Monday, January 19, 2015

Vedo Venezia

Ah, sweet Venice. Where to begin. Perhaps with waking up at 6 in the morning to trudge through the rain to the train station? This is where we met up with our program and boarded the "luxury" bus for a 3.5 hour ride to Venice.

soo luxurious

Our tour guide and program leader, a hilarious man named Frederico, put on The Tourist (which takes place in Venice) to get us cultured.

great hills for sledding

The countryside between Florence and Venice was absolutely beautiful, but then again, so is Angelina Jolie (back to the Tourist).

After a frightening/hilarious incident where the bus driver tried to take us down under an overpass and completely scratched and damaged the roof of the bus but still attempted to make it while it sounded like the ceiling was caving in, eventually resorting to backing out while the scraping pierced our ears, we ran to the Santa Lucia station to catch our train into the heart of Venice.

I'm coming for you my love
A short ride later, we popped out...

in Venice!!
First thing's first, on to a water taxi ride to our first destination.

our fearless co-captain

hello my pretties

goofy and unashamed (ok a little ashamed)

I'm actually walking on water

definitely an important building

It was a bit irksome because each water taxi seated 12 and my roommate and I somehow got split up into the taxi with your typical college girls (see: ashamed selfie).

i h8 college girls

Nevertheless, we disembarked shortly and were on our way!

Behold, Piazza San Marco!

Piazza San Pigeons, really.

grossly obese birds

very cool architecture though
tourists, tourists everywhere

I don't think I got a picture of it but Frederico informed us that the stacked-up table-looking things were "runways" for when there is high tide and/or flooding, so that the people can continue on their way! He said we all become models then.

Here is the front of St. Mark's Basilica, where there are (replicas of) the horses from the Sack of Constantinople! Enjoy, mom:

selfie stick, anyone?
minor facial distortions, but you get the picture
the neverending story (of construction)
I annoy even myself

And of course, a selfie with the horses to make mum proud.

canal 1 of 38789437598

Then it was off to a private glassblowing exhibit, over the bridge and through the canals.

hi I was there too

The glassblowing exhibit was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen. The maestro made a vase in about 5 minutes and we all cried for lack of our own talents. There was also this giant copper horse which again, mum would appreciate:

no photos my butt
it's funny alright

Then there was this banana in the water that I thought was hysterical because I'm 2 years old.

We went on a brief walking tour through the city, during which we saw the oldest cafe in Venice, Caffe Florian, built in 1720!

we were floored
The Building that is Pretty

Santa Maria del Giglio, or Saint Mary of the Lily, or the Building that is Pretty.

Then came the main event...a gondola ride down the Grand Canal!

traghetto = ferry (or between ghettos?)

I'm on a gondola!!
cloudy with a chance of a gondola ride

on a gondola did you know

obviously too cool for us

Our wise and hip gondolier.

Palazzo Barbarigo ft. fellow gondolier
Our gondolier kept chatting up this above gondolier, hardly paying attention to us and more importantly, our gondola. This didn't make me as nervous as the other gondolier talking on his cell phone. Masters of their trade, I guess.

faces of disbelief as he casually rows one-handed


The most unconvincing smile possibly ever known to man (come on, it was cold).

down a narrow canalley, patent pending

oh no not her again

only a little bit nerve-wracking

Frederico then took us to a leaning tower,

and to a secret tower of Pisa,

awk x2
Did I mention we spent a good chunk of our day shopping for masks for Carnivale? Well, we did. High and low, near and far, we must have gone in every mask store (impossible). At long last, I found my perfect mask!

hand-painted and perfect
I took two horrible last-second photos to try to convey the absolute chaos that is inside mask shops. The options are endless and of course when what you think is your fated mask turns out to cost 500 euros, perspectives change.

masks and masks


Then of course it was time for a photo shoot by the water. I like these because at first it says hey, I'm in Venice...

the center of attention
 but then it quickly turns into HEY I'M IN VENICE!!!!!!

And if you weren't already convinced of the beauty of Venice,

probably the best photo I've ever taken
But we couldn't leave without having a bellini, which originated in Venice!

sorry, mom

It tastes like peach sparkling wine. Oh wait...

We also couldn't leave without seeing true, authentic Italian cuisine:

kabob di chicken nuggets

McDonald's, pack your bags. These fancy babies are taking over.

Did I mention Venice is beautiful yet?

a sky of bellini
and a tree because I love silhouettes

To complete this perfect picture of Venice and all of Italy, I present to you...

guess I'm peeing on the floor

Pay-to-enter bathrooms. NO!!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Flitting Around Firenze

This week was filled with beautiful sights and roaming the city outdoors! The weather has been lovely and even when it's raining, it's warm and, well, Italy.

I actually painted this picture

this one too


We hiked a very, very long time up a giant hill to get to the prime look-out spot in Florence.

via monte delle croci (mount of crosses)

yeah I'LL SAY (face delirious with exhaustion)

panting, crying, turning back

walk me! I'm flat!

While it may look harmless...

stupid Americans

It's actually a replica of Mount Calvary.

getting so close
behold the Tuscan countryside
and the tourist spot immediately ruining it
ciao Firenze!
the Arno is beautiful, arno, right?

I love this shot. It's hard to capture everything in pictures but it was a gorgeous day (sunny, 57 degrees) and the view was marvelous. We could practically see our house from here!

sorry I spoiled the view

the countryside and the city meet again
By the way, this little outlook is called Piazzale di Michelangiolo. Maybe because Michelangelo actually painted this scenery onto earth? Just kidding that was God.
ft. small blue man awalking
I'm actually obsessed with panoramas
stealing the view one more time

love me

 In this piazza is a replica of the David. It's not quite as nice...he's all green and dirty.

Speaking of replicas, I caved and got a burger, fries, and coke this same day. Believe it or not, it was the best burger, fries, and coke I have ever had. Sorry America, you're doing your own cuisine wrong.

even the Cokes are tall skinny models
food of the gods, god of the foods