Greek Life: Spring Break

It’s been awhile since my last post (which was about an exciting location other than my travel experiences) however it has also been awhile since I have been in Italy, as I have just returned from a week long adventure throughout Greece. The journey began with a short bus ride, and a 24 hour cruise ship to the beautiful island of Corfu. The festivities did not take long to get started on this spring break, as the first night was an authentic greek toga party at the lovely Pink Palace hostel we stayed at in Corfu. Despite my best efforts below, I never felt quite as smart as the great Aristotle. 

Image

 

The following day was rained out for the most part, however we didn’t let that stop us. Thankfully we were granted some sun later in the afternoon and got to enjoy the beach for a few hours. The next day, our last in Corfu, we went on a 5 hour ATV Safari traveling many different parts of the island, from the highest point with beautiful sights, to the lowest down by the beach. Not to mention riding the ATV’s for the first time was pretty fun by itself. 

Image

 

After a night full of traveling via bus and ferry, we then struck land in Athens by the next morning, or as my mom called it “the cradle of civilization. We began the day with a much needed power nap, then took advantage of the gorgeous 70 degree weather and set out for a long walking tour of the city. At ground level, there’s no hiding its economic struggles as nearly all of the buildings are littered with graffiti, but the culture remains fully in tact. The first stop of the tour was the national gardens of Greece, which were nothing special aside from the mini zoo inside of it with rams, peacocks, and the baby bunny we got to hold. Next stop was the original Olympic Village and an old Greek bath, followed by the Olympic Stadium itself! For a small fee we were able to climb the stairs of the Olympic Stadium, as well as go down and run on the track and even pose for pictures on the podium. Our group then walked by the Temple of Zeus on our way up to the legendary Acropolis. Pictures haven’t been able to truly do any of my travels justice so far but here are a few shots from what felt like on top of the universe on the Acropolis. 

Image

 

Image

That night, our whole group went to an authentic Greek restaurant with all you can eat food which provided many laughs, feta, tomatoes, pita and lamb giros. 

The next day, our last true day of culture, a smaller group of us took a tram (part of Greece’s recently upgraded public transportation system) to a not so lovely beach in Athens. Although somewhat disappointed by the beach itself the fried calamari made up for that with ease on our way back. I then took the rest of the afternoon lounging at the rooftop of our hotel which had a gorgeous view of the Acropolis as well as the rest of city. That night, we had a great last supper and went out to a few local spots around Athens to top off our trip, followed by another long cruise ride home.

Overall it was an unforgettable adventure, between the good friends, tzatziki sauce and gyros aplenty, and the breathtaking scenery combined with some ancient legendary culture…Greece definitely surfaced to the top of my list of travels. Thanks again to Mom and Dad for granting me this once in a life time opportunity. 

 

PS: special shoutout to my brother Ben for his awesome speech at the United Nations (which I live streamed while I was doing my last second packing) you never cease to make us proud. Go Red Sox. 

Revis Island Relocation

After anxiously watching the Broncos’ free agency moves, stealing Talib, (having Welker de ja vu), then signing Ware, the visiting Anthony Zagame, Cam and I had been stressing out and in a state of disarray thinking about the upcoming football season. Last night upon hearing the news that the Pats signed Revis I jumped out of bed, stopped doing my homework and booked it to Cam’s room to wake up the sleeping shoulders and tell him the news. I have been in a spectacular mood ever since and I just wanted to remind everybody to worry less about the various difficulties and problems we get stuck on each day…take a deep breath and rejoice over this incredible muscular-thoroughbread of a cornerback that the Pats just landed, everything will be ok. Have a great day everyone. Ciao! Go Pats. 

Image

BudaPrague blog

Since Rome, I have traveled to both Budapest and Prague. Two incredible cities, both full of culture. Unfortunately each was also a 10+ hour bus ride in each direction, but other than that it’s hard to complain.

Budapest:

The first day in Budapest Trevor, Bravo, and really didn’t know what to expect. The day began with a four hour walking tour of the city, and the first stop was their central market. Despite being 9:30 in the morning, Bravo inspired us to all try the goulash which ended up not being quite the breakfast of choice. Already experiencing the cold rainy weather, we also decided to get some Budapest hats while we were there and embarked on the rest of the tour. Covering many spots throughout the city, and even catching a changing of the guards, I was impressed by the diverse architecture of the city. Throughout time they have had such a variety of influences and control over it and therefore had many different styles throughout.

buda

1965024_10152218616417270_676451766_n

 

The following day, we were on our own exploring the different areas of the city, and then spent our afternoon at one of the natural baths Budapest is known for. Not exactly knowing what we were getting into, we quickly realized these baths weren’t the most sanitary things ever made, but the fact that they were naturally the temperature of a hot tub was pretty cool. After some time in the water we then hung out in the sauna and called it a day.

baths

That night, we were supposed to go to a party at one of the other baths, as Budapest is well known for these Spa parties aka sparties. However, in the winter the tickets sell out fast and we were unable to get in. So instead we had no choice but to resort to the third best bar in the world (szimpla) which was pretty unreal to say the least.

Prague:

After another ten hour trip to Prague, we were at least rewarded with great weather. When we arrived, we were pretty tired and Cam and Jen inspired us to take a segway tour of the city which was awesome. In one hour of segway, we covered what the four hour walking tour did (some of our friends opted for this) and in the mean time we enjoyed learning how to segway around. After our afternoon of segway and exploring, Cam and I made sure to make use of our hotel’s gym and sauna facilities as well…so cultural.

segways

 

Day 2 in Prague we went to czech out the two things that our segway tour did not extend to, the Petrin tower and the Prague Castle. After walking across the Charles bridge quite a ways, we faced a steep hill up to the Petrin tower, as the girls wanted to take the train up to it…Cam and I decided to make everybody walk instead. From the top the views were absolutely incredible, as we could see out over the entire city, below is a picture from about mid way up the hill. Afterwards we walked over to the castle, which was also surreal. After a long day of walking and exploring, we took a cab back to the main square, and unfortunately got ripped off. Nevertheless the klobasa that we had upon return was hands down the best sausage of my life, which instantly made everything ok.

 

 

 

 

castle

 

hike prague

 

 

 

 

Image

When in Rome

After a great weekend in Rome, I’ve just booked a trip to Budapest with plenty more to come on that. However, Rome was cultural. On Friday we had a walking tour of the city, and had absolutely ideal weather for it as we stopped at the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and plenty more! It was quite an introduction to the endless history behind the city. After a power nap, we met back up for an excellent dinner in Rome, and went to the Campo di Fiori for the nightlife scene.

Saturday was almost too much to handle. Nico, Trevor, Chris aka Bravo and I got ourselves a tour of the Vatican, which took up most of the day, followed by St. Peter’s Church. Personally I thought St. Peter’s was the most fascinating part of the whole trip, and wish we could’ve spent more time there but by that point we were worn out from the long tour of the Vatican and Capella Sistena. Despite the strict “no photo, no video, no talk” announcements consistently made, I snapped a few pictures inside the chapel.

capella

1621798_10152201794827270_1367701546_n

Saturday night, we again grabbed a nice Roman meal. Bravo and I got some delicious steaks, and his account of the flavors was food network worthy. After dinner Cam and I met up with Jeremy Gurvits (a good friend studying in Rome) at the Trevi Fountain and I tossed a coin in..what a perfect excuse for a return! Later that night I also might’ve had the best late night pannino of my life courtesy of Gurv. Unreal flava.

Sunday, our final day in Rome, was rightfully reserved for a trip to the Colosseum. On our way in I couldn’t resist a cheap bucket hat purchase (as seen below) just in case anyone was wondering if we were tourists or not, they’d then be fully aware. At times I wasn’t sure whether or not Tony and I were the main tourist attraction given the amount of looks we received. Nevertheless, the Colosseum was spectacular..between the history behind it, the gorgeous day we had, and the fascination of its original structure , it was absolutely breathtaking. Afterwards we grabbed a nice lunch with a view of the Colosseum ftb, and we returned to Firenze. 

 

Sunshine and Gelato

Tags

Surprisingly enough, the past two days thus far since my letter to Mother Nature have been full of clouds, and little sun, but most importantly no rain! Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to ask! 

Last night I had my first Italian Crime Fiction class. Despite being 10 minutes late with Trevor I quickly got on his good side with Humphrey Bogart and 007 references, in what was a very interesting class. I guess that Newton North high school education really paid off after all, thanks Mr. Wood. 

Last night, after discovering previously that the gelateria next to our apartment was superior to most others, we couldn’t resist a return after the hand-made burgers we cooked up. Having bought myself a “I ❤ Gelato” hat last time, wearing it in provided a great return on investment as I was the only one to get a free gelato. I also managed to get a nice photo….

 Image

A letter to Mother Nature

Dear mother nature,

Please stop raining on Florence. We’ve only seen the sun one day so far…and the two things my parents told me I would regret not bringing (umbrella and boots) I have totally regretted not bringing. I have learned the lesson you’re trying to teach me, and would really appreciate some sun for Florence. 

Sincerely,

Sam

 

Some things I’ve been slacking on…

Last week the Gennari’s visited and was able to connect with them for a great dinner and then gelato the following day. After an incredible multi course meal including octopus (first time but delicious), beef, pastas, risotto, salads, fine wine, and an Italian dessert….Jim insisted on taking me to his favorite gelateria. However, as we realized it was closing at 11..Jim sprinted a solid block to no avail and we rescheduled the gelato for the following day with Cam. Instead we grabbed a coffee and truffles from Liam’s favorite spot “Gilli” which will not be the only time I go there. 

Image

 

As far as classes go, I’ve got some gems. Intro to Italian isn’t bad at all, Greek Mythology is pretty intriguing, WWII history through the Italian lens, Italian Crime Fiction (haven’t had yet), and to top it off Food and Wine pairing. In food and wine pairing we made a fresh pomodoro sauce, chocolate cookies with raspberries, and paired them with wines…although it may be an unorthodox class to say the least, it’s adding more value than most! I’m looking forward to cooking some meals for people back home..if you’re lucky.

February 9, 2014…Happy birthday Mom!!! I hope you liked the flowers and card (thank you Isabela for making her day more special) and as a matter of fact, I opted out of canyon jumping just as a birthday present to you mom to relieve you from that stress. I hope you had a great day skiing with the fam, and enjoyed the dinner Dad and Ben made, you deserve nothing but the best! Love, Sam 

 

Image

Switzerland

Just got back from a weekend in the Swiss Alps…yes there are goats and sheep in the middle of the mountain. After an 8 hour bus ride, Cam and I got lucky that our hostel was overbooked and got sent to the neighboring hotel…along with our roomate Sal who quickly fit into our culture.

First day skiing started off with a bang. Sal, who hadn’t really skied before barreled a solid 100 meters down the hill out the gate much to our amusement, but did improve vastly afterwards. That day of skiing was somewhat hindered by little to no visibility as the snow came down heavy, but nonetheless skiing in the Alps.

Switzerland

Second day of skiing, unreal. After getting 40cm of fresh powder the night before, we had a great day tearing up the slopes. Oddly, nobody in Switzerland seemed to enjoy the fresh powder, and most stick to the groomed trails…great news for Sam, as we found plenty “off-piste” (backcountry) skiing with fresh tracks throughout the day.

Day three, unfortunately we were not able to ski due to our departure time. However, it was a perfect sunny day for a walk over to the glacier lake of Interlaken. The water literally looked like Gatorade “glacier blue” flavor, and we had a nice conclusion to the trip walking around it.

lake interlaken

Other notes about Switzerland:
– I don’t suggest going there to do anything but ski
– food was lackluster except the bratwurst
– nobody likes paying 11 franc for a bagel and a coffee…way too expensive
– everyone speaks different languages, which got frustrating at times navigating
– the scenery from everywhere is incredible, even from our hotel and walking the streets

Randomness from the first three days…

Tags

As expected I’m in a state of total culture shock. Here are some other unsurprising fun facts:

-Shoulders and I already got in trouble and have a meeting with the program directors

-I’m yet to go to bed before 4 am

-the american stereotype of an Italian accent is on point. Literally every word ends in ‘a

-everyone already knows cam as “shoulders”

-people are already speaking “the language” (pleys, culture, CHARLES) etc

-I’m that kid to have the 50$/ day phone bill already

This place is unbelievable. The Duomo isn’t real, the detail is so exquisite it looks fake. Food is incredible. The pappardelle I had last night especially good. The dent in my wallet wasn’t as spectacular.

I’ve never felt so blessed to have this opportunity. I appreciate all the reads, comments, questions you may have. Special thanks for my fam for making this all possible. Plenty more posts to come.