Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Photos] Freezing in Firenze

I've spent the past week in Firenze (Florence), wander walking and observing per usual.

So I wasn't really freezing, but in the shade and in the mornings/evenings, it was quite chilly. Plus, two days there was this Argentine guy in my room who would always open the window because he "was hot"... but it was freezing in our room!

Anyway, I survived and I'll be looking to buy a hat here in Bologna. Meanwhile, here's some of what I saw in Firenze:

I really liked the designs on the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, and you'll see below that I used this section as inspiration for a painting one day.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The 100 Day Project Ideas

What could you do with 100 days of making?

That's the question asked by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent over at #The100DayProject. (If this is the first you're hearing of The 100 Day Project, pop on over to The Great Discontent and check out this page first.)

The main takeaway is that you give yourself a short action to do every day for 100 days. Although there are now some very beautiful creations on Instagram, it's not at all about the result. This is the core of the project, which I cannot stress enough: It's all about the process—the making—not what's made.

Last fall when I wanted to do my own 100 Day Project, I was looking for a list of all the projects that have been done—but searching the hashtag on Instagram had me scrolling and scrolling, yet still only seeing the most recent projects. On The Great Discontent you have to read through old newsletters to see some featured past projects... so in the end I decided to make what I'd been looking for: a huge list of #The100DayProject projects.

I hope it helps to spark ideas for your very own project!

And if you know about a #The100DayProject project that's not on this list, I would be so grateful if you'd let me know via comment or on Instagram (@RebeccaThering) so I can add it. Thank you!

The 100 Day Project ideas #The100DayProject

#The100DayProject Projects (A-Z)

100 Days of Abandoned Bikes #The100DayProject

#100DaysofAnimatedPaperPack #The100DayProject

#100DaysofAwareness #The100DayProject

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hostel Night of Hell

I came to Rome with a cold, and wasn't very impressed with the hostel I'd booked. You see, I went to the main building to check in, where someone's at reception 24 hours a day, and turns out my room was in another building just around the corner. But that's common enough, no problem.

So, key and keycard in hand, I get to this other apartment building, go up to the second floor, and inside the unit discover the "common room" (kitchen?) has a fridge, an electric kettle, and a sink that I discovered hiding in a closet. (No soap.) Also, the bathroom door off of this room did not open, and no one was inside. (aka if the bathroom in your dorm room was in use and you really had to go, there was nowhere else to go.)

So I did some grocery shopping under the worst-case-scenario option that there was nowhere to cook. Later on I realized we can call the reception desk from this phone in the old reception area in my building, so I do so and ask "Where is the kitchen?" to the woman who picked up on the other end.

She says it's down on the first floor. (Note: This isn't connected or anything, you leave the apartment, go in the building's stairwell, and enter another apartment.) I had checked the first floor earlier, to see if there were another part of this hostel down there, but all I could see were signs for "Melissa's Guesthouse" on one door (and "Private" signs on the other two).

So I responded, "You mean the door that says 'Melissa's Guesthouse'?"

"Yes, that's it."

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Following the Flow and Letting Go on the Path of Gods

When Luca, one of the hostel staff answered my "Can you go hiking on the mountains" with "You mean, the volcano Mount Vesuvius?" (whoops), I followed up with: 

"Well, are there any cool parks in Napoli?"

Laughter followed.

Turns out, Napoli is Italy's most densely populated major city (Wikipedia). There's a reason why I wasn't spotting any green from the 360-degrees lookout point that afternoon.

Then he asked if I liked hiking and that sort of thing. Yes, yes I do.

He proceeded to tell me about the nearby Amalfi Coast, which is where one could go hiking on the famous "Path of the Gods" (Italian: Sentiero degli Dei).

It was the first I'd ever heard of the walk, but I was sold! After several grey days with scattered drizzles, Tuesday was going to be gorgeously sunny. And although it would be my last full day in Napoli, I decided to do the hike then.

Here are the directions I was going from: Go to the train station. Take the train to Sorrento (same train I'd taken to Pompeii, but all the way to the final stop). Then take a bus to Amalfi. From there, take another bus to Bomerano, where the 4-hour hike begins. Sabrina (another staff member) then printed this PDF for me, which was super helpful once I was in Bomerano.

Normally I like to know a bit more. Questions that popped up in my head were not limited to: Where is the bus in relation to the Sorrento train station? How often do the buses leave? How much do they cost? How long is the ride? Where does the bus drop you off in Bomerano? How do I get from the end of the hike back to Sorrento? What time does the last train leave? What time is the last bus? Etc. Etc.

But the day ended up being an exercise in going with the flow and accepting what is, as I'm continually reminded by my Daily Calm meditations. I trusted that I would figure everything out.
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017


This past Sunday I visited Pompeii, an ancient Roman town that was buried under volcanic ash in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted.

It happened to be the first Sunday of the month, which meant museums in Napoli—including Pompeii—were free. (Saved me from a 13-euro entrance ticket!)

I've heard that you haven't fully experienced Pompeii unless you visit both Pompeii (the remains of the city) and the National Archeology Museum of Naples (which houses the artifacts that have been found in Pompeii). Well, if that's the case, then I have an incomplete experience of Pompeii—as I never made it to the archeology museum.

But what I did experience were five hours of walking around this ancient city (and still not getting to all the sections—there's a lot of ground to cover!).

It was amazing how organized the Romans were. As you can see below (and in many photos to follow), sidewalks were raised so that people had an easier time avoiding water when it rained and animal droppings from the road.
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Napoli, Italy

When I met with my Spanish friend Esther last Monday in Madrid and told her I'd be heading to Napoli (Italian for "Naples"—feels right to call the city by its name in its own language) that Thursday, she immediately told me that Napoli is such an ugly, dirty city. She'd spent just a day there once, and really didn't like it. This didn't phase me one bit, as now every cool thing I'd discover would be that much more beautiful and wonderful—because I'd find it in this supposedly "dirty" city.

I didn't do any research before I bought the ticket and flew to Napoli, so expectations were nonexistent (and thus, quickly surpassed).

My first 20 minutes in Napoli revealed some of the less-flattering aspects of the city. On my bus ride from the Napoli airport to the port, I'm fairly certain I witnessed a small drug sale and subsequent drug bust (or at least altercation) outside the train station, from my bus window.

For the second half of this short bus ride, I was fascinated with the traffic and driving—which is both insane and entertaining. In the center it's often gridlocked, but slowly moving. Cars side-by-side in different lanes are scarily close to one another—a mere inch or two. Then when people double-park on the side of the road, everyone's got to maneuver around. Not to mention the mopeds going in and out, all over.

Not long after we passed the train station, I heard an ambulance. The siren got louder and louder, it had to be right by us. It was two cars behind our bus, but again: gridlock. So everyone's gridlocked and this ambulance is trying to get down the street. No one can pull over to the side, because the side of the road is full of parked cars, not an inch to spare.

When exploring on foot later that day, I quickly learned that at pedestrian crosswalks (without lights) you simply must start walking into oncoming traffic (quickly) and trust that vehicles will slow down enough not to hit you. Otherwise you'll be standing at the side of the road all day waiting to cross. If you've just started to cross a one-way, multiple-lane street, cars will continue to drive down the other side of the street. Basically if you're not standing directly in front of a car, all the other traffic will continue to move as long as it can. So look carefully as a pedestrian, but if you wait for the cars to stop they never will.


Our hostel recommended the two best pizza places in town, which also happen to be two of the cheapest.

The first two days I got pizza for lunch at Di Matteo, which costs a mere 1.50 euros each and is served on a piece of paper, folded into fourths. (In the below pic, I'd unfolded half.)

It was good, and tasted unlike any pizza I've ever eaten. Here's what the front of the restaurant looks like:
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Sunday, February 5, 2017

First Stop: Back to Madrid

On Tuesday, January 23 I was up early, and around 12:30 my mom picked me up and took me to the bus stop for my 1:20 bus to Chicago. Three hours later I was at O'hare, and painted with my watercolors while waiting in the terminal for my 7:20 flight.

I didn't sleep a wink on the 7-hour flight, got to Dublin around 8 a.m. local time (~2 a.m. Wisconsin time) feeling exhausted as ever, and had seven hours to wait before my connecting flight to Madrid at four in the afternoon. The hours felt just as long as they sound, and I progressively felt more and more like a zombie.

I got into Madrid around 7:30 p.m. Madrid time (1:30 p.m. Wisconsin time, the following day), took the metro to Gregorio's work (to pick up the apartment keys), had a caña there with one of his friends who works in the building, then he ordered a pizza, we ate, and I got to the apartment close to 11:30 p.m., I think. I had been awake for well over 35 hours.

Normally it takes me a few days to totally get over jetlag when I go from the states to Europe, but this extra layover really did one on my sleeping schedule. For several days I was staying up until 4 or 5 a.m., and then sleeping in way past noon. One day I woke up at 10 and thought I was finally getting over it, then the very next day I slept past noon.

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