Tuesday, May 25, 2010

San Francisco

Last month I took my first trip to the west coast. As long as I can remember, I have been slightly obsessed with going certain places, and on that list was California. As I have gotten older, San Francisco has been calling my name. So El Hombre and I hopped on a plane and headed over for about five days.

We stayed in Oakland with friends and travelled around the Bay area, hitting up most of the main tourist sites, like Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf (We saw sea lions! They are back!), the Golden Gate Bridge, Height Street, Golden Gate Park, Lombard Street, etc. We also took a day to go to Muir Woods, a redwood forest, Napa Valley (mecca!) and Berkeley.

I could post about how beautiful that area is, but what struck me more is how diverse it is. I have been to Chicago and New York, and I live in Miami, but I think San Francisco is truly the most diverse city I have been to. You find people from literally all over the world, people seem to interact with little issue, and everyone is so nice! You don't find that kind of hospitality and welcoming vibe in most large cities. It's amazing.

What is also amazing are the hills. Having grown up a short drive from mountains, I often miss rolling hills. Well, San Fran has them. If I lived there (and I could easily see myself doing so) I would never have to go to the gym. And I love that these intense hills roll right out of the water. It's truly the best of both worlds. I can't wait to go back. It takes alot for a city to excite me, to make me yearn to come back, but San Fran is the only place in the US that inspires me to pick up and move like the gypsy that I am.

If you haven't been, you must go. And outside of the main tourist spots, I suggest going to the following:
-Twin Peaks: This is the highest point in San Fran and you get a great view of the city
-Muir Woods Beach Overlook: Muir Woods is a great day trip, and it's only 30 minutes from San Fran. However, if you are going, also take an extra 20 minutes to go to the Muir Woods Beach Overlook. It's phenomenal, and the drive is as well.
-Napa Valley - Much warmer temperatures, laid back vibe and amazing foods. My favorite winery tour was Robert Mondavi. Another really cool one for the vibe is Sterling Vineyards.
-Sausalito - Pretty half-day trip
- Japanese Gardens at Golden Gate Park - Super amazing. There's an entrance fee of $7.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Before this most recent trip to Italy, I had only visited the Tuscan region of Italy twice. Once for an afternoon trip to Pisa (highly overrated in my opinion) and once for a weekend trip to Florence.

This most recent trip to Italy, my grandfather suggested we visit Siena. Siena is a very cool little spot. To get there, we drove through the Tuscan countryside, and it is spectacular. There are so many hilltop towns that you could stop and wander through, fields upon fields of sunflowers, and vineyards left and right.

Siena is one of those hilltop towns. The old part of the city has cobbled streets, buildings and castles and overpass tunnels, and it's very cool. We were only there for the day, but I would love to see it at night. Their duomo is very cool, with a somewhat Moroccan feel to it. Across from the duomo is a large arch that you can climb to get a spectacular view of the city. It's a very warm city, in terms of environment, and one I could revisit just to see some of the other sites I missed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Rome is officially my favorite city. There is no place like it. Here you see a constant surging forward, you see modernity at the footsteps of antiquity. You see a huge city where people gather in piazzas at night with families, neighbors and friends, on cellphones and vespas passing by monuments older than can be imagined.

It is really difficult to explain, but this is a very interesting place to be. People here seem so much more connected to each other than in the states, they seem live a less extravagant lifestyle, at least in terms of resources, and everyone walks, everyone who lives here is fashionable, healthy and friendly (for the most part.)

I love it. Even if it was disconcerting to see 3 big guys with semiautomatic rifles guarding an embassy across the street from the hotel. But at least we should be safe!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Across the Border

Greetings! I have gone on a mini-vacation and crossed the Miami-Dade border to head north again to New York. This trip will be short but definitely needed. I needed a break from the 90 degree temps everyday! Although there is no air conditioning up here so that's not really helping things. I'm still sweating but just not as much. I flew in last night with a stop over in Atlanta. We sat on the runway forever due to a thunderstorm. It was neat to watch, seeing the bolts of lightning coming down over the city of Atlanta, but it was no fun sitting in a window seat waiting to take off. Eventually we did (thank God it wasn't one of those ordeals you hear about - like sitting on the runway for hours not being able to go back to the gate) and the thunderstorm/sky show was pretty cool from the air. When we landed in New York a little after midnight, it was hilarious! I saw these 2 guys waving their flashlight-things around so that the plane would pull up to their gate, but we kept going, and went past them and stopped at a gate where there was no one around and nothing happened (no one was home). We sat there for about 5 minutes before the Captain came on and said we pulled up to the wrong gate and had to back up - slowly. It was also funny too in Atlanta with the guys on the ground. Two of them were dancing with their flashlight-things, waving them around as our plane taxied towards the runway. They probably do that a lot and have different dances depending on their moods and to kill the time. But now I am here and already had a few outings. I will post some pictures when I get back to the 305!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The day has started

Today is a whirlwind of travel activity that won't really end until late Friday, early Saturday. I fly to North Carolina today, then Italy, by way of Philly, tomorrow. In the next 48 hours, I will have graced two of my least favorite airports, Philly and Milan, and I will be on firm footing in Italy. I'm packing light, bringing extra memory cards, and I will see you all when I return!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Going abroad

In a few short days I am going to be boarding a plane for Italy. Actually, first I am going to fly to North Carolina, and then to Italy the next day. Needless to say, I am pumped. I've been once before to Italy, on a study abroad, and it was hands-down the best trip I have taken.

Everyone travels for different reasons, whether to relax, experience a different culture or explore new adventures. In this case, I get to explore some of my roots. See, my mom is Italian, and in addition to her, my grandfather is also joining us on this trip, along with my mom's sister and her family. It's not often that you can see your family in their original roots, and I look forward to it. And I plan to bring back TONS of photos.

So to you all, arrivaderci!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Flowers in the Northland

This post is about a sojourn I took up north in the beginning of the summer. I headed to Rochester, New York and spent a lot of time outside since the weather was delightful (i.e. you could go outside and not sweat :) I also ended up taking a million pictures of pansies. And other flowers. There was a lilac festival going on too.