Florence and Siena, two tuscan treasures… its all about alliteration

After surviving the vineyard trails in the Cinque Terre, we were off to Florence for the day. Florence wasn’t part of the original itinerary, but when I noticed we had a free day between Siena, we both jumped at the chance to see the city. This was probably one of the smartest decisions we’ve made so far on the trip. Everywhere you look in Florence you see something that catches your eye, whether it’s the rolling hills, or the view of the Duomo.  The Duomo was the perfect place to start our adventure in Florence, and we both gladly paid the eight euros to descend up to the top of the dome. Now when I say descend I mean taking one narrow winding staircase after the other till we reached the top. Something tells me this is what they made the prisoners do at the conception of the church. From there we were treated to some of the best views on our trip so far. In every direction you saw beautiful architecture and landscapes. Trust me the view had to be good for me to forget about my fear of heights. Having scouted out locations from our skyward perch, we were off to explore the rest of the city.   We walked from the Duomo to the Uffizi Gallery, and marveled at the many statutes outside of the building. Still not having an appetite for art museums (sorry Mom,) we continued on to Ponte Vecchio Bridge. The views from the bridge were stunning as we caught the Florentine buildings right during sun set. It’s a shame that the bridge...
Cinque Terre, heaven on earth

Cinque Terre, heaven on earth

Cinque Terre [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque-4.jpg]290 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque.jpg]40 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque1.jpg]40 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque10.jpg]30 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque11.jpg]30 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque12.jpg]30 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque13.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque14.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque15.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque16.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque17.jpg]30 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque18.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque19.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque2.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque20.jpg]30 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque21.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque22.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque23.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque24.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque25.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque26.jpg]20 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque3.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque5.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque6.jpg]10 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque7.jpg]00 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque8.jpg]00 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/cinque-terre/thumbs/thumbs_cinque9.jpg]00 If James Cameron ever decides to make a movie about heaven, he need look no further than Cinque Terre as his prime location. Everything about the place leaves you wanting to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Of all the places on the trip so far, Cinque Terre had the most expectations from me, and it certainly lived up to them. From the initial glimpse, I was hooked, and what a glimpse it is. To get to the Cinque Terre you have to take a train from La Spezia which looks like the set of a movie based in Tijuana. The train ride is in complete darkness as you travel through the tunnels for about fifteen minutes. About ten minutes into the ride you see a flash of light, and you instantly see the sea to your left. This view lasts seconds before you whisk back into the dark abyss. From there its another five minutes till you arrive in the first town and once again you’re surrounded by crystal blue water and pastel colored houses. This process repeats itself with each succesive stop in each of the five villages. It’s truly a sight to see, and one that no amount of words or pictures can replace. We arrived in Corniglia, the third of the Cinque Terre villages, in the early afternoon where...
Venice, one gelato at a time

Venice, one gelato at a time

What can I say about Venice that hasn’t already been written by thousands of people before me? Like Paris, Venice definitely lives up to the hype, and has a certain unknown quality about it. It’s definitely a one of a kind experience that hits you from the moment you step out from the train station. The moment we stepped foot on solid ground we were transported back in time to a city that is literally a part of history. History is filled with stories of turmoil, and our first few minutes in Venice were no different. The hotel I had booked was directly across the bridge from the train station, and by the time we were able to find the right door to go into we were faced with some interesting news. Apparently Mick Jagger had stayed in our room the night before, because we were told that the room we had reserved was not available because it had been trashed. My heart sank at that moment assuming we would be out of a room in one of the most visited cities in the world. Luckily for us the hotel had booked us a room at another hotel just down the road. After walking for a few minutes we found our new room, which included a toilet that was literally separated by inches from the shower and shower curtain. Now I’m always interested in multitasking but the idea of peeing and showering at the same time never crossed my mind.   After taking care of the room situation, we were on our way to explore the city.  Our hotel...
Venice, or Hazel and Nina strike again

Venice, or Hazel and Nina strike again

After an exciting day in Rome I didn’t think that anything could top the experience that I had but was I wrong. Venice is an incredible place that is very hard to describe. It is a city that is very easy to get lost in both figuratively and literally.  This was the one place that I knew the most about before leaving for Europe so it had a lot of expectations to live up to and it did just that. Venice turned out to be my favorite city on the trip mostly because of how much free time and freedom we had while in the city. We were dropped off  in the heart of St. Mark’s square by the tour guide at around 8 in the morning and after a brief trip to a glass-blowing factory we were able to explore the city by ourselves. This is the perfect way to see Venice because of how unique it is you need all the time you can to go down its thousands of alleys and bridges. One of the places that I really wanted to see based on my search before going was the Rialto Bridge and market which are icons of the city. The Rialto market is the stop for hundreds of local fishermen and farmers to sell their products. From what I had read it was important to get there early to see the fishermen get off their boats with all the fresh fish and seafood they had caught that morning in the Adriatic Sea.  As I said before Hazel and Nina were very prominent on this trip...
Rome

Rome

  Rome [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-006.jpg]50St. Peter's [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-043.jpg]00Inside St. Peters [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-084.jpg]00Swiss Guard [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-115.jpg]00The Colloseum [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-125.jpg]00 [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-126.jpg]10Rome [img src=http://www.levyourlife.com/wp-content/flagallery/rome/thumbs/thumbs_europe-154.jpg]10Trevi Fountain     If my last post was about the bad of last year then the next couple posts including this one will be about the good. As I mentioned before after the study abroad plans didn’t work out I was in a panic to replace my airline tickets so I chose a Trafalgar trip that went through Rome, Venice, Lucerne, Paris, and London. This post will be all about my day and a half spent in Rome, one of my favorite stops in the trip. One of the reasons that I think I loved Rome so much was just the incredible amount of history that surrounded me everywhere I turned. For those who haven’t been to Rome, the old parts of the city and the ruins are actually located very close to each other so you are able to see so many of the icons that everyone has heard of within a few hours. I’m getting ahead of myself a little so lets start at the beginning. I arrived in Rome in the early afternoon in early march and immediately got acquainted with one of the families that I would be spending most of the trip with. For the record there were about 40 people total in my group with ages ranging from 6 to 70. The Kinsella family from London, Canada was made up of 3 brothers all close to my age and their mom and dad. They happened to be the only other people who...