Pre-departure was a bit stressful. My mom and I did a great job at having all things packed and ready on time. The only thing that wasn't ready was my Visa. The Italian Consulate said when I had my appointment (in the beginning of August) that I would receive it in the mail between 10 and 14 days. 16 days later and 2 days before leaving I panicked. After calling the consulate and figuring out the mistake THEY made, they decided I could spend 4 hours the day of my departure to drive down the dreaded 405 to pick up my passport with Visa attached (Thank God).
Anyways, my mom and I made it London after one leg in economy and the final leg in business class ( I have officially been spoiled and refuse to fly any other way...they gave me not one but TWO ice creams *with mini marshmallows*). I will spare you all of the details of London, but we saw everything there was to see. We saw, shopped and conquered. The globe theater, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral, Portobello Markets, the Camden Markets, changing of the guard, Buckingham palace, lots of art, and most importantly; Platform 9 and 3/4 and the bridge used in the 6th Harry Potter movie. There was so much more, I can't even remember. What I do know is that London is my new favorite city. It is beautiful, the people are wonderful and I can wear rain boots 355 days of the year.
We moved on to Rome, which was 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity which may have swayed my views of the eternal city. Needless to say, I was not a fan. I loved the site seeing. It was amazing to see buildings built in the 1500s, and the ruins from times way before that. Both my mom and I were "over" Rome in only two days. But for the record we had a tour guide who literally took us to every tourist spot plus more in a day and a half. I was disappointed by the food in Rome, I didn't have that amazing Italian meal I had heard so much about. The gelato however....oh my goodness. Our tour guide Gloria took us to the most authentic/ "locals only" gelato place, and I still have yet to find gelato quite like it. My mom and I went there at least three times. Overall, Rome came out ok in my book ( the amazing gelato bumped it up more than anyone will ever know).
Our next adventure was getting four 50 lb pieces of luggage onto the train to go from Rome to Florence. We managed to get all four bags (plus backpacks and purses) on and off the train with only minor scrapes and bruises. I knew the second we got into the cab at the train station that Florence was a thousand times different than Rome, and I couldn't be happier with my choice in location for my study abroad experience. The taxi driver was so nice and chatty...and drove the way I had been expecting Italians to drive. He hit turns quick, hit bikers (almost) and hit curbs. Perfect. Our hotel over looked the Arno river and was only one bridge from the Ponte Vecchio and one block away from my new school. We once again, conquered the whole city of Florence in only a couple of days. My favorite spot in the whole city is the Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks this beautiful place. It is so neat to see the city decorated by the orange rooftops and green shutters, with all of the church steeples towering high above the rest of the city.
Fortunately, we found our great Italian meal...and went back to the restaurant for the second night in a row. They served us ravioli stuffed with pear and covered with cheese sauce. It was so amazing that we both ordered our own plates...ate the entire thing, and then ordered a third to split between the two of us. It was amazing to say the least. Anyone who is planning to visit Florence let me know and I will give you exact details on how to get there, what to order, and how to get from there to a great gelato shop!
I am so sad my mom had to leave me. I couldn't have asked for a better trip or a better mother. We had so much fun and saw more than most people could see in a month or two. She is amazing and I miss her already.On a side note....
My mother had to drag me around all of these cities...I was the old lady of the trip complaining of my feet hurting and how hungry I was. She was kind enough to put up with it all.
Mom and Dad, if you ever see this, thank you for an amazing trip. Dad thanks for allowing mom to come explore with me over here. I just wish you could have been here too. Mom, thanks for being the best mom a girl could ask for. And thanks for putting up with me. I love you both!