Being a Tourist in Chicago

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I brought my camera to work the other day, so during my lunch break I went for a little stroll – tourist style. (: Chicago is so BLUE and beautiful! To be honest, I never liked bringing my camera into the city because I didn’t want to give off an impression as a tourist. This is my house and I’m going to put my feet up on the coffee table if I want, kinda thing. But I realize that mindset is pretentious and not to mention, stupid. Because when you’re a tourist, you look at the town with a different pair of lenses and you’re a lot more open-minded to do things that are out of your comfort zone. Suddenly all those free, crowded events don’t sound so lame, and the new restaurants popping in look enticing, and sitting in Millennium park after a food truck makes for the perfect Saturday afternoon.

My motto for this summer: 
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What does that mean for me? Run a 5k, attend a summer festival for a different city/state, have a picnic, make a video, go on a road trip, host a board game night, make s’mores, watch a movie at a drive-in, play sports regularly, go fishing, win free tix from a radio show, rent a bicycle for the day, purge my closet, find a hike path, run a 100 miles, frisbee on a beach… just to name a few. Hold me to it? 
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Being a tourist in Europe was great and so fun. But this, this is the beautiful town I live in and am so proud to call home. (: And I’m ready to unlock its secrets the same way.

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What’s on your summer bucket list?

XO.

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Lunch in Bolzano, Dinner in Trento.

Last year when I was reading up on the different study abroad programs U of I provided, one of the things the Verona program offered that caught my attention — I know, as if I needed another reason to go besides the fact that IT’S IN VERONA — was its frequently planned group excursions. AKA pre-paid trips to an array of cities, restaurants, museums, tourist spots, activities, etc. The entire program travels together with all expenses — dining and wining and traveling — taken care of. Some on the lineup include: skiing in the Switzerland alps, dinner in Venice, horseback riding in Asiago, shopping at the Mantova outlets, etc.

Not bad, right? (:

And last Sunday was our FIRST excursion! It was only a day trip, but we were still fortunate to witness a broad scope of Italy. First, we went to Bolzano to sight see, shop around, and visit the museum hosting the Otzi exhibit. Otzi, you know, the “mummified” iceman they found in the mountains and were able to put on display for the public to see.

Bolzano was straight out of a fairytale. Magical and idyllic.

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Bolzano is right near the mountains. So the air is much colder, BUT there is NO WIND. Niente. So the cobblestones, sugared bread on the streets, pastel colored buildings, and the constant still, damp air makes you feel like you’re in Disney World Epcot. Just a large dome with good food and good scenery. Then THAT thought reminded me of my favorite book from junior high about the society that is presented as perfect and real but under all the layers it is actually a dystopia and everything from their dinner conversations to ways of thinking are constructed and manipulated by a higher authority because they are always under surveillance. (Guess the book. Hint. The cover has an apple on it.) Then THAT thought snowballed into all these other creepy pop culture references with altered realities all the way to lunch time when a lady yelled at me in fast and angry Italian and kicked me and my frans out of Burger King. But that’s beside the point. Bolzano was kinda weird and beautiful and uncomfortable all at the same time. Plus I was wearing these chunky rain boots but not a rain cloud was in the sky.

Final thought: Bolzano is one surreal place — for the good or bad.

But one thing holds true whether you are in Verona or Bolzano — Italians love their cappuccino.

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Defrosting our toes and sippin’ on some warm te + caffe. (:

Then ze 25 American tourists hopped back into the bus and headed over to Trento to check out the Castello del Buonconsiglio. THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. A castle that still remains from the 13th century to real royalty, but now serves as an archaeological site for glimpses into the time period and a gallery of art.


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Hot Dog takes pics with her finger over the flash.
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Breathtaking view from one of the castle’s windows.
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^The whole gang cheesing. (:

After the tour of the castle, we had some time to kill before dinner reservations so we roamed around the streets of Trento and sipped on spritzers.IMG_2435 IMG_2440 IMG_2424
The dinner venue was an authentic German restaurant. All of us were starving out of our minds — both from that day, and from being cheap on grocery selections — and since this was considered a pre-paid meal, we all went HAM on ordering way too many dishes.

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^ This was a plate of meat covered in meat with a side of meat and some extra meat.
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In other news…
– I have my first exam tomorrow.
– I hear back from a few summer internship prospects within the next week. Keep this in your prayers! (:
– Going on our first trip with some friends. (: Right after class we’re taking the tran to Florence for the weekend and then visiting Mantova on Sunday.
– Staying in a hostel for the first time Thursday + Friday. Any thoughts/advice/precautions?

Hope everyone else is having a great week!

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