Dreaming Tree

IMG_1628Ciao!

Well, my final morning/afternoon in Roma was very relaxing. We decided to have brunch at a place I had read about called The Bakery House. Jen ordered a bagel with salmon, scrambled eggs and avocado on top of it. She fell in love with it, however thats not really my style. I ordered the prosciutto e formaggio omelet inside a bagel. It was SO good. I think it’s best to not count the calories that I ingested. Do me a favor and put down your calculators, please.

photo3(8)After brunch we were going to go to two different exhibits: Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo. Jen loves Frida’s work so that was her pick and mine was Andy. Unfortunately Frida was closed until four so we were unable to go. Upon arrival I was told to not take any pictures so I don’t really have any cool pictures to show. My favorite Warhol piece was Jackie O but now my favorite is Diamond Dust Shoes. I would give my left arm to have that piece hanging in my house. Maybe even my right leg too. The whole exhibit was fabulous and I could have sat there for hours listening to the music and watching the videos. That is my era for sure. I’m pretty sure I was born in the wrong generation.

photo2(9)After the exhibit we wondered back to the hotel and grabbed our stuff and hit the train station. I purchased probably the best thing I could have ever given myself–tennis shoes. I literally feel like I’m walking on clouds now. When I was purchasing my ticket for the train a guy came up to me and closed out all of my stuff. I looked at him like he had lost his mind because clearly he had. He said, “here, let me help you let me help you.” I said “what’s your problem? NO!” I had to get a little forceful with him because I knew what he was going to do–which was pickpocket me. I think before this trip I wouldn’t have ever been able to stand my ground like I can now. I don’t want you to think I was weak before this, but usually I am very quiet and shy. Now, I guess it’s the confidence that makes me strong enough to stand up for myself.

All in all, Rome was great. A little overwhelming but it was great. My heart belongs to Firenze though. The town is smaller, people are more friendly and things aren’t as expensive.

XOXO,

Wesley

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Roma Due

IMG_1592Ciao!

So on Saturday morning Jen and I had an early tour of Vatican City. We arrived at 7:45 and were let in at 8 o’clock. Usually the general public is allowed in at 9 so we were able to skip out on a huge crowd. We went to the Sistine Chapel first before a lot of tours had gotten there. I think there may have been twenty other people in there when we were looking around. Which is amazing because when we went back through at 10:15ish you could hardly get through the crowd. The Sistine Chapel was so beautiful. My favorite part was God giving life to Adam with Eve under his arm. It is so simple but has so much meaning behind it. I can’t imagine how patient Michelangelo was when he was doing both paintings.

After about 30 minutes we headed out to tour the Vatican Museum. I’m going to be honest here, I was blown away by the collection of artifacts, tapestries, paintings, sculptures, etc. that the museum had. If I remember correctly our guide said that the entire Museum is a total of 10 miles. It was absolutely amazing. I would like to say, due to my current conditions, that I have been dreaming of a bath in a bathtub. So my favorite piece was a giant jacuzzi.

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I also thought the maps the museum had were very interesting. Especially when it came to the Americas because it was the New World and they didn’t know what it actually looked like. To them it was just a cluster with no defining lines.

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Map of Italia

After the Vatican Museum, we ventured over to St. Peter’s Basilica. This is where there was a mob of people because by this time the general public had been let in. I’m sure most of you know that St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. They actually have a place in the center where you can see the measurements of other churches that have tried to beat it. The second largest church is in L.A. This place was ah-mazing. Every “painting” in there is actually a mosaic. I can’t just pick one thing that I loved so I have a top three:

1. Michelangelo’s Pieta. He first sculpted this at the age of 21. Twenty One. What am I doing with my life? haha. Anyways, the Pieta was damaged by a mentally unstable guy who broke off fingers and the nose of Mary. The nose that is on her now is from plaster.

IMG_15862. The Pope John whose body has never decomposed. Morbid is a pretty good way to describe it, but it is fascinating to me how his body never decomposed. Also, people now believe he is a saint because that is his second miracle.

3. The structure in itself. It truly is such a beautiful piece of work. While we were there we saw a woman getting married in one of the chapels–how cool! Also the canopy in the center of the Basilica where the pope stands. It is made out of bronze and it is huge, I tell ya.

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From the tour, Jen and I grabbed lunch and took a nap before our next tour. You should know that Jen and I soaked up as much AC as time allowed. Probably explains why Jen is sick due to the temperature change. When we were leaving lunch though, I spotted this place called Laduree which sold macaroons. I had never tasted them before, so I loaded up on all kinds of flavors like chocolate, caffe, strawberry, salted caramel, vanilla, and pistachio. They were pretty good. The consistency was a lot different than I expected. I expected more of a crunch when I bit into them instead of the soft texture. I can’t really even describe what the texture was. Anyways, my favorite was vanilla and strawberry.

IMG_1614Our next tour was a car tour and our guide was named Claudia. She was very sweet and very informative. She and her driver took us all around Rome. I had the option of renting a golf cart and driving myself, but I was told I would assume all liabilities. I made the more adult decision to not rent the golf cart and opt for the driver. It was also raining so that was one of the determining factors too. My favorite place that she took us was to a door where you can peak in this tiny whole. She didn’t tell me what it was before I looked, so for some ungodly reason I thought it was going to be some lion. I wouldn’t have come up with this on my own I think I misunderstood her from her broken english. I couldn’t really capture the shot, but when you look through you have a perfect view of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

IMG_1620After our tour we went to dinner and just took it easy. All in all, it was a day full of walking and beautiful sight seeing. I couldn’t complain one bit.

Pinball Wizard

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Ciao!

On Friday Jen and I had our first tour of Roma which was the Colosseum. The tour started at 2:15 so we decided to sleep in and grab a delicious brunch before we went. I decided to try the french toast and bacon–sweet and savory. This place did not disappoint. The french toast was cooked to perfection with a light drizzle of maple syrup. YUMMMMMM

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Did I mention this restaurant was adorable? Each table was covered in old playing cards. Jen mentioned that they would be the perfect souvenir, I can’t help but agree. Family and friends, be expecting some in the mail.

After our brunch we headed over to the Colosseum to meet the group. Now, we were fortunate to have the weather that we did but that still doesn’t mean it wasn’t hot. So I saw these umbrellas and thought that they would be really cute for a souvenir. Well, at about 88 degrees with the sun beating down on you and you’re holding shade in your hand. The idea of your souvenir remaining in it’s original package goes out the window and it’s all about survival. So for the remainder of the tour I was as cool as a cucumber.

Our tour guide was named Nina and she was SO great. She received her doctorate in Archaeology in Roma so she was all into the ruins and Colosseum. Before I begin, did you know that the Colosseum is just a nickname for the building? Our group got down to the base of the Colosseum where the gladiators would enter as well as the slaves and animals. There is actually still a spring that runs fresh water into the Colosseum. It was crazy to think that so much had happened in the spot that I was standing in.

photo2(10)One of my favorite pictures that I took was from the bottom. You can look up and see a cross where the senators and emperor would be seated. Can you imagine fighting for your life and looking up to see a bunch of people eagerly watching? I can’t.

IMG_1546Before I go any further, I should introduce the spawn of satan(cough cough) I mean kids on the tour. Their names were Kellen and some other name that I couldn’t understand. They were climbing on top of the ruins, kicking rocks and running around. Ya know, at first I felt bad for the parents but then I started to lose patience when their parents weren’t even attempting to get them under control. Plus, I was just trying to survive the heat and I didn’t need some munchkin kicking dirt in my shoes. Blisters were enough at that point.

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                          Mid-rock throwing.

After we finished at the bottom of the Colosseum, we hiked to the top and saw one of the most magnificent views of the city. The breeze was so nice and you were able to also see the full layout of the Colosseum. As you can see, some parts were under restoration while we were there. The women and slaves sat at the top, the next level was lawyers and other men and the bottom row was for senators and the emperor.

IMG_1558After we left the Colosseum we walked over to the Palatine. Nina did a great job of illustrating how things used to be for us. She also showed us some techniques of taking pictures of older marble. My favorite part of this tour was in the Roman Forum there is the first temple built for a woman, The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Until this century or maybe a little before, everything below this green door did not exist until it was excavated. IMG_1567After our tour and a nap later, Jen and I headed out for dinner. The food was great and the environment was very friendly and family oriented. Since I’ve been living in Florence for a while it’s funny to see American families try to speak Italian. There was a woman sitting behind us that tried to order in Italian but was actually speaking spanish. She honestly had no clue that she was doing it. I give her an A for effort though. Once we finished our dinner we were on a hunt for desserts. We asked around the hotel and they suggested Harry’s which was up the street. Harry’s was a very interesting place because it was decorated in film strips and photographs that had been blown up and put behind glass. It was kind of an old Hollywood theme, which I liked. I would say that day one of Roma was a success for sure.

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Jen and I shared the chocolate pastry with cream filling and a nice chocolate drizzle as well as the apple tart with cinnamon ice cream.

 

Gold on the Ceiling

photo6(1)Ciao!!

I feel like I haven’t posted in forever and it has only been three days. I figure its easiest to break up my posts into individual days, so you don’t get a neck cramp from all of my writing. Well, in true Wesley-Italian fashion I hadn’t really planned my trip to Rome very well in advance. I found this tour guide company through about.com and it was called The Roman Guy. Which sounds like the most basic name I’ve ever heard. I was actually kind of nervous about them being a fake tour guide company. Anyways, so I text Jen while I’m in class and say “hey I found a tour guide, pack your bags for the weekend for Rome.” If you live with me and I guess even travel with me sometimes I do things spur of the moment. Before we left, I through together a pizza for lunch and it turned out fabulous. I’m starting to get the hang of this lifestyle.

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After lunch off we went to the train station. Our train was extremely nice compared to the previous trains that we have been on. My standards may be a little skewed though because nice to me equals air conditioning. It’s funny how your standards change in different environments. I picked up a coke before I left and I first got “I will survive” which was a nice idea but I was looking for something a little more insightful.

When we arrived, we checked into our hotel Boscolo Palace which is great if you ever go to Rome and need a place to stay. It’s right across the street from the US Embassy, so if things go south you know where to go. For dinner Jen and I used a recommendation from TRG and went to Stazione di Posta. The menu included different tasting menus so I decided to order the seven courses, naturally. I mean when in rome, right? I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to say that. So ladies and gents pull out your napkins and get ready for your mouth to water.

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First course: Shrimp in a creole type sauce sprayed with tequila. I don’t know if y’all can tell but the little green things were set up to be like cacti.

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Second course: Spare rib marinated in a sweet sauce served with a breaded ball of mashed potatoes with cheese in the middle. When I cut my fork into the ball the cheese oozed out. Cue the forever clogged arteries.

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Third course: Smoked salmon served on a tomato juiced soaked foccacia bread.

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Fourth course: Chinese inspired ravioli with chicken and breadcrumbs. These ravioli were actually see through which was a little strange. They were served in a chicken broth.

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Fifth course: Pigeon. Yes, I said it, pigeon. It was actually pretty good. Mentally it was hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I was eating one of the more annoying birds on a stoop that I had ever heard. I don’t know if many of you are pigeon connoisseurs but the meat was actually more of a dense red meat than white meat like I had expected.

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Sixth course: Italian smores. The pink were a marshmellow type thing dipped in strawberry icing. The chocolate was a chocolate cake dipped in chocolate rolled in nuts. Both were served in a container of jelly beans.

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Seventh Course: Dessert part two. Whipped ricotta cheese with biscuits on top served with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Well, after we indulged in all of that we listened to a little reggae music and headed home. I left out the part where we met one of the nicest Romans ever. Her name was Flavia and she was the host of the restaurant. She gave the cab driver directions to the restaurant, met us at the gate and even walked us out to the taxi. She later texted me all of the fabulous places to shop and eat in Roma. I can’t tell you what a big help her advice was. She was truly a gem of a person.

Andiamo Roma

Ciao!

Today I am off to Roma! Yesterday in my vegetarian cooking class I made a soup with farrow which was delicious. We also made a gnocchi with corn meal. Let me just say that it wasn’t my favorite. I would suggest more of a flour based gnocchi. Listen to me, so Italian and fancy.

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For our trip to Rome we have scheduled a visit to Vatican City, a golfcart tour around Rome and last but certainly not least the Colosseum. I’m super excited to indulge in all things Roma. I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! 

XOXO,

Wesley

Almost a Month in Italia

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Dough art, it’s the new thing. You can’t get that flower detailing just anywhere.

Ciao!

Well, this week marks one month of living in Italia! I can’t believe time has gone by so fast! I finally had to pull a Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love and purchase new clothes. I don’t know if the heat is causing me to swell or…..it’s definitely the heat. Pasta and pastries don’t do that to you. Big sales are still going on in Italy so I have no complaints. They do this nationwide sale and every store has to get rid of last seasons collections. Things are marked down like 75% right now. So whatever has caused me to swell didn’t hit my wallet to hard.

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Pasta from today with the tomato and olive sauce.

Yesterday was orientation for the new students, so I went to my culinary class instead. We started out with a sea bass type of fish and then we made bell pepper rolls with a breadcrumb/herb filling. I was personally in charge of the desserts. It’s funny because the chef usually puts me in charge of frying things or desserts. Is she trying to tell me something? The desserts were small circular sponge cakes with liqueur brushed on top of them, and in between each sponge cake was a different topping. The first was just cocoa powder and a butter/powered sugar mix. The next was a toffee type of bar chopped up with the butter/sugar mix. After that it was a marshmallow and chocolate type mix. Then it was covered in a mixture of all of the toppings, rolled in roasted hazelnuts and topped with a cherry. Your mouth watering? Glad we’re in the same boat.

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My masterpieces

Today I started my Wine and its history in Italy course. My instructors name is Mossimo and he’s a middle aged, florentine man. I’m really looking forward to the class. I really liked my weekly wine classes so a wine class everyday should be exciting. After my wine class I made it over to my tuscan culinary class. We prepared a trout dish with peas and tomatoes, taeratelle noodles with a tomato and olive sauce and foccacia bread. The trout was very flavorful but there were so many bones but Victoria says that it’s just part of it. Luckily we didn’t have to clean the fish today. Yesterday was a little rough with the fish cleaning.

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Tomorrow we are cooking with cereali which is like whole grains from what I understand. I think we are going to get to make pesto soon! Victoria says that I have to at least make it once. One thing about apicius is they never do the same menu twice–in a year. Luckily I’m in the middle of the year so hopefully they haven’t done it yet. Anyways, I’ve got to get back to my homework for class–tasting wine. Life’s tough.

XOXO,

Wesley

The World Spins Madly On

IMG_1518Ciao!

Well, today Jen and I took on Pisa. We had to escape the heat of Florence and our apartment so we figured closer to the coast would be best. The train navigating was a little less exciting this time which was quite a relief. I guess I’m getting the hang of this European lifestyle. I met two girls from Canada that were backpacking across Europe. They started out in London and have been through Germany, Switzerland and Italy. We were chatting about the things that we miss back home. Air conditioning was numero uno on our lists. It’s amazing how many friendly people you meet while traveling abroad.

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When we arrived we looked at the map of Pisa and just started heading North. It was a really easy town to navigate plus the signs were a big help. Pisa is so much prettier than Pistoia! Our plans were originally to get our picture with the leaning tower and have lunch and leave. That all happened but we got a little side tracked in this adorable paper shop. They had all kinds of stationary, bookmarks and pens. I picked up a few souvenirs for my fam bam. I also had a delicious pizza from a trattoria. Then Jen and I headed to a tea room to enjoy a few sweets with a killer view of the leaning tower.

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After the sweets and treats Jen and I headed back to the train station. I can say that Pisa was a great little day trip. I don’t think that I would want to stay for an extended amount of time there. Our train was weirdly delayed for about 20 minutes. I don’t even know how a train is delayed? Anyways we made it back safe and sound. The funniest part of the train ride was getting off the train. A woman that was sitting in the seats next to us left her hats, so I told Jen that I would go run after her to give them to her. Well, I see her walking down the terminal and I said, “scusa, scusa!” She didn’t respond so I tapped her shoulder. You would have thought I would have touched her with a knife! She screamed bloody murder and jumped forward with a horrified look on her face. Then she realized I had her hats and she was mortified for reacting the way she did. Her reaction gave Jen and I a good laugh for about three blocks down the road. I guess no good deed goes unpunished!

XOXO,

Wesley

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When one door closes another one opens

Ciao!

Well, yesterday was the end of my first three week session here in Florence. I have never gone into an exam where I didn’t study at all for it. I already felt so prepared because the class really captivated my attention. And lets be real here, it’s Food, Culture and Society not aerospace engineering. After the final exam we had our final cooking lesson–risotto. I’ve never really eaten risotto but this recipe was so good and so simple. It took us about 30 minutes to make it which makes it a nice easy recipe to take back to school. I guess it should be said that a lot of my classmates are from the northern states. I happen to be the only one from the South, so they tend to mock my accent a little. Well, as Peter was starting to cook my group’s dish he left behind the onions to saute. So I yelled, “Hey Peter, what are you going to cook?” As soon as those words left my mouth the class in unison said “HAAYYY PEEEETERRRR” I would say that I was embarrassed but sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.

IMG_1509After class, Jen and I moved into our new Italian abode for the next few weeks. Moving in Italy is quite interesting to say the least. Our cab driver almost got in a fight with a guy on a scooter because we were taking so long and the people waiting weren’t happy. Fun fact about our apartment, it’s the top floor apartment which means four flights of stairs up. Needless to say carrying three bags up the stairs was not what I consider fun. It was all worth it though because our apartment is pretty nice. I sent up some prayers the night before for air conditioning but that didn’t happen instead we got two fans each. The weather here has been about 90-95 AKA the inside of an oven at about 400 degrees. I’ve considered buying about five fans and keeping them on high but I don’t know how well I would be able to sleep.

 

Last night, Jen and I had dinner at La Giostra with my friend Ashlee that I met in my class. Let me tell y’all about this Wisconsin chick, she and I first bonded over our love for food, specifically croissants. She and I met up for a daily croissant before class everyday, actually. She also likes to consider herself a photographer with her fancy camera, even though when I asked her to take a picture of me on our field trip she primarily took pictures of my back or out of focus. She and I had quite the belly laughs during our stint here in Italy together.

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One thing I’ve learned about the friendships you make while abroad is it’s more like a instant bond/family type connection. I guess your friends do actually become your family while you’re here. They’re the ones that you can talk about back home with and they understand, or if you’re feeling homesick nine times out of ten they have been there. I’m glad that I decided to stay but it’s tough to see some of the friends I’ve made leave to go back home. It’s also tough when you move out of your apartment and into a new one and leave behind three other roommates that have also become like family.

In the grand scheme of things the experiences, the laughs, the friendships that you make mold you to the person you are. Each person you meet leaves a footprint or a mark on your heart. I’m just honestly blessed to be apart of it all. Who would have thought I would make such great friendships in three short weeks. So to that I say cheers to the next chapter of Italia!

 

XOXO,

Wesley

PS Jen and I finally made it to the Secret Bakery! Ashlee was with us waiting for about two hours but had to go back at 1:45 because her pick up time was scheduled at 5. The croissants were worth the wait needless to say!

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Pure bliss.

 

Not all who wander are lost

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Ciao!

Sorry for the delay on the posts! Things have been pretty eventful here lately! I have been doing lots and lots of cooking. I’ve also had a paper and presentation due, so that’s been taking up a little of my time. Now to the fun part–cooking.

Tuesday for our primi piatti we made gnocchi with an herb Parmesan cheese sauce. Our secondi piatti was a pork loin stuffed with herbs. Our dolci was homemade GELATO. Thats right, y’all. Gelato. We also made cookies as well. This was probably one of my favorite meals I have made so far. I don’t know if it was the gelato or the pork loin. It was just all delicious. I can say that gelato is probably one of the more challenging things that I have made. We actually had to start over because the cream had separated and it wasn’t in proper form.

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Wednesday was my vegetarian cooking class, and the vegetable of the week was eggplant. We made a spaghetti dish with a tomato sauce and fried eggplant on top of it. You can also bake the eggplant. Our spaghetti was from scratch–which is super easy to make and SO much better. The second dish we made was eggplant parmesan. We also made baked eggplant wraps stuffed with breadcrumbs, herbs, and parmesan cheese.

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Thursday I gave a presentation about the differences in restaurants in Italy. A Restorante has more of a variety and the full five courses. It is also one of the more expensive types of establishments in Italy. A Trattoria offers the same amount of courses but fewer options. This type of restaurant also uses family recipes that have been passed down through generations. An Osteria has fewer options and it doesn’t offer contorni(sides/vegetables). A Vinaino is basically a wine bar that offers cheese plates and paninis–maybe.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting in class.

Last night(Thursday) I went to dinner and just wondered around the town by myself. Florence is really such a beautiful city. Everywhere I look there is something new that I haven’t seen. A man asked me if I was lost and I told him no because at the time I knew exactly where I was. It got me thinking about the saying “not all who wander are lost” and how it applies to my life. I feel like your 20s are a time for self-discovery. Since I’ve been here, I feel like I find out something new about myself every day. Whether it is how much I truly love cooking and the feeling of satisfaction I get when I make a great dish, or being able to navigate a city that I had never been to prior to a few weeks ago. As I ended my night of wandering, I grabbed a cup of hazelnut/biscotti gelato and listened to a man playing his guitar in front of Santa Croce basilica. Life is good, my friends.

XOXO,

Wesley

Do you remember

Ciao!  

Yesterday was a day that gave me a confidence boost like no other. Before Jen and I set out for Pistoia, I went to class and we toured a food market. This place was so cool, it kind of reminded me of a World Market. It was a newly renovated three story building with meat markets, fresh pasta and veggie/fruit stands. As we toured around, we gained two elderly ladies in our group. These women were from South Carolina and were wondering around the market and just joined the group. When I say joined the group, they were pushing students out of the way to hear the professor. There was no blending from these two. Come to find out when we started to do a tasting at a bakery, they thought they were with their own tour group. Needless to say it supplied a good laugh amongst the group.

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After class I printed off the tickets and hustled back to the apartment. I cut my 20 minute walk down to about 12 minutes. I wish I could say I cut it in half but I could only hustle for so long. Jen and I decided to call a cab instead of walk the thirty minute trek across town with our luggage. In Italy you have to call cabs you can’t really hail them. Well, 15 minutes later and no cab I had to resort to my hailing tactics. Lucky for us our apartment is right by the Four Seasons so we can get the cabbies right after they drop someone off. After hailing a cab and convincing him to give us a lift off we went.

We arrived at the bus station with very little info on how everything was supposed to go down. I had heard about the high risk of getting pick-pocketed at the train station so I was pretty guarded. However there was a really long line at one of the kiosks, and I went against my better judgement and walked over to a kiosk with a gypsy woman standing by it. She ended up helping me throughout the whole process until it came to payment. I was at a crossroads with using $20 cash or a card. I was afraid that she would either A) rip the cash/card out of my hand or B) take the change and run. So I ended up using as much change as I had to cover it. After I paid she did the typical “since I helped you you help me” deal. I think I got lucky on that situation. Next feat was finding what platform we were supposed to go to. Fortunately Jen speaks a little Italian so she’s my go-to when it comes to communicating. The lady told us that our train is on platform 7 however the sign said that train was going to Lucca. We asked one of the passengers if they were going to Pistoia and they said yeah so we hopped on. I figured if worse came to worse we would just ride the train back to Florence and start from square one.

About midway through the train ride the conductor says something about Lucca but never Pistoia. I think Jen and I’s eyes were the size of tennis balls. We were surrounded by people that spoke “un po” aka very little inglese so our communication was very little. We ended up comparing tickets with a fellow passenger and we decided that we will just get off when they do.

IMG_1482After we arrived in Pistoia with hopes of finding a cab line, they were soon shot down when it looked like we had arrived in the Harlem of Italy. We walked over to the bus station and asked the guys working if they spoke English. One of three spoke a little English. I asked for a map and I couldn’t even find where we were located or the street our hotel was on. Now, I’m not saying I’m a pro map reader but anyone can read street names and there were not ANY surroundings streets of where we needed to go. I honestly felt so overwhelmed but I remembered one of the most important things while traveling–keeping calm. So somehow the woman told us that we needed to get off at a certain stop and walk up a road and we would get there.

Well, once we got on the bus we realized that there were no names of the stops anywhere. Cool. We whip out our phones and try to find the way we need to go but the map says we had to walk 25 minutes. The johnny came out in me and I whipped out my phone and called the hotel to figure out where we were and if they could get someone to get us. I’m not saying that I’m against walking anywhere, but if there are two girls by themselves with luggage, carrying a map, with a totally lost expression on their faces we might as well just paint a bulls eye on our shirts. after a few phone calls later we end up walking around a block or so and about 20 minutes later we arrive at the hotel. Yet again, this was another mirage for me.

After I made it to the hotel, I felt this great sense of relief I had never felt before. I couldn’t imagine traveling alone and trying to figure all of this stuff out. I’m not trying to say I was in harms way or that this experience was terrifying. It was just overwhelming not knowing where I was or the language to ask for help.

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Can we just agree that this is the coolest venue ever?

Anyways, once we got all checked in and took a power nap we were off to have a drink before the shuttle took us to the concert. We got to the venue where the concert was and it’s basically in the town square in front of Pistoia’s Duomo. There are seats for maybe 1, 000 people and standing room for 300. I was shocked because this was a big blues festival with really big name bands. I mean I was there to see Jack Johnson and there were maybe 1000 people there total. This concert was so unlike any concert that I had been to.

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Jack in all of his glory.

First of all, there was a coffee bar set up as a vendor. When have you ever seen coffee being served at a concert? There was also very little beer stands but there were Sangria stands. I wish I could say there was a pasta stand but it was all fresh breads and gelato. Jack was AH-MAZING. Jen and I were groovin’ to the beat the whole time. Then we decided to jump up and join the pit crew. Honestly the night could not have been more perfect. Great music, a great friend and perfect weather.

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The encore.

I’m so glad that I checked this off of my bucket list. From this trip I gained more than an international concert. I gained confidence in myself in learning how to weather the storm of the unknown even if I wanted to freak out and call my dad. Italy has definitely put me to the test, but I keep rising to the occasion.

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Hagrid’s wife aka me and Jen. I would like to think I’m not that abnormally tall.