Monday, July 26, 2010

Italy!

So, for those who don't know, I was in Italy for the past 11 days. I went with my whole immediate family (mom, dad, two brothers, sister-in-law and other brother's gf). We spent 6 days in Rome, 3 days in Cinque Terre (Monterosso) on the coast, and then 2 days of travel tacked on to each end.

It was an amazing trip. I had been to Italy before- I went when I was 16 to Venice and Florence- but I had always wanted to visit Rome. It did not disappoint. Everything about it was great- the ancient ruins sprinkled all throughout the city, the cobblestone streets, the piazza's, the food (wine, gelato and pizza, anyone?), the history, the architecture, the lifestyle, and even our wonderful hotel (I would recommend it to anyone). I loved it all. It is a quintessential European city with style, personality, ruggedness and flavor. I much prefer cities like Rome than cities like London- they are just so different from anything in America (not that I don't appreciate London, but you get the point). We usually toured in the morning until the early afternoon, then napped/relaxed (and in my room we usually watched German MTV), had dinner and drank at night. The piazza's have music and vendors after dark that were fun to go to.  It was so HOT during the day that we got burnt, consumed more water than I have ever consumed in my life (seriously, most of my money went to buy water) and sweated profusely. It was all worth it though and at least there was no rain!

We also did one day in Pompeii...SO COOL. I recommend it to anyone going to Italy.

After Rome, which we could have stayed in forever, we went to the coast of Cinque Terre and stayed in Monterosso. Cinque Terre is five towns on the coast with colorful buildings and quaint facilities. We again stayed in a great hotel and hiked, beaches, ate, played cards and watch SKY1 TV (holler Buffy and X Files). The hike to all five towns took us 5 hours, but we also stopped for lunch in the 2nd to last town. It had great views and was hilly/tough between the first three towns, but then was a pleasant walk to the final towns. I was still sore the next days- up and down steps are brutal.

I don't feel like posting pics here, but if you are friends with my on facebook I have all my pics up there. The captions should basically tell you what you're looking at.

For those traveling to Italy, here are a few words of wisdom:
- Don't go in July. It's too hot. Go in June or September (we were told those were the months for the best weather and less crowds)
- Stay in Trastevere in Rome. It's a little bit off the beaten path and south of the river. Our hotel Santa Maria was fabulous with great rooms, breakfast, free internet and drinks served all day. The staff was great and they even had bikes to ride (which we did and my ass still hurts from it).
-When going to the Vatican, don't go until 3:15. They stop letting people in at 4, but you still have until 6 to wander. We went at 1, and even though we had tickets, it was too crowded and the line to get in wrapped around multiple buildings.
- Go to Pompeii!!!!
- Stay for a week in Rome. A lot of people do it in 3 days, but you really get to know and enjoy the city staying longer. We were there for 6 and wish we had more days.
- When going to Cinque Terre, give yourself a day to hike, a day to beach, and a day to boat. We would have loved one more day.
- Don't fly in and out of Philly. Both our flights home were delayed by 3+ hours. It was a long trip home.


That's all my jet-lagged mind can think of now. Prego!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend, a college friend of mine got married. I had the privilege to be in her bridal party. It was a busy, fun weekend that took place in the college town of Charlottesville where the wonderful, beautiful University of Virginia is located. Oh how I've missed it!

The weekend started with a bridesmaids' luncheon, hosted by the bride's mom off the downtown mall in Charlottesville. We had a private room, with delicious mimosa's, wine, food and dessert! I know all of the bridesmaids from college, three of whom I lived with my 2nd year. The other three were friends of the bride that I met from living with her (we all have many mutual friends as we went to neighboring high schools).



We then had our nails done (french mani's & pedi's) and raced to the hotel to get ready for the rehearsal. We stayed on the corner right near UVa, which while expensive was very nice and felt like home. The church she was married at is a Methodist church also off the downtown mall in Charlottesville near the courts. The rehearsal dinner was at C&O, also off the downtown mall, and it was again full of wine, good food and good dessert! Most of all, it was a great celebration with many wonderful people. I also had a little too much fun and was feeling pretty toasted by the end of the night. I am a sucker for open bars of wine!


The next morning we got up and got our hair done at 9 am. Breakfast was provided by the bride's family and we got some cool updo's! I also had a million bobby pins in my hair. It was heavy but cool.



Then it was wedding time! We went back to the hotel after a quick stop for lunch and got ready (the bridesmaid dresses were a hit)! The ceremony was at 3:30 and the reception at 5:30 with pictures before, during and after! I loved the photographer, though- she made it very fun. We even got some pictures on the lawn:). And dancing was the best part of the reception obviously. People got a little tanked, but fun was had and shockingly there was no drama (I also caught the bouquet for the 2nd time this year....I think someone is trying to tell me something?!?!?!) The party limo might as well have been another guest for the wedding- it was essential for our safe transportation and continuous drinking!


(Notice how in the party limo home, people are chugging water). The bride also never fails to make funny faces at the camera!

Needless to say it was a fun, gorgeous wedding. It makes me very excited for all the weddings to come:). But I don't need to be in all of them- it gets expensive! I will happily be a guest and treasure when I am a bridesmaid.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Harry Potter is Legit

I just read the last book of the Harry Potter series (the deathly hallows) for the 3rd time. It still blows my mind.

No judgment.

The Harry Potter series is probably the only series of books that I can read over and over again and not tire of them. I got into the books in the summer of 2000, because of my best friend Sarah basically forcing me to read them. This was when the hype was really reaching fever pitch, because they were turning the books into movies and the 4th book was coming out. I read the 4 books in about 3 weeks. I had never been hooked so much in my life. I got my mom into them, and we PAID my brother to read the books because we thought they were so good. He read them but didn't think they were amazing, and neither did my dad. To this day they both only read the first 3, but I have never met anyone else who hasn't been hooked. If you haven't read them, you can't comment. I will only take criticism if you started them and could honestly stop the series with no care of how it ends. Then talk to me. (I can criticize Twilight because I read the 1st book and didn't like it- I think vampires are stupid and the book was random- who thinks a creepy guy staring at you obsessively with an evil look is hot? Honestly?)

Anyways, back to HP. Cut to 10 years later- I still love Harry Potter. The themes, the humor, the fantasy, the many movies, the theme park (woah?!), and the world of Hogwarts and England. I want to go to Hogwarts. The summer I studied abroad in Oxford, I felt like I was in Harry Potter land. I really "got" the world the fictional characters were meant to be in (minus all the magic) and it was awesome. The cobblestone, the Diagon Alley type streets, the old castle-like buildings with random old objects, and of course the English countryside all are a part of Harry Potter world!!!

They are even more obsessed over there too- I was there right when the 5th movie and last book came out. Talk about mania.



The first film also filmed in Christ Church at Oxford. Here are some pics from where they filmed the Great Hall and Sorting Hat scene from the first film...


I also saw the countryside they used to film the Hogwarts train and Hagrid's cabin...


Anyways, Harry Potter is very cool and one of the most imaginative, brilliant literary stories ever created. I love long, drawn out complex mythologies (hello LOST!), and Harry Potter has that and so much more. While the films are no match for the books, I am still looking forward to seeing the last movie come out. The new trailer is pretty sweet. I just hope they keep the movie as similar to the book as possible, because when they stray (ahhem, the burrow fire in the 6th film), it isn't good.

Now, I just may have to re-read then entire series again. Sans the last book obviously.