Since JFKS has a week-long winter break between first and second semester, Marianna and I were fortunate enough to go to beautiful (and much warmer and sunnier) Italy! It was a phenomenal week of sight-seeing, gelato, and shopping!
We flew to Venice on Saturday morning and took a water bus to our hotel. We arrived at our hotel around 2:00 in the afternoon, so we had almost the entire day to explore. We got settled in our room (a water-front view because of a surprise "present" from the owner of the hotel!) and headed out to see Venice! Over the course of the next few days, Marianna and I had a wonderful time seeing Venice! I think my map skills improved by 100%, as we had to figure out how to back to our hotel after roaming the narrow and winding alleyways.
My favorite place in Venice was a book store we came across while walking around the first day. The sign outside read "the most beautiful book shop in the world," so of course I had to check it out to see if this was the case. It was. The small shop was filled with books, books, and more books. Piles and stacks EVERYWHERE. There were boats filled with books and old nautical decor hanging up. When I made it back to the children's books, I was shocked to see a canal right outside the back door! It was unbelievable! I made it out of the store with a couple of children's books and a free bookmark from the shop owner who loved me and Marianna!
We had the chance to take water buses to the islands of Murano and Burano during our time in Venice. Murano is the island where the famous Murano glass is made. You can practically buy it anywhere in Italy. It was a quiet little island because it was a Sunday, but we got to go into a few stores, walk the streets, and purchase a few pieces of jewelry. My FAVORITE of the two was Burano. When I got off the water bus, I was a little skeptical--but when I turned the corner, I could hardly believe my eyes! Every home and store was painted a bright color! It was beautiful! Burano is mostly a residential island, but it is known for its lace. We saw several locals cleaning and hanging laundry. I just could not get over that people actually live there. It is like a fairy tale.
Venice was a great city! It was wonderful to not see a car for three days! What a concept! I loved all the nooks and crannies of the Venetian streets. So magical. I would definitely like to go back someday!
On Tuesday, we said arrivederci to Venice and buongiorno to Rome! I was excited to be back to Rome since our summer trip to Tuscany in 2004. It was weird not to be with Mom, but I was looking forward to seeing Sara Beth at the end of the week.
We arrived at the hotel in late afternoon, so we had some time to get unpacked and see a bit of Rome. Our first day, we were able to hit many of the major landmarks of Rome since our hotel was within walking distance of them all. We headed to the Trevi Fountain, ate some pizza from the Pizzeria Trevi (YUM!), and walked to the Coliseum where we took lots of pictures! It was a beautiful sunny day, so we took definitely took advantage of it! We saw the Pantheon and lots of the major piazzas along the way. It was a great first day in Rome--I couldn't believe all the places we had already made it to!
Of the next two days, we went inside the Coliseum, to the Museo di Roma, the Museo di Roma in Trastevere, and the Vatican City where we went into Saint Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. We also made it to the Spanish Steps on another sunny day and enjoyed people-watching and taking pictures. Just like Venice, we felt like we became really familiar with the city and how to get places (we took the metro several times). We even discovered an AWESOME gelateria with over 40 gelato flavors made right there in the back of the shop. I think everyday we were in Rome, we went there. :) My favorite flavors included: Raspberry and Cherry. Nutella and Stracciatella were definitely runners-up.
Then on Saturday, Sara Beth came to Rome for the day! We met at the Spanish Steps and went shopping (of course)! It was a lot of fun to be together! What a blessing that it could work out because I was really needing my sister after a month in Europe! (I can't believe I've been here for over a month now! WOW!)
We got back to Berlin late afternoon on Sunday. We were exhausted from all our adventures but had such a fun time on our winter break! Now, it's back to school with LOTS of planning and teaching to do! Ancient Greece, Geometry, and Literature Circles--here I come!