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Category Archives: travel elsewhere

Things I’ve noticed when traveling through Europe

Tips for travelers that I have discovered or re-discovered throughout my semester abroad:

1) Siestas are effective (eat lunch late, rest from early mornings, eat dinner late, and make and use of nightlife)
2) Nightlife= wee-hours-of-morning life
3) The dollar fluctuation actually matters in the real world!
4) Use of the metro is SUPER convenient.
5) When packing a suitcase to travel, it’s better to pack an L.L. Bean backpack instead (airlines are a crapshoot and sometimes tell you that suitcases are too big, re-wearing jeans is necessary evil, you may be doing extensive walking on cobblestones so rolling bags are not ideal, weather can be difficult to pack for so be realistic about the forecast and be prepared!)
6) Americans are not always well received, especially by rude Italians
7) Overall levels of trust and social responsibility are different in every country. Thus, you and your possessions will be safer in some places than others.
8) YOU must find you own balance between wandering vs sightseeing/doing both.
9) People within certain cities act differently (Italians have a more leisurely walk than Danes, Greeks sit around in squares, Italians spend much time at cafes/trattorias, London metro is brisk)
10) ALWAYS have a charger for all devices AND an extra adapter (or else our plugs are useless)
11) 3 things to never leave home without: debit card, granola bar, shower flip flops!

With these tips, everyone can learn from my mistakes and misconceptions. I hope you have safe and comfortable travels!

Much love.

Things We Take For Granted in America & at Villanova

If you think American life is boring and annoying, you’re not alone. A bunch of people here hate on America and think they are going to turn into a real live European (or even a Dane!) just because they’re studying abroad.

While I think there is some value in appreciating the Danish culture and taking aspects of it home, I disagree with this “high on study abroad” attitude. America is a considerable part of who we are, from our habits to our values.

Now that Mia and I  have spent much time outside of America, we have thought about the things we miss about living in America, at Villanova, with our friends and family surrounding us. In a particularly long ab ride, we decided to write them down for our readers!

Take a look at Mia’s and My Compiled List of Things We Take For Granted. (click on the words, they’re a link!)

Warning: More lists to come, this is how I process things.

Much love.

Pizza, Pasta, Prosecco, & (Mia’s) Parents!

On Friday, November 9, Copenhagen had the pleasure of receiving Mia’s parents, Paul and Andrea Savoca. Along with Mia, they are literally the sweetest humans on the planet, and they let me tag along on Saturday to see ome of our lovely city of Copenhagen.

Mia’s first Danish!

Mia & I with our Danishes (I know that’s not actually what they are called here but I can’t help it)

Paul, Mia, & Andrea at the lake at Christiania. Love them!

Our return to Nyhavn, still one of my favorite parts of Copenhagen!

During this day around Copenhagen, I got to participate in showing Mia’s parents all the places I would have liked to show mine. You’ve seen them throughout my blog as I’ve visited them (Nyhavn, the Glass Market, my house, the lakes, Parliament/Christiansborg Castle, etc.) but it was cool to show Mia’s parents in person. They also got to observe all the little things you can’t capture with a picture, like the guttural language, fast bikers, cobblestone streets, and windy grey weather. Most of all, they experienced the charm of Copenhagen that has made me fall in love with this city.

At dinner that night, we were casually chatting when Paul suddenly said, “Bri, why don’t you just come to Italy?” Mia was equally as shocked as I was, and at first we didn’t take it seriously. But, five hours later, I had tickets to and from Italy!!

I spent all of Sunday in bed with a stomachache, while Mia and the fam spent the day in Malmo, Sweden.

Monday started the trip! We flew into Fiumicino, Rome, and drove directly to Perugia, a few hours north of Rome. Being in a car was actually mindblowing for me, and surprisingly soothing. We enjoyed the ride to the 13TH CENTURY CASTLE THAT WE STAYED IN (the Savocas seriously know how to travel!), and later drove to a restaurant where we had an amazing culinary experience.

Seriously, for real, castle.

I finally found my knight in shining armor!

The view from our window, of the terrace and the Italian countryside beyond.

view from the terrace

Best tortelloni I’ve ever had, complete with mushroom pecorino sauce.

My eggplant parm. Delish!

Paul’s octopus, which I tried and actually kind of liked!

Such a great look for Paul, reminds me of my dad eating lobster.

Mia’s pasta, made with octopus ink. It tasted really good but the color just looked so strange!

The next day, Tuesday, we made the most of our location and toured the world-famous Perugina chocolate factory, known for Baci chocolate hazelnut kisses! We saw the production of Baci and some of the other chocolates that the factory makes, AND GOT A FREE TASTING ROOM! YESSS.

fooling around with my head in the trademark Baci kiss logo

Baci white and Baci! Love them both!

Promise I didn’t eat all of these, but honestly I probably could have if you gave me a few hours. So yummy.

Post-chocolate food coma, we explored the Italian countryside some more. The first place we stopped was Deruta, famous for its hand-painted ceramics, and Assisi, known for St. Frances of Assisi.

Deruta

Deruta ceramics

ceramic electric guitar (BEN!!) made strictly in Deruta, nowhere else in the world

Assisi

Assisi

Church of St. Frances Assisi. Pretty sure he’s buried in there under the altar.

I would just like to note that Assisi is one huge hill, which makes for gorgeous views BUT a LOT of walking uphill! We definitely walked off that chocolate!!

Tuesday night we drove to Rome and checked into our hotel, Hotel Villa San Pio. At this point in the trip, I basically picked up a glass of Prosecco and a fork, and never put them down for the rest of the journey. NO REGRETS, but this week the jeans are a little tighter! (EuroDiet was not in effect on vacation.)

Wednesday began with a visit to the Vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly address to the public. The thing is, he spoke Italian… but thankfully, Mia’s dad is fluent in Italian so he translated. SO INTERESTING: He spoke about St. Augustine, and Veritas, Unitas, Caritas, which is literally Villanova in a nutshell. We are an Augustinian university, and Veritas Unitas Caritas is part of our University Seal as well as our core values!

Pope Benedict XVI

For the rest of the week, we basically just walked around Rome, revisiting the Colosseum (of course, since I’m obsessed) and other sites. We took the Scavi tour of the underground cemetery beneath the Vatican/St. Peter’s Basilica where St. Peter’s bones can still be seen today. Inside the Basilica is super cool and intricately designed, and the remains of past Popes can be visited as well. We also went to Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori, an Italian opera (my first, and probably last, opera ever), and the Spanish Steps. Aside from that, we had great food and, of course, more Prosecco!

view of Rome over the Palatine Hill (the Colosseum is in the back)

Saw this right before the Scavi tour, super creepy as I’m about to descend into the depths of Rome

Mia took this artsy photo of the Colosseum, so proud of her skillz

Prosecco at the hotel courtyard

XTINA THEY MAKE SURE TO ACCOMODATE YOU IN ITALY

St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, the Scavi tour was under there!

Dad, orange trees AT MY HOTEL

These are posters for the strikes that took place all week. One even got violent.

before the Scavi tour, with friends of the Savocas who recently moved to Rome

The Tiber river was the highest it’s EVER been… Those are treetops. Covered.

Getting adventurous trying some meat (after a mostly-vegetarian semester)

On Friday, we did the most Italian thing I have done in Italy: we took a pizza-making class!!

cutting mushrooms

People who know me know that I am a pizza snob, but this has taken my judgement criteria to a whole new level! I will never be the same again after this delicious experience.

The next day, Saturday, we said a sad goodbye in the airport and went our separate ways. For the last time, I flew back to Copenhagen.

I cannot express how thankful I am to Mia and her wonderful parents. ADOPTED FAM, YOU ARE THE BEST!! This trip was fun, exciting, and refreshing. I am so glad to have you as my adopted family. I will never forget this amazing vacation.

Much love!

Long Study Tour to Milan, Italy

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Last week, my Positive Psychology class took our long study tour to Milan, Italy.

Class photo!

While it was definitely an academic tour, with lectures at the university by prominent figures in positive psychology, DIS did a great job of planning so it didn’t just feel like a week-long class. Some of our academic visits were creative applications of positive psych, like the spent in a meditation center of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.

We got to spend time exploring the city of Milan, eating Italian food, and even climbed to the roof of Il Duomo, a famous and beautifully built church in the center of the city!

Our hotel, Hotel Bernina, got to know each of us loud Americans very well during the night hours when we got knocks on our doors telling us to quiet down! Oops!

Inside La Galleria, a cross-shaped building lined with shops like Louis Vuitton.

Spinning around on the “most delicate” part of the mosaic bull that decorates the floor of the Galleria. Apparently three spins on your heel gives you luck and good fortune!

quick shot of me, HEY

The tram lines run all over the city and are a cute, efficient way to travel. We saw much of the city this way, and used the Metro as well.

fountain pic, classic

This old castle had a moat, which I think is fascinating. Cats live in there now. Ironic, since cats hate water.

Arc de Triumph, which has something to do with Napoleon

Il Duomo

Inside, leading up to the altar. AN ORIGINAL NAIL FROM JESUS’ CROSS is suspended above the altar!! You can see the small red light near the top of this picture–that’s where it is kept embedded within an ornate cross. To be in the presence of such an object was absolutely astonishing.

areas to light candles and pray were on the sides of the church

I decided to have a moment to myself, say a prayer for my family, and light a candle. I miss them so much at times like these.

My friend Chelsea snapped these photos when she saw me being a real person…

The bodies of a few Cardinals (or Archbishops?) are also here on display, which was both surreal and a reality check for me. I hope it’s okay that I posted this, I just wanted everyone to get the full effect of what I mean.

A pitcure from the roof of the Duomo. Of course on the day that we actually climbed it, it was cloudy out.

Close-up, you can see that atop each point, there are actually sculptures of saints! Remarkable.

Tori, me, Chelsea, Rachel, and Kelsea sitting on one of the windowsills on the roof of Il Duomo!

The classical music concert we attended as a class. Very entertaining and enriching, as I used to play the flute (through freshman year of high school).

Zoe, me, Chelsea, and Gabe enjoying intermission, with a phenomenal photobomb by Katie in the background

WINE TASTING UH HUH

Indulging in some Milanese drinks with Zoe, Chelsea, and Tori. They were delicious!

This is what happened when I tried to order that orange drink the next night at a different place… I got a giant green thing that was bigger than my face. But I was not complaining!

Cool lunch place, that served us an entire plate of meat as an appetizer with bread, fried sweetbread pockets, and chunks of parmesan cheese.

Although I am not a meat person, I did venture to try one of each of these, and actually liked some of it! Proud.

Couldn’t help myself with this stalker pic. When in Milan!

The beautiful town of Lake Como, which we visited on the last day of our trip. This picture does not do it justice. If you’re curious, google Lake Como and see why GEORGE CLOONEY owns a house here!

Lake Como

As you can see from all my pictures, my classmates and I enjoyed ourselves on this study tour. We became much closer as a result of living together for six days and sharing some truly hilarious experiences!

At the end of our trip, we did a Positive Psychology Intervention called the Compliment Bag, where each of us had our own bag, and every classmate would drop in a little note with a personalized compliment written on it. Because the compliments are anonymous, you don’t get to know who thinks what about you–it’s just a general confidence boost from everyone! Writing my compliments for my classmates was not difficult after all the fun we had together in Milan. The best part was reading all 27 compliments, which I saved in my room for a rainy day. I plan on doing this with every person I know when I come back to America, so brace yourselves!

This was my last time leaving Copenhagen for the rest of the semester. Overall, I flew on 14 planes this semester, so I am tired of checkin, security, and landing ear-popping! I’m excited to experience Copenhagen, as it has actually taken on the meaning of home for me. The third “travel break” provided by DIS will serve as a Staycation for me, where I will have the apartment to myself (with my SRA, Louise)! I can’t wait!

Much love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barcelona, London, & So Much Love

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Instead of trying to tell you about my trip to Barcelona and London, I have to show you.

These are two amazing cities. I really can’t express how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to travel here, but more importantly, how lucky I am to have two friends who flew from Philadelphia all the way to Barcelona to meet up with Mia and I. Marissa and Dee, I love you so much and I cannot wait to reunite with you at Villanova and live it up! There are no words to describe how much I love you.

Bitty, it’s safe to say I have joined you in your obsession with London. One day I hope I can take you there and we can experience the Brits together!

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Much love.

Meditation

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As you may know, or maybe not, I am in Milan for my study tour with my positive psychology class at DIS. Before this week-long trip to Milan (paid for by DIS), I thought of positive psychology as strictly a life-coaching division if psychology–over-optimistic, under-researched, and mostly worthless to the field of psychology. Because of the way the DIS curriculum was structured, positive psych was my required core course that could count for an elective at Villanova. Now, while I still think that positive psych needs much development before it can be a respected psychological field, I can at least understand some points of departure from which this area of study took off. For me, the most influential point was mindfulness, which is used as an intervention (lesson) in life coaching sessions, but is more generally applicable as an important part of the lives of many spiritual people. In positive psychology, spirituality is studied because it helps people find meaning in life and have self awareness, both of which are important for living a fulfilling life.
When we went to the spirituality lecture today (on this trip we have lectures, cultural activities like museums and classical concerts, and food experiences like my overwhelming plate of prosciutto today at lunch) I was not convinced on how helpful it would be to me, and how relatable it was to positive psychology. While I am still on the fence about the usefulness of positive psychology in general in the field of psychology, I thought this spirituality lecture was worthwhile. The speaker talked about being self-aware in every sense–what we eat, do, and feel. She said that modern people are driven by their fears, a negative emotion that deals with anything from not getting anything done today to being in a car accident. Further, she mentioned that seemingly neutral thoughts, like “I need to do laundry today” can actually become harmful to us if the think them over and over, because they become wasteful thinking. Some statistic even says that we spend 80% of our thoughts on wasteful thinking!! To meditate, then, is to silence those wasteful nonproductive thoughts with mindful, productive, positive thoughts. This, supposedly, can create happier, more encouraged people! With meditation, we can reduce wasteful thoughts, freeing time for self awareness, positive thinking, and peace of mind. Eventually, we can reach within the mind to access our wisdom.
As my bio reflects, what i want most in life is harmony and balance. Being at peace is an important part of that process. Therefore, I am hoping to try this in my life by meditating for ten minutes every morning, turning my eew I hate mornings and I will probably accomplish nothing today thoughts into what a great morning and I’m sure ill get something done today type thoughts. I will use my good qualities today is another good one. With this starting point, meditation time can be extended, with the focus of detaching from the senses to access the inner mind. It’s important not to tell the mind not to think, as that is unnatural, but rather, to detach from the wasteful thoughts, then from all thoughts as the mind becomes more and more relaxed and serene. Before you know it, you have reached your peaceful center, allowing access to your own inner harmony and wisdom. This state of awareness will guide your actions and attitudes in daily life, if you continue to cultivate it through meditation.
thanks to this Milan study tour, I have this new way of reaching my Harmony goal. My fear of accomplishing nothing (which manifests as anxiety) will diminish, as I will become content as a human being not a human doing. I will have contact with my inner peace, balance, and wisdom. This, with all life goals, will take some serious discipline, but will be worth it.
Wish me luck, or better yet, peace.

Much love.

Italy in Pictures

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Italy in Pictures

I wish I looked more Italian for my trip to Italy, so they would have recognized me as one of their own. Regardless of whether or not the Romans knew, when I got there I felt like I was coming home. The first three hours I spent in Rome, everyone looked like someone I knew: Poppy, Mimi & Pop, Gram Elaine… It really just made me want to hug someone. After that homesick moment, I decided that I would come back some day with my family. Bogues, remember this. Terrusas, Meagan, you’re invited. We might even have to stay in the Ivanhoe Hostel, whose owner was nice enough to host free spaghetti and cocktail nights! The only problem, I had to speak to him in Spanish because I can’t speak Italian and he can’t speak English. Spanish was our halfway point.

As you may have guessed, my Italian trip was peppered with memorable moments and casually-not-casual food & culture creations. Instead of rambling on about them…

This is an example of how the ruins appear. This is an old house, with some of the walls still standing.

More ruins on the Palatine Hill, which is a wide-ranging group of ruins next to the Colosseum which includes the houses and gardens of emperors and aristocracy such as Augustus!

Tunnel connecting two of the emporer/noble’s houses underground

A relief from the original decor of the tunnel that connects two old castles underground

People actually uncovering ore ruins! It was so cool to see them carefully brushing at rocks and categorizing what they found.

Aimee and I in front of a wall overlooking Roma on the Palatine Hill

I think someone died, because there is a mound inside this alcove with fresh flowers on it. Maybe it was Caesar.

Part of the Roman Forum

Aimee and Ben under a tree on the pathway beside the river that runs through Rome. We had to cross it to get from the city center to the area with all the cheap and delicious restaurants, per the advice of Salvatore (the owner of our hostel). It was so worth it!

Trattoria Pizza da Gino alla Villetta. Our favorite restaurant. We went twice!

An eggplant pizza and a sausage pizza. These are personal ones! HUGE!

Aimee’s interesting pizza. This is how they make pizzas with multiple toppings of this meat/vegetable nature.

wineeee

Speaking of food, Dad, look what I found!

What the streets looked like in Rome, especially the cheap food section.

Typical restaurant

Penis pasta. Sorry, it was everywhere.

Rome has spacious, decorated squares called piazzas. They are close together within the city. Usually, each one has a church or important building, as well as a fountain. Artists and vendors set up their wares there to sell to tourists and locals that hang out in the piazza.

Piazza Navona

fountain in Piazza Navona

beautiful building in Piazza de Navona

Me in Piazza Navona

The Pantheon, which I did not know is a functioning church and final resting place of the famous painter, Rafael. His art is also featured within the structure, along with an altar and pews that people still seem to use.

Us in front of the Pantheon, but of course I got distracted. The people watching in Rome is just fabulous.

Much better. Group shot at the Pantheon!

couldn’t stop taking pictures of the streets in Rome, they were so cozy.

Such a cute little car. Dad, how about we get this one next 😉 ?

Dad, chestnuts!! I almost got some, but it wouldn’t have been the same.

 

The next day was Vatican Day for us! We tried to beat the line again, but taking the metro to the Vatican was a bad idea. We had to wait in line, but it was still fascinating! Here’s the entrance to the Vatican Museum! Which, by the way, is one of entrances into the walls surrounding the Vatican. NOTE: Women MUST cover their shoulders and knees when inside the Vatican. 

An exemplary ceiling in the Vatican Museum. Such craftsmanship.

Rafael. In the Vatican. Where I was! So crazy. 

At this point, I experienced the most profound moment on my journey, when I went inside the Sistine Chapel! Situated at the end of the train of rooms in the Vatican Museum, it is the climax of the entire exhibition. In our Augustinian Culture Seminar (freshman year-long required class) at Villanova, Dr. Kelley’s class explored religion through texts and Christian art–including art from the Sistine Chapel. At first, I didn’t even recognize the pieces we discussed, because every inch of the Chapel is covered in scenes, so the only thing I noticed were the harmonious colors and general forms. Michelangelo was a sculptor, so his people are painted in ideal form like sculptures would be, with expertly positioned flowing garments. The skilled artist’s use of color was such that the eye is prompted to move throughout the piece without being drawn to any one figure, at first. After a few minutes, however, I began to notice figures of importance, like Jesus and Moses. The scenes from Mount Sinai are on the walls, while stories of Jesus’ baptism and teachings are presented on the opposite wall. For me, the most amazing thing was the story of creation that graced the ceiling. From the separation of light and dark, to the creation of Eve, to the painting of Original Sin, Michelangelo’s masterpiece literally floored me. I had a stiff neck when I was done staring up at this inspired work. After almost an hour, I realized where I was, and had to exit the Sistine Chapel for fear of being kicked out by the guards to make room for new tourists. Unfortunately, no pictures were permitted, and I did not want to disrespect the art by attempting to capture it in such an elementary and ordinary way.

St. Peter’s Square and the Basilica!

Aimee and I with the Basilica

Basilica shot! Imagine the pope sitting up there addressing thousands of people. Even for non-Catholics, that must be an awe-inspiring sight to behold. We were going to try to get in, but by that time there was a line of a thousand people waiting outside, so we had to skip it.

Part of St. Peter’s Square (Did you know that some of the art here was created by a Danish sculptor?! The only non-Italian to be included here.)

Me climbing the Spanish steps. We had to wear pants to the Vatican, so climbing these stairs in the sun was kind of a sweaty experience… but worth it for the view from the top!

Aimee and I at the top of the Spanish Steps

The view of the Shopping Street from the Spanish Steps. The shopping here is CRAZY! Louis Vuitton and Prada are some of the names you’d recognize.

Finally, the Trevi Fountain. In the Lizzie McGuire Rome movie, this is where she meets Paolo (in case you didn’t know, this movie was a huge part of Meagan’s and my childhood)

Me & Aimee with the Trevi getting close to the fountain took a little time because…

…LOOK AT ALL THESE TOURISTS!!

Stopping at the bottom of the Trevi for a photo op! We hung out there for quite a while, listening to the water and taking pictures.

Throwing my Euro-penny into the Trevi Fountain! I made a wish!!

Aimee’s hilarious selfy in front of the Trevi. I couldn’t help taking a picture of her.

Me, Aimee, and Ben at the Trevi

Toshi and Marshall (two friends we made at our hostel) came with us for this day. They were both independent travelers for extended periods of time, backpacking through Europe.

us with Marshall

We used this building as a point of reference within Rome (since we didn’t have wifi, Aimee and I navigated our whole trip with a paper map–BE PROUD). It’s called Ill Vittoriano – Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II.

Il Vittoriano – Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, from the side. I have no idea why this monument is so grandiose.

Me with Angelo, who I later discovered knows Antonella back in CT! The first night, we randomly went to his gelato shop, where he passionately creates new flavors and makes everything by hand. He was so friendly, and we ended up going there every night!

My mondo cannoli. Chocolate chip filling, pistachio crust. It took me four sittings to eat this thing.

Look how huge it is!

The bluest of skies as we mounted the plane from the tarmac. This was the flight home from Milan (we flew from Rome to Milan on Saturday at 1 pm, then stayed in the Milan airport until our 7:30 am flight to Copenhagen on Sunday morning). While we saved upwards of $100 this way, it was a long night in the airport.

That, my friends, was my trip to Rome! I know it was a long one, but now you know everything! You’re a lucky bunch, you readers.

Much love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Grecian Memories

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The last day and a half in Greece blends together in my mind. We wandered much more, finding Zeus’s temple, popping in and out of shops, and eating our last Greek cuisine.

After this trip, it’s no wonder people go on vacation to exotic places like Greece all the time! I’m reconsidering the annual trip to Florida, as much as I love our little rented apartment in Indian Rocks Beach… All in all, I had a tremendous experience that will last me a lifetime. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better… ON TO ROME!

Much Needed Beach Day

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You all know I love the beach. Since it’s been cold in Copenhagen, and I have been busy with school (believe it or not), I have not made it down to Amager or even the harbor. Regretably.

Naturally, being in Greece, it made sense to take a ferry to an island close by and see what the hype is all about. Well, folks, I have to be honest… it was amazing.

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Of course, one beach day is never enough, but the rest of our trip was waiting, so we had to go back to Athens. Although I did contemplate skipping out on another day of sightseeing and go back…

First Day in Greece

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Like a kid on Christmas, I did not sleep a wink the night we arrived in Greece. Today was the day of the Acropolis. I have a million pictures for you, so I will put them up in a slideshow with captions.

 

The basic outline of the day: 

climbing the hill to the Acropolis

wandering around shopping streets in the heart of Athens

 

lunch at an adorable restaurant: Greek salad and Moussaka

Moussaka, a Greek version of lasagne with eggs, eggplant, meat, potatoes, and cheese

strange grainy orange flan. GROSS.

finding the Fish Kiss pedicure (in which I did not partake)

stumbling upon the ancient burial ground called Kerameikos

more of those first-day gyros for dinner!

finishing out the day by hanging out on the rooftop bar at the Pella Inn.

Here are the pictures from this glorious first day in paradise. The weather, by the way, was sunny and 86 degrees. What a perfect change from the 50 degrees and clouds of Copenhagen!

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Much love.

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