All the Way to Day 43. Darn.

I never like to plead for forgiveness when I don’t get around to blogging regularly like I should. For one, I’m not getting paid to blog. (Is that the economics student in me? haha.) Second, that means I’m having too much fun to spend time in front of my computer. So don’t forgive me! 🙂

Here’s some speed blogging for you:

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Italy Day 4: Perugia

On my last day in Italy, before my flight, my friend and I went to the town where she went to university. We stopped for lunch, where I tried some tomato-basil pesto pasta, then I had one more caffe gelato (I mean come on, it’s Italy) from GROM. She did that on purpose so if I really miss it I can actually go to NYC and grab some. Much cheaper than a flight to Italy, haha. Wasn’t that kind? We got some super last minute shopping in too. Yay presents!

The little bridge-looking thing is a Roman aqueduct through Perugia.

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Back in Brussels

Since coming back from Italy, I’ve been trying to get a grip on writing the rest of my thesis. Today I found a place that was not only open on a Sunday but they sell BAGELS! I didn’t realize how hard they were to find until I looked. No picture necessary because you know what bagels look like. I knocked Chaochow City off my bucket list Saturday though. That would be 3,80 euro for lunch thank YOU.

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Thursday was one of the intern’s last day, so we celebrated Friday night with a dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. (On the life bucket list, trying food from a new country. Check.) The whole process was so strange, but it was delicious!

I finally saw the little pissing dude. He’s really small for such a major symbol of the city, haha. Next on the list is zinneke pis, the peeing dog.

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And pissing bees, which just cracks me up. I’ll never look at honey the same way. (Completely non-scientific judgement on my part of course.)

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Otherwise, I have deadlines squared coming up at work, so back to work! Ciao ciao.

Oh ewwwwwww I just realized my flight is a month from today.

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Italia Part 1: Asissi & Castillo

My poor little blog, how I missed you. I’m back on track, and back in Brussels!

Last Friday I woke up to complete darkness, caught a cab to the bus to the plane and watched the sunrise over Europe as I flew to Perugia, Italy. My wonderful, intelligent, lovely, hospitable friend from UConn invited me to her hometown so off I went. Editing these photos might take ages so I’ll do a couple mini photo essays… I took about 75 pictures a day, so I’m trying to keep it under control here.

my first european sunrise. mmmhm does 4am come early.

my first european sunrise. mmmhm does 4am come early.

Immediately after getting off the plane, she picked me up and we drove to Assisi.

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Francis is one of my favorite saints – being an animal lover and sharing his name with our Jesuit pope and all. (Go stags.) We visited his church and his tomb first. There were so many people, even some in their sweet little nun habits and monk robes. I didn’t take any pictures of them because I know I’d feel weird getting stopped for pictures in my work clothes. Anyway, St. Francis!

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We also visited the Basilica de Santa Chiara. St. Chiara was one of the first followers of St. Francis, and eventually founded the women’s order similar to the Franciscans. She also has a pretty pink basilica. And how about this, she was once a part of the church of San Damiano (Francis is also connected to this church), and that’s the saint my BXL house is related to (Kot St. Dam). Whoaaa full circle.

After the church-visiting, the temperature soared so we went into a little restaurant lined with stone walls. We hid from the thunderstorm and drank coffee and caught up on life.

When the rain stopped we hopped back in the car and drove the top of a mountain for a photo shoot. I mean really, she’s a girl after my own heart. Sometimes I can’t believe my own luck.

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jenclinton/072413jBut the clouds followed us uphill so we went home.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I could speak French to my friend’s parents – I was afraid that communication would be impossible. But even getting by on our rough around the edges ‘francese’ and Italian hand-speak (is that the official title? hmm) made for a much richer experience. Everyone got a kick out of talking to the American in anything other than English – I’m finding that a lot in Europe.

Now I try not to be too crazy with the hyperbole here, but for real. The best meal of my life was my first dinner here. It easily toppled my last favorite meal (which was a breakfast, if you’re curious) and was only matched by Sunday’s lunch. Handmade, hand rolled pasta, filled with chicken, beef, and pork, topped with a tomato sauce from home-grown roma tomatoes, basil, fennel, and herbs de provence. I can still taste it. Not to mention the caprese salad, salami and other meats we cut ourselves, and buffalo mozzarella picked up from the nearby farm that morning. The wine was made by a friend. My life, the movie. Welcome to it.

I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that by the end of the weekend her Italian mother told me I had a good appetite (read: I ate wayyy too much). We finished with a couple glasses of Pastis and then walked into the downtown area to meet up with more family. I’ve adopted her Italian grandfather, watch for him in tomorrow’s pictures. He offered me coffee, a cigarette, and gelato within three minutes, so I took him up on the first one (it was easily after 10pm, and I don’t drink caffeine even in the morning. Oops.)* I passed out pretty hard when I got home anyway.

I could get used to it here.

 

*My reaction to nearly every “do you want to….” was pretty much YEP before the sentence was even finished. It got me into hot water when I yep’ed a hike when all I had was ballet flats, no sunscreen and minimal shade… but we’ll save that story for tomorrow.

 

For the record, Italy pretty much took her own pictures. Only a few got some stylized editing on here, most were just exposure fixes.