Friday, October 21, 2016

My Week in Italy

The balcony from Romeo & Juliet
I spent a week in Italy in a small town that’s close to Venice with my parents. It was an interesting trip. Before I didn’t have any expectations for Italy because I didn’t really know what we would be doing. The only place I had to see was Verona. Ever since seeing the movie Letters to Juliet, I have wanted to see the city of Verona.

A window from the Arena
When we landed, I could instantly tell that I was in a different country. Italy’s architecture has a more spaced out feel compared to the UK. There’s more room to move around and the inside makes the space feel bigger than it actually is. Whereas in the UK, the spaces are tighter and the houses are small and compact.
Street french fries

The day after we landed, we drove to Verona. The first place we saw was the Arena. It is like the Colosseum, but not as large. We didn’t go inside unfortunately, but it was interesting to see the outside. Even at a distance people can see the detail of the rocks in the windows.
Leather belts for sale
We then walked down the street, heading to Casa de Giulietta. The streets are small and can get busy really quickly. The street we walked down had stores with different gelato places and small food shops. The stores lining the streets are high-end stores like the ones I find in the King of Prussia Mall back home. While walking the streets I would try and pick out the tourists from the locals. Most tourists were ones that had their cameras around their necks and constantly stopping. The street opened up to a street market. Many of the stalls had typical tourist trinkets. There were also stalls that sold staple Italian food, like pasta and olive oil.
Courtyard of Casa de Giulietta

Casa de Giulietta was pretty small. The entrance walls had a bunch of love letters, which then opened up into a courtyard. In the courtyard was the statue of Giulietta. People touch her right boob because it is said to give you good luck in romance. To the right of the statue is the balcony where the famous “Romeo, O’ Romeo” scene is played out.

Fresh pasta-to-go
The next big city we visited was Venice. The best advice I can give about visiting Venice is to leave the large square and walk down the small streets within the city. While walking through the small streets, we found a pasta-to-go place. It was called Dal Moro’s and the pasta is handmade and the sauce is made fresh. I got rotini pasta with Alfredo sauce and mushrooms. It really was one of the best pastas I have ever had.

The city itself is very picturesque. The way paintings and pictures portray it is exactly how it looks. It is a nice city to visit, and once you get a hang of the boat buses, it is easy to get around. I thought of the boat buses as a subway system, like London Underground, and went from there.

I had a fun time in Italy. I do wish I was able to see Florence, but it was too far to go to. I definitely need to go back to Italy at some point in my life and visit the other cities.

A canal in Venice

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Games of Thrones Tour

Coffee and Tea set up in hotel
My first stop on my semester abroad was in Dublin, Ireland. The first day there I went a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city. One of the stops was the Guinness Storehouse. My parents and I took a tour of the factory. It is a self-guided tour with a tasting room and a class on how to pour the perfect pint. While there, I also learned that beer is not my drink of choice.

The Wildling Pit
The next day we went on the Game of Thrones tour. Everyone in my family are huge Game of Thrones nerds. It all started with my dad because he read the books and ended with my sister and I binge-watching five seasons last summer.

Screencap from show and location side-by-side
The tour bus took us to a few of the different sites where the show filmed, mostly during the first season. The first stop was in Tollymore Forest where the Wildling Pit scene, the scene where the Starks found the direwolves, and the scene where Jon, Tyrion, and Benjin make camp before heading to the Wall.

After the Tollymore Forest, we went to Old Castle Ward. That is where Winterfell was first filmed, Robb Stark’s camp captured Jamie Lannister, and Brienne and Jamie saw the Hanging Tree with three Stark girls. Because it was too expensive to actually film at Old Castle Ward, the Game of Thrones crew actually built their own Winterfell to save money.
Tree where Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr say their vows

The Hanging Tree

Me with my parents at Inch Abbey
The last stop was Inch Abbey. It is where Robb Stark was crowned King of the North and Catelyn finds out about Nedd’s beheading. It was hard to image the scene at the location because I saw during the daytime, and the location itself was manipulated to look different. At Inch Abbey the group was given replicas of the Hound’s helmet and the different swords used in the show to take pictures.

Overall I really enjoyed the tour. I love seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff for TV shows and movies. What made it really enjoyable was the tour guide. He is actually an extra on Game of Thrones and plays a Wildling. He gave behind-the-scenes info, that he was allowed to tell us, and different insights into the making of the show. The tour is really worth it if you’re a fan of the show and love seeing how TV shows and movies are made.

I also vlogged the day and put the video on YouTube. Just click here!