It’s time to say goodbye to 2013, you’ve been very good to me! I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store. Tonight I will be ringing in 2014 in Paris. If you had told me a year ago that this is where I would be I would have never believed you. Goes to show all you can achieve in a years time. ❤ I wish you all a safe and hopefully memorable night, and I’ll be seeing you soon 2014…
Tag Archives: Europe
My new hat…
I am leaving Florence with a new hat. I love hats because it is the easiest way to cover up the fact you just didn’t do your hair that day. Especially, if your traveling throw it on and go. I got this hat at the street market in Florence, I even got it for a deal- I’m a haggler. You have to, or else you will get taken advantage of. That is something I have learned while traveling, the second locals realize you are a tourist, especially an American, they hike up the price. So I say as little as possible just to throw them off, use what local language I can, then (BAM) shock ’em when I speak perfect English after I’ve gotten my deal 😉 I myself once worked in retail, had a quota and a threatening manager, so sure you’ll do what you have to in order to keep your job. Along with selling people things they probably don’t really need – case in point why I no longer work in retail. I bring that up because my mom was off looking at somethings on her own, and I was observing from a distance the gentleman trying to scam her. She was looking for authentic goods made in Florence, every time she would ask he would say “Oh, yes, sure!”. He practically had is hand in her purse paying himself. So I walked over to see the tag and they were in fact goods from China and Persia. That’s when we walked away, but they can be so pushy but as a touring customer always remember you have the right not to be hustled or cheated. But what do you think about the hat?
Holiday Festivites with my Florence Friends
As I have said before one of the greatest parts about traveling is getting to meet new people. You may remember from my last trip (back in November) to Italy that I had made friends in Rome with two girls; Giada and Alice, who are originally from Florence. We have since continued to stay in touch and made plans for when they come to the states. With the holiday break both girls had come back home to Florence and I got to meet up with them again. Giada was gracious enough to invite me over to her home to celebrate the holidays with her and her friends the real Italian way. Which consists of; great company, a first course, wine, second course, wine, cigarette break, espresso, main course, wine, cigarette break, desert, desert-wine, another espresso and of course tons of conversation. Giada was such a great host, and her friends were very welcoming. Giada’s group of friends they have an annual holiday dinner together (Something I am planning on incorporating in my life when I get back home). This is an all day event, so apologies if I am not making much sense, I am tired and still in a bit of a food coma. So the day pretty much went like this; Giada woke around 7 to get a friend at the train station, came home cooked two turkeys, along with all the other dishes, we watched Miracle On 34th Street, listened to 80s music (which is quite popular here), ate, drank wine, talked… all over about 9 hours. This was the first time Giada had cooked turkey, apparently that is only an American thing. Luckily I’ve had plenty was able to help them carve it, cause they were a bit unsure how to serve it. It was funny once they set them down on the table they stared at the turkey, said something in Italian, looked at me, looked back at the turkey and looked back at me for a cue. It was great though getting to experience a holiday in a new way. The food was amazing! Unfortunately I am not able to share it with you but here are some pictures, sorry. I can’t wait until they come to visit in the states so I can return the favor.
Well the end of my time here in Prague has finally come. It seems as though I have been in the Twilight Zone, living in a dream. The past four months have flown by. In the past 100 days I have been to a grand total of 9 countries 15 cities! (I literally had to count and recount cause that seemed so crazy)… This has hands down been the most challenging experience I have ever been through. I have been blessed with so many great moments but equally some very trying moments. It wasn’t until my mom got here, and I was showing her around that I realized I really have accomplish somethings during my time here. I’ve learned how to; embrace change, solve problems on my own, accept that people are not always going to agree with what you have to say and you have to let it roll off your back, you are responsible for your own happiness, I cannot live away from the beach, not to judge a book by its cover, who the people are in my life I can rely on and most importantly family is forever.
When I first arrived to Prague I was excited and naturally wanted to talk to everyone I saw. The first few times I had been out in the city I was shocked at how stone cold people expressions were. For instance on the tram I would make eye contact with someone, naturally smile and not be acknowledged in return. However that is the culture here, I have come to learn that people are more reserved. It is not that they are rude, but from their perspective they are respecting your space.
As I mentioned before this experience has not only allowed me to make new friends but reflect on the relationships that I already had in my life. Before leaving for Prague I didn’t want to leave with expectations of who would write and who would drop off the face of the earth and I’m glad I did so because I have been more than pleasantly surprised and touched by the people who have made it a point to stay in contact. There have also been old friends that I have been able to reconnect with. Being so far away I have been able to take a step back and see certain relationships for what they are/were. That has been a big part of my growing process here. Relationships in general are a two way street it has been interesting to see who has and who hasn’t continued to maintain the “traffic” if you will. I admit in the recent year or two I have not been doing the proper maintenance that I should be. I am looking forward to changing that, taking the time to take a break from my constant go, go, go, and see my friends. I mentioned in another post that in Europe it is expected of you to sit for an hour or two at a cafe and just talk. I really have enjoyed that here, so I am going to make it a point to show the people who are important to me.
Prague you have been good to me. I am really going to miss my walks along the river, tram rides, popin champs, trying to speak Czech, hot wine, most of all the wonderful people I have gotten to know. I will forever remember this experience for it has helped me grow into a stronger person. Till we meet again…
The eagle has landed
And by eagle I mean Ching Chong-aka my mom! She got here this afternoon after about traveling 22 hours. Her phone had died when she left the airport so there was no way of telling me she had arrived and was on her way. Naturally I began to worry watching the time get past the time I figured she should’ve already gotten to my apartment. So I get a gut feeling to head for downstairs and go outside to look for her. At my apartment there is a buzzer system however there are no names/numbers at the main door, therefore you can’t tell what apartment you’re calling. But I figured out I can pick up my phone and listen to see if anyone is at the door. I happen to pick it up and hear my moms frantic voice asking the a couple of students in my building; “Excuse me! Do you speak English? Do you know Ashley? Is she here?”. So I ran down the stairs to get her, apparently the cab driver brought her to my building and she couldn’t believe from the outside it was apartments. So they drove on until he convinced her it was the correct place. So there’s my mom who has never traveled outside the states just so lost and in shock from how different the Czech Republic was. It was quite comical. Anyways, today was the commencement ceremony for my school so we cleaned her up and went to the lunch. It was so funny to watch her take in this new world, I’ve just become so accustomed to. Around every corner it was “Oh, ah, oh my gosh… Ash!”. It was cute. We’ll be in Prague through the weekend so I’ll be able to take her around to my favorite spots, then were off to Italy for Christmas! I cannot wait Italy is my FAVORITE place to travel. I’m also looking forward to showing her around there too. It feels so surreal that my mom is here. Having a piece of my world in this place I have experienced completely on my own feels strange. But more importantly it feels so good to have that piece of home/familiarity here.
Today in Prague…
Came across this outside a cafe near the castle – way to advertiseI decided to take a break from studying for finals and pay the Prague Castle a visit. The weather was great so I walked, got a coffee, took a few pictures and explored some side streets. The castle is about a 15 minuet walk from my apartment, I know life’s rough. This was actually the first time that I had been to the castle since I arrived here. This will be my final week here I figured I better get my ass up there to see it. I hadn’t been up there yet because at the time my class had a tour I was actually really sick, but I can officially say I’ve been to it. I didn’t go inside because I am waiting for my mom who is flying in at the end of the week, so we can see it for the first time together! I’m really looking forward to showing her around Prague. Hope you all are enjoying this Sunday – take the time to visit a place you’ve been telling yourself you are going to.
Nice weather, gone for a stroll
The weather today was actually pleasant, I decided to skip taking the tram and walk to class. It has been freezing here in Prague so it was nice to be able to go out and walk around without looking like Ralphy’s little brother in A Christmas Story. What can I say, us SoCal girls aren’t made for weather below 60. Anwyas I can’t believe the semester is coming to an abrupt end. Funny how life works that way; you start to get used to something and then it’s time for change. Though I am looking forward to getting back to my real life. I’m still learning and discovering things and places here in the city. In fact last night, like today, was fairly warm so I was out walking home and passed by this tea/hookah place right around the corner from my building. They were closed at the time so I told myself I want to go there. There’s been many times where I’ve heard and said that but it gets put off, and never ends up happening but this time I really meant it. I was shooting a scene for my acting class and decided to take my director who had never been to a hookah cafe, or shisha (that’s what they call it here). I love sharing things I enjoy with other people, there’s always some excitement about watching someone experience something new for the first time. The atmosphere was great reminded me of my favorite lounge back in Cali. The owner came over introduced herself, chatted for a bit-she by far is the nicest person I’ve come across here. It’s a shame there’s only a week and some change left.
A sucker for art
That I am. While in Vienna I went to a photo exhibition at the Kunst Haus Wien museum featuring Michel Comte. A famous photographer known for portraits of celebrities, high fashion spreads, nudes and advertisements. The exhibition featured his work from the past 30 years, which included portraits of movie stars like the handsome George Clooney, Sophia Loren, to the wild musician Iggy Pop. Along with his volunteer work, where he has gone and photographed people and places such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Tibet and Bosnia in collaboration with the Red Cross and Terre des Hommes. I always find some sort of inner inspiration and peace going to different galleries. Its a beautiful thing; a camera, because you get to see from the perspective of others – and I really enjoyed his perspective. The exhibition is through February, I highly recommend it if you’re planning on visiting Vienna. And if by chance Michel Comte is reading this, you can take my picture any day! 😉
Vienna waits for you…
…a lyric made famous by Billy Joel in his song Vienna, never really made sense, until this past weekend. The cafe culture is really big in Vienna, in fact it’s expected that you’re probably going to there at least an hour or two. Coming from the California where everyone is constantly moving to avoid wasting time, I’ve really had to slow down and dig for patients. Which has been nice, but as it is my attention span can be short and when the espresso kicks in I’m ready. But in Vienna, like Italy, its part of the culture to go to a cafe and “rent” a table and hold a conversation with a person; who actually sits in front of you. Gee, what a concept. To think people actually still communicate face-to-face. Okay, all sarcasm aside that is one of my favorite things about Europe. Grab a cup of Joe and enjoy some more pictures from my weekend in Vienna. Continue reading
A little mail…
…goes a long way. Today I received a couple cards from my family back home and it made me very happy. One of my cards was from my mom, who sent me the cutest picture of our friends little nugget Rozlyn. The picture below was from her first birthday party which I wasn’t able to attend cause I am obviously here in Europe. But from the pictures it was the cutest party – the kind you envy on pinterest. The other card was from my best betch who sent me some Cali sunshine and some giggles! Being abroad and away from the people you know and love really puts certain relationships into perspective. Today in one of my classes we were reflecting on the areas in which we’ve grown since starting this experience; being more aware of a new culture and perspectives, learning about yourself, etc. Something that I shared is that when you are preparing to go abroad all these people are so excited for you, they tell you all these wonderful things you’re going to gain from doing this, but what I’ve learned is that no one tells you about the things you loose. You really are able to see who is there for you and what relationships may be fictitious. This journey has certainly been a roller coaster so getting things cards meant a lot!
“It’s her party and she can cry if she wants to.”