I just thought I’d let you all know that I have arrived home from Spring Break in one piece.  After 12 days galavanting around Italy it’s nice to be back home. Before I start posting a crazy amount of pictures, I thought I would write about a few of the highs and lows from the trip before i forget them.

A Romantic Gondola Ride with Travis and 3 of our friends. During our 2 days spent in Venice a common questions was, “Are you and Travis going to go on a Gondola Ride?..It’s so Romantic… You have to!” This might come as a surprsie, but Travis and I are cheap, and Gondola rides run about 80 Euros for 30 minutes. Preposterous! Quite honestly we’d rather be using that money watching gondola rides while lounging and eating at a nearby cafe. I swear, I eat way more here than I ever did in the states. I blame all the walking for my increased appetite, and maybe the gelato shops. Travis and I share almost all of our meals as a means for each of us to save money. Our stomachs are still satisfied and we always have room for dessert.
Anyways, as a joke I told Travis that I would only ride a Gondola under one condition, our driver had to be named Fabio. So we left the matter as a no go. The last afternoon Travis, Steph, Sara, Kate and I chose to explore the city. When we walked by a suntanned Gondola driver that offered us a ride for 10 euros per head we couldn’t refuse. The Gondola ride was all I had ever dreamed of and more! Just kidding, it was a pretty good time though. Charming and fun, our driver sang and whistled as he gave us his 30 min tour of the city. Lastly, he told us his name was Fabio. It was meant to be.

Catching a Cold in Rome. On our train from Venice to Rome the scratchy throat symptom I had been experiencing the day before evolved into a real nice cold. For 4 hours I shamelessly blew my nose on a long strip of toilet paper while grossing out all the occupants of the cab. Although catching a cold was a low of the trip, it did give me an excellent excuse for me to justify my frequent napping habit. Travis bore with me through these troubled times, and I am very grateful. Please don’t ask him how terribly whiney i get under the influence of a cold.

Visiting the Pope is like being in a mosh pit, a holier mosh pit. Among seeing all the beautiful ancient sites of Rome we were also lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday when the Pope gives his Papal address. Travis and I decided it might be cool to see him. We really didn’t think we would get that great of a view, being that it was holy week and collectively we aren’t that tall. Lucky for us we found a spot in the second row of people behind the fence. The Pope likes to do this fun thing where he gets in his popemobile and is driven through designated paths through the crowds of people kissing babies and doing Popely things. It’s all very sweet and exciting. When the pope gets anywhere near you the surrounding crowd goes wild, just screaming. The loads of people behind you take steps forward smashing their body against the next person in hopes of trying to get a better glimpse. I was sandwiched between people twice. But the 10 seconds of discomfort is worth it for the pope. Even if it leaves you drenched in your own sweat and awkwardly pressed against a devout nun having the time of her life.

Almost missing our Train over a blow dryer. When a crappy hostel provides you with nothing but a forlorn hairdryer you better use it. The Hostel we stayed at in Rome was far from great. Some things that contributed to the hostel’s charm was the fake flower decor that covered the walls, the creepiest clown patterned shower curtains you will ever see, and no available towels. There are few options, when it comes to drying yourself without a towel. You can either choose a lucky piece of clothing to wipe your drenched body. You can flick the water of with your hands and wait to air dry while the creepy clowns stare back at you. Or you can use the hair dryer as a body dryer. JK nobody did the last option, but I did cross my mind for a second. So the morning of our departure to the Cinque Terre I selected that lucky piece of clothing and dried off as quickly as i could, no need to mention the creepy clowns again. Then I luxuriously blow dried my hair, with the only modern amenity gifted to us. It was glorious, my hair shined like the sun, I could have been in a Pantene commercial. Unfortunately this did not give Travis and I much time to make it to the train station to print our tickets off. We arrived at the Ticket/Biglitteria station which looked hopeful, but the line was too slow. We wouldn’t make it at this pace.
8 minutes before departure: it is decided that an alternative plan must be implemented, Travis runs across the station to find other ticket box, Julie waits like a guarded soldier in the line that may or may not be able to produce the Tickets.
6minutes before departure: Trav is located somwhere in the Train station. Julie is firmly planted in line, eyes fleeting as she scans the crowd.
5.5 minutes B.D: Julie becomes more anxious, line has not moved one bit. Still no hope is lost
4 minutes B.D.:  Trav running with tickets in hand,  grabs his backpack while Julie carries the rest of the bags
3 minutes B.D. : there is only a set of staircases that keeps us between the train. Travis pushes forward. Julie mutters just barely “Trav…I…don’t.. think.”
It’s too late Trav is already up the stairs, Julie pushes through with  all of the bags and her even more apparent cold, used kleenexes falling out of her pockets.
1 minute B.D. : Both parties arrive safely to destination.
Train leaves 7 minutes late, because well, it’s Italy.
Lastly, we made it to the Beautiful Cinque Terre. Yes mom, I promise to put up pictures soon. : ]

Everyone LOVES hiking or so they say. Who doesn’t love fresh air, and an amazing view to reward an adventurous hike. Well i enjoyed it but… The hike was a bit of a struggle. I know you find that hard to believe since I am such an athletic sportswoman at home. But I may or may not have requested multiple breaks during the course of the hike, groaned during the entire trek up the steeper sections, or even slowed us down to a pace of a tortoise.  That was until Travis decided to carry my camera backpack for me. As soon as he took my bag I felt as light as a feather and the hike was more enjoyable. Shout out to Trav for being the best hiking companion ever, and to the beautiful views of the Cinque Terre!

The biggest meal I’ve ever had in my life was consumed in my Auntie Mely’s small Italian Apartment. As mentioned earlier, Trav and I aren’t big eaters, but that was about to change on this fateful evening. Trav and I had a great welcome by my aunts, uncles, and cousins. All of whom I haven’t seen in 2-12 years. I think they wanted to make up for all the lost time by feeding me all the food I had missed in those years. The first evening in Turino a large meal was prepared. The main course was a delicious pasta  and bread that my cousin made. It filled me up quite quickly. Then there were pork chops that needed to be consumed. At this point I was happily stuffed, and I thought we were finished. But then I saw it, the plate full of beef making it’s way towards me, cooked in a delicate lemon sauce that would be a sin to pass up. I remember exchanging anxious glances with Travis, how could we possibly fit more food into our tummies. Being the guest of honor we noticed that our serving sizes were significantly bigger than the rests, and we were offered food first. This was wonderful and also horrible at the same time. We had to be polite.
Then my cousin saved me, “If you can’t finish your food, just give it to Travis.”
It’s a common trend for the men to finish up the left overs. Lucky for me! I had an escape. I admit it, I  abandoned Trav to fend for himself with his full plate of food.
Of course it wouldn’t be a meal without the dessert. Another cousin had brought delicious small Italian pastries for us to enjoy, and as the guest of honor you couldn’t say no. I ate 1, 2, then 3.
Needless to say, the meal, and company was delicious! We both remained quite stationary for the rest of the evening before waddling to bed.

Missing our train to Olomouc BECAUSE THE AIRLINE LOST MY BAGGAGE. Yup, I no longer have 75% of my already small wardrobe. If you see photos of me looking grubby in rather tired clothing and unkempt hair, I promise I’m not homeless. I just no longer have things. JK, but I do hope I get my backpack soon. The airline ‘said’ that they would send it to me when it arrived…if it arrives.

I’m poor now,
 just kidding. But after 12 days in the European Union, I am so happy to be back to spending Czech Crowns instead of Euros. I’ve missed my 2 dollar cups of coffee and 3 dollar sandwiches. Food cost almost double  in Italy than that of the Czech.

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I am one with the water
Me, just minutes before my evening swim

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