Tag Archives: traveling

Daze in Perugia II.

Since I’ve written last, a lot has went on. 

It’s honestly a bit hard to keep up, especially to go back and write it all. But now that I stayed in Perugia this weekend, I had some time to reflect on how busy and fun my last month has been here.

My first trip outside of Perugia was to Pompeii, Ischia and Capri. My school offered this trip to about 40 or so students. Of course it was first come first served, but I was lucky enough to have a place reserved and already paid for courtesy of Quinnipiac (…but not really because I’m sure it was included in my way-too-expensive tuition, but that’s another story for another blog post).

On the ferry!

On the ferry!

Pompeii was even more amazing than I could have imagined. I learned so much about the tragedy of that little town and got to stand in places where citizens of Pompeii once carried out their daily lives. Seeing Mount Vesuvius in the flesh was a bit scary, but completely mesmerizing. Our tour guide told us that Mount Vesuvius is really unpredictable; although scientists predict that the next time the volcano erupts (which it definitely will), basically all of Pompeii will be ruined forever. But not to worry– I mean, the city gets at least a weeks notice before the volcano actually bursts… that’s enough time, right? My favorite part of the tour was going inside Pompeii’s “Red Light District,” complete with phallic symbols on the walls and streets pointing in the general direction of the brothels. Yes, you read that right… it was totally weird, but so interesting to say the least. The grooves in the streets leading to the brothels were so worn down because carriages would constantly be in and out of that area.

DSC_0176

Mount Vesuvius

Famous statue in Pompeii of a man's corpse covered in volcanic rock

Famous statue in Pompeii of a man’s corpse covered in volcanic rock

After our guided tour in Pompeii, we hopped back on our bus for another two hours of traveling to a volcanic island on the coast called Ischia. After settling in our hotel, our group went to a typical four course dinner provided by my school. We were all so tired after eating so much; I still haven’t gotten used to the four, sometimes five course meals. But we still decided to go out anyway to a bar across the way from our restaurant, where the DJ played old school 50 Cent and it felt like good times in my dorm at QU.

The next day was an early start, as we had an entire day to ourselves to explore Capri. After a decently long ferry ride to the island, I was feeling a bit seasick which is extremely unusual for me. But of course I had to take a boat tour of the grottos, so I had to get on another ferry a few minutes after I got off the first one. The majority of the tour was spent with my eyes closed and heavy breathing, but I still managed to take some great pictures!! After the tour, my friends and I had lunch at a quaint little bistro and I had the most delicious gnocchi sorrentino. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s simply gnocchi pasta with tomato sauce and lots and lots of mozzarella cheese. Perfetto. After lunch, we took a taxi up to Anacapri, which is a comune on the island of Capri. While there, I legit took a chairlift up to Monte Solaro, the highest point of the island. The view was literally breathtaking. As you got higher up the lift, the more beautiful the view got. And once you get to the top… wow. Just wow. I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything more beautiful in my entire life. On the way back down, I started crying to myself. I mean, how did I get so lucky? What good did I do in my life that I’m allowed these life-changing experiences? Of course my parents have a lot to do in that equation. But really, man am I lucky. This entire experience is something I intend on fully taking advantage of.

View of Capri from the taxi ride

View of Capri from the taxi ride

View from Monte Solaro

View from Monte Solaro

After the chairlift, we did some shopping and got gelato (of course). We took a taxi back down the mountain; you know when the right music is playing and your life is so surreal that you feel like you’re in a music video? Well that’s exactly how I felt. After the taxi ride, it was time to get back on the ferry to Ischia. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy Ischia that much so I’ll just leave it at that. I did have half of a day in Ischia the next day, but not much went on. It is a beautiful island, but it didn’t really do much for me personally. So I’ll fast forward to the next weekend I had, which was spent in a private villa in freaking CROATIA. Yes, Croatia. My parents weren’t too thrilled when they heard I was going there, but this was something I just couldn’t pass up. Plus, I was going with 14 other people so that definitely eased their nerves.

After what seemed like a long week of classes but really was just a mere four days of study abroad classes… I’m sure you can picture how that dynamic is… we finally embarked on our epic journey to Hvar, Croatia. I say “epic journey” because that is exactly what it was: we had to take a train (and switch stops), a 10 hour ferry, another hour or so ferry from Split to Hvar and then a taxi to get there. Flying was way too expensive for this budgeting college girl and there was really no other option. So about 15 hours of traveling later, I finally arrive at my private villa. It was even more amazing than the Airbnb pictures. First of all, there were so many of us and we had three full apartments to ourselves… so much room for activities. The villa was split into smaller places and we each had a kitchen area and balcony. For only 77 euro a person, this whole vacation was more than worth it. The landlord of the villa owns a restaurant on the bottom floor of his place, so he cooked us a delicious Croatian meal the first night we arrived for 20 euro a person. It was sooooo good and he was such a nice guy! Plus he had two cute little dogs… I really couldn’t ask for anything more. At dinner we ate an array of different things; it was honestly too much to remember but my favorites were the steak, tuna steak, grilled vegetables and bread with Croatian olive oil. It’s honestly better than the olive oil I’ve had in Perugia… but keep that on the DL.  Oh, and the homemade Croatian wine. Can’t forget about the wine.

This was my actual backyard

This was my actual backyard

Hvar Island, Dalmation Coast

Hvar Island, Dalmation Coast

The next day in Croatia was a typical day of relaxing in the water and hanging out with my friends. The water was the saltiest I’ve ever been in and so clear that you could see the bottom of the ocean. It felt nice to relax and take in the experience I was having. I really couldn’t believe this was my life; I say that about everywhere I go and everything I do here but it’s true.

At night, we went to a place called Hula Hula Beach Bar to watch the sunset. It was going to rain so the sunset wasn’t too extreme, but it was still so beautiful nonetheless. After that, we perused Hvar for a little bit before making our way to another bar called Kiva Bar. We were initially attracted to it because we heard Jack Johnson being played from the streets. Come to find out, they played typical American music the entire time we were there and we were all in our glory. It was cool to listen to music we were familiar with and on top of that, the majority in the bar were Australians and British people. It was nice to not have a language barrier for a little bit; although I love learning the Italian language and being around locals, it can sometimes be extremely difficult trying to communicate simple sentences. But that is why I have Italian class everyday!

The next day we had to get on another ferry to Split to make our way home. The trek back was fairly smooth, so I will skip over that. This past weekend my friends and I stayed in Perugia and took a small break from traveling. We did the typical dinners out and bar hopping at night so we still had a lot of fun! I even went out for sushi and gelato with my new Italian friend, Lidia, and her boyfriend and best friend. My friends and I knew we were in for more consecutive weekends of non-stop traveling so staying in Perugia was a good choice on our part (and our wallets). Tomorrow my friends and I will be getting on a bus to Munich for a weekend of tours and Oktoberfest. Despite the 12 hour bus ride, words cannot describe my excitement! It’s just another thing I’ll be doing abroad that I can finally cross off my bucket list. Arrivederci for now, amici. Stay tuned for my next post!

Sunset in Ischia

Sunset in Ischia

XO, Caisse

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people…” –Nick Miller

Daze in Perugia.

Ciao, amici!

I haven’t posted in awhile, but now that I’m currently studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, I think this is the perfect time to blog. I’m meeting so many new people, exploring new places and experiencing everything and anything that I possibly can. I only have until mid-December here and I know it’ll fly by so, so fast. It’s only been my fourth night in Italy and I feel like I’ve been here for weeks– that’s how you know I’m experiencing a lot already and really taking advantage of my days here.  If you’re interested in my adventures in Europe, check back here for my updates!

At first, I really wanted to make my travel posts deep and meaningful (Hannah Brencher style) but I think my journey will speak for itself. I’m sure this post is going to be long enough, so I’ll cut right to the chase: when I arrived to my apartment, which is right next to the main square in Perugia. Let me just tell you, I was NOT expecting my apartment to be as amazing as it is. It has such old Italian charm: big windows with shutters, three quaint yet spacious bedrooms, a beautiful terrace with a beautiful view, old bookcases, the tallest ceilings, huge armoires… the list goes on.

 IMG_8644 IMG_8649 IMG_8645 IMG_8647

Not to be bias or anything, but I think my roommates and I were one of the lucky ones. Amanda and I were especially lucky because we have two truly awesome roommates to share this beautiful apartment with. Not many students at the Umbra Institute were blessed with as nice and spacious of apartments as we were. I was literally jumping up and down when I saw where I was living. After I collected myself, I opened up the grand doors out to our terrace, took a deep breath and took it all in. I really couldn’t believe this was going to be my life for the next four months. How did I get so lucky?

After some orientation things I don’t want to bore you with, it was time to finally get to know Perugia a little better. Luckily my school provided all of the students with our first Italian pizza dinner at Merlin’s Pizza, which was as good as you think it is. We had limited choices, but I ordered pizza with ham on it and a glass of chilled white vino. Not sure if you guys know this, but Italy is so cool you don’t even have to tip your waiters. They don’t expect it because it’s not common at all, and they truly want you to enjoy your dining experience so much that it doesn’t even matter to them. You also have to ask your waiters for the check because they don’t want to make you feel rushed, ever. Why can’t America be this chill????

After dinner my roommates and I got ready for our first night out on the town! We had a small pregame (sorry, Mom and Dad) in our room with the other Quinnipiac students I traveled with and their roommates. I must say, I have a pretty solid group here. We all bonded so quickly, it’s weird to think I met them only four days ago. Our group first went to a little bar called Dempsey’s and get this… it’s owned by a young guy, Andreas, who is from New Jersey!!! It was really refreshing to meet someone here who could relate to my home.

After a drink at that bar we made our way to a place called the Luna Bar, which is more like a mini Italian Toad’s– for the Quinnipiac students reading this, I’m sure you have a good idea of what I’m talking about. I honestly had such a good time here!! The bartender even gave us a round of free shots because we were the first ones to arrive. Apparently Italians go out really late, which we weren’t exactly aware of at the time. But anyway, my friends and I danced so much and had a lot of fun. We will definitely be visiting this place again soon. There’s even a pizzeria right outside of the bar for (drunken) people that I’m pretty sure is open up late… it’s like my calling.

 IMG_8666 IMG_8663 IMG_8667 IMG_8664

The next day was a bit of a late start for everyone, so we began meandering around Perugia a little after 11:30 AM. At the end of August each year, Perugia has a huge sale at all of the shops with little carts set up outside each store. It was so cute and had a great feel to it. I personally didn’t buy anything, but I was really tempted. I mean, every store was 50% off or higher. My friends and I also walked to the end of the squares and got a great view of the rest of Perugia. The views are amazing here. Perugia is a hilly town with ancient, yet beautiful sights. What more could you ask for?

 IMG_8677 IMG_8678 FullSizeRender IMG_8683

After that, we stopped by a smaller market with jewelry, paintings and other antiques and knick knacks. We then explored something that’s basically considered the underground fortress of Perugia, which was a little spooky but really awesome at the same time. Amanda and I had lunch at the same pizzeria that Umbra took us to. I had the Quattro Stagioni pizza that had artichoke, spicy salami, mushrooms and ham on it. It was soooo good. We met a really sweet and cute Italian waiter there named Zach who really wants to learn English. We talked about dogs and Perugia… it was a great convo. I see him around town a lot and he always greets us with a smile! I also had my first craft beer ever at this local pub called Elfo’s in the late afternoon. It’s Perugia’s oldest pub and there’s so many craft beers, I had to have someone choose one for me. Also because I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to craft beer. We watched the Roma vs. Juventus futbol game there and to be honest, I felt a little bit like a local.

  IMG_8686 IMG_8692 IMG_8690 IMG_8678  IMG_8677  IMG_8688

We had dinner at a little pasta place later on in the night. I had fresh Umbricelli pasta with sausage and truffles, an Umbrian speciality. Perfetto! Tomorrow meant the beginning of our week of intensive Italian to really get the ball rolling on this beautiful language.

After four hours of intensive Italian, my program affiliate (CIS Abroad) hosted a dinner at a little trattoria called Wine Bartolo for CIS students. We had a four course meal that included four dishes that are special to the Umbra region. Our first course was an Umbrian meat carpaccio that was prepared perfectly. The second course was a strangozzi pasta dish cooked with white wine that had a different meat in it. I didn’t really know what type of meat was used, but it was tasty and the pasta was so homemade and fresh that I didn’t care. Our third course was a Chianina cattle meat dish with sautéed potatoes. Apparently Chianina is one of the most prized meats in the world; I could see that, because the dish was so tasty and tender. I got food snobbery from my mom so I guess you could say I really, really appreciate good food when I eat it. Our final dish was a flourless chocolate cake made with Perugia chocolate and fresh peaches. So. Freaking. Good. During dinner I sat next to our CIS advisor, Romina, who is the sweetest lady. We exchanged stories and she gave us little tips to help us with our stay in Italy. I’m looking forward to seeing her again real soon!

IMG_8709

CIS Dinner at Wine Bartolo

After dinner, my friends and I went to an Irish pub called Shamrock’s. On Monday nights, they have karaoke. Not to mention one euro shots and two euro glasses of Sangria. The Umbra students had our own little space near the karaoke station and everyone was having so much fun making complete fools of ourselves in front of the Italians, dancing on tables and such. It was a pretty funny night.

The next day was another long day of intensive Italian and a meeting with the U.S. Embassy, which entailed true horror stories of American study abroad students, of course. It’s safe to say most of us are experts on how to deal with safety in Europe. After class, we relaxed for a bit and went to aperitivo at a cute little ristorante/bar on a legit cliff. Aperitivo is a time every day usually between 6:30-9 PM where Italians go to grab drinks and in return, get a bunch of plates of FREE finger-foods. It’s supposed to make you hungry for dinner since dinner time in Italy is around 9 PM. Except we all got too full and ended up not even getting dinner. Although we did get gelato, because there’s always room for gelato.

IMG_8711

Aperitivo

IMG_8714

My friends and I at aperitivo!

After aperitivo, we had to be those Americans in Perugia. We just had to. So we traveled down the road from my apartment to where Amanda Knox once lived. It’s actually pretty creepy down there. Like, I think even before that whole thing happened the area was still spooky. Or maybe it was just because it was nighttime and we were just freaking ourselves out… I’m not sure. But regardless, still creepy. We didn’t find the exact apartment, which was number seven, but I know we saw it without knowing which one it exactly was. There was no number seven apartment, but there was every other number 1-10, so my guess is the town took the number off? But don’t quote me on that. I’m just assuming a lot of people go down there to check out the area, so maybe they didn’t want to draw attention to that specific apartment since new people probably live there now.

IMG_8723

Street that Amanda Knox lived on

Again, today was another four hours of intensive Italian. I’m not sure what tonight’s plans will be, but that’s the amazing part of studying abroad. You can pretty much do and go wherever you want. Italy is exactly how I pictured it: walking around staring up constantly because the views are to die for, grabbing paninis on the way back to your apartment, wishing you were on a vespa 24/7 and practicing spontaneity at every turn, among other things. Arrivederci for now, amici. I’ll be posting again soon!

IMG_8660  IMG_8671

XO, Caisse

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” –Lisa St. Aubin de Terán