So once again, failed at having a blog, but since I finally have some time I thought I would get to writing my posts about my Christmas break. To avoid having literally the longest post ever I will go country by country. So first up is Italy!
Almeria is one of the hardest cities to travel out of (unless you are going to Granada). So we had to leave the day before our flight to get to Madrid in time. We had a 7 hour train ride which got in at about 11pm. Being cheap people we went right to the airport to wait/try to sleep there while waiting for our 6:40am flight.
|First view of Italy. The Alps, so beautiful!|
We got into Bologna around 8:45 and made our way to our hotel. We were super surprised by the quality, we were expecting hostel quality but turns out it was a 3 star hotel for only 25 euros a night! (#winning) We spent the first day sleepily wandering around Bologna trying to figure out the layout and what things we wanted to check out on the rest of our trip.
|Cappuccino, my favorite!|
We went to the Piazza Maggiore which is in the center of town, there are a lot of government buildings a big church (called the thesaurus. Tired us thought it was really funny) and lots of little cafes and shops.
|Statue in the entrance to the Piazza|
|Piazza Maggiore from the National Galleries|
|Christmas tree! It was real, and smelled really good. :)|
After that we found a building with really cool ceilings so we decided to check it out. Turns out it was the Universityof Bologna’s Museo di Palazzo Poggi. We wandered around and took a ton of pictures, the walls and the ceilings were all painted with dedications to certain people/groups.
We went in one room where we met a tour guide who explained (in Italian) that it was a old lecture hall for science classes, called the Anatomical Theater. The professor would be at the front of the room in the lecture part, the class would be all around like an audience. In the middle of the room was a marble table, there they would have the cadaver and do all the dissections. It was really interesting. All around the walls there was statues of Greek gods. All in all it was a really interesting place to wander into, I recommend it for anyone in Bologna.
|In the courtyard of the museum|
Anatomical Theater. The professor would sit under the arch, the white
table in the bottom corner is where they would do the dissections.
|View of the Ceilings|
|View of the hallway in the museum|
That night we went to a restaurant that I got out of my travel book (Europe on a Shoestring). It was called Mariposa Trattoria. The book said that it would be all homemade and decently priced. Shani got gnocchi in a tomato sauce and I got pumpkin tortellini in a sage and butter sauce. It was amazing. Like probably one of the top 5 restaurants I have been to. That dish and a ¼ liter of house red wine was only like 11 euros. Insanity! We wanted to go back there but they were closed on Christmas. :( So anyone going to Bologna you have to go there!
|Pumpkin tortellini. YUM!|
The next day (Christmas Eve) we went to the Modern Art Museum or MAMBo. It was modern art. That's about all I can say. Haha. Some of it was good, some of it made no sense. But while we were waiting for the museum to open we tried to get a picture in front of a sign for the museum. Turns out the building we were standing next to was the Gay and Lesbian Cultural Center, the guy who took our picture gave us a thumbs up. Hilarious.
|Shani and me outside the museum/gay and lesbian cultural center. :p|
After the museum we wandered back to the center of the city to go up the tower to get a view of the city. Despite knowing exactly where the tower was we could not find the way in, after circling the building a few times we final saw this opening about as wide as 1 person, with no sign.
|The tower at night|
|Shani in the entrance|
It cost 3 euros to go up and was definitely worth it, the tower was built between 1109-1119. I was pretty convinced it was the original stairs we were walking on, they were made out of wood, super slippery and had indentations from all the feet walking on it. The last set leading out onto the landing was so steep, and not even wide enough to walk down going straight, you had to put your feet sideways. Terrifying. But the view was amazing!
|Towers in Italy|
That night we went to another restaurant recommended by my book, this one was in an old wine cellar and was decorated with old barrels. The atmosphere was nice until some guy got up and decided to have his own karaoke session. It was pretty shitty and kind of a buzz kill. But the food was really good! We got the special which was risotto finished table side in a wheel of Parmesan and served with a balsamic reduction. Way good. Also when we were walking home we realized it had snowed! It's a Christmas miracle! (our saying for everything awesome that happened). Not a lot of snow, but more than we will ever dream of getting in Almeria.
|Our waiter making the risotto|
Christmas Day! Not a super exciting day. We decided our present to ourselves would be to pay the 7 euros for the hotel breakfast, it was good. And lots of packaged food somehow made it into our pockets and back to our room for lunch. ;) Nothing was really open that day (surprise, surprise) but we went on a nice walk to check out a big wall that we had walked past every day, turns out behind that is a really awesome park.
When we were done wandering around for a few hours and taking pictures we went back to the hotel to eat lunch and warm up for a bit. We were surprised to find a box on each of our pillows. Our hotel had given us a Christmas present!
|Our Christmas present from the hotel!|
After taking over one of the computers in the lobby to talk to the fam I went on a walk to see if any restaurants were open. So many people were out walking around! It was really interesting to see. I went back to the Piazza Maggiore because I figured something would be open there . In the middle of the square there was a band of people playing Native American music. What country are we in?? It was kind of crazy. After that I went back to get Shani and we headed out to dinner at this other trattoria down the street from the Mariposa. I had mushroom risotto and we splurged and got dessert which was kind of a tiramisu apple thing, it was good. There was a really funny English couple in the restaurant too who seemed like they had been going there every day for every meal during their vacation, they kept talking to the owners like they were old friends, even though there was a massive language barrier.
Bologna is a small city, so after our few days there we felt like we had pretty much seen everything there is to see. Luckily for us, its super close to Venice and Florence. Venice was cheapest so we decided to make a day trip out of it. Shani had been to Venice before but it was my first time, so I was annoying her taking pictures of everything. It is so mystical there. I kept comparing it to a ride at Disney Land because the water is a really weird fake-looking greenish color, and you ride around on a boat. It was really cool seeing the buildings that are built in the water with all the algae on the doors. It was really pretty. Our first stop was Piazza San Marco. We got really lucky the day we went because there was basically no tourists there at all. We went into the Basilica and only had to wait about 3 minutes to get it. I would have loved to take pictures but it wasn't allowed inside. The whole ceiling was done in gold, it was beautiful. And the floor had a bunch of different patterns.
|Ceiling in the entry way to the Basilica|
|Floor in the entry way, the floor in the whole building looked |
like this, it was beautiful.
We did some window shopping after that and found some crazy stuff made of Murano glass.
|Glass balloons, 500 euros each|
|Glass paint, paint brushes, umbrellas, hats...basically|
anything you want in glass they had it
|por ejemplo.....glass alligator. :p|
I bought a set of necklace/earrings for all the ladies that drive me home from work and some glass cherries and a glass candy for my mom. We basically spent the whole day wandering around, not going in to much. I made us stop at the Vivaldi Museum though because he is my favorite composer. It was pretty interesting, there were a ton of old instruments and a little demonstration on how violins are made.
We messed up the trains going back to Bologna and got on one that was going to Rome, while it did stop in Bologna, it was like an all first class train so we had to pay the difference in the ticket price which was 25 euros. So that was a huge buzz kill. The next morning we headed back to the airport to go to Belgium!
Here are some bonus photos: =)
|St. Mark's Square|
|Had to throw in a Gondola picture!|
|View of the Gran Canale from the Academia Bridge|
|One of the walls in the museum in Bologna|
|looking down from the tower|
|Piazza Maggiore at night|