Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Recreating the Last Supper of Leonardo DaVinci, featuring Bo as Jesus.

New Year's Eve 2011 (2012?)
BCSP Christmas Party 2011
Redneck Party! 
Day in the hills
Tuscany Trip 2012

Feeling Sentimental

The inevitable but unimaginable has happened: people have started going home. I'm feeling overly sentimental about it, so (naturally), I am going to make a picture blog about it!

In Venice with Kyle and Sarah

Erin, Jess, and Me. No wine was involved in the making of this picture... kidding.


The very beautiful Madeline and Dru.


Typical Sam.

St. Patricks with the airplane-sized whiskey somewhat picked up from somewhere.

She'll kill me for putting this up.

Bang. Bang. Featuring Dru and Cotton.

The "Before" picture. There was no "After," as most of us lost our cameras... or thought we lost our cameras.



This picture brings me so much joy... no ifs, ands, or butts.
Rocco and Brando continue to make my life interesting. Beneath the insanity, they are sweethearts.

Ricci got us lost in a garden. How many Italians does it take to decide to jump a fence?

Sam and Michelle in Sirmione by Lake Garda.

Versailles with Madeline and Kyle


Emma! My English friend!

Paradise Found

A few weeks back, a handful of friends and I made the trek into the hills for a fantastic day of drinking wine, eating cookies, and lounging in paradise. Pictures do not do it justice, but I thought I'd show you some anyway. You can see the church of San Luca in the back of the last two!

Front to back: Emma, Mary, Dru, Me

I feel like this picture describes our friendship so well. 


"Under the Tuscan Sun"

I swear that if I hear another person say something about “being under the Tuscan sun” in Tuscany, I will throw a salt shaker at him/her (probably her, because guys tend not to get chick-flick/chick-lit references, but I’m an equal opportunity cynicist).

Yes, we were in Tuscany. Yes, it was sunny. This does not mean that you are allowed to make references to a Diane Lane movie (or, if we’re being correct, a travel memoir by Frances Mays) every five seconds. I mean, seriously. If it weren’t for my mastery of self-discipline, I would have totally thrown a salt shaker at someone.

We left for our Tuscan trip at 7 AM, which meant half the people on the bus were hungover. I may or may not be included in this half—I’ll leave you guessing on that one. Over the course of a 2-hour bus drive, we drove down stretches of bland, straight highway until we hit the Tuscan Hills. We stopped briefly at a small medieval town named Monteriggioni. We walked around the top of the wall, and then all went to get coffee and pastries at one of the town’s two cafes. Then it was back on the bus.

Our next stop was Siena, a beautiful town that is about 30 minutes from Florence. I’ve been before, but it was nice to go back. The town is beautiful. We were given two hours to go get lunch (highly mediocre but reasonably priced lasagna) before taking an hour-long guided walking tour of the city. We saw the main piazza, learned a little Sienese history, and toured the cathedral. The cathedral. The church exterior looks like the hybrid of a wedding cake, a bad bridesmaid’s dress, and a palace. The interior looks like a zebra, jewelry store, and a church had a very unsuccessful (but beautiful) threesome. Excuse my slightly inappropriate comments. If you saw this church in person, you would totally agree with me

Exterior of the Cathedral
Once we’d seen Siena, we took an hour bus ride to an ex-convent in the hills of Tuscany: AKA our night’s accommodations. This place was amazing. For one, it was in the middle of nowhere. No-where. Second of all, it was like spending the night in a medieval castle—complete with lack of proper electricity and rock-solid beds. Jokes aside, it was beautiful—quaint, for sure, but really nice.

View from the side of Sant'Anna
Courtyard of Sant'Anna, the ex-convent
Jess and me in front of the countryside
The nicest part was dinner, which was amazing. They squeezed all 40-some of us in a room with two long tables and served us food until we felt like we would burst. There was also wine, which Director Ricci has been rationing to us ever since the disastrously drunken events at the BCSP Christmas party of 2011 (BCSP and its students must maintain a professional image… blah blah blah). Thankfully, a little sweet talking from Nick Panzarella got us three or four more carafes of wine. Winning!
Miss Miranda and I looking quite happy with our new carafe of wine.
After squeezing in this really weird desert, we all grabbed the contraband wine bottles we’d snuck in with our backpacks and headed outside, where we spent the night talking and playing card games and drinking wine. I rolled into bed around 2; breakfast would be served at 8. Needless to say, I passed out properly for all 6 hours.

After a standard Italian breakfast (that included instant coffee… disgusting!), we all took our seats on the bus and drove away (quite reluctantly) from the convent. Our destination: Pienza, a small town build during the Renaissance that takes in 90% of its income from tourists. It was small, quaint, and there were lots of flowers. I bought an overpriced scarf, as per the usual.
The garden outside the church in Pienza. 

Sir Gatto from Pienza. This cat was not particularly fond of us, but he was purrdy (see what i did there?).
After Pienza we drove to another picturesque Tuscan town, Montalcino, before going to a winery in the hills, where we took a tour of the vineyard and the winery before enjoying a picnic-like lunch and two glasses of the wine the family makes. It was great. Then we set out on a “hike” through the hills. I use quotation marks because it was more like a nature walk with a few steep slopes down a gravel road. Beautiful, slightly tiring, but nothing like I was expecting it to be. That took about two hours, and we were back on the bus, heading back to our lovely Bologna. 
The main clock tower in Montalcino

"The Garden of Fairy Tales"

I was SO EXCITED for the hike.

Just some views from our hike. No big deal.

And because I just can't resist:

Dru and Katie were indecently dressed for the church in Siena. So the head nun (or whoever) made them dress even more indecently by wrapping them in cheap gauze that felt like insulation materials. 

Budapest is Buda-ful!

A few weeks ago my friend Dru and I broke out from a travelling slump and hopped a RyanAir flight to Budapest.

On arrival at the Ferenc Liszt airport, we made the brilliant decision to take public transportation in order to save a few bucks. In order to do this, we needed local money, the forint (226 forint = $1 USD). As you can probably imagine, I had a mini panic attack when I took out 29,000 forint from the ATM. Anything with more than 2 digits sends me into a panic these days, when money seems to have completely disappeared from my bank account (how did that happen? I plead complete innocence… or maybe just ignorance). After a while, however, having 29,000 forint in your pocket feels pretty good. Dru and I spent a few hours under the self-created delusion that we were rich, as we have never had more than 20 euro and a few American pennies in our wallets at one time.

After buying bus tickets (an entirely different issue in itself), we boarded a very sketchy bus outside the airport and, after a 30 minute ride, were dropped off in the middle of nowhere. There was a bus stop, a sketchy looking building, and dust floating through the air. The bus literally left us in the dust. Thankfully (or not, depending on your opinion), the super sketchy building turned out to be a metro station. We bought tickets from an aptly sketchy machine, thanks to getting help from a very nice Hungarian woman who spoke English, and boarded a sketchy metro train. Everything about that place was sketchy, but we lived to tell the tale.

It took us over an hour to find our hostel. You would not believe how difficult it is to navigate streets with names like  Deák Ferenc tér,Rákóczi út and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. We basically had no idea where we were going for a good 45 minutes, until we finally stumbled on our hostel (Astoria City Hostel), which was right behind a huge Burger King. It turns out we were housed in an apartment about four blocks down the street from the actual hostel, but we dealt with it. After all, we couldn’t be phased by the fact that the hostel certainly did not look like the pictures online. We had adventures to be had!

First thing you need to know about Budapest: It’s hot. So, so, so hot. I think it was in the 80s every day that we were there. It put Italy to shame. Second thing to know: Budapest is big. It’s really, really big. Put on your walking shoes and carry some Advil with you. Third thing to know: Food is cheap and good—the beer is even cheaper, and better.

After getting a hearty meal at a fantastic little restaurant, the name of which I can never remember, for whopping $20 after conversion (included an appetizer, two large beers, two huge plates of food, and a coffee). Needless to say, we were not hangry (angry hungry) in Hungary. With our stomachs full and moods refreshed, we set out to see the sights.

In terms of sightseeing, Budapest is a beautiful city aesthetically speaking. The buildings are really old and have lots of character, the Buda Castle is beautiful (especially at night), the Fisherman’s Bastion is gorgeous (I feel like big garden gnomes should live there), and there are great little gardens dispersed through the city. That being said, Dru and I found that there wasn’t a lot to do in Budapest—we went to Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion two or three times, we tried to get into Parliament on two separate occassions (both major fails, all the tickets were sold out by 10 AM both days), visited the Budapest National Gallery, and had an afternoon at the Szechenyi baths. Other than that, we were kind of at a loss for what to do. There was a lot of eating, lots of wandering aimlessly, and lots of showers (it was so hot).

Buda Castle

Don’t get me wrong,  Budapest is a great city. It’s just not somewhere I’d want to go again, at least not for a little bit. Unless you’re someone who can spend hours and hours and days and days going to Roman or Turkish-style baths, Budapest can be done in about 2-3 days. I would totally recommend the Budapest National Gallery—it’s incredible. There are several works by big-named artists there, like Renoir, Monet, Manet, Courbet, a few Raphaels, Degas, one or two Michelangelos… you get the picture (pun intended).

The lovely Dru sitting in from of the river on the railing of the Buda Castle

Parliament building... the one we never actually got into.

The baths are an… interesting experience. While they are quite nice to lounge in after a long day of walking, it is a little bit weird to be around very hairy men in very small speedos… then there is the awkward couple making out, or the random small child screaming. Stay clear of all of the above. Find a nice corner or bench and just sit and enjoy the bath-like waters. Bring flip flops for the changing rooms, and don’t even bother with the hair dryers. Those are my bits of advice for that particular adventure.

Overall, my trip to Budapest was a fantastic time. Was it as fantastic as Paris and Barcelona and Scotland? No—but it was still 4-days of adventure with my best friend, and that makes for a fantastic vacation. I would recommend it to anyone who has one or two days to spare, as it’s cheap and relatively easy to see in a day or two (as long as you’ve got your walking shoes). It’s surely another great adventure to add to the list!

Until next time!

Parliament at night