Last weekend I went to the gorgeous Paris and all I want to do is just go back. I visited Paris ten years ago, so I don’t remember much. I was able to experience everything all over again and it was wonderful. The first day we walked around to get a feel from the city and we did a night boat tour. We also went to the Eiffel Tower to see the lights sparkle at the top of the hour.
The second day we were very lucky and were graced with perfect weather. We started off with a tour bus and then walked up Champs- Elyseese, a famous shopping street in Paris. After we stopped for lunch and then grabbed some delicious macaroons from Laduree. I couldn’t help myself and I also got a raspberry ice-cream sandwich like pastry; it did not disappoint. We then took our tasty treats to Montmartre where we ate them while sitting on the grass looking over the city. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.
On the third day we only had the morning because we had to catch our plane. We went to Notre Dame and then we had lunch at the Latin Quarter. We got a delicious three-course meal for only 15 euro! I desperately want to go back; 2 and a half days is not nearly enough to see everything in Paris.
Last Thursday I visited the beautiful Santa Croce Church; one of the main churches in Florence. It is the burial place for men such as Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli, and holds incredible works of art. The ceilings are impossibly high and the walls of the church are lined with large, intricate paintings and eccentric tombs.
The church connects to a small inner garden that leads to a small museum with more paintings and statues. There are several hallways that lead to nook and crannies all over the property. One of these hallways leads to yet another smaller garden square, this one much more peaceful and quiet. Overall there was so much to see and the artwork was breathtaking. It definitely helped that it was gorgeous outside!
Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to Venice to attend the world-renowned carnevale. It was unlike anything I have ever experience. It was basically adult Halloween, minus the skimpy outfits. Venice was absolutely packed but I still managed to have a great time. I was also very fortunate because, although it as very cold, it wasn’t raining. My friends and I went with a travel company by bus.
We arrived to Venice around noon where we then took the water taxi to the heart of this floating city. Everything about the boat ride was surreal. How many places have boat taxis to begin with?? As the boat neared the city, I began to see the gorgeous houses on the water, each one unique, and the ever so famous gondolas that I had only seen in travel brochures and movies. As a typical tourist, I couldn’t put down my camera; I just had to get a picture of every single thing. We got off at Piazza San Marco, one of the main plazas in Venice and the heart of the carnevale festivities.
We began walking through the small side streets with no real aim, we just wanted to explore the city. Lunchtime rolled around and we settled on a small Italian restaurant called Trattoria Sempione. Venice is known to have excellent seafood so I ordered calamari to start and then spaghetti with king crab as a main dish (it was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had!).
Afterwards we continued to walk around and take pictures with magnificently dressed people. Everyone seemed to have walked straight off of a movie set with their detailed and majestic costumes. Even the children were meticulously dressed as kings, queens, Mickey Mouses, supermans, and cowboys. We made it back to Florence at 1am, covered in confetti and glitter, exhausted, and incredibly happy. It was definitely and experience I will always remember. Later this semester I want to return to Venice and experience the city with less masked individuals, more walking space, and less layers of clothing.
So it is my first couple of days here in Florence and I absolutely love it! It has been a blur of unpacking, exploring, orientation, and getting lost. I love where my apartment is located; only five minutes from the Duomo! It is also in a less touristy part of the city so it is nice to be surrounded by Italians. One of the windows in my room overlooks a plaza and I love to look out of it and people watch. Italians are definitely very unique, everything from their clothes to their mannerisms seem so effortless. I have my first day of classes tomorrow which I am very excited for. My classes tomorrow include Lost Symbolism and Secret Codes in Art, Italian Crime Fiction, and of course, Italian.
Ponte Santa Trinita, view from kitchen, Ponte Vecchio, Sunset
View from apartment, Duomo