Adventure Blog

Italy Adventures – Days 8 & 9

Hey, all! I’m back home now and it’s kinda bittersweet. I’m happy to be able to see everybody and understand the language but I miss the friends I made and the beautiful culture of Italy. The last few days have been so hectic, I have been unable to write to you about all we’ve gotten to see! So, this post will be all about our last 2 days in Rome.

Wednesday the 16th was a day I’ve been looking forward to practically my entire life. The first Roman landmark we got to see was the Pantheon. Huge church but very beautiful. We got to walk around inside and get closer to the statues and art surrounding the inside, as well as sit in the pews in front of the altar. It has a really high ceiling as well and was just fascinating to look at. Afterwards, we went outside to look around the square surrounding the Pantheon. There were some guys busking on keyboard and guitar and they were amazing, oh my gosh. If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for that stuff. There was a big crowd surrounding them and watching them play.

After that we went to the landmark I was most excited about… the Trevi Fountain. The Lizzie McGuire Movie was a part of my childhood and the Trevi was a big part of the movie as well and getting to see it in real life was a surreal experience for me. It is more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. It’s huge. Also, very crowded so if you go visit there, be prepared for a TON of people. I have a photo of the crowd we saw, actually. We also all got to to throw coins in the fountain and make our wish to return, so that was pretty awesome too. Ugh, it was just spectacular. That is a moment I will never forget.

Lastly, we saw the Spanish Steps, yet another landmark featured in The Lizzie McGuire Movie. It’s where she is standing with Paolo, after getting her dress for the IMVA’s, and her school shows up and the have to make a run for it. I’ve seen this movie more times than I can count. Lol. But they were beautiful and crowded as well. If you ever decide to visit, one tip I can give you that I learned from this trip (not from experience), is don’t eat on the steps… You could get fined hundreds. They are trying to keep it as nice as possible and people eating on it and leaving their trash isn’t helping. The Polizia are there watching as well and caught someone while we were there and kicked him off. For the most part, though, it seemed like everyone abided by rules. The rest of our day consisted of lunch and some shopping before going back and having a cute little picnic in the courtyard and playing card games and eating some cheese, prosciutto, and chips.

Day 9, our last day in Italy. Very bittersweet day. Although, we had the chance for some beach therapy so that helped a little. We got up early to catch a train to Ostia Antica. We got off at the Ostia Antica stop and made our way to the Ancient Roman ruins where our tour guide for the trip, Richard, led us through and highlighted certain ruins and what they used to be. It was really cool to know that they used to be buildings and part of a city or village where people hundreds of years ago, used to live. We saw bathrooms, gyms, restaurants, etc. At least that’s what our guide compared them to.

After our trip through the ruins, we went back on the train and went to Ostia Lido, where we were stopping for the beach. Every single beach except one was private. We walked practically the entire boardwalk to find the free beach. We finally found it and took some time for some much needed relaxation. After a few hours spent there, we went back to take a few minutes to change and leave for our goodbye dinner.

This trip was everything I could have asked for. It is so wonderful to be able to cross off eating pasta in Italy off of my bucket list. I made so many new friends and learned more than I could ever learn about the culture in a book. I definitely want to come back someday and hopefully I can speak a little more Italian by that point.

Below I featured some of my favorite photos from these two days and the rest are in my Flickr album!

Italy Adventures – Day 6

Buona sera! What an adventure this has been so far. Such an experience for myself and the friends I have made on this trip. I’m looking forward to going home and seeing my loved ones, but I will desperately miss such a wonderful trip and spending time and having fun with the friends I’ve made. We’ve only got a few more days left, but a lot happening within them, so I am looking forward to them.

Today was a pretty cool experience. We started out with a mini food tour in a market, about a half hour away from our hotel. We tried a bunch of cheeses, meats, breads, and olives. The bread was so darn good, oh my gosh. I was obsessed. It was soft and salty and just delicious. We then split into two groups, one went to Gelateria Royale and the other went to Florence Leather. At the gelato store, we got to see how gelato gets made and sample a bunch of different flavors. It’s very easy and there is no milk in it which makes you wonder how it ends up so soft and smooth. All the flavors were amazing. Then we got a little bowl and picked 2 flavors and I ended up with chocolate and raspberry because I felt like they would compliment each other pretty well. D-E-L-I-S-H.

The leather factory was really cool cause we got a little lesson in marketing and being able to tell if leather is real or not. It was quite a scary place to be because you had a feeling you were gonna end up buying something or wanting something once you had the lesson in authentic leather. Well, I did at least. I ended up getting one for 200 euros after trying it on and it being too much, but loving it. I tried on 2 others and just didn’t like them like I did the first one and the owner/salesman said because we had such a big group, and he likes “to make all happy”, he offered the one I loved to me for 200 and I caved. I’m still trying to wipe away my guilt, hahaha. But I just keep telling myself that I may never get back there so why not?

The last thing we did in Florence before coming back to Rome was go into Santa Croce, the church where Machiavelli, Galileo, and Michelangelo are buried. There were actually women there cleaning the paintings, which had soot on them that built up from the candles that get lit everyday, so that was cool to see. Paul, our guide for the day again, gave us some really awesome information about it and pointed out things we may not have noticed. This was the one church I seemed to grasp and remember all the information from afterwards. We just went to so many different churches that they all run together.

After a brief lecture session in the Santa Croce, we headed back to our hotel and grabbed our things and went to get our train and head back to Rome. Once we got back it was a very chill night, to the point where I took a nap and it was great, and we all pretty much did our own thing until the Sisters had made pizza for us around 8, and then later on we played cards in the upstairs recreational room.

Tomorrow we go to a museum and we have our 4 hour food tour, which is gonna be bomb if the weather doesn’t rain, hahaha. Stay tuned for more!

I featured some photos below but if you’d like to see more, (I know you do so do it) go to my Flickr album linked here!

Italy Adventures – Day 4

Benvenuto! Wow, what a long day. We had to get up early enough to get ready and eat before walking to the metro, which we had to ride to reach the train station. That is such a long walk, especially with our bags we brought for staying the weekend.

After a beautiful and scenic train ride to Florence, we made our way to the Uffizi Gallery where our tour guide, Paul, met us and tested our knowledge. He was quite the guide, let me say. He was great and I actually learned quite a few things from his interactive lecture. After our walk around, we were all starving and decided to go to this restaurant right on the same square we ended our gallery tour. I had spaghetti… my life is complete. It was DELISH. I wanted to cry. I have now officially eaten pasta in Italy. I can die happy now. Lol. Then we all met up with our group and went to Ponte Vecchio, which translates to “Old Bridge”. There are TONS of shops the whole way down. There are smaller markets on the actual bridge itself. There was a beautiful view of the river Arno.

Afterwards, we split up and our little group went and found a gelato shop and enjoyed some tasty gelato. I got lemon and mango and it was so good. My Italian dreams have come true. We then came back to our hotel and just chilled for the rest of the night.

I took some great shots throughout the day and featured some below! The rest of my photos are featured in my Italy adventure album on Flickr.

Tomorrow we have a free day to eat and explore as well as shop, which I’m looking forward to.

Italy Adventures – Day 3

Ciao! We are 3 days into our Italy trip and it’s been nothing short of an adventure. We’ve all (well most of us) become so close and have been having such a wonderful time.

As I mentioned, yesterday we visited the Vatican, as well as multiple churches, ate some cannolis (amazing), and explored Rome a little bit before running block after block through a torrential rainstorm to where we were going to eat pizza. It was great, lol. But since I couldn’t have my camera most places, I didn’t want to write about it.

Day 3 was wild from beginning to end. We started out the day by seeing a huge church called Basilica di S. Clemente. There were underground ruins of an older church built first and then the modern church was built on top. Then we went to S. Agnese fuori le mura, before heading to lunch on our own. Lunch was amazing, oh my gosh. My small group broke off and went to a small pizzeria called Pizzeria Europa. It kind of reminded me of like the Italian version of Subway, where it’s small and cheap. Seriously, I paid 6 euros for a coke and a piece of pizza. In the grand scheme of things, that’s basically nothing. And, oh my GOSH was it amazing. I miss it, haha.

Then around 3:30pm we had our appointment at the Colosseum. Our Rome tour guide, Richard, gave us some background on the Colosseum before we went in while we waited and it made it pretty cool to have prior knowledge before we went inside.

The Colosseum was unreal. It was the first thing we’ve seen here that I was truly in awe about. It almost didn’t look real. It’s something you see in so many pictures and don’t ever expect to trust be able to see and it was absolutely beautiful. And we were able to learn so much. The sides of it were actually destroyed by weather such as earthquakes, which was something I didn’t know. It wasn’t just over time. That’s what gives it it’s worn down look.

After we went around the Colosseum and got photos everywhere, we walked to Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum, which were both ruins of ancient Rome. They were both beautiful sights to see and learn about as we walked through and took photos. I have to say, too, that being here and learning makes the facts that much more interesting. I truly don’t think you can learn from a textbook and truly retain that knowledge.

After that we went to dinner together and tried some wine and pizza. I got Marinara which basically had sauce, garlic, and basil and it was very good. Also, I don’t like hardly any wine but the one my group of friends ordered wasn’t the worst one I’ve tried, so that was good. Then we went back and prepped ourselves for the next day.

Today we are on our way to Florence to enjoy another part of Italy!

As usual, I posted all my photos on Flickr and featured a few below!

Italy Adventures – Day 1

Hey all! So as I write this, I’m in the beautiful country, Italy! I am here on a study abroad trip with my college. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy. I’m a huge fan of Italian food and I was also (and kinda still am) obsessed with The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which took place in none other than Rome, Italy; the eternal city. So needless to say, as soon as I knew Italy was a choice, I jumped at the chance and now here I am! We are here for 10 days; the beginning of the trip is spent in Rome, then we have two days in Florence, then the rest is back to Rome, aside from the one day we spend visiting Ostia Antica and its beaches. I’m going to do my best to try and keep y’all up to date with what we do and where we go as well as show you some great photos from each day; just like I did for Ocean City last year!

Well first, the plane ride(s). From Pittsburgh to Charlotte was short but the turbulence bothered me. However from Charlotte to Rome, was a smoother ride. Although, it was a VERY long ride because I’m used to driving 8, 9, 10 hours but flying is a whole new ballgame. We arrived around 9am Tuesday (Roman Time, 3am Eastern Time) and we were all exhausted and moving on very little sleep. We got our rooms on the Roman Campus and had like 20 minutes to freshen up before we went to lunch downstairs, provided by the Sisters we were staying with. (La Roche is a Catholic, Liberal Arts college and they are partnered with the Sisters of Divine Providence, so it’s only fitting.)

After lunch, we had a short meeting and went on our way to explore. The first thing I noticed when we were landing was the fact that there was so much farmland. Like, it was crazy. Then, all of a sudden we start dropping down and boom, we’re on the landing strip. While on our walking tour, I noticed the cobblestone roads, careless drivers (something we all found quite hilarious), and how narrow the streets were. Cyclists of every kind were seen driving on the colored lines on all sides. At one point we saw some go into the opposite lane to avoid sitting in traffic. It’s crazy what these Italians can get away with. All I know is I would never want to drive in these streets… leave it to the crazy Italians. We took a bus to the heart of the city and public transportation is about as bad as it is anywhere, so nothing new there. Also, there are so many old looking buildings and I think that’s what is so fascinating to me; how they manage to keep these buildings and monuments and landmarks look as nice as they do and they don’t come crumbling down with crazy weather.

On our journey we got some beautiful views of the city of Rome in a park called Gianicolo. Absolutely breathtaking view of the city. You bet your butt I got tons of shots there. We did tons of walking around the park before and after looking and learning about the different landmarks surrounding us. We then ended up back down to the city to see Trastevere, a beautiful Roman neighborhood. It kind of seemed like a modern place for younger Roman residents. There were several places to hang out as well as tons of restaurants and gelato stores to enjoy in such a large square foot area. (I haven’t had gelato yet but I can’t wait to try it.) We made our way to Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s most iconic and large plazas. I learned prior to the trip it used to be a stadium, hence its round shape and large size. I’ve come to notice that most plazas and areas around here have fountains with statues who have a bigger meaning. So that’s pretty cool to me.

We ended our very, very long day with a wonderful dinner at Ristorante Virginiae, just a block from Piazza Navona. The food was crazy. Since we had a big group, it was prepaid for so I’m not sure just yet how they do things but for us, they came out with different (large) plates of different things for us to share. Kind of like a smorgasbord, I guess, just on different plates. Now I can be a picky eater a lot of the time, but I knew coming into this trip I had to give things a chance. I did! I haven’t liked any wines yet since I’ve been 21, and I tried a sip of both the red and white that were on the table for us (which if you didn’t know, wine is an extremely huge part of their culture). Bleh, not a fan. Too bitter. I had some bruschette, and mozzarella balls as well as some bruschetta, while we awaited our main course. The main course was pasta (of course). The first one we had reminded me of a spaghetti bolognese, but with pork or something along those lines. It was SO RICH and so good. I want more. They also had 2 other kinds that kind of tasted like a form of alfredo and the other tasted like it was just topped with parmesan. All very good, but the first was my #1. As if that wasn’t enough, they brought out some veal as the “main course” but by then we were all getting full so we only ate small pieces. 20 or so minutes later they bring out to us tiramisu. Oh boy was that rich. I scarfed it down because I didn’t want anything to go to waste.

We came back and all are getting a well deserved sleep tonight. Tomorrow is going to be filled with the Vatican and the Catacombs, neither of which photos are allowed in so I’m leaving my camera at home. So, any photos from that, check my social medias! I’ll take photos with my phone when I can! Still have 9 more busy, but fun-filled days ahead of us. In the meantime, I posted some of my favorites from the trip so far, below and the rest of my photos are on my Flickr page!

Stay tuned for more Italy Adventures!

MAX at La Roche College

This show was one of the most surreal shows for me. Since last year’s spring concert, I wanted to be a part of the committee to continue this tradition every year. So I got a crew together and together we worked tirelessly to get an awesome act and make this show the greatest we could make it. Getting MAX was kind of surreal for me as I’ve been a fan of “Lights Down Low” since before I knew it was him. So, as I mentioned, I helped run the show from the morning hours till late in the evening and even took photos during the show itself for several outlets, including here. Planning a show is HARD work. But there’s no feeling like seeing it come to life. Now, without further ado, here is my write-up and photos from a show I helped plan. 🙂

So first we had Vertigo, a band whom, if you read my blog posts a lot, you know quite well. Once we had our headliner, I knew they would fit well since they have a similar demographic. And as usual, they were awesome. They had a full set and it was cool because we had an enormous stage so they were able to use it all. They performed a mix of older and some newer songs for those who had heard their music prior to this show. I was pleasantly surprised because I noticed some of the crowd singing along with them which was awesome. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and enjoying their set. They were a great opener because they got the crowd’s blood pumping and adrenaline rushing with their upbeat and funky tunes. They always put on such a great live show each and every time I see them. This one was no different. If you are unfamiliar with Vertigo and like pop/rock/funky music, you will enjoy them. On all their social medias, look up “vertigopa’ because you’ll spend way too much time trying to find them just by their actual title.

Next up we had pop/rock locals, A Summer High. When choosing them, we considered their similar demographic as well as their increasing popularity over the past year. This was only partially demonstrated at the VIP pre-show when they played a short acoustic set for those lucky enough to get VIP and come on time. The crowd was singing along and dancing to their every song. It helped that they included popular covers such as “She Looks So Perfect” by 5SOS and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. But they were great to prep the crowd for MAX. They’re on all forms of social media so go give them a follow!

And then, we have MAX. First of all, I was staff and helped manage the show and a lot goes into that. That being said, I did a lot of talking to MAX and his crew about certain show-related things, and even tended to their needs. But he was such a sweetheart. From the first moment I introduced myself to him and told him myself (and my girl Allie who co-managed with me… couldn’t have done this without her) would be the ones to tend to anything him and his team needed. He gave us hugs and introduced himself and asked our names. And each time myself or any of our group had to talk to him or his team, they were consistently kind and appreciative. He is the nicest guy. Celebrities have a bad rep that way and a lot of them likely are. But I can tell you from experience that MAX is a genuinely good guy. He and his team thanked us several times for all the work we did to accommodate them.

Now, on to his performance. I’ve never seen him perform but I’ve seen videos and he’s insane. By the end of the show he was covered in sweat. He utilizes the size of the stage and interacts with the crowd and dances like an absolute maniac. He’s so into it. Even being one of the smaller shows he’s done lately, he put his all into it and it was just captivating to watch. I found myself thinking he reminded me of a modern day Michael Jackson. From his vocal range, to his stage presence and performance, to his eccentric personality and style, he’s definitely not your typical 25 year old guy. But he embraces every aspect of himself and preaches great things and that is beautiful. He’s a great role model. From following him on social media to meeting him in person and seeing him perform, he demonstrates that and is very raw and real. Nothing but great things to say.

His entire performance was a dance party. A nice break from reality for a night for most of us college kids. Every single member of that crowd was having the time of their lives and that was a beautiful sight to see.

As I said, I’ve never done anything like that before and watching our ideas on paper come to life month after month leading up to the day of the show, was absolutely incredible. What a journey. Thank you to Vertigo, A Summer High, and MAX for putting their all into their performances and making this such an amazing show.

The photos turned out even better than I imagined. As usual, I featured some of my favorite photos below, which was SO hard to choose, but be sure to check out the rest on my Flickr Portfolio.

Here’s to another fantastic spring concert next year 🙂

GLOBE Fashion Show

Hey there! This isn’t going to be one of my typical concert posts. But, you’re following my photography adventures so I figured, why not?

So, if you’re unfamiliar with what the title means, let me give you some insight. At La Roche College, they have a committee that hosts the GLOBE Fashion Show every year. The fashion show is a multicultural celebration of food, crafts, and clothing, that supports the college’s multicultural community.

Each year I’ve been a student, I’ve been asked to come and take photos of the models and this year I caught a little of the pre-show. A press release on La Roche’s website quotes the college’s director of diversity and inclusion in saying, “The GLOBE Fashion Show is a chance for students to proudly represent not only their respective countries, but those of their peers, so this event has been a very intentional way of bringing together our multicultural community. It’s important to take advantage of these cross-cultural engagement opportunities because it’s how we learn, and it’s how we grow and see that regardless of how we identify, we can coexist and have true unity.” It’s truly a great demonstration of the college’s diverse culture. Being a student there, I see so many different types of people as I walk the halls to and from class. It’s an experience I definitely did not get in high school.

After that long essay-like write-up, (sorry, still in school mode) skim through my photos from the fashion show! I only featured a few below, but the rest are on my Facebook page!