First Stop: Italy

My love for Italy grows each time I get the opportunity to visit. The people are kind, the food is delicious, and the history is abundant. The first two stops of my Easter break included Rome and Florence.

In Rome we stayed in a nice little hostel, Starlight, close to the city center. We were in the Italian capital for a total of two nights and three days, but we checked almost everything off of our to-see list!

Starting with a necessary pizza stop!
And then some night time sight-seeing.
Making a wish in Trevi Fountain.
 Touring the Colosseum.
Lots and lots of gelato stops…
Our time in Rome was short, but it was so much fun. We weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to pizza and gelato, so thankfully our next stop was the Italian city of Florence.
Lots of sleepy travelers!
 Fish & chips & locally brewed beer. Yummm.
 This building is covered from top to bottom with fake dollar bills. Makes me cringe thinking about my very “college student” budget…
 The inside of the Brunelleschi’s Duomo. Incredibly detailed and well preserved.
The 414 steps to the top of the bell tower proved to be very worth it!
Everyone was right when saying that Italian men are sharp. Just look at this handsome guy.
 And this is the result of five people fitting into one very small photo booth.
I feel very lucky to have been able to see so much of Italy. Our next stop: France! Paris, France to be exact. That post will be coming shortly :)
Kisses,
Katie

The Island Life

The Island Life

     A little taste of the Island life was just what I needed before my classes began to pick up speed. Two weeks ago I visited the island of Mykonos and last weekend I visited the island of Hydra. The season for tourism on the islands is just beginning to heat up. More of the tavernas and shops are open which made these two islands very enjoyable. A lot of the activities on the island consist of relaxing, eating, and exploring; a few of my favorites!

Here are some pictures from Mykonos…

And onto Hydra!
Trying to be a mermaid…
This past week has been full of studying, writing, and tests, but today I will set off on my two week Easter break! Today we fly to Rome and from there we will see Florence, Paris, and Berlin. I look forward to all of the adventures ahead as I near the end of my time abroad :)

Naples, Italy

My first trip to Italy was everything I could have imagined and more. Aurora and I spent five days with her Aunt and Uncle who graciously hosted us in Naples. Our time was spent eating, exploring and relaxing on the balcony. The weather was a beautiful 60-70  degrees all weekend and we took full advantage!

 

My first gelato experience!

 

An entire rainbow of espresso choices.

 

 

A very American breakfast of pancakes and eggs. Oh how I missed this.

 

 The excavated site of Ercolano (once under 60 ft of volcanic ash).

 

 

 

 

The frescos at Ercolano are incredibly well preserved because natural elements weren’t able to reach the ash-covered city.

 

 

 

My first Italian pizza. It was love at first sight.

 

 

 Our hosts set up an elegant dinner at a restaurant literally built on top of ancient ruins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Fiat 500 that stole my heart. I’ll be back for you, love.

 

 

Exploring the site on the other side of Mt. Vesuvius: Pompeii.

 

 

 

 

Mt. Vesuvius erupted so quickly that people were cast in stone before even being woken up. This is a man that was sleeping when the volcano erupted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The view of the Amalfi coast while heading to Positano.

 

 

 

 

 And my favorite part of the trip: Positano!

 

 

 

 

 

Aurora and I had such a nice time in Naples and we are thankful that there are people like Don and Dorinda, who welcomed us into their home with open arms. Their hospitality was heart-warming.

 

I am counting down the days until I return to Italy. Next stops: Rome and Florence.

Santorini and Naxos

It still doesn’t seem real that I was lucky enough to spend an entire week with my family on the Greek islands of Santorini and Naxos. We rented a car on each of the islands and made the most of our time. Santorini was smaller than Naxos and had tons of beautiful houses, churches, and beaches. Naxos was equally incredible, but a bit less touristy and offered unique landscapes filled with local farms. We enjoyed each island immensely, and I can’t wait to see these goofballs again in May.

 

 

I will begin with some pictures from our time on Santorini:

 

 

 The front of Atlantis Books (a very cute bookstore worth the search).

 

 

 

 

We toured a wine museum which turned out to be a pretty creepy experience…

 

 

 

 

Complete with talking (and moving) characters.

 

The wine tasting at the end made up for the whole creepy side of the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Marie found a snail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the weather was a bit chilly, Anne Marie convinced me to hop in the infinity tub with her. We stayed in for about 3.5 minutes before running back to our villa.

 

 

 

 

And on to Naxos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed at Naxos Resort which was beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss my family so much, but the trip was a great reminder of how close they will always be to me. This past week I was in Naples, Italy and I will try to put up a post soon! Today is Greece’s independence day and I have the day off from classes. Aurora, Ashley and I went to a parade and tonight we are going out to dinner with friends. Miss you all!

 

Kisses, Katie

 

 

 

 

 

My First Greek Island- Zakynthos!

     This past weekend the roommates and I packed our bags and jetted off to our first Greek island; Zakynthos. Many thought we were crazy for wanting to go to an island so early in the semester (the weather is still far from tropical). Although we knew the island was going to be quiet, we decided to make the most of the short time that we have in Greece and booked the trip anyways! Our hotel was in the port of Zakynthos and just a short walk from Solomos Square. Carnival is being celebrated over all of Greece at this time and the town of Zante held a small festival in celebration. Floods of families, food vendors, and games popped up around Solomos Square. It was really fun seeing the kiddos in their costumes and we strolled around the square trying to avoid being covered in silly string and confetti. The island was beautiful, the people were welcoming, and the food wasn’t too shabby either. I envy those who get to visit Zakynthos in the summer season!

The first night was spent eating food and snuggling while trying to translate Greek television.

 On Saturday, we headed out and spent the day exploring the town of Zante.

 

In the middle of our exploration, we came across a horse who looked beautiful and lonely all at the same time. I guess his view isn’t too bad though.

 We played a mid-afternoon game of Uno in a sports cafe. I never thought Uno could get so intense, but you haven’t met my roommates.

Sunday was rainy and gloomy, which brought on some feelings of being homesick. This picture is something that is worth looking at from time to time to help remind myself that my friends and loved ones aren’t gone, just a little further away than usual.

 Aurora noticed I was feeling down and escaped to the kiosk near by for my guilty pleasure; cheetos. While munching on my cheetos and sipping hot cocoa, we played card games and kept cozy while watching the rain. I am so thankful to have been given roommates that are as fun as they are caring.

This is for taking selflies on my phone when I thought you were taking a picture of me… :)

My parents and sister will be here in one week and I couldn’t be more excited! I have decided that they should skip packing and just put my friends and boyfriend in their suitcases instead. Sounds reasonable to me. All of my favorite people in one place!

Kisses,

Katie

A Trip to the Acropolis

Thursday of this past week was a religious holiday for Athenians which means no school for us! My three roommates and I decided to make a day out of exploring the Acropolis and accompanying Acropolis Museum. The day began around 9am with a short metro ride to the Acropolis entrance. We explored the grounds surrounding the Parthenon and enjoyed some fabulous views along the way. Although thousands have visited the ancient sites before, standing in front of the Temple of Athena, Erechtheion, and the Parthenon took my breath away. After a morning of “ooing” and “awhing” we headed to the Acropolis Museum which in itself is a work of art. The modern and industrial architecture of the museum is a beautiful housing for the ancient artifacts that it contains inside. After wandering through the museum, we decided it was time for some fuel. The Acropolis Museum has a great cafe with lots of yummy dishes. The best part of the whole experience? You can see the Parthenon from your table.

Until next time!

Katie

 

 

Week One: Check!

After the first week of classes, a scavenger hunt, and finally tackling jet lag I am enjoying my lazy Sunday in Aghia Paraskevi. The week went by pretty fast and my classes are already in full swing (whether i’m ready or not.) Here are a few exciting parts of my week in Athens!

On Tuesday a group of students went out to eat where I ordered my first of many Greek Salads. It was fresh, colorful, and delicious. After dinner we headed next door for some Crepes.

On Wednesday I visited the school cafeteria and was pleasantly surprised. I ordered salmon, an eggplant dish, steamed veggies, and a Perrier. Not too shabby for a cafeteria! In my Art History class we had a surprise guest; one of the campus dogs. Although the dog was previously believed to be old, blind, and arthritic, he opened the classroom door on his own back legs and entered the class to smell around a bit. I was pretty impressed.

After eating a filling lunch, I headed home to do some laundry and catch up on my journaling. I felt pretty dang European drinking my sparkling water and sitting on my balcony. Oh and here is a shot of campus that I took while walking to class!

To show that I do more than just eat food and lounge around, here are a few other pictures from my week.

Tonight I get to Skype my Mom and Dad and then I will do some reading for my classes. It has been a long first week, but I think I am finally getting the hang of things. Hopefully I will be even less clueless by next Sunday. Oh, and one of my favorite parts of the week was getting to Skype with my boys, Caleb and Payton. Look how handsome they are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kisses,

Katie

 

 

 

 

First Thoughts From Athens

Yaisas (hello) from Athens! I have only been in Greece for three days, but it has been nothing less than amazing. There is a large group of study abroad and international students at the American College of Greece this semester. Although we are all different, and even from different countries, I have already made many friendships with wonderful people.

On the night of our arrival we were welcomed with a traditional Greek dinner and a few tips to help us settle in. This is the view from my balcony in Aghia Paraskevi!

Friday was our orientation where we were welcomed to our beautiful campus. We received class schedules, a tour, and a few presentations. The Deree campus is breathtaking. On our tour of campus we visited their Starbucks, Olympic training facility, campus dogs, outdoor theatre and more. This is the soccer and track field at Deree. Amazing, right?

Saturday was a tour of downtown Athens! We got to see the National Gardens, Plaka, the Olympic stadium, and the temple of Zeus. At the beginning of the tour we watched the changing of the guard at the Parliament building.

Plaka is the area surrounding the Acropolis which was really fun to walk through. The houses are beautiful and there are tons of stray cats like the one in this flower pot… look closely!

Today I got to sleep in because we didn’t have any organized events. When I woke up, I made a yummy breakfast and ate on my balcony. My roommate convinced me to go hiking with a group of students and I am so glad that I went! It was a little cloudy here this morning, but a hike was the perfect way to spend my Sunday.

 

Well, that’s all for now! I miss and love my family and friends a lot, but I am so thankful for their support that has enabled my study abroad experience!

 

Katherine Fleming

 

 

 

The Best of Slovakia

Hello again!

Last weekend I participated in a trip to Slovakia.  The few people I talked to about it back home seemed to think Slovakia sounded unsafe.  In actuality, it may be my favorite place I have been since I left home three months ago.

We spent three days in this wonderful country enjoying nature for the most part.  The first day we went to two different castles and then went to the hotel we would be staying at.  The castles were hidden and set onto the tops of mountains. They were absolutely beautiful.  The Hotel was in the Low Tatra Mountains.

The second day we saw a small village and then hiked in the High Tatra Mountains.  It was absolutely beautiful and fantastic to get out into nature after not having too much opportunity to escape the cities.  That was the last thing we did for the day because we did quite the trek.

The third day was really quite laid back. We went to a small cave system and explored that.  I didn’t really enjoy that much.  I don’t know if it was because caves are all over Missouri, or if it had something to do with the fact that I saw caves that were more impressive when I was in Japan. After this we went on a four mile raft ride down a river. The boat we were on was similar to the ones that used to be used to take large loads of logs from the mountains to other areas of Slovakia.  This was very enjoyable and a great way to end the trip.

I do not think I’ve made a food post yet, so I will talk about this here. Most of the food in the Czech Republic is very heavy and not something I would usually eat daily in the U.S.  The main traditional meals include potato or bread dumplings with some sort of meat.  The main Slovakian meal is a plate of potato dumplings with sheep cheese and a tiny bit of bacon.  Ultimately the meals here are heavy and it is hard to find a restaurant that serves salads as a meal.

The grocery shopping has been a very interesting experience for me.  Fruit and vegetables are the cheapest thing that you can buy here, where in the U.S. it seems to be some of the most expensive.  I also have noticed that the groceries in general are very cheap when compared to prices back home.  Essentials are super cheap because they actually see them as essential here.  I think I will have a hard time going to the grocery store when I get home because prices will make me cringe.  I also go to the store almost every day here because it is not a big deal to run in and run out in less than five minutes just to pick up a few things.  Back home I can’t get out of the store in less than 30.

I leave in about 3 weeks.

Hope everyone is doing well,

Michelle

 

Czech Paradise

Hello again!

Last weekend I went on a Czech Paradise trip.  This was to many little towns around the Czech Republic and was really enjoyable.  The first day was rainy and cold, but we visited a few different towns, a chateau, a church and generally had a good time.  The “hostel” we stayed in consisted of many little cottages set back into the woods.  Each cottage held 2-4 people and were very cute and seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

The second day was really cold but the rain had subsided.  We traveled to another small town and toured a Silver Mining exhibit. The silver mine exhibit was interesting, but not something I would have done on my own.  We went to St. Barbaras church which was gorgeous.  It had fantastic stained glass and beautiful architecture.  We then traveled to another cathedral in the same town that was very open and quite plain in comparison.  It did not have stained glass but instead had huge clear windows that lit the entire church.  We then walked down the street to the bone church.  Oh goodness that was an experience.  The bone church was decorated with human bones.  There were pyramids of bones in each on the four corners, a huge bone chandelier, and many interesting uses of bones in this church. All I could think about was this question.  How many pieces of different people are in this church?

The last day was beautiful and sunny.  We went to a large park and hiked.  There  were huge rock formations, tiny little staircases carved out of stone, and beautiful lookout points. We also went to a small castle and saw more beautiful nature.

Overall, it was a great weekend. We saw quite a bit of the Czech Republic, explored some less touristy places, and saw some awesome nature sights.

Michelle