An ordinary blog about a not so ordinary girl

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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? ImageImageImageImageImage


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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.



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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. DSC_2703DSC_2704DSC_2708DSC_2707


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. DSC_2416 Continue reading

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Fall Break Part III -From Roma to Firenze We Go

I recently got busy with school (yes I do have class and homework for all you wondering) so I haven’t had a chance to finish sharing the rest of my fall break adventures. After Rome the girls and I took a train to Florence where we stayed for two nights. Florence is a lot more laid back and relaxed in comparison to Rome. It’s a lot smaller of a city and the people there are in even less of rush. But we didn’t complain we were very much looking forward to relaxing. Rome was a nonstop trip, with no down time. There’s just so much to see and do. Here are some photos from our last afternoon in Rome before we left for Florence.

ImageThrowing in my last coin into the Trevi before leaving Rome Continue reading

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Fall Break Part II – ROMA!

One of the best parts of traveling has been meeting new people along the way. In Rome I had the pleasure of meeting Giada, Alice, and Valentina, who were born and raised in Florence, Italy. Giada currently is going to school in Rome, she study’s theater there. Her two friends Alice and Valentina were visiting for the weekend, they both are living and studying in Florence. It can be a little bit intimidating when your traveling to try and make new friends. But for me I love meeting knew people, there’s an old joke in my family that half the time we’re so friendly we could talk to trees. There’s been a few times I’ve caught my dad talking to some palm trees. None the less I think it’s important to let that guard down and just go up and talk to someone you find interesting. The worst thing that could happen is they just walk away, and you move on.

It was our first night in Rome and the nice gentleman working the desk at our hostel gave us a few suggestions of places to check out, that weren’t touristy and/or expensive. Let me tell you I’m a student ballin’ on a budget. Taking his advice a wondered in the direction he suggested and came upon buzzing streets, of bars and restaurants filled with a lot of young and hip adults. As we continued to explore we could hear live music, so naturally we followed our ears and they led us to a square where people were dancing, and playing homemade instruments. It was here where I saw Giada and Alice sitting together, and something told me “Hey, they look fun, go talk to them.” So I did. And I’m very glad that I did cause they were amazing! I don’t think there was ever a moment we weren’t laughing.

The girls were so kind enough to offer to take us out (Roman style) our last night in the city. By the time we met all met up it was around 7:30pm and the girls and I had been out walking since 10:30am, we were so looking forward to eating. But in Rome there’s no urgency for anything and they eat dinner extremely late. Which is great because back home I’m used to rushing and getting as many things done as I can in a short amount of time. However it’s not ideal when you’re starving. So us three meet up with the other three and the first thing they notice is how tired we look, and then Giada and Alice look at each other a giggle and say the reservation is at 9:00pm! Then we all laughed, note to anyone going to Rome anytime soon, carry snacks! Luckily Alice took us to an amazing Italian restaurant which was more than well worth the wait. But in the meantime Giada took us to a bar, which is apparently the usual thing to do, you go out get a drink, talk, go to dinner, drink, talk, end dinner, talk, go out, talk, drink (responsibly, ofcorse). It was truly a priceless evening, one I hope we can all come back together again and share.


The front of the resturant. Continue reading

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Fall Break Part I – ROMA!

My fall break consisted of 7 days, 5 cities and an endless amount of memories. From my previous post you may know our first stop was Naples, from there we took a train to Roma! Where we stayed for two nights. I had been to Rome once before about two years ago, and absolutely loved it! That trip was the first time I had ever been over seas, and without family traveling with me. I have to admit I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the same. The previous time I had been I loved it so much I didn’t want to leave. Seriously, I remember calling my mom and asking her what would happen if I stayed or “happen to miss my flight” and she reminded me that eventually I would find my funds nonexistent. But hey, a girl can dream, right?  Anyone who has been Rome can tell you that it has an ability to fill you with happiness almost like you are in a dream. I can confirm it was just as spectacular as the very first time I was there. Only only difference this time was I didn’t need a map. I was able to recall my way around, which was really neat, cause I was able to be a little tour guide to my friends. It also allowed us to branch out and to non-touristy things. None the less you still have to go visit the famous sites; the Vatican, Trevi, Pantheon, Colosseum, etc which we did. I don’t think I have every done so much walking in my life. On the full day that we were in Rome we literally walked, and I kid you not for 16 hours straight! From 10:30AM-2:30AM! Yes we stopped for a pizza, and cappuccinos here and there but we were determined to see and do it all – and we did! DSC_1819 Continue reading

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Naples’ finest little lady!

Before making my way to Rome I stopped off in Naples. While waiting for the train we decided to stroll around and see what Naples had to offer. In all honesty, it wasn’t very much. There was a lot of hustle and bustle, and the streets weren’t very well kept. However we did come across this street market where I spotted the cutest lady. She was out by herself and just made my heart melt with her cuteness. As you can see below in the first picture I spotted her from quite a distance. She just seemed so perfect for the scene that we were in; this old traditional part of Italy, filled with Italians that seem to have spent their entire life in this city. With her hair freshly done, a shiny coat of red lipstick and matching jewelry I watched her stroll pass me and as she did I imagined what she was like back in the day. By the reactions she got from the older men working in this market she’s had a few admirers in her day, possibly even broke a few hearts. Which reminded me of a special little lady back home, Miss Carol. You go girls – still turning heads!

Image Continue reading

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Took a trip to Firenze, Italy! Another one of my favorite places. Its been about 2 years now since I first came and like Roma just as magical as I remembered. It rained but that’s okay cause there’s nothing like standing in front of this beautiful piece of history, the Duomo enjoying life. It almost looks to perfect to be real.