Today was a travel day from Florence to Venice. Brandy and I were able to sleep in which was nice considering how early we have been having to get up he past few days. We woke up and packed our bags to check out of the hotel. We were a little late checking out, apparently. But we got all our stuff together and got a cheap lunch before we walked to the Train station with the group. The train ride was long and made me feel a little sick. But Brandy had some Dramamine so I took one of those and it made me feel a little better. Next we got on a water bus to our hotel and settled in.
Brandy and I are convinced our hotel room is haunted. We call it "the ugly stepchild room" because it is a converted attic, with the slanted ceiling and showing beams. We will see how this first nights sleep goes 0.0 eeeek. It is on the third floor with steps that are so steep that you are parallel to the ones ahead of you. One misstep and I would tumble down those stairs without a doubt!
Other than the Harry potter closet, as I like to call it, Venice is beautiful! The streets are small and quaint with stone paths and brick walls. The windows have gorgeous authentic wood shutters and flowers hanging from balconies, just like you see in the movies. I can't wait to ride a gondola!
We got dinner with Ashanta and Emily at a jazz place near the hotel. We didn't want to venture far on our first night. It turned out to be great! The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very homey. I feel like it is a restaurant I would go to regularly back in the states. The quirk about the restaurant is that there were bras hanging all over the ceiling! Lol it was a tradition, the server said. Emily asked what we get if we give them a bra and they said nothing, so we said no bra for you! It was a funny moment. I'm exhausted from the traveling so its time to see how freaked out I get in the Harry potter closet tonight. Wish me luck!
Oh. My. Gosh. Today was wonderful. So relaxed and gorgeous. We woke up on time again, thank goodness! Ate breakfast which consisted of Nutella on rolls. And walked to The Accedemia to see The David! We sat and sketched at the Accedemia for an hour or so before heading out to the market. Brandy and I got some great leather goods and I practiced my bartering skills! Later we walked and met the group outside the Uffizi Gallery and enjoyed some time catching up. After visiting the Uffizi Gallery Brandy and I walked back to the hotel, and let our feet rest while talking about the trip and looking at photos for hours. We were laughing so hard at the ridiculous candid photos Sean likes to take of us, which usually involve one eye being closed or my tongue sticking out. Haha. After my feet stopped crying in pain we went to go look for notes that one of Brandy's sweet friends had left for her around the city! It sounds like something out of a movie. Hunter (Brandy's friend) sent her clues to where the notes were hidden for her to find. It was a neat idea and kind of reminded me of the "you are beautiful" installments Slagle had told us about earlier. The piazzas were too crowded to properly search for the notes so we decided to head back towards the Uffizi to get dinner overlooking the Arno river. After much walking and scoping out the best restaurant we sat down and enjoyed the breeze and Italian food. I got chicken and mozzarella which was delicious. Oh my goodness. I ate everything on my plate which, if you know me at all, rarely happens. After we got our check paid we walked back over the Ponte Vecchio and watched the sunset over the Arno river. How romantic ;) we enjoyed some gelato and met a nice couple from LA who happened to have relatives in SC. We took turns taking photos of each other and had a nice conversation! There was a wonderful little local band playing on the bridge, they played American songs that reminded me of home and made Brandy and I remember how much we love the states. On the way back from dinner and watching the sunset, we found one of Hunter's notes! It was exciting and sweet to find. Today was a good day. (Ice T reference, anyone?)
This last morning in Rome started out wonderfully! Brandy and I woke up on time, got breakfast and started walking towards the Termini to see the Trevi Fountain! It was a smooth transition getting on and off the metro, and navigating the streets to Piaza Silvestro. We threw our coins into the fountain, then got photos of us pretending to throw the coins (since the photos of us actually tossing them turned out ridiculous looking). After tossing our coins for luck, we passed by some great souvenier shops to peruse the remaining time we had to kill until heading to Florence. We managed to get back to the Metro after some unexpected pit stops (ahem, Caesar) the got us turned around. Everything was going smoothly and we got on and off our stops with no problems!
UNTIL I REALIZED SOMEONE HAD SWIPED MY IPHONE 5. I have to admit, this occurance had my confidence shaken. I was proud of myself for being able to navigate the foreign streets and communicate with the Italians. Somehow, I managed to get pick pocketed, despite the constant warnings and stories I heard for months before take off. How embarassing.
Now, I have little to no contact with family in addition to losing the itenerary I had saved on my phone and hundreds of photos I had taken. What a shame. I'm positive this experience will inspire me somehow, this is a lesson I apparently needed to learn/ an experience that will help me in the future. I'll keep the blog updated as to when I see the silver lining of this stressful experience!
St. Peter's Basilica is overwhelmingly ornate. Artwork was everywhere. Sculptures were hiding in the walls, elegant moldings and trippy marble designs were constantly catching my eye. Bernini and Michaelangelo are imprinted in my mind.
The Borghese Park was beautiful and open. It was relaxing with water fountains and minimal decoration. The contrast of visiting this low key, scenic landscape was a relief after the sensory overload I experienced at the Basilica.
Experiencing these contrasting surroundings has solidified my draw towards economized, simplistic aspects of life.
These past two days have flown by. Maybe that is because of the time change, but it has my head spinning! Just getting off the plane was inspiring, seeing the Italian words and graphics on the airport walls. Unlike columbia, advertisements were everywhere, billboards and posters of all kinds. They were a mixture of English and Italian languages which was surprisingly hospitable. You don't see ads fully in Spanish around SC often. This has made me think about the hospitality of America and wether we are as welcoming to the immigrants and travelers as we should be.
Besides the debateable political thoughts I was inspired to have, I loved seeing the small homey streets and how compact everything was. From cars to homes, everything was economized...and I love simplicity. It was endearing to see the quaint fiats driving around Rome versus the audacious and large 'merica cars like trucks and SUVs.