I’m attempting to write about both my personal and professional adventures, but I’m doing a poor job of keeping up with it. I’m pretty consistent with short posts on tumblr and always follow through with my a picture a day project on instagram when I’m traveling, but am falling short on the blogging end of it. So, here is a backlog of my October travels!
October 4 & 5 – Padova/Padua and Venezia/Venice
I’ve been looking forward to visiting Venice since I arrived in Italy, but Padua was such a great surprise! It was a beautiful university town with some special pockets of art. My favorite art history professor in college often used frescoes by Giotto to illustrate storytelling in art. I knew Giotto’s work is in Italy just like I know great medieval mosiacs are in Italy and so are Renaissance and Baroque works. But often I cannot recall what smaller city or town it is in. When I saw the agenda for the weekend trip and read Scrovegni Chapel my heart jumped!
In order to see the chapel we had to divide into groups under 20, spend 15 minutes in a decompression chamber and then got a mere 15 minutes to gaze at the beautiful frescoes. It was so beautiful to see it. The blues of the ceiling! My favorite angels in all of art are in Giotto’s Lamentation scene. My eyes were hungry and darted back and forth between scenes trying to see it all. I’m really happy I finally saw it. (Note to self: E-mail Dr. Bouche to gush about it!) I wasn’t able to take pictures inside the chapel, but I do suggest checking out this Khan Academy video about the Scrovegni Chapel for a nice tour and art history lesson.
Giotto was easily overshadowed by The Basilica of St. Anthony though. It is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen, but what made it even more special was that we arrived during a large service. Listening to the hymns, watching how passionate the congregation was, and seeing visitors kneel and pray at St. Anthony’s made me cry. A couple students are Catholic and were able to take communion. I think that will probably remain in their top Italy moments during their study abroad experience.
My G+ Padua album.
When we stepped out of the train station I had one thought: I love Venice.
The forecast for our weekend was cold and rainy. Thankfully, we just got the cold partnered with light rain and a bunch of puddles. It was only a day trip and the school visited San Marco, the Galleria dell’Accademia, and the Guggenheim museum. San Marco is gorgeous! It is something you need to see in person. All the gold and gorgeous museums. I could have easily spent all day in there, but then we needed to break for lunch. I went with two students to a fantastic restaurant had delicious hot chocolate and finally tried clams. One of the students had black squid! After lunch we headed to meet up with art history professors to go to the Galleria dell’Accademia… but Venice is very confusing and I waited by the wrong bridge. Instead I walked around, bought some pretty glass jewelry, and went to the Guggenheim with the school later in the day.
A short afternoon is not enough for Venice. I’m planning to head back for a weekend in the spring for Carnevale!
My G+ Venice album.
October 10-13 – Nice, France and Monaco
Monaco has been on my shortlist of countries to visit for a long time. Perhaps it is French or Princess Grace Kelly. I wanted to add the second smallest country to my list of countries visited and I also desperately wanted to see the ocean. Monaco, measuring only 0.75 square miles, does not have an airport so when I found a cheap flight to Nice, I booked it!
Nice is nice. I heard this phrase over and over from people I met during my one day in Nice and I chuckled every time. Nice isn’t nice. It is beautiful! Two days before I left the forecast was cold and rainy, but it warmed up and I had clear skies for a beautiful weekend on the French Rivera. I really miss seeing the ocean, so Nice was exactly what I needed. I spent a perfect afternoon at the beach that reminded me of my favorite e.e. cummings poem “maggie and milly and molly and may.” It was perfection.
“And May came home with a smooth round stone as small as a world and as large as alone. For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
After the beach I visited the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which is free and an easy walk from the beach. I highly recommend it. After hours of walking and sightseeing I finally headed to my hostel, Villa Saint Exupery. Yes, I mostly booked it for The Little Prince, but it was such an amazing hostel and if you’re ever in Nice, stay there! I also visited the Russian Cathedral in Nice the following morning, but unfortunately didn’t get to either the Matisse or Chagall museums. Nice was so lovely though that I want to visit for a weekend in the summer.
Stepping out of my comfort zone
I may be quite chatty, but I am ultimately an introvert. My comfort zone is a very, very tiny space. Most of the magic, adventure, and things that make life worthwhile are outside of it. With the exception of visiting museums, everything involved in traveling from the basics like navigating travel or eating to the exciting bits like a city group tour or meeting new people in hostels pushes me.
So, lately I’ve been asking myself, “What would Chealsye not do?” And then doing that thing.
Or maybe a better, but less catchy phrase is, “What would Chealsye want to do, but be too nervous to say yes to?” This came in handy in Nice. While catching up on e-mails in my hotel’s lounge I noticed a group of guys donning labcoats. Of course, I had inquire. Turns out they were English and most of them were physicists and there for a bachelor/stag weekend. The groom to be was less lucky in the outfit department though and was wearing a pink tutu. I ended up exploring Nice later that night, getting creme brulee (yum!) and chatting with the chef, and then found myself a bit lost on the way back to the hostel. Then I saw it: a pink tutu! I got an invite to join at the pub. Normally, I’d be too nervous to say yes and go outside my comfort zone. But I’m doing the opposite and saying yes to adventure and new things! I’m so glad I did. I had a great time and on the way back to the hostel later I got to dip my toes (and then half my body when I slipped on a rock) into the Mediterranean Sea.
Moral of the story: Go be adventurous.
Tumblr top 10 photos of Nice.
My G+ Nice album.
I headed off to Monaco the next morning and walked across the whole country! I would make wrong turn, walk for a half hour, and then realize that I was on the wrong side of the country. Whoops! Hours of walking across the very rocky and hilly country brought me to the exotic gardens, the pier, the Prince’s Palace, the beautiful beach, the Cathedral, the Japanese gardens and, of course, the famous Monte Carlo Casino.
My favorite part of Monaco was the Musée Océanographique de Monaco. It was a stellar museum and aquarium. The bottom floors contain the aquarium and I adored the clownfish tank (video). The top floors were a great surprise full of cabinets of curiosities, a whale room, and a fantastic historical collection. If you’re ever in Monaco, please do visit it.
Bonus: Video of the Monaco aquarium!
Tumblr top 10 photos of Monaco.
My G+Monaco album.
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