Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Around the World Party

I have been absolutely worthless today. It’s true. Aside from hitting up campus this morning to turn in a paper, I have been holed up in my room for the entirety of the day, napping and generally being worthless. I have never (I repeat, never) had a hangover this bad in my life. Like I mentioned, I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but I had entirely too much wine last night which left me feeling like absolute sh*t today! After falling asleep at around 230A, I (for some reason unbeknownst to me), got up a 7:20A wanting to die. After about an hour of tossing and turning, I decided it would be better to use the time productively and head to campus where I could a) turn in a paper, and b) get a breakfast sandwich at the Garrick. I thought a few liters of water and a decent breakfast would cure this awfulness. Silly me. Silly novice-wine-drinker-me. Didn’t help. Came home and passed out for three hours. You would think that with the entire day at my disposal, I would have finished my readings and write-ups for two measly papers, right? Nope. I’m on paragraph #2 of the first article and have made zero progress.

Worthless. I think I’m gonna go back to not liking wine <3.

Here are some snapshots from last night… hanging out with my lovely flatmates prior to our party:

[California, Thailand, Georgia (the country, not the state)]

Keti & I; check out our sweet kitchen lights!

With Aaron — an honorary flatmate.

Fon took this picture — adult prom photo gone wrong. Hahaha. Cracks me up.



Done and… DONE!

I am exceedingly excited at this point in the day. It’s 2:21P and I have finished my formative essay due tomorrow along with my formative due on Monday for my core course. It feels so good to not have to worry about essay writing this weekend! I’m going to take a moment tomorrow to re-read through them (to make sure they’re as coherent as I think they are), but other than that, I can go out and explore London now that it’s decked out for Christmas!

In other news, I started Project: Getting Groove Back on Monday, wherein I am endeavoring to regain said groove. From getting off the plane in London to present day, I lost it somewhere (probably somewhere between the Digestive cookies and the formative essays), and I am attempting to find it once more. This groove regaining entails: normal gym sessions (5- 6 days per week, like the good old days!), tanning (sunless or otherwise), getting my hair cut and highlighted next Wednesday and overall re-beautification of self. It feels good to feel good about yourself, so I am on the road to recovery. Hopefully I’ll be there by December — wish me luck!

Also, a few realizations as of late:

1) I like wine. I prefer white because I’m rather wimpy, but I have developed a taste for red. As anyone who has known me will tell you, this is quite a feat. I have always wanted to like wine (for purposes of looking classy whilst out and about… currently I resort to sugar-laden Cosmos, but I digress), but I’ve never really had a taste for it. In the last few weeks, I have developed a bit of a liking for it!

2) Dissertation is approaching. Well, not really approaching that quickly, I suppose, but considering I am already done with Week #7 (of 20) in graduate school, I guess it will be here before we know it! That being said, I should probably figure out what I actually want to write my dissertation on, and start doing some research!

That’s all for today! I’m going to prepare for this evening — our floor is hosting an “Around the World” party, wherein each flat is given a country and provides drinks from the region. Fittingly, we were given Italy, so we’re going to grab bottles of wine and put out some delicious Italian fare for passersby. Other countries & drinks? Mexico’s upside down margaritas, US’s jello shots, Japan’s sake bombs, UK’s pimms (not sure what that is!), and then a mystery flat that’s suprising us! Should be fun!

Viva Roma! (Rome, Day III.)

On Sunday, for our last day in Rome, we (fittingly) decided to spend the day exploring the Vatican, seeing St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, and trekking up to Castel Sant’ Angelo. We took the Metro to the Vatican (since it was a bit too far to walk) and arrived at the world’s smallest country at around 10A. For anyone that’s unaware, the Vatican is its own sovereign entity, separate from Rome; they can print their own money, they have their own post offices and the Swiss Guard patrols instead of the Roman police.

Fortunately for us, the line to get into the Vatican was incredibly minimal. We waited for about 10 minutes (as compared with stories of waiting in lines of 2+ hours!) before we made it inside.

Pictures can’t really capture how astounding the cathedral is. Not only is it huge, it’s incrediby ornate: amazing statues, gold fixtures... plus being that I’m Catholic (by association)  it carries such an amazing history that it was pretty breathtaking to actually be inside. Legend (and some historical evidence) hold that St. Peter is actually buried under the altar of the basilica. For this reason, a number of popes have been interred at St. Peter’s since early days. I, of course, grabbed some goodies for my grandma from the Vatican shop once we were done gazing — wish she could have been there to see it first hand!

After checking out St. Peter’s Basilica, we decided to head to the Musei Vaticani to check out the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately (take note), the Sistine Chapel and the museums are closed on Sundays. If you’re planning on hitting up the Vatican and it’s important for you to see these things, make sure you go any other day! Although we were slightly disappointed, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed up to Castel Sant’ Angelo.

[Another tip: Do not eat in Vatican City. It is ridiculously overpriced — head to the outskirts to grab lunch. We paid 10 euros for a mini pizza that we shared… in any other world it would have cost about 3 euros.]

In any case, we made it to Castel Sant’Angelo in about ten minutes and the view from the Castle was absolutely breathtaking!

Castel Sant’Angelo (below) was apparently built as Hadrian’s tomb in AD 170 or so, but has been reconstructed a number of times. It’s absolutely gorgeous and it sits right on the bank of the Tiber. The bridge in front is lined with a number of Bernini’s statues:

Afterwards, we crossed the bridge and spent some time in the city, finishing our day off with some gelato at the famed Giolitti. After a delicious break in the day, we began our trek home. After a ride on the Metro, a quick jaunt on the bus, a walk down to the station, a two-and-a-half hour plane ride, and a 60 minute Tube ride, we were back in London.

Arrivederci, Roma! It’s been real. I was able to scratch Rome off my list of places to see before I die, but I could definitely see myself making Rome a destination trip. Gotta go back again and drag the fam!

Lots of love,

When in Rome… (Rome, Day II.)

After our fun-filled and relatively stress-free first day in Rome, we had a solid plan of attack for Day 2 of our Roman Holiday: a trip to Santa Maria Maggiore (which we could see from our room), a stop at the nearby (and famed) Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and a bit of shopping followed by an evening pub crawl at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore sat right down the street from our hotel. So close, in fact, that we overlooked in on day one. Although it’s clearly an amazing structure, we had no idea that it was such an old and holy site. The inside is said to date back to roughly the 400s and the Borghese tomb sits on the premises.

After our quick stop here, we started our journey to the Trevi Fountain, about 20 minutes walking from our hotel. Although I hadn’t really known what to anticipate, I have to say that the Trevi Fountain was one of my all-time favorite parts of the trip. The structure is absolutely breathtaking — pictures really can’t do it justice. It’s massive (85 feet high and 65 feet wide)!

It is said that if you toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, your return to Rome will be a swift one:

There are loads of touristy stores around the fountain, so I was able to snag some super cool gifts for my family nearby [if you guys are reading this, expect some cool Roman gifts for the holidays!] After hitting up the Trevi, we headed north to the Spanish Steps. Although neither of us really knew what to expect from the famed steps, we discovered an interesting mix of art — not at all what I had expected!

Apparently they’re dubbed the Spanish Steps because they’re near the Spanish Embassy. All seems to make sense now! After, we enjoyed loads of delicious sangria and pizza and people-watched before heading home for a quick nap before our evening outing.

That evening (after a much-needed power nap), we jumped on the Metro to the Spanish Steps to meet up with a pub crawl group. Unfortunately, the pub crawl was 25 Euros (more than we really wanted to spend) and seemed to be plagued by legal-by-European-standards-18-year-olds from the US. In lieu, we cabbed it to nearby Campo di Fiore, a little piazza that houses a number of fun pubs and restaurants. We decided upon a placed called Magnolia and ended up spending hours there munching on bruschetta and focaccia and talking with a 91-year-old Roman that we referred to as nona (grandma). She had been living in the area for all of her 91 years and had been dining at Magnolia every day for lunch and dinner!

All in all, we had a fun-filled, relaxed day and saved our energy for our trip to Vatican city, Castel Sant’Angelo and the streets of Rome on Sunday. Stay tuned to see pictures of the Vatican and some of Michaelangelo’s amazingness!

Meglio del Sesso! (Rome, Day I.)

Pizza. Wine. Gelato. Bruschetta. Crostini. Caprese Salad. Sangria.

I’m back in London taking a break in between classes after three delicious and action-packed days in Roma. First, let me say that Rome has got to be one of the most amazing cities in the world – so much to see in a relatively small area, amazingly friendly people, and delicious eateries. From start to finish, our trip was stress-free. Despite having to wake up at 345A on Friday morning to grab our 445A cab to Paddington Station, I was pumped and ready to go for Friday’s action-packed day in Rome.  We arrived in Italy at about 11A (Roman time) and got settled into our super cute hotel, Hotel D’Este, by 1P. The hotels was perfect — we had a huge room and a decent-sized bathroom, plus pretty amazing views of Santa Maria Maggiore church.

Day one, we decided to do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour (€19) to familiarize ourselves with the area and see as much as possible in a single afternoon. Our first stop? The Colosseum!

Inside the ColosseumThe Colosseum was breathtaking! We had to pay to get inside (€16 including audio guide), but the views were worth every euro. Check out these views of the surrounding area from the top:

Roman ArchI know this arch is a big deal… Arch of Constantine, perhaps? Beautiful.


After leaving the Colosseum, we hopped on the bus to head over to Piazza Navona for lunch and gelato!

RomeOn the way, we saw this amazingness, Palatine Hill – the place where Romulus and Remus were taken in by the She Wolf, according to legend. Pretty awesome sight!

ItalyWe also caught a glimpse of this amazing building. I’m not 100% sure what it is, although I’m sure the audio guide told us! The backside has a staircase that was designed by Michaelangelo!

Piazza NavonaWe ended up in Piazza Navona for lunch with an incredible view of this fountain that was sculpted by Bernini. His work is incredible! After our jaunt in Piazza Navona, we headed back to get ready for the evening, dinner in Trastevere and meeting the locals. We had a brilliant time practicing/learning Italian while we were there and the people were so amazing.

Stay tuned for Day 2, where we got to see the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and enjoy liters of sangria. Mmmm!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

To check out the rest of the pictures, see my album on facebook here. I have about 150 loaded!

.leaving on a jet plane.


Trevi Fountain -- near our hotel!

Ahhh, yes. I have just finished three article outlines, readings for an essay and nearly completed a second essay. Despite being holed up in my room all day (literally have not stepped foot outside), the day has been rather productive by most standards. And, fortunately, I still have a few hours of productivity in me before I get to sleep so I can wake up at 415A to head to the airport! Normally being up at such an ungodly hour would be unacceptable, but when one has to arise for the reason of heading to Italy, it doesn’t seem quite so bad.

So, being that our flight leaves at 730A, Lindsay and I agreed that getting to the airport a bit before 6A would probably be ideal. We’re leaving from Heathrow, a busier airport considering the big time international flights, so cutting it close is not on the agenda. Due to the fact that we live so close to Holborn station (home of the Piccadilly line), we had planned on tubing it directly from the station to Heathrow until we realized that the tube doesn’t open until 530A and doesn’t hit Holborn until 542A, which means getting to Heathrow before 6A would be impossible. Although there’s a pretty decent chance we would still make our flights, it wasn’t worth the headache. In lieu, we have reserved a cab at 4:45A to take us to Paddington Station where we can jump on the Heathrow Express (which starts outbound journeys at 510A) for 15 or so pounds. Although it’s a bit more expensive than tubing, our options were rather limited and missing our Roman holiday would have been a huge disappointment.

Also, we’re flying British Airways which works out well. Instead of the discount airlines (EasyJet, Ryan Air, etc.) where you are limited to one piece of hold luggage, we are allowed one checked bag, a carry-on and a personal item. Although we’ll likely forgo the checked bag, the carry-on + personal item bit is pretty nice. I’ll be able to take my laptop to upload pics and stay connected to the world!

All in all, I cannot wait to cross Rome off of my list of places to see! It hasn’t fully hit me yet, since I’ve been so engulfed in getting work done, but I know that I’ll feel that kid-in-Disneyland sensation when my alarm wakes me up in the morning! This time tomorrow, I’ll be sitting in a ristorante near the Trevi Fountain practicing my Italian, eating authentic Italian food and drinking Italian coffee. Meglio del sesso. That’s what I have to say about that.


Signature Stamp - Shannon

Also, if I didn’t mention: through Expedia’s UK site, we were able to snag round-trip tickets and two nights in a 3* hotel for 215 pounds each including all taxes! Pretty sweet deal, and we’re flying with a legit airline!

a few big smiles in day two of hell.

So, it’s 847P and it feels like it’s about 1130P right now. Despite the wave of tiredness that just hit me, I feel fortunate in the fact that I still have two solid hours of work I can get in this evening. I just knocked out one presentation in my Health & Population seminar this evening and it actually went pretty well! After so many years of business classes/public speaking, I seemed to have forgotten that I actually enjoy speaking in front of people when I have a good grasp on my topic (one reason that a career in academia/university teaching has been of interest to me). I have one more presentation tomorrow morning, followed by preparation for a third presentation for Monday. Despite the fact that I have had to relinquish my rights to a social life, I actually kind of enjoy having work to do. I feel like I’ve finally been pushed into grad school mode and I can really start to bring my ‘A’ game on a daily basis. Also, there is a reward to finishing this load of work: tomorrow night I get to hit up an Arsenal game with a friend and finally see the Emirates stadium (Chris, if you’re reading this, that statement may be perceived as sacrilegious considering my mandatory alignment with Manchester United) and Thursday night, I’m hitting up the Apollo Victoria theatre with some fellow MSc kiddos to catch a showing of ‘Wicked‘! I think that those two nights of social re-integration will help me re-focus for a weekend of presentation prep work and paper-writing.

My goal for this weekend is to a) prepare a kickass presentation for Monday’s seminar and b) write my formative essay for my Health & Population class. I figure if I post this on my blog for the world to see, I’m semi-accountable to someone/everyone. If, on Monday, I have to write about how I still have essays to write, I will feel entirely defeated.

On an even brighter note (speaking of things to look forward to): Nine days until Rome! I think that all of this writing and academic reading has fried my brain. The excitement and reality that I get to take a jaunt to Italy in one short week has yet to fully hit me.

Hope all is well in the world! Feel free to send some love my way — getting comments always puts a smile on my blogging face.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Side note //  Two other things put a smile on my face today: One – I finally tried the Hare Krishna food on campus today and it was way better than I had envisioned.  Two – I got an email from my dad that used the term ‘OMG.’ Hahah. Love it. Dad, I know you’re reading this: OMG, I love you. <3.