Saturday, December 20, 2014

heading home for the holidays...

Milan is gorgeous and festive around the winter holiday time...

Gorgeous sunsets on a clear day (this one was taken at the Vigentino bus stop)...

The view of the Christmas tree of lights from my apartment:

And get-togethers with friends!
Carrie had a bunch of us over for a lovely brunch at the end of a recent three-day weekend:

I've enjoyed the past few weeks... but now am excited to head HOME for the holidays!

I haven't spent a Christmas in New York in about 7 years and am really looking forward to the time in Rochester with family and friends. My suitcase is packed... and it's mostly all gifts and little yummy things from Italy and my recent travels through Europe... I was also able to stuff some clothes in there but might end up wearing some of Mom's!

Rochester, here I coooooooome!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tivoli - Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in the world! It opened in the mid-1800's... the oldest park is even in Copenhagen as well.

Jaime and many of her friends have season passes to Tivoli - it's the type of place that you can go to and enjoy a walk, shopping, food, and fireworks at night!

It was a lot of fun to visit Tivoli while the Christmas Market is going on. ...Talk about festive!!! I felt like I was in a piece of Disney World.

This is where Santa is for visits!

Having fun with Jaime, Lisa, and reflections...

Jaime... awaiting our delicious Danish dessert!!! Mmmmhmmmm...

Deliciousness with powdered sugar on top... and dipped in berry jam!

What a wooonderful Thanksgiving holiday! I absolutely adore Copenhagen and everything Scandinavian design.

Christiania - Copenhagen

During our day in the city on bicycles, we went to Christiania - a commune that is separate from the rest of Copenhagen... as it is also referred to as "Freetown Christiania"...and well-known for its use and sale of marijuana. It was interesting to go to this area and there is only one section that sells the drug... it felt touristy and weird to me... but I can appreciate this commune for many reasons and enjoyed seeing it. I really liked walking along a path to a lake, some houses, and even a school for the children that live here! A nice break from the lovely city.

The Wikipedia article about Freetown Christiania is interesting to read.

This would be the perrrrfect reading nook!

This poem reads:
All men dream but not equally -- those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was all vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes and make it possible.

On the side of the school (with a small playground and beachfront area!)

Gooooorgeous and the right time of day for a visit:

Jaime, enjoying the music   : )

Sunday, December 14, 2014

day on bikes! - Copenhagen

Jaime didn't have to work on Saturday and she planned a number of great things for us to do and see. She has gotten to know the owner of a bike rental shop near her apartment and he let us borrow bikes for the day (so sweet!!). He liked Jaime a lot - she has a beautiful vintage bike and has gotten everything for it (and its up-keep) from this guy.

We bundled up... got the bikes set... and were off to explore Copenhagen!

After a yummy coffee and brioche stop at a cute cafe, we biked to the bakery shown below and met up with one of Jaime's friends... for a Danish cake (similar to a pop tart)... mmmhmmmm... shaping up to be a lovely morning!

With our pop tart cakes in hand, we left our bikes locked up on the sidewalk and walked across the street to Assistens Cemetery (Kirkegard). The history of this cemetery is interesting (read more by clicking the link above)... it originated in 1760 for people that maybe could not afford to be buried within the walled city... but then prominent people (like Hans Christian Anderson!) were buried here in the early 1800's. Today, the cemetery also acts like a park... being a lovely, peaceful green space within the city.

The tree-lined entrance to the cemetery:

THIS guy cracked me up. His head is so small compared the rest of him. ...Looks like he's getting plenty to eat in the cemetery...

We walked around the cemetery, from Hans Christian Anderson's grave, and walked around some more... until our toes were too cold and we decided to find someplace warm.

Ohhh my goodie goodness. Deliciousness in a bowl! We stopped in a cozy cafe for a warm lunch and I loved my meal... it was a very flavorful kale risotto with lemon and other goodness mixed in. I want more... now!

After the delicious and warm lunch stop, we biked to Christiania... but that will soon get a post of its own...

The sun is setting around 4:00pm or so in Copenhagen this time of year... so it's nice to catch a sunset and still know that its early. BUT... it also made me sleep and, paired with the cold, ready to just cozy up in Jaime's apartment with pajamas on and my book   : P

Day on bikes!

Festive in Copenhagen

It was a lot of fun to be in Copenhagen for Thanksgiving. The weather is getting cold (really cold!) but not reeeeaaallyyyyy cold yet... and the holiday season has started! Christmas markets are popping up... mulled wine is plentiful... lights are sparkling... and there is a festive feeling in throughout the city.

The 5-star Hotel d'Angleterre, which opened in the mid-1700's
is gorgeous around the winter holiday time!

another Christmas market:

Happy Wall - Copenhagen

I love the Happy Wall in Copenhagen! Interactive art pieces throughout city... are awesome.   : )

It IS often the little, random things that can add some happiness in a day!

There was a family with a young boy at the wall and they were working to flip over various pieces. After some time, the they all stepped back and the mom asked the boy (in French) what he had spelled... he yelled out, "Victor!" Haha... so cute - must be his name. They then took a picture of Victor standing in front of his name on the wall.

More pictures can be seen here: Guerrilla Innvoation

The Happy Wall is in a large, beautiful square...

AND then I turned the corner and found some lovely street art paintings, which I matched with one of my favorite photos from my time living in Vietnam (left, below):

Friday, December 12, 2014

Nyhavn - Copenhagen

While walking around the center of Copenhagen, Lisa and I wanted to find the canal area lined with colorful townhouses. The area is called Nyhavn ...but we definitely were not pronouncing it correctly and confused numerous people as we asked for directions.   : P

...But we found it! Lovely area. One side of the canal is lined with restaurants and bars... the other seemed more quiet with storefronts and what looks like homes.

Wooden ships docked in the canal (which is very close to the harbor):

Cold but loving this city!

Let's go to Copenhagen, Denmark!!

My first time using was quite a success! A friend told me that you can search on this site with your starting point (Milan), dates of travel (I was searching for the Thanksgiving break), and THEN... the best part... choose anywhere as your destination. WHOA. That is a cool feeling.

Both Copenhagen, Denmark and Budapest, Hungary came up as the cheapest flights from Milan for the long weekend. I would love to get to Budapest at some point... but this time around, I decided to go with Copenhagen because a friend lives there! She said that her friends even have a Thanksgiving get-together each year. Sounded great. ...and it was great.   : )

Heading to the Malpensa Airport (the main airport for Milan), I take the bus, tram, underground metro, and train... to then get to the plane! Sheesh. It works though : ) The train leaves every 30 minutes... not bad... but not great when I missed it by one minute (truly... one minute). I had thankfully planned enough time... and realized again how much I love living in Italy, as I sat with my Kindle and a cappuccino to wait for the next train. Perrrrrrfect. The trip was off to a great start!

Arriving in Copenhagen, I took public transportation (metro to bus) to head straight to the Thanksgiving get-together. Jaime, my friend from Camp Stella Maris, set me up with easy directions and I made it! It was funny when people at the party asked me when I arrived and I would answer with, "My bag is in the hallway right now!" Haha. The party was a great group of people... probably about half Danish / half foreigners. Lots of laughs to be had and we each shared what we are thankful for.

I'm definitely thankful for having this great weekend with two old friends! Jaime has lived in Copenhagen for a couple years now... and Lisa (another friend from Camp Stella Maris) is working on her Masters degree in northern Denmark... so she also came for the weekend!

Jaime, me, Lisa

After a yummy brunch the next morning, Jaime went to work... and Lisa and I walked around the center of the city for the day. What a great city. Expensive? YES. Cold? YES. ...Absolutely awesome? YES!!!

I've decided that I will probably fall in love with each of the Scandinavian countries. The travel list only gets longer!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fall 2014 TRAVELS - map

Wow. ...Coming back to Italy from over a month spent in the States this past summer, I did not expect to be traveling so much. It has really been a wonderful Fall of work and travels.

I came back a week into August with time to travel before the school year started up... so a friend and I spent a few days with my Italian cousins in Alba Adriatica in Abruzzo - on the sea! We then took the train to Verona for my 30th birthday.

September came and my mom visited... we took a day-trip to Lugano, Switzerland. I'm still amazed at the places that I can get to from Milan in an hour or so by train.

A week after my mom's visit, I met back up with her (and my dad!) in Belgium for an international librarians' conference! We presented together and it was a really cool experience. We stayed in Brussels and were able to take a day-trip to Bruges as well.

Straight from my Belgium trip, I then took off for a week in Berlin, Germany for my school's Field Trips Week. 3 teachers... 1 guide... and 30 sixteen year-olds is one heck of a trip. I learned so much in Berlin and realized once again how fortunate I am to be doing what I'm doing right now in my life.

After Berlin I thought that I would have some 'down time' to just stay in Milan for a while... but then a trip to Spain came up! I was invited to participate in a new initiative with other librarians in Europe and because of this, I went to a conference in Seville and then a school visit in Madrid! Awesome.

...A couple weeks later (last weekend), I was off to Copenhagen, Denmark for the Thanksgiving break! I have this trip to post about next... and it was a really wonderful holiday weekend. I now want to get to more of the Scandinavian countries... I think I'm going to love them all.

Below is a map of my travels since mid-August... created with Google Maps...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December in Milano

Milan is really pretty this time of year... very festive. The huge Christmas tree was recently lit in the Duomo's piazza...

Mom - remember riding the cute one-car #1 tram?? ...Look at it now! I love it... so cute, cheerful, and festive.

We have Monday off for an Italian holiday and I'm enjoying the extra time in the city on this long weekend. Last night I met up with my friend Jesye for a drink and walk  : )  it was funny how many people in the cafe wanted to know what our fancy drinks were - BELLINIS!

...don't share reading??

This advertisement for a newspaper was in the Berlin airport.

I like it.

Yet it seems a bit odd to me.

...Are they attempting to get the message across that each person should buy their own copy of the newspaper? (I hope so... otherwise it seems to me that they don't want people to share...)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

FAVORITES - Berlin, Germany

Below are some of my favorite photos from my time in Berlin, Germany.

What a field trip!!!

A part of the Berlin Wall:

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe:

Beautiful Fall weather in Berlin:

In an arts community center in Friedrichshain:

Wannsee Lake:

A metro station:

View from the front of an early morning bus ride in Berlin... during Oktoberfest:

Menashe Kadishman's art installation in the Jewish Museum's Memory Void -- 'Shalekhet' (Fallen Leaves):

The week had been jam-packed with activities. When traveling with 16-year olds, I suppose that making them too exhausted to go out and party is part of the plan. With that plan... I was exhausted as well! Ha.

On the bus with our luggage... after a week in amazing Berlin, Germany... heading to the airport... our tour guide got onto the microphone and thanked everyone for a wonderful week. She then (from our head teacher's prodding) told the students that we were going to stop by just one more museum on the way to the airport.

...One student just about keeled over and the rest all had shocking shouts of "What?! / Seriously?! / Whaaaaat?!" Hahaha. Thankfully (for all of us) - she was kidding and we really were on our way to the airport to head back to Milan.

Our Monday - Friday trip to Berlin was incredible. I'm so glad that I was able to go on this trip... experience what we did... learn so much about the city and its history... and get to know the students (this is the grade that I will be helping later this year and next with their IB Extended Essays).