Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break!

Hi gang! Hope all is well back home. It's almost Easter and I am definitely missing family as well as going to miss the brunch and get-together. Since I am leaving Tonight for Nice I thought I should give you guys some details about my spring break week... especially because mom dad and Paul are going to be doing the same thing I did very very soon! So my friend Erica arrived mid-day on Thursday the 19th. She wasn't jet-lagged at all (until the next day, at least) and so she immediately wanted to walk around and see the sights and do some shopping. That night we went to dinner at our favorite pizzeria (Erica was very impressed). The next day, we had to wake her at 2 to make sure she kind of got back to her regular sleeping schedule... hope that doesn't happen to you guys! It was Friday so we spent that day walking around, doing more shopping, etc. We even discovered this one street that has all these little vintage shops on it. I didn't buy anything, but it was cool to look. We ended up eating in that night and going to bed early (on our walk during the day we had noticed how people looked like their dogs... that gave us an urge to watch 101 dalmations, so we found it in 9 parts on youtube and Erica and Carrie both fell asleep while watching.) The next day I had to wake up early to go meet Charlie at the airport!! you have to walk to the train station and take a bus there, but it's cheap and not that hard. His flight ended up being delayed, and they lost his baggage, but he made it ok. By the time we got back to my apartment it was evening so we headed to dinner. We went to this nicer place that I've been dying to try and I got bistecca alla fiorentina (traditional florentine steak with balsamic sauce)... Soo good! Then we got some wine and walked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was so cool pointing everything out to Charlie and telling him what we were going to do and see in the next week. He loved the panoramic view and kept asking for my camera so he could take pictures! The next day, Sunday, I took him around to all the sights. We saw the Santa Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Baptistry, and Campanile, and a lot of little things like my favorite antique market, the leather market (where the Medici used to set up their banking stands), my favorite sandwich shop and gelato places, the shopping district, etc. He was impressed by how many little churches are just hiding around corners. In walking around with him it was cool because I got to remember that first-time feeling of amazement I had when I arrived... and it made me even more excited to show you guys around! I want to show you guys even more stuff, though : ) San Miniato al Monte, and the Palazzo Pitti, for example. Anyways, we also had to go to the airport to get his baggage, which was no fun, but we needed to get it since we were leaving for ROME in the morning! (Me, Charlie, Erica, Carrie, and Carrie's best friend from home, Hannah, who arrived Sunday night.) Rome was awesome. It's only about a 2 hour train ride from Florence so we were there by around 11:30. I had a lot of preconceived notions about Rome because so many people advised me to choose Florence over Rome, as Rome was bigger, dirtier, etc. I loved it! When we arrived it was sunny and nice outside.. T-shirt weather even. Our hotel was nicer than we expected, and the streets were clean, beautiful, wide, and edged with orange trees and tall buildings. We checked into our hotel and started walking, in the general direction of the Spanish steps. On the way we tried to pick oranges, but they were sour, and stopped to take pictures of everything, from fountains and churches to the American Embassy. When we finally realized that we were starving, nothing appeared until (ta-da!) there was the Hard Rock Cafe. We stopped and pondered on getting something Italian instead until we realized that there were hamburgers inside, which pretty much sealed the deal. It was my first in over 2 months, and it was delicious! Granted it cost 14 euros, but oh well. After that, we went to the Spanish steps, walked around the area for a bit, and ended up at this huge park called the Villa Borghese. It was absolutely beautiful (tall trees, grass, statues, flowers, a lake, etc.) so we decided to rent a 5 person bike for an hour and explore! We looked goofy, I'm sure, but it was fun. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Trevi Fountain, which was gorgeous, but decided we needed to come back at night to see it all lit up. We ate a light dinner and went out, ending up at an Irish pub near Piazza Navona. The next day, we wanted to go to the Vatican, but realized it would be about a 40 minute walk from our hotel. So.... we decided to hop on a sightseeing bus! Yes, one of those big dorky buses that you can sit on top of and take pictures. It was actually a really fun way to be complete tourists and laugh about that but at the same time see more of the city (Rome is HUGE). Plus, it was only 15 euros for 24 hours, so we rode it to the Vatican and back, and were able to take it to the Pantheon the next morning. From the Pantheon, we walked to the Forum (a bunch of Roman ruins) and the Colosseum, which were my favorite parts of the trip by far. I took way too many pictures of the ruins. Oops! Anyways, that night was Carrie's 21st birthday, so we went and got a nice dinner at this wine bar with "live music" ... turned out to be one big Italian guy sitting there singing Phil Collins-esque songs on his keyboard, but still entertaining. From there we walked to the Trevi Fountain and took some pictures... it was much prettier at night. It was a long night, so Charlie and I ended up missing our (6am) train to Venice, and had to take one at around 11. We tried to just stay up, since we got home at 5, but it didn't work. We spent most of that Thursday on the train, since it's about 5 hours one way, but ended up arriving and taking the "boat bus" to our hotel at sunset, so the view along the Grand Canal was gorgeous. We wandered around town for a while and picked a place to have dinner later... I finally got my nice seafood dinner that I never got the first time in Venice! We split this amazing salmon dish and some spaghetti with clams, and I introduced Charlie to Caprese salad (my favorite). The next day, we wandered some more, got lunch along the canal, and took an evening train home. The weekend in Florence was all about relaxing with Charlie, Erica, and Hannah, and it was a lot of fun. The only bummer was that Charlie and I were planning on renting mopeds and driving around in the hills and having a picnic on Sunday - but it poured all day! So we went and got some hot chocolate instead : ) This weekend, I'm going with Carrie to Nice, with stops in Eze, Monaco, Cannes, and Antibes! Very excited! Lots of love, Charlotte

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