Sorry I haven't posted anything new in a while, guys. I'm just now getting a bunch of new pictures on my computer, they're all really great. I'm going to try to put them up soon, when I get the time. If I have time tonight (currently packing to go to Munich this weekend) I'll post the ones from my trip to Cinque Terre. I guess I should tell you guys about it! Ok - here goes - mom and dad you already heard all about it but oh well.
Cinque Terre - mom and dad, I really want to bring you guys here if you come- inlet on the Adriatic (?) with 5 tiny tiny towns all together, separated by a mile or 2 of coast in between. We arrived super early on friday in the town our hostel was in, Riomaggiore, and explored there for a while. We ended up just taking this little path we found up a hill through all this country - vineyards, flowers, tiny little whitewashed houses... basically everything you would imagine from the seaside in like Greece it was GORGEOUS. And it was the most beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. We took the path up for about a half hour before we got to a main road. We hiked down that for a while and got the most breathtaking views of the coastline from up high. Then we followed that road down back into town, got some focaccia ...mine had tomatoes, garlic, cheese, and fresh caught ANCHOVIES: I usually hate them, but tried it, and it was really good. Then we hiked down the "via dell'amore" (lover's walk) along the coast for about a half hour to the next town, Manarola. The walk was right by the water and paved, and graffiti'd all the way down with peoples names and stuff. From Manarola we walked around for a bit, watched the sun set over the beach, and walked back to Riomaggiore. We got dinner there for a "fixed price" of 15 euro for a first course, second course, water (which you always have to pay for here at restaurants) and wine. I got gnocchi with pesto and then sausage with cheese and potatoes. REALLL healthy. We stayed super late at dinner watching this bizarre Italian "American Idol"-style show but with old people (??) and then by the time we were done it was 10, so we walked to the "bar centrale" and and it was CLOSED. Haha! Apparently it isnt tourist season. So we just called it a night. Saturday we got up and took the local train to the 4th town, Vernazza. The 3rd 4th and 5th towns are all pretty far from each other and we had heard the 3rd town is small and nothing really to see so we just skipped it. The 4thn town, Vernazza, was bigger than any yet and more touristy. The hiking trail between it and the last town was closed cause of a landslide (boo) so we decided to brave the hike that goes up into the hills and back down into the next town. It took no less than 5 hours... but it was sooo pretty and it felt good to get the super hard exercise. Most of it was uphill. But we got so high up that the views of the ocean were really cool. We actually stumbled across 2 hidden-away churches along the way, too. One of them was way cool cause it was a convent in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to take a picture of the nuns but didnt want to be uber-rude and American. It was cool though. We got to the last town, Monterosso-al-Mare, by the time the sun had gone down. We walked on its beach for a while and werent that hungry so went to get an apertif (this great European concept where if you buy a pre-dinner drink they offer you a huge buffet of appetizers/dishes -our favorite aperitivo spot is at Piazza
Beccaria, right by our apartment, and it has really good pastas and vegetable dishes... mmm.
And you can load up your plate... amazing). We went into this little hole in the wall that was a wine shop too and this older guy came up to us and started chatting with us immediately (he was the owner... everyone is WAY more hospitable here than in America. its unreal.) He offered us a wine tasting of the special white wines only made in Cinque Terre with appetizers. He gave us each 4 glasses of different wine to try (all AMAZING, I usually don't like white wine but this was really good)
then came back and was all,. "which was your favorite"? So we told him and he brought us a free bottle of that. Then he brought us a free bottle of red. BASICALLY... by the time dinner rolled around we were pretty tipsy. None of us had had lunch and we had been hiking allll day. We looked like absolute crap, sitting there in this super nice little wine bar, and befriended ALL the old men in the room and had them laughing at us. SO much fun. The guy told us to look for him at the bar after dinner, so we left and made asses of ourselves at dinner, of course, and scarfed our food. So that was my weekend there in a nutshell.
This past weekend, my friend Nancy from high school visited me from Modena, a small town about an hour away. She studied in Milan last semester, and liked Italy so much she decided to stay on and get a job! She's currently an au pair.
First off, Friday i don't have class, so i went to Siena with Carrie and just explored. You take like an hour and a half bus through the country and get there and walk around... there wasn't that much to see, just a really cute central piazza with like a bowl shape, a palace, a duomo, a couple churches, some pretty views of the hillside... super cute little town. Very rustic and pretty. You're supposed to try the wild boar when you're there (its apparently their specialty. I didnt even know those things still existed) but i was too big of a pansy. Nonetheless a good day. When I got back, Nancy's train was arriving in half an hour, so
I waited at the train station. I was soooo excited to see her and it was fun catching up on the walk home and stuff. Going out that night, we asked this young Italian couple where a club was... Nancy made fun of my Italian... the girl seems like she knows where it is and motions for us to come with her. So next thing we know its me Carrie and Nancy only and we're walking like 10 feet behind them, and its been like 25 minutes, the girl keeps glancing back at us, and we realize we're walking in circles. We'd been so caught up in conversation that we didnt realize. Then this crowd of people kinda came between us and them and they start running away! They thought we were stalking them! So then we gave up and went to the secret bakery. Have i told you about that? Its a florence legend. Its this place that's only open from like 1 to 5 am. They make pastries and pizza and it is sooo fresh made and always warm and delicioso. BUT it's a secret location! You have to find it! (our first time, we had the guys we were with show us where, so we cheated). You can smell it from about 2 "blocks" away. i say :blocks" cause its like tucked in a little alleyway. Its an unmarked door, you knock, they let you in, you order, and you have to leave. And if you're too loud outside, they won't let you in. That happened to us our first time there cause those guys were kind of drunk. You could hear people talking quietly inside and the machines going but they didnt open the door! We went back the next night and pronto! hehe. Nance was so impressed. The next day i did all the things she wanted to do. She's been to Florence a couple times before so of course we had to hit up the outdoor market, her fave gelato spot (also mine, and hands down the best - "Grom"), and we wrote a postcard for Sally (a friend of mine from high school, and Nancy's roommate in San Diego, where they go to school. Mom is friends with Sally's mom... they are in the same book club - nerds!) Then we decided to do the top of the duomo. It costs 8 euros and so I was waiting for an opportune moment cause its not like I can afford to just do it whenever but we went for it, you climb up a stone staircase, very cool and old, narrow and twisty, for a while (like 500 steps) and get to see the inside of the dome (very pretty, huge and painted with a big fresco of heaven and hell) and then you get to the top and you're outside on top of the dome! Panoramic views of the city all around! It was the nicest weather we've had so far, maybe 60 outside and sunny, and it was gorgeouuussss. So saturday night we wanted to try this place my friend Kelli reccommended called Dante's, which was a pretty far walk but apparently gives students all you can drink wine. AND THEY DID! Nancy me Erin Carrie and Erins friend Jen who was visiting from Barcelona had an amazing dinner and wine, and then Tiramisu. So good! I'm already addicted to Tiramisu. We were eating in the downstairs floor of this restaurant having a pretty late dinner and a pretty long one and eventually we were the last ones down there and the restaurant owner comes down and starts making friends with us! I love it, Italian bar and restaurant owners LOOVVE americans and always give us free stuff. So he brings us down a pitcher of "Limoncello" this Italian liqueur thats made with lemons that they love here, youre supposed to take some of it between courses to cleanse your pallate. So then the guy leaves and goes upstairs... and puts on rap on the entire lower floor. The restaurant was still busy upstairs but he shut off the lower floor for us! Next thing we know we're having a little dance party!
He brought us free hats too! baseball caps that say Dante's.
It was a fun dinner, and really fun to see Nancy. She left in the morning.
So there's an update for ya! I'm very very excited about my trip to Germany. We're visiting
the castle that Disney used as a model for his. We have to hike through the snowy Alps to get there. We're getting to go to 3 other castles, too. It's supposed to snow all weekend! And the tour guide man (very nice old German man) said we can even stop in Salzburg, in Austria, for a few hours on the way back. None of us were expecting that and it's gonna be so cool. I've heard it's beautiful. I'll definitely put pictures up next week, cause I'm getting tired now and have to wake up early. Sorry about the weird formatting. I don't know how to get it to stop.
Ciao a tutti! Look in your mailboxes for postcards! : )