Friday, April 18, 2008



The flight was about two and a half hours from Barcelona to Lisbon, and we managed to sleep a bit. The night before we had some loud roommates in our hostel so we were pretty tired. Two of our Portuguese friends, Andre and Eduardo, were waiting for us at the airport when we got there. They took us to Andre's apartment, where we were staying, so we could drop off our things. He lives by himself in a really good location in Lisbon, it was really nice. Then we all went into town to see Lisbon!

The views were incredible everywhere we went. First we went to the ruins of a church that was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s. Apparently the earthquake killed almost 100,000 people and destroyed the city, but part of the church is still standing. After that we went up the elevator (taking the stairs actually so we didnt have to pay) and we got a really good view of the city (see top picture). All the rooftops are orange, and the streets are made out of these stones that make it seem like a mosaic of tiles. We walked around a bit... saw some cool monuments and of course graffiti, and then we went out for lunch. I ordered swordfish, and it came with scales, tiny bones, and what seems to have been the spinal cord. It was sooo good though. The best swordfish I've ever had! Then we got in the car and drove along the coast. Lisbon is right on the water and has two massive bridges that cross the rio tejo//tagus river (which comes from spain and empties into the atlantic at lisbon). We then went to Belém, right on the atlantic to try this custard pie thing called Pastéis (in the second picture). They are sold all over Portugal, but apparently the ones in Belém are the best. You are supposed to put cinnamon and powdered sugar on top, and it was soooo good. Something like 1000 calories each, but who's counting? We walked by the ocean and marina and then went back to Andre's apt to get ready. We went out to eat in the center of Lisbon and we met Eduardo's identical twin brother and a tableful of their Portuguese friends. Joey and I had bacalhau, which is white cod, but in Portugal its always salted and dried and used in different dishes. Ours had potato and onion and a cream sauce, and it was pretty good but really oily. We had sangria again and went out with the whole group. It was really warm outside and we went to this one street which had a small bar, but everyone stood outside. There were so many people, and it was a lot of fun.

The next day Andre took Joey and I to a nearby city called Sintra so we could see the castle. We hit some traffic on the way there because it was the day of the Lisbon marathon. We must be following the marathons around Europe, because the weekend before there was a marathon in Berlin! The views at Sintra were amazing once again, and everything was soo green. When we had left Trento the trees didn't have any green on them yet.. but in Portugal it was really warm and summery compared to northern Italy. After we walked around Sintra we headed back to Lisbon, but we took the road along the coast. We stopped at a city called Cascais on the way for a smoothie and to have a look around... everything was so beautiful! On the way back from Cascais- out of the blue- Andre's car's power steering went out and the airbag lights started flashing. The highway wasn't busy at the time and we made it to a spot on the side, but when we tried to start his car again nothing happened. No sound of the ignition or anything, something must have jolted something in the battery because mostly everything that used the battery wasn't working, except the hazard lights and interior lights. Andre called their version of AAA and Gina, our other Portuguese friend who we knew from Trento, came to pick us up. We went back to Andre's and got ready for dinner with Gina and her friend. We ate at a restaurant in this shopping mall, and it was pretty good. It was kind of weird that we ate at a mall, but they must do it all the time.

The next day Gina came and picked up Joey and I from Andre's and we went back to Cascais to go to the beach there! On the way we stopped at a secret place where Gina led us through some trees and bushes and a little river to see the best view in Lisbon. I guess nobody knows about it. Gina led the way in her walking shoes and we had to walk in about 4 inches of water over what looked like rock, but we quickly found out it was clay or mud because Gina started sinking! Haha good thing I had on flip flops. The view was incredible (see the picture above)! After that we went to this little shop that sold Havaianas, these brazilian flip flops and I just had to get a pair. Then we spent some of the afternoon at the beach. It was a little windy, and there were a group of surfers. We all went for a late lunch at the mall again, and I got bacalhau and this soup, which translated means "stone soup." It was almost like a minestrone with vegetables and meat, but then I picked out this big flat thing that looked like a cross between a mushroom and meat. I asked what it was and Joey said it was a mushroom and I was about to eat it when Gina told me it was a pig's ear. Oh you know, no big deal. Just a standard pig's ear in my soup. Haha apparently its used for flavoring and you aren't supposed to eat it. We use bay leaves. They use pig's ears.

Gina had to go pick her boyfriend up from the airport, so she dropped Joey and I off in town for an afternoon of shopping. After we were done we met up with Andre, Eduardo, Gina, and her boyfriend and his two friends for our last dinner in Portugal. After dinner we went to see one last view of the city at night. We were up at 5 the next morning to catch our flight back to Italia. We flew into Bologna and took the train from there to Trento, which was about 3 hours. In the 5 days we were gone Trento had changed colors. Most of the snow had melted from the peaks of the mountains in the distance, and most of the trees now have green on them! It's still a little rainy though, but it's definitely warming up.

Portugal Pictures

I forgot to blog about the time between going to Berlin and Barcelona. We were only in Trento for 4 days, and one of those days my class was cancelled so I decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art- MART in Rovereto, which is only 15 minutes on the train. They have a really good Warhol exhibit, his original Marilyn Monroe among others, but the day I went the Warhol exhibit was closed! The rest of the museum was really cool though, its one of the best art museums in Italy. Other than that, not too much excitement in Trento. The water has been on in the main fountain for about a month now, some students have returned home, and we have some new ones. Our favorite Tuesday club "Superbinario" closed three nights ago. I guess in the summer most of the bars and clubs shut down, and all the ones in Riva (on Lake Garda) open... which isn't really good because none of us have cars to get there! A new class I am taking, analisi dei dati (a prob and stats class) started yesterday. The class itself is going to be a little challenging, especially because it's in Italian and the professor is a mumbler. Even the Italian students have a hard time understanding him. Between that class and my others I have 15 hours per week, just like back home! I finally feel like a student again.

Last night Joey and I and our Italian friend Nicola went to this small underground bar to see someone from one of Joey's classes read an excerpt from a book that he wrote. He and a group of friends bought a car in Italy and drove it across Europe, Russia, and China, sold it in China and then went to Japan. He prepared a video that was on a projector and read from his book. It was pretty cool. All in Italian, so I couldn't tell if he was a good writer or not, but the slideshow was good.

I am currently enjoying a midday snack of coke and this cake that my Turkish roommate, Sezen, made. Its really good, white on the bottom and chocolate on top with espresso stuff on top. The coke on the other hand could be better. I dont know if it's a psychological thing or what, but the coke here is not that good. I think there is less sugar in Italian coke than back home. I did some laundry yesterday and I've gotten used to hang-drying everything and really stiff, starchy clothes.

The weather is dreary, but not cold. Tomorrow Joey and I are going to Verona to pick up her boyfriend and his friend from the airport. They are going to stay with us for a couple nights and then head back to London, and I really hope the weather clears up for their stay!

ciao a tutti..

Thursday, April 17, 2008



About a month ago Joey and I had decided to take a trip to Portugal to visit the students I had met my first week in Trento because they had returned home to Lisbon. We had a layover in Barcelona, and decided to extend the layover a couple nights and make a little side trip there. Last Thursday we were up early to catch the train to Milano, where we picked up our 2 hour flight to Barcelona. Realized on the 2.5 hour train to Milan that our flight was an hour and a half earlier than we thought, and the airport was an hour-long shuttle bus from the train station. We were basically panicked as we watched the clock, saw the time we were supposed to be checking in, and sitting helplessly on the bus miles away from the airport. We were also in the bus when we saw the time check-in closed. We were flying EasyJet... whose policy is "We don't wait for anybody"... which is always comforting. We sprinted into the airport and cut to the front of the check-in line and asked the lady if we could still check in for our flight to Barcelona and she said "We are flying to Barcelona?" Haha we were only about 10 minutes past time our check in closed but they are really strict about those things. We honestly thought we wouldnt be able to catch our flight to Barcelona and we would be stuck in the airport 24 hours till we had to buy a ticket for the next flight. Luckily our flight was delayed about an hour, due to the rain. I will never complain about delayed flights EVER again. ever.

Our flight got into Barcelona, Spain at about 10:30 or 11 pm and we went to check in to our hostel. It was in a great location, and the hostel was very nice (pictured above). Surprisingly we weren't terribly tired and we decided to go out and check out the nightlife. The next morning we were up and ready to see the sights. We didn't know exactly what we should see in Barcelona, but we knew Gaudí's Sagrada Famiglia and Parque Güell were main attractions. We ended up deciding to be touristy and hop on the double-decker bus to see it all. Before we did that we decided to get some food from a tiny little grocery store down a random street. I got an orange, a plum, some fruit juice and water. Joey got a plum and these two little things that looked like apricots. April 11, 2008 will forever be known as the day I had the best orange in my entire life. It was indescribely perfect. The plums were pretty good, and Joeys apricots were definitely not apricots. We still dont know what they were but they were bitter. And not apricots.

Barcelona is full of architecture by Gaudí, mostly built in the early 1900s... which must have been really different back then. His work looks like something that would come from a Dr Seuss book. Really twisty and unconventional.. but very cool. Our bus tour took us from Plaça Catalunya (a main square in town) past Gaudí's Casa Milà (aka 'la pedrera') and other monuments to the ocean and Port Vell. I took pictures of everything and the link to see them is at the end of this post. We got to see the location of the 1992 Olympic games (I was 5 at the time so I must have been too young to remember the song "Barcelona! Such a beautiful horizon" that everyone was singing).

Next we saw Gaudí's work in progress, La Sagrada Famiglia (pictured). Well technically Gaudí died decades ago in an unfortunate accident where he was hit by a train, but his architecture lives on. La Sagrada Famiglia has been under construction for years, with no completion date in sight. It is entirely funded by anonymous donations. It is really incredible how detailed the entire thing is, and how one single person could have ever designed it all.

We got off the bus near Gaudí's Parque Güell, and spent a couple hours walking around there. The weather was in the low 60s and overcast, but it was still really nice. After the park we walked back to the direction of our hostel, and did some shopping along the way. For all you online shoppers back home the good stores to shop in Europe are called Zara, Topshop, Mango, and Bershka. Maybe they even ship to the US! When we got back to the hostel it was already getting late and time to have dinner. They eat dinner around 10 pm there. We were maybe going to go out after, but when we saw that it was pouring outside we decided not to. We ended up eating at the first restaurant we came across, and I just had to order paella to say I had it in Spain! It was really good, but the shrimp freaked me out. They came with eyes, a head, tail, and legs. Luckily Joey peeled them for me. After I had eaten Joey told me there was rabbit in my paella. If I had known that before though I wouldn't have eaten it. After dinner we walked back in the pouring rain to our hostel and went to bed. We got up at 8 am, had a free continental breakfast, checked out of the hostel, and were on our way to LISBON!

Barcelona Pictures

Monday, April 7, 2008



So I have just returned from a weekend trip to Berlin.. Joey and I booked a cheap flight through ryanair from Verona to Bremen to visit the city and see her friend DJ at a club. Joey had lived in Berlin for two months after her senior year of high school so she knew her way around quite well. We flew into Bremen pretty early on Friday morning, and we would have flown into Berlin, but we got such a good deal on flight tickets it was a lot cheaper going to Bremen. We didn't do much thinking though, and when we got there we realized it was a good 3 to 4 hour trip into Berlin.. and a one way train ticket would cost almost 80 euro per person! We decided that we had the entire day and we wanted to save money so we rented a car. Joey was used to driving on the left side of the road, so I was planning on driving until we realized it was a manual transmission!! Joey ended up driving and we made it there safely. We didn't have directions but Germany's roads have really good signs and directions so we didn't have a problem.

The first day we were there we dropped off our rental car and checked into our hostel. Our hostel was in a good location, but we had a litttle adventure trying to find it. After walking up and down the same road for a couple hours we asked a cab driver for directions. We were just going to have him drive us there and we looked obviously lost, but the conversation went something along the lines of [in german.. the driver was really nice though]: "I will not drive you
girls 100 meters up the road.. where are you trying to go?" "Ziegel Straße" "Haha that is just 100 meters up the road!" Haha that driver saw right through us... we were so close the entire time!! Our hostel was really nice, we got a bunk bed in a huge 50 bed room! We had woken up at abuot 4 am to catch the train to the airport, so we were pretty tired at this point... but we still had all afternoon for exploring, so we dropped off our packs and hit the city.

We first went to the Reichstag (see first picture) which is a government building in Berlin, and then we walked down the street unter den Linden and saw the Brandenburg gate, Berliner dom, and a few other places. Then we went to this place called Potsdamer Platz (see second picture) and then we went out to dinner for Vietnamese food. By the time we got back to our hostel it was nearly 10 pm and we were exhausted. I think out of the 50 places to sleep in the room we were one of the first to go to sleep. I fell asleep right away, but it wasnt long before we were woken up by people talking. Then later, at about 5 am a group of guys were just getting in from the bars and they were so loud and obnoxious. Everyone in the room woke up because these guys were yelling and running around playing the guitar for a few hours.. eventually someone went upstairs to tell the staff about it and after a few threats to be kicked out they finally quieted down. Needless to say we hardly slept. The next morning we were up again to see the sights.

Berlin is such a cool city its a center of pop culture, there is so much art everywhere.. from amazing graffiti on the streets to little displays and galleries everywhere! It was incredible just walking around and seeing it all. We went to Checkpoint Charlie that afternoon and got our passports stamped for East and West Germany. That evening we got ready and went out to dinner before meeting up with Joey's friend, J-STAR who was DJing at a club. We went to this small Italian restuarant, where we met this really loud American guy. Haha he must have overheard us speaking english so he walked over to our table and struck up a conversation. He was a student from Purdue who was studying in Berlin, but this restaurant was pretty small and he was talking sooo loudly the whole restuarant was listening. It was really embarassing. After he left our waiter came over to us and he asked us if we needed an escape route and suggested taking a different way out. Haha it was pretty funny actually. After dinner we stopped for a drink at a bar on the way, where we met a group of NORTHERN irish people. Apparently people from northern ireland dont say they come from ireland, but northern ireland.

We then headed to the club where J-STAR would be performing. The nightlife in Berlin is non-stop and things usually dont pick up until 2 am. He wasn't meant to start performing until 1:30 am. If you want to check out his music go to It was really good. The night flew by, and the club closed at around 5 am so the group of us then went to another club that was still open. It was so much fun! I must have gotten a second wind because I don't know how I stayed awake and danced for that long. When we got to the second club they wanted J-STAR to dj for them and it was so cool how much everything picked up when Joey's friend got behind the tables. I want a dj friend! We stayed at that club until it closed at about 7 am. Then we walked around outside and saw the Berlin wall. Not much is left standing, but we found a good stretch of it near the club. We went for kebabs before heading back to our hostel. By the time we got there it was almost 10 am and checkout was at 11. We decided to try and take a quick sleep for about an hour, but after I was still exhausted.

We checked out of our hostel and then walked around Berlin a little more. It was sunday and there were open markets everywhere. We went to a flea market, and walked around. There was a lot of worthless junk, but also some really cool stuff too. It was a pretty expensive flea market though. There were some pretty cool sunglasses at this one place, and another stall had all these rings made from old keyboard letters (see pic).

We decided that neither of us wanted to drive another rental car, so we forked over the cash and took the train back to Bremen. We had a lot of time to kill before our flight, and at this point neither of us could remember the last time we slept. It was a mix of exhaustion and delirium and we needed something to pass the time. It was pretty cold so we found a radiator under the stairs and set up camp. We had a magazine and nearby there were a bunch of pamphlets for tourists so we decided to make a little collage inspired by all the art in Berlin. It was a really good way to pass the time actually.

We finally made it back to Trento, and when I got back here to our apartment in Vela there was a package waiting for me!! My family had sent me a bunch of goodies for Easter... mmmmm! So nice!!!

Joey and I figured that our last normal night of sleep was Wednesday night, and since then we had only about 11 hours of sleep in 5 days... I am about to have the best sleep of my life. Oh and I took a lot of pictures in Berlin, definitely check them out: the BERLIN album

xx ciao

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Sorry its been a while since I've last updated. Things have been pretty eventful in Europe!

Since I've last posted I've taken a day trip to Innsbruck Austria, gone snowboarding 3 more times (twice at Monte Bondone and once at a resort called Plan de Corones or Kronplatz in German), went to Lago di Garda again, and took a nice Easter holiday in Germany and England. Ill try and recap..

Innsbruck is easily reached from Trento on a relatively inexpensive two-hour train. I went with my roommate for the afternoon and we ended up having one of the best meals to date. We walked around the old town and then up by the river. There were a lot of shops in the area, so we did some shopping too. We ate at a restaurant in the old town, and luckily Joey knows how to speak German because the waiter didnt understand English or Italian. She ordered a fish dish and I had spinach and cheese ravioli. I'd say most of the time I never know what I am going to get when I order because I never understand the menu, but its usually really good.. and this time I got really lucky! I cant describe in words exactly what it was and how good it was but I'll try.. It was three big ravioli filled with spinach and cheese in an olive oil and herb sauce, on top of saurkraut with tiny pieces of pork mixed in... and usually I'm not a big fan of saurkraut but this kind was amazing, my mouth is watering just thinking about it! On the side there was this rice ball thing which I have no idea what it actually was, but it was good too.. all washed down with some Austrian beer. Mmmmmm...

Snowboarding was great as usual. One of the days at Monte Bondone the snow was perfect.. unfortunately no deep powder, but the consistency of the snow was perfect for some tight turns and deep carves :) Another day we went with our Italian friend, Ale, to Plan de Korones.. a resort farther north. Ale drove us, and also gave us free passes he got from his father who is chief of police in Trento. It was so sunny and nice that day, the snow was beginning to melt in parts, but the resort was a lot bigger than Monte Bondone and there were about 4 gondola lifts. It was a gooood day. I had a beer and brat slopeside and apple strudel for dessert. And contrary to some rumors I've been hearing, no I did not jump from a helicopter.. maybe next time!

Andrew was in Germany with his high school German class for ten days around Easter, and I decided to meet up with their group for a few days. So last friday (good friday) morning i took a train to Leipzig, Germany to meet up with him. It was such a longgg train... almost 6 hours to Munich then i had an hour layover there and i got a 4 and a half hour train to Leipzig. by the time i got to the hotel (i had booked a single room in the same hotel Andrew was staying at) it was late. but i saw Andrew that night!! It was soooo good seeing a familiar face! We had a huge breakfast buffet at the hotel and hopped on the bus to go to this really pretty city called Dresden. I'm not going to give a rundown on historical info of the city, but if you wikipedia it you can get some good info. We were free to have lunch on our own time, which was after I had a really good street hot pretzel and Andrew had a street brat. So we got the grand tour of the city after lunch and came back to Leipzig around dinnertime and saw some of the sights in that city. The next day was Easter Sunday and the group and I went to mass at this old catholic church.. and what do you know? The mass was said in German. I had no idea what was going on.. like the our father, peace, songs, everything in German. It was definitely an experience. After the mass the group was meant to go to Wittenberg (where martin luther posted his 95 theses on a church door), so we all got on the bus and did that.. then they were going to Berlin and they were sooo nice they even dropped me off at the airport on their way, because my flight to Bristol departed from the Berlin Schoenfeld airport.. so we said our goodbyes and were on our separate ways.

They dropped me off at the airport around noon and my flight wasnt until 9:30 pm, and check-in wasnt until 7:30 pm.. so i spent easter sunday sitting, listening to my ipod, and eating candy. I must have gone into the little convenience store 3 times and i ended up eating a huge bag of gummy bears, a square of ritter sport dark chocolate, a toblerone chocolate bar, and a bag of this english candy called wine gums. It was definitely too much sugar for one day. So i flew into bristol airport and my flight was a little late so i got there around 11:30 at night and my roommate here in Trento, Joey, and her dad were waiting there for me to pick me up. We drove back (on the opposite side of the road) to her house which is just outside a city called Bath. When i got there her mom had made us each a little Easter basket with candy.. it was so cute!! Everywhere around their town seemed like it was out of a movie or magazine. It was gorgeous.

The next day they showed me around the city of Bath (named after the roman baths, which are these natural hot springs that the romans used) and we did a little shopping. I saw the Royal Crescent and the river Avon. That night her mom cooked dinner for us, which was roast lamb and it sounds kinda gross but it was soooooooo good! Joey and I and her younger sister went to see STEP UP 2 that night. It was pretty bad acting and story line, but the dancing was really good. The next day we had legit fish n' chips and English tea. I got the full experience. They took me around some small cities around their area but im sooo bad at remembering names of cities. Sirencester and Castle Combe were a couple of them. We drove by the estate and house of the royal family (prince charles, william, and harry!) Unfortunately i didnt see any of them, but their polo fields were HUGE. Then we went into the next town where Prince Charles had opened a shop last week.

Tuesday Joey and I took a train to LONDON, my new favorite city! Our train got in pretty late at night, and I met Jo's boyfriend who was waiting at the station for us. The next day I saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and some other places. It was soo pretty. It was a little rainy but not too bad. The public transportation in London is great.. they have regular busses all over, and the subway which is called the Tube. I had bought an unlimited travel card for the day for about 6 pounds, which after the terrible conversion rate is about $12 american. Everything was so expensive after the exchange rate, I tried not to think about it I spent so much! Joey and I went shopping that afternoon, and then met up with her boyfriend and his roommate to go out and get a taste of London's nightlife. The next day I got another grand tour of the city and I saw the place where princess di used to live, went into the V&A museum, and saw Notting Hill and Portobello Road (my favorite place in London!!). We went for dinner at this Thai restaurant called Wagamamas and it was very good. I had a cold and couldnt taste or smell much, but what I could taste was excellent. The next morning we were up early to catch a bus, multiple tubes, and train to the airport, then we were back in Italia. We flew into Verona, and took an hour-long train back to Trento. It was nice to be back, but I cant wait for the day I can return to LONDON!

Yesterday Joey and I didnt have classes so we took a little day trip to Lago di Garda, the biggest lake in Italy. Its a really big vacation spot and has some great sailing and wind surfing. I am lucky to be so close to it.. to be able to go for an afternoon. By bus it takes a little over an hour, but by car its only about twenty minutes. It was a beautiful day, the temperature here is 22 degrees celsius... which is low 70s fahrenheit. The only downside was that when I got to the lake and took out my camera for a picture, I realized that I had left my battery charging back in Trento. oops!

Anyways here are some pictures of my excursions:
Dresden, Leipzig, and Wittenberg Germany
Innsbruck Austria and more from Trento

Classes have picked up a little, but I am still waiting for one more to start. This weekend I am going to Berlin with Joey to see one of her friends DJ at a club, and the following weekend we are going to Barcelona Spain and then Lisbon Portugal to visit our Portuguese friends. Ill try and update more often!!

I just want to pass on a little secret culinary tip that may change salads as you know them. Pesto. Put a spoonful of pesto on the side of any salad and it is sooo good. Just be sure your dressing is balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Changed my world.