Monday, July 21, 2014

Free Wine at Virginia Beach Proves There Is Good in the World

When I visited Jen -- my frequent travel buddy and partner in crime -- in lovely Norfolk last summer, we took a detour to nearby Virginia Beach for some sun and relaxation. I heart a beach day, but I'll admit that, as a Miami native, I've been spoiled (read: made snooty) by the azure, white-sand beaches of South Florida. My first impression of Virginia Beach was: ugh, brown sand.
Virginia Beach (left) vs. Miami Beach (right)
But then something beautiful happened. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beauty and Battleships in Norfolk, Virginia

My 4th of July weekend festivities have inspired me to continue celebrating America by posting about my trip to one of the original 13 colonies -- Virginia.

Happy Birthday, U.S.A. Looking good at 238.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Travel Flashback: Grad Students Hit the Travel Jackpot

- "Where are the free water sports? We're here for the free water sports!"

In 2006, three girlfriends and I embarked on a trip to the Bahamas. Carmen, who was pursuing a PhD in Caribbean Literature, was presenting at a conference in Nassau, and our university was paying for her hotel room. Two double beds = room for four, so off we went to achieve what no starving grad student had achieved before -- a four-day trip to the Bahamas for $23. Our expenses broke down as follows:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Classing It Up in Turin

Palaces. Opera houses. Gardens. After getting to know beautifulrusty Bologna, Turin felt like an extravagance. I arrived knowing little more than than the following about the fourth largest city in Italy:
  • It is home to the famous Shroud of Turin, which some believe to be the shroud in which Jesus was buried. 
  • Italy's royal family, the House of Savoy, lived there.
Given its royal history, I figured that Turin would be elegant, but I'm not sure I bargained for this:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Emilia-Romagna Is for Eating

How much would life suck without the existence of the following foods?
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano 
  • Bolognese sauce
  • Mortadella
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tortellini 
  • Tagliatelle 
  • Lasagna alla Bolognese
  • Prosciutto
A lot! Life would suck a lot. To the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, the birthplace of these culinary wonders, I say grazie.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bologna in a Nutshell

The “In a Nutshell” series superficially summarizes an entire city, region, or country in a few bullet points. Ignoring historical and cultural complexities, I give you Bologna … in a nutshell:
  • In most of Europe, Americans can be embarrassingly loud. Not so here. Judging by my Italian fellow train travelers, watching movies on a tablet at full volume without the use of headsets is totally acceptable.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ghosts of Bologna

By day, Bologna is beautiful; by night, it's haunting. In the moonlight, the archways, cobblestone, and warm hues lend the city an air of mystery. Sure, I may be overselling Bologna as the perfect setting for a 19th-century murder mystery novel, but I like my cities with a little dose of intrigue, so I kept an eye out for furtive-looking men in long black pea coats and top hats ... just in case. I also tried to capture my impressions of ghostly Bologna in photographs:

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Food-Filled Afternoon in Bologna

Bologna is lovingly known as la grassa (the fat one) for its rich culinary tradition and food culture. In a future post, I plan to elaborate on the history of food in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, of which Bologna is the capital, but for now, I'll simply take you through one afternoon's worth of eating in Bologna. Think of this post as the appetizer.

After a quick breakfast of toast and orange juice (boring!), Kellie and I are ready to stroll the city and eat, eat, eat.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bologna and the Love of Old Things

I've always had a fascination with all things old. As a kid, I briefly considered being an archeologist. I thought it would be exhilarating to unearth old things and discover hidden histories. The past is alluring to me, not because I think life would have been better in some romanticized "back then," but because there's comfort in continuity.

In Bologna, the past is very much alive. It's there in the architecture and in the traditional foods, a part of everyday life. As I mentioned in my last post, Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world, which was founded in the late eleventh century. Two medieval towers also showcase Bologna's past, standing tall in the city center. The taller of the two is open to visitors.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beautiful Bologna

There's no city like it. Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, isn't nearly as popular a travel destination as Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice, or Milan, but I can't see why. It's home to the oldest university in the world, it's recognized as the gastronomic center of Italy, and it's pretty ... very pretty. Bologna may not be a polished city -- it's full of cracks and imperfections -- but the fact that Bologna looks its age is part of the charm.