I have just graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in Sociology. I have absolutely loved my time in wine country- it really doesn't get more beautiful than vineyards and endless green, but I am ready for the next adventure!

I am from the Bay Area and as much as I want to travel, I want to end up here later in life. I love that someone can go out for a different kind of ethnic food everyday of the week and still have endless options!

In July/August, I will be visiting one of my great friends in England where we will tour multiple castles, London, Paris, Paris Disneyland (we did meet at the Disney College Program anyway), and will be attending the 2012 LONDON OLYMPICS!

Click here for the official website for Edelweiss Lodge and Resort

In September, I will be working as a civilian employee for an American military base in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. I will be in the hotel indusutry working for Edelweiss Lodge and Resort. They say my backyard will be the Alps. I have my hiking boots packed already.

Click here for the official website for the Disney College Program and Professional Internships

About two years ago I participated in the Disney College Program, working and living at Walt Disney World, Florida. It really started my love for traveling and throwing myself outside of my comfort zone. I highly recommend it to anyone who respects the Disney Company and wants to get their foot in the door or just wants a break from life- it was definitely both for me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Little Big Dream

So half my life ago (oh dear) my parents took my brother and I out of school and into Western Europe for six months. Home schooling included museums for history, math was taught for one hour a day (to my despise), P.E. was just walking and hiking everywhere, and our journals (like this one but with a pen and paper, that old fashioned stuff) was English. Anyways, the world looks very different to a 11 year-old than to an adult and at the time despite my 11 mosquito bites, the hot hot hot weather, and at least a million (maybe two) tourists, Florence, Italy was my favorite city....not by an inch but by far.

Anyways, jumping ahead 11 years I was given five days (wowza!) off work with one place in mind.. Florence! I have to admit a part of me was extremely nervous to visit a place that I had such high hopes for... but then again I had high hopes so can't go against that. So let's dive right in shall we and compare the "then and now:" 

Physical Education Then:
It is alarming (and more than slightly embaressing) how hard walking is when you're an 11 year-old. I mean I would blame is on my short little legs, but I don't believe I've grown since then..Going away from that point, it is shameful to say how much I dragged my feet and how much of a chore walking to explore a new city felt to me.

Physical Education Now:
My absolute favorite thing to do in a city is get lost. Now, lets be clear not when it's dark, lonesome, and creepy shadows start to pop up, but when I am in a new (or visiting after 11 years) city I love to just walk. The answer to this is simple: Adidas or Nike. The best friends I could have on this 13 month adventure. To be fair and so everyone should know, Florence is not a big city. We walked all around it in about three hours. Don't waste your time on pricey taxis... unless the creepy shadows start to pop up. We discovered my favorite street musician (the man looked like Bruce Springsteen and played classical guitar- what more do you want?!), a leather market (goodbye savings hello obviously priceless leather jacket), and many many gelato places that needed tasting. 

History Then:
Again, it is embarrassing to say how much for granted I took my first trip to Europe. I appreciate it more than I can say now and fully plan to do the same idea with my children one day, but at the time I wish I had had a little more respect for the adventure. Now, when one goes to Florence one must
always visit the David at the Academia. There are many replicas around the city (shown here), but to see the "real" David is a box on everyone's bucket list that must be checked. Back then after the replicas the real thing wasn't as impressive, so I went to the "gold" room as I remember it to look at some paintings... not cool Debra not cool.

History Now:
You HAVE to see the David. Look at the replicas for a few seconds and move on, they don't do it justice! The real one- look at the muscles,  blood veins, and the curls in his hair. For someone who has never studied sculpture, art history, or really knows anything about Michelangelo, it still took my breath away! I would hear an English tour describing the sculpture and shamelessly tried to stand close enough to hear but look foreign enough (if possible) to not look like I was cheaply listening in. Now for a few short facts on the sculture for our history lesson of the day: it was built between 1501-1504, is 17 feet, and it symbolized defense of Florence against larger cities (the eyes of David were actually pointed towards Rome). Thank you Wikipedia! 

English Then and Now:

Just so you know everything in Florence has an entrance fee. Want to see a church? You have to pay. Want to see a famous tomb? You have to pay. Need to pay to breath the air? It's a scam. There's a lot of that in Florence too fyi. In the Santa Croce Church there are the tombs or remembrances of Galileo, Dante, Michelangelo, and many more. At the time it really didn't mean anything, but now I loved and respected the tombs for these famous artists, writers, and scientists. So after taking Astronomy 101, reading Dante's Inferno (one of my all time favorite high school required books), and seeing the David thr tombs meant much more than some carved out marble pieces. I mean they really are works of art on their own.

Art in the now:
Now for the secret..drum roll please.... okay, face the Santa Croce Church, now go to the left. Keep walking down that walkway and you will see a leather school sign. Go through that and you will see students and masters learning the techniques of leather making. I could watch them all day. Just cutting leather and pounding it together like it was paper. Astounding. Then you can go in the gift shop, maybe purchase a little something, and there will be someone who can brand your initials onto your purchase. Talk about an authentic souvenir! It is so fun to watch! And it's free so you can't complain. They will tell you a little bit about their school too if you ask: "It started with a little big dream." 

Let's go to a weird feeling: 
The weirdest feelings I've had during this 13 month adventure is going back to places, not knowing where I am, and then suddenly having a flash back of deja vu from when I was last there. To explain, I vaguely remember seeing an astounding view of Florence, but never really knowing where that was- maybe a random parking lot, next to a church, or so forth. Anyways, I never really put it together, but when my friend suggested we see Piazzal Michelangelo, we walked up and up and up, and then it hit me that this was the exact place I had thought of so many times before! To make it even better, this time we were there when the rose garden (with over 2500 different varieties of roses so you know).. needless to say we felt spoiled. We simply took our books the next day, beautiful weather, simply read and occasionally looked up to see that magnificent view of Florence. Spoiled, the word you are looking for is spoiled. 

Finally some similarity!
Bless my mother for writing down the gelato places that we oh so loved when we were in Italy. The day we left I sent an email asking for the name and she hurriedly responded with the name with the writing tone of "you have to go!" We went and it was just as delicious and still the BEST gelato I've ever had (with much competition I assure you). It is Vivoli Gelato at 7 Via Isole Della Stinche. So GO! I asked the lady serving us if she spoke english, she replied with "a little," and I told her my family's story. She looked at me, gave me a firm, hearty Italian hug, and said "Grazie!" A great moment, a full circle if you ask me.                                                                    
                                                        Second similarity:
 I loved it! Loved loved loved it! Had the best time, the weather was stunning, the food delicious, the sights amazing, and the reassurance that my hopes were high for the right season. The city is wonderful through and through. And if you go- buy a leather jacket. Spend your last paycheck on a nice leather jacket... or a wallet the leather school will put your initials on. You will never regret it. 

So much to do and see and so little time! Don't waste your time, act accordingly.