Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Amalfi Coast

Our trip to Italy’s infamous Amalfi Coast was every bit as glamorous and stunning as I could have hoped. There is a good reason the stretch of beaches and islands are famous worldwide; Hannah, Ashtyn, Hayley and I got to experience this first hand! On Friday morning we took a train from Firenze to Napoli. As soon as we got to the Santa Maria Novella station, I realized I had forgotten my camera and didn’t have time to go back for it. I was pretty bummed out but my little iPhone camera did a great job for me that weekend! From Napoli we connected via regional train to Coast! We sat with a really sweet guy who was a local electrician. People were playing random instruments and walking through the cars trying to collect money. After about 5 minutes of accordian and tambourine music, a conductor would come kick the musicians off the train. A few stops down the track a new bunch would get on and the process repeats itself. We stayed in a little village called Piano di Sorrento that connects to Sorrento. It was a charming, small little area! We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast. Bunches of grapes grew on a terrace and fruit trees lined the entire perimeter of the property.  
After a lunch of traditional southern Italian pizza, the girls and I went into Sorrento and explored! We wound up and down the streets and took in the gorgeous views. We eventually found a staircase built  into the side of a hill that lead to the beach! We played in the waves a bit and napped in the sun. It was a lovely afternoon. En route to dinner, we stumbled upon a gorgeous canyon-type thing that seemed to pop up in the middle of the city. You look a few hundred feet down and there is a green wonderland. An ancient castle and its grounds backing up into a long crevice seemed to come from nowhere. Everything was so lush and green! It reminded me of the island in Jurrassic Park. The area is called the mills and cannot be accessed by the public anymore. We ate dinner in a caffe and headed back to the bed and breakfast.

The next morning we had an AMAZING breakfast at the B&B before heading back into Sorrento to catch the ferry to the island of Capri. Once in Capri we decided to grab a quick pizza lunch and then took a boat tour all the way around the island! We saw THREE grottos (blue, green and white) and the famous arch! The hues of the water were so spectacular. It was a range of the most vibrant blues and aquas I have ever seen. The entire island was incredible and glitzy.  After the boat tour we found a beach and climbed on the rocks by the water! The waves were splashing us as we laid in the sun. The other girls hopped in for a swim but I stayed up on the rocks and took pictures because I couldn’t get my fresh stitches wet. I bought a dolphin souvenir (duh ∆∆∆) on the way out. Waiting to board the ferry we rand into these two guys that we had seen at least five separate times in random places in Sorrento and Capri. We all laughed at the sight of them yet AGAIN and they finally came and said hi. Their names are Dan and Steve from Oregon. I bonded with guys over a love of cats and we shared all of our kitty pictures. We all ate dinner together and discussed travels, veganism, conspiracy theories and the Italian language. The six of us ate dinner at a little caffe and watched the sun set.

We had our delicious breakfast the next morning and departed for Pompeii, which is on the way back to Naploi! We walked around and just explored the old, abandoned city for hours. It was incredible! The textbooks I studied about Pompeii in never did justice to the incredible town. The preservation of the buildings is unbelievable. Frescos on walls, tile mosaics and staircases stand perfectly intact after the excavation of the city. We ate our picnic lunch in an old courtyard and enjoyed the summer breeze. After a bit of a detour (we got lost and walked all the way around the edge of the city) we caught our trains back to Napoli and finally Firenze. It was a wonderful summery trip to one of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Each year, Vogue hosts this fantastic, fashion-inspired night in cities across the world. VFNO epitomizes style and glamour as stars, designers, fashion insiders and us regular folk don our most elegant outfits and take to the streets to [window] shop and sip fancy cocktails. Vogue hosts this event to bring people into the stores and spark an interest in the fashion scene. The industry receives this boost of attention right as the Spring lines hit Fashion Week. This year, the privileged residents of cities from Firenze to Paris, Sydney to Milan, and New York to Hong Kong experienced this night in all its glamour. The doors to most exclusive and luxurious stores in Firenze were thrown open and all beautiful people wandering the streets were invited in with glasses of champagne and promises of goodies to come! I wore a black silk and jersey tie-waist dress with lace detailing at the top from Ann Taylor Loft, nude Corso Como pumps and jewelry from various stores and roommates. I spent the night flitting from store to store, soaking in the atmosphere and drinking bubbly with my wonderful rooms. We met up with other friends along the way and enjoyed ourselves so much! My favorite experience were
Meeting a man in Armani who almost didn’t believe we were American because we were too stylish (AKA best compliment ever) and talking about the fashion industry.
1. The special VFNO cocktails at Fendi. 
2. The editor of Vogue Italia visiting Luisa Via Roma.
3. The best people watching of my life.
4. We ended the night with a dolce at the Roberto Cavalli caffe.
We live on one of the premiere shopping streets of Firenze (Gucci is our neighbor!) so we heard the party going on late into the night! I had a bit of a Cinderella complex the next morning. My shining dress and enchanting carriage were gone as I looked at my window and saw every trace of the night before cleaned and put away already. I was left only with the memories of something magical. I was a night I will never forget. Until next time, VFNO!

Also, Hannah and I decided we missed our calling as models.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Ok, the time has finally come. I am doing an update on experiences and travels all the way up to Fall Break! Once a day through Thursday I will be posting a new blog about my Italian and international adventures.

This was the most charming little town filled with romance and history, but also lots of tourists! My roommate Hannah and I took the early train out of the Santa Maria Novella station at 7:20. We got there in the middle of the morning, took a picture (illegally) of a map at the station and started wandering! It took a while, but we finally found our way to the cutest little city center! There is a string of brightly colored buildings lining one side of the center, which is a large circle. A green park, complete with gurgling fountain, sits in the middle.

A historic arena and several other government and religious buildings enclose the other side of the circle. We bought the Verona card, which allows you to see a bunch of the most popular locations in the city at a huge discount! You can buy one at any tourist point! We started our day at a cute little cafĂ© and had a midmorning snack of cappuccinos and cake. Hannah got lemon and I got chocolate so we could sample each other’s. 

Afterwards, Han and I visited the old arena, which has gorgeous views of the circle. The arena itself has been turned into a cool concert and event venue, but still retains all of the historical stones and architecture. We walked up and down the stairs about 5 times before we found someone to take our picture! Next we went to the Castle Vecchio, which means old castle. We spent a good amount of time exploring the castle and its grounds. 
The views were absolutely gorgeous! My favorite parts of the castle were the bridge and the cute well! The huge sword was pretty cool too. Seriously… who could carry that? 
We spent the next hour or so wandering the gorgeous streets and taking in the baskets of flowers spilling off of terraces and little winding streets. We made our way to Verona’s Duomo, which was absolutely lovely. We ate pasta for lunch at a little caffe and enjoyed the people watching. We found the Lamberti Tower after lunch. It’s something like 400 stairs to the top and Hannah and I figured why not? We got our Verona cards checked off and were about to head up the stairs when the worker winked at us and handed us lift coins! So we got to take the elevator up for free and enjoy some AMAZING views of the city. 

We went to Juliet’s balcony next. The courtyard was packed with people but it was a really cool place to see! I love the movie Letters to Juliet, and that was such an important place in the movie. Juliet’s tomb was next on list, but it turned out to be really far out of the way and rather underwhelming… nothing like the movies. We had a little time to kill and so we grabbed a quick granita (kind of like a mix between ice cream gelato and shaved ice) and sat in a sunny park for the rest of our time. We caught the train back home and talked about Taylor Swift, autumn traditions and how much we miss baking. It was the PERFECT day trip!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

YOTO- You Only Twenties Once.

I turned 20 just a few months before I began my European adventure. Obviously, this has been a great decade so far! I stumbled upon this article during my time in Dublin, and if you're in your 20s, I think it is worth a read!

21 Ways You Should Take Advantage of Your 20s

I don't love all of it, but most of it is pretty solid advice. My favorites are:
(Note, I didn't attach ALL 21 points from the article, just my favorites!)
1. Don’t feel the need to respond to every text message, phone call, and email the second it reaches you. Once upon a time, it took longer than a minute to reach someone. People used stamps and envelopes; they had answering machines they didn’t check for hours, sometimes days. No one will die if you don’t immediately respond to every message you receive.
2. Ask for what’s owed to you. Half the time, you’re not getting your needs met because you’re not making them known. Your employers, romantic interests, and friends are not going to read your mind and give you what you need unless you speak up.

4. If you’re unhappy and someone offers you a way out, take it. You don’t owe your first job years of loyalty and your first-born; you don’t have to stay in your city just because you’re on a first-name basis with the bodega guy. Do what feels right; the initial fear will give way to excitement. 

7. Play a sport you played in elementary school. Kickball, dodgeball. There are leagues for these games now. Get on it.

8. Learn how to cook. Here’s an idea — instead of spending all your money on ridiculously marked-up restaurant food, save your money by buying non-processed WHOLE FOODS and LEARNING HOW TO MAKE A MEAL OF REAL FOOD. You’ll thank yourself for learning how to cook when your metabolism catches up to you.

9. Keep making friends. You know yourself better than you ever have before, and your friends can finally reflect that.

11. Stay up late. In your 20s, you’re all, “Let’s go to another bar!” “Who wants to eat at a diner?” “Have you guys seen the sun rise from the High Line?” “In this moment I swear we were infinite!” 


17. Sit down, unplug, and read non-fiction. Do this daily. None of your peers are doing it. They’re playing video games and refreshing Facebook and Gmail chatting about nothing in particular. After a month you’ll be smarter than all of them.

18. Walk into Forever 21 and grab every single crappily-made floral dress available. Is every other girl on the street wearing it? Is it literally falling apart at the seams? Is it also actually five dollars? BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. When you get older, you will be a classy human ready to take on the future with pantsuits and blazers. But as long as you’re still in your 20s? You know—the demographic of Forever 21? Game on.

21. Go to/host theme parties. Once people age out of their 20s, no one’s trying to wear pajamas or togas out of the house. The only theme parties that exist after your 20s are ‘Wedding,’ ‘Baby Shower,’ and ‘Funeral.’


I promise I am going to do an update on travels soon, but there are just so many other things to blog about! Seeing as I have been MIA on my travel posts anyways, I figured everyone could wait another day or two! You can always check out pictures of recent adventures on facebook!

This coming Saturday marks the 5 week countdown to my return back to the US. For some study-abroaders, this is welcome news. They have loved their time here but are ready to head back to the homestead. For me, this news breaks my heart a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love America and feel so blessed to call that amazing country my home. I just really LOVE Italy, and Europe in general! There is just something here that seems to be missing back home. The essence of Europe captivates your senses and there is just something magical in the air. Thousands of years of history surround you, some of the greatest destinations in the world are a 20€ Ryanair flight away and the people seem to just shine a little brighter. Every city in Europe has it’s own look and feel, it’s own personality and vibe. No two cities or experiences are alike. Travelling and experiencing these things firsthand makes you grow as a person, plain and simple.

VFNO with Eug, Delia and Meiwen
Nelson and Ethan

I have met some AMAZING people during my time here, who have changed me and my perceptions of the world. A huge part of travelling, as I have come to learn, is the people. Not necessarily where you go, but who is there. I have been so fortunate to make the most random and wonderful friends through travels. Whether it be sweet Jacline from Georgia interning at the EU, the Spanish boys from Madrid or our Canadian friends in London, these people all helped to shape my experiences during my travels. In Florence, I have also made some amazing friendships!
The Canadians- Chris, Sean and Adam
Spanish friends- Federico, Antonio, Pablo
 My rooms and I have dinner club once a week with Eugenia, Delia and Meiwen, three lovely ladies from San Diego! Ethan from my Italian class and his roommate Nelson are hilarious Southern boys and have also become great friends.

The four specific people who I have come to love so dearly and who have really made this experience for me are my roomies. Hayley and Ashtyn from Baylor, and Christy and Hannah from Point Loma. WOW. I am so blessed to be writing about these girls right now. 10 weeks ago today we all arrived in Italy a little excited and a lot nervous. I had briefly met Hayley and Ashtyn through our mutual friend Tracie at Baylor, and I had never spoken to the other two. They are now some of my closest friends. It is amazing how well they know me and can read my thoughts. It feels like we have all been friends for years, not months. I could write a ridiculously long blog post on each of these girls and how much they mean to me, but I will restrain and simply say this: These four are life friends and I am so excited for the MANY adventures we will have together in the future! We are already planning a post graduation trip!!

When I left for Europe, I viewed this trip as a culmination of all things cool and worldly. I fancied myself a global-minded person and thought studying abroad for a semester was the pinnacle of being a world traveler. At that point in my life it was. I now see this experience not as a peak, but as a launching point. This is just the beginning of my world travels!! Until next time…Arrivaderci! 

Photo credits: The VFNO picture is Eugenia's and the picture of the Canadians is Ashtyn's!