Class Excursion I

3/21/18- Campania, Italy

This past weekend, I had a class excursion down to Campania, south of Rome.  Yes, this is the land of buffalo mozzarella, and the Amalfi Coast, but this was anything but a leisurely trip. Rather, it was what my professor called the “death march” so on Friday, our bleary eyed class made our way to meet a 7 AM bus, which for many was just the continuation of events from Thursday night.

We worked our way south, stopping at various towns on the way down the coast. We stopped in both Terracina and Minturno, both Roman settlements along the famed Appian way, which was cool because we stood on 2000-year-old stones making up the I-95 of its day.

After that, we made our way to the area around Naples where we saw a very well preserved Roman Villa, covered from the eruption of Vesuvius.

Saturday and Sunday were no different as we basically jogged around Pompei and Paestum for hours each day. I will say as tired and as soaked as we were from the rain, it was a very informative and exciting trip.  Seeing homes, temples, and many other structures dating way back, it was nice to be able to contextualize life and what we are learning about in class.

Happy spring to everyone, stay safe in the snow, and I will keep everyone posted on this weekend in 5 days or thereabouts.


Update From Rome

3/14/18 Rome, Italy

Its, been a minute folks. Since my last update, I ran into some computer troubles last week. Long story short, Apple was repairing my computer until yesterday, but were back in business and better than before. Thank goodness for AppleCare.

While on a tech hiatus of sorts, we took advantage of a sunny, 60º F weekend to see a lot of the important sites that we had neglected to visit, mainly the Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon.

It was so nice to finally see the sites, though it seems that tourism is starting to rise along with the favorable temperatures. Though it was crowded, both sites were amazing to see and alleviated the guilt of living in Rome for 2 months and not seeing such important sites.

Alex, Dave, and I also attended a A.S. Roma soccer match on Friday night which was quite the experience.  The club plays in the old Stadio Olimpico, which seemed to sit around 80,000 by our estimations, but was only about 1/3 of the way filled.  What I found amazing was the sheer volume at such a marginal capacity.  It rivaled that of Beaver Stadium (sorry Penn State fans) in atmosphere and volume. It was also such a wild sight to see the sea of flags through the sections of the stadium as well as the occasional flare thrown onto the track.  It was definitely a memorable experience and was nice to attend a sporting event again.

Otherwise the weekend was rather relaxed. Over the course of lent, I have been practicing my pizza making skills to avoid eating meat, and it has been a learning experience, but I am improving week by week.

This weekend I have an excursion South to the Naples region.  I’ll be sure to update everyone accordingly.


Swiss living

3/6/18- Switzerland

To finish out our Spring Break, we visited Switzerland.  While it was the most scenic country, that beauty came at a price, Switzerland is very expensive.  It was hard to find meals at a sit-down restaurant that fit in our price point. Even McDonald’s was pricey there.  Though we were blowing through money, it was a fantastic time.

Our first day we spent the evening in Luzern after our train ride from Paris.  The town was on the lake and looked like something out of a Medieval fairy tale.  While we enjoyed our time in Luzern, our stay was short lived as we made our way to Engelberg.

Engelberg was a town about 40 minutes south by train. Our original plan was to spend two days skiing, but as Wynn, Alex and I have the combined experience of one ski trip between the three of us, skiing the alps did not go as planned.

After a fiasco of embarrassing ourselves, and possible endangering our own wellbeing on the mountain, we had to refund our skis and our second night in our Airbnb.  The trip was something out of a slapstick comedy routine than an actual ski trip, but we did officially ski the Swiss Alps, which did help our very bruised egos after failing miserably at skiing.

Luckily, we were able to get a room at the hotel we stayed at in Luzern a day before. We made the return to the town where we meandered the streets, filled with little shops, and some chains. We did make it to the KapellBrücke, a covered bridge crossing the Reuss river, which feeds into Lake Luzern.  It was incredibly scenic and maybe more importantly, part of a nice day to relax and recharge for the rest of the semester.

All in all, Spring break was a fantastic trip, that exceeded every expectation and was worth every dollar, euro, and franc spent.  For now, its back to school, and back to Rome, which hopefully will be snow free and much warmer than this past week.

Stay tuned for our next adventures.


While in Paris

3/1/18 Paris, France
Well, I don’t know what to say about Paris.

After a few delays on the train from Germany, we made it to Paris Tuesday evening.
Though we lost about 2 hours of our time, we still made the most of our time by going to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe at night, which lent itself to some cool pictures. Though I brought a tripod on the trip, I neglected to bring it out with us. I had to get creative with how I would stabilize the camera with various benches, hats and at one point my shoes. Though it was freezing, the pictures came out alright making the pain of cold concrete to my socks worth the while.
The following day, we set out at 10 AM for a very busy day of tourism.
We stopped by Notre Dame, which may be my favorite church we have visited so far, the Louvre to see some art, both famous and not so famous before we had lunch. Of all places we settled on Italian, which may have been foolish, but was still very good, and more importantly filling for the price.
Following lunch we spent some time on the Champs Élysées and shopped around for a while.
To cap our day off, we did go back to the Eiffel Tower to go to the top, and grab some more pictures. Though I am not keen on heights it was quite a view and something I am glad we did.
Overall, Paris was a really remarkable place to visit. Though it may not have the same history as Rome, or the same beauty as Venice, the city’s wide, tree lined avenues, and the cultural landmarks made it a really fun place to visit.
We’re now off to Switzerland for our final leg of Spring break. It should be a fun time.

Day in Germany

2/27/18 München, Germany

Monday we made our way north into Germany for the day. The trip was a longer journey, but it was a beautiful train ride through the snow covered alpine terrain.

When we finally made it to Munich, we enjoyed a frigid day in the city. The highest the temperature rose to was a bit so balmy 20° F. Though the cold was rough, especially coming from Italy, but it was an added bonus to see Germany in a snow storm.

Though it was a short stay, I think everyone including myself enjoyed spending time in Munich. The amount of cultural sites and the fantastic food definitely make Germany a place worth visiting again.

We’re making our way to Paris for a few days now. I’ll keep everyone updated on our travels.


The Floating City

2/26/18 Venice, Italy
It’s been a while, but I am returning to the blog. The previous two weeks were more focused around school going into midterms, but with that out of the way, spring break has begun.
The past 2 days we spent our time in Venice. As some of you may know, Venice has been a bucket list location since I’ve been little, and it was nice to finally visit.
Venice felt culturally different from Rome and the rest of Italy which made it feel like even more of an adventure. We probably saw more Venetian flags than Italian flags and experienced a different pace of life than in other parts of Italy.
Weather wise, Europe is freezing right now. According to locals, the weather is usually 50° F but yesterday was a windy 35° F. The weather did not stop us from roaming around the many shops, both expensive and inexpensive.
Our accommodation for the first night was a very nice hotel with a kitchen, so to save some money we cooked in.
Our second day we ended up exploring the sites, touring St. Mark’s and taking the obligatory gondola ride every tourist takes.
We ended up staying at a different hostel the second night, but the accommodation was just as nice. Our room came with a balcony where we were able to enjoy the view of the Grand Canal.
We ended up grabbing dinner at a little restaurant below our room and had a fantastic Italian dinner with a great piece of tiramisu to cap off what was a spectacular stay in Venice.
The stay met all of my expectations and I am already looking forward to whenever I return to the floating city.
We’re making our way to Munich Monday and are excited for the next leg of our journey. Keep you guys posted.

Rest and Relaxation in Rome

2/12/18- Rome, Italy

So, this weekend was just another weekend in Rome. It seems very weird to call it that, but it really was one of the calmer weekends since maybe Thanksgiving. It was really nice to just get up late, finish some school work on Friday, and just enjoy relaxing. It was nice to change up the pace of things, not have to work, travel or really do anything.

The biggest thing we did this weekend was make a trip over to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican museums. It was a really cool collection of different statues, art and frescoes. Obviously, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was breathtaking, so its stands to reason, that I had to secretly take some pictures! I will definitely have to return, probably to see the Vatican gardens if possible.

I hope all is well, and will keep everyone posted on my adventures.