Food, Photos, Travel

That’s So Gaudi: BARCELONA

instagramMight as well kick it off with the crowning moment of my trip to Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia. The only possible way I can describe it is to try to convey how profoundly I can’t. The single most impressive thing–natural or manmade—I have ever seen, La Sagrada Familia makes you sit back and ponder how incapable you are of comprehending it, let alone describing it. It was truly one of those moments that puts you face to face with the limitations of language. Pure and simple, it can’t be done.

Gaudi’s masterwork, La Sagrada Familia was begun in 1882…and it is not close to completion. Gaudi devoted the last 43 years of his life to the gargantuan undertaking. And by gargantuan I mean: after those 43 years less than a quarter of it was finished.

The pictures don’t come close, but they’re all I’ve got. If you find yourself thinking they’re cool, just remember how pitifully insufficient they are. I will absolutely return when it’s closer to completion, or (hope against all hopes) completed.

On to the second most important element of our weekend in Barcelona: the food. I still don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared to put it at the top, but it was absolutely in the top three food weekends of these four months (which are, frightening, coming to an end in just four days). The food was so good that I would be genuinely upset if I forgot any of it. So I wrote it all down, naturally. Highlights:

La Boqueria Market: Just being there was a highlight of the trip in itself. La Boqueria, the history of which dates back to SONY DSC1217, was a chaotic conglomeration of juice, so-fresh-they’re-still-moving fish, olives, chocolate, cheese, and some rather grotesque seemingly barely dead animals. And in the midst of it all, I was gifted with two personal food bests. First, the best oyster of my life. Chris and I had the brilliant notion to buy an oyster and eat it on the spot. They were enormous, took the girl a solid five minutes just to break open, and with a little bit of lemon and vinegar….MAN were they worth it. As Chris said, the only way you can describe the taste of oysters is that they taste like the sea, but not in a gross way. And these were unbelievable. I thought it was gonna be good, and then it was so much better. Second, the single best olive of my life. Green olives (possibly Seville but I’m not positive) in a mix with spicy red peppers, but they had this incredible smoky flavor that immediately made all other olives pale in comparison. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t craved them several times since…

20130419_145640In El Born, probably my favorite neighborhood in the city, Lily and Let’s Go took us for a hipsterific lunch with wine bottle menus. Sea bass ceviche with avocado—yum! For dinner, we broke a four-in-a-row Mexican food losing streak (i.e. From Rome to Barcelona, we went to four Mexican restaurants—whose websites said they were open—only to find them closed). But never doubt four college kids with a craving for Mexican food. Los Chiles saved us, with mountains of guacamole and gringas (chicken pineapple tacos). 

In between all the eating, we saw some stuff. And by some, I mean a lot. With the luxury of two full weeks to plan out the weekend, I took full advantage, making an itinerary (with the help of Rick) that as been lauded as the best damn four-day trip itinerary Europe has ever seen. Cosi, we did Barcelona right. Touring through Eixample gave us the Block of Discord, and most importantly, Casa Batlló. A house designed entirely by the man himself (that’s Gaudi, catch on) in 1904, it too deserves its own mini gallery.

Day 2 was Barri Gotic, La Boqueria, the rest of the Ramblas, and the cherry: Parc Guell. More Gaudi. Sorry not sorry. Honestly, by this point in the semester I had been so overloaded with Renaissance and Baroque, I didn’t think I could look at another fresco of the Annunciation or classicizing facade. Then Barcelona stepped in with its Modernism, Art Noveau, and other modern art terms that I don’t quite understand, and it was such a breath of fresh air. The city was like nothing I had ever seen, and that did not go unappreciated. Such is why we couldn’t possibly have gotten sick of Gaudi that weekend. As you can see.

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Parc Guell, inexplicably pronounced “parkway,” was intended to be a complex of outrageous mansions. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to live there, but somehow it didn’t quite catch on. So now it’s just a sweet park you can run around and take pictures in. This is the mosaic-ed “el drac,” who greets you at the park’s entrance. And this is what drac gets to look out at every day.

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Our last day in Barcelona began with churros and chocolate and ended with one of the best meals of my young life. In the middle was the beach, which was great, but…food. Lunch was insane, with bombas from La Bombetta, along with patatas bravas and octopus that was so mindblowingly tender I don’t know how it could’ve been octopus. And then dinner. Rick Steves won again by pointing us toward the den of flavor that was Tapas 24. Here comes the list:

  • That Spanish tomato toast
  • Cava sangria
  • Iberico ham, cheese, and truffle sandwich
  • Foie gras burger
  • More bombas
  • Paella with mushrooms and ham and other delicious things
  • Lamb skewers
  • Rabbit ribs

My mouth actually just started watering. Barcelona, you were unique, delicious, and at times, truly remarkable, and I am so glad we got to meet this semester.

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Photos, Rome

Black And Whites From A Weekend In Roma

This weekend after things between London and I got pretty hot and heavy (And then you come in. With your hot. And your heavy.), I spent the weekend rekindling the flame with my first love, Rome. I checked several Rome to-dos off my list, including the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine, the Ara Pacis, the Mouth of Truth, Piazza Navona’s unexpectedly awesome Chiesa Sant’Agnese in Agone, and Chiesa di San Luigi in Francesi with its three Caravaggio’s. As the weather was positively glorious, we spent much time wandering through some of our favorite increasingly tourist-filled places – Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, Fontana di Trevi, the Jewish Ghetto, and of course, our hood, Trastevere – and discovering several new must-eats, Pizzeria di Buffetto and Gelateria del Teatro among the tops. And so, I emerge with some photographs I don’t despise, a profound rarity for me. Behold.

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Photos, Quotes, Travel

But Suddenly, A New Contender Has Emerged… London.

“The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination, is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

SONY DSCFor those who understand the title’s reference: 1. this is probably why we are friends, and 2. I am speaking not of the biggest idiot in the room, but of my favorite city. Rome, I mean no disrespect. We’ve become quite close over the past few months, I love you, you’re the first European city I ever traveled to, your art and history are unparalleled and you feed me wonderfully. Hell, our communication has even gotten better these days. You’ll always have a special place in my heart. But my God you’re dirty, you never do things when you say you’re going to, and frankly, you creep me out sometimes. But London…I belong in London. Look at me: how much sense does this picture make? I’ll tell you: all the sense in the world. A year or two is about the maximum Rome and I could go before we really started grate on each other’s nerves. London and I could be happy together for a lifetime.

This past weekend was my favorite weekend of this semester of incredible weekends (besides Eric weekend, but that’s his fault not London’s.) London is unequivocally my favorite city I’ve visited, and the one I want to return to first. I had no choice but to treat the four days I spent there as if I would have, at some point, a significant amount of time to explore it. There’s just, like Paris, too much to see in four days. Except unlike Paris and like New York City, this fact left me feeling invigorated rather than rushed and ultimately unfulfilled. Why such a strong love for a city that Italians look down on, a city without the culture of incredible cuisine I’ve been accustomed to, a city which, when I scrolled through quotes about London, had more bad than good? You could blame it on the weather (I froze in Paris), except you can’t, because it was cold. Really cold. And cloudy except on Sunday. I mean, it’s London. I will give some credence to the explanation that hearing people speaking English all around me was one of the most unexpectedly wonderful feelings. I immediately felt more comfortable, more at home, thrilled to be able to eavesdrop on strangers once again. Besides, I love the English language and I don’t care who knows it.

“The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.” Stephen Fry

All that, and I haven’t even mentioned the beauty of the British accent. Little kids shouting things like, “Everyone’s running!” “Uncle Joe are we going to Trafalgar?” and “Cheers!” brought me infinite joy. I’ll also attribute some of my love of London on the children running around everywhere. I don’t know why, but for some reason there seemed to be exponentially more kids running around in London than in Paris and Rome combined. Am I crazy? Maybe, but that’s certainly what it felt like. And it was wonderful.

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The Thames. Let’s talk about it by way of comparison. I had drawing class today underneath Tiber Island, right up close with the Tiber herself. Our professor very helpfully informed us that the best way to depict water is not with wiggly lines, but with reflections. Unfortunately, there are no reflections in the Tiber. The thing is a cesspool. The Thames looked like you could go for a swim in it. In the heart of Rome, the Tiber is about 300 feet across. The Thames? 700. It was magnificent.

Screen shot 2013-04-09 at 3.48.08 PMI know London isn’t exactly known as the food capital of the world, but I could not have been happier with what I ate in London this weekend. Starting with chamomile tea, clotted creme, and the most amazing scones I have ever eaten. Are we not the most adorable little wannabe Brits you’ve ever seen? But actually my first meal was Mexican—fajitas at Las Iguanas. And it was a magical Mexican food reunion for all of us. The next day (just before the feast pictured here), we ate sushi, and it too, was magical. Saturday we went classic pub food with cod and chips and beef pie. But that night, Lily and I stumbled upon Dehesa, a Spanish/Italian tapas place that was so delicious that I’m about to recount exactly what we had word-for-word from the menu: “1. Grilled & Marinated Lamb Leg with Spiced Squashes, Cavolo Nero, Brown Butter and Capers, 2. Cornish Crab and Prawn Croquetas with Crustacean Aioli Confit, 3. Something solely referred to as Classic Tortilla, which was basically a frittata with cheese and potatoes and onions, and 4, the holy grail, Old Spot Pork Belly with Rosemary Scented Cannellini Beans.” It all got a little bit out of control, particularly that hunk of crispy pork belly. (Eric it reminded me so much of Longmann & Eagle! Anyone else: Go to Longmann & Eagle.)

Unfortunately I have no pictures to illustrate this, but THEATER. Next best thing to New York, and we took full advantage. Lily and I were so enamored with A Chorus Line on Friday night…that we went to Mamma Mia on Saturday afternoon. We had to sprint back to our hostel and get ready in less than an hour, and it was so worth it. Highlight and the worst part of A Chorus Line was Paul’s speech, which left me crying throughout the entire (fairly upbeat) second half of the show—a reminder that fiction has the sometimes frightening power to bring me to my knees at any moment. Mamma Mia however—apart from “Slipping Through My Fingers,” was as jubilantly ridiculous as expected, and left us giggling and drunk on life before Booze Cruise.

Mom, I neglected to reveal the name of said Notre Dame study abroad boat party when we spoke….but alas, the truth comes out. Booze Cruise. In any case, it was a fantastic time. Danced for three straight hours, so that’s never bad.

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The caption I’d like to use here would not be appropriate for print.

Let’s be cultured again shall we? British Museum. We were feeling so much animosity after being in Athens and watching the poor Acropolis Museum’s video about the Brits blowing up their temple and then stealing all its parts. Acropolis Museum video: “Elgin jacked our marbles, and we want them back. Stat.” British Museum SONY DSCvideo: “The parts were acquired by Lord Elgin and generously given to this glorious museum.” Something along those lines anyway. But truly, seeing them displayed there got to me a little more than a little bit. Also the Rosetta Stone was just hanging out there, and Katie Buck knows hieroglyphs…jealous? 

On Sunday, after waking up bright-eyed bushy-tailed and feeling like I could conquer the world (it’s funny because it’s not true), we made our way to Buckingham Palace, where I was more enamored with taking pictures of adorable children than the royals. But it was still cool. Then, for the absolute perfect ending to the weekend, we went straight Winning London up in this joint. (We had watched it four days prior in preparation for our voyage.) Sadly, I do not mean we made out in an air duct, though that would make all my childhood dreams come true. Instead…

“Do you want to see my favorite spot in the whole of London?”

SONY DSCAdmittedly, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time in London to affirm young Lord Browning’s sentiments, but the Peter Pan statue was a definite high of the trip. The entirety of Hyde Park was gorgeous in fact—it was a beautiful day, seemingly the first in awhile judging from the Spring-ish excitement in the air. We meandered along “Long River,” took a look at Kensington, watched little kids play with swans, and sat down near Peter Pan you know, to think. Hey, if it came out of Jesse Spencer’s mouth I believe it.

Just as I was in the midst of falling in love with a wobbling toddler in a sweater with elbow pads, an older gentleman (I don’t think you’re allowed to call a British male just “man.”) walked up to the statue pushing his very elderly mother in a wheelchair. He said, “I thought you might want to get out and look at the animals,” which to be honest, I had not even noticed were covering the base of the statue. He helped her up the stairs counting, 1, 2… at a staggeringly slow pace, and proceeded to walk her around the statue of the boy who didn’t want to grow up, pointing out each animal in succession. The only next logical step in that moment was to pretend to be taking pictures of Lily so I could photograph them. I had no choice. It was worth it.

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It was just one of those serendipitous moments that I had the pleasure to witness, to pretend I was a part of for just a few minutes. And call it me magnifying something that was really no more than a coincidence (it’s what I do), but that right there was the moment that solidified my love affair with London. It was already pretty rock solid, but that put it over the edge. And I didn’t even know what would happen next. The mother-son pair made their way over to the river (this litte statue sits right next to it by the way), and looked out at the birds perched all the way across. My original infatuation, elbowpad toddler, did the same. With his mom. And alas: my favorite picture I’ve taken in Europe.

“Slipping through my fingers all the time…”


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Oh London, I’ve fallen so hard. In the throws of Booze Cruise myself and another of your admirers had a bit of a gush session, during which she described you as “self-assured.” Just now, another friend (with a personal bias, but he has a point) called you “arrogant.” My thought is that both are true, and for me, that only adds to your appeal. We’re a match made in heaven, and I promise I’ll be back.

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Photos, Travel

Greek People Are The Best People

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If there was a single moment that captured my feelings about Greece perfectly, it was hopping out of our car at the Santorini port after yet another lovely chat with our driver, who was yet another of the kindest people I have ever met. As we waved goodbye and walked off Jack, smiling but serious, said, “Bye! I hope everything goes well for you in your entire life.”

Athens, Mykonos, Syros, and Santorini, and the constant (along with an abundance of gyros) was the overwhelming kindness of the Greek people. In Athens, Phil taught us all about komboloi beads (It becomes a part of you know what I mean?), the waiters always helped Carmel order their favorite thing on the menu, and our good friends at the bead  shop in Psiri struggled to find the English words to match us with our beads, gave us a discount, gave us all a free one, took a picture with us, and then ran out after us to give us their card lest we forget them. As if there was any danger of that. And it just kept going. In Mykonos, Maria and her boyfriend were two of the warmest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and she told us that her mom said, “If we always had guests like them our jobs would be very easy!” simply because we were always smiling. In Santorini it was all about Giorgio, who consistently and happily provided us with not only the best but the cheapest option for meals, ATVs, boat trips, anything we wanted.

Never have I felt such strong connections with people who passed in and out of my life so briefly, who live lives vastly different from mine on the other side of the world, who speak a different language, and that is a tremendously beautiful thing. I never felt a hint of resentment, irritation, impatience, manipulation – nothing. And as a fairly loud group of 14 college-aged American tourists…that’s saying something. It was simply a barrage of hardworking, genuinely kind, patient, and overwhelmingly helpful individuals who were happy with their lives and wanted you to be happy with yours. Sending so much good karma to all the people we met – I really do hope everything goes well for you in your entire lives.

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One of the best dinners of my life. Photo cred to Mia

Second highlight? Food. I counted 11 gyros and five Greek salads on the week, and I could’ve tripled both of those numbers without getting sick of them. Italian food is obviously tremendous, but there is a noticeable paucity (CSawyer shout out) of grilled meat, and I am nothing if not a carnivore. The trip also led me to discover a passionate love of feta cheese now that I stopped wrongly associating it with the gross soupy consistency of cottage cheese.

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Why hasn’t America picked up on putting french fries in gyros? That seems like about the most American thing you could do with a pita full of meat. But alas, french fries with paprika dipped in tzatziki is classic Greece. Speaking of which, I’ll take tzaziki over ketchup and barbecue sauce any day of the week—and I love both of those things.

Of course each place we went had its particular appeal. In Athens, the Acropolis was the Acropolis.

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And by that I mean…it was exactly as awe-inspiring as you’d expect the embodiment of the height of ancient Greece and founding of Western civilization to be. The kind of thing that makes you want to break out into Pericles’ Funeral Oration. Only partially kidding. So I’ll break it out right now, because God knows it was just about the only thing that made The History of the Peloponnesian War worth it and it just feels necessary:

“Thus our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we are lovers of the beautiful in our tastes and our strength lies, in our opinion, not in deliberation and discussion, but that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures of life, do not on that account shrink from danger. In doing good, again, we are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not by receiving favors. Now he who confers a favor is the firmer friend, because he would rather by kindness keep alive the memory of an obligation; but the recipient is colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting another’s generosity he will not be winning gratitude but only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit. To sum up: I say that Athens is the school of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace. This is no passing and idle word, but truth and fact; and the assertion is verified by the position to which these qualities have raised the state. For in the hour of trial Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indignant at the reverses which he sustains at the hands of such a city; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy of him. And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages; we shall not need the praises of Homer or of any other panegyrist whose poetry may please for the moment, although his representation of the facts will not bear the light of day. For we have compelled every land and every sea to open a path for our valor, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and of our enmity. Such is the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she might be taken from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly toil on her behalf.”

Seeing the Parthenon, the mightiest monument of Athens’ power, touring the Acropolis Museum, a week later seeing its stolen parts at the British Museum, and now reflecting and rereading this speech—this is what you could call a PLS moment. One of the most PLS moments I’ve ever experienced in fact. Give me a minute…

Not to mention the story Rick told us about the flag atop the Acropolis: on April 27 1941, the Nazis marched up there and forced the flag guard take it down in order to replace it with a Nazi flag. He promptly wrapped it around himself and jumped to his death. A few weeks later on May 31, two 19-year-olds, Apostolos Santas and Manolis Glezos, climbed the Acropolis during the night and tore the Nazi flag down. It was one of the earliest notable acts of resistance against the Nazis, and was one of the bigger stepping stones in my love affair with Greece and its flag, which proudly flies everywhere.

20130323_171732The other lasting win from Athens is my komboloi, which now also happens to have been blessed by the pope and is one of my most prized possessions. If anyone is planning to buy worry beads in Athens, go to the shop on Ag Anargiron in Psiri. Another one of those unexpected connections that could not have been more worth it. My beads are made of camel bone, and make a rather satisfying click when I get down with my Greek self and twirl them around. The lady at the shop struggled to tell me that they are meant for someone who “is going to have a big life,” in her words. I’ll never know what variation of the word big she simplified there, but to me, it was perfect. Here’s my komboloi hanging out on the beach in Mykonos a few days later.

Speaking of Mykonos…lovely Maria informed us that during the offseason there are about 8,000 people on the island. In the summer? One million. And boy were we there during offseason. There were a couple of times I felt certain we were the only people within a five-mile radius. Many of those moments came riding through the mountains on the backs of ATVs. And it was awesome. We eventually made our way through the maze (the town was purposely built as a maze to ward off invaders) and discovered an area with some semblance of humanity and two massive pelicans, but Mykonos was still empty enough that it had a peacefulness about it that I don’t think summer visitors get to experience. We lay on beaches completely alone (apart from Roscoe, the stupidest dog on the planet), and I loved it.

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Me and my girl Katie Buck lookin yachtclubtastic. Photo cred to Katie Nolan

The one day we spent in Syros was a bit of a dark time for me owing to a brutally rocky ferry over from Mykonos which left me dazed confused and nauseous. But a cute town and an equally cute old man that owned our hostel. Side note: Lily I love you. Imminent death would have occurred in these couple of days without you. 

Same deal for the beginning of Santorini, when I luckily managed to stay asleep for the first seven hours and struggled colossally during the last two and a half. Also, there was that time we almost died sprinting off the boat. This seems like an exaggeration only to those who weren’t there. Most of us reported the feeling that we were still on a boat for the next six hours on solid ground. I did on and off for the next two days—I suspect my inner ears broke somewhere along the line in these 21 years. But Lily and I dancing like maniacs on the black beach, riding ATVs in the mountains under a full moon, my first lamb gyro, jewelry shopping, Giorgio, breakfast crepes, and the sunset in Oia more than made up for my struggles.

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Rick Steves says if you can’t get a postcard worthy picture in Oia it’s time to retire your camera…I hope I can keep it a little bit longer with these two.

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Again, sending all the good karma I’ve got to all of our Greek friends. Thank you.

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Photos

Maybe, Just Maybe, Learning How To Work My Camera

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My Camera, by Moi

After a couple of weeks of frustration with myself and lack of skills, I think I may just be getting the hang of it. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance… things that seem much easier than they actually are. But my pictures are requiring less and less editing every day, which leaves me feeling much more optimistic.

 

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Food, Photos, Travel

Andiamo A Firenze!

SONY DSCFive days later… Let’s talk about Florence kids. The problem is, every time I actually have time to lie down on the couch and put fingers to keyboard, I have this problem where I pass out immediately. Honestly, I think I underestimated how exhausting the mere fact of living in a city is. I constantly feel grimy (sexy right?) and tired, so once I hit this couch it’s lights out. But currently I’m pushing through the pain of my straining eyelids to get this out before I forget everything that happened this past weekend.

To the left here we have “that important Florentine building,” known to most as the Palazzo Vecchio, or the town hall building of Florence. But let’s get to the important stuff, like appertivo and leather. ALL THE LEATHER.

Tips for buying leather in the Florence leather markets:

1. If you’re someone who would rather pay a little bit more money and put some faith in the good of humanity than be mistrusting, don’t go it alone. Everyone is so nice and friendly – except that one guy who yelled at us to never come back – that you will want to first of all, trust they are selling you real leather, and second, trust that when they say it’s the lowest possible price, it actually is. If this is you, find a heartless friend that’s willing to be a hardass to the poor friendly leather men who are just trying to make a decent living. I’m kidding; you really do need a less emotional ally.

2. When you find a random vendor named Moyne and hit it off and he shows you all of the differences between a real leather bag and a fake one, have your friend go back to the other guy who was trying to sell you the fake one and make sure he’s telling the truth, and then trust him and consult him on all future leather purchases. Also smile and ask for another discount for “being nice and trusting you all along,” because it be effective.

3. How to distinguish between fake and real leather bags:

  • Smell it.
  • Have them do the lighter test. But according to the almighty Moyne, a lot of the guys will just run the lighter over quickly, which doesn’t do anything even if it is fake. They have to hold it there for awhile
  • Check the inside zippers: metal good, plastic bad.
  • The thing inside that says genuine leather? Yeah, it should be leather.
  • Check the stitching. For what? I don’t really know.

4. Always, always, always, leave and come back. Either you’ll know it’s the final price, or they’ll drop it down more as you walk away. Still walk away, compare prices at other places, and come back.

Follow these tips (and maybe make one last-minute probably too expensive but beautiful handmade boot purchase), and you’ll end up with these:

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Plus something for your mom that I can’t well post here lest I ruin the surprise. (Hi Emmy) Also be sure to check out the Mercato Centrale, because there are things like this there:

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Other highlights of Florence: the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell’Accademia. Here’s what my notes on those two endeavors reveal to me: I learned that a polyptych is a painting divided into panels. Fillippo Brunelleschi discovered perspective. Yes, this is what my audioguide told me. He discovered it. Speaking of which, we studied perspective in drawing this week at the Basilica della Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill. Thank you Mr. Brunelleschi I guess:

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Santa Sabina, by Me

Other interesting notes from the Uffizi: One of my favorites was the Seven Virtues, first on the left by Botticelli and the rest by Piero del Pollaiolo. Fun fact: Botticelli’s La Primavera (Spring), apparently contains over 200 different species of flowers and plants. Don’t ask me how, but that’s what some botanist said in my headphones. Also, Francesco Melzi never saw boobs. We know this because he painted them so horrifyingly lopsided it is highly improbable that he ever had sex with a woman. Okay that one was mine. Real fact: the hyper elongation of the figures in Parmigianino‘s work represents intellectual idealization – go Renaissance right? But our (mine and Lily’s) favorite painting in the entire gallery was the one and only, Ritratto di Donna, by Jacopo Negretti Vecchio. Though we cannot find an image online, even if we did we are certain no one could ever achieve the same depth of analysis as we did.

But you don’t need my trip to tell you about famous art. So let’s talk about cheese. A cheese so magical, so undeniably perfect, that I cannot remember how I managed through days without knowledge of its existence. My life was an aimless wandering through a forest of darkness, and this cheese brought me light. Pecorino con tartufi. It’s all I want, all I need. I wish I was exaggerating, I really do. Behold.

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Somehow I pried myself away from the cheese long enough to climb the incredibly creepy dark narrow steep spiraling staircases of the Duomo, aka Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Long enough to enjoy this view:

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And long enough, praise the Lord, that I could come down and witness this.

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Photos

Loving Rome, Missing Home

Sure, maybe watching Rent tonight made me a little bit emotional. Sure, maybe Jake walked in on Lily and me quietly whimpering and wiping away tears. It happens. In fact, the day that stops happening is the day I know I’ve lost touch with something important. I will never forget sitting in Tess’ basement and watching Rent for the first time in what – eighth grade? And we, a pair of white suburban Catholic school girls in plaid skirts, for whatever reason felt like it was meant for us. Thinking back, it is actually possible that moment marked the beginning of me being a cryer. I was a tough chick in grade school guys; seeing me cry was something people gathered around to witness (I wish I was kidding about that.) Anyway, after I saw Rent for the first time I bawled my 13-year-old eyes out. I don’t just mean during the sad parts of the movie – I mean after. Ask Tess, I sat on her couch and bawled for a solid fifteen. Was I sad? A little bit, but not exactly. I just felt it. Like I always do. Like I did just now.

So yeah, I miss all you guys.

Measure your life in love.

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