Day 1: After exploring Milan and Venice by myself, I met up with N in Florence for one night, then we flew to Catania in Sicily. We rented a car and stayed at this lovely little Airbnb with a family of kittens in the courtyard, and spent our first evening walking around the center.
We got dinner at Trattoria Vecchi Sapori, and at one point, a parade of horses came trotting down the street in front of us. Accompanied by music, each horse was dressed differently and trotted differently. Before I could figure out what was going on, it was over.
Day 2: Woke up to crying kittens and mama cat. The kittens had fallen from their perch into our patio. N saved the day and helped the kittens back into their nest.
Question, why are so many Italian city names anglicized? Milan (Milano), Venice (Venezia), Florence (Firenze), Rome (Roma), but other city names around the world have been de-anglicized. Beijing (Peking), Mumbai (Bombay), Sri Lanka (Ceylon). I know there are many examples of other anglicized names besides in Italy such as Munich (München), but why is it so prevalent in Italy?
The whole city of Venice and the surrounding lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so they are not allowed to construct any new buildings. Interiors are updated and maintained, but facades remain largely unchanged. The big beautiful doors of buildings that face the canals were actually the “front” doors back when everyone used boats to get around. The city was founded in the 5th century, and I kept thinking, who had the bright idea to build a city on a bunch of teeny tiny islands??
I have been quite lazy and have been putting off writing about my Italy trip. I’ve got plenty of excuses (adopted a cat, started French classes, interviewed for a job, etc.). But it also just seemed so daunting, so I’ll be breaking it up into bite sized pieces.
First impressions, it’s a big city with some very modern and beautiful areas and some slummy areas as well. The drivers are always in a rush, and can be quite rude (seems like this is kind of just an overall Italian thing).
I stayed in Ostello Bello Grande, and it is probably the best hostel I have stayed at to date. Honestly the only downside my entire stay there was that my dorm-mates the first night smelled like sweaty feet… but that’s a risk you take at any hostel. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, the location is right next to the main train station (and a cat cafe), and they offer free breakfast and aperitivo!
Aperitivos are a sort of happy hour with free appetizers (read, delicious Italian food) offered by restaurants and bars throughout the city. If you want to go out, Deus Café, has an aperitivo with good cocktails. It’s crowded, even on a Tuesday, and seems to be a trendy place frequented by locals.
Moien! So it’s been 60 days since I moved to Luxembourg. It’s flown by so quickly! Here’s the lowdown of what it’s been like so far.
Luxembourg Fast Facts
Official languages are French, German, and Luxemourgish, but most people speak English, as they learn all four in schools
Luxembourg is one of the founding members of the EU and the world’s only Grand Duchy, but wait, what is that? According to Wikipedia, “a grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.” So there you go. Meet Henri.
Yes, Luxembourg has an airport AND its own airline. Luxair flies to 64 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East with a fleet size of just 17. That’s efficiency.
Things aren’t as expensive as I thought it would be, what with Lux having the highest GDP per capita in the world. I think it’s quite comparable to Austin, except that on every corner, there are Ferraris, Maseratis, and other fancy cars that I don’t know the names of.
2012 was the last time I was in London, and it was my last stop on my Eurotrip after graduation. One week into my month-long trip, I had gotten my wallet stolen in Nice, and was relying on the friends I was traveling with for €€. By London, everyone else had flown home and it was just me and my boyfriend at the time. We got in late at night from Paris with only Euros on us, hoping to exchange for GBP once we got to London, but everything was closed. My ex had also forgotten to notify his bank that he was traveling, so his debit card was frozen and he couldn’t withdraw any cash. We had to somehow get pounds to take the bus to our AirBnb, so we went to the one place that was still open. McDonald’s. I went up to everyone there asking if they would take my Euros for a couple pounds for two bus tickets. Most were sympathetic and just gave me the change they hand on them, but one very proud English man started ranting about how he hated the Euro, and how he was “an Englishman through and through!” Should’ve seen Brexit coming way back, haha.
This trip was definitely smoother! I stayed with and hung out with an old friend from UT who is currently attending LBS. H and his wife, A, are both from Houston, and moved to London almost a year ago. They were the sweetest, and it was great to catch up. I also reconnected with a former Dell colleague, who now works in The Shard (oooooh), after backpacking for a couple years and then attended INSEAD. It was really cool to talk about how our different life and career decisions had led us to where we currently are.
For Easter weekend, N and I went to Munich for our first big trip since moving to Luxembourg. He’s been in Europe for over a year and I’ve been here and there a bit as well, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over how easy it is to travel around here. The flight to Munich took one hour, and we did most of the planning the week before.
We got in late and were starved, so had a quick dinner, then decided to go to Augustiner Keller. It was fairly empty since it was Good Friday.
We started the day at the Viktualien Market, a huge outdoor farmers market offering produce, flowers, coffee, honey, pretzels, cheese, and a beer garden.
November 2015, I wasn’t in the best place. I had been broken up with in early November and wallowed for a week or two. The relationship wasn’t good for me, and my self-esteem was at an all time low (excluding the puberty years), and my ex had yoyo-ed with me for the last month and then decided he didn’t want to date me after saying the opposite a week earlier. So, as one does, I tried Tinder for the first time. I still feel like it is a bizarre way to date, and it never felt right to me. I spent the first week making my friends swipe for me because I agonized over almost every profile. What if he was my soul mate?? I can’t evaluate him based on 2 lines of text and 4 pictures!! Arrgghh!
I did eventually go on dates with two guys I met on Tinder, but I had also booked a trip to Peru by myself to hike Machu Picchu. I just needed to get away and have some time apart from my ex (whom I couldn’t exactly avoid since he was my boss… I know, I had been very dumb). I booked a tour through G Adventures, but I bookended that itinerary with a day on each end by myself.