EuroTrip Redux is 100% BOOKED

Travel and lodging for EuroTrip 2.0 is DONE. I leave in less than a month.

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Planning this trip again has been hard. Harder than planning it originally hard. I fluctuated between planning the trip EXACTLY as it had been before, and doing it completely differently. I settled on a happy medium. I’ll be following the same trajectory, sans London. I will not be staying in the same airBnBs, besides the one in Pula, which was from the advertisement, everything I needed and like RIGHT next to my arch.

The stars above indicate overnight stays…I’ll be traveling to many other places besides those listed…but you’ll have to follow my instagram to stay updated on the day-to-day.

Now that it is all planned, and I’ve taken care of a few other things that had me stressed, I AM ACTUALLY EXCITED.

I GET TO SEE PARIS IN THE SPRINGTIME (kinda. In April).

From the Archive: It’s Time to Go

My suitcase has been packed – I’m still not sure how one carry-on for six weeks is going to work, but here it goes.

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This is it. All I’m taking to Europe for Eurotrip2016 – Traveling REAL light. I managed to fit 5 pairs of pants, 10 tops, pajamas, underwear, socks, a pair of shoes, a jacket, a sweater, a scarf, and toiletries into the suitcase! Color me impressed. 

My kindle is fully loaded with trash historical novels, cheesy romances, and the trio of Harry Potter short stories released recently.

My ipad is full of articles and music.

My house is cleanish and ready for Livia (and her babysitters) to enjoy while I am away.

I feel ready to, but also very reluctant to leave.

Leaving home has not always been hard for me. Growing up, I think I was just always so excited for the next adventure and I COULDN’T WAIT for the next best thing. My mother was forever telling me I was going to wish my life away in counting down to the adventure. I’m not sure when it happened, but that’s not a thing I do anymore…far from it. I think as I have gotten older, my anxiety has managed to remove the OMG I CAN HARDLY WAIT approach of my youth…there are too many things I worry about instead. Often, before getting ready to leave on a trip of any duration, I think to myself, “I’ve created a comfortable space that I enjoy, with my wonderful bed, and my sweet, snuggly, sometimes-persnickety feline. WHY would I want to leave?”

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Yes she looks more evil here than snuggly, but she’s my 9lb ball of evil. 

But then I remember an undeniable truth: that I do like traveling. I love experiencing new places, new smells, new sights and a little time away from home is a small price to pay for some great life experiences. Even more remarkable, I’ve managed to turn this love of art and culture into a burgeoning career ( and here’s to hoping that I actually get a job out of this down the road :-P)!

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A feline who cares nothing for your trivial complaints about not having enough personal space.

So the past week or so has been a strange combination of emotions. One second I glimpse that younger version of myself, brimming with excitement and ready to go. Two minutes later, Livia does something cute and I’m cursing myself for planning a trip that lasts so long. Back and forth, back and forth. It’s exhausting.

I AM excited. FRANCE. ENGLAND. ITALY. and CROATIA. It will be a trip of a lifetime.

Tuesday, I fly to my parents’ house (where my mom is making my FAVORITE dinner). Wednesday I fly to France where I will arrive in PARIS early Thursday morning.

From the Archive: Packing Light

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Packed bags for 4 months in France

I am not, nor have I ever been, very good at packing light. I like choices and there’s nothing worse than getting to your chosen destination and feeling completely annoyed with your clothing options. The above picture is from way back when right before I did my semester-long study abroad in France. The duffel on top is the size of what I would consider a normal size duffel bag, the bottom is a super large rolly duffel. This lasted me for the four months I was in France from late summer to early winter. I purchased another duffel in France that became “my carry on” on my way back home because of all of the stuff I had acquired while there (mainly books! quelle surprise!). My bags were also SUPER overweight on the way home but the delightful attendant for Air France let them go without a charge when I spoke French to her and responded that I had been there for months and was sad to go home. SPEAKING FRENCH is always a good idea on Air France…they give you extra wine.

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Flash forward to Summer 2015, ten years later, when I was on my way to Italy for six weeks. The same two large and “normal” duffel bags made their appearance again (there was a little more room inside and seriously, guys…LL Bean stuff is made to LAST) and here we have a 9lb cat in the shot for size comparison. In those bags, I think I had an entire American pharmacy and SO many clothes all for one season. I only checked the big duffel so I had to run from Gate 25 of Terminal D to Gate 4 of Terminal C (basically the entire length of two terminals) with that stupid bag. I literally thought I was going to die. Luckily for this trip, I was staying in one place. There wasn’t a lot of moving around to be done.

This trip will be OH so different though. Hauling around this ungainly, heavy large duffel for six weeks is a TERRIBLE idea, one that stressed me out a lot. Even my less ungainly large spinner suitcase would be too heavy for the heaving up and down train stairs continually that would need to be done for me to get where I am going. I knew I needed to make a change. I think I decided a couple of months ago that this trip would be done with nothing more than a carry-on sized suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. And that scares the hell out of me.

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This is my suitcase for the Eurotrip 2016 on the right in both pics with my large duffel and large spinner cases on the left. 

It’s just so small compared to what I’ve traveled with before! And it needs to last me for six weeks. I’ve got some great tips from one of my BFFs Ashley,  who is currently doing her own Eurotrip with similar baggage constraints, on how to get this done and be sane.  I tried to isolate exactly what freaks me out about travelling light.

I don’t like the idea of needing something and not having it. I understand that all of the countries I am visiting this trip are developed and have resources, but I just flashback to my 2004 trip to France when my camera broke (this was pre cell phones) and I couldn’t find a disposable. And then to my 2005 trip to France when I got the WORST blisters on the back of my heels and the French bandaids sucked and there was no neosporin or comparable substance to be found (my mom mailed me some bandaids, neosporin, and tennis shoes). And then to my 2015 trip to Italy when my eyeballs decided that they were allergic to the city of Rome and my eyedrops were insufficient to handle whatever crazy junk was happening and EVERY TIME I tried to go to a pharmacy, it was closed.

I need to get over it though. I will be fine. For every one thing I brought and used and was glad to have, there were probably 5 things I did not use, and then 3 things I wished I had that I had not packed, but did just fine without. After making the decision to pack light, I could feel my stress about moving around so much dissipate, somewhat.

Another thing that freaked me out was access to laundry. I LOVE clean clothes. My favorite (yes I have a favorite) chore of the week is to do laundry on Sunday. I love having all of my clothes clean and ready to go and the idea of maybe having to re-wear clothing that was to my (perhaps slightly OCD) way of thinking was dirty, made me cranky. But thanks to friend Katie’s suggestion, I found what I think will be a great solution. Woollite has sink packs…complete with a sink stopper, and travel-sized clothesline that doesn’t require clothespins. None of my airBnB’s have a washer, so this seems to be a perfect solution.

I’m going to do a test pack in a week or so just so I feel prepared and can adjust my expectations if I need to (likely). Does anyone have any travel tips for packing light while gone for an extended amount of time?

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, TORINO, Italy, and the Piedmont

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Torino, or in English, Turin, is going to be my homebase for my excursions to areas in the Piedmont region of Italy (mainly Susa and Aosta). I wanted my homebase to be a slightly bigger city that was relatively central to these two places. That way, I can day trip during the day, and by night enjoy one of Italy’s premiere cities. Torino, besides being home to the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Shroud of Turin, and  Fiat and Alfa Romeo HQs, was also the capital city of the Dukes of Savoy and the first capital of unified Italy. Dating to the Roman era, Torino presents some excellent 17th, 18th, and 19th century architecture.

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Torino will offer grand royal architecture, nice plazas, and some fun eats. Torino is home to a regional coffee beverage, which sounds delicious, called bicerin an espresso, chocolate, and milk beverage (pictured below). Additionally, Torino, and the Piedmont more generally, has a local type of pizza that I might actually like (I…..don’t really like Italian pizza…I’ve had pizza in Rome and Naples and NOPE). It’s called pizza al tegamino, a deep dish pizza, and it looks delicious.

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One of the other cities I am going to is a small town called Susa, getting very close to the French border. Here, there is another very early arch that is well-preserved and super out of the way. It looks charmingly picturesque and I’ll get to walk a good deal of it in my quest for the arch.

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Susa

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The Arch at Susa

The other city I am going to visit is Aosta…the arch is woefully incomplete, but I will be close, so I figure I should see it. Aosta is very close to the French/Swiss border.

This is eighth in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

Paris * Besançon * London * Venice * Pula * Ravenna * Rimini 

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, RIMINI, Italy

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Rimini… is not a place I would probably choose to go if there wasn’t an arch there. It’s a beach town. And its arch is well, just okay. It’s a very early arch that was incorporated into the town’s medieval walls (hence the crenellations) so….it’s a little meh for me. The town does appear as if it has some picturesque parts and the museum looks to be super cool. I’m not going in the summer time so there shouldn’t be a crazy amount of beachgoers. I really don’t like the beach…I’m more of a rocky cliff beach kind of person…not the sunbathing kind.

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I will also be visiting Ancona for a day trip while I’m staying in Rimini and their arch is MUCH cooler. It’s another city perched right on the Adriatic coast and is important for shipping and passenger traffic at its port. This here arch is RIGHT on the water 🙂

I’m hoping that these two cities will completely eradicate my very low expectations and blow my mind!

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This is seventh in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see. 

Paris * Besançon * London * Venice * Pula * Ravenna

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, RAVENNA, Italy

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My visit to Ravenna is my second purely for pleasure trip. I have no reason to be there other than some of the most important art historical masterpieces from the late antique/early middle ages are found within its borders. Since antiquity, the city served as an important port on the Adriatic as well as occasionally serving as a capital for the Western Roman emperors and the Ostrogothic monarchs, eventually becoming the seat of the Exarchate of Ravenna (the seat of the Byzantine governor in Italy). In the 8th century, Ravenna was taken over by the Lombards, and thus ends my knowledge of Ravenna’s history. Truthfully, I have no expectations from the city of Ravenna; I’m going for its architecture.

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Check out the details found in the mosaics of San Vitale

I’ll be spending one weekend in Ravenna and I will be going to see a LOT of churches and a few tombs. Number one on the list is arguably one of the most important 6th century churches in Italy, and Europe, San Vitale. The structure and the mosaics are well preserved and I LITERALLY CAN’T WAIT to see them. Notable among the mosaics of San Vitale are the Theodora and Justinian mosaics which depict the imperial couple presenting the instruments of the Eucharist to the church in a process of officials. Richly colored in blues, greens, and golds, these mosaics demonstrate the sensory nature of early-medieval worship.

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Looking into the apse (the holiest spot of the church). In the conch of the apse, you have Christ depicted with full imperial symbolism…he is surrounded by two angels, Saint Vitale, and Bishop Ecclesias who initiated the construction of the church. 

I don’t know if I’ll be able to see all of the churches I want to see, but top on my list besides San Vitale are Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, San Giovanni Evangelista, and the Arian and Orthodox Baptisteries. I’d like also to visit the Mausolea of Galla Placidia and Theodoric.

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Sant’Apollinare Nuovo from an aisle looking into the nave. 

Sant’Apollinare Nuovo was built not long before San Vitale, but instead of the Byzantine central-plan domed church of San Vitale, we have a traditional basilica form (a long church with a center nave, and at least two surrounding aisles, all axially oriented towards the apse where the rituals would be performed). What is interesting about this church is that it was built under Ostrogothic rule as a Palace church for the emperor Theodoric. The Ostrogoths were Christians, but believed in a “heretical” form of Christianity called Arianism (long story short – questions the divinity of Christ and the notion of the Holy Trinity). When Ostrogothic rule ended, the church was not destroyed and we have noticeable examples where the mosaic program of the church was altered to reflect both the change in the political situation AND the religious shift to orthodoxy.

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Sant’Apollinare Nuovo mosaic that depicts the Ostrogothic palace…this mosaic shows obvious signs of being altered…can you spot them? 

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia (so-called) is a pretty early structure that has some remarkable mosaics, both figural and decorative. My favorite of the mosaics is a depiction of Saint Lawrence and the instrument of his martyrdom. Saint Lawrence was an early-Christian martyr that was literally *grilled* to death. In this mosaic Saint Lawrence is standing beside his flaming gridiron; next to the gridiron is a cabinet with the handily labelled books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or the Gospels.  Fun Fact: St. Lawrence is the patron saint of barbecue….chew on that for a few…PUN INTENDED.

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Saint Lawrence with his grill…..and you can see where I got the image for my blog header

My plans for visiting Ravenna just reinforce, in my mind, how much of an art historian I am. I do not study early medieval/late antique/Byzantine art, nor do I study Christian art, but I LOVE THIS STUFF. I cannot wait to see it…the pictures take my breath away, so I can only imagine the impact it will have in person.

What is a place you can’t wait to visit? The most hyped place you’ve ever been? Did it live up to your expectations? 

This is sixth in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

Paris * Besançon * London * Venice * Pula 

From the Archive: Destination Spotlight, VENICE

This is fourth in a series of blog posts that I will be doing to talk about where I am going during this trip, why I am going there, and what I’m expecting to see.

Paris * Besançon * London

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Image Credit

Venice. I don’t know about you, but the image that name inspires in my mind is one of an extraordinarily magical place. Palaces, spolia, canals, bridges, floods, and gondoliers rush into my mind and yet again, this trip is allowing me to check another major European off my list. I’m also super excited that this isn’t going to be happening in the rush of tourist season.

I will not be in Venice for long. Merely one full day. I arrive in the evening on day 1, have a full day the next day, then depart early in the morning for Pula on the third day. Originally my plan had been to travel from Venice to Croatia by ferry, but it was not to be. Instead, I will be traveling from Venice, to Trieste, to Pula, by train and bus. (literally, arriving in Venice by plane, departing by train, and arriving in Pula by automobile).

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But first, I will spend a single day in Venice. Now, I know there are many things to see and do in Venice, but the only plan I have is to explore and to visit Saint Mark’s Basilica, and probably the Accademia…really hit the highlights of Venetian art (the kind I’m interested in anyway, sorry Biennale.) I feel like that’s honestly not too bad for a single day.

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Basilica di San Marco

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Between art and a walking tour, I am hoping to explore a good bit of Venice. My other goal is completely unrelated to art (it doesn’t happen often!). I want to try carpaccio. It’s a Venetian dish, thinly sliced beef (raw!) served with lemon juice, truffle or olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. My only concern with this is that I will get insane food poisoning and be completely screwed since I am a) traveling alone, and b) going to Croatia the next day and that involves a lot of travel.  BUT, if I eat it anywhere, it should be Venice, yeah?

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What are your must sees in Venice? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten while traveling?

This blog was originally published here

From the Archive: When Plans Go Awry

I am only able to plan my trip in fits and bursts. I’m afraid if I go too fast, I’ll get careless and make a costly error. I feel like I made one of those errors today, but perhaps it was a case of reading and receiving old information, or the info I’m looking at now was recently updated.

My trip to Croatia is probably one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever had. I’ve been planning, loosely, for this trip since February or March. All of the internet and print resources informed me that the best way to get to Pula, Croatia is by ferry, which runs April through the end of October.

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Pula is on the tip of Croatia’s peninsula, and ferry IS the most direct route. But apparently, in 2016, as opposed to previous years (I think), the ferries are ending at the end of September. I will arrive in this area in early/mid October..Previously, I thought it to be plenty of time to hitch a ferry from Venice across the Adriatic..enjoying a great view and experience all the while. But alas. ‘Twas not to be. All of the ferry schedules I can find confirm…no ferries after September.

After taking a step back for a few minutes, minutes that were filled with incredibly intense panic, I realized that all was not lost. I shall simply take a train from Venice to Trieste, and bus from Trieste to Pula. A bit longer perhaps, but MUCH cheaper, and instead of seeing the sea, I’ll see the countryside.  I’ll see plenty of the sea in Venice, Pula, Rimini, Ravenna, Fano, and Ancona.

I confess myself disappointed, but it is not the end of the world. Hopefully this is the only travel related snafu (knock on ALL the wood); with so many legs of the journey, I feel like some mixups are to be expected.

I think I’m done planning for the day!

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Plane Tickets Booked!

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I get a little nervous every time I schedule international travel – It always feels like I am doing something HUGE, which I guess I am. So no big surprise to someone who is pretty regularly an anxious individual, it stresses me out.

BUT! It’s done. I will be in Europe from the last week in September to the first week in November. I conveniently arranged my travel times to fall around the dregs of the 2016 election season, and when I arrive back in the U.S.A. there should be a new president elect. I did this entirely on purpose because I’m already ridiculously stressed out about it (see the above note about being an anxious individual).

This trip departs from my other previous international travel in a couple of ways. Previously, I’ve pretty much just been responsible for booking the ticket and showing up. This time, I’m responsible for my housing, travel, and all of the nitty gritty for 100% of the trip. Also, previously, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in ONE country, and to be fair, seen a good portion of that country.

Collectively, I’ve spent several months in France and a couple in Italy. When putting together my original proposal for this trip, I realized that I would be returning to the only two countries in Europe that I have been to for another lengthy stay.  However, I will be ADDING two countries to my list of visited countries; one that I have loved from afar since the tender age of like…seven (England), and the other one I never really expected to go to, but I’m REALLY excited for it (Croatia). I also get to spend time in the south of France, where I’ve never been, and northern Italy (the farthest north I’ve been is Florence).

In short, this trip should feel HUGE….it’s such a great opportunity, on top of the OTHER great opportunities I’ve already had…and I’m that great blend of nervous and excited for it.

This blog was originally posted here

From the Archive: Research Trip 2.0

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This blog is a little dusty; it’s been a year since I started it! ..but it’s time to dust it off, and take it for a spin in preparation for my next research trip in Fall of 2016! I originally started this blog as a way to document my 2015 trip to Italy, but I figure I can take it a step further and use it to document my travels, mainly research related, in the process of completing my PhD. (Hopefully, there will be no scaffolding surprises this trip! See above!)

This fall, I’ll be traveling to Italy, France, and Croatia. I am debating tacking a long weekend to England on somewhere, because honestly, it’s a huge personal failure for me as an Anglophile to never have gone. Plus, I’ll already be over there so why not?

So this post is a metaphorical dusting off of an old blog in preparation of new adventures!