A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Be still my heart… August 21, 2010

Filed under: Friends,Italy — Kelocity @ 10:10 pm
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Last night was girl’s night at the movies! Janet, Erika and I went to see “Eat, Pray, Love” and it was incredible. I haven’t read the book yet and really didn’t know what to expect. I heard it got bad reviews, but everyone was telling me that since I have been to Italy I “have to go see it”. And I have to say, I was impressed.

I also really adored Julia Robert’s hair. In every scene it was just beautiful. I was actually distracted by it at times. She’s such a great actress, it’s refreshing watching her.

I loved how it was really four mini movies in one. Each location she visited was it’s own self-contained story with life lessons, comedy and really really good food. Read: lots of pasta. I think I drooled when I saw all of this!
Spaghetti with Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

All those Italian scenes made my heart flutter. Some of them literally took my breath away and I realized how much I missed Italy.

I ❤ Italy.
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[I promise to get some more Italy pictures on the blog soon –Stay Tuned!!]


I think I need to see the movie again, or at least read the book, because there were so many amazing quotes in there that I wish I remembered. But I especially liked all the ones about ‘balance’ and finding inner peace. Ya’ll know how I’m always trying to find that balance (aren’t we all?) The quote that stuck out most in my mind was something along the lines of this: “Finding balance means loving yourself more than anyone else can.” How true it is…


Simply Italy, Simply Amazing October 1, 2008

Filed under: Contiki,Italy,Travel — Kelocity @ 9:57 pm
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My husband and I took our first Contiki tour in 2008. It was the “Simply Italy” itinerary and we absolutely loved it. We had such a great time and fell in love with Contiki. I had been to Europe before, but neither one of us really seen much of Italy. This two-week trip was perfect for us and we highly recommend it.

We started the trip in Rome, but headed down to Sorrento on our first day.  Sorrento was gorgeous. It’s right on the Amalfi Coast, and the cliffs against the Mediterranean Sea were breathtaking.
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Before we explored Sorrento, we opted to do a tour of Pompeii. For me, this was an absolute highlight. To see an ancient Roman village as it was thousands of years ago was just incredible. It is not to be missed. I could have walked around for hours and hours. So many areas to explore. We had a great tour and we were sad when it was over. The guides are fantastic and really bring the history to life.
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That night, we explored Sorrento, it’s a bit touristy, but not as much as you’d think. We wandered the streets and took it all in.
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This was as far south as the Simply Italy tour goes, and you can definitely start to see the differences between the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Sorrento dances that line very well. The best of both cultures.
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The next day, we took a boat off the coast to the island of Capri. On the way, we got great views of the cliffside towns.
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After exploring the villages on the island for a bit, we took a smaller boat on a tour all the way around the island. I’ve never seen such clear, crisp water! We had a blast on the boat.
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Although the waves were too rocky to go inside the blue grotto, we got to jump out and swim inside the green grotto instead. This was so cool! We even got to swim through some rock caves!
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We took the gondola up to the top of Capri and walked down and around the towns, exploring, taking pictures and taking in the gorgeous views of the coastlines.
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We had a great lunch and dined al fresco before taking a boat back to the mainland. This is what vacations are all about!
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Leaving Sorrento behind, we headed up to Tuscany! We usually prefer to sit at the front of the bus so we can look out the big window. This was quite a treat to see Tuscany in front of us!
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We had a great wine tour at a local vineyard and got to see how their wine and olive is made. Of course there was some tasting too!
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Our hotel in Florence was up on a big hill, and we could see the Duomo from our room!
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We had some freetime in Florence in the evening, and we took advantage of the crowdless city. We had the town to ourselves that night!
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We really love that Contiki lets you explore cities at night. They take on a whole new life after dark, and you can see the highlights up close, without the afternoon heat and throngs of tourists. It’s a unique perk to traveling with Contiki.

And, per Rick Steve’s suggestion, we stopped at Festival Del Gelato!
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The next day, we had a fantastic walking tour of the city, seeing all the major sights. I had taken a class that focused on Florentine History, so I very much enjoyed this part.

And just as good tourists should, we climbed to the top of the Duomo. The hike up is worth it for the rewarding views.
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After Florence, we headed to Pisa and got to play with the leaning tower! There really isn’t much to see in Pisa besides the tower, but they gave us plenty of time to walk around and snap some iconic pictures. (Ignore the Santa hats. That’s another story for another blog post!)
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Next stop was La Spezia and the Cinque Terre region. We adored the town of Portovenere. We had lunch there and gawked at how tropical it looks there.
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Later, we took a boat ride past each of the five towns. You’ve probably seen pictures of this colorful hillside houses, they’re famous! And even more impressive in real life.
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We got to stop in the last town, and took the train back to La Spezia when we were done.
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Our next destination was Milan. I visited the city in 2003, but I was happy to go back later and share it with my husband.
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Although it rained the day we were there, we still saw a few of the major sights, and then had fun roaming around some of the malls. We found an Italian bookstore and I purchased some children’s books. I was trying to learn Italian and the books were a fun souvenir.

On our way to Venice, we stopped in Verona, where William Shakesphere’s Romeo & Juliet was based. It’s assumed to be good luck to touch Juliet’s…. um…. breast. When in Verona, right?
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I had heard that there wasn’t much else to see in Verona, but we were surpsised at what a cute town it really was. It’s a walled city, with lots of fun, photographic areas to see. Make sure you break out of the touristy areas on these trips. Some of the best sights are off the beaten path!
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Then we continued on to Venice! Again, since we arrived in the evening, we were encouraged to explore the city at night. With the canals and the lights, it was really stunning.
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We just wandered around and had fun getting lost. By the way, it’s near impossible to actually get lost in Venice. But we had fun trying. It’s a romantic, quiet city at night when the flocks of tourists have turned in for the night.
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The next day, we had a glass blowing and lace demonstration.1 (1657)

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And then we spent the day walking, shopping and giggling over the fact that we were in Venice!
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And of course, we had a gondola ride! Contiki gets an amazing deal on the gondolas. If you’re going to do it, for sure use their hookups! Make sure to pick up some bubbly to enjoy on the boat!
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And dressing up like the gondolier is always a fun idea too. Yes, I planned this outfit specifically for this day!
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The next day, we were enroute to Rome(!!) and stopped in Bologna briefly on the way. I bought a scarf there (and then proceeded to wear it everyday for the rest of the trip… as seen in almost all the photos below!
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After the sun set, we once again were treated to an evening tour of the city (I just LOVE these!) Believe me, with the crowds in Italy, you really can appreciate these rare crowd-free experiences!
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And the next day was filled with history. It’s hard to imagine how old these structures are, and how people lived back then. I’ve been learning about “ancient Rome” for years and years in school. And here it all is, right in front of us!
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The Coliseum was fun too. How did they ever built such a thing without modern technology?!

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If you’ve ever seen the classic film Roman Holiday, you might be excited to put your hand in the lion’s mouth!
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The Parthenon was incredible too, so perfect in design and functionality! 1 (2284)

In our free time, we visited the Vatican. Even though we’re not Catholic, we really enjoyed this. It’s even more exciting if you’ve read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons.
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The next day, our official tour had ended, but we opted to stay in Italy for a few extra days. We had planned to go back to Cinque Terre to do the five-town hike. We took a train from Rome and I read up on some information on the way.
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We got up early the next day to begin the hike. We started in the furthest town, and made our way along the coast towards the last one.
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If you’ve got the time, you have to do this hike.

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We are thrilled that we were able to experience Italy at such a young age. If you’re even just considering going, don’t wait. It’s a fantastic itinerary and Contiki gets it right. You will not be disappointed.
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Italy: Sorrento and Pompeii September 26, 2008

Filed under: Italy,Travel — Kelocity @ 8:34 pm
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This was part of our Simply Italy contiki tour that we did in 2008. It was a two week tour around the best parts of Italy. The tour started in Rome, and we were schedule to arrive there two days ahead of the tour so we could sightsee a little on our own first. Our flight went from LAX to London and from there to Rome. But once we got to England, we were told there was an outage and the airport would be closed all day. Of course then, we missed our flight, but British Airways hooked us up by paying for our hotel, meals and some spending money. So we spent two days in London first.

Anyways, by the time we got to Rome, we were exhausted, and we actually overslept the next morning and almost missed our bus the next day! Needless to say, we were extremely happy to finally be on the tour and ready to go.
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From Rome, we headed directly south to Pompeii.
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This is a place you hear about in history books (and in my case, in my six years of Latin class!) It’s in such great shape, you can definitely picture a village here.
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Mount Vesuvius in the background was stunning. Can you imagine seeing it erupt, moments before the ash covered your whole town?
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We had a fantastic tour by a local Italian. He was very good at explaining the history and making it come alive. Our favorite was when he told our Contiki group to “Take your time, just do it quickly!”
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We walked the streets of Pompeii and tried to imagine living there. There is still paint on the walls!
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You can definitely still see the ancient roads, complete with stepping stones to cross when they used to flood!
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Pompeii was incredible. If we flew all the way to Italy and only saw this one location, I would have been content.
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I could have spent days wandering around and looking at all the artifacts.
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Outside of the ancient ruins, is a total tourist trap of souvenirs, pizza shops and orange stands.
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Sorrento was charming though, it was Irving’s favorite city in Italy.
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We stayed at a really cute hotel in town, with such a gorgeous tile floor.
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When we had free time, we wandered around breathing in the Italian coastal life.
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La Cita Bella!


Venice, Italy April 13, 2003

Filed under: Europe,Semester Abroad — Kelocity @ 2:00 pm
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I went to Venice, Italy alone too. It was a great experience, yet one of the loneliest. I had fun seeing everything and going to museums, and seeing St. Mark’s square and everything, but at night, I was a little bored, being alone. It also rained all 5 days I was there. Except one day, it rained for a few hours, and then stopped, and I looked up at the church in St. Mark’s square, and there was a rainbow over it. It was so beautiful, I really felt like God put that rainbow there for me to cheer me up. It did, it brought a smile to my face! I did some shopping and more sight-seeing, it was fun.

Me, in Saint Mark’s Square with the birds.

Rialto Bridge (biggest bridge in Venice).

Me on the Bridge of Sighs.

My sister, Mikaela. She didn’t come with me, but I thought it was cool that we had the same picture!

God put that Rainbow there for me, because I was sad, hungry, tired, poor and homesick by this point!

It rained the ENTIRE time I was there…

One day, I went to Padova with a girl from my hostel. It is a town an hour from Venice. There was a lot to see, and we had a great time. I again ate a lot of Gelato… mmmm….

Then, I took a Ryanair flight back to Belgium, and came home.


Bella Italia!! March 31, 2003

Filed under: Europe,Friends,Semester Abroad — Kelocity @ 4:40 pm
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Ok, Ok, so every weekend I say that it was “the best weekend of my life”… but the truth is, I’m having such a great time, it’s the truth. Every weekend I say, “It cant get any better than this” and it does, every time! This was my last travel weekend on my own without the whole castle group. I went to Milan and Turin in Italy. I took the train alone, 15 hours to Milan on Friday. I walked around the center of town, went shopping, visited some churches, went to the Palace…. ATE GELATO!!!! (I took a picture of me eating it too, to show Katie, Steph and Courtney!!!) It was so nice out, I walked around without a coat.

Milan, Italy

Gelato in the city!

At 7pm, I went to Turin and met Giovanni (we all remember him from Senior year of high school, right?!?!) He was waiting for me on the platform. We drove to his house, and I got to meet his family. His brother is 17 years old, Alberto. I met his parents too, they are both soooo nice. His mother is the only one in the family who does not speak any English, and the boys thought it was so funny to make fun of her by saying, “Pass the bread, jerk” and she doesn’t know what they are saying, it was so sad! At 8:30pm, we had dinner, his mother cooked awesome pasta with bacon and ham in it. It was great… then she came out with veal Parmesan (real stuff, not the Americanized frozen patties junk!) and peas, and salad, and meat, and bread. I was like “How do you all stay so thin here when you eat like this!” It was so good. Then we had apple pie for desert. Definitely real Italian cooking.

After dinner, we went over his friends house, where I met 7 or 8 of his friends. They were all so funny, most of them didn’t speak much English, but Giovy would talk in English and make them reply in English so that I would understand. They really are “more American than the Americans” because they wear clothes with American logos on it, listen to American music, and follow American pop culture. We all had so much fun. I met Martina, Giovanni’s closest girl friend. We ended up hanging out with her the most over the weekend.

On Saturday, Giovanni and Martina gave me a tour of Turin, I saw the Royal Palace and the famous tower of Turino.

Torino Main Square

National Cinema Museum
The highest Building in Torino!

The view from the Tower!

Inside of the tower was a film and video museum, it was awesome—I love this stuff! We met up with Alberto and got lunch in the city. We shopped for a bit and headed up the mountains. It seems everyone in Turino has a house in the Alps. We spent the night up there. It was an awesome two-story cabin place in the mountains. We met up with some of his friends from Milano and went to a Karaoke bar.

Skiing in the Italian Alps (This is the mountain that the 2006 Olympics will be skied on!)

On Sunday, we went skiing in the Alps in Sestriere. I used Giovy’s mothers ski equipment, so I didn’t have to rent anything. I had such a great time, but I spent the majority of the time sliding down the mountain on my butt. I have HUGE black and blue bruises to prove it! It was wayyy to steep and wayyy too icy, and I suck at life, and I can’t ski. But hey, how many people can say the skied the Alps!!!

Then, we packed up, and I traveled back to the castle —it took me 18 hours…. Way too long to be on trains and busses. I’m so tired! Then I get back, only to find out I have two papers due tomorrow, and tons of reading! Cool! Next weekend is Munich!



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