Archive for the 'Churches' Category

Now What?

Parma was wonderful but I had nothing to do.  So I rested and tried to catch up on things.  I started emailing people about apartments in Berlin, laying out a map on the floor and reading about ex-Pats advice for getting a German Visa.  I started smoking again and knitting like a maniac.

Some highlights from my Parma trip:


Snow storm the day after I arrived with huge puffy snowflakes that made my Sister and I say “this snow is crazy” a few more times than necessary.


The view from my Sisters apartment window, which I know I’ve photographed before and will probably photograph again.  Something about those chimneys and the window that I love but can’t seem to capture quite right.


This is the beer bar in Parma, Mastiff, where Christiana (the best bar tender ever) jokes with my Sister, Kate, and I.  We went there a few times during my stay and always ended up meeting new people.  I loved it here because I was able to have a beer, get comfortable, and speak Italian.  It was nice to talk to people, tell stories, learn new words, and stop over thinking it long enough to really speak.  We talked about religion, art, love, history, and of course food.




I took a lot of long walks, catching up on This American Life, and generally going through the cycle of excitement, anxiety, cynicism, astonishment, and butterflies that comes with figuring out my life.dsc_0896 I had an offer from London thrown into the mix, to be an Au Pair for a little girl.  It paid really well, with health insurance, and a place to stay.  I felt like kind of a jerk.  Hadn’t I just felt so wonderful about starting a life in the art world in Berlin? The scent of cash and job security was really making me put all that on hold? Then again it was a great offer, Berlin would still be there in a year.



In the midst of all this, Jennifer (my Sister’s room mate) found a kitten in the back courtyard of their apartment.  She was limping and cold and even though they aren’t supposed to have animals we took it in for the night.


Frankonian Wine, Pumpkin Soup, and Barbara turns 25


Frankonian Wine at the supermarket.  Barbara and I went and bought some groceries and she made me a delightfully low key supper.  As I’ve mentioned, I love going to markets in other countries as I think you can learn a lot about a culture by seeing where and how they get their food.  At this place which claims to be the market for every generation (Barbara said they recently redid the place to include large signage for the elderly community nearby).  I enjoyed the huge selection of seeds and wasn’t sure what to think about all the weight watchers products which are apparently really popular.


The next day we had lunch and a different Mensa, apparently there are 6 in Wurzburg for all the colleges and people of lower incomes to share.  A decent meal for 3 euro in a really clean place that promotes a sense of community was pretty wonderful (hey USA, get on it).



Then we walked into town and admired the many Wurzburg churches along the way.  Above in red is the Market Square Church and that gorgeous yellow building in the center of the photo below is the Library, another favorite thing to see in every city I visit.  Oddly enough the last four or so I’ve seen have been similar shades of yellow.



Then in celebration of Barbara turning 25 the next day we went out for a nice meal in Wurzburg.  More Frankonian wine, the best pumpkin soup I have ever had, and German wurst with potato balls (apparently a specialty in the area), and a wonderful salad.  Plus for dessert we shared a plum crepe. Wunderbar!

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After a long rest from my flight Barbara took me to her school, where I enjoyed a nice coffee while she met with a professor.  Then we were off to the Residenz, where the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg used to live.  We walked around the garden and admired the ice sculptures that had formed around the fountains.  It was quite lovely.  dsc_0472




Some very lovely trees.  The one below seems sewn together.




Barbara on the oldest bridge in Wurzburg.  The statues are from 1720 but the original bridge was built in 1120.  Barbara was telling me that Prague and Wurzburg have a long standing argument over who has the older bridge.  1120.  America is a giant toddler.



Went to Lucca again, this time on a school trip with Orazio guiding Elaine, Jan, and I.  Even in some ugly weather Lucca is near the top of my list of Italian cities I love.  And I can’t be all wrong because Orazio was saying it’s one of the highest ranked places for quality of life in Italy.  I wonder how they judge that.

I tried not to repeat photos from last time; I focused a bit more on the details and people.  Enjoy:

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Slovenia by the Sea

My last day in Slovenia Aneja and I went to the coast to visit some small towns, unfortunately the rain was still coming but we enjoyed ourselves none the less.  We stopped for a wonderful breakfast in the first town where we people/rain watched for a bit.


The Adriatic Sea was gorgeous and despite the weather we could still see Croatia in the distance.





Just as we climbed to the church on the hill of the second town the weather got better.  We saw yet another rainbow and enjoyed the rich colors drying in the sun.






Then we stopped to have lunch in the third little town of the day which was the biggest.  I promise to add the names later but for now I don’t have my notes with me.  I didn’t take many photos there but I did like this statue.


Then we drove up a very windy road to visit a gorgeous castle with a view.  I felt the need to spread my arms as wide as I could just to take in the enormity of it. At a safer distance from the cliff I spun around and skipped, new places get me all excited.


The fourth and final little town was not on the coast but had a beautiful view of the rolling hills.  The dark clouds returned but by then we had seen weathered worse.  We strolled around the empty town and enjoyed the park.



That night the whole family went out for an amazing Slovenian dinner, everyone ordered something different and we each tried the others plates.  My favorite were the mushrooms, native to Slovenia and especially fresh, all of the food was delicious not over complicated with too many flavors but made with careful choosing of the perfect ingredients.


The whole weekend was really wonderful, Aneja and her family were such wonderful hosts and in a time when I really needed it.  I think every traveler will tell you the best thing about traveling is the people, you and your interaction with them determines your experience.  We had horrible weather the whole time but I will always fondly remember this trip because I really felt so welcomed and cared for by them.

While Aneja and I were packing Vlada came into the room with two beautiful glasses of Slovenian strawberry wine and a smile on her face.

Bled, Posojna Caves, and More First Time Experiences.


In the car, early that morning on our way to Bled.


Bled is gorgeous, even in less than perfect weather.  There is a castle in the top right and on an Island in the middle of the lake there is another beautiful smaller castle like building.  There’s also a Spa on the other side of the lake which Aneja told me is much cheaper than Spas in the states.



It all reminded me of a place families go for summer trips. It made me want to be 13 and with my parents, pretending it was awful to be forced into a vacation with them but in the end really enjoying myself.



Then we walked up to the castle and admired the view.  I really prefer walking up to these beautiful vistas, when you’ve worked for it it’s sweeter.  Also I really liked walking amidst the tall tall trees, reminded me of home.





A detail from the castle church above and below a photo of some mushrooms we noticed on the walk back down to the lake.


After the castle we had some delicious desserts and coffee, so delicious, in fact that the distracted me from taking a photo of them.  Then I took a nap in the car while we drove to Postojna where we bought tickets to see the caves.  Then we drove to a nearby castle IN A CAVE.  It was so amazingly crazy that I made this face:


Miss Amanda this castle reminded me a lot of you, I felt myself experiencing the Amanda type of excitement, where you smile and bounce with awe like you’re five and don’t care who’s watching.

Below, a garden of a house nearby the cave castle, that I liked a lot.


Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the caves because it’s bad for them but I snuck this one senza flash.  I must say the Postojna Caves are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, if you ever get the chance I highly reccomend visiting them, they’ll take your breath away.

First we took a train down into the caves and then we went on a guided walk (in English, I wasn’t quite up to Italian) with this older guy who kept making corny jokes (Amanda, you would’ve loved him).  It was so gigantic inside, it’s hard to describe without a lot of hand gestures.  You see that little figure in the left corner of the photo; that’s a tall guy.  And this was one of the smaller parts of the cave.  Grandissima!


Later after driving back and having another wonderful dinner at the house we went to see Aneja’s grandparents (Vlada’s parents) in their house in a small hill town nearby.  They speak Italian fluently and had an Italian friend over at the house; it was amazing for me to watch them all joke and laugh in Italian.  And I found myself laughing at the right times even though if asked in English to explain I wouldn’t have known how.  A lot of the time you know before you know how to explain why you know, I’m starting to trust this more and more.

After cookies and laughs I was shown the hunting room, Aneja’s grandfather is an amazing hunter and is rather famous for having killed a giant bear among other things.  It was fun to point to the different animals and learn their names in Italian.  Also it’s not every day you get to see a hobbiests personal collection of favorite things, I felt privilaged to be shown.



Then back to the house where I tried a few firsts.  The jug is home made apple juice from Aneja’s neighbors, they had just dropped it off for them and I of course had to try it.  It was really good.

Then the Slovenian wine that Vlada had told me about earlier, very good, and a rather strange first Watermelon Chocolate with pop rocks which was better than I expected but mostly just strange.  I had to take a photo because really when am I going to see that again.




Then we went to bed early, exausted and satisfied.

At Least Six Rainbows in One Day

We woke up early with coffee and foamy milk, perfectly browned toast, and home made jam from banana and strawberries.  While driving into Ljubljana, the capitol, we saw at least six rainbows.  When we arrived at Aneja’s apartment I took this photo from her back yard.

Aneja was off to her University, where she is studying constantly to become a doctor, and her Mom, Vlada and I were off to see the sights.  This was in the main square.


Church Doors

The Market

I came the same weekend of their day of mourning the dead, when Slovenian families usually go to the cemetary to pay respect to loved ones.

The Park

New friends, the squirrels look different here.

Dragon on the bridge, the Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana

Aneja and her Mom Vlada looking lovely.

It may not look delicious but it most certainly was; buckwheat perogi like raviolis filled with a mix of ricotta and local herbs with a cranberry scauce.  All with fresh ingridients from the market, yum.

And Vlada had polenta made of three different types of flours and corn topped with prociutto and grilled mushroms.  She was kind enough to offer me a taste, Aneja told me they were the type of family that tried each others dishes, it made me happy.

Then we rode up to the castle, you know, totally normal.

After the castle Aneja had to head back to school for another class but Vlada continued to show me around the city and we went back to speaking Italian which made me very happy.


We stopped in one shop with specialty items from the salt marshes in Slovenia and I bought this lovely aloe salt scrub and some interesting salt chocolate for my sister and I to try when she arrives.

This is the public library and a really beautiful building.


The doors of the library:


This is one of the University buildings and Miss Katie this is the building that reminded me so much of you:


After a long day of sight seeing we left Ljubljana and headed to the mall.  It was really strange to be in such an American idea that was executed in such a European way, nonetheless I stopped at a photo booth and did my thing; for those of you who don’t know I will always stop at a photo booth to make a photo of myself with or without company. Then Aneja showed up and we all went for coffee and dessert before heading back to the house where Vlada made shrimp scampi and fettucine, it was delicious.



“My name is Lucca, I live on the second floor…Just don’t ask me what it was.”

Remember that song from sometime in or near the 90’s about a girl that doesn’t like her neighbor asking her about her abusive boyfriend? Well Barbara and I went to the Italian town of the same name on Saturday and couldn’t get it out of my head for the whole in ritardo (running late) train ride. Then we walked out and saw the beautiful scenery and I quickly attached new ideas and memories to the name. It’s a good thing too, that song is one of those listen to once a year types.

Here are some highlights:

Wall around the old city

Wall around the old city

caffe' con Barbara, sempre.

Oh and by the by, I am working on putting more photos on my flickr slowly but surely so that I don’t post quite so many on here because I know it takes ages to load. For now I suggest you click on a current post and view it specifically rather than all of them at once.

Radda in Chianti

This week Jennie and I went to see “Burn After Reading” in Florence at my favorite theater, The Odeon.  It was nice to see a movie in English with popcorn and all; although this theater is anything but ordinary (it feels like an Opera Hall).  Here are a few photos:

I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed the movie if it were in Italian, or enjoyed it as much.  It made me think about many subtlties I will probably miss in Italian no matter how well I speak it.  Also, I love the Coen brothers, you should go see it.

Then I had another day trip with the school to Chianti, a little town called Radda and then another vineyard.  This time they were in full grape picking mode and we got to learn a lot about the process, and listen to some grapes in the process of fermenting.  We left a gorgeous sunset and returned home pretty early, all and all another wonderful day trip.


On Saturday Barbara and I went to Rome for the day.  We decided to get an early start and took the 7:15 train, slept for most of the four hour trip and grabbed some espresso as quick as we could once we got off the train. At University in Boston we sometimes went on day trips to New York to run around and see the sights, going from Florence to Rome was similar for me.  Rome is such a giant city, there’s so much to see and try to see in just one day.  Fortunately Barbara and I had both been there once before so we both felt about the same about how to go about the trip; we decided to see a some of the main attractions (but not over do it on the tourist stuff) and to get lost in the less known areas and by all means stroll though the day rather than runnning from place to place.

Even so, it was a long day and even recalling it all makes me tired so it’ll just be photos and quick captions (anche in Italiano) for this post.

Il sabato scorso io e la mia amica Barbara siamo andate a Roma.  Abbiamo preso il treno alle 7 la mattina molto presto, ma siamo arrivate alle 11.  Va bene.

Primo, siamo andate al Colosseo, certo.

una machina classica di FIAT.

Allora la Piazza Venezia che e’ grandissima! Ho fatto molto foto, troppo.


Siamo andate alla Fontana di Trevi, e il Pantheon ma non ci e’ piaciuto molto perche’ tanti turisti sono la’.  Abbiamo preferito passegiare nelle strade e piazze piccole, senza molte persone.

musica buona nella piazza Spagna

musica buona nella piazza Spagna

Dopo pranzo abbiamo scoperto una vista bellissima sul castello si chiama Santa Angelo.

After lunch we discovered this castle (which I had never heard of) called Saint Angleo and it had a gorgeous view.

then the clouds came

then the clouds came

Vatican CityVatican City

Allora abbiamo fatto spese e scoperto un negozio di vetri.  E’ stato molto interessante e bello.

This shop was crazy, it looked like a tiny place but when you turned the corner it went down and on forever and every space was filled with glass.

Ancora ho fatto le foto, tutto e’ troppo bello! Barbara e io abbiamo continuato a piedi, abbiamo visto una festa nella piazza Francese, bella, una gruppo di persone diverse ballato insieme per una beneficenza. Felice!

Later we saw a group dancing in the square for charity in the French Piazza.  It made me so happy to see.

Finally after getting lost for a bit we found the Colleseum and stopped for a few fotos of the sunset then hopped back on the metro and took the train back.  We slept most of the way and slept well that evening.