switzerland than it is in the U.S. In addition to not being able to see five feet in front of you, the trail had surprisingly large patches of powder, which I ended up appreciating because they padded my numerous falls on this trail. Overall, I still feel like a rockstar for skiing a Swiss Alp black diamond. Special shoutout to Mount Snow for preparing me for this momentous occasion. We then continued to ski in the beautiful mountains (the pictures don’t even do it justice!), and at around 4pm we headed back to the hotel. Sunday morning we took a long walk to Lake Brienz, which is gorgeous and if you look at my photos (see above) it looks like I’m standing in front of a green screen. The long walk was definitely worth it, though!

That’s pretty much it for my Swiss adventures in Interlaken & the Alps! Check back next week for updates on my weekend trip to Amsterdam (though I can’t promise you’ll be getting all the details).

Ciao for now,

BCow

Week 2: Praha

Ciao Ciao,

Reporting to you live from my slightly comfortable bed in Firenze on this wonderfully rainy Monday evening. I’m sure you are all very anxious to read about my travels to the Czech Republic. Lets just start off by saying how grateful I am that I chose to study in Florence. I never thought I would be so relieved to come back to Italy, but after 4 train rides totaling almost 5 hours and 2 flights on Czech Airlines, I guess it makes sense. Takeaway #1: In the future I will be flying out of the Florence airport because Milan and Rome are not as close as they seem. Even though a lot of time was spent getting from place to place, I am very thankful that I have travelled alone so often back and forth to Michigan because it really has prepared me for traveling confidently and comfortably.

In other news, we arrived in Prague Thursday evening and I was pleasantly surprised with my hostel. However, even though I was impressed with the cleanliness I still used my sleep sack and microfiber towel because bed bugs are a legitimate fear – to the point that my roommate claims I slept-talked about bed bugs. She also claims that I also shouted in my sleep “I feel so successful, I booked my appointment!” There’s no significance to sharing that, I just thought it was funny and so me.

Anyways, Friday marked our first full day and we started with a tasty brunch at Bakeshop followed by a walk to the Old Town Square, where we took photos and climbed the astronomical clock tower. In case you are wondering, I made it to the top without the elevator OR my inhaler. Rock on. After we climbed the tower we walked over to the Charles Bridge for another photo op, and then found ourselves at the Lennon Wall, which was definitely underwhelming at first. Once I really got to look at it, though, it became much more interesting to me and the smaller-than-expected size didn’t bother me anymore. My friends and I took a few basic pictures (see above for a solo photo shoot photo), and then it began to rain so we walked back over the bridge. There, we got “Trdelnik,” which is basically a cinnamon thing lined with chocolate that is the shape of a giant piece of rigatoni (you can clearly guess where my head’s at right now). It was really great even though it was slightly nauseating because it was so sweet. Don’t be fooled, however, because the food went downhill from here. After a quick nap and a little Netflix viewing on my phone, we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Radost for dinner. Being a veggie myself, I was super excited to order what I thought was going to be sautéed veggies over mashed potatoes, but ended up being veggies drowned in cream sauce over enough mashed potatoes to feed a small country. It wasn’t horrible, but it was not what I expected and was definitely not nearly as awesome as the food I’d been eating the past 2 weeks here in Italy. Friday night we went out to Lucerna, which is actually an unreal club. They play 80s and 90s music, and it was so much fun/overwhelming seeing every single person I’ve ever met in my entire life in one place.

Moving on to Saturday, after getting past our initial exhaustion, we ate a pretty solid brunch at Globe Café and then stopped off in the Jewish quarter, which we briefly got to explore despite the area being pretty quiet because it was Shabbat. We then started walking to the Prague Castle. After quite the strenuous climb, we arrived at the top where there was awesome views and a really beautiful palace/cathedral (guilty that in Europe I have a hard time telling the difference). We took more photos, of course, and then on the way down we stopped at the Toy Museum. It was very small, however the second floor of the museum celebrated 50 years of Barbie (even though the poster that said “Happy 50th Barbie! was printed in 2009). I’ve never seen more Barbies in my life, and they had Barbie versions of everyone from Sandy to Yoda to a pregnant Barbie whose stomach could be removed to find a baby inside, because that’s totally how it works! All in all, the castle and museum were both pretty cool places and I got corn on the cob on the way down, so I can’t complain. Once again we all went back to the hotel for a snack and an afternoon nap, and then we went out to dinner for the worst sushi of my life, where I was fortunate enough to be the kosher vegetarian girl who found shrimp in her miso soup. They also apparently serve Edamame frozen in Prague, even though the menu clearly said “Boild,” but I guess it’s my bad for expecting much with spelling like that. On the way home we stopped at a weird convenient store that sold everything from winter hats to swords (not kidding) to chocolate bars and then went out, only to give up waiting on the line and come back home to sleep. Speaking of sleep, as I sit here in bed coughing like a barking dog and wishing I had a nebulizer, I’ve learned my lesson that a human being such as myself cannot sustain partying 4 nights a week. You’re welcome mommy.

Overall, there were many ups and downs in Prague and I’m grateful I had the experience of traveling to the Czech Republic to see the beautiful and historic city. I am also appreciative of how much leaving Florence made me appreciate it here, and how it really is true that it does feel like the closest thing you can get to a home away from home.

Check back in next week for updates on my upcoming weekend trip. Next stop: Switzerland. I’m expecting to have some awesome Swiss cheese, chocolate, and great skiing, but after my sushi experience in Prague I think I’m better off going in to future trips without expectations. Bye for now, and hope you liked my blog enough to get this far.

Ciao,

BCow

 

Week 1: Florence, Pisa, Tuscany

Ciao Ciao!

Reporting to you live from Via de’ Bardi where the pasta is just as amazing as the view from my apartment (see above photo). After spending a full 2 weeks packing and unpacking to the point where 90% of my wardrobe is still sitting at home in my room, I finally arrived to the promised land (Florence). Lucky as I am, all I had was a puny carry-on bag because the airline lost my luggage. No worries though, by night 2 I had a clean outfit to wear for my first night on the town.

On day 3 of orientation we took a trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower. I can assure you that it really does lean (which may or may not have been the first thing I said when I saw it). Despite my brutal hangover and “minor” bus-sickness, we started out the day with the best plain plate of spaghetti I’ve ever had in my entire life. We then took the classic pictures in front of the tower – stay tuned for Facebook uploads in the near future. After the embarrassment of looking like a basic tourist, we had a walking tour of the area which included a giant church and a baptistry. We got a “special surprise” in the baptistry as a guy who worked at the church sang a holy song and there was a really cool echo (there is some proper name for him but I’m a superjew so I forgot, apologies). I guess that can be considered my first baptism. So yay for learning about other cultures and religions! We then went to the church where we saw a real person’s sarcophogas which was cool but a little creepy. Aside from that, the only other notable thing was the street vendors who called every single American girl Lady Gaga and loved to say “shacka lacka boom boom,” which was bizarre.

Aside from Pisa and boring orientation activities, on Saturday we had a day trip to the Verrazano Castle in the Tuscan Mountains, where we had a wine tour and an amazing meal with the most incredible bread and olive oil and the OMG Balsamic as they call it, because when you taste it you can’t help but to say OMG. I would’ve bought a bottle, but it was 48 euro for balsamic which was just irrational to justify buying. During the tour we also learned how classy people drink and taste wine and how it’s made and all that jazz. Lets just say that after 3+ glasses of wine I had quite an incredible nap on the way home.

Obviously if you are interested in my life enough to read this, you are probably very anxious to learn how the food is here in Italia. Obviously it’s amazing – duh. Just to get your mouth watering a bit, my favorite meals have included 4 Cheese Gnocchi, Cream of Asparagus Pasta, Penne alla Vodka and Gusta Pizza which is NOT overrated – I promise you that. Aside from the food, my roommates have been doing their best to get me to like wine. So far that’s not going great but check back next week for an update on where I am with that.

While we’re on the topic of drinks, let me just say that one thing I was NOT educated about was how the nightlife here in Flo works. Then again, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for leaving at 12:30 and returning at 4am every night (sorry mom!). Space is the only place I’ve had fun so far, and it’s basically like a club that I would’ve gone to in PV (take that as you like). All of the American students buy tables in the VIP section and are brought sparkling bottles of champagne and vodka with firecrackers or whatever the exploding candles are on top. We quickly learned that it’s imperative to befriend a promoter so they can get you in. Shoutout to Marley & Brian for the awesome hook up even though I did get “escorted” out of the VIP room last night.

Aside from the money I spend on food and drinks, I also bought a leather jacket yesterday which I am beyond in love with. It’s olive green and gorgeous, and makes me feel a little bit more Italian. While it may seem ridiculous that I went in between classes to buy a real leather jacket, that’s just how it works here in Florence. I also needed a break after our ridiculously long 2 and a half hour classes, which are as unbearable as they sound. But everything else makes those brutal few hours bearable.

So basically to sum it all up, my first week was full of everything it’s supposed to: carbs, wine, historical places, hangovers, leather, a few new Italian words I can add to my dictionary and most notably a lot of getting lost and not understanding anything in Italian other than words for food.

That’s all for week one! This weekend I’m traveling to Prague, so czech (lol) back next week for some more exciting stories and adventures.

Ciao for now!

BCow

 

Look At Me Ciao

Welcome to the place where you’ll be able to hear about my exciting travels & such in Florence and around Europe. To find me on instagram, look for my hashtag #CowenGetsCultured and stay tuned for updates on my whereabouts. I arrive in Florence February 2 so bookmark my page and get ready to live vicariously through me/be extremely jealous.

Ciao,

B-Cow.