Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting to Know You!

With 18 students and two faculty, it's hard to not only remember names, but to know any little thing about anyone. Thankfully I've had three students in class before and a few others I've seen for advising.

Regardless, today we wandered about our part of town and then did some ice breakers.

Sadly, it's Sunday here and it looks that many Italian businesses observe the day of rest as such. Everything was closed. But with the rain, it was okay to be inside for a jaunt today.

After lunch, the group met up in the garden behind the building and did some getting to know you activities. Some of which involved running around in a circle like idiots. Apparently a group of Italian guys found this entertaining and set up shop to watch us. lol.


The last shot is my favorite. Caitlin and Josh mid-run. 

So basically it was a "Truth or Truth" type game, where someone in the middle of the circle had to say something true about them. If anyone else around the circle had the same thing true about them, they would have to run across the circle to an open spot. The last one to find a spot was the next person to say something true about themselves. :) It was fun and a good way to get to know people. 

More later.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gimme Pasta! And Wine!

I can see how this is going to go. I've been in Italy for 2.5 days and 80% of my meals have consisted of pasta and wine. How typical. ;)

But really, can you blame me? It's ITALY!

So after the first night, I slept like a baby. I still feel a bit of jet lag, but much better off than I was. Saturday consisted of unpacking (I'll have to take photos of my room), and getting acquainted with the students as they came trudging in from their flights.

Cathy and I walked over to the Penny Market next door, which is a mini grocery store. I picked up some Coke Light (Diet Coke), Sparkling water, cheese x3, chocolate wafers, bread, sammich meat, TP, etc and some WINE... minus the wine opener. Drats.

I spent a mere 14Euros on that! Yay for Penny Market!

Last night we wandered about for food, but many restaurants here don't open until 7pm. So as the rain started to soak us, we passed a gelato place that was open. So gelato time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I ended up getting Latte' flavor, and Chocolate Noir (which is the darkest dark chocolate I've EVER seen). It was fantabulous. 

Finally, 7pm hit and we made our way to La Martesana for dinner, where I feasted on some Gnocchi and red wine. With a HUGE tiramisu for dessert. 

We wandered home as a group and settled in for the evening. 

And apparently I only talked about food today... hmm. Fancy that.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

A day in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark

The flight that would never end…
Don’t get me wrong, I love to fly. I look forward to it. Hell, I’ve kept track of every flight I’ve ever taken (this was 121). But, I REALLY was looking forward to touching down in Denmark. Aside from the fact that it’s DENMARK and I’ve never been here before… it was just an exhausting and non-restful flight. Not to say that SAS didn’t do their best. It was a smooth flight… the dinner of chicken meatballs, rice, warm bread, salad and a slice of cheesecake was above par. However, I was in the back of the plane. The literal last row… 46F. So not only that, but it was an aisle seat with no window view across. If you know me at all, you know I usually fly with my face smushed against the glass to see everything possible. So that was the first issue. The second was that my hips don’t lie. In fact they like to make it abundantly clear that they have widened to an uncomfortable point when riding in coach. So there was no wiggle room to get cozy for the eight hour adventure from Dulles. Beyond that, I just could NOT fall asleep. I caught myself dozing off and would immediately snap back to attention. The nerve of it all! Why wouldn’t my brain do as I ask… GO TO SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

So yes, as I write this, I can safely say I’ve been awake over 24hours. But dry shampoo and concealer does wonders for your looks… so perhaps I don’t look as rough as I feel.

Day in Denmark.
*Ahem* At first I was afraid, I was petrified!
True story. I got off the plane and felt insta-culture shock. I don’t read or speak Danish. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read signs in Danish as a dumb American, but they look (I shit you not) like this: Stuvrvegardensivienrsvz St.
WHAT THE Ffffffff…..
Anyway, I wiggled my way to the currency exchange to find that my debit card was rejected (thanks Suntrust… I TOLD YOU I WAS COMING HERE!) so I thankfully had my new traveler’s card from BoA. 500Kroner later I was headed to the Metro station. I came across a kiosk to buy metro cards and it had no English interpretation… so I panicked and bought one having no idea what it said. *slow clap*
I then walked another 50 feet and saw a full service ticketing counter. Are ya still slow clapping for me? You should be. So I went there and bought a Copenhagen day pass which would work on any metro, bus or train for 24hrs. YAY I DID IT! It was fairly easy once I got the right thing.
I hoped on the metro and went downtown. Emerging from the underground, what did my eyes first spot in Copenhagen? That’s right… a McDonalds. The metro entrance had a McDs right in front of it. I can’t escape it even when I try. ;)

After looping an extra block that I didn’t need to, I found it. Nyhavn. Probably the most photographed location in Copenhagen aside from the mermaid statue. It is as beautiful as a postcard with all of the painted historic buildings on the canal. Since it was only 7:45am when I got there, shops were still closed, so I just walked the stretch of the street taking photos and people watching.

At 8:00 I went to a little sidewalk café called Skipper Kroen Spiserestaurant. I got a bacon and egg brunch with toast, marmalade and butter and a salad (for breakfast…but it was good). A couple next to me was speaking in English, so I asked where they were from. Turns out I had some Californians eating breakfast by me, so we talked about the states, where to go in Denmark and our respective trips to LA and DC.  It’s good to make some friends abroad.
I sat at the café for quite some time after I finished eating just to watch the street start to come to life. Delivery trucks were squeezing down the narrow corridor and I couldn’t help but notice that they were all delivering fresh fruit and veggies.
I continued down the street until I just happen to stumble my way into an ice cream shop. Yeah, yeah I know it was still 9am… but they had an ice cream called the “brownie bomb” so I had to try it. For research purposes. For the blog. It was amazing. Dark chocolate with little bits of brownie tossed in for good measure. It was no Marsh Mud (see: Chincoteague Island Creamery), but it was pretty damn good.
I found a shady grove of trees by an anchor statue at the harbor to sit and eat my sweet treat. By this point, floods of tourists had found Nyhavn and had their cameras going full force. Since I felt at one with my fellow wanderers, I popped out the T3i and did some shots of my own. It looks less ridiculous when everyone is doing it. 
I pulled up my GPS and looked for the Amber Museum and shop I had googled a few weeks back. Kris mentioned that Denmark is known for their amber and sure enough I was only a block away. I found that in this store and in general, there are certain populations here that don’t mind getting RIGHT on top of you if they feel you are in their way. I will not name this group (however you have probably heard about me mentioning their driving abilities before), but I will say at one point an older lady had her head on my shoulder because she wanted to see what I was buying and wanted to be sure it wasn’t what she wanted. LoL.

Now my initial plan after the Amber museum was to head to Tivoli Gardens. However, exhaustion took a  hold and the prospect of another 2 miles on foot made me sad. So I wandered downtown and found a few gems… there was an area in the city center that allowed for street vendors. They were still setting up so none of them were too busy. I got a good look at Danish antiques, hand-made makeup, photography, paintings/sketches and some food trucks. At the corner was this cool, enclosed gazebo type structure offering wine and spirits and played some beautiful classical music throughout the plaza. I found a COOL stone side street that reminded me of a street in Dublin. It had a mixture of high end designer shops and mom and pop boutiques. So I window shopped Michael Kors and Gucci things I could NEVER afford.
I turned the corner and found that I had made a huge loop and was now in front of my metro stop again. Since it was only 11:45ish, I took the opportunity to check out a “mall” that was closed when I first hopped off the metro. It’s called Magasin du Nord and was a young woman’s wet dream as far as shopping goes. You walk in to a deli, bakery, eatery area and as soon as you pass groceries, it unfolds around you. I guess “mall” is a weird term as it was all contained in one store, (think Macy’s), but they had different vendors/shops throughout. Handbags, watches, sunglasses, scarves, perfumes, makeup, body/skin care, clothes, makeup, jewelry, did I say makeup? Soooo yes, I gave the credit card a mini workout (but hey it wasn’t all for me! I got gifts too!).

Time was running out so I metroed back to the airport for a late lunch. My flight was slightly delayed so I shopped around in the airport (they have a huge tax-free shopping area) and got some Pandora charms for the trips – A mermaid for Denmark and a red scooter for Italy.

A two hour flight later and I was in Malpensa Airport in ITALY!! Thankfully my luggage arrived, but somehow TSA “lost” my Pan Am luggage tag and the pin I keep on the bag to easily identify it… and the wheel broke off of its base. Sooo that was a bitch. I may need to find a new suitcase before I leave in a month. We shall see. So I trudged to the train station and caught the later train to Milano Centralie (a huge station designed by Mussolini) where my darling Cathy was waiting for me.
After a late night stop at Gemilli’s for pizza and wine, I am about to pass out. More tomorrow <3 nbsp="" p="">

To the good people of Copenhagen, Tak!