What Kind of Traveler are You?

Everyone’s got one – a traveling style, that is. Maybe you’re all museums, all the time. Or, one museum until boredom strikes, then onward to more exciting ventures. Perhaps, you tend towards beaches and sun, or crave the big city lights. Or, hey, maybe you’re about to stop reading this, because you hate traveling – but that’s a style too.

I never really thought about how I prefer to travel before this trip. I’ve always traveled with a group, and most of the time, my activities are already decided, or recommendations made, upon arrival. When given options, I usually choose to shop or eat (my two main talents). By this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m babbling on about this subject. Continue reading

Running after Trains in Italy

Picture this: A twenty-one year old girl in Florence, Italy, wind blowing through her hair as she…

…frantically runs through the train station, weighed down by an enormous handbag and backpack, lugging a 50-pound suitcase behind her, sweating rivers down her forehead and back.

Fast forward 2 hours.

The same girl, now in La Spezia train station…again runs (really, struggles would be a more accurate term) up and down staircases, swearing that she will never again pack more than 20 pounds…or perhaps 10. Oh yes, that girl was me, sprinting to make trains today on 2 separate occasions after our first train was delayed 85 minutes in Bologna, Italy.

Unfortunately, the source of the delay was a tragic earthquake in Bologna, one in an ongoing series set off by a large earthquake 10 days ago. My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.

I feel really blessed that I wasn’t in the region yesterday, since I was actually there just last week. And, frankly, all the delays in the world would’ve been worth it to see this slice of paradise.

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Brek-ing My Heart

I think it’s high time we discuss the toilet situation here. I’ve held off on bringing it up for as long as possible because, frankly, I didn’t want to sound like another whiny tourist, lamenting the lack of clean toilets. In fact – save some interesting toilet differences in Venice to be discussed later – all the toilets I’ve used in Europe have been pretty nice. The problem here in Venice has been locating them.

Yesterday, for example, my dad and I spent half an hour looking for the pesky facilities, but to no avail. I would’ve willingly paid the €1.50 rate (really, I was ready to shove it at someone’s face) to any Venetian public toilet, but I couldn’t find a toilet to take my money! Thankfully, after using my considerable Italian skills (“per favore, dove il bagno?”) to ask a vendor for the nearest bathroom, I was advised to order a coffee at a nearby bar, and then to use the toilet. €6 later, and crisis averted.

Today, though, even before this problem arose again, we happened upon a beam of
shining light, a pinnacle of goodness, a restaurant among restaurants, the solution to all problems tourist: Brek Ristorante and Bar. While searching for wi-fi (broken, along with the air conditioning, at our hotel) to contact my tiramisu instructor for today, my eagle eyes (usually only good for spotting dessert) found this sign:

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Of Canals and Cars

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You may be wondering why I’m posting a picture of birdseed.

But, it’s not birdseed, it’s actually…Choc-X!

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And I realize I just sounded like an infomercial lady. My apologies. I just love finding dessert masquerading as a meal. See? “The crisp roasted Swiss muesli with chocolate” – or, in other (my) words, chocolate with a few granola pieces thrown in. Love it. I found it at my hotel breakfast this morning, and tossed it in my bag to eat while waiting for my train (to Venice!!!). I just wish I had found it sooner. Guess my hotel caught a lucky break there.

Anyway, as stated earlier, today I arrived in Venice…and so did my dad! Continue reading

Carte Blanche at the Gelato Factory

I’ve been ridiculously excited about today’s tour ever since I heard about it in early April, but have been too scared to blog about it just in case something awful occurred to stop it from happening. What if the visit fell through/I fell through a hole in the street/all the gelato fell on the floor? But, thank goodness, none of those eventualities occurred, and today, I had the time of my life visiting the G7 Gelato Factory in Bentivoglio, Italy.

Before I get to the gelato part, though (I know, I know, hang on), I want to thank everyone involved in the process of getting me there today. One of the incredible Goliard board members (name not mentioned to protect him from an onslaught of gelato factory requests) contacted a friend at HEB (my absolute favorite grocery store…all the samples!), who then talked to Francesco, the wonderful export manager at G7 Gelato, who set up the tour. All of the staff were incredibly kind to me, and I also want to thank them, and the Visani family, for the tour today.

Now, onto the gelato! We arrived at G7 Gelato in the morning, and quickly suited up for the factory tour.

Me and Francesco – don’t we look dashing?

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All By Myself? What it Means to Travel Alone

I have never traveled by myself before this trip. Well, fine, I’ve flown by myself, driven a car by myself, the list goes on. But I’m talking about traveling in a foreign country, exploring unknown streets, not having someone to read the map with me, or watch my stuff while I go to the bathroom, or especially to triple check the lock so strangers won’t burst into the room at night.

What’s it like? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but in today’s post, I’ll tell you what this experience has been like for me.

#1: Freedom. So much freedom. I set my own schedule, decide when to visit and leave museums, shops, restaurants…most of the time. Read on.

Today, for example, I stared at Michelangelo’s Statue of David for at least 20 minutes. I could have stayed a whole hour. I couldn’t get over it – the painstakingly carved veins in his arms, the changes in his expression from one angle to the next, the deceptively relaxed stance as he sizes up an invisible Goliath. Though the Gallerie dell Accademia doesn’t allow photographs inside, I did get one picture for y’all.

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