Friday Five

IMG_5215

Magical dusk at Barceloneta Beach.

This week was filled with several special moments, including celebrating a friend’s birthday, visiting Vicenzia, finding a new favorite cafe, and appreciating time for rest. I leave for Rome Saturday and friends of friends have graciously welcomed us to stay at their home for the night and even offered a ride to the airport. On Sunday, we leave for Greece where we’ll spend the rest of the Easter Break. Hopefully I’ll return with some color on my skin! It actually feels a bit strange that I won’t be celebrating this Easter at home. My church hosts a “passion week” revival and an extravagant Easter dinner each year, and although I can’t join them, I will keep this holiday in mind and be joyful nonetheless. Jesus has risen, people! Hallelujah! (:

Here are my five favorites of the week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

IMG_5149

Sail boats were everywhere in Spain and it ignited a new desperate desire in me to find a sail buddy. Where’s a Nolan when you need one? (“Revenge”, anyone?)

IMG_5099

Coffee gelato + girl talk @ Amorino.

photo 1

We celebrated a friend’s 21st birthday with 21 gelato pops! (Scoops of gelato dipped in chocolate, then frozen) I tried the custard and mint — both were delicious. Now I’m looking for a reason to make my way over there and try more flavors.

photo 5
A new store has opened in Verona; it’s comparable to a Nordstrom or Whole Foods. The first floor is a sophisticated eatery complete with an oyster bar, sandwich counter, fresh produce, and more. The design is phenomenal and I found myself equally enchanted by both the food AND branding. I plan on copying this hanging clipboard design to showcase print in my future apartment. 

Happy Friday!
XO.

Well, Now We Know…

… Just because gelato is on your way home, doesn’t mean you HAVE to stop by and get some.

… If 80% of your diet consists of gelato and nutella, your skin isn’t SUPPOSED to look good. (And your clothes aren’t supposed to feel looser.)

… Don’t purchase anything on the main streets of flea markets. Don’t even let them entertain you by bargaining a few cents, whatever you want will still be half the price a few stands over.

… To just put that freaking water bottle in your purse before you leave the house, because you will get thirsty and be forced to pay 2.50€ for a glass if you don’t.

… Just because euros come in different colors and sizes, does NOT mean it is ACTUALLY Monopoly money — so stop spending it like it is. In fact, it’s monetary worth is much higher than the American dollar.

… And don’t even think about dismissing the value of a coin, it’s not just change for the meter anymore. Coins can be 1 or 2€!

… Don’t wait until the last minute to buy plane/hostel tickets. You will get a much worse deal than your smart friends who bought it a week ago.

… Don’t go to a currency exchange located in THE central hub for tourists. That “standard” 9% maintenance fee is a scam. Not to mention completely avoidable.

… Don’t order a cheese pizza if the price tag says 9€.

… That 1 + 2 does, matter of fact, equal 2! This isn’t rocket science, people… But I still had to learn these lessons the hard way.

“Well, now we know…” | That phrase used to be comforting, but 98234 rookie mistakes later, it is not so gracious. It is now delivered in an unfriendly tone, and mocks me with the low number in my bank account. Well, now we know…” See the difference?!

People can learn from their mistakes, right….?  Idk, I’m gonna go ponder this over a tub of gelato. Ciao!

black & white | a photo diary

In my Photography 101 class, black and white composition has been the conversation of late. We took a field trip to Scavi Scaligeri to study the variety of techniques and styles, we watched documentaries and studied works of Henri Cartier Bresson, the father of modern photojournalism; and most recently, we went on a photo walk to apply what we had learned.

Inspired, I decided to take a stab at B & W myself — digitally altered, of course — to show my new found appreciation.

IMG_2778_Snapseed IMG_2779_Snapseed IMG_2786_Snapseed IMG_2788_Snapseed IMG_2790_Snapseed IMG_2792_Snapseed

And this last one is for sh*ts and giggles. “Tua mama.” Italians can be low-brow, after all.

IMG_2793_Snapseed

The Magical Finger Foods

There are times in Italy when I discover something so magical that after experiencing it, I get this urgent need to share it with the world. And by the world, I mean this blog. 

Yesterday was one of those instances.

After spending the afternoon indulging in cappuccinos and gelato, and writing love notes to friends back at home, the hot dog and I were famished and ready for a real, proper meal. You know, a meal with more meat than greens, served with multiple sides, followed by a second course — plus an appetizer and two desserts.

We decided to eat out, or mangiare fuoi, because although our fridge WAS stocked, none of the food in it was good to eat. Everything was either coated with a layer of mold or had a lingering sour smell. Yum. (We kind of have a hard time throwing things out. But it’s not our fault! Our house mom has this complicated recycling system that we are too lazy can’t seem to to figure out.)

Plus, we were feelin’ sushi. (;

BUT NOTHING WAS OPEN. So we aimlessly walked up and down Porta Nuova, bantering about all our favorite sushi rolls and all the horrible things we would do just to be able to eat some, until we finally compromised and decided to eat at the next place that smelled edible. I know, we’re easy. Food is our kryptonite. Our RD, Claudio, had recently sent us an email listing a bunch of different places to check out that offered special deals. One on the list, L’Orologio, which was the restaurant we had our very first dinner at! (: The listed special was that from 6pm – 7:30 pm, order one free drink and receive unlimited food. 

Unlimited food? I mean, we couldn’t not check it out.

So we strolled in — entirely confused on how to even go about the situation. We didn’t know how to ask if what we had heard was a legitimate deal, if we were misinformed, where to find the free food, if they had bibs, buffet, all you can eat — unfortunately, those weren’t in our Italian 101 vocab list, yet. So we kind of just hovered, awkwardly, trying to gather what the norm was based on the seated guests. And not a single person paid any attention to us! I mean, we were pretty freaking obvious that we hadn’t the slightest clue what to do. We might as well have been wearing dunce caps and neon signs saying “help.” But nope, no one noticed or cared. So after standing in the middle of the restaurant for an inappropriate amount of time, we decided to take the situation in our own hands. We found a menu and an open seat and sat down, our brain muscles juicing, trying to quickly concoct a plan on how to find the all-you-can-eat… And then, at that moment, we saw the bar of finger food.

(Cue heavenly music.)

When we finally grabbed a servor’s attention, he kindly informed us that the kitchen was closed until 7pm, but we were welcome to help ourselves to the finger food if we ordered a drink.

All that finger food? If we buy ONE drink? The restaurant had no idea who just walked in.

IMG_2750  IMG_2745 IMG_2741 IMG_2742

(Okay, so these photos don’t really do justice to how magical this situation was. But use your imagination a bit.) For 2.50 we got this and alllla dis. We shamelessly went back to the bar four times, and one guest even (jokingly) took my plate away when he realized that sad number.

Then once our stomaches were stuffed with bread and oil and tomatoes, we got gelato. And then we came home, put on our fat pants, laid down and proceeded to finish an entire box of honey nut cheerios in one siting — I’m not even kidding you. But is that so wrong? Is it wrong to finish an entire box of honey nut cheerios in one sitting? Is it wrong to eat gelato twice in one day? Is it wrong to steal chocolate coins from Lorenza’s kitchen?

I think I have a five-month food baby.

Another reason why I love L’Orologio:

IMG_2746
Free wi-fi? Please and thank you. I can finally upload my awaiting Instagram pics!!! #FirstWorldProblems

On a not-so depressing-or-embarrassing note… I finally booked my flights for Belgium and London. Cheers to traveling + more food adventures + photo ops + potentially gaining some dignity and culture and maturity!

Ciao bao.

Week One Round Up

Happy weekend!

I can’t believe it’s already been a full week since arrival. It feels like time is alwaaays just slipping from our fingers. You walk into one store to look at one thing, you come back out three hours later. A quick bite of gelato? Say good-bye to an hour and a half. Life in Verona is a constant time warp. Or, maybe we’re just having too much fun that time is flying by. (; I don’t know which is more of the logical conclusion. Anyhoo…

School is now in session so this week was less of the leisure walks and four-hour meals and more… I don’t know, school. A very rude awakening that we’re not here on just vacation but to “study” abroad. Oh, yeah. Now my days are preoccupied with a four-hour class of Italian 101 from 9am to 1:15pm, followed by a second class from 2pm to 6pm — depending on the day. Classes range from art history, painting, and photography; and each class (usually) only meets once a week. If it is a full day, by the time we get out, the sun has already set and it’s time to make dinner and go to bed.

But even class tends to fly by. First off Italian 101 is less of a college lecture, and more of a continuous game of charades fused with pictionary. Can you even imagine such a thing? I mean, it’s a room of fourteen people — who are still hungover from the night before and can’t communicate in the same language — trying to formulate their thoughts into sentences. Picture that, and you got yourself Italian 101. But really. There’s a lot of funny hand gestures, drawings on the white board, exchanges of confused looks and blank stares. It’s because the teacher, Elena, speaks solely in Italian as a teaching mechanism to students who don’t know a word of the language (minus vino and ciao, of course). Although there is a lot of time spent on guessing more so than understanding, it is pretty effective because it forces us to THINK in Italian. Sometimes it gets confusing because my brain tends to pull together all my random knowledge of Latin, Korean, Spanish, and English, and then attempt to spit out an Italian answer. Yeah, that doesn’t work out too well. The second the languages seem to have distinct rules separating each other, they share the same word for bathroom or cat, tricking you all over again. Over all though, it’s a really enjoyable period because everyone in the class is eager to learn the language and is pretty cooperative.

Despite all those hours of sitting in class, no worries, we still manage to have our fun. Something new is always going on — a birthday, a special at a nearby bar, a burning of a witch, a chocolate festival, etc. It’s like we’re in Italy or something. For example, this week, our teachers took us to a random cafe in between classes for spritzers which was definitely a change of pace. And on Wednesday I took a class on how to make nutella!

My friend Debbie, back at home, told us that she hates words — and the English language in general — so I should stop vomiting now and just throw in some pics for her easy eyes to enjoy. Here we go, Debbie.

Highlights of the week:

Attended a witch burning, which is a tradition in Italy, symbolizing a new year — along with a really long back story. IMG_1480
We went out to dinner to celebrate the lovely Lauren’s 21st birthday. Birthday girl below.
IMG_1494
IMG_1499
IMG_1493
La pizza in its maximum glory. MMmmMmMmMm.
IMG_1501
Attended the chocolate festival where all these local shops set up booths to sell their different slabs of chocolates and products.IMG_1504
The most delicious plastic cup of strawberries + nutella + cream. I’ve been deprived of produce for so long that these juicy, fresh strawberries shocked all my taste buds because they forgot what anything besides carbs or chocolate tasted like.
IMG_1505
Truffels on hard bread. 
IMG_1507
IMG_1508
IMG_1510
IMG_1511
IMG_1512
This man was doing his own little live infomercial. Quite entertaining because really, who would buy this. It costed like 100 euros or something.
IMG_1515
IMG_1516
It wouldn’t be Italy if vino wasn’t offered somewhere within a 2 mile radius. Or, should I say kilometers. 
IMG_1517
IMG_1518
IMG_1519

I was THIS close to buying these beautiful chocolate covered heels. But then, I knew I would never be able to eat it because it was pretty to look at, and I would try to bring it back home four months later, whether it was in a solid form or not, and then it would melt all over my suitcase and I’d have to clean it later. And I hate cleaning, so. Just kidding. They were like 20 euros.
IMG_1521
IMG_1522
Hot Dog ordered one of these things and they were…. the most delicious thing ever. Yup, you got it. You’re catching on.
IMG_1523
IMG_1524
IMG_1526
Bought myself a custard-filled croissant because it looked soft and chewy.
IMG_1527
My face when I found out it was actually hard and crumbly.
IMG_1529
IMG_1531
Hot Dog and I went grocery shopping together to cook our first dinner. (: Eurospar is the local grocery store, comparable to a small Jewel.
IMG_1541
Literally the most delicious sad we’ve ever had in our life. Made from scratch, might I add. 
IMG_1543

Because I’m blogging so much later than the actual events took place, it’s getting much harder to recall different things that happened. Hopefully the pictures of the delicious chocolates kept you interested and distracted you from the lack of (poor) writing. Well, at least now that we have wi-fi in our home, we can expect for some more regular posts with relevant insights!

Thank you for following along on my first week here in Verona — and thank you to those who have been continuously praying for my time here. It’s sometimes hard to find time to reflect and meditate when there’s always something to do, but the Lord has been placing different issues onto my heart that need to be prayed over. Show grace, seek Him, keep fighting. They’re the same prayers, but in a much different context.

It’s definitely been a roller coaster week for me, spiritually — I’m wrestling with thoughts that are so new and different to the stuff that I’m so used to, and I’m learning I need to depend on Him in ways I’ve never thought of. Being without a Christian community, things feel a little unstable as of late. But regardless, I know that God will really expand my heart and eyes to new and better things. I can feel it already, and I get pretty excited.

Thank you again for praying for me and this trip. And let me know how I can pray for you. (: