I miss Bologna (Bo-lo-nya). My second home away from home.
I learned a lot living in this quaint little city. I explored every nook there is, though I know I missed some hidden treasures.
Here are the top 3 lessons it taught me:
I became self-sufficient. Though in some respect I had help. My sister’s high school friend and her family helped me navigate the city. She took me under her wing as part of her family. My Italian roommate helped me through the apartment renting process. It was tedious and frustrating, especially if you don’t speak the language. I dealt with the bank on my own (thanks to my Italian lessons, I was able to brokenly speak with the tellers).
Bologna taught me patience. It almost bypassed me because I was a stubborn Americanized person who didn’t know any better. I missed integrating myself into the culture of ‘dolce far niente’ (sweetness of doing nothing). I took years off my life by stressing out about how I only got internet service 4 months before I left the country. In the end, what I got is a slap in the face “it doesn’t effin matter, you’re in Italy for pete’s sake”.
For the most part, I uncovered the city on my own. I went to places that only locals went to. Shopped at markets for fresh and local ingredients to cook at home. Frequented makeup and skincare indie shops – I literally became obsessed with beauty when I lived in Italy.
Bologna is Italy’s best kept secret and a great off-the-beaten-path destination. I had the amazing opportunity to live in this city where I experienced its rich history, diverse culture, and amazing cuisine. It is a relatively small city best explored by foot since you’ll discover more than what you came for. In the span of 9 months living here, I’ve acquired an arsenal of must-see sites, experiences, and trattorias around the city, but here are my top 4 favorites:
Explore Piazza Maggiore
photo by Gene Espinueva
Piazza Maggiore is the main square located in Bologna’s bustling historic center. Around here you’ll find a copious amount of historic places to visit, restaurants to gorge tagliatelle al ragù in, and shopping streets where you can find local Italian products like mortadella and black classic Italian leather flats. During my stay, I spent majority of my time in this area exploring every nook and cranny. I highly recommend visiting theTeatro Anatomico in Palazzo d’Archiginassio, a historic anatomical theatre, where students once learned and observed dissections of cadavers during their Anatomy classes. If you are an avid shopper, stroll towards the west side of the square and you’ll find 4 parallel streets filled with shops. I personally love Antica Profumeria del Sacro Cuore, a stylish fragrance emporium dedicated to only selling fragrance and skincare from less mainstream brands.
Shop around Quadrilatero
photo by Liane Pamuspusan
Walk towards east of Piazza Maggiore and you will stumble upon an area of cobblestone streets filled with food stalls, cafes, and stomach churning delicatessen shops. Named as theQuadrilatero, this area that dates back to Medieval times used to be a place of trade and commerce. Nowadays, it is a place where foodies go to taste and purchase Bologna’s local cuisine. Stop by Tamburini to ogle, shop, and eat a selection of Bologna’s specialties, like thetortellini and mortadella. If you are like me, and you like to browse and take pictures, walk down Via Pescherie Vecchie and you’ll meet colorful stalls of fruits and vegetables.
Enjoy the local Bolognese cuisine
photo by Liane Pamuspusan
It is an imperative task that one must go to Bologna and enjoy the local cuisine it offers. I enjoyed one too many trattorias during my stay here, but one of my favorites is Trattoria del Rosso. Here you can order typical Bolognese cuisine such as tagliatelle al ragù, and crescentine with cold cuts, including mortadella, and soft cheeses like stracchino and squaquerone. If you would like to enjoy a good old cup of gelato, head over to La Sorbetteria di Castiglione or Cremeria Funivia where you’ll find a variety of gelato flavors that will suit your taste buds.
Hike up to San Luca
photo by Liane Pamuspusan
Have an hour or two to spare and want to burn off all the food you ate? Walk or run through the 666 “portico” (arcades)to the top of San Luca. You will get an up close view of theSanctuary of Madonna of San Luca church and also get a breathtaking view of the city below.
Last time I was in South Korea was for an 8 hour layover I had en route to Seattle. I was given a choice of either to chill at a hotel or tour the city and silly me, I chose the former. Fast forward to today, South Korea is now in my Places I want to visit bucket list. Here’s why:
Food, but not the moving kind.
I love barbeque and Korean barbeque is no exception. The amalgation of flavors that they marinate the beef with is superb. Couple it with their traditional numerous appetizers and I am a happy camper. In addition, this being an Asian country, street food is prevalent. Finally, while I know this is traditional, I don’t think I’ll be eating live octopus.
Myeongdong Street = Skincare Heaven
I never paid attention to Korean skincare until early this year, thanks to my short vacation in the Philippines. I went inside a Face Shop location in one of the malls and for curiosity sake, I bought their masks. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. I hear that Myeongdong Street is the mecca of skincare shops, however similar to Times Square, it’s a VERY busy street.
While there are other places in South Korea that I would like to visit for architecture and cultural sake, the Demilitarized Zone is the one place I would like to visit.
The campus buildings reminded me so much of European architecture. We went inside the Sterling Library, took a peak inside the law school building, saw the Skulls and Bones building (a Yale secret society I never knew about until this visit), strolled through the different colleges (aka. dorms), and I even took a picture of Brandford College (if you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, you’ll know what this means).
Skull and Bones Side Entry Door
Yale Law School
2. Pumpkin Patch
I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch, ever. It was pretty cool to visit a farm that has one and in true farm style, we rode a hay bale ride that took us to the actual patch area. The picture below is just one tiny area of the football field size land.
3. Heirloom Apples
We went up to Vermont to visit Scott’s Farm. We went during the Heirloom Apple Day, which is the one day where they introduce their visitors to the different types of heirloom apples they grow. We attended a lecture hosted by their orchardist who presented and provided samples of different apple varieties. After the lecture, we were given the chance to “pick”and purchase heirloom apples of our choice.
In my opinion, the best photographs you take during your travels are the ones that literally gave you goosebumps.
Basilica Maxentius and Constantine
A once massive church within the Roman Forum. As I walked into this place, I remember listening to Rick Steves’ guide explaining and describing this once ginormous building. His words literally gave me goosebumps as I walked and looked through this area. I don’t know if it was because of how Rick described this building or the idea that I was standing on what is a historical landmark. I knew I just had to take a picture to remember that feeling.
Roman Colosseum and Constantine’s Arch
Upon my first arrival to Rome, this was the very first landmark I saw. It was so surreal. I remembered thinking back to my “Rome” class in college and telling myself how lucky I am to actually see firsthand what I studied and learned about.
I know nothing about this building, but the tiles, the guy with the accordion and the bird just made this photograph amazing.
What photographs did you take that made you feel a certain way?
How do you conquer your fears? Do you hide from them or face them head on?
I hear it’s better to face them head on.
There are many moments in my life where I’ve faced my fears and succumb to the dormant adventurous spirit I have. Take for example the chairlift I rode at Anacapri. I have this fear of heights – I imagine myself falling face down and splatting my head against a pavement or in this case rolling down the grassy, stony grounds of Mount Solaro. I will never remember how I managed to get on this chairlift, but I do remember how funny it was that I never realized I paid and lined up to cross Mount Solaro on a chairlift.
It’s nice to know there’s a silver lining at the end of facing your fears. The view from the chairlift is really amazing and once you get to the top, you get to see the blue waters Capri is known for. Or look at this ubiquitous picture taken from the Cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica. I didn’t take this picture for fear of dropping my phone over the fenced area, but it was a worthwhile experience to see and take in.
Today, I have different set of fears I need to face. I’m currently having a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but with the help of prayers to God and self motivation, the light will soon show itself and I’ll end up in the same place I was in Anacapri and Vatican City.
This sculpture is located inside the Duomo museum in Florence. The piece is by Italian Renaissance artist and sculptor, Donatello. What drew me to this sculpture is how grotesque and “real” the artist portrayed Mary Magdalene. Most of the European sculptures you tend to see were created to look perfect (David anyone?), this one however depicted the rawness of reality. Just look at her expressive eyes and her palms placed together to show that she is praying before Jesus Christ. Observe the way how she was sculpted to look so haggard.
I encourage you to visit Museo dell’Opera del Duomo during your travels to Florence. It’s definitely one of the off the beaten path museums that one must experience on top of the Accademia and Uffizi.
Big Fisherman Seafood
3301 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
Crawfish, sausage, shrimp, corn… if you’re craving a seafood boil, this is the place to go. It’s a takeout place, but you can eat at one of the restaurants across the street (they have sidewalk seating areas!) as long as you buy drinks from them.
4800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
The sauces are AMAZING! Each one is concocted to suit the taste of each BBQ’d meat you order. Definite must on your NOLA itinerary.
A trip to the Crescent City is not complete without eating and drinking beignet and cafe au lait simultaneously. The one on Decatur is open 24 hours, which makes it a good late night food place.
French Market Restaurant
1001 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Discovered this place while searching for the French Market. Great place to eat boiled seafood and grilled oysters (try their garlic butter one!).
214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
They have a fancy lounge area and a carousel bar that actually moves (it completes one rotation every 14 minutes). Plus, you MAY have a chance to see a kid ghost who died here a long time ago. Try their mint julep or sazerac.
718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116
This bar/restaurant is off Bourbon street and a must visit if only for their hurricanes (it was created in this place), dueling piano bar, and the chill atmosphere of the courtyard.
St Charles Avenue and the Quarter is a must if you love architecture.
3. Street performance
One thing I learned from a local – follow the music and you’ll discover great acts.
I spent the night at Atlantic City (or what the locals fondly call as AC) this past week. It was a phenomenal experience for me if only for the beach. You see, I have been deprived of beach time during this summer because I had prior commitments or I just didn’t have the chance to do so. Luckily, I had the opportunity to get the much needed time with my BFF and my family.
One thing I would suggest to you folks out there who are thinking about AC: never go on a regular weekday if you’re into the hustle and bustle. We went on a Wednesday and let me tell you it wasn’t party central at all. However, it was a good time for us to explore the town without the weekend crowd. Here is my list of what to do in AC when you’re not a party goer:
Go during summer time and lounge at the beach. The waves are crazy, but AC does have a nice beach.
Eat by one of the boardwalk restaurants if only for people watching.
Walk the boardwalk at day AND night. It will be a long walk, but it will be worth it because of all the sights and people you will see.
Have your fortune read – it’s funny to see what the tarot readers come up with. (Hint: it’s a bunch of bullhackey they get from information YOU personally give to them).
Stay at the Chelsea Hotel if you’re not into gambling. They have an amazing view of the beach + they have their own pool (bonus points if you don’t like swimming in salty water). The only con about staying here is that it’s not the most accessible hotel as it is on the far end of the boardwalk.
Have you been to Atlantic City? If so, what is your fondest memory of it?