Tuesday, August 21, 2012

midnight in barcelona

I'm so bad at being a social media junkie because I can't ever actually seem to keep up with social media. I abandon Twitter accounts, start new Tumblrs that never seem to take off, and when faced with writing something more cohesive than a one-liner for a micro-blogging platform, I stumble through three posts and flee. (Cough, this blog, cough.) This whole blogging-over-the-course-of-my-semester-abroad idea was definitely more of an idea than a reality. I thought I would have had more time to keep up with an up-to-date chronicle of my experiences since the schoolwork is definitely less demanding abroad, but I guess I was too busy traveling and eating when I wasn't studying--for which I have no regrets!

Obviously now the semester is long over and I've even completed an internship back in New York City over the summer. I'm now sitting comfortable on my mother's chaise in Texas, contemplating over the past few fairy tale months where I took a hiatus from the real world (which is synonymous with "New York" in my life) before returning to the City in a week and pushing my life forward again with internships and academics. Even though I should be researching professors and buying furniture right now, I want to also take these last two weeks of summer to mull over my Spring semester in Europe and finish up this project. The posts may or may not be in order of trips because my memory often times fail me, so good luck to me! Here we go...

Barcelona was the first trip my friends and I took outside of Italy. I think it was sometime in February, so we were still freezing our tushes off and will continue to do so all the way until April. I don't remember what we exactly did in Barcelona because it was so long ago, but I do remember a lot of risotto, paella, sangria, and (strangely enough) British boys all over the place. Compared to later trips in London and Paris, Barcelona was the most relaxed. We went out at night, wandered around the neighborhood during the day, and didn't really worry too much about museum closing times as much as we did in other places. 

Me, wearing: Stella McCartney sweater, leggings (x2), leather jacket, raccoon fur scarf, leather combat boots, Longchamp bag

I think the only tourist noteworthy place we visited was Gaudi's bro-pad Sagrada Familia. Circles kind of freak me out, so it was entirely pleasant... But we also freaked out because we thought we lost our 20-year-old friend because we left an area, thought she was following, but when we turned around she wasn't there. In a nightmare-inducing fiasco, we even tried to get security to help us while other tourists laughed. But it was ok. We found her trolling around behind the gate in the back... 

Vintage Celine
That night, my friend and I wandered through the city by ourselves between the hours of 11pm and 2am. Neither of us really wanted to go out to bars or clubs that night, but we wanted to explore Barcelona after hours, so while our other friends slept, we creeped through the curves of the city and ran into a really strange group of people in costume rollerblading around 1am. Unfortunately, I left my camera in our hostel, so I wasn't able to get any shots of that. 

The next day, we went to the Picasso Museum. I don't have any photos of the art itself because I'm a really big fan of following museum rules about no photos. (There's a reason they have those rules, y'know... Respect the art, folks.) During the visit, our group somehow got separated, so while we waited for the others to catch up, we had a mini photo shoot outside on the balcony. (You can imagine how many people were just staring at us... but no shame!)

And then we wandered around and found this, but we didn't eat here... which was sad:

In the evening, we went to the W Hotel on the water for dinner and drinks. The restaurant was filled with people, but the ones who weren't our party were all part of the same Spanish social scene, and I'm pretty sure they kept talking about yachts the whole time. It was kind of awkward, but we left pretty quickly and went upstairs to their lounge for drinks before hitting up Placa Reial for the rest of the night. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

somewhere in venice

At the beginning of Carnivale, we took a day trip to Venice for the festival. And, yet again, I was freezing my lil tush off, but I think we all had a nice time.

Masks were being sold all over the place, ranging from 4 Euros (obviously made in China) to over 100. I settled for a modestly-priced black and gold paper mache mask with feathers, but these lace ones pictured below were my favorites. Unfortunately, I couldn't justify spending over 20 Euros on a mask when I know I have much more shopping to do all over Europe later. C'est la vie.

I know all of these posts and photos are starting to look really similar (or just flat-out, the same), but I recently got back from Barcelona, so those will shake things up a bit!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

baby, it's cold outside

Actually, make that freezing. Tuscany is going through the coldest winter in 27 years and--trust me--American students are feeling it too. Our school arranged a Siena day trip this past weekend, with a tour and everything. I was really grateful to have such an opportunity to hear about Siena's rich history, but a lot of the information was overshadowed by the cold. I'm sad to admit I was one of those bratty kids muttering, "My fingers are about to fall off" every few minutes. Nevertheless, I did get to marvel at the beautiful scenery: Tuscan architecture under a blanket of snow. 

Sometimes I have "herpy" moments, and only recently found out that there is an "Il Duomo" in other cities, not just in Florence. So here's Siena's beautiful Duomo from the back. And a photo of the intricate ceiling detail inside the cathedral. (It's kind of funny I've been inside Siena's Duomo, but still haven't been inside Florence's.)

After our tour, we had three hours of free time. Unfortunately, the free time was from 1pm-4pm, and Italian stores are generally closed for lunch until 3pm, so we only had an hour to shop. We spent some time at leather stores, where you could most definitely tell was genuine leather from the strong smell. There were several cute figurine shops where locals sell their own work (like painted corkscrews). In the last hour, I found a ring that I gladly purchased for 20 Euros. Unfortunately, it isn't pictured below because we ran out in a hurry to catch the bus back to Florence.

This upcoming weekend--Venice for Carnivale!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

here we go again

I have a restless blog problem, where I simply can't just post on one blog or something because I keep thinking I'm missing out on something. I've spent the past two years on Tumblr and some time before that on Blogspot. I still can't figure out which is better, but I think I've come to the conclusion that they're just for two different things--and it's okay to have both. So here's to another try at Blogspot. Nice to see you again, old friend.

Anyway, I've been in Firenze, Italia for the past two weeks, and it's starting to feel more and more like home. I guess that says something about how I adapt easily to different environments. I've found my favorite grocery store (and the central market, if I'm feeling really ambitious about cooking). There are still random things that continue to shock me (such as the priciness of stationary and school supplies), and I'm still not sure how to buy milk, but it's not too difficult to get by.

the view from my room

the view from my room, a second angle

There are so many marketplaces around the city. Usually vendors sell random goods like leather bags, jewelry, spices, or Venetian masks. It's usually pretty crowded and touristy, but Claire and I went through one to go grocery shopping last Saturday. There were some really lovely things, but we decided we would have plenty of other opportunities (when we're not carrying bags full of oil and spices) to browse longer.