So next was London. This is where the Megabus UK comes in. Cheap and awesome. London for me, was mixed. It was an interesting place to be, but I just didn’t get into it. It was big and things were expensive. However, we did go to the Harry Potter studio and I fell in love. I an a 100% Harry Potter dork. That was another nice thing about staying with Nick and Gemma, Nick is also a Harry Potter dork and we got to watch a few of the Harry Potter movies. Sorry if I’ve exposed you, Nick.
Anyway…we took a Megabus from Glasgow to London overnight and got to London around 7:30 am. We had some time to kill, so we went to the National Museum which is also free. Then we bought a suitcase to get stuff back to Rome and ended up falling asleep for about 5 hours. One thing that I thought was definitely worth it was the London Eye which is a big ferris wheel that is all glass that you can look out over the city. I recommend timing it so that you’re getting on right as it’s getting dark outside so you can see the lights in the city. We timed it a little bit wrong, but it was still good. As soon as we got off it started raining, but we walked around for awhile, saw Big Ben, got some Crepes, and then headed back for a good night sleep. The next day was Harry Potter and I was totally ready.
We tried out the Natural History Museum (Free!) before we left for Harry Potter and it had a lot of potential, but you couldn’t really move anywhere without bumping into someone. Kind of not my thing. So we got some really bad food and then waited for the bus. When we got there I thought that I was going to spill out tears of joy. The first step was walking into the Great Hall set. A lot of the costumes were set up and the original props were in the room. Through there, you go into another big room with a bunch of different stations and TONS of props and sets. SOOOOO AMAZING. I was so excited the entire time. I’d suggest the informative head set if you want to get the most out of it.
Not only did I get to see all of this incredible stuff, but I GOT TO TRY BUTTERBEER. I was on cloud nine at this point. It was sooo good. I got my picture in the flying car and on the night bus. The two best parts for me were Diagon Alley and the model of Hogwarts. It was amazing. Can’t even believe it happened. Definitely a must do if you’re in Europe with any chance of getting to London.
I know this isn’t Rome or Italy location, but it’s abroad related and I believe that it’s definitely worth knowing areas that are accessible to people while they’re studying in Rome. Companies like Ryan air or even Megabus in the UK have cheap travel options. For hotel or hostel stay check out hostelworld.com. We found a few good deals there.
So…after everyone went their separate ways from Temple, we took a short trip away before our last days in Rome and visited the United Kingdom. And I loved it. Scotland is an amazing place. One of the cool things bout studying abroad in Europe in the summer is that you can go from the near 100 degree suffocating weather in Italy to the foggy, rainy PA fall weather in Scotland. And let me tell you…Scotland will never feel so good. We flew into the “Glasgow” airport using RyanAir. A little heads up about this airport…it’s a pretty long haul from Glasgow. We were really lucky to be staying with two awesome people that we hadn’t even met until that night. My boyfriend knew Nick through the label that helped distribute his band’s record in the UK and this is the first they’ve met face to face. It was completely incredible to be in a house again and to put a cherry on top, Nick and Gemma, his girlfriend, have a pretty perfect cat named Baby. We really couldn’t have asked for a better stay in Scotland. Glasgow was a neat place to be. We really didn’t spend that much time there, but what we saw was great. A free museum, lots of cool shopping places, signs and prices in English, and a much needed break from Italian food…not that I’m knocking Rome. First day I got the typical fish and chips and mushroom and horseradish soup..it was amazing. We also ate a lot of Pringles and drank a lot of Coke while we were there. Be careful though…when dealing with the British Pound, right now, you’re spending 1.6 more than what you see on the price tag.
Best part of Scotland hands down was the landscape. I say this because I’m more of a landscape person than a city person. And the landscape here is amazing. Lakes (or Lochs), hills, mountains, sheep, cool accents, it’s all there. The city that we got a little glimpse of this in was Edinburgh. My main goal there was to climb up stuff. We decided when we got there that we were going to go up to the top of a monument in the center and check out what we could see. From there I saw some hills and mountains and a smaller hill that looked like it had the Parthenon on top of it. So we walked to that first. From that hill, we found out there’s a shore somewhere around that is supposed to have fossils, and the mountain that I saw and said I wanted to climb was actually possible. So we headed to the mountain and concurred it. Afterwards, rewarding ourselves with a few drinks and some food. The climb was amazing. One of my favorite things we did this summer.
Next day we headed to the shore, and although we didn’t find any fossils, it was still neat.
One of the nights we were there, we were lucky enough to see a show that Struggletown, the label that Nick’s involved with, was putting on a show. The place was called the Bloc I think and it had some pretty awesome pizza for cheaps. From here…was London.
For our last night in Roma together, we decided to go out the same way we came in. We visited the Pantheon and ate at a restaurant called Miscellanea. This restaurant has a history with the people that we traveled with. Mostly our graphic design class. The first time we were there, one of the girls in our group got the ugly duck seat..the awkward seat at the table that nobody else wanted. The owner..I believe his name is Mikka or Mikki, came over to her and moved her to a more comfortable seat. Then, he tried to get her on a date that night with his son, Romeo (how appropriate), and changed her name from Emiy to Emilia. He’s a really good guy. I think that he knew our professor, the restaurant is known for catering to students studying abroad. The wait staff was great as well. They gave us free sexy wine (wine made from strawberries, it’s sweet and fizzy), free lemoncello, and free ice cream bars. Mikki also thought he was being a clever matchmaker with my boyfriend and myself as he put our hands together on the table and gave him free drinks for “the husband and wife”. It’s somewhat funny to me that he’s about 6 years too late. Anyway, try the lasagna if you go there. It’s good. As is the balsamic vinegar. Probably the best balsamic vinegar I’ve ever had. So we went to this restaurant again and everyone pretty much ordered the lasagna. We also got a pizza to share that would be pretty amazing right now. Yes, I’m hungry.
We also played whisper down the lane.
The awesome dinner, however, was not the highlight of the night for me. Which is unusual since I love food, but fireworks always trump food for me. I was most excited for these. Since dinner ran a little late, we ended up sprinting a few blocks to the river when we started hearing the explosinos. It was really amazing. You could see the reflection of all of them on the water and the silohettes of the boats out there. The fireworks were coming right up out of Castle San’Angelica.. It was all different kinds of fireworks too, not just a cheap show with Roman candles…heh..get it? I know..I’m sorry.
I only wish it would have lasted longer. It was also an amazing night because it was the first time this entire trip that a dog came up to me. She walked up and sniffed the end of my camera and licked the lens hood. I love dogs. I wish that all these swarms of people around were a bunch of K9s. That would be really great. Can you tell that I’m about at the end of my rope with these large herds of people around? Maybe I’m just a bitter old woman at heart, but I really just want a nice cool couch to watch SVU and eat thin Sicilian pizza from dimagios. Go USA. I know..enough. So as the night came to a close, the gang headed back to the residence to finish packing, say our goodbyes, and cry our eyes out. Not really the last part….yet.
Italians love their football. After a final pizza party at the school, we ventured out to see the football game that was playing on a big screen in Piazza del Popolo. When we left the school, we definitely noticed there weren’t as many people out on the streets. Kind of one of those walking dead moments when you wonder if you’re the only one left in the world. Then you find out that everyone has just been eaten up by Piazza del Popolo. As we got closer, more people came into view…all going in the same direction with their white, red, and green on and some Peronis. I’m not a big fan of Peroni..sorry to say. Kind of tastes like watered down rolling rock to me. But anyway, faces painted, flags in hand we heard a huge scream erupting from the crowd and watched everyone switch to sprinting mode headed straight for the Piazza. This included all of the people I was with. By the time I got my camera out I was left to fend for myself. The crowd was huge. Most of Rome seemed to be there and all were fixed to the Italy vs. Germany game.
It’s funny now looking back. I wanted to capture it so bad that I didn’t really watch the game. However, I did see the championship game between Italy and Spain..and unfortunately Italy sadly failed to keep up with the Spaniards. It’s also funny that in lot of the photos that my friends and I took, although we weren’t together or had any idea where the other was, we still ended up in each others’ photos. At one point I was climbing up some stairs taking pictures of people sitting on a wall and five minutes later I realized it was my boyfriend.
Honestly though, you didn’t really have to watch the game to know when something good or bad happened. You could always tell by the reactions of the huge crowd. They were very responsive. There really was pretty much no standing room. It was madness. People were everywhere. I decided to climb up to a spot that I’m not sure a lot of the people that I was in Rome with knew about. If you’re facing the Flaminio metro in the piazza, there are steps on the right side outside of the piazza wall. If you climb up there, you can get a pretty neat view of Piazza del Popolo and a lot of Rome. Definitely something worth checking out. With this view comes a villa you can explore. Lots of couples making out and stuff. But seriously, it’s a neat park. It reminds me a lot of villa Borghese but on a smaller scale and I think it even connects to Borghese.
Back to football. from this spot I saw all those crazy Romans loving up on their team. I’m glad I was back at the bottom when they won though. There was lots of crazyness happening. And there were small fireworks. Always a plus.
This villa was an interesting stop in our Roman semester. I don’t really ever remember learning about it before, but its gardens are incredible. The inside is pretty amazing as well, but the gardens…top notch. We entered the villa in a courtyard area. It reminded me a lot of an area that was in a museum..though I can’t remember which one…again with Dr. Kline. In the museum, we were in a reconstructed Roman courtyard and it was one of the coolest things I remember about the museum trips. The museum was much darker than this courtyard, but still pretty cool. The real courtyard has a fountain that was our first stop in the lecture. The fountain was something that I liked. It was really pretty and carved into an arch with the water running into a basin at the bottom. All of the apples but a few had worn off the gold casing that once existed, but the fountain was still very elegant. We were all in this courtyard squished around this fountain when I looked up and saw this gem of an expression.
The man was concentrating so hard on what our teacher was saying, I had to capture it. I think that weird facial expressions are one of my favorite parts of photography. Maybe one day I’ll have a show just on facial expressions. One day we were in Connecticut checking out some national… or state… I don’t really remember…parks and we stumbled upon this nifty little side antique type store. I bought a photography book that was all weird baby portraits with word bubbles on it. That’s what this guy reminded me off, so I spent the time next to this fountain, instead of hearing the important parts of the lecture, making up lines that would go with his face. Most of our lectures I tend to lose concentration almost immediately which is unfortunate, but I move into creating things in my own head. Unfortunately a lot of the things I see in Rome blend into other so it seems like you see one, you’ve seen them all. Also, sometimes when I thread off on one detail to the next, I lead into a whole mess of things that seem a lot like ramble. If it’s annoying, you could skip those parts. Anyway, The fountain was nice. The inside of the villa was interesting as well. A lot of paintings on the walls and ceilings. We also found carvings in the wall of people signing their names and dates. There were some from 1806. Cool beans, right? The paintings in the building were later recognized in other places that we visited, lending to the idea that you’ve seen one cool painted house and ceilings, you’ve seen them all.
The gardens though…the gardens are what really grabbed me. They were amazing. So big and it had so many incredible fountains. There was one large one that I failed to capture. Too many photo hungry models in front of it and picky me, I didn’t want them in my shot. Some of the fountains that were my favorite were lined up along a long walkway. They were some odd creature monkey type forms and they were spewing water from their mouths in to a long basin all along the pathway.
There were also two ends of the garden where you could look out over a few pools with gigantic fish in them. We visited the top first where you can look down and see the powerful fountains all around. There’s also a fountain at the top that is a water organ and played for us at 2:30 on the dot. It was an interesting experience.
I think I liked the bottom view better than the top. It was shaded by a big old tree and you could see the huge fish in the ponds. Not to meantion there was a cat down there loving up on all the attention he was getting from the students in our class. The professor didn’t stand a chance at lecturing when there was a cat around. Cat or gardens..I mean..who would choose gardens? Kidding. But I do like cats as well.
Sorry for the lame Rocky spin. I love Rocky. But this isn’t about his awesome boxing skills. It’s about our trip to Hadrian’s Villa. Our trip to Hadrian’s Villa was a pretty good one. It’s through Temple that we went, so if you’re someone looking for the trip and you’re studying abroad, you can go with the Temple art history classes. If you’re not going to Temple, don’t fear, I’m sure there’s a bus trip that goes there. There’s bus trips pretty much everywhere. I’ve found this out recently when planning my parents’ vacation. Day trips here, weekend trips there. Everywhere. We got a wine tour through Tuscany leaving from Rome and I’m keeping my sweaty little fingers crossed that our group isn’t another big tour group in a sea of big tour groups at the farm that we’re going to. It is a farm, so hopefully the heavens will open up and shine some love down on me and grant my wishes. Keep your fingers crossed too. Enough of my hopes and dreams though. Hadrian’s Villa. I remember sitting in that lovely dark air conditioned dungeon art history room my first semester at Tyler in what I think was Dr. Kline’s class. He showed us slides and talked about them in a way that got your imagination going. He described them that they were interesting, not boring memorizations. He’d say things like “when you go to Italy you’ll have to see this” or “you could take a weekend trip to Rome and see this”. It’s funny now that I actually did. Hadrian’s Villa was always one of my favorite slides. It looked magical in some way. Like I’d like to go there and hang out by the pool. Although I could be making this up, my memory does that sometimes. But I’m pretty sure this is real. Most of the Villa is destroyed and unrecognizable as to what it once was and unfortunately Dr. Kline wasn’t there to help color in the pages. But the section that I remember most did not disappoint. It’s a little pond area of water, giant fish, tadpoles, and statues. The water looks radioactive and the fish look like they’ve drank too much of it, but I loved it. It really was still beautiful.
There’s columns and statues all around. Many nude, and of course the people that I was with had to get in the risqué pictures with the butts. There’s this funny running joke with the people we’re here with about taking weird, somewhat inappropriate photos with statues while in Rome together. That gradually led into incorporating the couples in the park that express a little too much enthusiasm about PDA. My friend likes to somewhat discretely sit or stand pretty close to couples that are pretty intensely intimate and pretend like she’s kissing someone. We’re probably pretty weird, but I thought it was hilarious. The Italian culture likes to let it all hang out from what we’ve observed, especially in parks.
Anyway…back to the villa. It’s definitely a place worth visiting. We had a lecture there that was really not the most fun thing to do…sorry to say, but I’m sure a tour or information that’s meant to be entertaining would be awesome.
While in Florence, we made plans to take a bus2apls trip to Cinque Terra to see the beautiful coast. It was brilliant. Colors, food, rocks, ocean, speedos. All of it. When we got there we had to get on a train with a big group of people..not the easiest thing to do, so naturally we missed the first one and then made everyone else on the hot train uncomfortable when we all squeezed onto the second one. The train would go through dark tunnels and the emerge onto the coast and it was funny to hear peoples’ gasps from the beautiful water scenes. There were people swimming in little rock pools, dads jumping from cliffs with their sons, fishermen, tons of old men in speedos, and a lot of colorful houses on the sides of hills. We started in one town where we walked up a little path that we were able to look back at the town on the edge of the water. We were only here briefly before we were back on the train going to the next place. Same thing here. Brief stop, then movin on. Movin and groovin along the whole coast.
The next stop was for food. We got off here and climbed a bunch of stairs…big surprise..more stairs. Hot hot hot stuff. We opted for some pasta instead of pizza, which I would tell those of you that will follow our footsteps, don’t. The pizza looked soooo good and I’m betting it was cheaper too. But the food was pretty good. I just still haven’t mastered eating shrimp that still has a head and eyeballs. That is shrimp right? There was a nice view down the cliff a little way away from the pasta place, then we were off again to the next spot. This is what we were gearing up for. A two hour hike from one town to the next across a mountain or two. It was probably the same mountain…I know it was, but it seemed like it was three walking through the dips and peaks.
When everyone else made their way to the beach, Russell and I decided to take on this hike. Hot or not, I want the views. There was always the image of the beach with its cool water at the end of the tunnel. The hike was pretty intense. Lots of steps..again…always stairs. These stairs were rocky and dirt. There was recently a landslide in the town that we started the hike in and while we were climbing on the path we saw some homes that seemed to have been hit hard by it. It was sad to see and pretty crazy that we were seeing it. We hiked…and hiked…and hiked..and hiked. It was AWESOME. One of the best choices I’ve made while in Italy. If you have a choice between walking somewhere incredible or riding…walk. Completely worth it. The walk was hard, but the views you got, you couldn’t see them anywhere else. And the water felt all that much better when we finally got to the beach. After the beach it was back to Florence for a quick goodbye where people were watching the soccer game at the park and then off to Roma for one last week.
If you get the chance while you’re abroad, you should make time to see Florence. While in Florence, it’s relatively easy to make your way to Cinque Terra, where you can take a train, or hike (which I would suggest), from town to town along the coast and it’s amazing.
Florence is really an awesome city. However, our arrival was not so smooth. We took the train from Rome to Florence’s station that was not Novella. That was our first mistake. If you ever take a train to Florence, I suggest the Novella station..it just seemed closer than the one that we took. It’s really close to a big, incredible market that you can get all kinds of different foods and oils and wines. Again, I go on about the markets. But really, it’s great. Anyway..instead of taking a taxi from the train station, we decided we would find our way there and then get on a bus that the woman at the hotel told us about…when she thought we were at the Novella station. So we spent the next two hours dragging our luggage around the streets of Florence trying to make our way to that train station. When we got to the hotel and she found out that we walked from one station to the Novella station, she was somewhat shocked. However, we prevailed. The first day in Florence was somewhat slow. But we did go to a restaurant called Sizzle and got quesadillas and nachos, fried chicken and onion rings. And who could forget the strawberry margaritas? It was AMAZING. The first day was filled with unexpected events. A medieval parade, a band playing at an outside bar, a police search with drug dogs. All this in one day!
The second day was more planned out. We had a nice morning going to the Galleria Academia and seeing the David. Yes, I snuck pictures of the David. Then we climbed to the top of the Duomo and got an incredible view of the city. It was somewhat exhausting just realizing how far we had walked the previous day. It was A LOTTTT. On the wall that I was standing next to I noticed the Deathly Hallows sign and underneath it said HP Forever..I fell even more in love with Florence. Then I looked slightly to the left and saw Gabrielle June 2012. So I was signed right next to Harry Potter.
After we climbed the Duomo, we got some food at a place called Mario’s. It was a bit of a wait, but completely worth it. The place was packed, the food was cheap, and it was all good. They don’t have a set menu, it seemed as if it changed every day, but I got spinach ravioli and the other people we were with got a meat sauce pasta and some tomato soup. All of the food was good. When they went back to our hotel, which was really great and helpful, my boyfriend and I decided to make our way over to Piazza Michelangelo. It was a hike. And it was hot. I’m pretty sure by the time we got back I was completely delirious. We went out though and found a restaurant that Ernest Hemingway ate in the 1920s and there was a picture of him on the menu. They sucked us in when they said we could each have a free glass of champagne. After dinner we walked around for a bit and saw some stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots of it.
For convenience and space, I just put these images in a gallery. Click on a photo and it will bring it into a slide show! Do it dooooods!