Well…. My feet are so swollen!!! We have walked and average of 8 miles a day while we have been here and 20 flights of stairs… Just let those numbers sink in 18,450 steps… but i burned off this beautiful breakfast.Today was our first day of class and it was awesome. It’s going to be a lot of work but we are going to learn a crazy amount of information about food wine a the culture of Italy thats for sure. Yes, pinch me it is exactly like it sounds we have lecture and a lab every day.
For example today we had lecture and he took us to the market and taught us all about different foods and how we are going to be learning about seasonality (what foods are in season is very important knowledge in Italy as it is healthier and cheaper). He showed us the famous lampredotto “lamp-ray-doe-toe” stand (a sandwich filled with the fourth stomach of a cow!!) Lampredotto is the most tender stomach of the cow as it is the last stomach that digest their food. They cook it in a broth and put it in a sandwich like a pulled pork sandwich and they put a spicy oil sauce and a sweet oil sauce on it with lots of salt on the best ciabatta bread I’ve ever tasted. I ate it! And it was pretty good!!
We then walked to the second floor of the market where they had a bunch of little “kiosks” as they called it, but really they are just a bunch of little store fronts (like a mall food court with some of the best freshest food in Florence. We walked around and got to taste fresh mozzarella (nothing can compare). We then went to the school facilities and set up everything we needed for class and booked our first mini trip (educational field trip not with our class) to Modena and Parma for this Saturday we are very excited!! Afterward we went back to the market to actually shop for our first meal to make at home! We walked around and tried to piece together a good meal.
We deciding to get a chicken breast and these beans which we ended up not really knowing how to cook and we wanted the get a zucchini ( I messed up and grabbed a cucumber/ cetriolo in Italian, I totally had no idea) but we found out that cucumbers where in season and they were bomb!! We also bought a bottle of sparkling red wine (sparkling wine is very popular we even met a man eating the lampredotto stand who showed us/recommended sparkling water with a regular red wine to stay hydrated in the crazy heat we decided he was genius!! The other popular white sparkling wine is called prosecco). We walked home and made dinner which turned out very good. We still don’t know what kind of bean we ate but we tried baking them, then sautéing them and even boiling them and they like wouldn’t cook! We figured out we think we have to take the very tough waxy outside off and just cook the inside bean. We just ate them like edamame and it worked out great. The chicken also turned out great with the fresh olive oil and herb salt mixture we also bought.
After a successful dinner we got the news that Olivia’s luggage had made it and we went to pick it up!! After bringing her luggage home we though I was necessary to celebrate so we got gelato and then walked to one of the bridges to watch the sunset which was beautiful. At this point were exhausted but went home and tried a famous drink called lemoncello, which is like a lemonade liquor that is very very sweet and strong. Along with that I learned how to play eurcher!!! It was another huge and long day!
Well today it has almost been a week since I left last Wednesday and it was my first full day in Florence Italy. Yesterday we got here around 4:30pm after two not bad flights. The first flight from Dublin to Munich wasn’t too bad but we started to notice English was no longer the first language. There was a group of middle aged German speaking, what seemed like they all traveled together to Ireland and were going home They seemed absolutely fascinated by us three English speaking girls… who knows. Then arriving a little late into Munich and slightly panicked that we were going to miss our flight to Florence we got off the plane as fast as we could only to find a very kind gentleman holding a sign that said florenz (we at first though it was a last name but realized nope he was here for us) he was from there our little babysitter through our tour of the Munich flight runway as we got into a large van and were driven across the runway (meeting some wonderful Irish women going to Florence) to be directed through customs then back out to the van to be driven to the runway to get on the plane early like a celebrity it was pretty cool.
We then made it to Florence and got off the plane to find it wasn’t just hot it was HOT!!! And it wasn’t planning on getting any cooler for as long as the forecast would show.
We got inside to find Olivia’s luggage got lost and then to find FUA (Florence University of the Arts) booth right there we filled out some info got a backup emergency phone and filled some paperwork out then they drove us straight to our apartment and carried our luggage up which we found out was all the way up 6 flights of stairs!!! Not just any stairs like super steep cement stairs that never end (I no longer have to worry about gaining weight here). Our apartment key is an old 1800’s looking key with a tiny body and a big intricate head that opened our 4 pronged dead bolted door (which was very comforting) to find an awesome apartment! It is huge two large bedrooms 5 beds and living room a kitchen and a large bathroom. You could literally raise comfortably a family of 5 and it is beautiful!!
We all passed out after getting settled and walking around the city. Which we got our first Italian dinner and glass of wine our waiter was very nice and really was helpful in learning the hot to appropriately handle dining in Italy. After we walked around had my breath taken away by the Duomo (not to mention I can see the top of it from our Apartment bedroom window)
and starting to figure out our baring in a very confusing city (road wise). Then on our way back to our apartment we found a gelato shop right close to our apartment the Marco Ottaviano il Gelato Gourmet all I can say is WOW ice cream has not a standing chance against gourmet gelato it was unbelievable. All four our us (Olivia Jenna and Angie our new roommate from CMU) had a little moment as we walked out of the show each with two flavors of gelato for let me mention only 1,50 euros! (so, like $2) and all starting trying each other’s and geeking out about how good they were.
We then made it back to our apartment and found out we only have scalding hot water in our shower which was a little adventure trying to cool down and clean up. We then settled in and got ready for today lol.
So now that I am caught up I’ll tell you about today we woke up early to try and find our way to our FUA Orientation which took a little while and we got kind of lost but we made it there and we were still on time! Orientation was very informative and made me realize how tired I was. The orientation continued as the “coach” for the fitness course showed us around the city to all the FUA facilities. They don’t have a campus like CMU their colleges (fashion, journalism, cooking, culture, and food wine and culture/pastry school which is us called apicious) and of course our class building is the farthest FUA building but hey a good morning walk is good we decided burn off the expresso and pastry breakfast. But this coach guy walked crazy fast and expected a huge group of college students trying to remember where they were going and look at this city we just got to, to keep up. It didn’t goes to well. All the facilities looked awesome and the culinary school and restaurant look ligit and top of the line. After we took the tour we were set free.
We walked around and peeked in some shops and looking for lunch food, we stumbled across an awesome shop sat outside and ate a delicious pizza right across from the central market. After our first Italian gourmet oven baked pizza our waiter was a very nice Italian gentleman who was very helpful in our attempts to learn Italian. The owner liked to keep saying monto bella, and chaio bella. We then came across a very nice leather jacket store. The guy standing there was so not just nice like please buy something but truly kind and wanted us to just try things on “for fun for fun” understood it had to be the right jacket and the right fit he even said at any time he’d give us a 70% student discount!! He picked out and perfectly fit us on his first try it was quite impressive. We then quick walked through the market (a different one was recommended to us so we didn’t shop)
is was crazy the amount of fresh food and meats was mind blowing I’m not even sure if I would know where to start to figure out how to figure the place out to make a dinner it was slightly intimidating. We walked back to our apartment all the way up the crazy stairs to our apartment cooled off (it is crazy hot here and it was supposed to be the coolest day all week) and laid down we all passed out in our little siesta (some stores close between 1 and 3 they don’t really call it a siesta and not all shops close) we decided that siestas are awesome and necessary in the heat. Once we all woke up and got our heads together we walked to the student life building to figure some logistics out with the Olivia loosing luggage thing, got that all taken care of and set off to see the river that separates Florence the north side and the south side. We live on the north side and we were quick to find out that the south side has more money. We crossed the bridge and walked through the same close buildings of a town it was just soo quiet the whole part of the south side we explored it was so quiet.
We kept walking and the incline started. We came across the famous steps that we haven’t learned the name of and started to climb part of this mountain now as we are profusely
sweating and tired from these stairs we made it to the top and the most beautiful view of Florence appeared and it made all of us speechless we stood there and stared at if for a very long time before deciding we were hungry again. We found a very authentic Italian restraint which let us use our English to Italian dictionary!! I order an amazing pasta dish and had the best red wine I may have ever tasted it was a Merlot and was heaven (I thought of my dad the whole glass and how much I knew he’d love it but dad don’t worry I got the name and I’m making a list of my favorites to bring home to you. I enjoyed it for the both of us) the day was starting to where on all of us so gelato was in order at our new favorite little shop that we are now owners of our for gelato punch card!!! Since we are living here now (super crazy to say!) We walked back all the ay up to our beautiful bird nest apartment and took our way to hot showers and are ready to take on tomorrow our first day of class!!!! Were all way to excited!!
So today technically is my 4th day abroad and damn has it been crazy I am currently on a plane on my way to Munich with an hour layover then on a plane to Florence Italy! This journal is kind of my recap of Ireland, but I may work backwards and as I comes to my brains so I’m going to apologize before I get going (we all know my brain goes fast and in many directions sometimes. hehe oops )
I’m going to start off with yesterday. We went to the Cliffs of Moher (5/25/16) and it was truly breath taking you couldn’t take a photo that captured how beautiful it actually was…
The bus ride from Dublin left early in the morning and took 4 hours! The one positive thing about the four hour drive was that I got to see a ton of the country side. Once we got out of the city it was green like bright beautiful green (like when you put polarized sunglasses on an every color gets richer, but this time you didn’t need the sunglasses it just was). Farms with walls made of tons of stones that were stacked and magically fitting together. They would be around homes and gating in cows and horses and sheep and a lama (I only saw one though). The hills were rolling and beautiful you would look around and see tons of squares all up and down the hills everywhere of different color rich green marking off different farm properties. Then all of a sudden you would see a random castle ruin standing in the middle of a field with cows around it like it was no big deal (id geek out and take a picture J ). Another thing you really notice not just on this bus ride but all through Ireland they roads are super narrow with no shoulder at all it was either the edge of a cliff our bushes or trees. The busses and cars sometimes have to take turns going through some spaces because they would hit if they went side by side. These huge charter bus drivers and city bus driver were all masters at the Ireland bus driving craft it blew my mind. Turning and backing up and all around, maneuvering massive buses in small crowded fast pace cities, country roads, and little ocean towns where I literally could touch the little stores if I would of stuck my hand out the window. It was NUTS!!!
I had to close my eyes a few times. I watched the country side for a long time to the cliffs before I completely crashed. The night before Day 2 Friday (24th) Night (Thursday being the first day) we went on a pub crawl after a long rainy day of a hop on hop off tour. The hop on hop off tour was essentially a perfect gig. We bought a ticket that would allow us to go to any stops on a loop that covered both the old and the new parts of the city. From trinity college, Guinness factory, an operating whiskey distillery, non-active Jameson whiskey distillery, all the churches, and parks, statues, the zoo, museums, the famous jail (Gaul they call it, which tripped me up), and so much more.
The tickets were good for a 48 hour period. It rained really hard and since we walked such a huge chunk of the city the first day (we were there getting lost and turned around a lot but we learned where we were going) so we rode the bus for a while were all the drivers had an active talking role to tell us all about the history of the homes buildings, parks and everything in between while we were dry and sitting, it was super cool! Some fun facts that stuck with me were like the famous man who said the best one liner “women just need to be loved not understood” was born there. Trinity College is known for its famous writers. They have had 2 people win the noble peace prizes and one other person in something sciency I can’t remember. All I can say is that it is very impressive. Beside their famous writers Trinity holds the book of kells (one of the oldest religious books, written on presses dried pig skin). Unfortunately when we wanted to go see it the library and the book of kells exhibit were closed 😦 so I didn’t get to learn as much as I wanted to about the books of kells and the library (which they add a half mile of shelving every year!) That was one things that I really wanted to see that I wasn’t able to. Funny enough though was the reason it was closed was because Joe Biden our vice president was in Dublin speaking they were have some reception for him in there… the city was crazy (Joe Biden and they were prepping for a gay pride parade). But that and the Wickilow Mountains will bring me back there for sure! That night we met up with our new friend Daniel who has been essentially traveling the world by himself and is doing his first pub crawl!! Dublin (Temple Bar Area) is like Nashville full of music and a great time!
Now that I’ve already decided to just write how my brain is absorbing all that happened the past few days. Now I’ll give you the scoop on the Cliffs of Moher. So after crashing for two hours I woke up to be welcomed by a gas station in Moneygall called the Barack Obama! Like What?! Jenna Olivia and I were so confused. Goes to show though that Obamas ancestors lived there in Moneygall with the name O’bama and he himself went there to visit a couple years back so obviously that means they get to have a Obama themed gas station hahaha so weird.
We had two hours left of the drive with more beautiful scenery. The houses were very interesting to me some were brick some were painted concrete but most had little round sun rooms off the the sides, and a front stoop the projected form the home and some of the wealthier homes had decorative white trick forming the front of the house and these wall/arch type things like a façade that would connect the house to a garage separate from the house. The newer styles had lots and lots of windows which I though was also very neat and beautiful. We finally arrive in a town called Claire next to Doolin where the Cliffs were at. It was a very busy place people from all across the world! We started our climb and when you first see the cliff it takes your breath away, it looks like a photo/postcard or painting. We stood there and stared over the stone wall for a few minutes to take it in then started our adventure! We trekked up a paved walk way to a point with a castle then we came to the point where there would no longer be a wall protecting us from the edge of the cliff. We looked at the warning sign and trekked on!
We said a little prayer that none of us would slip to our death in this majestic place (Jenna and Olivia did slip but caught themselves). We took in everything it was unbelievable. Then we moved back to the bus and went to the small beach town of Doolin where we boarded a Ferry Cruiser that took us on an hour long cruise to see the cliffs!!!!
Waking up early the next day we headed to the airport for our next adventure Florence Italy!! Ireland I Love You more than I thought I would! I will see you again soon, but Italy here I come!!!
PS I am in Florence now as i send this post sitting in my apartment on the the fifth floor looking at the peak of the Duomo!!!! Ill post tomorrow about how cool this place is!!! Look at my first meal in Florence!!
Well…. The adventure is about to begin. In 60 hours and 10 minutes my plane to Dublin Ireland will take off! Dublin is my first stop on a 45 day adventure of a life time! 4 days will be spent in Dublin then, me and two of my friends Jenna and Olivia (I’m sure you will hear about and see them in pictures) we will be headed to Florence Italy to begin our 6 week Food Wine and Culture class! (pretty crazy hu!)
Long story short right now, and for the past couple of days I am trying to figure out what kind emotions I’m feeling. Nervous/sad for leaving the US and my family, boyfriend and friends, excited out of my brains for the trip that I know will change my life. The trip that is still so serial the it is even happening!
For the most part I feel ready. Ready to be there! I’m somewhat packed… (I’ll finish tonight), but I have everything I need (I’m a major pre-planner). All I really have to do is the hardest thing, and that saying goodbye. So many mixed feelings!!
From here out this is the blog that will be one of many many more!! If you’re reading this you’re probably family or friends that want to share this life changing experience with me and I can’t thank you enough for supporting me and joining me on this life changing experience. I will take you through Dublin and all across Italy sharing as much as I can (I’m a talker so brace yourself!) If you want to be notified when I post on the home page on the left hand side if you scroll down there will be a button that says follow press that and you will be able to receive emails when I post!!